Blog 6- Privilege, Oppression, and Difference
I believe the thesis is “The trouble that surrounds difference is really about privilege and power-the existence of privilege and the lopsided distribution of power that keeps it going” (12). This quote is saying that everyone is different and some are more privileged than others, and the power of those who are privileged is what is keeping privilege alive as well as race and discrimination.
Johnson’s argument is that difference is not a problem, we can start treating people equally no matter what privileges they have or what gender and race they are. Johnson states “Ignoring privilege keeps us in a state of unreality by promoting the illusion that difference by itself is the problem. In some ways, of course, it can be a problem when people try to work together across cultural divides that set groups up to think and do things their own way” (12). The quote is stating we ignore privilege because we sometimes don’t want to admit who has power, and when people work with people who are different from one another we want to do things our own way. We are not born with privilege, we are taught it. For example the diversity wheel describes what our race, age, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, income, and occupation is. But as Johnson says “the wheel doesn’t say much about the unique individual you know yourself to be” (14). The wheel only shows the differences that we learned are the important ones. There is trouble with diversity and privilege Johnson states, “The trouble around diversity, then, isn’t just that people differ from one another. The trouble is produced by a world organized in ways that encourage people to use difference to include or exclude, reward or punish, credit or discredit, elevate or oppress, value or devalue, leave alone or harass” (16). This quote is saying we treat people differently based on what we learned is right or privileged not by the real person they are inside. In the article Johnson talks about race, whites, blacks, men, women, paradox, professions, heterosexuals, gender, and which ones are privileged. The ones who are not privileged are called oppressive. Johnson states, “Oppression results from the social relationship between privileged and oppressed categories, which makes it possible for individuals to vary in their personal experience of being oppressed” (38). He is saying when they are oppressed the people are kept down at a lower level and have their own ways of life that aren’t as high as privileged people. Which leads into the argument which is, can we change the way we look at people as privileged or oppressed and look at everyone equally?
Johnson argues, can we change the way we look at people? In the article Johnson states, “We routinely form quick impressions of race, gender, age, sexual orientation, or disability status” (16). We were taught that certain categories were higher than others, we were not born with privileges or oppressions, but they were taught to us. Johnson states, “What makes socially constructive reality so powerful is that we rarely if ever experience it as that. We think the way our culture defines something like race or gender is simply the way things are in some objective sense” (20). This quote means that when our culture defines what is right and wrong or states this is the way things have to be, we usually follow and believe that is the right way. Everything we were taught will always sick on our heads and it will be hard to change what we have learned. The article talked about whites privilege, male privilege, sexual orientation, and paradox each have an opposite, which is named as the outsiders. Johnson states, “To have a privilege is to be allowed to move through your life without being marked in ways that identify you as an outsider, as exceptional or “other” to be excluded, or to be included but always with conditions” (33). The outsiders are women, blacks, homosexuals, and many others that are treated differently because they are not privileged. The argument is to change this other business and have everyone be the same status. Johnson is trying to argue that people should not be categorized as privileged and oppressed.
I thought the reading was very interesting and informative. I agree with Johnson very much so. I do not understand why we were taught that there are different groups and categories that certain people fall into. I agree that no one should be categorized as privileged or oppressed. I think that it was wrong to do that form the beginning and I think it should be changed, but since we were taught it, its in our heads know and others may disagree to change what we were taught. Treating people differently because of their gender, race, sexual preference, occupation, and religion is wrong. Everyone is special in their own way and I feel that Johnson is trying to get us to focus more on the positive difference instead of making