Pecan Pie

Social Anxiety from the South

Posts Tagged ‘race

MAGA: Sociology is Magic

Okay I want to explain something.

I’m GRATEFUL for #MAGA Hat student in class today. He is the literal embodiment of why I teach.

We are politically socialized by our families and our religion. We don’t even begin to develop a political ideology apart from our parents until we start to develop our lives apart from them.

(Insert #notall)

This is my Every Student™. My student who came in thinking sociology is an offshoot of psychology. My student who is only there because it fulfills Area E.

We discussed Marx Friday and this student probably talked to his parents about his first week of college. College. Not class.

We start with Marx.

“We should all be Marxist in the sense that…”

Their fears come true.

So, this hat.

Yeah, it was distracting. For me it represents so much.

Hate. Fear. Intimidation. Violence.

But this is a child whose world until now has been small. That’s what college is for, a world expanding experience.

This is LITERALLY #whitefolkswork.

It’s also literally my job.

I don’t demand political agreement. Some of my most conservative students have and are my best students and they take all my courses. They are my favorite. They push back against me and keep me always standing on the data and not shifting sand.

What they do have to do, is learn and engage with the material.

I think sociology is fucking magic.

It is the imagination of the object and subject. The special glasses that never again allow us to see the world and be pacified.

I believe in its power to open eyes, hearts, intellect.

It isn’t perfect. Fraught with racism, sexism, queerphobia, classism, ableism…white supremacy.

But my classroom is constantly arching toward inclusivity, toward justice, toward an equitable world, toward a revolutionary pedagogy.

I believe in what I do

I’m grateful for MAGA Hat.

I have this opportunity. I have this small precious chance to open the door to seeing the world a little more compassionately for this student.

I have this chance to show him what it is like when students of color’s voices are centered. When we talk about disability rather than ability. When we queer the neutral and “normal”.

In a world of measuring how “woke” we all are, maybe I can ring the alarm clock and maybe he will stop hitting snooze by December.

There’s Nothing Between the World and Me

I often wonder what it is like to live in real fear for your child. A mental exercise steeped in racial and class privilege.  I don’t live in fear of much of anything. I have fear of what others think of me, but even as I face legal issues related to alcoholism, I have almost no fear of jail, or social consequences.  I certainly do not fear the loss of my child’s life at the hands of those meant to protect him. I do not fear that he will be seen as a threat.  I only ever hear that he is well-mannered and sweet, his occasional outbursts or rude behaviors seen as quirky or normal.

Color-blind racism is an academic notion with real, devastating human consequences. We discuss it as something to quantify and research, to count and run t-tests of what policy is working and which white groups are “disenchanted”.   Opposite Bizzarro World, Ta-Nehisi Coates  explains to a willfully ignorant nation that this well intentioned attempt to dismiss race and along with it the history of brutality and oppression is futile.  More than futility, though, it is strategic denial of responsibility.

Black bodies have never been autonomous. How to explain to your child that their body is not their own?  I talk about consent with my son.  I tell him he doesn’t have to hug anyone he doesn’t want to and Meme can’t demand a smooch if he isn’t feeling like it.  I explain to him that he should not touch others without asking and that no one should touch him without an invitation.  I do not have to see him watch the torture porn of black bodies on television, bodies brutalized and replayed over and over so that white audiences will understand the reality of the situation.  He does not need “The Talk” except that one about the birds and the bees (Coates 2015:12).

I drove last summer to see my niece.  She’s a graduate student in Tennessee. We had a rental car with Texas plates.  I was driving with my husband and two very tall teenaged boys.  We headed home and it was late, after midnight.  I was pulled over for speeding or not using my turn-signal, something mundane.  My husband reached into the glove box without warning as I rolled down my window…and nothing happened.  My sons were not seen as threatening even though they are pushing six feet the both of them.  My husband’s sudden movements were not viewed as dangerous or that of a person reaching for a weapon.  I was warned to slow down or be careful and with a charming smile, sent on my way.

