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  9. I found this reading to be particularly helpful as I delve into the Springfield community to learn about youth experiences with violence, identified by Young as a form of oppression. The suggestions on how to build connections such as recognizing and respecting differing experiences, finding common causes and building empathy proved to be a great starting point.

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  13. 6 (February 28th) readings on Intersectionality, Privilege and Oppression here!

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  24. In her article, Iris Marion Young defines oppression as a structural concept which encompasses the following five categories: exploitation, marginalization, powerlessness, cultural imperialism, and violence. She refers to these categories of oppression as “embedded in structural norms” (p. 36) that function as “an enclosing structure” (p. 36). Of interest is her analysis of the concepts of power and powerlessness, and concept that to achieve power one must have access to education in particular. The challenge is to redress the impacts of oppression, especially considering that the structures of oppression, including marginalization, exploitation, and the concept of power itself, perpetuate unequal access to power. It is vital for this analysis that she identifies cultural imperialism, the concept of determining norms in relation to the discourse of the dominant population, and the perpetuation of the concept of “others,” a concept that is tied to the value system used to judge people and communities. One of her most poignant statements in this reading is about the arbitrary nature of determining worth based on social groupings: “prejudice, stereotyping, discrimination, and exclusion exist because some people mistakenly believe that group identification makes a difference to the capabilities, temperament, or virtues of group members” (p. 38). All too often value (read: worthlessness) is assigned to groups entirely based on assumptions that have no validity because of the group that they belong to.

    Wildman & Davis identify language as a tool of cultural imperialism that perpetuates the embedding of oppression by “contributing to the invisibility and regeneration of privilege (p. 50). As a tool of oppression, language is used to categorize all types of people, based on the “norm” of the dominant culture and assigning value to groups or people that are viewed as others, or outside of the norm. The reference to Peggy McIntosh’s article about white privilege reminded me of this blog post from the Feminist Breeder, which explores the concept of white privilege from the perspective of a low-income white person who may never consider themselves to be privileged: http://occupywallstreet.net/story/explaining-white-privilege-broke-white-person . The point that stands out to me here is that if we (I, you) want to do public health work that promotes social justice, then the first step is to acknowledge who we are (including the privileges you were born with or without) and how our thought processes contribute to or take away from the work that we are doing. I felt like this concept of personal accountability was echoed in the Collins article, but I do not agree with her call for building empathy as one of the steps towards righting the imbalances that are a result of oppression. The Miriam-Webster dictionary defines empathy as “the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.” To me this is similar to the concept of cultural competence as opposed to cultural humility, and is an example of the use of language to perpetuate oppression. Although I agree that trying to put yourself in another person’s position is a valuable practice, one person cannot know exactly what it is like to be another, in particular if this advice is given to a person who has benefitted from their privilege.

  25. The readings this week are by far my favorite. They were very easy to read and helped me understand it all more. By understand I don’t only mean the material but I mean things that are still going on in our society. There are a lot of time in my life that I feel like I experience or see things that are just not right but I don’t know how to explain it and I don’t know what language to share my feelings about these issues with others. Often it takes a me a very long time for me to even understand it before I can explain it to anyone else. I feel like these reading finally explained it in a way that I can understand and articulate. It is interesting to me that you don’t have to know what a word is to understand how to explain it to feel it. My whole life I’ve seen and dealt with different forms of racism, oppressions, sexism, and classism but I did not know how to explain it. It almost seemed as it was just there. Like it just happened. When I was younger my mother use to always tell me “ You are a Puerto Rican woman in a white man’s world. It’s like you were born with two black eyes and because of that you have to work twice as hard.” I NEVER understood what she meant by that when I was younger but now I do.

    It wasn’t until I went to college and I heard words like social justice, gentrification, activist, feminist, reproductive justice and a whole bunch of other words that college students seem to just plop into the middle of their sentences to sound more intelligent. It also wasn’t until college that I heard about privilege. I use to get really mad when I would hear white students talk about the burden of privilege and discovering their “whiteness” in college. Being in a predominantly white college for undergrad I finally understood what my mom meant about being born with two black eyes. Every time I walked into a room they could see my black eyes. I could not find my black eyes. I could not find that I was a dark skin Puerto Rican woman in a institution that was set up by white men for white men to succeed. Reading about “Throwness” or identifying with a group because that is the group people put you in, in Oppression, Privilege, & Resistance: Theoretical Perspectives on Racism, Sexism, and Heterosexism: “Five faces of oppression,” made me think about my time at Hampshire College. Hampshire college has an great scholarship called the James Baldwin Scholarship. This Scholarship is given to “talented students from underserved communities who would benefit from a transition year before college in which to improve general academic skills and prepare for the rigor of college studies”. Hampshire College James Baldwin Scholar or JBs are students of color. Throughout my four years at Hampshire College students and faculty were consisting assuming I was a JB. I found myself only hanging out with JBs and going to JB events even though I was not a JB. I

