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Who have been the most oppressed group of human beings in the history of humanity?

Updated on November 16, 2008

Unfortunately, in the history of human life, the question begs to be asked, "has the straight, white, mentally fit, Christian male never been oppressed?"

Ever since the beginning of recorded history, we have heard about one story continuously: how it was the "white man's burden" to educate, reform, and compel change in the "minorities" that were "running rampant" across lands that were meant to be in their white hands. I would argue that there is no group outside the straight, white, Christian, mentally fit male that has never felt oppression. But, for the sake of example, here are the five most notably oppressed groups in American history (with no disctinction made as to the level of oppression, because how could we possibly define one oppression as "worse" or "better" than another kind?) (Also, I don't mean to imply that only Americans have ever been oppressed, just for the point of this article.)

1. African Americans. This was the largest portion of the American population that was kept in bondage, and even after their freedom was granted, it took 100 years before their rights as American citizens were protected. Starting in the 1600s, American colonists brought Africans to the colonies in order to serve as labor. In 1789, it was written into the constitution that African Americans would be counted in census's as three-fifths of a person. They suffered horribly in slavery, with families being separated, being whipped, and humiliated. And even after the 13th amendment, which ended slavery, and the 14th amendment, which guaranteed rights to all American citizens, and 15, which guaranteed the right to vote regardless of race or previous condition of servitude. And yet, African Americans were still oppressed. They were denied access to establishments, couldn't mingle or share public spaces, and generally could not enjoy life as white people could. It wasn't until the civil rights package in 1965 that African Americans had protection written in law against discriminatory things like the Jim Crowe laws. Still, it took another 43 years before America would elect its first black president, Barack Obama. The country is still home to groups like the Ku Klux Klan, which means there is still some oppression to eradicate.

2. The GLBTQI community. There have been recorded examples of homosexuality since the Roman empire. It was actually a common and accepted practice, until Christianity arrived in Rome and replaced the original pagan religion. Since that time, homosexuality has been condemned, from murders during the Spanish Inquisition to murders during the Holocaust, to modern day murders of members of the glbtqi community. In the November 4, 2008 election, four states passed ballot initiatives that restricted marriage to men and woman, and in Arkansas, restricted glbtqi parents from adopting children. The only two states that currently allow same sex marriage (as of November 2008) are Massachusetts and Connecticut. Under that same 14th amendment that failed to protect the African American community, everyone is guaranteed equal protection; however there are currently very few laws in place protecting gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transgenders, queers and intersex people, and no federal laws.

3. Women. Regardless of race or socioeconomic standing, women were denied sufferage as a group until the 19th amendment in 1920. The fight for women's sufferage had started much earlier with first wave feminism, beginning with movements such as the Seneca Falls convention and the Declaration of the Rights of Women. After women were given the vote, however, they still were not equal to women. They began to flock to the workplace in the 1910s and 1920s due to WWI and the Roaring 20s. But once there was no longer a need for women in men's jobs, they were pushed back into the home. When the 1940s rolled around and American men were called to war, the women were called into the factories and the military desk jobs. But when the men returned home again, they were sent back to the homes. And so it went until the 1970s and 1980s, when women finally started to go to the workplace without the push of a world war. Still, however, women are rarely in high level positions. Again in the 2008 presidential election, the first woman, Sarah Palin, was on the vice presidential Republican ticket.

4. Native Americans. As the name suggests, they were the original inhabitants in the Americas. Their peaceful lives ended with the arrival of the Spanish conquistadores such as Columbus and de las Casas. They chronicled their travels across islands such as Cuba and Haiti, and the treatment of the natives there. Not only were tribes wiped out from disease, but they were murdered and enslaved by these white invaders. Then Europeans begin to settle what became the United States. Indian tribes were pushed farther and farther west as Americans pursued their manifest destiny, and were shuffled from place to place on marches such as the Trail of Tears. Still, there are tribes that are not recognized in the United States.

5. Chinese and Japanese. Though immigrants built the United States, some immigrants were eventually deemed undesirable by the predominantly white population. In 1882, the government passed the Chinese Exclusion act, barring Chinese immigrants from entering the US. This was in response to the mass immigration of Chinese nationals to the US in earlier years--immigrants the US accepted when they needed cheap laborers to build their transcontinental railroad.

Japanese immigrants had it a little easier, until 1941. On December 7, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, and the United States declared war against Japan and Germany, entering WWII. For the "safety" of her Japanese citizens, America rounds them up and sends them to consentration camps, not entirely unlike the process that was happening in Germany under the Nazi party. While those of Japanese decent were not harmed (the government made no distinction between those who were American born or Japanese born), the fact is that the Japanese were rounded up, stripped of their rights, and made to live in communities where they could be watched by the US government. It took nearly 50 years for the United States to issue an apology to those Americans she disrupted, and to begin issuing retribution checks to surviving family members.

