Monday, April 20, 2009

Talking Points #10 Power, Privilege, and Difference What Can We Do? By: Allan Johnson

Johnson argues that "removing what silences them and stands in their way can tap an enormous potential of energy for change." By this I believe he means that the oppressed need to be able to voice their struggles in their way that has an immediate impact on our society so that they may have an equal voice and privilege as straight white men.

1. "Just as privileged groups tend not to be aware of privilege, they also tend not to be aware of how it happens from one moment to the next. Developing that ongoing awareness is a key to becoming part of the solution."

I feel that this quotation contributes to Johnson's question of "What can we do?" As a straight white male, I receive privileges that others do not and I am not always aware of it. However, I am starting to gain awareness and I have practiced training my mind to think like Johnson and other authors we have read. In my last post, I took a picture of the current Rhode Island Senate which is all white people and mostly men. I feel I am training myself to notice these unfair and unbalanced things and by doing so, Johnson would agree I am becoming part of the solution. My contribution to the solution as a straight white male is self awareness. I need to continue to notice things that are unfair and unbalanced. The truth is that change can occur when oppressed peoples' points can get across to the rest of us. And it is also true that straight white men need to open their eyes and see the need for change in order for anything to happen because we are the ones who control the engine for change.

2. "Healing wounds is no more a solution to the oppression that causes the wounding than military hospitals are a solution to war. Healing is a necessary process, but it isn't enough."

My impression is that older people in the dominant group seem to think that now is the time to let the wounds heal and that our work is finally done. Women can finally vote and get jobs and Black people do not have any disadvantages anymore. They even have a Black President now. We are all equal. I really think that this is what older people in the dominant group believe. We have done so much research in this class that goes against this. In two of my older posts, I posted about the large percentage of Black people in jail compared to their smaller population percentage. I also posted about the insane suicide rate for gay people in today's world. This is unfair and unbalanced. The battle for equity is not over. We have been making remarkable progress, but, it is not time to sit back and let things heal. Today with a Black President who's motto is "Change We Can Believe In" strikes me as the best time to keep plugging and striving for change and equity in today's world. This is why I feel this is such an important quotation. I feel strongly that this is the view of many people and it honestly scares me. I believe their are still many objectives that need to be completed. For example, I really hope in my lifetime gays will have the right to marry. I think that the dominant group is putting their feet up on the desk and saying that they have done enough for people who are not in the dominant group lately.

3. "Make noise, be seen." "Find little ways to withdraw support from paths of least resistance and people's chice to follow them." "Dare to make people feel uncomfortable, beginning with yourself."

I like how Johnson offers these solutions to the problems we face in today's society. There are little contributions we can make in the fight for equity. In my opinion, any little thing done to help resolve this issue, no matter how small, is a step in the right direction. I find myself not laughing at at racist jokes and more importantly, not bringing them up when I feel I have a chance to. I have tried to pay attention to how I conduct myself in the presence of others and how my privilege effects me. I know it it is true that men feel more comfortable chiming into conversations when they are not called on and take up more space. I caught myself jumping into a discussion in my Statistics class starting with the word "And." Like anything else, practice makes perfect. The more I reflect on my actions and how they are influenced by my privilege, the better able I will be to "level the playing field" and take a step toward the solution.

I liked this article and how it offers solutions to today's complex social issues. I am just trying not to repeat myself in my reflections. I have written pages upon pages of reflections from authors we have studied and I feel like I am mentally exhausted from it. I am glad that I chose to put so much into figuring out all of our articles because these issues will all be prevalent wherever I go and now I have more tools in my toolbox to deal with them.


  1. i really like you post...when ever im stuck on something, i can always count on coming to your page and gettin help. thank you for doing a great job blogging lol

  2. you can leave me alone now that i gave you an apple... zacharie is afraid of your bike? i called her a baby!

  3. Pat you are extremely bright man. I can honestly say when i am stuck and do no understand something i come to your page. You have many ideas that i could write about for hours but i though i let you know that you are extremely bright male..... keep up the god work

  4. I don't know how much he offers new strategies as opposed to just a natural extension of the logic he set up in his earlier piece.

  5. this is a great post, Pat. Nice compliments from your peers... I second their voices. You have been so thoughtful with your blogs this semester! Nice work!