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Voice Of Minority Groups

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There are many things that stand out in America as we have all come to know it today. Among those that are in the majority there are no worries, and things are typically thought to be very equal and just. Everything is relative, and compared to the past everything is equal and just, but there is a lot of ground that can still be made. There are numerous examples throughout our history of people stating grievances in the cases of women’s rights, African American rights, GLBT issues, and even the unstated privileges white people are given today. America was founded strongly with expressions such as, “all men are created equal” (Jefferson, 1776, p. 5). There are many arguments to be made that this expression was not all people, but all men because those in power are self-interested. Whites still have privileges that would not want to be given up, and disadvantages are given to minority groups in turn. African American, women, and GLBT issues are still very present today, and people are still suffering because of it.

The thought of equality was started when Jefferson wrote The Declaration of Independence at the originating times of America. The thought of equality was a cornerstone in the building of our government. The founding fathers started this thread of self-interest that is continuing on even today. White men all wrote and decided on the founding principles of our country at the onset in 1776. It is because of their self-interest that everything was setup giving whites, and especially white men many advantages. People in power do not want to give up the advantages they have been given without a fight. This is evident in the fact that whites still have not given up very many, if any of the advantages in everyday life. The truth is that those in power are for some reason afraid of sharing this power. For people to stay in power they feel they must not let others obtain any for themselves. We now live in such a diverse country it has proved to be too great of a task for anybody to be successful in the attempt.

The Declaration of Sentiments is an article written collaboratively by Mary Ann McClintock, Lucretia Coffin Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Martha Coffin Wright. It was written at the Seneca Falls convention of 1848, the first of several public women’s rights gatherings in America. It paralleled the Declaration of Independence in many ways, but instead applied to the rights of women being equal with men. These women were setting out to inspire the women of the United States to fight for equal rights to those men had, like they were already doing.

There were many grievances in the article about the government as it was at the time the article was written. They referred to some “He” (McClintock, Mott, Stanton, Wright, 1848, p.) repetitively, referring to mankind in general, and especially the men of America. The Declaration of Independence does this as well, but of course referring to God. The beginning of this article uses the same words as the Declaration of Independence, but adds “and women” (McClintock, Mott, Stanton, Wright, 1848, p.) to a couple of key parts. Overall it lays out the same rights and liberties that were previously laid out for the country, but adds things specifically for women not previously included; which is all rights. They finish by laying out the fact that they will do everything possible to achieve all of the rights they believe themselves to have been born with.

These women had very good intentions of trying to gain what we think of as equality. However, they do exhibit the same kind of self-interest mentioned earlier. Men had the power, and women absolutely did need a voice to help gain equality for them. One thing I notice is that they were not asking for the rights of any other minority group in the United States at the time. If anything they should have felt sympathetic towards groups like immigrants and African Americans who had very few rights at this point in our history. Groups like these have to find their own leaders to act as a voice to the public.

This brings me to the next portion of the thread, the African-Americans who are represented in this case by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. King wrote the article Letter From Birmingham Jail in 1963, after being imprisoned for a demonstration in Birmingham. He was in the interest of the African-Americans, especially in the south where the segregation and discrimination were prevalent. Blacks in this country had supposedly been given their freedom a long time ago, but were still never treated with the equality that they deserved. In this article, King wrote about why he was in that prison. He said, “Basically, I am in Birmingham because injustice is here” (King, 1963, p.67). He did not want to be one of the many who sat idly by while injustice continued.

There were many blacks that wanted their rights at this point in time and were very much in support of Dr. King, but never really stood up and did anything about it. King appreciated the support but still criticized these people. He felt that in any nonviolent campaign there are four steps: “collection of facts to determine injustices, negotiation, self-purification, and direct action” (King, 1963, p.67). The injustices were obviously there at the time. Next up was the negotiation, and that was obviously something very difficult for him to do at the time. Self-purification was a necessary step because you must know what you really want for yourself before you can stand up to anyone. Direct action was nonviolent action, like sit-ins and demonstrations in the streets. This was very necessary in order to get people to notice what was being done.

The interest Dr. King had in his own cause was very understandable, but present nonetheless. He was imprisoned at the time, but did show thought for his cause more than for himself in this letter. Dr. King did have a way of making whatever he did for his cause very public. This is a trend for the people who are leaders for their particular cause. This was an issue that was focused on very publicly at the time he wrote this article. When cases are so publicly known it does make them hard to ignore. In America today some of the biggest issues spoken about constantly are GLBT issues, and especially same sex marriages. In the newest portion of this thread in American history, homosexuals do not feel like they are getting all of the rights they deserve and people like Nava and Dawidoff are standing up for these rights.

In the article What do They Want Anyway?, Nava and Dawidoff (1994) discuss the GLBT issues that so many Americans face today. They try to explore what it is that this group of minorities is looking for. The answer given throughout is simple; they “want the same thing



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