« October 2008 | Main | December 2008 »

November 1, 2008


While reading William Roy’s article on Intersections small and large, I found it really interesting how he used the home, cities, and nations. Being that intersectionality is such a complex topic to understand, it is also interesting to see how each social construct intersect with each other.

The inequalities in society have a lot to do with multiple levels. For example, Im a woman of color born in a middle class home and raised in the inner city of Chicago. Being that I am a woman some might believe that my place is in the home. In addition coming from the inner city it adds to some of the discrimination I might have to endure. In the article there was an example of the home and how space and gender has a micro intersection. It talked about how minority woman enter into homes of upper-class and middle class whites as domestic helpers and they have the ability to gain from the experience. However, when whites enter into minority spaces, whites tend to carry on racial inequality. The way they could continue to carry it on could be by having a continued stereotypes of the race or not allowing themselves to understand the person versus judging.

Also, dealing with cities the book talked about how the middle class and working class have to pay most of the taxes and spend a higher part of income on housing. On the other hand upper-class benefit economically from banking, real estate, etc. this reminds me of the election now and how each candidate has a plan to either continue out the above statement or change it. John McCain wants to cut taxes for the larger businesses in hopes that the money will cycle back into the communities and help our economy. Were Barack wants to lower taxes for the middle class so that the gap between middle and upper classes can decrease. In this example class and space intersects to great a form of oppression.

Before reading this article on intersectionality I was not really opened to the fact that more then one social construction could influence oppression in a person’s life. For instance, being a white female however being raised in a low income neighborhood. Also, another example could be of a minority male growing up in a very rich area being discriminated against because of his race. I think when intersectionality is completely understood by others a lot of issues could be brought up and maybe even dealt with.

November 5, 2008

Ractial Wealth Gap

The readings in “Color of Wealth- Forged in Blood? were remarkably informative. The section on the racial wealth gap was saying that African Americans were 13% of the population, but only owned 3% of the assets in America! That certainly tells you something about the disadvantages that are present in society relating to the distribution of resources. It goes on to say that in 1989, whites had a median net worth of $97,800, compared to $5,300 for blacks! Levels for both have increased over time but there is still a huge gap, and now it is even bigger than in earlier years. African American’s average wealth is one-sixth of white’s average.
African Americans are less likely to own stock and have the resources to invest and “get ahead?. Half of whites have a family that can help them buy a home, while only 20% of black families have this privilege. As I read more of these statistics a steady pattern emerged. There is so many disadvantages that blacks must overcome just to stay at the point they’re at. To actually catch up to whites or surpass them is near impossible the way our society is set up.
There is so much of a gap between the whites and minority groups for there to even be a chance for them to get to the same level, in general. There has been racism and the economic exploitation that occurred during slavery did not help either. Whites made money off of the cheap/free labor, while blacks got nothing in return for their work. This did not set them up for success as one can imagine.
The part that bothers me is the people that say America is a great place of opportunity and everyone has the opportunity to excel and follow their dreams. The whole saying of “pulling yourself up by your bootstraps?…I love one of the quotes from one of the videos we watched in class. The woman says…?what if you don’t have bootstraps?? The advantaged people in our nation thing everything is fine and they are oblivious to the under privileged and the suffering that is going on in the richest nation in the world! There is no reason this should be happening in America. Our fellow citizens should not be suffering, while others have numerous houses! Tell me how great of a nation is that? Some are homeless while others can’t keep track of the number of houses they own?!? Seriously?!
-Rachel Ward

Continuing Selfishness of Human Nature

Is mankind innately selfish and violent as a whole without society's laws and contracts?

