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Bisexuality and the Identity Struggle

People who do not identify as either straight nor gay face a dichotomy because they cannot be categorized into a single sexual orientation. Although heterosexuality is the most accepted sexual orientation, our society is slowly accepting homosexuality, or at least understanding it. But when it comes to bisexuality, there really isn't a place for it. A bisexual person must struggle to find their identity amongst both the heterosexual and homosexual world. 

 

As a whole, our society doesn't know what to think of bisexuals. I have taken a handful of classes pertaining to the GLBT community, yet I have heard very little about the bisexual population.  I remember one of my female peers admitting that she considered herself to be bisexual, and when asked to share some of her thoughts, she responded by saying that to her, being bisexual simply meant that she has the capacity to love anyone of any gender. The person that she finds herself in a relationship with could be either a man or a woman; however it happens to turn out.

 

So how does a bisexual "come out" to their family? Would coming out have the same kind of effect on both the bisexual and their family as would a gay/lesbian coming out? Would the conservative, heterosexual family try to convince their bisexual loved one to choose a [seemingly] hetero relationship since they do, in fact, mingle with the opposite sex? How does bisexuality shape the identity of a bisexual person? How do bisexuals present themselves to the world and to potential partners? Does this depend upon how a particular bisexual is raised and what race(s) and class they belong to? So many questions...

Blog #3 - my experience as an outsider within.

Alcoff says that "[i]dentities are best understood as ways in which we and others around us represent our material ties to historical events and social structures."  Patricia Hill Collins addresses how Black feminists in particular "possess a unique standpoint... or perspective" due to the "historical and material conditions shaping [their] lives."  We are beginning to look at identities and how they are constituted, operate and how identity and oppression interact. 

            These two articles made me think of my own experience and how my identity has been (and is being) shaped by my experience.  Particularly, I thought of my experience in Catholic school when I was young.  My mother was sixteen when she had me, and I lived with my grandmother for many years.  Although we were Lutheran, I went to Catholic school because my grandmother had been a school teacher and knew administrators at the school who gave my family a huge discount on tuition. 

            The first identity that I remember that I was sort of assigned was that of Lutheran (I was 'othered' because I was not Catholic - I did not fit into the dominant religious/culture of the school).  Although that was not a huge thing that caused me strain with my classmates, it still made me aware that I was different and a minority in terms of religion.  The next thing that I realized was the class and family structure differences between me and my peer's families.  My mother and aunt were both adopted, and my grandmother was a single mother by the 1970s.  My mother was single, sixteen and poor when I was born.  This was much different from the two parent, three child, upper middle class family structures that almost all of my peers had.  Again, my family was poor, and the rest of my classmates came from families with plenty of money (I was 'othered' because of my social class or material conditions).

            When I got to about 5th grade, the differences between myself and my peers at Catholic school were becoming painfully apparent to me.  While the other kids got mountain bikes, the latest sneakers and what seemed to me anything they wanted, I didn't.  I started to stand out with my hand me down clothes - my family was poor.  I felt uncomfortable and more and more alienated at school.  These were not people I really could relate to.  At the beginning of fifth grade I talked my mother into letting me attend public school because I was so unhappy because I didn't fit in at private school.  When I started at public school my identity as a student from a poor family changed, because I was introduced to people that were most likely poorer than myself.  I felt like I was more accepted and I did not stand out because of my family's economic situation.

     In conclusion, I believe identities can change and are relative to different contexts or situations.  My experience as standing out for being poor at a rich school is something that shaped how I thought about my peers at the time and the world.  When that changed, I had to rethink my identity, and it now that experience has shaped me into a more socially aware person.

Blog 3

After reading both articles, Visible Identities by Linda Alcoff and Learning from the outsiders with in by Patrica Hill Collins we start to see how identities are constituted and how they operate. As Linda Alcoff defines on page 285 "struggles of social identity have been fought against the subtle social contracts by which whole identity groups are denied equality and basic human rights."

This got me thinking of a lady Elena Gonzales, she happens to be a grandmother of my good friend.  Elena moved from Mexico to California in her early thirties. She had a well-established identity living in a reputable neighborhood, working as a doctor and supporting three children. As soon as she moved, people stereotyped her because of her skin color, body shape, and language, which was struggle for Elena to fit in this society.  Historically Hispanics did labor work, at low wages. Elena got a job picking tomatoes in a field working long hours and making barley enough to get by. Her children also went down the wrong path falling into the stereotypical roles Mexican adolescents played in suburban cities of California. Collins says, " enduring the frequent assaults of controlling images requires considerable inner strength", something her children fell victim to. As African American experience sexual exploitation, Elena experienced exploitation by being forced to work for minimal wages despite her real identity as an educated professional. People need to acknowledge the inadequacies of the social structures to end identity- based oppression.

Week 3 Blog Entry

This weeks readings on the relationship between historical and material conditions and social structures made me think of the movie "District 9". In the movie, there is a clear dichotomy between humans and non-humans, or "prawns". The human power is defined in many ways; humans oppress the non-human identity though the inability of the prawn to rise in their social status, the military power of the human social class to evict and relocate the prawns out of the District 9 slum, and the oppression of the non-human social identity through the denial of basic rights such as safety or right to life (defiant prawns are immediately shot at, and their eggs are destroyed).

 

Wikus, an agent with the private military contractor in charge of the relocation of the prawns out of the District 9 slum, has the unique experience of transforming his visible identity. At first, his social identity is that of a human who wields a considerable about of power over the non-prawns in his eviction rights and weaponry. However, when he becomes sprayed by a liquid belonging to the aliens, he begins to transform physically into a prawn. His duel identity as human in a non-human body cannot be accepted by the strict, socially determined human and non-human identities. As a consequence, Wikus is treated like a prawn and hunted down by the military. Thus, his superficial non-prawn identity oppresses and constrains him because of how others, the humans, see it as a cue for oppressive treatment, regardless of how it inaccurately represents Wikus's nature.

