In my mind, oppression is an unfair treatment from a person or a group of people to another person or another group of people. It comes out because of the differences among people, such as gender, sexual orientation, race, religion, age, (dis)ability, and so on. Furthermore, because of the power of some groups of people, all kinds of social justice issue occurs, no matter they are majority or minority. Oppression usually starts from prejudice, stereotypes, and discrimination. It helped to build up an unfair and unsafe world for some people to live. Some people may use survive rather than live to describe their situation of life.
First of all, I think there is no absolute right or absolute wrong in the world. Everything happened could be good for that moment but bad for this moment. For example, years ago, homosexuality was considered as mental problems and many people died because of this. But now, homosexuality is treated as a part of nature. I think it is a success of history of human development. However, even though we have legal rights to live as homosexuality and get same-sex marriage, some people are still trying to punish or censure homosexuality because of prejudice, stereotypes, and discrimination. From my point, unless there is no difference or no relative unequal power among people, oppression could be an issue forever. Here are some oppression examples from my experiences:
In the long patrilineal history of China, women were belongings of families. Women didn’t have rights to go to school and be educated. They all need to stay and home and learn about housing, cooking, clothing work. They cannot even get out from the house without a male from the family stay with them, otherwise, they will be considered as bimbos. Things get even worse in South Africa, young men will not marry with women who did not do female genital mutilation (FGM) because those men think women without FGM are dirty. I am super glad that many of these stereotypes are changed because of the development of the world. Back to several decades ago, nobody will consider these bad habits as oppression because people thought that was the way the world works.
International students are a group of people in the minority of the minority. We are paying the highest tuition but have the lowest chance to earn back from scholarship or job opportunities. It is somehow understandable because most of the funds are coming from federal level towards citizenship, include citizens and green card holder. However, there are some unfair occurs because of the system. From school level, there is a program called Federal Financial Aid. This financial aid allows schools to get funds from the federal level and support some students as a work-study program. However, because this fund is coming from the federal level, international students are not included for applying. For schools, it is a good program because they can have job opportunities for students without pay by the school itself. However, it made many campus-work opportunities become international student unfriendly. Nevertheless, because of the language barriers, most of the international student will only be considered for handworks, such as cafeteria works.
Chinese labors are cheap labors. As we can see, many American goods are made in China. Decades ago, many factories were moved out from U.S.A to China because both the lands and the labors are cheap. Chinese labors worked very hard with low-paid just because they have no decision-making power. In 2010, at least 14 labors suicided themselves from the high factory building in a company called Foxconn, which is a manufacturing company for Apple, BlackBerry, Sony, Nokia, etc. The reasons for suicides are varied, but they all considered by working issues, such as salary, working hours. In 2012, Apple company audited Foxconn because Foxconn violated the rule of salary and overtime working.
From Imani Perry’s talks, I think, as individuals, what we can do to prepare for and precipitate them is building up self-awareness. It is important for the oppressed to have self-esteem. During the talk, Dr. Perry said: “There’s this image that, um, black youth believe that doing well in school is acting white.” (The Fabric of Our Identity, Imani Peppy, https://onbeing.org/programs/imani-perry-the-fabric-of-our-identity/) First of all, doing well in school is a part of self-esteem. The knowledge and ideas that students gain from the school are the honor of themselves. It is a stereotype to think schools are for the white children because we all should have the rights to be educated. These kids who think they should not do well in school have not self-esteem to study. Then, self-confidence is also important for those students. If you do not believe you can do it, none of the others will believe you. Students who think they shouldn’t do it well at school usually are the students who did do well at school. They do not have enough confidence to believe they can do it well. Some of the racial equality issues are not been given to the people. They are generated from the original group because of the lack of self-awareness, self-esteem, and self-confidence. For these issues, we should learn more and learn better about the world, speak out for ourselves, let other people see you can do it. If people keep blaming on how the world treats them unfair, there will be no development for this world. In the other hand, from the opposite group of people, they should look on people equally and do not look down on people’s weakness, because none of us is perfect. Discrimination is the source of most of the social issues, include oppression.