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October 29, 2008

please step forward, please step back

I would like to address the demonstration that we did in class today 10/28/08. I felt as though many people in the class felt a little confused and could not get a feel of where the discussion was going. While watching this I couldn’t help but think of the implications of the confusion. The exercise called for us to step forward or step back depending on the questions. The questions were aimed at positions of power and of oppression only examining the polices in place in American history .
While I think if our room allowed for more space the simulation could have been a great start for conversation concerning how past privilege and the power of intersectionality only leaves room for confusion with the current generation of essentially making these issue hard to deal with currently.
One reason I assume people were not sure where to step is that many of us due to the way our ancestors enter the country don’t have access to know exactly what their experience was in this country. Furthermore some people like me are not even able to trace back my official origin past migration to the united states of America.
I felt as though some were even offend by the simulation saying that the exercise did not account for the intersectionality of race and class in America. but personally I think that was the point. Without dealing with intelligence, education or any personal makings if these individuals we see a real life illustration of individual staring points would be in America. if we want to believe it or not.
I think what needs to happen is we begin examine what it means to have minorities and immigrants quietly moving towards the back of the class. While others get to take a few more step forward.

Intersections Small and Large

When thinking of my own life, I have never really realized how many things need to "come together" to make me who I am in a social context. Our society is so complex and we are such social beings that every historical event has led to my "place" on earth at this time. I feel because of how modern-day American society runs, my race, class, gender, and sexuality play a role in how I perceive the outside world and how the outside world perceives me.

Take my sexuality for example. I am "defined" as a heterosexual female. However, what does this mean? In previous readings from the Ore text, we learn that heterosexuality is socially constructed in such strict terms, but I feel that it is a part of who I am somehow. In this society, it somehow places me at an advantage in certain arenas over someone who is not heterosexual with regards to financial obligations, options for marriage and benefits, and the lack of discrimination I feel in my surroundings. I know this to be true, but I don't know why there is such emphasis on it. I have subconsciously simply "accepted" this to be true.

My sexuality also intersects with my class. I have more co-health care options as I enter into the workforce with my spouse, I will have more options for jobs because I am not discriminated against by homophobics in positions of hiring power. There have been laws to banish such ridiculous practices, but it still exists. Again, I cannot talk about my class without regards to my race and gender.

My race and gender intersect with my class. Again in this society, unfortunately race and gender still play a part in our life opportunities. Because of my gender (female) I may be paid less or discriminated against in the workplace. I will also have the perceived extra burden (as talked about in the readings) of extra housework because of my gender. My race (European-American) also plays a role, but for me it has been in a neutral, therefore positive way. I have never felt burdened because of my skin tone, so I can assume that is an advantage.

These categories play out in both small and large arenas, from within my individual self, to conversations with small groups, to my University classes, to my city, state, region, country, and even world. These intersections leave us confused and challenge the notion that everyone has a set "place" in society. If we can deconstruct these categories and have everyone understand how superficial they all are, we can promote change and simply become human beings.

November 1, 2008

Intersectionality

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.