Freedom and the Demand by Minorities in I Have a Dream by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Reading Lolita in Tehran by Nafisi, and Persepolis 2 by Satrapi

Out of the seven billion human beings currently living on Earth, no single person is born with the right to arrogantly stand above others. Though, from the moment out of the womb, we all are the same as any other baby; red, loud, and a little ugly- some take advantage of their given material wealth and grow foolish ideas about how people other than themselves should be treated. Such people are blind to the natural freedom of a human being- the freedom to stand on equal ground with any other. As shown in I Have a Dream by Dr. Martin Luther King, Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi, and Persepolis 2: The Story of a Return by Marjon Satrapi, freedom that has been restricted from humans should be returned. Freedom is always given to majorities, but must be demanded by minorities.

Dr. King’s I Have a Dream speech rang out as the voice for the black minority at the time, forcefully urging the white majority to give rights that were long past due to the black population. To begin, King used a simple debt[1] [2] as a parable for the situation of his people, that they had “come to our[their] nation’s capital to cash a check” (pg 48, King). In order to cash a check or receive a debt, something must be owed. In this case, it was the freedom to live as fairly as the white population. This explains that he, on behalf of his people, had long since realized that kindly asking or serving the majority in order to receive their rights would not work- it would have to be aggressively taken back. Following the parable, King stated that he and his supporters would “never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of unspeakable police brutality…our bodies cannot gain lodging in freeway motels or hotels in the city…the Negro in Mississippi cannot vote” (pg 49, King). While the white majority[3] [4] [5] [6] was able to vote, comfortably stay in hotels, and have the promise of safety at their fingertips by tax-paid policemen, the black population did not have the access to vote, ensure their stay at a motel, or have assured safety from people who were supposed to be under a commitment to protect. They were seen as the bottom from the eyes of the whites, and did not deserve to have those basic rights. If the black population had not risen up with Dr. Martin Luther King to call for their freedom, they would never have been simply granted even the freedoms they had been born with.

In the comic strip Persepolis 2: The Story of a Return by Marjane Satrapi, the minority was not a race, but a gender: women. Satrapi, who drew this comic to show women oppression from the Iranian government, drew a frame in which she “remember[s] spending a day at the Committee because of a pair of red socks” (Frame 5, Satrapi). The government stripped women of their rights, not allowing them to even wear a pair of cheery red socks. By doing this, she was pressed to deny herself and admit that she had done something wrong in wearing those socks- when the reality was that her basic power of choosing what to wear was being taken away. Earlier in the strip, Satrapi told the readers that the students “confronted the regime as best as we could… but they began arresting…we no longer dared talking politics” (Frame 2, Satrapi). Even though they did their best to stand up against oppression, they were forced to back down because of the threat of arrest hanging over their heads. Those demanding freedom against the government and its new policies were being pushed back, never mind being handed freedom. The majority in power, men, were oppressing women’s rights although they tried to fight back. Where is the “giving freedom” in this?

Though some may say that freedom has always been given, that it’s simply man’s power to do what he wants with no one to stop him, that is not the case. Even dressing one’s self in the wrong way or having visible makeup can be seen as a huge crime, one that could have women beaten in Iran. Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi stated how women would be “flogged, fined, forced to wash toilets, and humiliated” (pg 83, Nafisi) for merely walking in a noticeable manner. This shows that doing the slightest thing wrong, even if it was a good choice to some, could be seen as rebellious and result in public embarrassment and physical mistreatment. Though women, the minority, may want to dress or act in a manner different from what was thought correct by the government, it would only bring negative consequences. To not have freedom is not simply “do what you want”, but more of a “do what you’re allowed to do”.

The idea that freedom is given can be seen as a general statement due to majorities easily controlling it, yet the truth hiding behind it is that minorities always fight for theirs. The struggle for rights in all categories, whether it be race, gender, or being against the government, is not an easy one for those who fit into the minority category, as shown in the examples above. If people wait for freedom to be handed to them on a silver platter, it will quietly slip away if they do not demand for it. As the author Robert Heinlein said, “Nothing of value is free. Even the breath of life is purchased at birth only through gasping effort and pain”. The same principle applies to human beings. Freedom is not a tangible thing; it cannot be heard, seen, or touched, but the battle for it is necessary in order to keep your given equality with the world.