Looking back at the history of civilization, we have seen the vast majority of peoples behaving violently for the preservation of their health, and that of their family, but, more importantly, for the preservation of their control over X. From the family, to the village: these groups of various families are dependent on one-another, and so we see eventual clashing of villages. From villages to cities, cities to government, and government to, well, fall of government. At all stages of these developments all over the world and through thousands of years, desire motivates action, but the devastating results of conflict increased exponentially as the form of civilization evolved through Politics. At all levels, the actions were declaring war, genocide, massacres, assassinations, rape, and keeping money away from helping the health of the people. Has this blatant history REALLY not convinced everyone of mankind’s selfish nature? We ARE a type of animal. With nothing but our naked bodies on us and without Law and Politics, bad things have usually occurred- and by ‘bad’ I do mean ‘immoral’. Even when these Political and Law systems are in place, most have lead to the same. These politics evolved from the need of mankind to preserve itself from itself. And so: violence and body counts grew larger throughout history as larger and larger societies conflicted. Adding Law to the equation only strengthened a society's ability to immorally rip diversity to shreds by recognizing the differences around it as a threat, and persecuting these differences because of fear of change. As our institutions raise us to pull out chairs, save children from buses, and just ‘be good’, we aim to achieve a moral greatness, and become a ‘good’ person. We have come a long way in our ability to raise tolerance in these people, but it is not human nature to act as such, nor is the nature of politics. On all levels from self to Government, it is all about a desire for the control of X (the different sex, skin color, religion, class). I believe that it is very ignorant to look at the developments of humanity in the past and present, and determine that mankind is not naturally selfish and violent regarding what they do not understand. There is no humanly peace, only rare peace amidst diverse groupings amidst the Earth’s 7 billion people… and they will probably be killed sooner or later. It is human and political nature supported by history: from Crete, to Rome, to Napoleon, to Bush. I see the means for change, and the possibility, but the dominant parties of this world (and, more importantly, the world of the past 6000 years) are doing their best to ignore the possibility that the future’s outlook on the nature of humanity can dominantly support equality on all fronts. There can be no true equality without the majority of a populous being equal, nonviolent, and moral. Based on the facts of intolerance in nearly all aspects of civilization formation in history, is this achievable? As President-Elect Obama stated last night, his changes may not come overnight, in a year, nor through a single term. And so, we look ahead to the following decades before minority groups become the majority. By considering the overwhelming history of immorality and bigotry as a depiction of selfish, bangwagon jumping human nature, it is hard to declare that racism will deter when this day comes. With vast populations of different cultural groups, there may be more hate and discrimination to build on between them. Everybody is looking to get theirs. African-americans and Latinos have the forefront of white america's attention, but what happens when others need national support. While supporting the lives of some, those of others will be left out to dry, and I fear that the good will of Obama may be no match for the possibilities that selfishness will bring between differences in race, and sexuality in 2025. Changes are coming from all directions -both moral and intolerantly immoral.
-Marco Vincent

The voting process

Yesterday in class, Election Day 2008, (the day Barack Obama was elected president of the United States of America!) we discussed how the various aspects of race, class, and gender play a role in the voting and election process. It became evident very quickly that there are many areas in which the poll/voting process should be reassessed in our country in order for everyone’s voice to be heard.
I think the class plays a major role in the voting process. Members of the lower classes have a more difficult time getting off of work to vote. Although it is their right to vote, and their employer is bound by law to let them leave work to vote, there are many factors that may hinder their ability to go and vote. Many members of the lower class may have jobs that require them to ride with their coworkers in a carpool for example to get to the work site. If they miss their ride, they may have no other means to get to work that day. Also, they may not be able to afford to miss an hour or two to vote. With the way that the voting system is set up, it is very unpredictable as to how long one may wait in line at the polls. This brings up another point. There is a lot of debate as to whether we should maintain the paper ballot system or transfer over to the computer/electronic voting system. Many feel that an electronic system would make lines faster and make the voting process in general more accessible. Electronic voting posses problems as we have seen in previous elections regarding miscounts and other electronic malfunctions. Not to mention that with our current technology, I can imagine it would not be all that difficult for a group of people to hack into electronic voting systems. But at the same time, there wouldn’t be much that could be done to recover a stack of ballots that “mysteriously disappeared?. There is also the element that not all citizens are familiar with using electronics and that may cause apprehension and fear as they proceed with the voting process. Overall the paper ballot system seems to be the most appropriate approach to the voting process, although it does feel somewhat primitive.
A student had mentioned how Election Day should become a national holiday. This would eliminate the struggles of working members of society, and students for that matter, to find time in their schedules to voice their opinion. I think this is a good idea. But if this were to happen we would have to fine tune the entire polling process because it would probably result in a higher voter turnout. It is obvious that after last night's election that Americans are passionate about their country, and I think it is important that we establish a process that easily allows them to voice their opinions.

November 7, 2008


For this week readings we had to read an article about Native Americans “land rich and dirt poor?. This article baffles me and makes me very upset. After we take the land from Native Americans we then give them land and wealth that we govern, but its not like they control there assets, the federal government does. The federal government controls everything the Native American do on there land, be it gas prices or when and how the land is lease, everything is “held in trust? by the government, and is said that everything is in there best interest. The way the United States has treated Native Americans is really upsetting. Starting with the Allotment Act and then the boarding schools, all attempts to assimilate the native people, if anything they deserve to truly live in sovereignty and I believe leave in complete control of there own assets and wealth.

November 8, 2008

Land Rich, Dirt poor: Challenges to Asset building in Native America. reading ect.

