Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Who Am I?

Class today lasted a short three hours as Michael canceled our afternoon session. Shannon Lundee ran the morning class today while Michael and Prof. Lamas sat to the side of the room, providing guidance and their opinions when they felt like doing so.
The main theme of today's class was Identity, with subtopics of Assumptions, Stereotypes, Identity Politics, Body Language, Race and Gender, and Intersectional Identities in Context. We first reviewed the reading we did last night on Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw's text, Mapping the Margins, which partially focused on how violence against women is a broad scale system of domination that affects women as a class; also how identity-based politics render an individual's oppression visible as social and systematic oppression of a class/group of people. The review of these ideas turned into a discussion on identity politics, politics of social location, and how Crenshaw says that it is universal but contingent, varying upon decade at the same time.
We then talked about intersectional identities in context at a local and global level. This discussion posed the question of how do race and gender interest in shaping structural and political aspects of violence against women of color? Shannon made it very clear by the end of this topic that we have to understand how people's identities are constructed if we really want to remedy injustices. From here, we entered the subject of African-American males in North American culture and how their identities have been commonly and negatively stereotyped. We learned that according to sociologist Patricia Hill-Collins, the only acceptable form of masculinity in the U.S. is a hyper heterosexual aggressive one. Now, while I agree that this statement is applicable in this country, I am torn because of the many exemptions I have see throughout my life. Even though this may be the general ideology, I know many African-American men who publicly display that they are gay and they are accepted in their communities. There is no doubt however, that any man, whether he be African-American or not, is subject to criticism for their sexuality, if they are not firmly heterosexual. In class we discussed how men that are not heterosexual are seen to have feminine qualities and therefore, since women in general have been seen as subordinate to men, the masculinity of those non-heterosexual men is immediately diminished.

The rest of the morning strongly focused on the African-American male, in North America, and the different role models they have throughout their lives; not to mention how upbringing and their actions control how their identities are formed and how they are perceived by others. I think that in order for equality and justice to make more significant breaks in our society, we should all start thinking about our own identities and how we can break out of our own racist mindsets, whether they are conscious or unconscious. As of now, I don't think that anyone is absolutely judgment free, because without the constant hate and inequality, there would be no "peace" or "equal rights." The only reason that different races even exist, in terms of their respective names, is because they have somehow been categorized by the color of skin. I think this process of categorizing is completely natural, but why do we have to then create a hierarchical order within this system? The problem is not that we notice differences between people; that I think is an instinct that exists in all life forms. The real problem that we need to find a way to reconstruct is that we as humans cannot, or have yet to, carry on the species without an order of dominance within our societies. Power and greed are characteristics of domination that are recreated with the turn of every new rule; so I suppose that of we could identify the sources of those desires, maybe we could began to understand more about the roots of the corrupt society that has been so deeply internalized in our psyche that we have been forced to accept it to simply survive.

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