  26. For me, these readings shed light on the intricacies of naming oppressions and the ways in which they overlap. Throughout this course so far we have discussed the ways in which naming divisive indicators (class in particular) is something that we ere away from as a culture, and I loved the way the three readings each addressed this phenomena and went on to speculate as to why we do this. Wildman and Davis explored the need for categorization along lines of race and gender and the ways in which this compartmentalizing of people ultimately lends to a tokenizing of (often those same) people and experiences.

    Young and Collins went on to look at the forms that oppression takes; Institutional, Symbolic and Individual (Collins) and Exploitation, Marginalization, Powerlessness, Cultural Imperialism and Violence, connecting these forms to the types of compartmentalizing that Wildman and Davis explore. Collins’ approach to fostering change through empathy and coalition building rely heavily upon self-reflection and on looking at the ways in which internalized oppressions and privileges manifest in our understandings of ourselves and our worlds. I particularly liker her urge to move away form comparing oppressions, or measuring them against each other, as that can be evocative of the same tokenizing that Wildman and Davis urge the reader away from.

    Collins’ quote about how a privileged presence “can erase the very presence” of those less so, made me think a lot about visibility and invisibility, and how these two things shape cultural attitudes (YEAR p.538). For example the hyper visibility of being a pregnant and teenager, and how sexualized and criminalized the particular bodies are, versus the often invisibility of queer communities who are similarly marginalized. There is something so provocative about this balance between being (in)visible/adherent or not to dominant culture, and the ways in which this connects to stereotypes and even policy.

    To take this a step further – and to expand on another set of faces of oppression, below I’ve included a segment of a workshop that the organization I teach for (Youth Action Coalition) puts on fairly frequently. The three ‘I”s in this case are Institutional, Internalized and Interpersonal and all connect to a barometer activity wherein situations are read that youth respond to by placing themselves next to a sign with the corresponding “I”. Following this they have discussion about the root of these types of oppressions and what can be done to create change, working together to create concrete strategies.

    Institutional Oppression: practices that create advantages and benefits for some, and discrimination, oppression, and disadvantages for others. (Institutions are the organized bodies such as companies, governmental bodies, prisons, schools, non-governmental organizations, families, and religious institutions, among others.)

    Interpersonal Oppression: is interactions between people where people use oppressive behavior, insults or violence.

    Internalized Oppression: is the process by which a member of an oppressed group comes to accept and live out the inaccurate myths and stereotypes applied to the group by its oppressors.

    1. In an immigration raid in Laurel, Mississippi, Latino workers are separated from their black and white co-workers and are singled out for immigration check.
    2. A six-year old boy brings a Barbie to show-and-tell and the teacher tells him that boys do not play with dolls.
    3. Same sex marriage is illegal in most U.S. states.
    4. Someone leaves a comment on an online video about immigrants’ rights that says, “Go back to your own country.”
    5. A young Asian woman hates the shape of her eyes and wants to get plastic surgery to make them more European looking.
    6. A group of men make remarks to a woman on the street about her body.
    7. Although black people account for only 12% of the U.S. population, 44% of all prisoners in the U.S. are black.

  27. The readings this week certainly left me with lots of food for thought. Young (2000) article on the “Five Faces of Oppression” was really helpful in highlighting the intricacies of oppression and the deep ties to systemic, structural issues of ‘everyday life’. The explanation of the five categories of oppression (exploitation, marginalization, powerlessness, cultural imperialism and violence) helped me to see the interaction and relationship of each condition rather than viewing oppression as a “unified phenomenon”. After reading this article specifically, I had a similar feeling as Jamir-we have come along way but certainly have much further to go.
    As a few others have mentioned, The Wildman and Davis (2000) article brought up a lot of reflection on my own privilege and how I both consciously and unconsciously perpetuate that. While serving as an Americorp VISTA for year, I participated in several workshops on identity. One of things that seemed most important to me during that time and also in this article is the notion that despite my efforts to confront my own privilege and prejudices, there is a level of systemic influence that I am a product of and benefit from. I think it is important that these authors did not sugar coat the fact that this is all hard work.
    I like how Sabina described the “Now What” that came from these readings. The Collins (2000) article explained some of the issues that arise when we work towards transcending barriers of difference to make social change. The issues discussed include differences in power and privilege, knowing the real reason for the coalition/movement, and issues of individual accountability. I loved the Audre Lorde quote that Collins ended with and the encouragement to examine our own position.

