Oppression - The unjust treatment and abuse of power, often enforced by governmental authorities and institutions, of marginalized groups (race, class, gender, sexual orientation, etc.), while elevating dominant groups.
The carryover of systematic oppression has historically been traced back to government and public policy. It has revealed itself throughout history, however, on an institutional, societal, and even individual basis.
Such governments use their resourcefulness and authority to reinforce their own beliefs via restrictions, manipulation, control, power, terror tactics, lies, and deceit. Regarding race, the segregation and disparities among blacks and whites date back to intentional, deliberate public policies implemented decades and decades ago: From slavery to systematic displacement in the housing market, from mass incarceration to the wealth gap, and from ethnic cleansing in communities to schooling segregation, American history repeats itself, and continues to repeat itself, in the face of racism and systematic oppression of minorities.
In what follows, we will discuss, in brief, widely undeniable examples of oppression throughout history, and the resulting impact it’s had on marginalized minorities, more specifically, African Americans.
In what is about to unfold, you’ll begin to realize that all examples of oppression throughout history are intertwined and connected to one underlying factor: Racism.
While it is an accepted truth among the female gender that the pay gap, employment gap, and in large, the wealth gap, is to their disadvantage, the same prejudice is often over-looked when speaking of a more specific marginalized minority, women of color. The same economically oppressive results hold true throughout the entirety of the African American race.
The inequality of the rates of employment, pay, and wealth is inherently attributed to the lack of opportunity given to those of color and other minorities. Whether it’s because of a lack of education, poor geographical location, or criminal record, these are all a product of oppression and are NOT a product of incompetence or inability.
Need I mention the Jim Crow laws?…
Call it governmental corruption, institutional discrimination, or societal enslavement. Whatever you choose to call it, the prominence of direct economic oppression to benefit the majority (i.e. privileged whites) and further restrict the said minority groups (i.e. blacks) must be acknowledged. It’s been statistically proven over the course of history, and it’s continuing to be exacerbated in society today.
Otherwise known as classism, environmental oppression is responsible for the topic of geographical segregation and ethnic cleansing.
Why do you think inner-cities and communities of color are: 1) so poorly geographically located, and 2) in such anguish and poverty?
Whether it was during times of slavery when mass migration took place to escape the impending doom, or if it was because of systematic displacement and lack of opportunity via public policy, it’s no question the prominence of environmental oppression within the black community.
The phenomenon of global racism, ladies and gentlemen…
Not only is this one massive vicious cycle that is next to impossible to escape. It also brings forth the rising of crime rates, division of families, and the absence of proper medical attention within these marginalized communities.
Here’s a statistic for you: According to NAACP, African Americans are incarcerated at a rate of over five times the rate of Caucasians. With regards to the relation between black incarceration and the United States, the US is responsible for over 20% of all global imprisonments, while only making up about 5% of the global population.
A discrepancy? I think so.
In large part due to public policy, a federal law passed in the 1980s that resulted in mandatory minimum sentencing in response to the “war on drugs” is responsible for the majority of unnecessary incarcerations, and ultimately, legal discrimination. It’s important to note that this particular law, in addition to a number of other drug laws, was directed against inner-cities and black communities. While drugs are widely accessible and utilized outside of inner-cities as well, the drug sentences charged under the mandated minimum sentencing act generally took place in impoverished communities.
Yet another slick and manipulative strategy to indirectly target and oppress those of color…
Why you ask?
In the case of criminality and imprisonment: racism and money. Many prisons in the United States are privately owned and involve a business strategy based around profit, not necessarily based around what’s right. Fill the prison with inmates, and they make more profit. It’s yet another vicious, oppressive cycle that the marginalized black community is victims of.
It’s a very sad truth that white Americans are much more likely to receive appropriate care than minority groups like Mexican-Americans and African Americans. This may be due to the lack of jobs available to the minority communities that supply proper insurance benefits, it may be due to geographical location, it may be an individual bias on the caregivers’ part, or it may be due to lack of funds.
Whatever the case, as mentioned before, it all derives from one systemic source: systematic oppression and racism.
The presence of ignorance and disparity in the face of oppression, be it a privilege or perpetuating racism, cannot be ignored.
More needs to be done not only to further educate and implore, but to eradicate altogether the systematic racism, discrimination, and oppression of marginalized minorities and those of color.