This weeks readings focused on a lot of ideas but one of the most compelling was the idea of capitalism and race merging. I was very glad to see a discussion of class happening in this article because I feel like it’s been left out of the conversation. While we have done a lot of discussion on race/diversity we haven’t spoken much about class or gender. What I liked about this article was that it highlighted how social construction is built upon a multitude of factors- race, class, gender (and sexual orientation) combined. Not one of these aspects of self exists individually. Someone isn’t just black, they are a black man or a black woman, which significantly changes their position in society. You aren’t just white, you’re straight and white or gay and white (or bi and white/trans and white) which effects how you are perceived in the white community. Also, you aren’t just any race or gender, if you are of the working class that effects your position within your racial or gender group as much as any other.
I appreciated the ways in which the Johnson piece highlighted how racism and classism have been used together to perpetuate inequality. One of the most relevant examples that Johnson brings up is the issue of out sourcing, or even of immigrants coming in and “taking our jobs”. The fact is, those jobs are being taken away but not by Mexican immigrants. It’s a systemic problem- Managers need to pay less for more and their white workers are asking for a raise/healthcare/daycare or all of the above. Instead of paying, they outsource or lay off employees and hire illegal workers to do the same work for cheaper. The immigrants/outsourced workers accept the job because they too need money to keep a roof over their head or put food on their table. They are taking the jobs that they are offered to make their lives work, not to take away from white workers. This is an amazing set up by the corporations because they get what they want while passing the buck. The blame stays on people who are only trying to live from people who are also only trying to live and the winners in the whole situation make more money and live better than both cheated parties combined and times ten.
It’s important to understand the important message that Johnson made because it is vital that we stop blaming others for our situations when they may not be at fault.
On a side note, I found an early part of the “Where I’m From” reading compelling considering the events of this past Saturday.
“The ways we organize classroom life should seek to make children feel significant and cared about — by the teacher and by each other. Unless students feel emotionally and physically safe, they won’t share real thoughts and feelings. Discussions will be tinny and dishonest. We need to design activities where students learn to trust and care for each other. Classroom life should, to the greatest extent possible, prefigure the kind of democratic and just society we envision and thus contribute to building that society. Together students and teachers can create a “community of conscience,” as educators Asa Hilliard and George Pine call it (p. 4).”
I did not feel safe after the events of Saturday. I don’t feel comfortable sharing certain thoughts and feelings anymore because I don’t know that I’m not going to be publicaly called out and embarrassed. I now worry about coming to a professor with an issue or opinion because I’m not sure it will be be valued or believed; after Saturday, the trust and safety is gone. I’m not sure what has to be done to reconcile that, and in the end I can only speak for myself. I’m sure the needs of others are going to be different and so what needs to be done to recreate a safe environment is going up to each other.