  28. These readings were good. They all brought up some interesting view points that caused me to think about my personal situation. Being who & what I am, I have always been aware that I was considered a “minority”. Not only that, but growing up in areas where there were a high rate of crime and violence only made situations worse. However, I am where I am today, and I never thought of myself as being oppressed and most likely never will. However, I am aware that today, I have achieved more than many of the people that I grew up with have; which makes me part of the oppressed groups, as well as part of the privileged.

    I think that it is critical that we remember to not make generalizations about populations. Meaning that since the authors gave their definitions, that we should just read it and accept it for specific populations. With Iris Young and her definition of oppression, I respect it, but I do not agree with it. I feel that oppression is more of a mind-set that people allow themselves to be [someone allows themselves to be powerless, allows themselves to be exploited, etc]. And for someone to label another as oppressed, wouldn’t that be the same as judging?

    When reading these articles over the past couple of weeks, the same thought has occurred: America has come so far, but has so much further to go.

    In Collin’s article, I think that it is important that we remember a few things. #1- colleges are not as diverse as they should be. #2- if they were so diverse would these conversations be necessary. #3 Since there are not many diverse colleges, who are really having these talks? Not the “minority/ethnic under-served”. Which is why there needs to be more of an effort to attract diversity to all colleges. With that said, until the conversation includes all parties and/or equal parties involved, there will always be differences and non-agreements on points. Why, because people assume to know another persons perspective when they do not. Reading articles can only give you an idea, but if you have not talked directly with them then you will never know. I like the idea of classroom talks, it brings ideas/thoughts that many people in this country feel are taboo, such as race, religion, and politics. We need more of that in my opinion.

  29. I like this week’s readings because the authors presented personal examples which I could feel related in so many ways, thus making me to reflect about my identity. Regardless of how confident we feel about our role in the world and how we are making an effort to make this world a better place, it’s hard to realize that, sometimes, we can be part of the problem instead of the solution. Moreover, being part of a minority group, who could be often oppressed, intentionally or not, usually makes me think that I put all the discriminatory behavior aside: “I’m not racist, I don’t discriminate by ethnicity or race…”. However, after the readings and by retrospection, I could find some aspects or events of my life that put me in privileged and/or oppress situations. For instance, on the one hand, I’m part of the Latino/Hispanic population, which has been documented to be part of the not privileged and usually powerless groups living in US, also struggling with race discrimination, especially when they are “undocumented”. On the other hand, I’m Puerto Rican, still part of the Latino population, but with the “privileged” status of being a US citizen. Hence, as expressed by Wildman & Davis (p. 54): “Privilege is not visible to its holder; it is merely there, a part of the world, a way of life, simply the way things are”, I didn’t see myself as part of the privileged group within my race/ethnicity group before; it wasn’t my choice to be Puerto Rican, to be a US citizen, it was just something that happened by default, something that I inherited. However, it wasn’t after talking to some friends about how annoyed I was of people (Americans, mostly) always telling me that they “haven’t visited Puerto Rico because they don’t have a passport” and how I had always to reply that “you don’t need a passport to go to Puerto Rico, actually, I don’t have one”, that I realized how rude I was being with my counterparts from other countries, by addressing that I especially had that type of privilege. It wasn’t intentionally though. At the time, I told myself I was annoyed because they didn’t know about Puerto Rico, our history or our “status” in the world. Still, I was being, in some way, part of the people that marginalize and oppress others because they don’t share the same privilege. I felt so bad…

    Likewise, I could recall a time when I was in 8th grade and I wanted to be part of the domestic course offered as an elective course in my school. It was a choice to make between that class and the industrial arts course. Obviously, I opted for the first one, I was very excited because I was going to learn about cooking, sewing and all the stuff “a girl should know to grow up and be a good wife”, I was told. Even though, my group was mostly girls, there were few guys that wanted to enroll in the domestic class as well: “we’re going to have fun” they said. But there was a problem, given the gender distribution in my group, the industrial arts class was empty, with just one boy enrolled. So, that’s how the teachers sent ALL the boys to the industrial art class “because you don’t have to be taken cooking and sewing classes”, and I ended taking the class too, because I was part of a draw to see what girls would go to each class. I’m not going to lie, I felt disappointed at the time. Actually, that’s the excuse I give to everybody when they ask why I didn’t learn to cook while I was growing up (It’s funny, but it’s true!). But now that I think about it, that was discrimination by sex, part of the chauvinism we still leaving that point out as a “norm” that girls should cook and boys should fix things. Anyway, I would never regret being part of the industrial arts class, because I learned things that maybe in other scenarios I would never learned.

