Soil Layers of Oppression

Preparation: In a glass vase, place a layer of dirt. Prepare colored sand to pour on top (each color corresponding to a different oppression.) Have a spoon ready.

Begin by asking children what is in the vase and what it means to have rich, healthy soil.

For thousands of years, Native Americans have lived on this land. And then Europeans came. The Europeans thought they had a better way of doing things. And when they came to the Americas, they brought these different ways.

First they came and took the land; they became owners of the land rather than sharing it. They took over and controlled the land and the native peoples and many of them died or were hurt or were forced to live in ways that were very different from what they were used to. There is a really big word that is used to describe the controlling of land and the people who live on it: colonization. They added Colonization to the soil.

Pour in sand.

These Europeans also brought a new way of being together. This way of being together would not allow women to own property, have jobs, or even vote. This way of being together is called Patriarchy. Patriarchy is a fancy word for the idea that men are better than women. They added Patriarchy to the soil.

Pour in sand.

Then, these Europeans decided that while the land was rich and grew a lot of things, they could grow even richer themselves by forcing others to work for them. So the Europeans brought Slavery to America. They forced people from Africa onto ships and brought them across the ocean. They made them work the land without money. They added Slavery to the soil.

Pour in sand.

Overtime, other things were added to the soil as well. These other things include:

  • Not letting people love who they want
  • Not helping people who are disabled
  • Making it difficult for poor people to earn money
  • Making voting difficult for poor people and people of color
  • Putting people in prison for little problems
  • Polluting our soil, air, and water

Pour in sand. Of other colors.

The word I use for all these things is supremacy. That is a big word that means a small group of people control many different things in our world and make it difficult for people who are not like this small group to live differently.

Now some of these things that were added to the soil were changed over a long time. Women are now allowed to vote and hold jobs. There is no longer slavery.

Take out a bit of the colored sand.

a tall glass vase, rectangular, with a layer of soil at the bottom and about 8 striations of colored sand poured over it.

What mandi's vase of sand looked like after she led this time for all ages.

But these things still exist just in different ways. In many states, women still cannot do what they want to with their bodies. Slavery as it existed two hundred or four hundred years ago no longer exists, but has taken on newer forms as people are still paid poorly or not at all in this country. Rich people are getting richer and poor people are getting poorer.

All of these things are still in our soil. (Gesture to the colored sand.)

How can good food and other good things grow with these bad things on our soil? How can we be healthy if we can’t grow good food or have good things in our lives?

What can we do to get to the good soil?

This is hard work. It is hard because the sand is small and it gets into everything. But if we want to be healthy and live in a world where everyone is cared for, we need to do this work of removing the sand. The best way to do this, is to do this together so we can plant the seeds of love and justice in the world.