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Is Everyone Really Equal?
Transcript of Is Everyone Really Equal?
in Social Justice Education. By Özlem Sensoy and Robin DiAngelo Critical Thinking "Critical Thinking" means to think with complexity. p.2
Thinking critically "involves determining the social,
historical, and political meaning" behind the knowledge
that schools portray as factual and neutral. "Society is structured in ways that
marginalize some to the benefit of others" (p. 5). These people that are marginalized are
minority groups. Özlem and DiAngelo
explain however, that in Critical Theory,
minority is changed to minoritized
"in order to capture the active dynamics
that create the lower status in society" (p. 5). What is Socialization? Socialization is how we learn the "norms" of our own culture. Socialization allows us to
understand our surface culture
and our deep culture. Our culture helps us develop "ideas
about people in terms of their race,
class, gender, sexuality, ethnicity,
religion, ability, and citizenship" (p. 22). However, many people dislike being
identified or defined
by one of these social groups. Western Society
the Individual "In Western society we are socialized to value
the individual. Yet, although we are individuals,
we are also - and perhaps fundamentally
- members of social groups" (p. 24). Race vs. Ethnicity "Race is a socially constructed
system of classifying humans
based on phenotypical characteristics."
"Ethnicity refers to people bound by a
common language, culture, spiritual
tradition, and/or ancestry." "At the same time, ethnic groups can live within the same national borders and not share the same ethnic identity. Prejudice
Discrimination "We all hold prejudices and we all discriminate based on our prejudices" (p. 28). Prejudice is defined as a “learned
prejudgment toward social others
and refers to internal thoughts,
feelings, attitudes, and assumptions
based on the groups to
which they belong” (p. 29). Discrimination, on the other hand,
“occurs when we act on our
prejudices” (p. 32). What prejudices might there
be against a male teacher? Identifying a prejudice allows for a
person to critically analyze the effects
that this prejudice may have
on future actions. We can minimize discrimination by
identifying our prejudices (p. 28). The individual can work to
minimize the effects of their
own prejudice and discrimination,
but what about everyone else? When prejudice and discrimination
are enacted by a larger or dominant
group this is called oppression. To understand oppression,
you also need to understand social stratification. Social Stratification is the process of assigning unequal values to different social groups. Social Stratification leads to isms "All people have prejudice and discriminate, but only the dominant group has the social , historical, and institutional power to back their prejudice and infuse it throughout
the entire society” (p.43). Sexism is difficult to see because
it is treated on an individual
basis, “corporate produced
pop culture has become a
more pervasive institution
in our lives,” and it is “obscured
through the ideology of the
‘West’ as civilized and liberated”
(p.83). The authors address racism at the group,
not individual, level. At the group level, all of us
navigate the current dominant culture. In the
United States, if we are White, we swim that
current, and if we are a person of Color,
we must swim against it. While this is the racial
reality at the group level, how we respond
individually may vary. What are the ways in which
we can personally respond to racism? "Yeah, But..." Chapter 9 "So I have to watch everything I say?" Common Rebuttals Claiming schools are
politically neutral. Citing Exceptions to the Rule Arguing That Oppression is Just "Human Nature" Insisting on Immunity from Socialization “Many teachers believe that schools are
apolitical spaces and that the knowledge
taught in them are neutral.” (Sensoy, 2012)
Why might there be a problem with this belief?
(p.131) Özlem and DiAngelo explain that the system is not inflexible, but exceptions can prove the rule. "Barack Obama is president
so racism has ended in the
United States" (p. 132). "In many ways Obama's presidency has surfaced a great deal of racism while allowing the dominant society to deny it"
(p. 133). "Somebody has to be on top." Özlem and DiAngelo explain that it is difficult to separate nature vs. nurture. So they ask instead, "Whom does it serve to say that oppressing others is natural?" This argument always serves the dominant group. "I was taught to treat everybody the same." Our families are not the sole forces of our socialization.
Our families are themselves not free from socialization.
We consistently receive many contradictory messages from a multitude of sources.
It is impossible not to be affected by these mixed messages.
We cannot simply decide that these messages have no effect; it takes conscious and ongoing effort to challenge them.