    Currently, there are so many ways of oppression happening in the world. So many privileged groups are acting, intentionally or not, against the powerless, giving the impression that there’s no more hope. However, to learn about how the privileged and oppressed groups are “built” could help us to recognize where we are failing. As expressed also by Wildman & Davis (p. 56): “Seeing privilege at the intersection is complicated by the fact that there is not purely privileged or unprivileged person”, it’s difficult to visualize when we are being judgmental or unfair. But when we ignore what is visible, when we oppress the less privilege even with the subtlest thing, we become part of the problem.

  30. I think these were best sets of readings thus far!

    When reading about such a heavy and sensitive topic like as oppression and privilege, I always appreciate it when scholars leave us with the NOW WHAT. Usually, articles highlight things that can be done to alleviate issues. The importance of dialogue, especially in college setting, was a re occurring NOW WHATs in both Language and Silence: Making System of Privilege Visible (Wildman & Davis) and Towards a new Vision: Race Class, Gender as Categories of Analysis and Connection (Collins). I agree with the articles that college is a unique place where there tends to be a greater diversity than any other communities. Therefore, I can see why open classroom dialogues (like the one shared by Matt and his classmates in Sociology of Black Communities) a plausible action plan for dealing with magnification of oppression and privilege. But we must be cautions. Let me explain. Collins states:

    “the relationship among Mark and his classmates represents the power of
    the classroom to minimize those differences so that people of different
    levels of power can use race, class, and gender as categories of analysis
    in order to generate meaningful dialogue. In this case, the classroom
    equalized racial differences so that Black students who normally felt
    silenced spoke out.” (459)

    When reading such successful scenarios of enlightment, it is easy to conclude that dialogues in classroom is the way to go (and it very well may be in many cases) but it is important for us reader to understand that they do not eliminate those power of differences. I can personally say that during most of my school years I did not find classrooms to serve as an equalizer to talk about issues such as race and class, rather school reminded me of my difference, my deficiencies. The impact of dialogues/classroom is infinite, but only when they are facilitated in a careful manner.

  31. When I read the articles, I felt that all of these articles help me to rebuild my thinking frame of meaning of oppression, privilege, and power. And I learned all of these concepts cannot be defined by a single set of criteria (Young, p.36).

    Young’s article said oppression is relative. For instance, people feel they are oppressed by someone even in a same group (same group means that people have same characteristics, such as race, gender, and income). A social group is defined by a sense of identity (Young, p.38). One group’s Identity is sometimes identified by other groups. This is what I try not to think that group members have same characteristics in a group. Individuals are different, we have different tendencies. We, as a health professional worker, need a way of thinking that people are different. Of course, people live in same area or people have same health behaviors can cause similar health outcomes. However, we need to see them individually. If we think that individuals are different, more people might feel that they are respected. I do not mean that we do not need a criteria in our society. We need criteria because we cannot do everything that we want. Criteria can allow which behavior is accepted or not in our society.
    In Wildman and Davis’ article, language contributes to the invisibility and regeneration of privilege (Wildman & Davis, p.50). I was surprised that Black people, Hispanics, and American Indians were called minority groups in the U.S.. Who defined they are minorities? For me, the word ‘minority’ means huge more than poor. I feel that there is system of power from the privileged group. This article said that admitting we are racists and sexist is a first step to consider the other people. I think most dangerous thinking is we are not racists and sexists because we are relatively privileged group in our power system.
    In Collins’ article, the author says that building empathy from the privileged groups is difficult (Collins, p.461). Building empathy from the subordinate groups is also difficult (Collins, p.461). Basically, building empathy can begin with understanding others. However, mistrust hinders building empathy between dominant groups and subordinate groups. I know it is hard to break prejudice, which has been organized historically. For example, Korea was colonized by Japan for almost 50 years (1895-1945). Many Koreans still disbelieve a Japanese government. When people find a gap between I and others, people may not want to know the other group because people (including me) easily find differences through the gap.

