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Change...How?

Before taking this class, I had never explored race, class, gender, and sexuality so deeply. I had never considered how and why these divisions and classifications came about. As Ore talks about in her book, my assumptions were based on the principle that human behavior is "natural" or predetermined by genetic, biological, or physiological mechanisms and thus not subject to change. Being half black and half white, being a woman, and being bi-sexual is just who I am. Or is it? I considered these titles and descritptions of myself as my identity. However, Ore has helped me to understand how these titles have been a basis for unfair treatment in our society. I am classified as black and treated as such, even though my skin is only a couple shades darker than a white person's. White people look at me and don't see that I am not simply black, I am also white. A girl that lives in my building asked me if the hair on my head was all mine. I told her yes, and she said, "yeah right, black girls can't grow hair." I was completely dumbfounded. First, she had just got through talking to my mother who is clearly white, yet she still sees me as strickly black. Second, her comment was so racist. Are people in this world really that dumb? I don't like the fact that people don't see me for what I am; people see me for what society says I am.

I understand that race, class, gender, and sexuality are social constructions and therefore changeable; however, I don't see how such systems can be changed. Before these terms were coined, people in ancient society were not divided my race, gender, class, or sexuality, but they were divideded according to religion, status, and even language. It seems that it is human nature to differentiate one group of people from another. I guess the problem is not that people are categorized as different, but how the differences are used to justify unqual treatment amongst people in the same society.

Ore and the other authors in the book talk a lot about how these systems of inequality were created, but they haven't explicitly explained how they can be transformed into systems of equality. I honestly don't see how it is possible. I believe race and gender are so deeply rooted in our minds, in our institutions, and in our lives that it will take atleast couple hundred years to reverse peoples understanding of the terms. Not only that, I like being different; I don't like the unequal treatment I receive as a "black woman," but I must admit, I am very proud of who and what I am.

I know that the first step in changing such systems is acknowledging that they exist, but I feel like books like Ore's are "preaching to the choir." People who believe they are better than or more valuable than someone else stricly because of their race, class, gender or sexuality are truly ignorant. Reading a book or hearing personl testimonials is not going to change a person's thinking if they truly believe they are superior, no matter how moving the stories are.

Comments

That is so true what you just wrote. People see what they are taught to see and believe what the society tell them to beleive. For the person who made the comment on your hair she is just ignoring that your mom exist because that is a racist attitute still present in our world

Your not alone in your frustrations... I, too, feel really overwhelmed at the idea of changing these things.

What dumbfounds me is, why the heck weren't we reading this type of material in highschool if not before? (maybe in a less sophisticated format). I totally get where you're coming from when you feel these books are 'preaching to the choir.' The issue is that not everyone will fulfill their liberal arts requirements with classes that discuss this stuff. It's the people that don't read these books and watch these movies (like perhaps us, previously to this class) that are going to perpetuate these structures. So why weren't we learning them in the earlier stages of our education when we were really formulating our perceptions of each other??