Week 3 Blog - Identities

While reading Alcoff and Collins articles, I began thinking about people I knew who encountered the "stranger" phenomenon of which Simmel speaks. It reminds me of a close family friend, Lily, who moved to my largely white, upper-middle class suburban town when I was in elementary school. She had been born in Chile, but went to high school in America, and married a white man from Texas. She quickly became friends with my mother, who had not grown up in such an affluent town, and had a more diverse experience of the world. Lily often spoke about the different hierarchies that seemed to form, even within our neighborhood. The importance of things like Bunco and children's playgroups were taken for granted in my town. 

Lily was immediately marginalized because of the color of her skin, and her accent, even though it was not thick. While she found it difficult to become close with most of the mothers in our neighborhood, she was still friendly and invited to everything. But, as Collins speaks about, she had the unique perspective of being triply oppressed - as a non-white, female of a poor background. It made it easier for her to identify the social structures that largely were invisible to the rest of us.  Lily was an extremely strong female - and I thought of her as Collins discussed the meaning of self-definition and self-valuation, and its importance for African American women. She didn't depend on the images that were stereotypically portrayed for women of color, and she seemed to be constantly aware of herself as a person, and not as the token non-white. She used her background, her multiple social identities and material conditions to shape who she was, and how she presented herself to the world. 

week 3 blog

After reading the Collins and Alcoff articles and the blog 3 assignment I immediately thought of my boyfriend.  Last year he was a college student, but really struggling with what he wanted to do and how to pay for school.  So, in response to his material conditions he enlisted in the army.  In joining the army he gained a rigid identity defined by the uniform.  Everybody there is the same, where they came from, their race, their class, none of this no longer mattered because they're all the same and share the identity of a soldier.  There is extreme dichotomous categories in the military your either a soldier or a civillian, your very occupation is defined by a hierachal ranking system, and your very identity in this system is openly displayed on your uniform for everyone to see.  The U.S. military mantains this completley homogenous group by unifying them and treating them not as an individual.  I know that my boyfriends experience in the army has changed him greatly, before he was an individual in our society that didn't come from alot of money now his identity is a soldier in the u.s. army and is just another member of a much larger group.

blog #3

After reading both articles about identity, and how identities affect oppression, I found that Collins most strongly provided an example that I could relate to.  Collins talks about this "outsider within" status that provides individuals with their own standpoint on self, family, and society. Collins also talks about images that are used to dehumanize women, making it easy for men to justify their poor treatment of women.  Collins references an interview with Nancy White who says, men treat black women as if they are mules and white women as if they are dogs, although the white women is closer to the master, he isn't going to treat either one as if they are human. This example is something that I have had personal experience with last year. There was an incident where I was at a party and woke up the next morning in a random apartment with no recollection of what had happened the night before. I went to the hospital to have tests done, and they told me I had been drugged. In this case I was the "other", the dominated group lacking full human subjectivity, as Collins would state. Women must not let these images and stereotypes define who they are, but they must embrace their status as an "outsider within" to help move towards humane treatment and equality for all women.

Week 3 Blog


In ancient Rome, women and slaves were not citizens, as they hadn't been in ancient Greece.  There was a dichotomy of identity between citizen and not, mostly understood by an understanding of inferior minds and the submissive positions in sex occupied by both women and male slaves.  In the play "The Menaechmi" there is allowed to be a slave protagonist and "brain" of the situation, while women remain the submissive and flat action-less characters. It was an unrealistic portrayal of a slaves possible actions, but fitting with the roles of women.  I believe women would have had a very different reaction to it than men.  As their dichotomy was broken for one "other" in the group, they remained static characters in life and in politics for the entire life of the empire. As women viewed representations of themselves and their roles I believe they would have had a unique point of view shaped by personal pasts within their system (historically as explained in the readings) but with an intelligent understanding of the fracturing of the dichotomized identity to which they also belonged but were not yet free to escape, even in storytelling. (denying the space they fit into).  

Blog 3: Identity

Alcoff article discusses the struggles of todays period on social status, social class, and social identity. One particular struggle that I have dealing with is the social identity of other people not know about Hmong people. As I was growing up, I had friends and peers who thought I was Chinese just because me and the rest of my Hmong friends were speaking similar to the Chinese language. The way we look is similar to Chinese, yet our culture and languages is different from Chinese. As other people ask me what is my ethnicity is, I would tell them that I'm Hmong. However, many of then would not know who I was. I knew who I was, but at that time, I didn't have the amount of knowledge to tell them who the Hmong people were.

Alcoff quoted that "Identities are best understood as ways in which we and others around us represent our material ties to historical events and social structures." To let others know about who the Hmong people were and who I was representing Hmong, I would tell them about the past of Hmong people's life and how we came about to the United States. However, since history taught in school has not mentioned about Hmong and their history, many people are unaware of who we are.

I once wrote a research paper about the history of the Hmong's involvement in the Vietnam War and why it's important to know about Hmong because history itself left us out of what students should really learn in school. And as I gave my paper for my peers to edit, they were very surprise to learn about the Hmong people because the information that I've given and the history of the Hmong involving with Vietnam never accure to what they learned in school. So overall, if teaching and telling others about my people's history, whether it's in school or outside of school, it would help them know who I am and who the Hmong people were. Then my identity wouldn't be unknown to them, and that I wouldn't have to question myself why others don't know about Hmong and the history of the Hmong is left out.



Blog 3

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The Star Wars example with a good side and a Dark Side made me think of Harry Potter, which also has a good people and Death Eaters dichotomy. But the character whose identity I would like to discuss, Hermione Granger, is unambiguously good, and affected more by the Witch / Muggle dichotomy than good versus evil.

