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Oppression: Then and Now

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Oppression has been a common subject in both history and current times, but what is it? Oppression is prolonged cruel or unjust treatment or control. (dictionary.com) In the United States oppression has happened since early America. It is still happening in current times. But is there a difference between then and now?

In early American writings, strict rules were in place about how people should live proper, God fearing lives centered around the church. This is exceptionally evident in the works of William Bradford and Michael Wigglesworth; however, authors begin to see flaws in Puritan society, and such views become expressed within their writings. There is a movement away from total acceptance of Puritan views and rule. In The Maypole of Merry Mount Nathanial Hawthorne illustrates these problems by metaphorically comparing those suffering the negative effects of Puritan rule to residents of a festive and joyous town known as Merry Mount. Hawthorne describes a beautifully decorated town celebration involving around a particular Maypole. The Maypole is decorated with antlers and a wreath and is surrounded by hand in hand ribbon dancers. Each dancer wears a mask portraying overjoyed men and women as well as several animals. A young couple waits by the pole to be married, but they do so in vain. Soon, disapproving Puritans led by Saint John Endicott show up, chop down the beacon of joy, then whip and stockade those who misbehaved.

It is safe to say that we are living in the most progressive time in our history. We can look at things such as our first black president or same sex marriage being passed on a federal level to see that we are finally headed in the right direction. Given all of our modern-day victories, people of color still face many difficulties with their day to day lives that someone who is white does not. It is safe to say that we are living in the most progressive time in our history. We can look at things such as our first black president or same sex marriage being passed on a federal level to see that we are finally headed in the right direction. Given all of our modern day victories, people of color still face many difficulties with their day to day lives that someone who is white does not. Over a half a century ago, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed by legislators which essentially aimed to end any discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin.

Things such as racial segregation when it came to public accommodations and restrictions on voting registration, by law, were diminished under this Act. As we know, racism and other forms of oppression among African Americans and other minorities are very present even today. Racism is something that has been institutionalized within America’s DNA (Jim Crow Laws) for centuries and even though we are currently living in this socially progressive time, we can look around and find oppression everywhere. Over a half a century ago, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed by legislators which essentially aimed to end any discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin. Things such as racial segregation when it came to public accommodations and restrictions on voting registration, by law, were diminished under this Act. As we know, racism and other forms of oppression among African Americans and other minorities are very present even today. Racism is something that has been institutionalized within America’s DNA (Jim Crow Laws) for centuries and even though we are currently living in this socially progressive time, we can look around and find oppression everywhere.

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