The most liberating and the most imprisoning moment of a person’s life is the moment they realize they are a victim of oppression. Frederick Douglass, Jose Yglesius, and Frankie Mae have all faced this moment. They have all let this moment impact the rest of their lives. Frederick Douglass was a slave who was taught to read by his slave master’s wife. When his slave master, Mr. Auld, found out about this, he immediately instructed his wife to discontinue the reading lessons. He told her that if Douglass learns to read, it will be “forever unfit for him to be a slave” (69). To Mr. Auld, a slave should only know to obey, and nothing more. These words had a profound effect on Douglass, but it did not bring him down. He was more encouraged to rebel and get more educated, and so he found knowledge elsewhere.
Jose Yglesius was a cigar roller who worked long hours in the hot sun everyday for low wages. Though he was part of an underprivileged group, he still found solace in his work by listening to the “lectores” that played while the men worked. When the literature was taken away from the men, they realized how important it was to them. They knew they were oppressed because of their economic status, so they appreciated the importance of literature and education, seeing it as a way out, a hope for freedom. Instead of succumbing to the oppression, they fought against it by going on strike until they were allowed to listen to the lectures again. Frankie Mae was the daughter of a slave, and worked hard to get an education while working on the farm as well. She thought that getting an education would be her path to freedom, but soon learned that she would still be oppressed by her master, educated or not. This realization sunk deep in Frankie Mae’s heart. She let it deflate her, and soon died in childbirth, after many years of depression. Here, we see an example of how education can only take you so far, as the class system Frankie Mae was forced to live under and be oppressed by would always overtake her education. Her master would still not see her as valuable, even when she proved him wrong.
There are many parallels between the situations of these historic characters, and today’s society. Many people are still oppressed and find ways to fight against these forces every day. Our society’s clear example of this is the Occupy Wall Street movement, or the spread of “Islamophobia” that many Muslims have to deal with. Even when it comes to the internet, we see parallels. Where internet regulation and freedom rights are becoming more of an issue, people are speaking out more against it. The internet is an important tool for groups all over the world, because it provides a broad spectrum of channels for people to express and voice their opinions. Many issues going on all over the world are brought to our attention because of tools in the media like the internet. With the decline of print journalism, we see that the internet has become a primary access to information all over the world, and is a significant tool for many people who may otherwise be oppressed. As a downside, the rise in importance of the internet may be a disadvantage for the poor class, or groups that may not have access to it. This leads to a lack of access to important information, especially because of the high cost of education, most notably in the United States. The internet has become almost a secondhand education for those who may not be able to afford college. These oppressive forces still exist today in our society.
-Nour Saudi (008)