Thursday, January 29, 2015

Racism in America

     Over the past few months we have spent a lot of time discussing racism in America. One of my favorite topics we discussed so far has been intersectionality. I have always been interested in gender inequality so when I heard of a topic that combined all types of discrimination together I was intrigued. Intersectionality says that gender, race, sexuality and social class all combine together to create a whole new type of discrimination.  This means that all these traits about yourself are interconnected and can't be examined separately. For example if you are a black female you face oppression because of your race and gender.  Intersectionality is saying that those two traits have to be examined together which breeds a whole new type of oppression. As a white, gay female, or a black transgender you face varying types of oppression because of the things that make you, you   

      Intersectionality is a relatively new idea, so the movement is just getting off the ground.  I read an article that stated that middle class, white, cisgendered females, who are advocating for intersectional equality, are actually hurting the intersectionality movement. I personally don't agree with this assessment but I do understand where the article was coming from. Interesectionality is all about how different forms of oppression come together. If you're white, cisgendered, which means you identify with your natural born sex, and middle class, the only part about you that is being discriminated against is the fact that you are a female.  Even though it makes sense, I still think everyone has the right to advocate for intersectional equality. Females everywhere face oppression and that alone should be enough for them to support the intersectionality movement. The more help and attention, the movement gets, the better the chance of success. 

         Another topic we started our racism unit with was white privilege. When white privilege was first brought up I was actually a little offended. I felt like it was saying that I owed some of my success to being white. That idea to me was preposterous because I felt that I had worked hard and I deserved all I had achieved. Then we began talking more about what white privilege really meant and I began to better understand. The definition of white privilege as stated on Wikipedia is White privilege (or white skin privilege) is a term for societal privileges that benefit white people in western countries beyond what is commonly experienced by the non-white people under the same social, political, or economic circumstances.  This means that being white protects me from institutional racism.  I don't have as many odds stacked against me when I start off my life.  That's not to say that minorities and people of color can't be successful because of course they can. They just have a slightly more uphill climb.

        One thing about white privilege that I think needs to be made clear is that being white does not automatically make you successful or guaranteed to have a good job.  People of every skin color need to work hard to achieve their goals. Also, being a successful white person does not mean you are successful just because of your skin color. It would be wrong to point at a white person and say that they got to where they are just because of their skin color because that is an unjust assumption to make.  Statistically there are more white middle class citizens in America than black and white privilege may have had a hand in that. The poverty cycle also plays into this because it's difficult to work your way up from the bottom in todays society.  At my school I don't believe that there is white privilege. Everyone who comes to my school is given the same opportunities.  Regardless of your ethnicity, you have the same opportunity for success.  To conclude I believe white privilege exists but I don't think it's a factor in every day of everyone's life. I also don't think someone's success or lack of success can be completely blamed on white privilege.  While it may have played a role, it will never be solely responsible for your achievements.