Oppression signifies an authority of a dominant group over a monitory group, disengaging the minority group from society. It involves mistreatment of a group, which is founded by individual stereotypes, systematic beliefs and attitudes, which become justification for continued mistreatment of members of these groups. This paper will review three forms of oppression and how the dominant members in society use their power and privilege to influence to continue the cycle of oppression. Reflection Paper By definition oppression is the exercise of authority or power in a burdensome, cruel and unjust manner.
It is a tactic that has been used for centuries by the dominant group in society to maintain power and control. “Oppression encapsulates the fusion of institutional and systemic discrimination, personal bias, bigotry, and social prejudice” (Adams, 2010, p. 21). Oppression is manifested through “isms”. Isms are the prejudices attitudes and beliefs directed against groups that society classifies as “lesser”-less capable, less productive, and less normal than the dominant group (Van Wormer, 2012). For example, members of the dominant group may view a blind or deaf individual as “less capable” because they do not have the ability to see or hear.
Both, sight and sound are considered normal functions of the human body and individuals lacking these capabilities are classified as other or not normal and as a result, they may experience a form of oppression known as ableism. The dominant members of society impose their cultural perspectives on institutions and individuals, and anyone that does not fit into these cultural norms will experience some form of oppression. In, one way or another every individual experiences some form of oppression, whether it be through, race, gender, religion, age, economic status and/or sexual rientation.
Within, this paper I will address racism, sexism and heterosexism in relation to my understanding and experiences with these isms. Isms Racism Many people like to believe that racism is an issue of the past and that we have made many strides toward racial equality. The truth is racism is not simply an issue of the past, but is one that is alive and well today. The nation’s racial history greatly influences our present. It affects how we interpret events, and it determines the opportunities we are given.
One example of racism and its prevalence today is the Charleston shootings. On June 17, 2015 a white gunman opened fire in a historic black church during bible study, killing nine people. The shooter specifically entered the church, intending to kill this group of people because of the color of their skin; his actions were racially motivated. According, to several media outlets the shooter yelled out” you rape our women and are taking over our country”; there is no truth or validity to his statement therefore, he actions were driven by his individual beliefs.
Racism operates on three levels: the personal level as a personal ideology or belief, at the systemic level in the form of a system of cultural messages, and at the structural or institutional level in the form of institutional policies and social practices (Van Wormer, 2012). On an individual level I believe that racism is more covert than an overt. Although, I know that there are still lots of individuals that are openly racist, I believe that there are even more individuals that are closeted racist.
These individuals are our doctors, police officers and our politicians; they are the people within society with the power and authority that make and create the policies that govern society. “Only those with the resources to oppress other groups systemically and structurally can be racist” (Sisneros, Stakeman, Joyner, & Schmitz, 2008) According to Dill (2009), institutional racism involves practices, policies and procedures of institutions that have a disproportionately negative effect on racial minorities’ access to quality of services, goods and opportunities.
For example, low-income families and individuals experience disparities in access to quality health care. These disparities can occur as a result of community structures, lack of insurance or insurance type. Low-income communities may have health care centers or local health clinics to service and address its resident’s needs, but often the clinics are overcrowded due to having to serve so many individuals. As a result, families and individuals in these areas do not have their health care needs met, thus creating a rippling effect, which trickles down to other areas of their life.
This is a prime example of the lack of resources available to individuals that live in lowincome communities. The ability to access healthy foods is also a challenge for many Americans, particularly those in lowincome communities. There is a predominance of convenience/ corner and liquor stores in these communities, while individuals that reside in suburban areas have access to stores like Trader Joes or Whole Foods, which provide fresh and organic food. Race, ethnicity and geography matter as, they are all determinants of access to social capital or social resources” (Dill & Zambrana, 2009). Systemic and structural racism inhibits individuals of color from obtaining opportunities that will enable them to thrive and move toward economic stability. For, example African American men that have been convicted of a crime lose their ability to vote, to apply for financial aid and to obtain employment.
As a result they are unable to attend college to further their education, they are unable to obtain a job to provide for themselves and their families and they are unable to vote for the political leaders that will make decisions that affect their lives. The system is flawed and is designed to keep those individuals that are at a disadvantage from propelling towards advantage. In, the article Critical Thinking About Inequality Dill talks about the interactions between poverty with race/ ethnicity and gender, and how together these factors have a isproportionately negative effect on people of color, in particular women.
Like black men, black women live in improvised neighborhoods, experience occupational segregation and face the challenge of balancing family and work. Black women are often forced to play the role as primary caregiver and the primary breadwinner, thus adding to the societal stressors they face on a consistent basis. We are discriminated against because we are black; we are discriminated against because we are women.