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Oppression of Minorities in Modern Society

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Martin Luther King once famously said that he looks forward to a day where people will not be “judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” Though we as a society have made great strides since those words were first famously delivered, there is still injustice amongst minority and majority groups in western society. Visible minorities including immigrants are oppressed by society, leading to gaps in job opportunity, education and freedom.

First and foremost, it is common sense that everyone deserves to be paid an equal sum for an equal amount of work. Yet this is not the case for minority groups in the United States of America. This is a country that is known to proudly proclaim to have equal opportunity for all, but forces many minority groups into low status jobs with poor compensation. This leads to oppression as “Immigrants thus have worse jobs than natives but do not view them as such.”Madeline Zavodny. To an outside eye it would seem that the oppressed are simply too “lazy” or “unwilling” to enact change and demand higher wages, but as a student of Paulo Friere’s teachings it is very blatant that the oppressed in this case, the immigrant workers, do not even realize the extent of their oppression because they are dehumanized. This dehumanization leads to them to be afraid of their oppressors, the native population, because they are constantly thought of as less-than. So therefore they accept that they are condemned to a lower paying and lower status job. In fact, many times they are grateful to their oppressors for giving them work in the first place despite the poor conditions of their jobs. This sets them up to be exploited which is a form of dehumanization and ultimately oppression. A study found that female immigrant workers are 24.4% likely to work more unusual hours than their U.S peers. This goes to prove that they are so misguidedly grateful for their opportunity to work that they would simply slave away at the whims of their bosses for little to no extra compensation. Lastly, native born Americans have difficulty overcoming alienation. This is shown through their often needleslly prejudicial words and actions. An example of this prejudice comes from the current president of the United States, Donald Trump who said about immigrants from Mexico that they are “people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.’ Donald Trump. This prejudice ultimately only leads to further dehumanization and a bigger gap in job opportunity as they are not viewed as equals by society, and so therefore do not deserve the same job opportunities. This problem is not only relevant for immigrant minorities, but also their native born children. A research article has found that a “number of areas in employment policies and practices were identified as likely to put ethnic minority graduates at a disadvantage”.

This oppression also spreads to minority groups in education, from children in elementary school to adults who are trying to get a career. Oppression and racism towards minorities, sadly, starts at a very early age. This is supported by findings in the U.S Department of education that show students of color were almost 3x as likely to be suspended as their white peers. This early discrimination only paves a road of misguided rebellion towards superiority figures in society such as teachers or even the police as well as a feeling of ostracism amongst their peers. In fact, sociologist David Ramey found that harsh disciplinary actions towards youth, such as suspension or expulsion meant that they are only more likely to get in trouble with the law as they grow up. This is essentially the “School to prison pipeline” that is talked about often by Henri Giroux. The situation only worsens when we look at immigrant adults who are unable to get jobs in the fields they are overqualified to work in. A Thesis on “The Non-Recognition or Devaluation of Foreign Professional Immigrants ‘Credentials in Canada” Emmanuel Dean Osaze (July 2017) looked at a study conducted by Basran and Zong of 404 Indian and Chinese found that that only 18% of them at the time of the study worked in their own profession in Canada. While only 6% agreed that the provincial governments had conducted a fair recognition of their foreign credentials. This shows that society would be capable of judging one’s worth and capabilities based on their race and minority status alone. Not only does this injustice oppress minority groups but it also affects their freedom in being able to work in the jobs they want.

Freedom and democracy are the landmark pieces of the western dream. A society where one should figuratively, and to the boundaries of the law, be able to do whatever they want. Unfortunately this is not always the case. As seen earlier, immigrants in Canada and the USA are oppressed to the point they do not even have the freedom of working the in same discipline that they’ve studied for all their lives. This ultimately affects their freedom in all aspects of life. Firstly, they struggle to find jobs that can adequately support themselves or their families, often settling for odd jobs with poor hours and wages. Secondly, to make up for their poor wages they often have to work much more hours than the average in their work field. Ultimately, this translates to less time and freedom to do what they want and have the right of doing. Freedom is also stripped away from many native born minorities of color. African Americans are found to very often be victims of racial profiling, aggressive stop and frisks, and police brutality. This takes away their right of freedom as they cannot do the smallest of things without constantly feeling like they are being judged or prejudiced against by the police. Not only that but African Americans oftentimes literally have their freedom taken away from them. This happens when they are wrongfully convicted for crimes they did not commit, which is 7x more likely to happen to them then to their Caucasian peers. Therefore, because of oppression most visible minorities are not even given the same amount of freedom that most native born Caucasian Americans and Canadians think they are entitled to.

In conclusion, visible minorities have a much more difficult time in western societies because of circumstances outside of their control. They are often oppressed because of their culture, place of origin and the color of their skin. This means they have much less opportunities in many basic but essential aspects of life such as jobs, education and even freedom. Although their oppression is not as blatant as it was many decades ago, minorities around the world still need to liberated from their oppressors and ultimately the first step Is as simple as being conscious of their dehumanization and oppression.

Reference List

  • Cole, N. L. (2019, May 30). What You Need to Know About the School to Prison Pipeline. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/school-to-prison-pipeline-4136170.
  • Connor. (1995, November 30). Ethnic Minority Graduates: Differences by Degrees. Report 309. Retrieved from https://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED398411..
  • Emmanuel Dean Osaze A Thesis Submitted to the Faculty of … (n.d.). Retrieved from https://yorkspace.library.yorku.ca/xmlui/bitstream/handle/10315/34314/Osaze_Emmanuel_Dean_2017_MA.pdf?sequence=2&isAllowed=y.
  • New to Canada, struggling to find work. (2017, October 20). Retrieved from https://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/education/new-to-canada-struggling-to-find-work/article36660656/
  • Nittle, N. K. (2019, August 8). How Racism Affects Minority Students in Public Schools. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/how-racism-affects-public-school-minorities-4025361.
  • Why Do Minority Men Earn Less? A Study of Wage Differentials among the Highly Educated. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.mitpressjournals.org/doi/abs/10.1162/rest.88.2.300.
  • Zavodny, M. (2015, March 12). Do Immigrants Work in Worse Jobs than U.S. Natives? Evidence from California. Retrieved from https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/irel.12087.

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