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johnson questions

1. Starting this exercise I am a 21 year old Caucasian female. Changing 2 parts of the diversity wheel (Race, and Gender), I now become a 21 year old African-American male. I now am more likely, statistically, to be arrested, convicted, and go to prison, then a white male. If I played basketball, for example, I am now held to a higher standard of athleticism. I am more likely to be rejected on a loan application and given poor information regarding whatever I ask about. I am charged higher prices for cars and have less access to quality goods. I am now labeled as a ‘black man’ whether I feel like associating myself with my color or not. I can no longer assume that national heroes and success models held up for routine praise are of my race. I am now more likely to be attacked because of my race by hate groups. When out walking, I can expect to be challenged to my right to be there. I can assume that my race will be used to decide whether I will ‘fit in’ with a group. I can expect to be categorized into ‘black’ as if all blacks were really one person. On the flip side, now that I am male, I can expect to be held to a lower working standard. I will be charged lower prices for cars simply because I am male. People won’t attribute my failures to my gender, and I can assume that national heroes will be my gender. I can walk outside without wondering whether I will be sexually harassed, and asked to explain what I was doing there. I can control conversations and get away with it, and expect my idea will be seriously considered. My gender will not be used to determine whether I will ‘fit in’ at work. I will no longer have attention drawn to how sexually attractive/unattractive I am. I am no longer slotted into a narrow range of work options, and I can succeed without others being surprised. I expect that if I work hard I will get ‘what I deserve’ and have the right to complain if I do not. Others judgement of me in my gender (man) are not incompatible with judging me in my occupation (I can be a real man and a aggressive lawyer at the same time). The largest problem with privilege is that based upon my lists above, some areas conflict. For example, as a black, I am held to a higher standard, but as a man I am held to a lower standard. So I am privileged and unprivileged at the same time. People never see one another as simply ‘black’ or ‘male’ or ‘white’ or ‘female’. Everything is a package deal. Sometimes my privilege as a male will cancel out my unprivileged blackness. Other times my status as a black will overrule the usual privileges as a male. The ‘Matrix of Domination’ reveals how people can be privileged and unprivileged at the same time. None of the ism’s (racism, sexism, classism) are worse or more heinous then another. Heterosexism is used to support male privilege and racism is used to support class privilege. Each is inextricably bound to the others.

2. Individualism is a cancerous sore eating away at society. It leads each person to believe that they are an island among the maelstrom of humanity, disconnected from the grime of privilege, power, and prejudice. Individualist’s believe that if they are not purposely participating in racist behaviors then they are not racist, and they are not perpetuating the system. When an individualist is told that they are participating in racism they perceive it as a personality flaw. They will interpret it as being told they are a racist who harbors feeling of ill will towards people of color. This is untrue, so they will deny the statement. Racism, sexism, and heterosexism are perceived as diseases that infect people and flaw them internally. As an individualist, I will look for a ‘cure’ to this disease, or a way to ‘quarantine’ them so no one else will ‘catch’ the ‘disease’. The problem is that people do not have to consciously participate in patterns of gender or racial privilege to perpetuate the consequences. A male professor can take males more seriously without be conscious of his gender discrimination, but the discrimination is still happening! No one can win without someone else losing, because that is how this society is set up to work! We do not have to be racist people to follow the easiest path that is shrewn with racist consequences. By following these paths with these results I am implicitly reinforcing the normalcy and acceptability of these consequences. ‘Minority tokens’ contribute to people’s individualistic theory because they then feel that if this person ‘made it’, then the reason that the others don’t ‘make it’ is because of some internal personality flaw. Everything is the specific person’s fault, not the outcome of a warped system.

3. The social arrangement of our society treats us as privileged or unprivileged, not based upon anything we do, or who we are, by the category we have been sorted into and how we are treated because of that sorting. The paradox of privilege is that people can be privileged without feeling privileged. People can also be oppressed without feeling oppressed. It is like someone living in a rainy climate without being rained upon somehow. The rain still exists, and others are wet whether that person has been rained on or not. People do not like trouble, because it is difficult, and shakes things up. The people who are privileged in society don’t want to lose their privilege so someone else can be less oppressed, even if they will not say that in words. The trouble with trouble is that most people will take the road of least resistance. This means that they will keep things the way they are. Either they will stay silent, even if they feel uncomfortable with a racist joke, or they will feel huge amounts of distress, but still do what they are told to do. People in privilege will deny and minimize the problems of racism, classism, and sexism when they are faced with it. Some will counter with a list of advantages that the other group has, and how they are ‘unprivileged’ in comparison. Others may blame the victims using racist or sexist stereotypes. Another way to minimize the gender inequality is to call it a cute name like ‘battle of the sexes’. An interesting tactic is to defend against the intentions of an action. The group in advantage will use the defense of their intentions (which were not bad) while the oppressed group will argue how they cannot stand the consequence of those intentions. The biggest obstacles to overcome will be getting people to begin talking about the ism’s without cringing or becoming defensive. It is very difficult because the patterns of fear and pain are so ingrained in society that we don’t even think about our knee-jerk reaction to prejudice and privilege. If we can begin to talk about the problems we have instead of shoving them under the rug, then we have something to work with. Until then we will continue our destructive cycle.
 by niki

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Subject: Intersting May 22nd, '03 3:14pm

I found myself skimming this article because I got bored, I dont think that you told the reader anythign new.  HOWEVER!!! I did like it for the most part, and was actualy suprised at what you learned from it.

I hope my suggestions dont ofend you, but I would try to come up with some facts that most people dont know.  Maybe even quote a famous person or a book.  An obvious one would have been the colour purple, or even a line from the move White Men Can't Jump.

I also thought your opening was a little weak, but decent. For a school paper I would give you a B,but for LRC I give you a respectable 5.

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