More groups than just those five have been discriminated and oppressed in the United States, and there are many more groups worldwide who are oppressed in the country that they call home.


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    • profile image

      Liam Hawkins 5 weeks ago

      Excuse me but you forgot the Irish. You know the people who, only second to African Americans, faced some of the most discrimination in the History of the U.S. When they came here they had nothing and were treated like slaves anyway from 1100 till the potato famine in the early to mid-1800's when they came here. 19% of them died on the way here and when they arrived they were treated with the same discrimination and prejudice and frankly racism from all other peoples.

      The Irish were unskilled farm laborers who settled mostly in New York and Boston where they had no skills(because it was urban). They were not hired by many other peoples and were even turned away over African Americans for work in some areas. They were looked down upon as scum of the Earth and had no one to help them but themselves.

      When they lived in the South they took jobs like coal mining, and not even slaves were given those jobs because of dangerous the labor was. The Irish were mocked for their Catholic faith and beliefs and in terrible poverty for generations.

      The fact that you made this list without including them in it better be because you did not know about it because if you did that is a disgusting insult to be completely honest.

      Not to mention the fact that in Ireland the Irish were peasant slaves to other countries for hundreds of years.

      In all due respect please look into this and edit your article. It would be really kind of you to include the Irish.

    • profile image

      DIS 5 months ago


    • profile image

      ReggieHammond 6 months ago

      This is opinion not fact. I need go no farther than the comment about Sarah Palin as the first female candidate for Vice President. The first female candidate for Vice President was Geraldine Ferraro, who was on the Michael Dukakis ticket.

    • profile image

      jddwbb 19 months ago

      You forgot the Irish, who were killed or sent to war coming off the boats as immigrants. They were considered rats and vermin, dirty and were the only other race where the N word was associated to them. Fact Check!

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      speak for you 20 months ago

      Big mistake number one on your list should have been Native Americans, were they not here first. I don't think any of the groups you listed live on reservations to this day if they want their culture to survive. I don't see 'blacks', African Americans, living on reservations, the government tried to exterminate Native Americans. They were buried in mass graves, where do you think adolph hitler got the idea of mass graves. Get your history straight. Speak for someone else rather than being all about you.

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      Deboraugh 22 months ago

      I would like to know your resources. Also there are three definitions oppression. It should be noted as to which form of oppression you are referring to. For those referencing History Books, please consider the source. Those persons that have oppressed groups of people are the same people that write the History Books. It has been proven that the History Books are inaccurate and biased. Also what timeline are you referring to?

    • profile image

      Bob Hope 2 years ago

      The Jewish community without a doubt should be #1.

    • profile image

      Historian 3 years ago

      Your blog reads like a typical SJW spoiled teenage white woman who doesn't have the slightest clue about history or politics.

    • profile image

      Twips 3 years ago

      Uh, Native Americans? Armenians? Wtf?

    • profile image

      TRUTH TELLER 3 years ago

      I find it interesting, not only in this piece is there mention of what I call a "Hypocritical Contradiction", but also in some of the comments and other pieces I've read. I apply that word based off what we are supposedly taught here in this country that race, gender, religion, sexual preferences, all the above, etc., etc.. should NOT be a means to discriminate in this land, buuut nonetheless here we are still dealing with it in 2015 despite our prior progress and vigilance.

      How can a group of people escape what some have considered an OPPRESIVE hierarchy in one land, leave that land for partly that reason and to begin a new life in another country completely from FREE from the prior country they came from aaaannnd not only just leave that country, they also fight several wars to be FREE of that countries involvement what so ever, AAAANNND-A turn around and OPPRESS not only those who are descendants of their own race like the Irish, they also oppress every other race they come across.

      WOW! talk about no MORAL CONSCIENCE.

      Hence the term "HYPOCRITALLY CONTRADICTIVE". This a practiced behavior at varying levels in EVERY race, bigotry and prejudice, which is nothing more than social BULLYING. Regardless of where it started when are WE going put an end to it? When will we as a species finally evolve?

    • profile image

      zara henry 3 years ago

      oppression is what oppressed people go through

    • profile image

      op 3 years ago


      i agree for the most part but i don't think that there is more oppression on the Ukrainian Jews than there was on the Jews that were alive during the day of the YAHWEH (or Jehovah)

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      Erik 3 years ago

      As a Ukrainian Jew, this article offends me down to my bones…. No group has had more people slaughtered and has endured more social oppression than Ukrainian Jews…. Shame on you for being the stereotypical non white american who constantly SHITS on white men for your own bitter reasons.

