Does Representation Even Matter?

As a skeptic and an academic student, I have learnt to challenge some basic assumptions that may seem intuitively desirable. Representation of diverse minority voices in policy making is something which I think is not in their own interest. This may seem a controversial take but let me present my case.

The question I pose to you is: If the system is designed in a way to oppress certain groups, will it help to include some from those group in the power circles? The classic example of this is the dynamic of the house negro vs the field negro. During the slavery era in USA, some African-Americans were promoted from working in the fields to the houses of the slave owners. Their status was relatively raised and they were given greater power and authority. What happened was that the house negroes ended up becoming the oppressors themselves and the situation of the field negroes worsened. A more recent example of this phenomenon is how Barack Obama was celebrated as the first black president and many people of color in America naively thought this could signify the end of racism. However, the systemic racism, inequality and police brutality remained as it was or even worsened during his two terms in office. Similarly, if there exists systemic patriarchy in our system, will having more women end the patriarchy? No, those women will themselves become upholders of that patriarchal system since they have become its beneficiaries.

History has taught us that if a system is designed to perpetuate certain forms of injustice, merely joining the power corridors of that system can never remove those injustices. Real change can only be brought from outside the system through a revolutionary process. It can only happen when the oppressed recognize the source of their oppressor and decide to actively challenge the system rather than participate in it.

In the context of education in Pakistan -specifically the drawing of the Singe National Curriculum- the key is to identify whether the issues are systemic or just poor management and lack of resources. If it truly is systemic injustice, then the minority voices should refuse to be a part of this process and instead work outside this system for their rights.

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