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Every morning before breakfast I walk with our dogs, Sophie and Elsie, in acres of woods behind our house in the northwest hills of Connecticut. I can feel the seasons come and go. Winter lies long and deep beneath one snowfall layered on another.
Come spring, fiddlehead ferns uncoil from the forest floor and then summer exhausts itself before sliding into the cool, crisp clarity of autumn. I like the walks mostly for the solitude. I can reflect on my life and the world and see things in perspective and more clearly.
And I like to watch the dogs crash through the woods as they chase each other in games of tag, sniff out fresh deer scat or the trail of an animal that passed through the night before. They never stray far from what I imagine to be their essence, the core of what it means to be a dog in relation to everything around them, living and otherwise. Deep in our bones, for example, we are social beings. We have a huge capacity to be creative and generous and loving.
We spin stories, make art and music, help children turn into adults, save one another in countless ways, and ease our loved ones into death when the time comes. We have large brains and opposable thumbs and are incredibly clever in how we use them. We can figure out how to live just about anywhere under almost any conditions you could imagine.
We all like to feel that way — accepted, valued, supported, appreciated, respected, belonging. We would, that is, unless something powerful kept us from it. Apparently, something powerful does keep us from it, to judge from all the trouble there is around issues of difference — especially in relation to race, gender, sexual orientation, disability status, and social class. Something powerful keeps us far from anything like a world where people feel comfortable showing up and feel good about themselves and one another.
Several years ago I was sitting across a restaurant table from an African American woman. We were talking about a course on race and gender that we wanted to teach together. And while we talked about what we wanted our students to think about and learn, I felt how hard it was for me to talk about race and gender in that moment — about how the legacy of racism and sexism shapes our lives in such different ways, how my whiteness and maleness are sources of privilege that elevates people like me not above some abstract groups, but above people like her, my friend.
But all these indignities that my whiteness protects me from are part of her everyday existence. She has to decide where to park her car for tyhe greatest safety, to remember to have her keys out and ready as she approaches it, and to check the back seat before she gets in.
In other words, she has to limit her life in ways that never occur to me, and her being female is the only reason why. As these thoughts filled my mind, I struggled with how to sit across from her and talk and eat out lunch while all of this is going on all the time.
No, the problem is that in the world as it is, huge issues involving race and gender shape her life and mine in dramatically different ways. No, her misfortune is connected to my good fortune. But there is is just the same. All of that sits in the middle of the table like the proverbial elephant that everyone pretends not to notice.
In its place is a powerful kind of trouble that is tenacious, profound, and seems only to get worse. It creates a yawning divide in levels of income, wealth, dignity, safety, health, and quality of life. It promotes fear, suspicion, discrimination, harassment, and violence. It sets people against one another. It builds walls topped with broken glass and barbed wire.
It weaves the insidious and corroding effects of oppression into the daily lives of tens of millions of women, men, and children. It has the potential to ruin entire generations and, in the long run, to take just about everyone down with it. It is a trouble that shows up everywhere and touches every life in one way or another. There is no escape, however thick the denial.
But such thinking mistakes fantasy for reality. There is no way that a problem of difference can involve just one group of people. And there is no way to separate the problem of not being white from being white.
We live in a society that attaches privilege to being white and male and heterosexual and nondisabled regardless of social class. For me, it means I have to take the initiative to find out how privilege operates in the world, how it affects people, and what that has to do with me.
It means I have to think the unthinkable, speak the unspeakable, break the silence, acknowledge the elephant, and then take my share of responsibility for what comes next. It means I have to do something to create the possibility for my African American friend and me to have a conversation about race, gender, and us, rather than leave it to her to take all the risks and do all the work.
Understanding how to change that by bringing dominant groups into the conversation and the solution is the biggest challenge we all face. My work in this book is to help find a way to meet that challenge.
It is to remove barriers that stand between us and serious long-term conversation across difference and effective action for change cthat can make a difference. From Privilege, Power, and Difference , 2e.
For more information, click here or click the book cover on the sidebar. Facebook Twitter Tumblr Email. Sorry, your blog cannot share posts by email.
How to make a black and white mac
Post a Comment. Tuesday, September 11, Johnson: Chapter 3. Johnson states that capitalism has been the predominant and virtually the only economic system around since the demise of the Soviet Union. The capitalists did this by employing people to work for them for low wages. The employees had no choice in how much they earned, they were just lucky enough to have a job. So because capitalists profited from the difference of the cost of producing the good and the cost that they sold it at, they wanted to higher the cheapest labor they could get.
Also capitalism not only produced a large amount of money it also produced a very large inequality between classes. The rich got richer, the poor got poorer, and more middle class people moved down to the lower class. So not only did capitalism separate the population into classes based on wealth, it started white privilege with the direct connection of the enslavement of Africans as a source of cheap labor Whites hired slaves: Africans, Chinese, Japanese any labor they could get that was cheap so they could profit from their labor.
To justify their forms of imperialism and oppression, whites developed the idea of whiteness They used this idea to control white workers. This racial division became an effective way to divide the different segments of working class against each other.
This is still present today with the idea of affirmative action and the fact that whites find it unfair that other immigrants are getting jobs because they will work for a lower wage. Also capitalism exploits people with disabilities and also shapes gender inequality in the workforce.
However, Johnson states the idea of the matrix domination and the fact that people can be privileged and unprivileged at the same time. Such an example would be a black, male, heterosexual. He possesses the privilege of being male and heterosexual however he is unprivileged for being white. So as Johnson asks at the beginning of the chapter, why all the oppression and hostility and violence over something that is made up? Well, as Johnson points out through his argument, racism has been around for a long time and we, as Americans, do not know much different then thinking in this way.
Privilege is so prevalent in our society that oftentimes it goes unnoticed. Therefore, racism is something that is not easy to get rid of or forget. It is something that will be a part of our lives forever.
Even though it may seem like it is made up, it has become such a large part of what this nation is that it will be nearly impossible to get rid of it. I really enjoyed reading this article and learning how capitalism relates to whiteness and privilege.
It truly was an eye-opener to see how it has come about and clears the waters about why it is still around. Posted by Michelle R at PM. No comments:. Newer Post Older Post Home. Subscribe to: Post Comments Atom. Michelle Ranly.