The Three Characteristics Ways of Meeting Oppression
Martin Luther King Jr.'s "The Ways of Meeting Oppression" is a division and classification essay in which King explains the ways in which oppressed people meet oppression. He states that, historically, oppressed people have responded to their oppression in negative ways either resulting in their total destruction or prolonging their oppression. King challenges the oppressed Negro to meet oppression positively and effectively. In the essay, he examines the three characteristics ways of meeting oppression. He divides these ways and classifies each ranging from the ineffective to the most effective way of meeting oppression. In his examination, King characterizes acquiescence, violence, and nonviolent resistance as the three characteristic ways of meeting oppression.
First, King describes acquiescence as the most passive and ineffective characteristic way of meeting oppression. King declares that this way of meeting oppression is a way in which the oppressed resign themselves to their doom. In addition, he explains that this characteristic way is ineffective because "the Negro cannot win the respect of his oppressor by acquiescence, it will be interpreted as proof of the Negro's inferiority" (382). According to King, the Negro cannot win the respect of the white people if he is willing to sell the future of his children for his personal and immediate comfort and safety.
Second, King explains that while violence is not a passive characteristic, it is an equally ineffective way of meeting oppression. He notes that though violence may bring momentary results, "it solves no social problem; it merely creates new and more complicated ones" (382). He explains that violence is a behavior that is intended to hurt-physically. According to King, to resort to physical violence or corroding hatred is both...