Oppression of African Americans

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Crime and Punishment Eng. 101

October 10, 2011

Oppression of Blacks in America

Oppression of blacks has been happening since their arrival to America. This control over blacks first came in the form of slavery. The four hundred years of slavery seems like an event of the past, but oppression and racist acts upon blacks has taken many forms throughout the course of history. Some of these acts still occur in our society today. According to the article “The Drug War is the New Jim Crow”, the number of black men in prison (792,000) is already equal to the number of men that were enslaved in 1820 (Boyd18). After emancipation, the oppressive and racist acts upon “free” African blacks can be seen in the works of Oshinsky, Blackman, and Wright. These works give insight into the continual oppressive nature of our country. Although each work is based upon different time periods and locations, oppression is imposed upon blacks politically, economically, and judicially to limit and control their freedom.

The control of blacks after emancipation was deeply rooted on the basis of fear. In Worse Than Slavery, Oshinsky says that the only “effective” deterrent against the murder and rape of white women by Negroe men was mob violence (28). This violence was directed at almost all blacks accused of various crimes. This mob mentality was also seen in Bigger’s story when he looked at the paper headlines, which read “TROOPS GUARD NEGRO KILLER’S TRIAL” and “PROTECT RAPIST FROM MOB ACTION” (Wright 365). Although explicit actions of lynching and murder were more likely to happen in the late 1800’s, Bigger had some of the same hateful words of “kill ‘im now!” and “lynch ‘im!”yelled at him (Wright 373). The mob violence in both works had mobs that were fueled by a sense of hysteria. Again, this intimidation was not displayed as explicitly during the 1930’s in which Native Son took place, but there was more of a “psychological” element that was used to provide “an element of...