The reading brought up a lot of points and examples for how the instituted laws in America have prevented the nation of Native Americans from being able to build wealth in their communities. I found it interesting how the Native Americans are the single largest landowners in America, but that the people have no control over how it is invested and distributed. The American federal government manages the wealth of Native American lands. This is a conflict of interest because it is similar to say your own investments made with your money, but that you have no choice in the matter of how, with whom, or where money is invested. As an investor you would receive returns on your profits but those profit may not be as high as if you had control in the way your money was invested. The big questions that arise from this are “is it really your land if you have no control over how it is used/invested?? as well as “what makes a tribe a tribe, who decides, and what is their best interest??
The fact that Indians are the single largest landowners in America doesn’t really mean that they are able to control the land as far as economically. The discussion in class that we had Tuesday the 4th, Brewer explained that the treaties are only in existence as long as America does not necessarily need the land Indians inhabit. The Indians would eventually be forced to renegotiate any treaties should the government want to. This also relates to the treaty making after 1812 where tribes were forced to sign treaties. In later years when tribes would try to get their lands back, only to awarded small fractions of their value. “In February 2000, a federal jury awarded the Cayuga $36.9 million, despite the appraised value of $660 million. In October 2001, a judge ordered the state of New York to pay Cayuga an additional $211 million? (40). The idea that the American federal government has the “best interest? in mind for the Native people is really counteracted in its’ actions. The case here demonstrated that the government is not interested in giving full value to the people for what they lost, even in more recent occurrences. This type of attitude where the government is using the Indian lands for a cheap way to undercut economics severely affects the Indian peoples. The returns on the lands are artificially low and thus substandard to quality they could have received if they had control over their investments. The other interesting fact to note is that the federal government defines what a tribe is. The federal government has control over the economics and with the legal power to decide who gets a share in the capital; it can exclude groups of people from receiving money or land.
The government outside of the Indian Nation has thus decided what is fair and has also defined in legal terms what qualifies as a tribe. The author wants to convey the idea of how the conflicting ideas between America and Indians about how space is shared collide to oppress the development of wealth for Native Americans. The most notable of this conflict was with the allotment act. This act was an attempt by the government to split up the lands of the Native people to conform to individual ownership as opposed to a community-based ownership. This attempt to break down the people into separate landowners would fractionalize heirships in the future and further prevent the building of assets wealth because how it disrupted the Native landownership patterns (50).
In conclusion the federal government has repeatedly misused and misallocated the Native American lands and investments suffered. The control that the federal government over Native land is certainly far overstepping the bounds of one sovereign nation into another because it diminishes the sovereignty of the Natives. They may “own? the land, but only for as long as it suits the American government. In this way we see the Native Americans suffer because they must bend to the economic will of America.

November 10, 2008

Obama the Movement

With the excitement that we portrayed last week before the election for Obama, I am surprised that no one has yet to comment on his victory over Sen. John McCain. Talking to friends and family since the election I believe that reporters are correct when they state how historic this election was in US history. This change, is not about Democrats or Republicans but it's about Americans and the future we are trying to create for ourselves and our children. This was not a presidential election but a movement that we saw culminate in a win this past week. President-Elect Obama called for all of us to step up and help him make the change that we all clearly want to make. After CNN announced the win on Tuesday, and after my room-mates and I stopped jumping all over our house like 5 year-olds, we heard a commotion outside. As we walked outside they were screams heard all over our neighborhood. We walked to our front yard, and there was a parade of about 15 people with noise makers screaming "YES WE CAN". WOW. For the first time ever since MLK Jr. we are seeing a togetherness. Without the barriers we have constructed we are being to see different races and classes coming together in support for one man and his dream for a better tomorrow. I am excited and I hope you all are as well.


wealth distribution in america

The readings assigned for this week explained the unequal distribution of wealth between whites, blacks, and Native Americans. United States governmental policies negatively impacted African Americans and Native Americans and benefit the whites. After reading about these policies and regulations created by the US government it makes me understand more of the specifics of what these people went through and the disadvantages they had in society, and also why these people struggle to obtain the same economic advantages as whites. White American colonists basically took control and advantage of these people, their labor and resources not only to wreak them for their own benefit but exploit them to others in society. One of the reasons why Indians are so disadvantaged is due to the fact that most of their resources were stripped from them by the government. The government created these federal policies for their own interests and benefitted from them. Indians were robbed of their land and the federal government over seen and regulated what they did on their land. They were robbed of their culture and ways of living, forced to assimilate to the white man’s society. African Americans were forced into slavery, became emancipated, but without the same liberties and freedoms their white counterparts had. Segregated institutions and unequal opportunities made it hard for blacks to achieve success. There so many ways that African Americans were prevented to achieving success and opportunities. Federal and state policies hindered success and when they did work in their favor resistive whites “white supremacist? tried scaring blacks out of communities. I strongly sympathize for both of these groups. It angers me for what the colonists and earlier citizens did. These people deserve so much more for their struggles.Racism today still exists, but during these times they were blossoming into full effect. It is great to see how far we have come in society. We have the first African American president. What was most interesting about Obama’s acceptance speech was that he told the American people about a black woman voting at the age of 106. She has seen and experienced over a century of American society and the slow changes; the growth and maturity that our country has achieved over the years to being a diverse country for all people of different races. It is important to learn and hear about the historical events of society so we don’t take advantage of what our ancestors went through and made society what it is today.
-Paul Heesch

