Topics: Oppression, Japanese people, The Oppressed Pages: 3 (902 words) Published: March 4, 2013
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, oppression is a concept that means unjust or cruel exercise of authority or power. At first, it was difficult for me to fully comprehend the meaning of oppression. However, following our class readings, this concept has become clearer to me. As mentioned by Simone Weil, “Human beings are so made that the ones who do the crushing feel nothing; it is the person crushed who feels what is happening. Unless one has placed oneself on the side of the oppressed, to feel with them, one cannot understand.” In order to understand oppression you need to walk in ones shoes. The class readings gave us an inside look and life examples of how oppression comes about. Oppression is not something that happens overnight. It is built overtime, gradually, until we realize what we have been through. Through the readings I witnessed the outcome of oppression. Oppression is revealed in the way people react to things and how they act on a daily basis. People may not even be aware that their actions are an end result of oppression. For instance, in Emperor Was Devine, when the family returns home after nearly three and a half years being restricted to the camp, the mother keeps her head down, reluctant or maybe incapable to acknowledge herself to others unless it was absolutely necessary. In a lecture given to the children, they are taught to remain common, unmemorable, and nameless as a way of self-protection. Also, they were told not to answer questions in class even when they know the answer and to follow all rules no matter how bizarre they may seem. The cruel circumstances of these Japanese families forced them to hide and be ashamed of their race/identity. In the chapter entitled "In a Stranger's Backyard," which represents the collective impressions of the two children, they communicate their feelings about how they look. They say, "We looked at ourselves in the mirror and did not like what we saw: black hair, yellow skin, slanted eyes....
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