Chapter 8-Privilege, Power, and Difference
In this reading the thesis would be, Getting of the hook by denial, blaming the victim, and saying I’m one of the good ones. In the reading Johnson states, “But the more aware we are of all the ways there are to fool ourselves, the easier it is to wake up and make ourselves part of the solution” (108). What Johnson is saying is that the more ways we try to blow oppression and privilege off, the easier it is for us to pretend we are solving the problem.
Johnson’s argument in this reading is that people of the dominant groups have ways of getting around the problem of privilege and oppression. The use denial, blaming the victim, calling it something else, its better this way, it doesn’t count if you don’t mean it, I’m one of the good ones, and sick and tired. Each one is has some way to stay away from dealing with the problem, which is treating people unfairly. An example of denial Johnson states is, “Racism and sexism used to be problems, but they aren’t anymore” (108). This example is an example of how someone is saying racism and sexism don’t exist and there are no problems with them, when clearly they do still exist and still are problems. An example Johnson uses for blaming the victim is, “If blacks were smarter or worked harder or got an education, they’d be okay” (110). He is saying the person is blaming the victim for the weaknesses of the less dominant group, instead of looking at in a way of, they need to fix something about them self. People also do things like call the problem something else, and look at the problem, as it is better this way. Johnson states, “Trying to live off the hook puts members of privileged groups inside a tight little circle that cuts them off much of what it means to be alive” (124). Therefore, those who are privileged don’t really know how others feel in this world and don’t understand what really goes on.
What if groups were changed and those who are not dominant became dominant, and the dominant group became oppressive. They would get the gist of how the other group feels and would not have their privileged lives. For example, going to get a job, eating at a restaurant, and buying a house are all things that would be so different from what the dominant group is used to. Johnson states, “If being on the hook for privilege and oppression means being perpetually vulnerable to guilt and blame, then we shouldn’t, be surprised that people do whatever they can to get off it. But according to my dictionary, on the hook also means being “committed,” obligated,” and involved” (123). The problem is both groups don’t understand each other and if they were to switch places there would be a better understanding of the other group.
I liked the reading I felt like I had a connection to what Johnson was saying. I did not realize that the dominant group was so oblivious to what other people’s feelings were or to what was right and wrong. I don’t know if the world will ever change but if it does it would make a difference.