Young describes the types of the injustice of a group or society through the “Five Faces of Oppression” – exploitation, marginalization, powerlessness, cultural imperialism, and violence. These five faces of oppression can be seen in America through the whole pandemic and how people were treated.
Exploitation can be seen during the pandemic through the treatment of workers of different social classes. While many who were privileged were able to work from home, the working class was forced to work service jobs that potentially exposed them to coronavirus. The working class had to choose between life or death at work when most of their wages were barely livable. People who worked remotely were in safer conditions and more than likely paid more than service workers. The working conditions during the pandemic are an example of exploitation as the service workers were not compensated fairly for their work, compared to others in a higher working class.
Powerlessness is depicted through the people who had to work and others that did not, during the pandemic. There were many circumstances, like home-schooling children or taking care of others, where a lot of people left work during the pandemic. Many others were not able to leave their jobs. Some were even laid off from their job and had to work multiple different part-time jobs. Americans, who did not have emergency savings and lived paycheck to paycheck, were not allowed to view the pandemic as a vacation. Although, people who already had money and savings had the power to take a break during the pandemic. They used that opportunity as their vacation and even went out more often, having the possibility of spreading the virus to service workers. Through the assets and money people already had, some people had the power to treat the pandemic as a vacation while others were making ends meet.
Violence was prevalent during the pandemic. Violence was directed towards Asians because it was suspected that the virus originated in China. This made Asians feel very unsafe from going out, as many did not know who would attack them or when. Some were even attacked in their own neighborhood or outside their home. Violence was prevalent toward people who had differing views as well. Many people were attacked for wearing masks and getting vaccinated. Some who did not comply with the mask mandate resorted to violence in order to be heard and cause a scene. This problem turned political as people who followed the mandates were considered liberal and democratic while the others were considered Republican. The oppression of Asians and people following the rules were commonly caused by violence during the pandemic.
The pandemic was able to show exploitation, powerlessness, and violence, which are some of the faces of oppression Young describes in her writing. The pandemic in this country showed people’s true colors and was an oppressive state for many Americans.