The American democracy has been around since the late 1700s. American democracy has been one of the main reasons why the United States has been such a successful country throughout the years. The United States Constitution has also been used as a model for governments around the world.
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The greatest reasons for the successes of America are the many freedoms provided for by the United States government. However, even with all of the greatness of the American democracy, there are still many parts that still need improvement. Issues of American society that still need to be fixed are oppression and racism.
The first part of American society today that is keeping American democracy from improving is oppression. In Five Faces of Oppression, by Iris Young, she states that oppression consists of people being “inhibited of their ability to exercise their capacities and express their needs, thoughts, and feelings.” A few different types of oppressions include exploitation, marginalization, and cultural imperialism. These different types of oppressions are just a few of the reasons that are causing American society from progressing. (Young, 40)
The first type of oppression is exploitation. Exploitation uses the idea of working people without giving them a proper wage. Although capitalism has been one of the greatest parts of American society, there are many negative impacts that it has on society. (Young, 48)
Capitalism causes the rich CEO’s to take advantage of the working class. While the poor are working the hard labor jobs, the rich get to profit off of their labor. Exploitation of the work of the poor causes great division within the country and keeps it from progressing.
The next type of oppression is marginalization. Marginalization is the process of excluding a group of people from certain opportunities or putting them in a lower social class. This is a type of discrimination that impacts many of Americans. This type of oppression is seen in the hiring process and in the careers of many Americans. (Young, 53)
Especially in this age of technological advancement, many employers are looking for young, bright workers that are good at technology and social media. This creates a discrimination of older people in the workforce since they are not as familiar with this technology and social media as the younger generation. Many people are seen not as qualified in the jobs they have been employed at for years just because of their age. Marginalization causes a divide in the nation that keeps it from progressing.
Another type of oppression is cultural imperialism. Iris Young describes cultural imperialism as, “the universalization of a dominant group’s experience and culture and establishing it as the norm” (Young, 59). This takes the culture of the ruling class and imposing it on everyone else in society. (Young, 59)
In American society, the ruling class in this context are straight white males. One way this cultural imperialism is seen in society today is between the LGBTQ community and the rest of society. American society has made it weird to be homosexual. If anyone in the community comes out as homosexual, they are generally looked down on and bullied because of their sexual orientation. Cultural imperialism causes tension between the ruling class and the rest of society and therefore keeps society from progressing.
The next part of American democracy that is impeding a fully thriving society is racism. Slavery was abolished through the thirteenth amendment of the United States in 1865. Although slavery was abolished, the racism surrounding minorities is still around today.
In order to discuss racism, there is first a need to define what racism is. Racism is discrimination for a person or a group of people based solely on the fact that they have a different race. There were many readings in this class on how racism is identified. One argument posed in The Heart of Racism, by J.L.A. Garcia is that racism is based solely on the intent of the person committing the act. (Garcia, 6-7) For example, he says that if aliens were to come to earth and bomb Africa in search of resources and happened to kill only black, this act would not be racist because they did not blow up the people based on their race. Garcia says in order to determine if a person is a racist, it must be determined the attitude of the person. Once the attitude of the person is determined, then it can be known whether or not a person is racist. (Garcia, 26)
Having racism in a society is wrong. Garcia also poses why racism is wrong. Garcia defines racism as, “a fundamentally vicious kind of racially based disregard for the welfare of certain people. (Garcia, 6)” He describes this as wrong since this takes away from the justice that everyone deserves. Living in a society where people of different races must coexist, racism tips the scale of justice from one race of people to another, which is immoral.
In America today, there is still overarching problem of racism. Many people might think that racism ended when Martin Luther King Jr. gave his “I have a Dream Speech.” However, that is not the case. There have been many news stories that involve white police officers shooting unarmed African-Americans based on the color of their skin. These types of injustices are examples on how racism is still around today. This is a prime example of how this same racism still exists today.
Having citizen equality is an essential part of a great society. While on one side there have been many changes that have occured for good in America that have lessened the weight of racism, there is also still racism occurring around the country. By using these good changes as a model to increase the amount of good changes occuring, would help with the improvement of American society.
American democracy is one of the greatest systems of government but even it has its faults. With a society that is always changing, there is a need to change laws and to create a system to educate students on these changes. In order to create these changes, there is a need for negotiations and a dialogue between the oppressed and lawmakers. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote about this concept in his letter from Birmingham. He said that negotiations are the best way to change this oppression. (King, 5) Peaceful protests on these issues could create a discussion on these topics in the government. By creating this discussion, there could be an increase in great changes in society to reduce oppression in society and cause American democracy to improve.
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