            Hermione is Muggle-born, which means that she spent the first eleven years of her life living as a Muggle. Then she is completely immersed in the magical world when she goes to school. She therefore has both magical and muggle aspects to her identity. This causes her to reject the wizard-centric view of the world, in which magical people not only dominate non-magical people but also non human creatures. (Even 'muggle loving' wizards view muggles as amusing and somewhat dumb - voyeurism?) Hermione's standpoint can be seen in her compassion for house elves and squibs, who are normally treated as second class by witches and wizards. This standpoint was then shaped by the historical conditions of classism against muggles and muggle-borns and the social structure with wizards at the top of the hierarchy.

to identity and beyond!

For my example, I'd like to use Buzz Lightyear of Toy Story as having outsiders within status. Buzz Lightyear is adopted into Andy's collection when he is given as a gift. All the other toys are astonished by him; he's so flashy in comparison to Woody. However, Woody is not impressed and his secure spot as Andy's favorite toy becomes threatened.

Woody tries to belittle Buzz by pointing out that he is a toy, but that is not how Buzz sees himself. He is not a toy, but a space ranger sent to seek out and destroy Emperor Zurg. His confidence and somewhat delusional manner takes over Andy's bedroom and a change starts to occur. Buzz and the other toys fix up his space ship, and he returns by helping the other toys with their problems. Rex develops a meaner roar and Sketch starts drawing buzz instead of having an old fashion duel with Woody. Had Buzz not entered the scene, everything would've changed stayed the same. Later in the movie when Buzz lets Woody's definition of him as a toy settle in, he no longer is Buzz Lightyear. He becomes helpless and downright pitiful.

Buzz lightyear confidence in his role as a space ranger (not a toy) challenged the status quo of the bedroom. By not accepting that he was in fact a toy, he instilled confidence in the other toys to try new things and improve upon their lives.

Identities Blog 3

Reading these articles and then attempting to relate the ideas to situations in my life was not at all difficult. I considered an example of what I explored with a part of my identity a few years ago. When I graduated high school, I headed off to the University of St. Thomas. I had hear about all the stereotypes about the "rich" people that go to St. Thomas but I just brushed all those comments off. I figured since I came from a family that has always lived not in the extreme, but very comfortably, I would fit in just fine. When I got there, I began to realize that in a sense, these comments that people had made were true. I had never even heard of the designer names that girls were dressed in or designer names of the bags that girls were carrying their books in. I began to feel like I didn't fit in. I wanted to stay true to my own identity but also felt jealous and wanted the material things they had. I battled this for awhile but realized that just because all these girls had expensive materials, that didn't mean they were good, kind, friendly people. We had simply been raised in different social institutions. Everyone from their home towns owned those material things because that's what was built into the society that they lived in. I happened to come from a society which these things were not built in. I simply accepted it and made a lot of really great friends because of who they were, rather than worrying about the things they owned.

Blog 3

I remember when I went to stay with my in-laws in Mexico City of this year.  The entire time I was there the family spoke to me (In Spanish) and made me feel as if I was a complete insider...as if I completely belonged to their family.  But as soon as we left the home, it was a completely different story.  Even if I wandered off for more than a minute from the family I literally was swarmed with people asking me for money, people saying rude things they had learned in English, and gave me awful looks.  I feel like Mexican culture is a part of my life...half of my family is Mexican...I eat Mexican food, I celebrate Mexican holidays, everything about it engulfs my life...but out there it was as if no one could get past the color of my skin.  My mother in-law admitted even though she would love for me to move down there that I would always be seen as a dollar sign.  I wanted to fit in as a fluent Spanish speaker-surrounded by the language and culture I am in love with-but it was not like that.  I was the white "gringa" seen as a dollar sign to hit up for money on the streets, and inside the home I was spoken Spanish to and treated like a part of the culture and family. I struggled with my own identity at that time, even if it was only for a short period of time. 

Blog Post #3

The two articles for this week's reading were of particular interest to me as I feel they intimately pertain to my social situation. As a Korean adopted by a white family I could be classified simultaneously an insider and an outsider. I ostensibly live a middle class, white lifestyle (or at least I have intimate knowledge of this lifestyle) but am denied all the finer benefits of such a lifestyle due to my Korean heritage. So what does this mean? If I ignore my race and its social implications to continue my comfortable but deceptive lifestyle, I support racial ideologies by choosing not to address racial inequalities and therefore remain willfully blind; a privilege reserved only for those with the ability of choice. What is this choice? Though I have been raised within a the cultural dominant and therefore taught that I do have the choice of ignorance (i.e. ignore something that is socially, culturally and historically detrimental (like racism) because it does not affect me), because I am not the cultural dominant, only intimately nurtured and raised into it, I only want to believe I have that choice when I do not. What has this resulted in? I know of a lifestyle I cannot have inner access to because society has made me aware that I am "other". However, I do have access to that life, however limited. As an other, I have an "in". It means that too all appearances I live on the fringes, working between two socially perceived dichotomies; a part of the dominant culture and also apart from it. (I say socially perceived dichotomies because a Korean raised by a white family would seemingly result in a fractured identity, between two separate things, a Korean and an American. This is not the case, as I am a unified identity operating within a fractured society, or a society that support fractures. To paraphrase Alcoff, it is not identity that needs to be transformed, but the structures that identity works within.)

Week 3 Blog

I grew up in a very small rural town with a population of around 200 people.  My entire school (k-12) had less than 100 students.  This is Drake, North Dakota.  In school everybody was accepted, we didn't have certain groups or "clicks" you belonged to.  But I guess that could have stemmed from the fact that we were all middle class white students and didn't really have a choice of who to pick for our friends.  From that you could guess that we had no diversity in our school.  With this kind of social structured environment, your standpoint about others that are "different" from you is probably skewed negatively.  I'm not saying I was racist.  I was just consumed with ignorance as were my fellow students.