November 14, 2008

The Big Mean Ugly Government

After reading the Color of Wealth and watching Race the Power of Illusion, it truly astonishes me how the government is at fault for creating such an enormous wealth divide in our country. Even though we as society have done our part is creating this divide, the government has taken our societal inequalities and formulated them into law. After completing the sections on Native Americans, African Americans, and Latinos in the Color of wealth, I became sick to my stomach that such inequality exists now and has existed for centuries throughout our history. It may seem odd that I am so unaware to these harsh inequalities; however, I do not feel like I am entirely to blame. Up until now, I have been taught history only in one way-a way that makes the American government look like heroes and everyone else look like they deserved what they got. It’s really quite disturbing at how our education system works up until college. If you really think about it, up until college (at least for me) students are not exposed to the harshness and reality of what has occurred throughout our history. However, the truth is that the government is to blame for our wealth divide. The same government that preaches freedom and equality for all went and stabbed the Native Americans, African Americans, Latinos, and Asians in the back. The government and the media especially like to paint the picture that minorities control their destinies and that they are the reason they are in poverty, barely surviving without good educations. Yet, it is the government that gave many Americans no choice but poverty, no choice but low income housing, and no choice but to extend the racial wealth divide that exists in our country today. In order to reverse this racial wealth divide a lot more needs to happen than just becoming a colorblind society. Our government needs to correct their wrong doings. Native Americans, African Americans, Latinos, and Asians have suffered for long enough. These people never choose to suffer, rather they, like everyone else, are trying to lead productive lives and provide for their families. The government needs to create a new deal for our nation’s minorities in order to better our nation as a whole. They say we live in the richest and greatest nation of all, however, are we truly rich and truly great if all our citizens are not treated fairly and are not living the lives they deserve?

Race the Power of Illusion: The House we live in

Watching the last segment of the film "Race the Power of Illusion: The House we Live in" was like a slap in the face. The facts stated in the film made everyone realize the the racial wealth divide is real and has been since race was constructed. One thing in the film that stood out was the fact that America is called the melting Pot yet is not really the melting pot because no one is "equally spread out" in reality and the what comes with being human. There is no such thing as a single pure essence in America because no one is treated fairly, not even Whites when you think about it because they do not get their actual potential but privileges that were given to them.

I dislike the entire scientific racism theory because of the implications it has created in society. There are people that actually believe that science is what determines what race we belong to but that is not true and everyone should realize that if they are educated and not blinded by the hatred they evoke in themselves. It was like the use of scientific racism was also used to let racism continue in society because people do believe facts, people believe what science tells them because that is what we are conditioned to believe, things we read in books and what professionals tell us to believe. Now it seems that scientific racism is not the main fact that continues to let racism live, it's the geography factor that we do realize.

"Geography does the work of Jim Crow laws" which is true that it does just in a less explicit way yet we do see that people are separated in where they live based on their race. I'm from Milwaukee, WI and I see that everyday. We know where to find certain races in the North, West, South, and East. We know where everyone is located and go there to see or experience certain things. I've realized that at a young age but never really connected it to Jim Crow laws 40 years back until hearing someone speak about it on the film. We have inherited this concept of race into our lives today. We never asked to be separated by the color of our skin or the history of our ancestors, we never asked to have a racial wealth divide that continues to affect the process of advancement today. We never asked for it but we have to live with it until one day it does change and we can say that racism is slowing becoming non-existent. But that's not necessarily true either because racism will always be there just in a less explicit way, not of those back then when the N-word was used so frequently and signs were up everywhere prohibiting certain races from using those facilities but now separated by geography and space.

In conclusion I agree with one statement from the film that said that the only way to can change things is to accept race as what it is and get beyond racism. To be uncomfortable and not so used to they way things are now but willing to change your way of living; being color blind is not the way to go.

