19 January 2013
African American Oppression
Some people may never know what it feels like to be oppressed, while others may experience it daily. A great man once said “We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed (Martin Luther King, Jr.). Oppression is defined as the unjust or cruel exercise of authority or power (Merriam Webster). In American society, Women, African Americans, Asians, Hispanics, Gays, and Lesbians are some of the people most often oppressed. In my essay I will discuss African American oppression—history—past and present, discrimination in the criminal justice system, and oppression in relation to social work. Oppression may appear in many forms such as exploitation, marginalization, cultural imperialism, and violence. Exploitation is the act of using individuals as laborers to produce profit without compensating them fairly. Marginalization is when individuals are confined to a lower social standing, outer limit, or edge of society. Cultural imperialism involves a group having power in a society and looking down on all others. Lastly violence is the most visible form of oppression, and individuals must fear random, unprovoked attacks on their persons or property. African Americans have experienced all forms of oppression since the beginning of time. History tells us that the earliest form of oppression towards African Americans was in the form of slavery. Slavery began in the United States around the sixteen-hundreds. African Americans were then known as indentured servants, and were brought to America to aide in the production of crops such as sugar cane, tobacco, and rice. This form of oppression was backed by the American Government and, African American slaves were bought, sold and traded. This type of oppression, known as slavery was practiced in the United States, and deprived enslaved black people—children,...
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