In this town there was a way of dichotomous thinking, because either you worked on your family farm after high school or you went to college.  I chose to go to college.  I wanted my new identity to alter my ignorance into understanding others and other cultures.  I wanted diversity.  Patricia Collins article mentioned the "outsider within status".  She says Bell Hooks captured it best when she stated "living as we did-on the edge-we developed a particular way of seeing reality.  We looked both from the outside in and from the inside out...we understood both."     My standpoint has changed over the last few years, and I think that comes from changing my material conditions.  My status has changed.  The historical conditions I was raised in were telling me not to have an open mind.  Now I chose to have an open mind, and the curiosity of learning about others.   

Blog #3

One of the things Alcot discusses in her article is the relation between race and class and how the possession of material things places one in a higher class, thus giving the illusion that that class must some how be better than the others.  In America this has meant white people, and for generations women of color have fallen into ruts of domestic work and other such jobs while simultaneously losing their sense of personal identity as they struggle to become the essential "rich white woman".

My grandmother experienced this struggle first hand. She was Japanese, and when she was 25 she met and married my grandpa when he was stationed in Japan during the Korean War.  Coming to South Dakota was an extreme culture shock for my grandma.  Things were so different to her that she would tell stories years later about how much of an adjustment it has always been. They moved to my grandpa's hometown of Gregory, a town that boasted only just under a thousand people.  Those inhabitants were anything but welcoming to my grandmother.  She was the only Asian woman in the town, and even though she shouldn't have had to, she was forced to conform to the standards and ideals of a white American woman.  For example, her name was Hisaka. However, no one in Gregory called her that.  Instead they gave her the name "Wanda" and referred to her by that. The only job in Gregory she could find was as a seamstress, so she became the one who everyone in town took their clothes to in order to have them fixed or altered. As Alcot states, my grandmother had a whole different set of "personal history, experience, political values, beliefs, and community commitments" that made her an outsider in Gregory.  As Alcot stated, "raced identity permeates multiple aspects of lived experience.  It does not simply involve social status but also involves one's affective, genealogical, and familial relationship to historical events and traumas."  This rings very true for my grandma and the people of Gregory.  For example, my grandma viewed the attack on Pearl Harbor very differently then the rest of the town.  She saw it as only part of the war, they, however, saw my grandma as a member of an evil race that dared to attack America. The difference is history became a dividing factor in the subject of race.  

Blog 3- Historical, Material, and Social Structures

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Historical and material conditions influenced by social structures shape who a person becomes for many reasons, according to Alcoff and Collins. For some people, identity is based more upon the material conditions and social structures, such as in the case of Harry Potter. Historical conditions come into greater play when we look at Collins's work as she discusses Afro-American women and the "outsider within," which also affects Harry as his surrogate family knows that he comes from the "unnatural" wizarding world.

 

This theme of Star Wars as an example has immediately put Harry Potter into my mind and I can think of nothing else, so I will see what I can come up with for the famous wizard. Harry grew up living in a cupboard under the stairs with muggles (non-wizards), the Dursleys, without knowledge of his true past. This upbringing helped Harry to grow up to be humble, not knowing how famous he was in the wizarding world. The Dursleys knew of Harry's connection to the wizarding world, which led to some of the negative treatment he endured. The Dursleys did not approve of the existance of this "other" lifestyle. When Harry was faced with the reality of his past and how it changed the history of the wizarding world, it greatly affected his sense of wonderment, curiosity, and destiny. Harry was given a way out of the muggle world, into the wizarding world, to accept his true identity and eventually fulfill his destiny. Once Harry discovered that he belonged in the wizarding world, he never wanted to return to the muggle world, but was told he has no choice. Due to the material conditions of how Harry grew up, he knows nothing of the muggle world beyond how the Dursleys have treated him. This experience shaped how he views the muggle world and explains his unhappiness with having to live in the world he grew up in after discovering the world to which he belongs.

Blog #3- Identities

Identity can mean so many things to different people and they might not view it the same way as another person, but it's their history and today's social structure that contribute to their identity. Patricia Collins gives an example from Bell Hooks saying "Living as we did on the edge we developed a particular way of seeing reality. We looked both from the outside in and from inside out....we understand both."

 

An example from me would be as I was growing up in America having the Hmong American identity, I face struggles in middle school that made me feel confused about who I was, either having a Hmong or American identity. My parents were telling me to not become like Americans, I had to be a traditional Hmong girl. I wanted to blend in with both identities because I felt like that made me feel more comfortable and since I grew up in America, it was different for me then my parents who grew up in Laos. Reaching high school years made me realize that my parents were just scared for us to lose our identity as Hmong and I do see that I was becoming more Americanized.

 

Linda Alcoff argues "that what identities really are (as opposed to what they are sometimes said to be) is nothing to be politically afraid of." The social structure in America was different from Laos and my parents had to realize that they have to see it from my point of view. My parent's history is important to me and I want to keep it as a part of my identity. Growing up in America makes me feel that my life is going to go a different path then my parents. I want to have the Hmong American identity and not just one or the other.

Week 3 Blog

I found this week's reading really interesting and meaningful to myself because as an "outsider" of the foreign country, I experienced the confusion and struggle about "identity" in a foreign country. Alcoff and Collins both discuss on the issue of social identities. Alcoff points out that ,"Identities are best understood as ways in which we and others around us represent our material ties to historical events and social structure"(287). I found it is very true as I experienced it in my life. When I first arrived in the US as an International student, I was so excited about the new foreign life. Due to the large international students population, what I noticed is that most student of the same ethnic group went together and I found international students and local white students tended to have two different community groups. Their self identifications have driven them to stay with people who they are more familiar with. This is because they had their own identities labeled or marked since they were young. This identification of self affects how we see ourselves in the new environment. The standpoint from which I viewed my identity was strongly influenced my culture (historical and material condition) and the traditional Chinese environment (social structure) that I grew up in. Sometimes, I would prefer to stay in the Asian community and Chinese tradition because it makes me feel "home" when I am staying with Chinese people. Sometimes, I would like to stay with "white" people because I think this is the better way for me to explore the world and this is the reason why I am here in the US.

