Iris Young, author of “Five Faces of Oppression”, defined oppression through five different concepts: exploitation, marginalization, powerlessness, cultural imperialism, and violence. Each are intricate to the many definitions and meanings of oppression. In this blog post I will be focusing on how two of these faces, powerlessness and violence, to describe how they exist in America today.
To begin, Young defines powerlessness by explaining that some people have their power and wealth because they profit off the labor of others. Recently, workers of many billion dollar corporations have gone on strike, or even stopped working because they weren’t getting paid a livable minimum wage. This has been happening for years, but I believe that due to the pandemic workers have gotten tired of holding the weight of the world on their backs without getting ,at the least, a paycheck they can support their own needs with. Corporations reap many benefits by not giving their workers the benefits and pay they deserve. They even get tax breaks which basically makes them even richer. The sad part is that these corporations have enough money to provide their workers with benefits like healthcare and pay them over the minimum wage, but greed stops them from doing so. These corporations need to learn how to appreciate their workers because they’d be nothing without them.
Secondly, and lastly, Young defines violence by explaining how some people face oppression through systematic violence. This is the main face of oppression that the black community faces everyday. For literally hundreds of years the black community has dealt and lived with the effects of a system that works against them. To name a few, drug laws, mass incarceration, and even still today voting laws. Each of those topics are systems put in place to stop the community from rising against mediocrity. Violence is a big face of oppression because it can be both mental and physical, and sadly most communities today face each aspect.
Each of these faces are represented in today’s society. It’s up to us to step to the plate and work to stop all forms of oppression in 2022.