November 15, 2008

Video: The house we live in

I thought the video was very interesting as well as shocking. I found it interesting when it pointed out that physical differences doesn't make race; the social meanings attached to it does. The fact that blacks were explicitly being discriminated against by the government was outrageous. There were explicit laws that stated whites were on top and blacks were on the bottom. Blacks were not offered the same homeownership opportunities as whites. This lack of opportunity impacted the current class status for the average African American.
By redlining the neighborhoods, racial segregation was created; similar to the racial segregation that exists in the suburbs and cities today. The practices of decades ago are similar to the ones in place today, the only difference is that they're not as explicit. The racial discrimination of blacks was extended to immigrants and they wee denied citizenship. The only key to citizenship was whiteness. Jews, though their skin color is white, were discriminated against because they were considered "in between people in transition". The GI Bill that was intended to benefit all soldiers only benefitted white soldiers. The fact that they went to war and fought for their country and weren't valued as citizens when they returned is very depressing.
The laws that defined one's race were ridiculous. A person could literally change their race by walking across a state line because what was considered black in one state wasn't in another.
I enjoyed the video.

Latinos and Immigration Law

In this week’s reading in the Color of Wealth, one of the chapters focused on disparities and discriminations towards Latinos. Immigration law and policy is one of the main challenges that this community faces, and one that hits very close to home for me. In just the past 6 months the United States Government has deported/denied citizenship to two friends of mine, one of whom is very close to me.

The first was deported based on a false criminal claim. A woman accused him of striking her, and he was promptly arrested, thrown in jail, within days transferred to Arizona to ‘deportation camps’ (wonder about the conditions there?), and within a week back across the border and to Honduras. The woman’s claims were entirely false, and the evidence available makes this terribly clear. But he never received any kind of attempt at due process. The only way he had access to a Spanish-speaking lawyer was through a network of friends that pooled money to cover the costs, which he couldn’t afford. It did very little. Best part? He was here legally. Now his son is here and he will likely never be able to return; on his record it indicates he was deported on a criminal charge. Just because someone pointed a finger and told a lie.

The second was the first’s father. He has lived in the United States for 12 years. He has been paying taxes for 12 years. He is learning English. He was under the impression he was a legal citizen. Earlier this year he found out his father in Honduras is dying of cancer. He went to make arrangements to make a visit, and ensure his ability to return across the border. At a meeting with lawyers he was informed that, in fact, his papers had been temporary, and so they had not been renewed properly. Furthermore, they were not going to allow him to renew them now. He had totally misunderstood his legal status in this country, why? Because no one provided him with Spanish translations for the legal proceedings. Worse, no one had informed him when they had expired and offered a renewal process, instead they simply kept accepting his tax payments, knowing full well that if he were ever in trouble he would not receive the benefits and rights of citizenship he was providing to others with his tax money. The lawyers told him that if he were leaving, they would not tell the authorities (since they would deport him), instead letting him leave in his own time. A meager kindness in the scheme of things. He will leave this month to see his father, and will not be allowed to re-enter the states for 10 years. He has built his home here: his girlfriend is here, his career is here, his friends are here, and we will miss him terribly.

These are glaring examples of both the ethnic profiling that has increased since 9/11 and the discriminatory policies brought up in the Color of Wealth. These situations exhibit how these Latinos are being attacked from many angles: profiled as criminals and wrong-doers, families torn apart, wealth and career bases they have worked hard to achieve yanked out from under them, the ‘American Dream’ of opportunity closed off to them (regardless that much of the geography on which we ourselves pursue this dream was originally violently taken from minorities including Latinos), and being downright backhandedly mislead. The second man I discussed reminds me strongly of the Asian man (I believe he was Chinese? I may be remembering wrong) in “Race: The Power of Illusion? who, in petitioning to the courts for citizenship, claimed to be a better American citizen than some traitors who are allowed to call this country their own. History and our current legal system don’t just make things (such as wealth and stability) difficult for Latino immigrants to reach, they seem, to me, to put them entirely out of reach. How preposterous would it be considered if one American citizen pointed at another and accused him of wrongdoing, and the accused was immediately taken away without the slightest chance to defend himself/herself? This type of fear doctrine and domination is unacceptable, and violates basic rights of HUMANITY, not of citizenship. These people must live with accusations and the possibility of immediate and total destabilization hanging over their heads everyday, an inhibiting fear that many of us will probably never understand.