 

 

Also, I lived with a white host family and that made me to think about my identity in this new country. I thought about having two identities but it seems to be too ridiculous as my identity has oppressed me from taking another identity. I can say that I had a special standpoint of being the only Chinese girl in an all white family for 2 years. My host parents were so kind and tried to bring me into their white community. I tried to fit into the social structure of the white family and this made me confused. This is because I felt like I was their "Asian" daughter but I knew I am a Chinese. Finally, because of my "material tie to historical events and structure", I tried to incorporate my own Chinese tradition to my new American life instead of forcing myself to fit into the white community.

 

Blog 3- Identities

This weeks' readings by Alcott and Collins explain how identities shaped through historical and material ties "make" a person, whether they actually portray that mold or not. An example for me is when I moved from Northern California to Minnesota. I moved in January of my 6th grade year, and as soon as people found out I was from California, I was asked the same question repeatedly "Are you a surfer?" Of course I have only surfed 2 times in my life, but was embarrassed to admit this because I wanted to keep my "Californian identity." I felt that if I admitted to my new Minnesotan friends that I've only surfed twice (and one of those times was not in California), I would have already started to lose my identity as a California girl. I kept my image by wearing my favorite surf attire brand, Roxy. I held on to my material Californian appearance as long as I could.

As Alcott states, "our identities can be reshaped, and they absolutely require interpretation" (p. 288).  When I started to embody my new Minnesotan traits, I still felt I could be "Californian" by continuing to remember my history and association to California- memories of going to the beach, mountains, Disneyland, etc.

Another part of moving from California to a traditional conservative Midwestern town was the automatic assumption I was a liberal. I definitely identify myself as a liberal, but as soon as I moved to Minnesota and had conversations with new people, it seemed as if they already knew which side of the argument I would side with. Alcott explains about identities: "[identities]... can be inaccurately represented and mistakenly characterized. And they can in some cases be created as a strategy for oppression" (p. 287).  Of course I didn't think this to be very fair since I gave other people the chance to let them selves speak before judging them, but they seemed to already place me in a "Californian liberal hippie surfer chick" category.

Blog Post #3

After reading Alcoff and Collins article I was reminded of my high school. When I look back at the years I Was in high school there was a lot of proving who we were as students that took place.  In high school the main goal is to fit in, and there these underlying requirements that no one spoke of but everyone abided by. These requirements were similar if not the same as when Alcoff states "identities are best understood as ways in which we and others around us represent our material ties to historical events and social structures".Identity in this example would be the students social status in school. First your appearance (material ties) are key in determining the hierarchy that your placed in. The nicer and more expensive clothes you wore the more you were recognized and the easier it was fit in. The before the students even speak their status is predetermined just by their appearance.  This is only because of the fact that there's this standard that more "expensive" or name brand clothing is better that has been passes on for generations. This becomes a problem because a lot of students grow up without even option to buy name brand clothes. So without choice students are pushed into categories and labeled.  What really makes this bad is that students who do this don't even realize it, it's just a way of life and a normality. This in turns means that there needs to be a change in the way historical things are viewed and implemented rather there implemented consciously or unconsciously.

Blog 3-Identities

According to my interpretation of the readings by Alcoff and Collins, identity can be defined as either: a representation of our relationships to material items, society, and events or a reference or perspective resulting from the conditions listed above.

 

Since both readings referred to specific social groups, I am choosing to relate the principles of the readings to the identity of the hippies, a group that occurred in revolt of the mainstream middle class culture in 1960s America.  Because of the ideals that they championed such as sexual liberation, drug use, environmental friendliness, freedom, free love, and peace, their identity was one that was unorthodox and liberal. 

 

However, the hippie counterculture can be explained and analyzed using the principles of both authors' works.  For example, Alcoff says that social identities are "deep features of the self." This is true of the social identity of the hippies, who were dedicated to applying the ideals of their culture to their personal lives through the freedom of dress, eco-friendly commune living, and using art forms to express their beliefs.  This also strongly relates to Alcoff's belief that within identities, a "material tie operates through out our very physical and visible embodiment."

 

Ideas from Collins' three ideals can also be applied in explaining the hippie identity.  Like the feminists, hippies challenged the "political knowledge validation process."  They saw how oppression was interlocked between race, gender, and class and thus, revolted against mainstream middle-class America.  And finally, they took effort to validate make their culture important.  This was done by promoting themselves through art, protest, and completely devoting themselves to their unorthodox persona.    

Week #3 Blog Entry--Identity

The Alcoff writing was shorter in length but for myself more dificult to read.  I actually had to re-read it acouple times to make sure I understood where she was coming from.  One point throughout this article that stuck out was on p. 287 where she states, "It should be clear, then, that identities are not analogous to scripts that we are consigned to play out.  Nor are we boxed in by them, constrained, restricted, or held captive--unless, that is, one thinks that it makes sense to say that we are boxed in by the fact that we have bodies....." 

One other statement, also on p. 287 was, " To say that we have identities, histories, social locations, experiences, cultures, and so on is simply to say that we exist." 

Our own indentities are shaped by what is going on both internally and externally.  Our perception of what our own identity is will most likely be different from another persons when they see or interact with us. 

The Collins article I latched onto much faster. I can see the conflicts that come into play for Black/African American females within society and with the males of their own community.  The statement on p.159 that talks about "the black female being the white man's mule and the white female being his dog" caught my attention. It is the truth, sad to say, even in 2009.   Being a white man in society, there isn't too much more one needs to have power over others.  It shows the oppressive nature of our society.  One's skin color and gender  automatically puts them in a place where they will have to struggle more than a white man does(if he really has to at all) for his position in society. It's my own opinion when I say, it's not right. 

Trying to come up with something as to how I relate the articles to my own life, other readings, films etc. was difficult only because I could think of quite a few examples.  A conversation I had with my father-in-law over the weekend helped me to decide. Very current to say at least.

