A Literature Perspective on Approaching Oppression Essay Example

Many times when things get hard people will look the other way and not want to face the issue. This is called the flight or fight response. The flight or fight response is when someone is in a tough situation they either run away from the problem or they face it and deal with it. Many of the African Americans responded with the fight method, but was their method significant in solving the oppression issue? The way that a problem is approaches makes all the difference in the world when trying to resolve it. The African American readings allow the reader see throughout the character’s heritage there has been oppression, but it is not the oppression that they have inherited, it is the manner in which they handle the oppression that has made them who they are and allows them to handle it with dignity and self respect.  

How It Feels To Be Colored Me

In “How It Feels To Be Colored Me” by Zora Neale Hurston, the main character Zora is not afraid of her heritage. She does not look down upon her heritage and shame those who oppress her race. Instead, she uses her heritage to grow as a person and along the way it gives her this new found confidence. Growing up Zora did not notice the race difference until she left her small town and was now considered different from the whites. She still does not let that affect her and she says, “But I am not tragically colored. There is not great sorrow dammed up in my soul, nor lurking behind my eyes”. She has learned from her heritage that facing oppression with dignity and respect this will allow her to not be held back by oppression, but use it to become a strong person.  She says, “No, I do not weep at the world – I am too busy sharpening my oyster knife.” She is not upset at the world, she is merely using what has happened to strengthen herself as a human being. She learns from her heritage that by facing oppression from the past and from the present with dignity and self respect she will succeed more than any other African American has before. Her approach to oppression will allow others to have a respect for her.    

Letter From Birmingham Jail

Throughout Martin Luther King’s Letter From Birmingham Jail, he maintains dignity and self respect, even in the face of oppression. Dr. King is in jail for speaking out about the situation that the blacks are facing. To many this would be discouraging, but he allows this to drive him to become more passionate on the subject and it makes him want to do more. Through his heritage, he sees how the people before him handled the discrimination, and he uses their methods to learn how to address the situation in a more appropriate fashion. Dr. King says, “Oppressed people cannot remain oppressed”(272).

He knows that he has to address the discriminations, but he knows that he has to address it in a certain manner with dignity and respect that will grab the whites attention. From his heritage he has learned that trying to handle the situation by resolution to violence will never make it any better. He says, “Christ was an extremist for love, truth, and goodness and thereby rose above His environment”(273). Martin Luther King Jr. wanted to create a peace between the people, but he knew that he would have to rise above all of the others attempting to do the same things. He knew that he would have to approach the condition with dignity in himself and respect, so that in return he might receive the same respect. “ I stand in the middle of two opposing forces in the Negro community(276)”. Dr. King knows that many in his community do not agree with the way that he was handling the situation they were in, but he knew that it was the right way and the best way. 

A Raisin In The Sun

Throughout “A Raisin In The Sun” by Lorraine Hansberry, the reader sees that each character handles and views their heritage in a different way. The Younger family is left with money after the father's death, and each of them has their own idea what they are going to do with it. Each of their ideas are based off of their heritage. In this story Mama seems to be the only one who in the face of oppression handles it with dignity and self respect. She understands that this money is a chance to start a new life, where they are no longer worried about if they will have enough money the next day. She says, “Once upon a time freedom was life. Now it’s money.” She is not ashamed of her heritage, and because of this she wants to make the rest of her life the best it can be.

Many blacks during that time did not have much money, and they all lived in the same area. Mama and her late husband shared a dream of buying a house, and that is exactly how she wanted to spend the money. Her heritage allowed her to see that, yes oppression was terrible, but many blacks let oppression stop them from accomplishing their dreams. So, instead of letting the oppression stop her from accomplishing her dream, she maintained her dignity and self respect and pursed her dream of buying a house. Throughout the story Walter Younger, Mamas son, is never satisfied with his life. He always wants more, and he wants to make himself known. Mama says, “You ain’t satisfied or proud of nothing your dad and I done. She wants her son to know that they have worked very hard to try and make a better life for their family in the face of oppression. This shows how mama was willing to do anything and everything so that oppression did not defeat her. 


Everyone has a different method that they would like to use when it come to a tough situation, but it is those who approach the situation with dignity and respect that will receive a reward in the end. Throughout these stories, the characters use their heritage of oppression to know how to deal with it during their time and make a better life for themselves. Their heritage of oppression gives them an insight on the best way to be successful when facing oppression in the present. Those such as Martin Luther King Jr., Zora Hurston, and Lorraine Hansberry learn from their heritage the best way to approach oppression is with dignity and self respect.



We are glad that you like it, but you cannot copy from our website. Just insert your email and this sample will be sent to you.

By clicking “Send”, you agree to our Terms of service and Privacy statement. We will occasionally send you account related emails. x close