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What Is Slavery?

George Orwell, in his book 1984, once wrote that “freedom is slavery. ” Paradoxical as it may sound, when one delves deeper into Orwell’s thinking, logic arises behind the statement. Freedom, constantly sought after, describes a state of being many people desire. Depending on one’s location, mindset, and personal experiences, freedom is defined in a plethora of ways— for children, playing outside, for teenagers, hanging out with friends, and for adults, surviving. Despite the many contrasts, one concept holds true; inevitable is the struggle for freedom.

People will always remain a slave to their aspiration and fight for freedom because freedom is another word for a war that will never end. First, throughout history, a myriad of causes have led to a struggle for freedom. To start off, America did not begin as its own independent country. Controlling America for many years, Britain’s oppressive rule eventually led to conflict. Unfair taxes and legal acts caused the colonist to revolt. Consequently, the birth of America itself derived from a battle for independence.

Giving America independence, the American Revolution established liberty. Similarly, Martin Luther King Jr. , a prominent civil rights activist, and thousands of others led nonviolent protests to “create such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue” (King 3). As a result, civil rights activists on the thousands demonstrated throughout the 1960s and achieved their goal with the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, putting an end to segregation, which ultimately benefited oppressed African Americans.

In contrast, the oppression of one’s rights causes a fight to protect rights established by the government. In the Supreme Court case ruling Tinker v. Des Moines Independent School District (1969), students “wore black armbands to protest the war in Vietnam” and when “school officials told them to remove the armbands…they refused…[and] were suspended” (Jacobs). Furthermore, the students who were suspended sued the school, claiming their right to freedom of speech was infringed upon. The Supreme Court declared that the students possessed the right to wear the armbands.

As long as a student does not disturb others, accepted is their form of expression. When compared to the revolution or the civil rights movement, this may appear insignificant; however, establishing freedom influences future actions because of the precedence set. Even in the 21st century, the fight for freedom thrives. Jaweed Kaleem, writer for Los Angeles Times, writes that “African Americans…grappled with complicated feelings about patriotism as they represent a country that many say hasn’t always embraced them” and that many are upset “over police shootings of black men” (Kaleem).

Hence, the Black Lives Matter movement creates a response to the systemic racism apparent in the overwhelming amount of deaths of innocent African Americans. The struggle to gain justice embodies what they fight for, to them, freedom defines an end to the ruthless killings in the African American community. Second, freedom is not a onetime victory. According to Martin Luther King Jr. , African Americans “waited for more than 340 years for…constitutional and God given rights” but still experienced “the stinging darts of segregation” (King 3).

In other words, African Americans interpreted freedom as an end to slavery, after slavery diminished, segregation became another barrier to African American freedoms which the community fought for once again through the civil rights movement. Pertaining to the African American struggle, journalist Jaweed Kaleem writes that quarterback Colin Kapernick claims to protest a flag that belongs to “a country that oppresses black people and people of color” (Kaleem 1). Kaleem also writes that many African Americans, like Kapernick, are upset “over police shootings of black men” (Kaleem 1).

That is to say, even after slavery and segregation, African Americans still face oppression in the form of systemic bias which should diminish, exposing another example of the countless victories African Americans must strive to gain in order to truly obtain freedom. In similar fashion, women’s rights in Saudi Arabia, according to an article named “Seven Things Women in Saudi Arabia Cannot do,” have “been incrementally extended” and “they were allowed to vote…for the first time” (“Seven Things Women”).

Despite this significant achievement, women are still not “allowed to drive,” “show of their beauty,” “use public swimming pools,” or “try on clothes while shopping” (“Seven Things Women”). Triumphantly, women in Saudi Arabia won one battle towards freedom, freedom to vote, yet many more battles remain, showing that the struggle for these women will not fade any time soon. Finally, freedom is subjective in terms of meaning.

For instance, African Americans in the U. S. efore the thirteenth amendment, which outlawed slavery, defined freedom the removal of slavery while whites viewed freedom in white privilege and social ranking which put them above immigrants, African Americans, and Native Americans. To clarify, African Americans associated freedom with a lack of slavery, whites associated freedom with racial superiority, immigrants associated freedom with a better life, and Native Americans associated freedom with a restoration of the Native American culture and spiritual lands.

Despite these diverse groups existing in the same time period, the definition of freedom varied upon race and culture. Fast forward about one hundred years, and the definition of freedom differs once again. African Americans now associated freedom with an end to segregation because “oppressed people cannot remain oppressed forever” (3) and whites associated freedom with privilege as history shows that “privileged groups seldom give up their privileges voluntarily” (King 7).

Furthermore, time changed, leading to new beliefs in what freedom symbolized. During the period after the Civil War, leading up to the 1960s, African Americans viewed freedom as integration, not segregation, but whites still believed freedom to be associated with privilege because their privilege put them in a position in society where they received the most benefits. In contrast, the location, not only the race, can also change one’s perspective on freedom.

Those living in countries controlled by iron fists tie freedom with “the toppling of dictators” as columnist Thomas Friedman writes in the Sunday Review (Friedman). People who do not deal with oppressive leaders or oppressive governments view freedom as “the freedom to live your life, speak your mind, start your own political party, build your own business…pursue happiness, and be yourself” (Friedman). In other words, just the country one inhabits can alter their view on freedom.

Oppressive governments do not have basic freedoms let alone freedom of sexual orientation or political beliefs, so one cannot fathom freedoms such as those until the government allows the freedom to live first. Certainly, freedom is tantamount to persistent crusades that arise time and time again. Freedom will never be handed over easily, and one must never cease the struggle to attain autonomy. If the struggle for freedom perishes, injustice will prevail and become the status quo. One must acknowledge that the path towards freedom is not smooth.

No, the path towards freedom is cracked like broken glass, plagued with adversity, and ragged like towering mountains. Those who persevere, those who are brave, and those who recognize the turmoil ahead will arrive to their coveted destination in the end. As Orwell wrote down, “freedom is slavery”; freedom is slavery as it ensnares people into a war that toughens the skin and opens the mind. Admirable is the war for freedom because it feeds humanity with a sort of justice that many attempt to terminate. Never forget that a war for freedom is a war worth fighting.

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