He asked me about school and how things were going & I was telling him about my classes and the accomodations that I am grateful to have. He told me that he just found out(he's 60 years old) that his grandfather became deaf due to illness as a child and lived within both the deaf community & hearing community. He married a woman(his grandmother) who was deaf from birth & raised 100% in the deaf community.  My father in law recalls seeing them using sign language when he was young.  He said that unlike his grandfather, who could speak and also used sign language to communicate, she used only sign language.  Therefore people, not him personally, often referred to her as being"Deaf and Dumb".  

To say the least, I was shocked to hear this, but then again not really.  I have had my own experiences where, even though I can speak, people tend to think that I am not as intellegent or educated as a "hearing person" may be.  Questions I have been asked(not recently)has also shown me that there are some who doubt the extent of my hearing loss.  I give credit to having really strong lip reading skills which is a good thing and "bluffing" which is not a good thing.  I can relate very well to the Collins writing due to being an "outsider".  I'm stuck in between two cultures. There are pros and cons to each.  Some days I wish I could just be in one or the other.  Most days I am glad to be stuck. 

Blog Assignment 3

As indicated by Linda Alcoff "social identities are understood to be the crux of the oppression and the nodal point of the imperialist project" (285). Taking this into consideration, Alcoff and Collins focus on the social construction of identities, and talks about how there is always a struggle with ones identity, due to either material, social, or historical conditions.

 Growing up as a first generation Asian American, I recall having a very low self-esteem as a child due to the idealistic images of the perfect woman, Barbie. She had bright blue eyes to perfect bleach blonde hair, and that was what I thought a woman should be. She had features that I did not. Looking at the social construction of this, I found Asians to be inferior at that time because I did not see Asian dolls being mass-produced, and when there was one, she had extremely chinky eyes, which I do not associate with. As Collins said, "stereotypes represent externally-defined, controlling images" (158)

I also encountered a confusion of identity as a child. I had to speak English, but at home I had to speak Hmong. So being at home, I was never Hmong enough for my parents because I did not fit into the traditional obedient daughter who cooked and clean, and at school I had felt that I was never "American" enough. So as Alcoff would say I had struggle with my identity due to my race, because and identity "is an oppressive from of coercion constraint" (287). 

Blog Assingment #3

Blog Assignment #3

    When I was reading this week's reading assignment, we were asked to provide and example of how dichotomous thinking can influence a person's life in many ways. I thought of an example that is not from my own life, but still relates to identity.
    I would like to offer the example of a child who is adopted overseas. Because some children are adopted at a very young age, they do not develop a strong identity, so in this example I am going to use a 6 year-old girl who lost her family in Korea and now live with an adopted family in the United States.
    The child was born in Korea, and has lived a long enough life so far to develop some sort of identity that relates to the way that she lived. She already possessed an identity with different social structures and traditions of their own. When this girl was forced to move and live with another family (in the United States) she had to adapt to their way of life. When she grew up, she could not consider dichotomous thinking when trying to define her identity because she felt as though she was Korean, as well as an American. She had lived long enough in both countries to feel as though she belonged in both. The social institutions here would be that of the United States as well as Korea; they both have their own way of operating and thinking. When this girl grew up, she was being assimilated into the American culture (going to baseball games, American political ideology, etc.) but she held on to her Korean identity by remembering what it was like to live in Korea, and try to incorporate some things she used to do, into the things she does now. The United States incorporated their institutions into her life, for example schools and social groups. However, because she lived in Korea for a substantial amount of time, this led her to try and incorporate some Korean traditions and thinking into her American life. Because she has lived in more than one social institution, she was able to not conform completely to the American way of life by holding on to her past experiences and thoughts; she had to develop her own, personal identity.
    
 

Blog Assignment 3

After reading Alcoff and Collins' articles on what Collins calls the Outsider Within perspective it is interesting to note their use of historical and material conditions to talk about and explain the social structures imbedded in self-identity and self-determination.  Alcoff suggests that, "Identities are best understood as ways in which we and others around us represent our material ties to historical events . . . "  although if we are not careful, "Identities can be used as the alibis for oppressive treatment . . ." (p.287).  Alcoff explains that material ties are at the essence of who we are and shaped by our history and position.  She states too that for women, particularly women of color, to have agency we need to reconceptualize and reconstruct our language.  She warns us that to ignore identity, history and standpoint thus pushing for a more humanistic approach is simply a smokescreen for continued oppression. (p.290)  From Collins' more sociological perspective she focuses more on the intersectionality of how black women are marginalized.  She talks optomistically about the progress black women are making in, "challenging the political knowledge-validation process that has resulted in externally defined, stereotypical images of Afro-American womanhood" (p.157).  And in, " . . . resisting the dehumanization essential to system of domination" (p.159).
Collins warns of the dangers inherent in dichotomies because there is a natural tendency to pit one thing against another thereby creating a hierarchy of what is superior over what is inferior (p.162).  And finally Collins agrees with Alcoff that there is still work that needs to be done if we are ever going to reach a place where we view ourselves and others from a humanistic perspective but that black women have had a consciousness and continue to embrace their strong self-identity and self-determination within the Western paradigm. 

Week 3 Blog

There are many things that are put into consideration when looking at what shapes a persons' identity. There have been numerous situations in which I, personally, have had to look back at my historical and material conditions and social structures in order to figure out a situation or look at how they contribute to the formation of my identity and standpoint. One of the biggest decisions that I had to work through, based off of what my parents and I had discussed, was when I was figuring out whether or not I wanted to jump into the workforce or go to college. Looking at my material conditions, I really could not afford to go to college without having to take out loans, so it really came down to a dichotomous thought process to figure out my solution (pay to do something to better yourself and be broke, or go into the workforce and not have to pay to do so). Also, my financial standing within society was something that did not and does not help me when it comes to financial aid. This is because I make too much, but yet again not enough to pay the loans off in full before each semester (oppressive part of society). Another aspect that I had to look at was that neither one of my parents or their parents had gone to college (personal historical condition/piece of their identity), so I had no real support system to go off of at home, other than from my friends and counselors (social condition). The solution that I came up with was to go to school full time and work part-time. This would enable me to go to college, while paying parts of the loans off as I go. Instead of choosing to either go to college or to go into the workforce, I ended up choosing both; therefore, claiming my own independent identity by doing something different than that of my family's past. This also made me go against the dichotomous thought process that my parents were set in, due to their historical and material conditions they were raised in.