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      Deagle 4 years ago

      Whos to say which people had it the worst? Its opinion at that point.

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      MetaBarbar23 4 years ago

      The Jews got it the worst during the Holocaust, but nowadays I don't think they're much oppressed anymore, with Israel being a powerful developed with many powerful allies and an extremely powerful lobby, at least in the USA. Plus, many of the greatest minds of human history have been Jewish, and intellectually they flourished during the modern era in the West (including Israel's achievements in science now) and earlier during the golden ages of the Islamic Empire. Throughout history, Kurds and Armenians (who themselves had a holocaust) have gotten it pretty bad, and nowadays the Palestinians and Tibetans are pretty oppressed.

    • profile image

      FeWolf 5 years ago

      Actually Jews, check history, and it is still going on today!

    • profile image

      Michael 5 years ago

      Jews anyone?

    • profile image

      Dan 6 years ago

      No offense btw. Just should not have been "in the history of humanity" if it focused on the USA.

    • profile image

      Dan 6 years ago

      This is so stupid. It's from an Amerocentric perspective entirely. It ignores all who suffered under Western European colonialism, those who have suffered racism in other countries (eg-Kurds, Balochis)....

      Anyway the true answer here is that no single group has been the most oppressed. Different groups have had different styles of oppression.

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      Atm 6 years ago

      Jews? internment camps were not as bad as concentration camps

    • profile image

      Dinomcc 6 years ago

      Actually the Irish were oppressed for their Religion too, the penal laws.

    • profile image

      Ralph 6 years ago

      Why didn't you ask how men were treated?

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      Shadow Warrior 6 years ago

      I appreciate the recognition, by many of you,identifying the plight of the Native Americans/Indigenous peoples.

      Still today, the most economically depressed, underpriviledged citizens of these United States are the Plains Nations, in particular the Lakota/Dakota Sioux.

      Generally, it wasn't until 1924 that 'Indians' were given citizenship in a land that European invaders took from them. Another 20 years would go by before the first tribes were allowed to participate in the most precious of Americans rights, the right to vote.

      However, worse than all of that, was the theft of the Warrior Spirit. The Euro Invader raped the Earth Mother,

      and the Great Spirit seemed powerless to stop their evil. Unfortunately all the peoples from all the nations realized too late the evil, and the Euro Invaders took the Land, Poisoned the Earth Mother, and stole the Warrrior Spirit from our braves, leaving empty shells of men to roam on useless land.

      Fortunately some Nations, such as the Seminoles, have used the tools and greed of the whites to make thriving communities. We have a legacy of never having been beaten by the incarnation of the Christians Satan, Andrew Jackson. Other nations are trying to accomplish self-sufficiency following the template of the Seminole and Miccosukee.

      But is is a long road, longer than any other ethnic or special interest group.

    • Ace Wipe profile image

      Ace Wipe 6 years ago

      For those who are saying that blacks are the most oppressed and discriminated against group are insane in my opinion. They have been given every advantage possible in the last half century through affirmative action, free college tuition, and countless entitlement programs. Many standardized tests for various employment opportunities have been "dumbed down" so that African Americans have a better chance of making the cut. To call them oppressed at this point is terribly misguided.

      I know that these facts are not always readily available on the net and in the media but I have found one place that has been the beacon of truth. If you care to check it out you can visit at:

    • profile image

      Mick 6 years ago

      Ukrainians and Poles. Between Stalin and Hitler, it's the greatest amount of killing of a particular peoples ever, ever.

    • profile image

      james 6 years ago

      There is also the fact that the first Irish didn't speak the language and were discriminated upon that as well.

    • WesternHistory profile image

      WesternHistory 6 years ago from California

      Very good information. I think that Native Americans are probably near the top of the list. Lots of examples on this blog

    • profile image

      desklight5 6 years ago

      You forgot the Germans --or the many German speaking peoples---

      why is that?

    • profile image

      Kaylin 6 years ago

      I agree with Pete but also empathize with your mistake. The united states did not leave enough healthy (let alone alive)Native Americans to make a "loud" enough stand in the modern genocide category like the Jews have. But I do not think this is a mistake. An ideal "defender of freedom" does not kill everyone in the house he wishes to live in... Truly an embarrassing skeleton in the closet of the american patriot.

