Identity and Oppression: Issues and Struggles
Social groups can be categorized by means of race, ethnicity or nationality, sexuality and gender preferences. These are recognized and known by the public to have a significant impact on individual lives on different levels. The status of these categories has been dramatically changing. It faces real and serious issues that posed threat to the quality of life of certain individuals. It has affected the relationships and everyday experience of a person.
People tend to rationalize their reactions on these growing social issues. In these studies people need to analyze the implications of their actions and decisions. There are political implications among the categories. The social stigma and status continued to affect every level of the society. Race, class, gender and nationality among other categories have shaped our society’s standards and moral philosophy.
One of the major objectives of these groups is to fight and stand against oppression they are experiencing. Racism, sexism, and homophobia are among the common and growing issues that continued to create activist groups that fight for their inherent rights and equal treatment by the society. The problem extends way beyond the extremist boundary. The media and history have recorded numerous incidences of cruelty and maltreatment of these social groups. It is a challenge to fully understand the roots and the consequences of this inequality in the society. How should people react in those situations is what really matters. By listening to others personal experience regarding the oppression one can comprehend and gain consciousness regarding the issue.
The Politics of Identity and Oppression
After a personal identification or awareness of oneself as a member of an oppressed group and the anger or revenge felt with that awareness is a natural response to someone experiencing oppression. The real enemy then should be identified. They believe that only those who actually experience a particular form of oppression are capable of fighting against it. Everyone else is considered to be just part of the problem and cannot become part of the solution by joining the fight against oppression. The underlying assumption is that all men benefit from women’s oppression and all straight people benefit from homosexual oppression.
Racism as defined is the belief in the inherent superiority of one race over all others and thereby it’s right for dominance. Sexism on the other hand is the belief in the inherent superiority of one sex over all others and thereby it’s right also for dominance. Homophobia pertains to prejudice against homosexual people particularly same sex unions. Classicism is actually “class inequality” a problem involving snobbery or arrogance towards those inferior to them. Racism includes discrimination from various groups like blacks, Latinos or Asians and Muslims. Sexism moreover emphasized the male dominance. Homophobia is against the lesbian and gay. The economic and career status or level also greatly affects the people coming from lower, middle and upper-class groups. Educational attainment also discriminate people from whether one is literate or illiterate.
After knowing and understanding these terms one can fully look at all the possible reasons for discriminations. Discrimination and segregation are the words that pertain to what happens to those belonging on those groups.
People who fall from these groups are prone to the experience of oppression, maltreatment and injustices to name a few. It is therefore a disadvantage to be labeled, judged and tagged with these categories.
No Hierarchy of Oppressions
Audre Lorde described herself as a black, lesbian, feminist, socialist, a poet and a mother. She usually included herself part of these groups in which the majority defines them as deviant, difficult, inferior or just plain wrong. She learned that oppression and intolerance of difference come in all shapes and sexes and colors. For her there are no hierarchies of oppression, she learned that sexism and heterosexism both arise from the same source as racism. The increasing attacks upon lesbians and gays which she believed an introduction to the increasing attacks upon all black people and for whatever oppression manifests in this country. Black people according to her are always the potential and targeted victims. She cannot afford to believe that freedom from intolerance is the right of only one particular group. For him there is no hierarchy of oppressions, order or structure. Oppression is present and experience by all groups.
Cherrie Moraga author of La Guera, described herself as a “la guera” meaning fair skinned having born with the features of her Chicana mother, but the skin of her Anglo father. Being Chicana for her would mean being less. It was through her mother’s desire that they became anglocized. She also admitted her lesbianism. For her lesbianism is as inferior as being brown and being a woman. She believed just like what Audre Lorde said that without an emotional, heartfelt dealing with the source of the own oppression, without naming the enemy within ourselves and outside of us there is no authentic, no hierarchical connection among oppressed groups can take place. She thought that her responsibility to her roots both white and brown, Spanish speaking and English should be with a foot in both worlds and refuse their split. These two stories from real women described their struggles and their desire to fight against oppression. They both recognized their vulnerability to their own lives and to the lives of their loved ones. They desire to help their families and their children from these oppressions.
Oppressions happen in different context of the society. People need to accept the fact that injustices and discrimination truly prevails. Even if we have all the reason to fight for our rights sometimes there are some who often wins and some who always fails.
Life was full of difficulty for these special groups of people, the blacks, Latinos women and homosexuals. There is inherent weakness in each of them which make them hard to compete in the world standards.
Blacks are obviously inferior to whites because of white’s better physical features than them. Latinos are inferior to an American also by many other factors like economic, intellect, language and skin color. Lesbians and gays faced discrimination because of their unique and unnatural preferences. Women are abused and exploited because they are physically weaker than men. There are many reasons why oppressions existed.
Many years have passed and there are some changes that took place to protect the rights of these people. Society has become more aware of the situation of these people. Hate crimes, exploitation, maltreatment, inequality and loss of privileges have been lessened in some degree but there are still some who continue to face the same thing.
Being a black, a Latino a gay or lesbian was like giving or inviting people to victimized and oppressed you in the way they like. It’s like giving them the right or the license to mistreat and exploit you. They are the victims of oppression most of the time.
It seems that there is no freedom after all, freedom to be different, freedom to stand for your rights and freedom to express yourself fully. It is a “survival of the fittest” if you don’t pass the norm and you are way below the standards then you has to admit your own defeat. Maybe those who oppress really have the rights to do it because they may have the reason but they should realize that they are fortunate enough to be normal and in the mainstream. It doesn’t mean it is a good idea to treat others with contempt and hatred.
Moraga, Cherrie. “La Guera” September 1979. 24 October 2008 <http://jan.ucc.nau.edu/hdh9/e-reserves/Moraga_-_La_Guera_PDF.pdf>
Lorde, Audre. “There Is No Hierarchy of Oppressions” 12 May 2008. Illvox.Org
25 October 2008 <http://illvox.org/2008/05/12/there-is-no-hierarchy-of-oppressions/>
“The Politics of Identity” Januray-Februaruy 2008. International Socialist Review
25 October 2008 <http://www.isreview.org/>