Personal Reflections on White Advantage

The major theme of the week, as discussed in The Color of Wealth and the video, was wealth creation and the disparities that have been created historically between different “racial? groups and their ability to accumulate wealth. While the preceding chapters discuss ways in which minorities are excluded from building wealth the final chapter of The Color of Wealth discusses how whites specific ally have benefitted throughout history. As a white male, it becomes readily apparent through studies that my race/gender specificity puts unfortunately puts me at a greater advantage than other groups. One of the sidebars to the book explores a white woman’s initial experience in struggling to see how she could have benefitted from such advantages.

I found myself in a similar position as well. I come from a working class, rural farming background, at have not been given much of any of the benefits of the wealth built of previous generations. My parents cannot afford to put anything towards my college education, nor were they able to help me buy a car or any of the other trappings of secure, middle class life here in the United States. I have had a job ever since the farm jobs I did for neighbors beginning around age 10. This leads me to feel initially that my situation is no better than anyone else. Indeed, this frame of mind was never questioned during my childhood. Surrounded almost entirely by other white children of similar class backgrounds, I was not exposed to the challenges of race nor was I aware of benefits I was perhaps accorded in school or society because of my gender. It was perhaps not fully possible to realize how well I have it until I moved to the Twin Cities. There are multiple cultural factors involved when people from the rural areas mention “the cities?, and one is the (inaccurate) notion is that one is entering a world where one is perhaps not in the racial majority. While one has to only look at the census figures to see that this is false, the fact remains that there is a larger percentage of minorities.

When one moves to working class areas of Minneapolis as I have, the disparities become clearer. When looking deeper, past the surface, it is possible to see advantages that I am given in this world, even if it is something as seemingly simple as the benefit of the doubt. This granting of the benefit of the doubt is perhaps the one key advantage that working class whites still maintain over working class minorities.

I ride the bus to school and work, and one can easily see the benefit of the doubt I am granted in the eyes of other whites, specifically women. I have seen people pick up their bag to afford me a seat, and not do the same for someone in a minority. I have offered people help on the street, and seen their initial hesitation when they hear my voice, only to be relieved that it is a large white male. I wonder if the reason I have been accepted as a renter, and now as a safe bet for a mortgage holder, was based at least partially, on my race and gender.

The Color of Wealth chapter states that while white people should not feel psychological blame upon themselves as individuals for past discrimination, they are obliged to see the advantages that being white accords them and thus have a responsibility to advocate government support which includes everyone.

November 18, 2008

Racism in the English language

Racism in the English language

When I read the title of Moore’s article I thought to myself, “great another far left critical analysis with extreme claims and unsubstantial evidence;? however, my first assumption was proven wrong after I started to read the article. The “A Short Play on ‘Black’ and ‘White’ Words? is cleverly written and pointed out the obvious inaccuracy in our language. Although the comparisons of white and black words are obvious they many not be realized by the general public, myself included. I am reminded of a quote: “the only thing a fish cannot see is the water it swims in.? We are submerged in our language. We use it every day to express our ideas, feelings, and perspective through a verbal system in hopes to be more deeply understood. Moore points out that language is “an integral part of any culture? and moreover then just daily use our language “develops in conjunction with a society’s historical, economic, and political evolution; it also reflects that’s society’s attitudes and thinking? (p. 524). So I am compelled to ask: What does our language say about our own culture? I am not a linguist nor a scholar in the English language, so I will not attempt to answer the question for you, I will, however, answer it for myself. It appears, through the examples used in Moore’s article that we are far from a color blind society. Although I would argue that “white? is not always portrayed in a positive light (white devil and pasty pop into mind) as suggested by Moore, I would; however, agree that on average that “white? is associated with more positive connotations relative to that of “black.?
But subtle connotations and denotations of racial superiority/inferiority found within the language is not the only way in which “racism? is structured in English. In the section Ethnocentrism or From a White Perspective, Moore points out that certain words are used to “distort the understanding of the reader or listener? (527). Specifically he points out how the usage of the term “slave? takes away the humanity of the black men, women, and children, who suffered under complete control of slavery. It was suggested that the term “slave? be substituted for a more accurate clause describing the issues at hand. “Black people forced to work for no pay? or “African people held in captivity? where suggested. I have found that when I substituted these phrases, a definite shift of meaning occurred. The humanity of the people enslaved was brought back and the true horror of slavery becomes more evident and not so sugar coated.
Also the way we chose words and formulate sentences, can have an underlying racist tone. A quote from McGraw-Hill’s text states, “At first it was slaves who worked the cane and they got only food for it. Now men work cane and get money? (p. 527). The above statement suggests that slaves (“black people forced to work for no pay? or “African people held in captivity?) were less then human. Slaves worked in the fields before men. To be completely honest I had to re-read the quote because I missed the point Moore tried to make. To many the word choice may obviously be racist, but I doubt for those who skim text or are young would have caught the subtlety.

