Words … Anthropology

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What an eye-opener! Lectures, readings, and videos examining the issues of Diversity & You: Race, Class, and Gender were thought provoking from a cultural as well as a personal standpoint. Discussions went even further, as each of us found ourselves trying to express our own particular beliefs about subjects that are often not discussed in “polite” conversation.

We discussed the idea that the beliefs that we grow up with are often socially constructed, not physical realities, and that those in power often create distinctions and differences, which lead to value judgments, which lead to prejudice and oppression. In our discussions, we were able to get a sense of the different perspectives many of us brought to the class, and how even though it isn’t easy, it is good to discuss our differences openly.

These issues are of great importance in our modern global world, as well as in the streets of our own cities. We’re faced with the need to acknowledge and respect our differences, even as we find ways to acknowledge, respect, and embrace our similarities.

Through the various ways we approached the subject, I could see the impact of these factors on our lives each and every day – even when we aren’t aware of the impact or aren’t willing to acknowledge it, or simply don’t pay attention.

    Even When We Aren’t Paying Attention

    There are many different ways to describe ourselves. One way is to utilize a set of statuses that are common to all human beings. The inner ring of these statuses is made up of what are known as Master Statuses, ones that are assigned at birth and that we cannot change. Within this ring, we find characteristics such as age, race, physical abilities/qualities, sex and gender, and sexual orientation. And although you would have to select just one Master Status to describe yourself if you were filing a lawsuit, in reality we are a combination of all of these Master Statuses…  What a nice, straightforward way to describe myself. Or is it? Read pdf »

    Yes, There Are Classes in America – and Yes, Racism Still Does Exist

    Many Americans aren’t comfortable acknowledging that class distinctions or racism exist in our country. After all, wouldn’t it be nice to believe – as our forefathers wrote in the Constitution – that all men are created equal? That if we just work hard enough, we can “get ahead” and live the American Dream of success? That if economic or racial inequality and discrimination once existed, the playing field is even now? Or, maybe it’s just easier to believe it’s so. Otherwise, if we start looking too hard at what’s really happening in America today, we might see that everyone isn’t treated so equally after all – and if we don’t start out as equal and may never be considered equal no matter what we achieve, then exactly what does that mean to our personal or national beliefs and identities? Read pdf »

    Some Thoughts from a Personal, Cultural, and Institutional Perspective

    Can we end racism? If we’re going to ask and answer that question, we have to understand the ways in which racism exists and endures in our lives and society. For many people, myself included, it’s normal and helpful to first try and understand racism on a personal level. How does our perception of our own race, or the race of others, affect how we act and how others act toward us on a daily basis? As we begin to understand how the social constructs of race affect our own little worlds, we can then move beyond the personal to examine how race is a part of the culture and society in which we live… It would be incredibly presumptuous of me to think I have the answers to the question “How can we end racism?” But, unless people are willing to discuss and address these seemingly insurmountable problems, we are guaranteed they will never be solved. Read pdf »