Land of the Oppressed

As Iris Young explains, oppression appears under the faces of exploitation, marginalization, powerlessness, cultural imperialism, and violence, all of which are alive and present in the United States today. 

First, exploitation is rooted in our capitalistic society. One social group with the resources, wealth and status can dictate another group’s resources, wealth, and status, thus creating perpetual classism (the haves and the have-nots). The most current and blatant example of exploitation is those working under multi-billionaire Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon. Amazon employees work in strenuous, back-breaking conditions under strict time constraints and are paid a wage that is not well worth the labor they had to produce to make a profit for those who own the company. And what makes this even more sickening is that Jeff Bezos is taking said profits and funding his vanity space projects instead of solving the many problems we have here on Earth. Second, Young states marginalization is the process of exclusion, relegating a group to a lower social standing such that they are expelled from any useful participation in social life. Older adults getting fired from their jobs because their employers think they are moving too slowly with their job duties is a prime example of marginalization. Third, powerlessness is why many Americans do not participate in decision-making. They feel their vote will not directly affect their individual lives. Indeed, the powerless are situated to take orders from the ruling class while rarely having the right to give them. Fourth, cultural imperialism is “[T]o experience how the dominant meanings of a society render the particular perspective of one’s own group invisible at the same time as they stereotype one’s group and mark it as the Other.” For instance, English is the American language. Any other language spoken here is looked down upon. Finally, there is violence, the most visible form of oppression. Violence is when a particular person has to live with constantly looking over their shoulders and knowing they are liable to be subjected to violation because they are part of a targeted social group. Police brutality towards Black men and women fits this description, where Black people live in fear of random, unprovoked attacks by the police simply because of their race. 

To conclude, the United States of America, while many greatly believe it is the Land of the Free, is in all actuality the Land of the Oppressed.

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