November 19, 2008

Personal reflection on Gender inequality in Private schooling

“Is woman inferior to man? Sad as it may be, woman is as inferior to man as man is to god.?

Upon reading this quote from the reading I thought back on my life in private school to see if this similar attitude rang true in the “white church.? I thought back to kindergarten where we lined up according sex: boys here girls there. And through grade school where boys wore blue slacks with a white polo and girls wore blue and white plaid jumpers. It was made clear that there was a distinction between the sexes and that we should remain separate (which was hard to enforce as we enter puberty; however, we did have a 2 week ban on hugging the opposite sex… it clearly did not last) What I find interesting in my case is that my church, although traditional with male priests, was mainly ran by women. My school was no exception. The only male teacher, ironically enough, was the gym teacher. The principle for the last 75 years has been a woman. And women taught math and science which are traditionally masculine subjects. However even in this woman ran school the notion that woman were inferior to men still ran true. It was made clear in gym, recess, and school actives. I could climb trees are swing all I wanted but the girls usual sat on the benches. They were told to be decent in their jumpers. Climbing a tree was out of the question, too much could be exposed. They were told to be quite, mild tempered, and look to the mother of god as a roll model. I could act out all I wanted and the teachers would laugh and call me Judas (which was the Apostle that gave Jesus to the Romans…. I guess it was funny… but none the less this excused me of my bad behavior)
What surprises me now looking back was the level of activity that was available for the girls at my school. Although they were aloud in the church choir, to play instruments, and act as alter servers (very progressive for a traditional church) they never had the options I did. I could join the wrestling, baseball, basketball, or soccer team. The boys had free roam over the school after class. But for the girls I don’t remember if they had any team at all. I remember a cheer squad for a few years but they were quickly dismissed because our parents thought it was too “suggestive.? If the girls did have access to sport teams through the school it was never encouraged. It amazes me what we can learn about where we come from when we gain perspective on issues that seem to not affect us.

November 21, 2008


I thought the discussion in class was very interesting today. The topic that struck me was what it means to be a feminist and who feels as if they fit into that category. The term feminist can mean very different things and can have very different severities. To me, a feminist is someone who believes that men and women should have equal rights and that they should be seen on the same playing field instead of in some sort of hierarchy. Men can be feminists and advocate for the rights of women. Women can be everyday people and still be feminists. Our society has come to seen feminism as something that is bad. The media portrays feminists as crazy, out spoken, man hating individuals. When in actuality being a feminist just means standing up for women and trying to break the many barriers that still stand between men and women. Like in the workforce, as professor Brewer said today, when men make $1 an hour women will only make $0.77. This gap continues to grow when speaking of Black, Asian, or Latino individuals.
Is Black feminism different from “normal? feminism? According to Gender Talk, Black feminism emphasizes the intersectionality of race, class, gender and sexuality. Black feminism examines the deep interplay with one another and how these intersections affect the lives of Black women. I don’t believe that Black feminism is much different from “normal? feminism. Both look at society and try to figure out how they fit. Both types of feminism strive to dismantle the societal and patriarchal levels that have been created. Feminism is a social construct that has been created and recreated overtime. It carries a total different meaning today than it did in the 1920’s. It also carries different meanings for different cultures. The definition of feminism in the Western world is very different than the definition you would find in Africa. However, all definitions of feminism carry the same underlying purpose and meaning: to allow women more rights.

November 25, 2008

language and (dis)ability

I had some issues with Project South’s stated intentions to be committed to inclusivity of all identities and attentive to multiple forms of oppression, but uses language that I felt reinforces ableism. One of Project South’s stated guidelines is “Oppression exists by not in our space: the existence of oppression (racism, classism, sexism, homophobia/heterosexism, etc.) is not debatable. Oppressive behavior will not be tolerated.? (23). However, the toolkit uncritically relies heavily on language that is connected to normative ways of sensing/knowing. Particularly, I found problematic the phrases “step up, step back?, “visionary/vision? and “we see? and other such language that relates to seeing, visualizing, stepping and experiencing the world through senses that not everyone uses. This critique stated, I appreciate the general intent of the organization’s mission.

Here are just a few examples I found in the text:

In popular education definitions (20):

Inclusive: “We see ourselves in relation to all people, including those of different ethnic groups and nationalities, social classes, ages, genders, sexualities, and abilities.?

Visionary: We are hopeful, creating an optimistic vision of the community and global society we want for ourselves and our families.

