The Many Faces of : Oppression

In the article “Five Faces of Oppression” by Iris Young she delves into the hindrances that affect various groups all over the world. Early on, Young expresses that there is no clear cut way of defining oppression and the way it impacts different groups, including intersectionality. The article expands into different areas like institutionalized racism, injustice, and the power dynamics that keep the marginalized excluded. Although Young makes valid points in the article about understanding what oppression can do to certain social groups, it is to be considered that oppressed groups can also act as oppressors to other groups whether knowingly or unknowingly. The article poses great insight into what it means to be a member of a society that capitalizes off of keeping certain groups deprived and debarred.

In this piece Young details the five faces of oppression; first published in Justice and the Politics of Difference in 1990. The article in the context of its time period tries to keep an objective stance when talking about marginalized groups such as Blacks, Latinos, and disabled people to name a few. Since the piece was written by someone who most likely does not face oppression to the extreme degree of the aforementioned groups, it is important for Young to be as impartial as possible when speaking about issues that certain groups are facing like wage discrimination, police brutality, and powerlessness since she is most likely not going off of things she has experienced personally but rather events she has observed and or heard about. Stepping into a new decade in the 1990s, probably proved to be a new dawn for LGBTQ movements, environmental justice initiatives, and racial justice movements. Similar to today’s modern climate the article states, in the early 90s “racialized groups in the United States, especially Blacks and Latinos, are oppressed through capitalist super-exploitation resulting from a segmented labor market that tends to reserve skilled, high paying, unionized jobs for whites” (Young, 48). Many of the social injustices that Young describes in the article are prevalent today especially in instances of police brutality against black and brown people, exclusion of the LGBTQ+ community and unfair treatment of those who are physically/mentally disabled. It is common to see and experience marginalization and exploitation especially if you are a minority. In general, there is still progress to be made and conversations to be had about how people use their status and or privilege to intentionally or unintentionally keep others oppressed. At this current point, there is still a need to be more vocal and intentional with how certain groups are portrayed and treated by those who are in positions of power. Perpetuating stereotypes and choosing to not inform oneself, especially in our current political climate is counterproductive and harmful to the social movements that are constantly being created and reformed.

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