A mile down the road a Black man was pulled off his motorcycle by that same officer.

I had a conversation with my boys about their rights and how to interact with police.  And I told them that this conversation was wildly different than the conversations their friend’s parents had with their friends.  But, I didn’t fear.

What a privilege it is to only wonder about fear and to never panic for your children for existing in the world as children.

Written by thelittlepecan

April 23, 2017 at 10:39 am

Race and Privilege: A Reaction to Wilson’s “More Than Just Race”

In an American society where White Male is default and access to opportunity is taken for granted, Wilson rightfully asserts in More than Just Race that People of Color must take precautions whites do not take and indeed rarely recognize that these efforts to maintain societal comfort in their favor are even occurring (p. 1).  Because special status and ease of opportunity usually go unrecognized by the privileged, it makes it easy to come up with a myriad of unsystematic reasons why persons of color, unskilled laborers and women in poverty remain unable to climb the class ladder.

There is an intrinsic and quite basic neglect to recognize the value in statistics on social problems when they contain roads to solutions and the opposite problem when they point out glaring inequalities (p. 2). Privilege suggests that 47% of people (low-skilled, low or no income earners, Black men and single women) do not contribute to society and therefor are not eligible for the benefits of a communal society.  It does not suggest inequality of income, of resources, of opportunity OR maybe most importantly, it does not suggest equity in societal contributions which is actually the case for the bracket spoken about in Romney’s suggestive quote.

Wilson also points out that, as a society, if we can judge a people by the actions it takes rather than the speeches it makes, we have continually determined that systematic denial of opportunity is in the best interest of those with power.  As our workforce and the jobs it contains has become more and more technologically advanced, where internet access is a necessity, a cell phone is the communication utility of need, and even McDonald’s drive-thru employees must have a working knowledge of touch screen applications, our education system continues to deny the poor and persons of color access to skills necessary for even the lowest skilled and lowest paying jobs.  By allowing our poor schools to lag in computer and technology education, we begin a course of systematic racism/classism by denying even the lowest ladders to be unqualified for the lowest skilled jobs.  This winds up favoring middle and upper class/Caucasian applicants (often summer and part-time student workers with more than adequate other opportunities) who may not have families or other responsibilities to support in the same way that low-skilled persons of color do (p. 8).

Due to such limited opportunities, communities and neighborhoods neglected by government and society must create and engage in underground economies and societal norms that create opportunities in the situation dealt them.  These adopted codes of street and shady dealings are required for residents where they are adopted, but these reactions to limited economic and social opportunities wind up being circular, self-perpetuating limitations to upward mobility in the society right outside these communities.  Because of this, the privileged outside the community can with clear conscience deny the causes of codes and any society hand in them by victim blaming and repudiation of any personal responsibility on the part of the people who live in disadvantaged communities (p. 21).

The privileged make assumptions based on this victim blaming mentality because they have never 1. Been without adequate transportation or access to it except in rare circumstances that were easily rectified; 2. Been without emergency or discretionary income, even a very small amount, where poor persons of color live paycheck to paycheck and have little opportunity to save.  When these opportunities arise, they may be denied access to banking, or find their savings obliterated by even a small emergency; 3. Been without an opportunity to relocate should economy or lack of public services necessitate a move and finally,;4. Been in a situation where attachment to space and place became a real and obvious burden to spatial mobility when moving became necessary (p. 26).

Society focuses on micro causes of poverty and lack of economic and class mobility, exposing the normalcy of privileged thinking.  It is only when a macro cause fundamentally changes the life or money situation of the privileged that this class acknowledges as a whole that government, culture or policy may profoundly affect individual lives.  Unfortunately, even when this happens (taxes increase, the public demands more economic equity) a disconnect remains between how these changes can affect a micro situation and how huge system norms affect real individual lives of those born without inherent privilege (p. 27).

Written by thelittlepecan

October 1, 2012 at 9:42 am