Essay Sample on What is Racial Oppression and How it is Expressed in Augie's Memoir

Published: 2023-11-12
Essay Sample on What is Racial Oppression and How it is Expressed in Augie's Memoir
Essay type:  Book review
Categories:  Racism Discrimination Analysis Social issue Books
Pages: 6
Wordcount: 1432 words
12 min read

The Ask Media Group, LLC defined racial oppression as burdening a particular race using cruel restrictions or impositions. Racial oppression can be expressed in different ways, including social, institutionalized, internalized, and systematic. In the history of America, racial oppression is in different forms such as genocide, slavery, diffuse racial discrimination, geographical displacement, as well as second-class citizenship (Blauner 19). Authors of different literary works have tried to explore the subject of racial expression in their texts, especially in American society. A writer who covered the subject of racial oppression is Joseph August Merasty in the book "The Education of Augie Merasty." Understanding the subject of racial oppression and how authors have expressed the subject in their literary works requires an in-depth analysis using a specific text to show how the subject transcends the history of America. The essay is a literary analysis of Joseph August Merasty's "The Education of Augie Merasty" to examine racial oppression and how it is expressed in the memoir.

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Racial Oppression as Expressed in Augie’s Memoir

Joseph Augie Merasty, the author of "The Education of Augie Merasty," presents critical aspects of historical, and educational challenges for the people of color in Canadian residential schools. The author shows the atrocities that the indigenous people suffer in a white society. Racial oppression is one of the societal issues that a reader encounters throughout Augie's text. Augie describes his childhood experiences dark moments with the whites in Canada. The author acknowledges the cruel policies set by the government to ensure the blacks are oppressed at every instance by the white. The African American children were to endure the dark heart of humanity from the whites while schooling in government-funded and church-run schools. The school leaders subjected the children of color with policies of aggressive assimilation to the white society. Based on this background, a racial expression is a clear subject that flows throughout "The Education of Augie Merasty" and an important topic that is useful in understanding historical, educational challenges of the indigenous people in residential schools. Racial oppression in Augie’s memoir is expressed in two major ways, including second-class citizenship, and diffuse racial discrimination.

Second-class Citizenship

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defined second-class citizenship as people who are not provided with similar rights to others. They are discriminated against by the state irrespective of them being citizens in the given country. The government considers them second-class citizens as a threat to the scarce resources in a nation (Pilkington 159). Second-class citizens limited civil rights, legal rights and socioeconomic opportunities, unlike their counterparts. They are highly subject to neglect and mistreatment by the superior class in society and disregarded by the law, which is often used to harass this group. When reading “The Education of Augie Merasty,” second-class citizenship is a clear approach to racial oppression in which Augie expresses the non-white children. The non-whites are regarded as inferior to the whites. In the text, Brother Johannes told Augie and other fellow children that the “Germans were the smartest people in the world, supreme above any other race” after reading a German newspaper (Merasty 34). It is a clear way of looking down up Indian children as second-class citizens with the low mental capacity to that of Germans.

Second-class citizenship treatment of the indigenous people in Canadian society is evident in Augie's memoir based on how the Brothers treated the non-whites without caring whether they have rights and are protected by the law. As noted earlier, second-class citizens have rights, but the superior class can infringe their rights in society without the law or government questioning. Johannes treated Augie and his friend with cruelty and in a ruthless manner. That was evident when Augie remembers how Brother Johannes begged them repeatedly that they are Roman Catholics and should not kill as that is the Fifth Commandment of God. In response the Brother’s statement, Augie reveals how the whites were cruel and mistreated the Indian children by stating that “but you didn’t remember any Commandments of God when you tortured us for almost five years” (Merasty 58). The author expresses the bitter experiences of childhood from the actions of people who were supposed to protect them as children. One would that religious hypocrisy dominated the little regime of the residential schools in Canada during Augie's childhood. One would relate the actions of the Brother’s in the residential schools as religious hypocrisy as they never practiced what they preached.

Non-whites were considered as racialized groups with fewer privileges to access education in a peaceful environment. As second-class citizens, the Indian students subsisted on "rotten porridge and dry bread" while the Brothers and Sisters in the schools feasted on roasted chicken and cake (Merasty 14). Augie gave an account of how the students watched over the chicken, and after laying eggs, none was ever tasted as good by the children. Johannes also discriminated the Indigenous children and regarded them as foolish, unlike the German. Augie described Johannes as "a Hitler worshipper, a complete fascist" (Merasty 34). Such treatment by the Brothers and Sisters showed how the Indians were despised as lesser beings based on their race. Because of their race, the whites felt that Indigenous children should not be treated with dignity.

Diffuse Discrimination

Diffuse discrimination is another way with which Augie expresses racial oppression in “The Education of Augie Merasty.” Diffuse discrimination is a type of racial oppression whereby the superior class uses discriminatory actions towards the minority race. Such actions are not directly supported by the state legal powers but frequently occur during social interactions. In Augie’s memoir, diffuse discrimination is evident with the way the whites treat the Indian children in the schools. The racialized groups in the society access education in low quality due to their poverty levels when compared to the whites. The superiors in the Canadian government and church-run schools looked down upon the non-American children and taught the Indian children how to be ashamed of their culture. Non-whites in the education system also experienced sexual and physical abuse.

Physical abuse was evident with the Indian children being punished through beating. The author described one of the Sisters as heartless by stating that it did not take much time for a new nun “to practice what her bosom buddy Sister St. Mercy was doing” (Merasty 42). The indigenous children received endless physical torments from the Sisters. Sexual abuse for the young Indian children mostly came from the Brothers in the school staff. Augie described the experiences at the residential schools as devastating with the stated that Brother Johannes was “a particular cruel teacher and sexual predator” (Merasty 33). Johannes sexually abused male students within the workshop openly and brazenly. Augie described an instance of beings molested at the age of eight years in the washroom by Brother Lepeigne, who was in charge of caring for the children. Bad behavior remained with school staff, and they could conceal it by bribing the children with candy promises to remain silent. Augie was threatened to get a beating or being thrown from fourth flow in the event of talking of sexual molestation by Brother Lepeigne. Authorities would not question the cruel actions of religious leaders towards the Indian children in residential schools.


In conclusion, the essay examined the topic of racial oppression and how it is expressed in Augie’s memoir. Racial oppression is burdening people of a specific race and violating their human rights. It is treating them as inferior and not deserving of equal treatment as the superior race. Augie's memoir expressed racial oppression through how indigenous children in residential schools were treated as second-class citizens and through diffuse discrimination by the school staff. The text demonstrated church and government-run schools in Canada as oppressing Indian children because of their race. The essay revealed that authors of literary works such as Joseph August Merasty know issues that affect the society and the need to address the challenges that come with such problems. Indigenous people need to be treated with dignity, and society should not discriminate them based on their race.

Works Cited

Ask Media Group. “What Is Racial Oppression?” Reference, 2020.

Blauner, Robert. Racial oppression in America. HarperCollins College Div: 1972. ISBN-13: 978-0060407711

Merasty, Joseph. The Education of Augie Merasty. Regina, SK: University of Regina Press: 2015. ISBN: 0889774579

Merriam Webster Incorporated. “Definition of second-class citizen.” 2020.

Pilkington, Hillary. Second-class Citizens: Reordering Privilege and Prejudice. Manchester Open Hive. 2016. doi: 10.7765/9781526114013.00015

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