Dealing with Oppression

Oppression is a reality in our world, even in states like California that tend to be progressive in laws and policies, and even in communities like Santa Cruz and UC Santa Cruz, which purport to hold progressive, inclusive values but do not always live up to those values. Oppression is harmful wherever and whenever it happens, but it can be particularly difficult to deal with when social media and the news constantly bombard us with stories of violence, discrimintion, social justice violations, and suffering. It can be hard to cope and hard to balance having an awareness of important issues with recognizing that supportive and positive people, places, and experiences exist.

If you are struggling with the impact of being treated badly, receiving threats, or experiencing more subtle forms of oppression because of your race or ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, religious affiliation, country of origin, or other aspect of your identity, and/or you are having anxiety and difficult emotions related to social and political issues and the tone of national discussions, the following resources and tips may be helpful.

Campus Resources 

Additional Resources and Suggestions

If you're overwhelmed by feelings and worries, here are some things you can do right now:

  • Be a part of your next local election as a poll worker and encourage voters to come out.
  • Combat racism with Showing Up For Racial Justice or
  • Help your community through AmeriCorps.
  • Join an organization that helps immigrants and new Americans.
  • Practice self-care: It’s easy to forget that taking care of yourself is just as important as going out and doing something. You can't help others if you aren't taking care of yourself.
    • Connect with supportive, caring, and like-minded people. Sometimes it helps to talk with others about your difficult thoughts and feelings, and sometimes it helps to just have fun and take your mind off of things. Find a balance. Isolating yourself usually makes things worse.
    • Cover the basics: Work on eating well, getting enough sleep, and getting regular exercise.
    • Give yourself permission to do something "extra" that will help you relax and rejuvenate yourself, whether it's taking a hot bath, eating a cupcake, getting a foot massage, taking a walk by the ocean, watching a favorite movie, or whatever else you'd enjoy.
    • Set appropriate boundaries: It's OK to take some time away from or even to cut off people in your life who don't respect you, your identity, or your values, especially if you've tried to engage in healthy communication with them and it hasn't worked. Unfriend that fool on social media posting offensive memes, spend less time with the classmate who always wants to argue, take a trip to see a supportive friend if being with family over a break from school is overwhelming.
    • Take a break from news/social media: The constant bombardment of difficult news, alarmist headlines, and nasty debates can cause you to burn out and feel terrible. It's OK to shut it off for a while and/or only selectively read posts.
    • Treat yourself with compassion. Try to show yourself the same kindness and care you would want to show to someone (else) you love.
    • Try to avoid using drugs and alcohol or other forms of "checking out" to manage your mood and stress, as this can lead to unwanted consequences and/or feeling disconnected. Coping strategies that make you zone out (like being drunk or high or binge-watching Netflix for a whole day) may feel good in the moment but typically won't rejuvenate you like something active, creative, or social can.
  • Support your Muslim family and friends through the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
  • Volunteer: There are plenty of organizations out there that would benefit from your time.
  • Work to end police violence with Campaign Zero.

If you find yourself in need of someone to talk to or you are having suicidal thoughts, reach out to the following:

  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: (800) 273-8255
  • Trans Lifeline: (877) 565-8860
  • Trevor Project: (866) 488-7386


  • ACLU: Uphold the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to all by the Constitution and the laws of the United States.
  • The Future Project: Help the young people of America fulfill their potential.
  • Planned Parenthood: Give women the opportunities for proper healthcare, education, and activism.
  • RAINN: Assist the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network in combatting sexual violence, aiding victims, and ensuring that perpetrators are caught.
  • Southern Poverty Law Center: Support an organization dedicated to fighting hate and bigotry and to seeking justice for the most vulnerable members of our society.