On October 7th, I attended two Social Justice events that took place on campus during Diversity Week. After partaking in these events, I found that I could directly link each event to readings that we have done in class.
Diversity Week Events:
- Sociology 208 - Minority Group Relations (Open Class)
- Interfaith Center Forum
Sociology 208 - Minority Group Relations
The first Diversity Week event that I attended was an open sociology class on minority group relations. The primary focus of the lesson for that particular day was on the issue regarding the concepts of "whiteness" and "blackness" in society. As I took notes during the lecture, I felt that I could relate the themes discussed in the sociology class to the issues of white privilege and racism that we have discussed in class. Racism, the treatment of certain groups, issues of privilege in society, and confronting societal issues surfaced. Peggy McIntosh's "White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack" was also brought into the sociology class discussion.
The Discussion Surrounding the Sociology Lesson:
Whiteness is not to be mistaken as identity, but rather, should be regarded as a structure. It is a structural logic, and the idea of "whiteness" enacts power to those who promote it, namely white supremacists (those who promote anti-blackness). Society argues that whiteness is a "normative" reality of everyday life, and that any individual can inhabit whiteness. Yet whiteness is a code for white supremacy. Under white supremacy, the concept of anti-blackness originates.
Being both human and a citizen is considered of universal logic, separate from the structural premise of white supremacy. As humans, we are entitled to rights. The universal concept is that we, as both humans and citizens, are granted civil rights. Civil rights are also human rights, therefore as a human, an individual can be a victim. Blacks are victimized, but social logic claims that blacks are not victims. The ideology of white supremacy calls blackness "non-human." These ideas derive from the concept of "anti-blackness."
The structure of identity differentiates from other societal structures. However, these concepts present what is considered of value to society. Discrimination plays a major role in these ideologies, but it serves as part of a larger enterprise. Blackness is viewed as at the bottom of the societal structure, and anti-blackness is where discrimination is at. (For example, southern Italians were discriminated against because their living location was close to the African continent. White supremacists considered them black. Joseph Stalin was white racially, and murdered whites. He had a white supremacist mindset.)
White supremacy is still in existence, and anti-blackness can root itself in any individual. One must remember that white supremacy has nothing to do with racial identity. Civil society never attended to anti-blackness. Anti-blackness is not just a term targeting blacks. The term is called racism as opposed to anti-blackness and white supremacy.
In The Souls of Black Folk, W.E.B Du Bois presents that the problem of the system is anti-blackness/white supremacy. In this particular sociology class, the professor stated that Du Bois' text focused on the topic of: "You know what the problem is. What are you going to do?" (*This idea is exactly what Allan G. Johnson and Linda Christensen promote.) White supremacy is soulless, and those who adopt the immoral ideology are soulless, regardless of their racial identity. White supremacy and anti-blackness corrupt pureness, for the structure itself is soulless.
White privilege reestablishes these issues. It involves the use of micro-aggressions, which are viewed as affirmative actions to the idea of white privilege in society. The behavior of members of society leads to a re-perpetuation of the structure. The basis of society is structural, but one can still combat it somewhat from the inside. One can resist white supremacy by working against the structure, and embracing blackness.
Interfaith Center Forum
The second Diversity Week event that I attended was the Interfaith Forum in the Interfaith Center. All participants discussed personal faith backgrounds and contributed ideas to the forum in regards to what would interest both students and staff, as well as make the Interfaith Center inviting to the entire campus community. It was quite a welcoming environment, and the group seemed to value each individual's perspective on potential activities. The course theme that I felt was most prevalent in the Interfaith Forum was the idea of creating a safe space (*August, Kennedy, and Vaccaro's Safe Spaces) for all.
The basis of the discussion of the forum was for everyone to embrace faith, and to be respectful of religion. The group offered input as to what activities could be developed in the Interfaith Center that would allow for people of the same faith or different faiths to come together. In a sense, this could relate to the idea of an integrated curriculum. The creation of artwork and music, and icebreakers were taken into account as possible activities for members of the campus community to participate in. What would make the community feel invited and comfortable? The Interfaith Forum also sought to educate others that it serves as a place to go on campus when one is seeking help or is in distress. Someone may need a friend or may simply would like to get to know others. Students and staff have stated that they have either taken interest in learning more about their personal faiths, or about other faiths.
Safe Spaces provides a number of methods for educators to use to help make schools safer places for LGBT youth. The Interfaith Center is trying to adopt new tools to ensure a safe experience, and I do believe that it is a safe environment for all of the campus community.
Du Bois, W.E.B. The Souls of Black Folk, Dover Thrift Editions. Dover Publications; Unabridged Edition, 1994. Print.
McIntosh, Peggy. "White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack." Independent School Winter 1990: 1-6. Print.
Johnson, Allan G. Privilege, Power, and Difference. McGraw-Hill; 2nd edition, 2005. Print.
Christensen, Linda. "Unlearning the Myths That Bind Us: Critiquing Cartoons and Society." Rethinking Schools 01 Feb. 2007: 126-137. Print.
August, Gerri, Megan S. Kennedy, and Annemarie Vaccaro. Safe Spaces: Making Schools and Communities Welcoming to LGBT Youth. Praeger, 2011. 1, 83-100. Print.
Smithsonian National Museum of American History, Behring Center. Separate Is Not Equal: Brown v. Board of Education. Smithsonian; Zamore Design; Morgan Stanley. Web. 01 Nov. 2013.