 

Week 3 Blog

After finishing up the articles for this week about social identities, the example I thought of came from the TV series GRΣΣK.  On the show, there is a character named Evan Chambers, who is the president of one of the elite fraternities, Omega Chi, at Cyprus Rhodes University. Evan was born into a very elite family, which gave him a considerable amount of leeway in terms of university rules as well as made him the hot shot on campus because he literally had enough money and power to do anything he wanted.  Though being a member of the Chambers family came with money and power, it was only at your fingertips if you played by the Chambers family rules, which Evan did up until his senior year at Cyprus. The dichotomous thinking in Evan's situation had to do with whether he should abide by his parents' rules and continue to live the lavish lifestyle that he grew up with or give up the trust fund his parents gave him and become his own, broke mind you, man. In Evan's case, his family (his parents specifically), was the institution that he had to decide either to join or rebel against. Evan viewed the trust fund as a hindrance to him becoming the man he wanted to be.  He didn't know if he necessarily wanted to continue the family legacy and only be known as a "Chambers" and nothing else. The hegemony of his family's ideology about money and power being all there is to life ended up not being enough to sacrifice his freedom for, so he finally stood up to his parents and they completely cut him off, which means he went from being unimaginably rich, to flat broke.  The standpoint from which Evan viewed his family trust fund, which in turn gave him endless money and power was shaped, in a sort of backwards way, by his materiel conditions and his family social structure because he realized these things were not enough to make him happy and he valued his individuality and freedom more.

 

The reason that I chose the example that I did, is because Evan's story was about giving up his social status and his identity as a Chambers, which is what he had been defined as, because he valued his individuality more, which would have been lost had he kept his trust fund and high social status.  In our society, most people would think he was insane to give up the money and life his parent's were offering him, but that is only because our cultural in general values money and power rather than individuality.  As Alcoff said, "...we need a different understanding of the relationship between identity and oppression."  Evan was oppressed by his identity because it was based off of his high social status and nothing else.  People only viewed him in terms of his money and social status, which I think is just as oppressive as viewing someone only based off of their skin color, gender, clothes, etc.  I just thought it may be interesting from the point of view of someone who gave up their high social status which so many people are fighting to attain.

 

Week 3 blog

Reading the articles by Patricia Collins and Linda Alcoff, I very much understood what they meant by talking about social identity.  The example I thought of was in my high school.  I went to a small inner-city private high school where about fifty percent of the student body was considered "ethnic minorities".  The school always encouraged diversity and we often had events where we could present our culture to the school.  However, most kids of the same ethnic group were friends.  It made it especially difficult for kids of mixed races to find a social group because they were only allowed to have one identity.  Collins talks about "self-definition" which was hard at this institution, because right when you got there you were automatically labeled with an identity such as black, white, Mexican, Latino, and Asian.  A friend of mine was put down because he was half black and half white, but he often participated in events campaigning for Civil Rights.  People of both social groups found this confusing and were not sure what identity to give him.  He was unable to self-define his own identity which happened to many kids at the school.  Now that we are all in larger communities in college, I think it is easier to look past identity labels, but still realize that we cannot pretend they are there.

Blog 3 Entry

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After reading Patricia Collins and Linda Alcoffs' articles, I immediately thought of my hometown.  I'm from a small town in northwestern Minnesota and historical, material, and social structures have definitely made my town and the surrounding area very sheltered from the outside world.  It is not uncommon to hear the terms "redneck" or "housewife" to describe the average male and female.  For example, it is considered the social norm of my town to date a white, opposite sex person and you are almost expected to get married at a young age and have babies right away.  The man will work while the women will either work at the local Digi-Key or Arctic Cat or stay at home with the kids.  I believe in doing what makes you happy but it should not be expected of you to have a family and put it before your education and that is how a majority of people thinks in my town.  Also, if a person were to bring home a girlfriend or boyfriend of the same sex or of a different race then they would be the talk of the town.  I actually remember a time I was sitting in a local restaurant and the waitress asked my friend if her niece was dating a "black man." I couldn't believe my ears because I know if he had been white she would have not asked a question at all or would have gushed about how awesome he was.  However, that's the social structure that the people in my town have been raised on and that's how their relatives in the past have thought.  It is a vicious cycle and I hope one day it can change.  

Week 3 Blog Assignment (Identity)

After reading the articles from this week focusing on social identities, I immediately thought about my sister, Amy.  My sister was adopted from Korea as an infant. Although Amy and I grew up in the same family our childhood experiences greatly shaped our individual identities. My sister had many struggles growing up in an all white family and a primarily white community. Amy did not have historical ties to a Korean culture, (language, tradition, or food) however Amy's primary material condition was her physical appearance. Regardless of her upbringing, my sister's ethnicity is Asian and she has always had a different perspective of identity than myself.

After attending a majority white high school, Amy had a unique social standpoint being non white. Because of this factor her formation of identity was confusing and at times difficult. As Alcoff states in the article, Visible Identities, "the principal social struggles of the modern era can be characterized as, first, struggles of social status, then, of social class, and only then of social identity. In Amy's world, dichotomous thinking meant she was Korean and therefore different than the majority of white people in her social circle. Her struggles were not only looking different but also being adopted into an all white family (a material condition). The hegemony of the community we grew up in left Amy feeling dissimilar and not sure who to identify with. Her standpoint is different than mine because of her own experiences with material conditions and social structures. However, as my sister has gotten older, attended college, lived in a more diverse environment, and expanded her "in group" she has established her own social identity and become more comfortable in her own skin.

