The Intersecting Oppression in America

I think that America expresses all 5 faces of oppression today. The five faces that Young outlined were; exploitation, marginalization, powerlessness, cultural imperialism, and violence. I think that the most prominent and intertwined faces that can be seen in America today are exploitation, powerlessness, and violence. Young defined each of these “faces” beautifully and for the most part I agreed with everything that was said. I think that the main reason I agreed with Young’s opinion on these topics was because it seemed to be an extension of my prior thoughts. Being apart of an oppressed group has unfortunately allowed me to see the ugly parts of America, and as a result I have formed my own opinions about what America is truly about.  

I want to start by focusing on exploitation. America is not as public with their exploitation of citizens as other countries are (such as China and South Korea). I think that America(ns) have their own air about themselves that exudes superiority even when that is not that case. America exploits the working and/or lower classes daily. All of the working class is essentially working to survive, but the bigger picture is that they are working to make the upper class more and more affluent. America runs on capital, and by definition, it is a true capitalist society. This form of exploitation is done in such a way that the working class hardly realizes that they are the ones being exploited and that America is not truly as free of a society as it boastfully claims to be (Young, p.45). The next intersecting face that exists in America that I would like to speak on is powerlessness. America advertises a sense of self, power and freedom but I think that it is doing everything but. The average American citizen has little control over what new laws are made, what can and cannot be taken away from them, as well as what they can and cannot do in life. Young Highlights this specific legal “power” of democracy and the right to vote that America falsely gives to its citizens on page 52. One example that stuck with me ever since I have heard it was when Harriet Tubman said that “I would have freed thousands more if they had known they were slaves.”, this intertwines with the idea that most working class Americans are living under a false guise of autonomy. There are many that don’t realize their role in society, but there is also a good number that can realize that the system they are working for is not serving them (the have nots), but serving the “haves” of the country. This example provides a great segue into the next face that I think is connected, which is violence. Violence has been one of America’s most used tactic in the past and present to oppress members of different social groups. A clear example of this is the law enforcement in America turning a blind eye towards the blatant racism in day to day life. To be specific, one example of violence can be seen in the Tulsa Race Massacre. This event full of chaos and anger boiled down to one thing, the oppressing of black people in America. There are many researchers who have proven that the Tulsa race massacre was planned, this definitely caused a distrust in Black people of white people. Young speaks in the text about the specific oppressed social groups having to live under the constant worry of threats against their personal property or person knowing that there might not be any justice served. Overall, a different perspective that I want to leave the audience with (to think about how these three faces are connected) is that once a group is exploited (and eventually becomes aware), then given false pretenses of power, there is only violence that can occur for a multitude of reasons. 

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