Saturday, July 10, 2010

All Blocked In

We are all equal in this country. Sometimes it is hard for me to believe in this statement. The majority of the wait staffs at dinners and restaurants are women. African-Americans and hispanics are the dominant races seen in construction work and landscaping. While white men are the faces of huge companies like GM and Microsoft. We may be equal in the eyes of the law, but some of us are more equal than others.
I already discussed what privilege is, and that white people especially are privileged because of their race. This is called White Privilege. There is a distinction placed between privileged and White Privileged because White Privilege is a little more complex and exclusive. White Privilege is "a right, advantage, or immunity granted to or enjoyed by white persons beyond the common advantage of all others; an exemption in many particular cases from certain burdens or liabilities." White Privilege explicitly pertains to the advantages given to people because of their race. For example, because she is white she can live in this neighborhood. Although it is illegal now to discriminate against someone based on their race, it is still an all to frequent occurrence.
Now I know what you're thinking. Why is she talking about White Privilege in a Women's Studies blog? Privilege is based off of oppression. It is objective, and just like people of color women did not have a choice. People are born into a race, and people are born a boy or a girl. No one gets to choose, but once they are born into a race or gender they are given or denied privilege. It's like an involuntary membership to a club that you have to go to, and is impossible to get rid. The Birdcage Analogy explains this. Oppression is made up of a bunch of don'ts or can't, and lets say that each one of those don't and can'ts is a wire, and all the wires are joined. One don't leads to another don't, so those wires become linked, until all the wires come together forming a cage of don'ts and can'ts.
This particular image did not work for me, so here's how I understand it. I think of a brick wall sealed together with mortar. Each one of those bricks is a stereotype, or a lack of privilege, and they just start to pile up on one another until they from this big wall that you can't climb over or walk around. This is oppression, but what I like about the brick wall metaphor is that the wall can be deconstructed and so can oppression. The tick is that it is hard work, and you can't do it by yourself.


  1. I really enjoyed your theory on oppression. I hope that one day it will end completely. I hate the stereotypes found in America, mostly because there are so many. A race should not be able to determine what job you have or will have in the future. Hopefully one day there will be a mix of jobs that people have.

  2. Did you read "White Privilege" by Peggy McIntosh? (It's a women's studies class classic. I've had to read it like 3 times.) Tim Wise also has this great article about white privilege here, short and SO on point: