Ignorance: The Main Face of Oppression in Modern America

Feminist Iris Young identified exploitation, marginalization, powerlessness, cultural imperialism, and violence as being the main faces of oppression in the US. From my experience and understanding, these are all very present in the country’s identity.

Exploitation can be seen both within America and from the US towards other countries. An example of local exploitation is the average minimum wage, which amounts to less than 8 dollars. Similarly, exploitation is present in high amounts towards countries that are usually less economically developed. An example are the massive layoffs that big tech companies are having in the US to relocate their offices in countries where the cost of labor is cheaper, which ultimately ends in the exploitation of human resources.

The concept of powerlessness usually shows as political frustration. Many US citizens feel like elected members of parliament and congress are not correct representations of their political campaign, and therefore end up non addressing (or addressing) issues that were claimed to be the center of their political fight. I personally believe that more times than not, the American bureaucratic and political system is outdated and superfluous. The immense variety present in this country should not controlled by a single political body, as this limits the autonomy and development of the individual areas.

Marginalization in America can look like many different things. It can look like poor and under resourced neighborhoods at the outskirts of big cities, it can look like the predominantly white areas, and it can look like schools where the most frequently spoken language has become Spanish instead of English. There are also many communities of homeless left to their own means, like I have noticed during my stay in New Orleans and Los Angeles. This country does a good job at marginalizing people based of race, language, features, sexual orientation, or really anything else.

I believe not many words should be spent explaining the concept of violence in America. It is in the news and on social media every day, at any time of the day. From the death of Tyre Nichols due to police brutality to the murder of college students in Idaho. Unfortunately, newspapers and tabloids never run out of news regarding gun violence, murder, and physical abuse.

I am sure that oppression could be represented in many other ways, but I think that above all, the real face of oppression in America is ignorance. I am not referring solely to academic ignorance, but also social ignorance, a lack of empathy, understanding, and ability to learn from others, especially from their differences. All the faces of oppression described by Young could be avoided if the people involved were taught how to interact with one another, how not to be scared of differences, and how to use their own power to do good things.

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