Week 3 Blog

As mentioned in Collins' article, within race, class, and gender there are people who are considered as insiders and outsiders. As I think of examples of what Collins' is referring to, I think about how throughout history, there has been society views and perceptions of rural versus urban life. These views have long influenced behavior and attitudes towards each other. I can't help but think about the perception people have when they hear the terms "city slicker" and "redneck". While unfortunate, these views and attitudes continue yet today.

For example, City slickers are those individuals who have lived in a city their entire life. Their exposure to rural life is what they see on television and in the movies. City slickers are viewed as being conceited, modern, and stylish. They are always in a hurry. They value possessions and compete with others to gain their status recognition. Belonging to the "right" group or club is important to them. Rednecks are perceived to be more laid back; more rudimentary. As a result, Rednecks are viewed to be backwards in their thinking; out-dated, almost ignorant, and crude in their lifestyle. Rednecks value their family and community.  Social status is not of importance.

Blog #3: Identities

The Hip Hop culture that emerged in the South Bronx in the 1970s is an excellent example of how the convergence of historical and material conditions and social structure contributed greatly to this (originally) urban identity. Historical practices, including redlining and blockbusting, created racially segregated housing, and deindustrialization and suburbanization exacerbated segregation and created other conditions for the emergence of Hip Hop culture in urban centers.  In the post-WWII era, middle-class whites began moving to the suburbs, and the economy moved from a primarily industrial sector to a primarily service-centered sector. By the 1960s, the South Bronx had lost 600,000 manufacturing jobs; nearly 40% of this sector had entirely disappeared. In the early 1950s, construction on the Cross-Bronx Expressway began, displacing 60,000 mostly non-white, lower-middle class or poor people [1]. Neighborhoods were further destroyed as slumlords hired thugs to commit arson, usually on empty buildings, to collect insurance money. Building abandonment was worsened as politicians began to use the arson and abandonment as justification for not investing in these poor, minority neighborhoods. In addition to these conditions of displacement and dereliction, the rise of the civil rights movement during this time was further fodder for the development of a Hip Hop culture. This worked in two parallel ways. First, the emergence of "racial radicals" such as The Black Panthers and The Young Lords, further allowed politicians the justification for disinvestment, or "benign neglect," as President Nixon famously wrote. Secondly, minority groups began looking for expressions of their racially identities. These surfaced partially through the political organizations mentioned above as well as street gangs, and eventually through music, dance, and art that became known as Hip Hop. All of these conditions have lead one author to call Hip Hop a "post-industrial/post-modern/poly vocal expression of oppression."[2]



[1] Chang, Jeff. Can't Stop Won't Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation. Picador Reading Group, New York, NY: 2005.

[2] Rose, Tricia. Black Noise: RapMusic and Black Culture in Contemporary America. Wesleyan University, Connecticut: 1999.

Blog Week 3

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Through my own life experiences, I encountered dichotomous thinking when I met my best friend. She moved from the Philippines in eighth grade and struggled to fit in. She felt marginalized because she did not know which group to identify with. My middle school was primarily Anglo-Saxon and she encountered dichotomous thinking when trying to find which group to fit in with. The categories were either "white" or "not white." It seemed impossible to fit into both. At first she identified with her Filipino heritage. I noticed this because she would bring her native foods to lunch. After a while she started bringing food like peanut butter and jelly or macaroni and cheese to lunch because she didn't want to feel different from the primarily Anglo-Saxon population of our middle school. She was stuck in the middle of two identities. She didn't know whether or not to embrace her Filipino heritage or to assimilate into the "white" category. Her parents took pride in the Filipino heritage, it was part of their family's history. She felt like she needed to adopt the "white" way of doing things, or else she wouldn't fit in. The social structure of our middle school was built upon Anglo-Saxon ideologies , and sadly, did not seem to embrace other cultures. I think that America is a lot like this. They expect us all to speak English, and not identify with our own cultures. Instead we are expected to assimilate into the "average American". Most of the times when you see the "average American" depicted through the media, they are almost always Anglo-Saxon. I do not believe that there is such a thing as the "average American" because the United States is made up of countless different cultures. My friend felt this way for a long time. Because of the social structure and ideologies of our middle school, she felt like she needed to identify more with the "white" category, or be left out. Her standpoint of "fitting in" was based on the social structure of our middle school. She felt torn between two identities because of the material conditions that she was brought up with (such as her native food and cultural customs that her family embraced).

Week 3 Blog Assignment

This week we start to look at identity: how identities are constituted, how they operate, and how identity and oppression interact. Linda Alcoff says that "[i]dentities are best understood as ways in which we and others around us represent our material ties to historical events and social structures."  Patricia Hill Collins addresses how Black feminists in particular "possess a unique standpoint... or perspective" due to the "historical and material conditions shaping [their] lives." 


In this week's blog post, I would like you to explore what Alcoff and Collins mean by historical and material conditions and social structures by providing an illustrative example of how these factors contribute to the formation of identity and standpoint. The examples can be from your own life, from literature or film, or drawn from your studies.  

For example, in Star Wars, dichotomous thinking meant that one must either be a Jedi, unambiguously loyal to the "good' side of the force, or go over to the "Dark Side,' like the Sith. The Jedi had considerable power, as demonstrated by the institutions that they created- a governing Council, a training academy, and an organized military force. Anakin sought to escape from the slavery and poverty in which he was raised (material conditions), and the hegemony of Jedi ideology attempted to shape him into a Jedi. However, the inability of dichotomous either/or thinking to account for the multiple identity categories in which Anakin found himself (Jedi, child of a slave, etc) led Anakin to resist the totalizing Jedi identity by searching for his mother and  falling in love. The standpoint from which he viewed the Jedi identity was thus shaped by his experiences with material conditions and social structures.

It may be helpful to refer to some of the definitions that we went over during the first week of class, particularly the definitions of ideology, institution, and system, when thinking of an example.Your example may address either an individual's identity or a larger group identity.

Suggested Length: 200 words