Martin Luther King Jr’s ”The Ways of Meeting Oppression” is a division and classification essay in which King explains the ways in which oppressed people meet oppression. He states that, historically, oppressed people have responded to their oppression in negative ways either resulting in their total destruction or prolonging their oppression. King challenges the oppressed Negro to meet oppression positively and effectively. In the essay, he examines the three characteristics ways of meeting oppression. He divides these ways and classifies each ranging from the ineffective to the most effective way of meeting oppression.
First of All, King Describes acquiescence as the most passive and ineffective characteristic way of meeting oppression. King declares that this way of meeting oppression is a way in which the oppressed resign themselves to their doom. In addition, he explains that this characteristic way is ineffective because ”the Negro cannot win the respect of his oppressor by acquiescence, it will be interpreted as proof of the Negro’s inferiority” (King 382). According to King, the Negro cannot win the respect of the white people if he is willing to sell the future of his children for his personal and immediate comfort and safety.
Secondly, King explains that while violence is not a passive characteristic, it is an equally ineffective way of meeting oppression. He notes that though violence may bring more momentary results, “it solves no social problem; it merely creates new and more complicated ones” (King 382) He explains that violence is a behavior that is intended to hurt people—physically. According to King, to resort to physical violence or corroding hatred is both impractical and immoral. He explains that it is impractical because it destroys both parties and is immoral because it thrives on hate rather than love.
Third, King illuminates that nonviolent resistance is positive characteristic and effective way of meeting oppression. He explains that nonviolent resistance is that act of acquiescence and violence combined. King states that” with nonviolent resistance, no individual or group need submit to any wrong”(King 383). He affirms that this way of meeting oppression is most effective because the Negro will rise to noble height while fighting an unjust system, making a lasting contribution to moral strength of the nation and enlist all men of good will in his struggle for equality.
In conclusion, King’s work addresses the three characteristics ways of meeting oppression. He enlightens the reader to the idea that acquiescence and violence are ineffective ways of meeting oppression. He explains that violence is both impractical and immoral. King affirms that nonviolent resistance is a positive and effective way of meeting oppression because it seeks to bring opposing forces together for positive change.