Opression in Maya Angelou’s I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings and James McBride’s Color of Water

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Oppression is exercising power in an unjust or cruel manner toward a specific group of people. Throughout the history of the United States and Global history, many religious groups, women, and ethnic groups have been targeted. These groups were especially targeted during the early twentieth century. Martin Luther King, an active Civil Rights Leader, wrote about the ways these people worked to end oppression for themselves and groups of people in his book, Strides toward Freedom. He says there are three ways people respond to oppression; they are acceptance of their own doom, non-violent actions and a violent response. Overall, he emphasizes community involvement, working together and dropping racial barriers as the solution to oppression.…show more content…
This makes Maya set in her way that she is ugly and lower than a white person. Therefore, her brother Bailey gives her confidence by telling the adult women that she is prettier than their children. With a strong supportive relationship with Bailey Maya is able to have someone to talk to and help her. As Maya grows up she is already looked down on because she is African American, even though she was at the top of her class. Maya’s job opportunities are limited when she gets her first job as a server in a household. Her employer, Mrs. Cullinan, calls her Mary instead of Maya, even when corrected. Mrs. Cullinan does not learn Maya’s name because she is use to being superior. This is emphasized when she easily changes Hallelujah’s name to Glory. Many African Americans at time would be afraid to stand up to a white person because they could get beaten or worse killed. Maya realizes this is not just and she asks Bailey, her brother, how to get back at the Mrs. Cullinan; Bailey tells her to break her favorite casserole dish. When she has lack of confidence it is easier for her to be taken advantage of by the people. With Bailey she realizes she cannot sit back and let people walk all over her. She needs to stand up for herself in some way.
Maya’s grandmother, Mama, also played a significant role in Maya overcoming oppressive racism. Most importantly, Mama shows that

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