Author of text: Allan G Johnson
Title of text: Privilege, Power, and Difference.
I have to say I enjoyed this reading, it was not too difficult to understand and I did find myself relating to it quite often. It put my thoughts on a rampage so I decided to do my blog as a reflection... First, I’ll talk about the Diversity wheel, which is so realistic. Things that do not matter to us, things that we feel do not make us the people we are, actually matter the most to strangers who don’t know us. When you walk into a store or if you are meeting someone for the first time, these things on the diversity wheel matter a lot. Things such as gender, ethnicity, race and age matter every day, this is what makes me think the way I do when I am surrounded by people. I have such doubts in myself and I am so worried about what people think and this is exactly why. Some people do not understand where I am coming from, but let me give you an example. I work in a part of Massachusetts that is far from poverty, as where I am from the crime rate is high as well as poverty levels .. I literally feel like I have to watch what I say and think a lot about things that I am about bring up, due to the fact that my life style is so different, not necessarily bad, but compared to them it is frowned upon. I wanted to write about the diversity wheel because I feel the effects of it every day.
Why wouldn’t some body want to feel accepted or comfortable in society? Don’t you think they would do anything possible to do so? I have had many opportunities, like a full ride to college on a sports scholar ship. This I could have taken no advantage to, but I took it right away. On the other hand a boy I went to high school with won the same scholar ship as me and he did not take advantage of it at all...I would say that I am now more privileged than him because he is not doing anything with his life. This feeling of him being a loser is his fault, he had an opportunity and did not do anything with it. I still know him very well and it is almost like he is in denial, that he does not agree that denying the scholar ship was a bad idea. When he can identify what the mistake was is when he can conquer the problem, "once you name it, you can think, talk, and write about it. You can make sense of it by seeing how its connected to other things that explain it and point towards solutions"(Johnson). When we all hang out and I talk about school, it makes me feel bad that I am having all of these opportunities now and he is not, it makes me feel like I am rubbing it in his face ...it’s like the elephant in the room....you know there is something that everyone in the room knows about but no one will bring it up because they do not want to avoid it.
Race privilege is something I feel like I do not relate to. Being a white individual, I don’t feel as though I have a privilege, so I do not act like I do. Although Johnson is right, I do often feel a bit awkward when I am having a conversation about race privilege with a person of a different race...why? I am not better than them..i know that. It is terrible to say, but in this society people are judged immediately in every way possible: their gender, race, sexuality, and lastly class. So yes, i suppose it is true, white people do have a privilege over others in some people’s eyes. Then again, the reason why we look to other people is to figure out how we are doing as an individual, "We look to other people to tell us that we measure up, that we matter, that we're okay"(Johnson pg.6).
Gender is the biggest issue of them all, the boys and girls can go back and forth for days about who is better than one other..it all starts when they are young. Between the playground songs and media, lots of boys and girls grow up into teenagers thinking it is okay to say bad things about each other just because they are of the opposite sex. I see this happen daily at the child care center to which I am employed. For my own reasons I do not allow this behavior in the classroom because I feel like they can really hurt some ones feelings this way. Here is a good example of a little girl who was possibly never told that this could potentially hurt someone’s feelings..As we get older we realize that gender has a much more serious toll on our everyday lives. As an adult I do not think too much about my gender or conferred dominance. Honestly I feel more powerful than men on a daily basis. When I walk into a job interview and I walk past a man who is on his way out, I do not feel intimidated. But many women do, some parents are actually thinking about it so much that they have their child’s sex changed when they are babies so they will grow up a man and have more dominance over women. When I am in a location where it is not technically safe, if I am alone, and there are men around, I sometimes feel very scared. I do have to say I did not feel this way until I was a victim of male violence. I am very confident to be a woman.
Another category where people are labeled as privileged or unprivileged is their sexual identity. This is another category where I can relate to. I have five friends who are all homosexual, obviously it does not mean to me what their sexual orientation is because I love them for who they are, even before I knew they were gay. Our freshman year in high school, they decided it was time to come out of the closet to their parents. We talked about it for hours and then they all decided to do it on the same day. The fear that they expressed to me and the nervousness I could feel coming off of them was terrible. It’s your parents...come on? But then again I am sure it is very scary coming out with that kind of secret. What will they think? Will they do something irrational? Will they still love me?...The experience made them all stronger and helped them become who they are today. As for it mattering privilege wise, I agree 100 percent that this is true. I can feel people looking at my gay friends when we are in a straight club, I see the way people laugh when they talk, and it makes me sick. But unfortunately it is very true. Everywhere we go my gay friends get treated differently than my straight friends and I do. I feel so disappointed in others because of how they treat my friends due to their sexual identity, but this is the way society is...it is harsh and very judgmental. But can you imagine how this makes them feel inside? The fact that being privilege does not happen when you are homosexual takes away a few feelings towards others immediately, "privilege generally allows people to assume a certain level of acceptance, inclusion, and respect in the world, to operate within a relatively wide comfort zone" (Johnson pg. 33).
We are born with our privilege, the person you create more and more everyday does not exactly have anything to do with the amount of privilege you have over others. Once you have your label, you can only be oppressed by others who look better than you. This sometimes sucks because you may be a better person, but because of your gender or race you will always be looked down upon compared to this other person.." Just as privilege tends to open doors of opportunity, oppression tends to slam them shut"(Johnson pg.40).