One of the most pressing issues in the twenty-first Century is economic security along with the oppression of people. To understand just how much economic security impacts people it is crucial to understand just how problematic it is. Since the beginning of time oppression and economic instability have always gone hand in hand. Throughout history and culture, I was able to see how national and economic security along with inequality has changed and improved over time.
The theme of the problem of the twenty-first century is the adaptation of economic insecurity and oppression of the people can be seen in ‘The Ballot or The Bullet” Malcolm X explains how people of color are being oppressed and in order to fight oppression African Americans needed to vote in order to be free from the “White man”. Not only were African Americans oppressed but many different other ethnicities as well. They were oppressed politically when it involved voting and most of all economically. For example, “We’re all in the same bag, in the same boat. We suffer political oppression, economic exploitation, and social degradation – all of them from the same enemy. The government has failed us; you can’t deny that” (X, 298). In the quote stated I believe that “the same enemy” (X, 298) is actually the government because of how they condemn our nation but yet oppress the people. It’s crazy to think that the nation we live in has actually set us up for failure time and time again. In the quote economic struggle and inequality are seen when it states, “We suffer political oppression, economic exploitation, and social degradation – all of them from the same enemy” (X, 298). This was mainly seen because of the reign of “white men”. People were voted into office to change the lives of people of color for the better but instead, those elected did nothing about it. Until people made their voices loud and impactful enough causing those in power to actually make a change by allowing those from low-income households support and children no matter what color a fair education along with voting and equal rights.
A more complex form of oppression and economic insecurity can be seen in “Dred Scott v. Sandford”. Roger Taney explains how Dred Scott, an enslaved African American sued for his freedom since he resided in Illinois which was a territory that banned slavery. He considered himself a free man but many others argued otherwise that he was still a slave because he wasn’t seen as a citizen. This caused his case to be taken to the supreme court. Ultimately, The supreme court ruled that no African Americans could be a citizen and that Dred Scott was still a slave. The “Dred Scott v Sandford” is important because it showed the oppression and economic insecurity faced by not only Dred Scott but all African Americans. This case impacted the world because now regardless of one’s ethnicity or race people who are born in the U.S are now considered citizens and being offered a fair trial. For instance, “ Thus the rights of property are united with the rights of person, and placed on the same ground by the fifth amendment to the Constitution, which provides that no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, and property, without due process of law” (Taney, 180). This quote shows just how much throughout the years oppression and economic insecurity have improved throughout the U.S. This is easy to see in the quote when it states “no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, and property without the due process of the law” (Taney, 180). This quote is correlating the fifth amendment. Thanks to the fifth amendment it protected the rights of an accused person and allowed the growth of fairness throughout America by removing oppression held in court.
My outlook on the problem of the Twenty-first century being economic instability and oppression can also be seen in “One day this kid”, when Wojnarowicz goes on to explain how his future self will begin to discover all of these many different things about himself but most importantly he will discover that his sexual preference will be completely different since he would like the company of a man better than a women. After making that discovery he has realized that he will be seen as an outcast by many people simply because of what Wojnarowics identifies as and prefers sexually. As a result, society will view his sexual preference as a sin and in doing so would cause such damage to his life. For instance, “He will be subject to loss of home, civil rights, jobs, and all conceivable freedoms. All this will begin to happen in one or two years when he discovers he desires to place his naked body on the naked body of another boy” (Wojnarowicz, 341). In this quote, he explains what will happen to him when he identifies as gay because he will be exposed to all this hatred in society. But Wojnarowicz was never ashamed of who he was and he made that clear to anyone who read his work. Throughout the development of the twenty-first century, many rights have been established for people like Wojnarowics and they are now labeled as the LGBTQ+ community. Throughout time societal lenses have changed how we view those part of the LGBTQ+ community in more of a positive aspect. Society is now much more accepting especially with laws that allowed same-sex marriage.
The Growth of economic instability and oppression of people can also be seen in “Lynch Law in America”. Ida B. Wells addressed and exposed all the vile acts taken against African Americans by lynch mobs. She points out an issue about how those who committed these hateful acts against African Americans got away without any punishment while African American families who were victims suffered. She exposed the racial injustice about lynch mobs and how white people used lynching as a tactic to punish and control Black Americans who competed with whites. Since these crimes were committed by white people whether it be a male or female they suffered no consequences or legal offenses while having the power to end the life or control the fate of an African American. For example, “under this reign of the “unwritten law,” no colored man, no matter what his reputation, is safe from lynching if a white woman, no matter what her standing or motive, cares to charge him with insult or assault. It is considered a sufficient excuse and reasonable justification to put a prisoner to death under this “unwritten law”’ (Wells, 200). This quote shows me just how much power white people have since they were able to condemn black people to death with only allegations. Lynchings not only oppressed African Americans but it caused a minor set back just when they were finally gaining rights and economic stability. Ida B. Wells is a great example of oppression and economic insecurity because when people tried to keep her quiet for shedding light on lynch mobs she continued to preserve even when her life was in danger. As a result, her book ended up becoming a hit and caused the U.S to make some major changes.
An interesting outlook on oppression and economic insecurity can be also be seen in the “Declaration” when Tracy Smith says, “He has plundered our— ravaged our— destroyed the lives of our—taking away our— abolishing our most valuable—and altering fundamentally the Forms of our—In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury” (Smith, 53). This quote allows me to see how severely African Americans were oppressed by the people. It is easy to see that after much pleading for equality they are forced to keep quiet by “repeated injury” to silence them. As a result, they faced economic insecurity which caused many African Americans to lose their livelihood. Tracy Smith’s outlook on the “Declaration” is very brain-picking because of how she incorporates her statements. I believe that the “He” Tracy Smith refers to is those who have failed Black Americans; being the government. While her repetition of the word “our” is those who are being oppressed and face economic instability. This has improved in the twenty-first century because now the government has become aware of many of the challenges that African Americans face socially and physically. Subsequently, various ways are offered to help and improve the quality of life for many Black Americans.
In examining these five different passages I was able to see how national and economic insecurity along with inequality has changed and improved over time. Through various forms of oppression and economic struggles, I was able to observe the changing and development of history through the story of those who faced oppression and economic insecurity Whether they were African American or part of the LGBTQ+ community. Throughout each passage examined it is easy to see how the U.S has really improved from what it used to be. Even though The U.S has progressed we will have a long way to go. America has a history of always trying to improve their nation and society by promoting equal rights and access to economic growth.