  32. Please ignore the earlier post that I had so this is the revised one – my apologies:

    I appreciate this definition of “social group” which states “…a social group is defined not primarily by a set of shared attributes, but by a sense of identity. What defines black Americans as a social group…” (Marion, p. 38), since it, I believe, emphasizes on the importance of many other aspects within a social group (e.g. beliefs, way of thinking, etc.) rather than merely skin color, hair color, and so on. The way these social groups teat each other is exactly when the notion of social justice comes to the surface. Differences do exist among social groups but to have a just society the groups need to respect the differences “without oppression” – which has been a very key point since centuries not decades and around the globe not only one or two, in one or other “faces of oppression” introduced by Marion (Marion, p. 39).

    The “Exploitation” which is, according to Marion (Marion, p. 39) one of the oppression faces can make ground for unequal distributions among groups which leads us towards injustice society. We have an example of such in my country: one of the ethnic groups called “Hazara” has been harassed and by at least one of the other groups since decades. The oppressed group was being exploited in terms of equal access to labor market, education and role in governmental positions particularly five decades ago – perhaps it aligns with second face of oppression: marginalized. That said, it would be very optimistic thought if we hope for positive alteration of this condition unless the root/causing factors of oppression is addressed in nation level not just within the groups.

    How concise and inclusive the point is when Wildman and Davis say that “…our world is gendered…our world is also raced” (Wildman and Davis, p. 51). What is your country of origin? Which language you are speaking? As such, these are perceived as introductory questions when we find ourselves in a different country(s) that, I think, seem quite expected and normal as long as the way we are treated afterwards is not based on the initial conversation. To clarify this, I would give an example of what I experienced: during my first weeks being in Amherst I was stopped by a student (international), who had a kind greetings with me, asked me of my country of origin. However, we had a short conversation once we were introduced. Shortly after that date we accidently saw again each other in which the courtesy and gentleness of first visit been faded. I, going through the readings of this week, realized that still the “differences” are perceived and promoted as a means to judge about the groups rather a means for respect, recognition and connection.

    The reading (Hill Collins, p. 461) has an interesting discussion about building empathy between “privileged” and “non-privileged” groups saying that it is a difficult process – yes it is, indeed. Reading’s example is with reference to black and white as privileged and non-privileged groups respectively however it should be applicable among other groups as well. I am coming from a community where males are always privileged while women are not/less privileged. However, males being privileged is an implicit phenomenon quite often and I guess this implicitness makes the building empathy process more challenging though it has begun in some extents. The situation seems nice/friendly, calm and “normal” unless females want to claim their rights; and that is when males being privileged becomes explicit and women are blamed for “abnormal” performance in society. Again, to have a just society regardless of its nature that whether it is gender groups, race groups or language, the root causes have to be identified and addressed.

  33. I really appreciated the readings this week because I was able to reflect on how these concepts impact my personal life and the lives of those around me. I agree with Rohina, that Wildman and Davis were right on target in stating that our world is “gendered” and “raced.” This comment became particularly visible for me in the example about an expectant mother, so quickly we ask “is it a boy or girl?” What is interesting about this is that the humanity of the situation, the idea of health (is the mother/child okay) comes secondary. This, like many other observations and examples made me wonder WHY do we, as a society, emphasize these distinctions.

    The article by Collins highlighted some important ideas surrounding how to create connections despite race, class, and gender barriers. I found this reading to be particularly helpful as I delve into the Springfield community to learn about youth experiences with violence, identified by Young as a form of oppression. The suggestions on how to build connections such as recognizing and respecting differing experiences, finding common causes and building empathy proved to be a great starting point. However, the author also noted, “Differences in power constrain our ability to connect with one another even when we think we are engaged in dialogue across differences” (Collins, p.458). These readings encouraged me to reflect on my own power and/or lack thereof.

    Additionally, reading Young’s article regarding the 5 Faces of Oppression highlighted the major forms of oppression while acknowledging potential overlap and experiential differences. Throughout the article, it was hard not to imagine examples of each form of oppression; thinking about exploited immigrants, even slaves, the marginalization of the elderly population or those on welfare, the powerlessness we see in a lack of political representation, cultural imperialism that occurs when homosexual couples aren’t allowed to be married, or the violence that occurs when a woman is raped on the street…to name a few. It is shocking to believe we as a society are not outraged by this! Overall, this week’s readings had me step back and analyze my position within certain social groups (spoiler alert: we will talk more about when Lizbeth and I lead discussion on Friday). It was humbling to think about the privilege and oppression I face solely based on my association with particular social groups.

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