In “Building Blocks for Our Movement?:

“Three essential building blocks for our economic and social justice movement are critical consciousness, vision, and strategy—CVS. [. . .] Vision is the big and bold picture we create of the world we want for our families, our communities and our plant. Strategy is the plan we collectively make to change the world in which we live into world we envision (12).

Project South is certainly not alone in social justice organizing that are purportedly committed to dismantling all forms of hierarchy and oppression and yet reinforce subjugation of people with (dis)abilities through the use of problematic or uncritical appropriation of language. Project South is certainly not “the worst? offender of this kind of misappropriation of sensory/ableist language, but it really offends me that the organization states outright that it intends to be inclusive of people of all abilities and yet disregards their epistemology through their use of visionary and “stepping? language. It is not my intent to disregard the really important work Project South is doing, but rather, to make a point about language and inclusivity as it relates to ordering structures and social change. What do you think and feel about this critique? Do you feel like Project South is using language in this way? Can you think of other organizations that do similar things? Is that sort of hypocrisy between stated intentions and language reality something to be tolerated?

Gender Talk

My blog is on the book Gender Talk and the discussions presented. This book was very interesting from the beginning because of the personal narratives presented by the authors and the women and men they interviewed. One interesting quote I read was a question that many people might have it said "how could I, so committed to fighting racism and who feels so deeply oppressed myself, be accused of oppressing someone black like me?" (page 44). It was interesting because that is a question that I myself have asked because there are many a times where there is jealously or something along those lines where I want to be the victor of a situation and hold someone else back. We have to realize that as oppressed people in either class, race, gender, or sexuality that we oppress others which is the matrix of domination law discussed in class so many times. Everyone can be oppressed in some way.

But the theme of this book is to state that Black women have the Black in front of them at all times and gender is always a second thought, it is not the first priority when discussing rights. It was said the Frederick Douglass said "race is more urgent then gender" or something along those lines. I do believe that, but what I do not believe is stating that gender can wait. The longer you wait for gender equality the harder it will actually be to achieve it, and the same does go for race. It is not fair that Black women were pushed to the background but had to act as the foreground in the home environment, it is a double standard in society.

Another question that was brought up is gender a chosen identity or natural behavior? That is an thought that we've discussed in class. Gender is socially defined as what a man and a woman are to do in society because of their reproductive parts and what society said each gender has to do. I believe that it is a mixture of both because people do choose their gender because it can be changed, and then again people are born into how they are supposed to act based on society's preference. I liked this book because it stated facts, it has experiences from men and women who are feminist, which is something else i found interesting, I did not, for some reason, realize that men could be feminist right along side women probably based on the hierarchy point of view in society where men are on top and women beneath but I was proven wrong in this text.

In conclusion I would like to say that this book helped me learn a lot more about experiences that women have had and the fact that gender is at times overlooked in the Black community because race is so deeply rooted in our history as people that we forget that gender is also. The stereotypes of each gender is connected to race and connected to class and we have to continue to remember that everything is connected and neither is more important than the other.

November 30, 2008

Shopping-related Deaths

As many of you are probably aware, several workers were killed on "Black Friday". Here's a link that covers the death of the Wal-Mart employee from Long Island who was literally trampled to death by shoppers. http://edition.cnn.com/2008/US/11/28/black.friday.violence/
In some ways it's hard for me to espouse a critical analysis about this man's death, and it feels a little insensitive to do. I'm really disgusted that yet another human life was rendered disposable as a result of global capitalism. I feel like his death epitomizes some aspects of Wal Mart and consumer culture, but I also am concerned about the media spectacle being made around the incident and the utter disregard for this person's life. I'm also leery of the way the media and I guess local police are trying to target individuals for supposed "involuntary manslaughter". While I am fully aware that is how the criminal inustice system operates (by pulling out individuals and charging them with crimes) it seems there are larger corporations and hegemonic structures to be implicated in this horrific event. Who was this man and what factors made his death on Black Friday possible? Who is at fault for his murder? What actions would make this world a place where this sort of thing is not possible? I was a little surprised, in explaining this event to my family and friends, how 1. shocked and 2. not shocked people seemed. People seem to have this attitude of "oh my god that is so sick/horrific/horrible" but not totally unimaginable. It really scares me that we can even IMAGINE someone being chaotically killed so that people can buy cheap products. My mom, for example, was intitally totally disgusted to think about the slow and painful agony this man must have suffered, but then she was like "Well, that's Wal-Mart/capitalism/global systems". The sad-as-it-may-be- that's-just-how-it-is ideology really upsets me. I think it's important we remember that another world is possible, one where this sort of event is unfathomable, unthinkable, does not exist.