      Also i would even argue that the "straight, white, Christian, mentally fit male" has oppressed himself simply by being the one who has not been in a 'spotlight' oppression. I would make this point on the basis that an increasing majority of other countries they (for lack of a better word) hate Americans. Who stereotypically fit the subject at hand to a T. And because Mother Nature and Father Time do a wonderful and consitent job at implementing a kind of balance.

      And I believe Auntzue pointed out something obvious. Had you souly used fact I wouldn't have had to argue that Natives were treated more ruthlessly sevenfold then the blacks simply because there race is still a common sight in plenty of countries. And secondly, Women? I suppose it may be a mistake to a generation as a whole, not just you. I mean sure; should they not be aloud to vote? Some would argue that due to Aunt flow's constant visits no, but I believe technically yes voting is OK. But as for running for president? back in 1912? probably not? would we have to stick a clause in the oath saying I swear to abstinence? Because being a mother is a huge responsibility. At times it can be very time consuming, even life threatening for the mother. So it may be a mistake to not oppress on those grounds.

      Anyways. I want to thank you for the paper. It was food for thought while I drank my Coffee. Thankyou

    • profile image

      Pete 7 years ago

      I'm sorry but you put homosexuals and women over Native Americans? No group in America has been treated more reprehensibly than the Native Americans. You are clearly a product of your time to rank your subjects as you do.

    • profile image

      Dame 7 years ago

      Thank you for the article, I enjoyed it. And thank you Jantutor for pointing out the discussion participants and how they've added to this wonderful piece in a respectful, well thought out manner. It is nice to come to a place that isn't infested with negativity.

    • profile image

      Luis  7 years ago

      Umm she said The HISTORY of oppression in the United States of American.

    • profile image

      Woll Smoth 7 years ago

      No mention of Jewish people in an article about historical oppression. Nice.

    • profile image

      dave b 7 years ago

      read your history. my people, german lutherans, were savagely suppressed by catholicism (hence the Reformation)until Martin Luther came along. What about Nazi Germany? Many German Christians who refused to go along with the Nazi party were slaughtered....i met their relatives. Yes, the Blacks were the most repressed, surely, especially in the last 200 years. But before that, during the Roman Empire, Christian whites were slaughtered in great numbers. Unless of course, our history books have been that corrupted and mistaken

    • profile image

      brie 7 years ago

      good job

    • susanlang profile image

      susanlang 8 years ago

      Good and interesting read, well done!

    • profile image

      -- 8 years ago

      There has been a lot of persecution of Christians in the past. Nero, for example, created a number of different ways for Christians to die in front of him for his entertainment and sport.

      I don't think that there is a group in history that hasn't been oppressed somewhere, somehow, on the basis of any number of things. People always want to create hierarchy, unfortunately, and the hierarchy will manifest itself in any way possible.

    • profile image

      N/A 8 years ago

      What about Jews?

    • profile image

      Nothiean 8 years ago

      Atheists are the least trusted minority of society...

    • JanTutor profile image

      Jan Thompson 8 years ago from London, England

      Trublu your hub is both brave, thought-provoking and well put together.

      Aside from your piece, the thing that impresses me about this hub is the fact that the commentators have each intelligently marshalled their points with respect for their individual position and also for you. In particular I refer to KDorfman, Richard and Starbourne.

      Now we just need to get the rest of the world respecting each other and accepting difference ...

    • Trublu profile image

      Trublu 8 years ago from USA

      Richard: I hadn't thought of that, and I agree entirely. In any society, really, the one who thinks outside the box is the one who is ostracized... until people realize their idea is a good one, and then they are glorified for it. Normally, after the time has passed when they are actually around to get recognition.

      johnjones: Quite true. While I'm mighty glad to live in America, this country most definitely is not perfect. But, so long as we continue to strive for a "more" perfect union, I think we'll do alright. However, it would do Americans well to know their own history and recognize that our oppression of each other has a long and continuous history.

      Wendy: One could probably take every category that one could name, and at one point they were probably oppressed. I agree that these groups were/are in the category at some point, but they just didn't make my top 5 list. However, as I said in my "disclaimer", I'm making no claims as to levels of oppression here, just the 5 that I could explain very well, and that I think many others would have on their top list. If we were to put together a list of everybody, ever, who was oppressed, we'd be here continually adding people to the list forever.

    • profile image

      Wendy Montero 8 years ago

      But what about the Irish, the German, the Jews the Mexicans and any and every Latin American immigrant in general?

    • johnjones profile image

      johnjones 8 years ago from USA

      That is the parody of America. While other people outside our country look up to us as defenders of freedom, some of US Americans are really oppressors of fellow Americans.

