Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Privilege, Oppression, & Everything In Between

Almost everyone has privilege, and almost everyone has oppressions. These are terms often used in the social justice realm and I thought I would take the time to break these terms down from my point of view.

When you tell someone they have privilege, often times their reaction is "But I'm not rich! I've gotten everything I have because I work hard!" In this case, people are thinking of privilege as it relates to wealth. In reality, when people, especially people involved in social justice work or marginalized communities, refer to privilege, they're referring to a social advantage that is only available to certain groups. Admitting you have privilege isn't denying any hard work you've had to do to get to where you are, it is simply admitting that, through no fault of your own, society values some aspect of you that you have no control over and this has given you certain advantages.

Under the heading of Examining Your Privilege & Oppression you can find some tips for coming to terms with privilege.

Oppression is the counterpoint to privilege. In a phrase, it is unjust treatment, particularly of a group of people.
There is a tendency in the United States and other "developed" countries, to downplay the extent to which oppression exists. I believe this has to do with the values Americans in particular claim. It is very difficult to reconcile the degree of oppression we have in this country with our values of freedom, equality, and justice for all. Despite this contradiction though, oppression does exist and it has been studied extensively. I can direct you to scientific experiments, Department of Justice reports, books, survey responses, people's personal stories...all of these sources prove that oppression is alive and well. Oppression is also not a competition. I frequently hear people say that women in the United States aren't oppressed because women in Pakistan have it worse. There is no prize for being the Most Oppressed and it does no good to compare incomparable struggles. Oppression exists everywhere and it needs to be addressed. It is best to focus on the oppression we can most directly influence and then signal boost the struggles of those with oppressions we don't experience.

It is important to note that the oppressions and -isms discussed are SYSTEMIC and SYSTEMATIC meaning they are built into our institutions and our society. When I discuss racism, I do not use the dictionary definition but rather the social justice definition of racism. When we use the dictionary definition of racism, we are erasing the long and ugly history it has and decentering those that experience it most. White people love to claim that we experience racism because we are called crackers. Racism is deeper than this. The deliberate genocide and enslavement of Brown and Black bodies by our society is racism. The levels of police brutality experienced by Black and Brown bodies is racism. Being called a honky is not. However, PLEASE don't take my word for it! I am white and it's really not my place to discuss racism so please check out racismschool.tumblr.com and this amazing TedTalk The Power of Privilege

Privilege and oppression come in many different forms that exist on an intersecting continuum. At one end, there is privilege, and on the other end, oppression. Axes of privilege/oppression include, but are not limited to: race/ethnicity, dis/ability, religion, sex, gender, age, class, and size. I have created a matrix that should help clarify how they all coexist and intersect. There are some fuzzy areas and plenty of overlap...consider the matrix a rough visual! 

 *Please note that in dominant US society, sex is viewed as a binary so I only included man and woman as options for sex although that does not reflect my own views.*

Often, those that have privilege are completely unaware that they have it and of the advantages that have been afforded to them. Finding out you have privilege often comes as a shock and it can cause many people to react negatively: to lash out, to shut down, and to deny what the person is saying without taking the time to listen and process. STOP! Take a breath! Clear your mind. Now put yourself in the other person's shoes and forget everything you thought you knew. Now listen and learn!

CHECK YOURSELF CONSTANTLY! Here's a great source to examine how much privilege you have: The Social Privilege Test

Your privilege can help ease some of your oppression and your oppression can whittle away some of your privilege. Where you fall may change and may depend on the groups you're in. 

I urge you all to examine your privilege and oppression and in the spirit of open sharing and exploration, allow me to tell you where I fit:
Privileges: White, Educated, Cisgender (not trans), Upper Class, Gender-conforming
Oppressions: Young Woman, Pansexual, Disabled, Autistic, Chronically ill, Atheist


Any questions? Comments? Suggestions?
I plan to discuss ableism next so stay tuned for that! 

That/s All For Now Folks, 


Thursday, January 1, 2015

2014…What Happened?

It's been a long time since I've last posted so I'm sure you're all wondering...What the heck happened in 2014?! To sum it all up: A LOT!
This post is just a quick overview of the highs and lows of the last twelve months!

- elected to ASU undergraduate student government
- re-elected president of the LGBTQA Coalition (now the Rainbow Coalition)
- moved back into my condo with one of my best friends
- 2280 Twitter followers (@IsaJennie)

- impeached from ASU undergraduate student government
   Read more: article that started it all >>>ASU Black and African Coalition, student government fight blackfaceASU Senator impeached for violating Tempe USG guidelinesHuffington Post ArticleASU Student Senator Impeached for Speaking to State Press Without Informing Her SuperiorsASU’s Tempe Undergraduate Student Government media guidelines unfairly limit dissentStudent Press Law Center ArticleLegal experts defend impeached ASU student government senator Isabelle Murray’s point of view

- had to have an emergency appendectomy (turns out I didn't have acute appendicitis but rather I have endometriosis that had completely grown over my appendix)
- f*cked up on Twitter with my privilege
- my Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome is still kicking my ass

So…that's my 2014 in a nutshell! Any questions? Comments?

I really need suggestions for blog topics! Please either leave comments on here, email me, or send me suggestions on Twitter!

Lots of <3