    • marinealways24 profile image

      marinealways24 8 years ago

      I completely agree with Richard. I was just about to write that. By far the most oppressed.

    • Richard VanIngram profile image

      Richard VanIngram 8 years ago from San Antonio, Texas

      Individuals. Genuinely independent, authentic, thinking, creative people. This has been the most oppressed category of human since humans began to oppress one another.

    • profile image

      Trublu 8 years ago

      Apparently, auntzue, you failed to read my response thoroughly. In one of the very first paragraphs:

      "(Also, I don't mean to imply that only Americans have ever been oppressed, just for the point of this article.)"

      I stated, from the very beginning, that I was only going to address American history. I kept the title of the original prompt, but tailored the answer to what I have knowledge of and could talk about intelligently. If the title is all you can get out of this article, then I think you are missing the point. These groups don't "appeal" to me, they are actually some of the most oppressed groups in American history. Or would you pick others?

      I'm also not sure what your definitions of "fact" and "opinions" are... but most of what I am giving as examples are in fact, facts, not opinions. They are examples that can be found in source materials. Opinions would imply that I am making some sort of judgement. Inherently, this article in its entirety is an opinion, but it is an opinion piece backed up by facts. If it's really necessary, I could go through and point out each and every fact I used. I hope you'll take a second read and find them for yourself.

      I didn't say Rome was the first example, I just said it WAS an example; and I mentioned the Romans specifically so that I could talk about the point where homosexuality began to be regarded as unacceptable, in Rome, which was the arrival of Christianity and Christian doctrine. I could have mentioned Greece, but it would have helped my particular argument very little.

      Despite your negative comment, you failed to actually refute any of my arguments.

    • profile image

      auntzue 8 years ago

      Trublu, you failed to answer your own question. Your headline asks who are the "most oppressed group of human beings in the history of humanity". Ignoring that question, you proceed to grind your political axe within the confines of North American history, and then, only to the groups that happen to appeal to you.

      BTW, your writing is filled with opinion and few facts. For example, you cite Rome as the first example of accepted gay behavior. Uh, what about ancient Greece?

      Contrary to the accolades from other readers, I think this is a poorly-written (high-school level) summary which is off-topic.

    • profile image

      Anonymous 8 years ago

      Once again, people ignore the Jews.

    • Trublu profile image

      Trublu 9 years ago from USA

      Indeed he did, Tony. Thank you for the comment!

    • tonymac04 profile image

      Tony McGregor 9 years ago from South Africa

      Good answer. Thanks

      The comments are all interesting also. I think KDorfman made some very good points especially

      Love and peace


    • KDorfman profile image

      KDorfman 9 years ago from Pacific Northwest

      You are absolutely right, don't let me take away from that. You still make a great point, and a good hub. Cheers!

    • Trublu profile image

      Trublu 9 years ago from USA

      You're still right, KDorfman, however I believe my first response to your original comment still stands true.

    • KDorfman profile image

      KDorfman 9 years ago from Pacific Northwest

      Fair enough. But remember, many people that are still white, male, hetero Christians have been still discriminated against on the virtue of their being POOR, and it still goes on. Discrimination doesn't just take the guise of race, or (what seems to be popular construct of race) skin tone. Discrimination on an economic basis is far more prevalent.

    • royalblkrose profile image

      royalblkrose 9 years ago from florida

      that's a very interesting read

    • Trublu profile image

      Trublu 9 years ago from USA

      You are right, KDorfman, but what I was really referring to was the fact that nobody has targeted that group on the basis of being white, male, heterosexual Christians; the Irish were oppressed for being Irish. The Americans were oppressed by the British crown too, remember.

    • starbourne profile image

      starbourne 9 years ago from NYC

      Excellent read and well written. Sucks that people are still focused on race, gender, etc. when there is so much more that we could get accomplished if we got along and worked together

    • KDorfman profile image

      KDorfman 9 years ago from Pacific Northwest

      Yes, there is a group of White, Straight, Chsitian, Hetero males that have been oppressed, and weren't able to secure the freedom of their nation until the post WW2 era, after enduring 700 years of brutal occupation and conquest, and it wasn't until recently that their country was even relatively free of severe turmoil. You've never heard of the Irish?

    • Trublu profile image

      Trublu 9 years ago from USA

      Thanks so much, Nordy!

      It's fascinating to consider that America is one of the most accepting and free countries in the world, but yet one of the most prejudiced and oppressive at the same time.

    • Nordy profile image

      Nordy 9 years ago from Canada

      well done, a fascinating read!