Week Nine Responses

21 Mar

To begin with, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights seemed very thorough.  It seems to cover many of the issues with race, class, and gender in relationship to jobs or housing.  It covers many of the public spaces like schools and work, but it neglects to mention casual racism in daily encounters.  This is harder to uncover because there are not that many cases that can be found of subtle racism in the public.  This could very easily be, for example, a waiter not wishing to serve someone because they are a different race and they expect a lower tip from that table.

Nevertheless, the breaking down of the problem of racism, classism, and sexism is meticulous; it covers many different angles.  I found it really interesting to read, at the end, the notion of blaming the victims of discrimination (249).  As the document continues to explain, people often do not take into account the history that leads up to the present situation in these occurences; that this discrimination has become institutionalized to the point that it is hard to challenge it because it acts so subtly.

The collection of stories brought up some broader ideas such as  problems in the workforce (wages for labor, language, and harrassment) and problems with school (equal representation, income and race, and benefits).  I was also surprised to find that the articles provided a smidgen of respectable journalism by often criticizing the perpetrators and supporting the victims.  Nevertheless, I feel like this is much easier to do with a subject so clearly once-sided in its exploitation of the people.

The first article that caught my attention was the sweatshop factory forcing poor, immigrant workers to work for $3.79 instead of $7.15 an hour with ridiculous hours and hardly any breaks.  It was just surprising to see all of the famous companies that the sweatshop worked for.  It seems as if the migrant workers get caught in a cycle where they need the money, but can’t leave the situation because their families rely upon them and who knows if they’re going to get another job.  It also reminded me of melon farmers in California who get paid by the pound and have to carry on their backs the bags for the melons in overwhelming temperatures.  They then take almost no breaks for water or the bathroom. 

The two articles focusing on both attractiveness in the store and trying to get the workers to have sex with the manager were quite startling.  I felt that the L’Oréal incident where an executive demanded that the successful regional sales manager fire someone for being unactractive shamefully happens frequently.  However, it seems as if these incidents go unreported.  But these incidents with Abercrombie and L’Oréal show that there are instances where people are judged by their obvious outward appearance to promote a brand-image that do draw the media’s attention.  These are moments where others who have felt the same sort of injustice should stand up and challenge the institutions that have wronged them.  I feel the same way with the man who continually tried to get his employees to have sex with him, even forcefully.  Like the wage cycle, people get caught up in their situation because they’re at least surviving on enough money to justify continue working at the establishment rather than seeking a new job.

The State Police article by Jonathan Schuppe was also interesting because it showed how manly an institution the police force can be.  This also falls through with the army.  It seems as if women have a harder time proving themselves to be capable in these lines of work to gain acceptance with the men.  The men make the rules for the women to attempt to overcome.  They are the ones who stack the deck.  As shown through the article, the women can be higher ranking then the men, but they still suffer harassment.

The language barrier also seemed to stick out to me with both a judge and a restaurant owner attempting to control what language a person speaks in!  This obviously seems totally out of the bounds of reason for someone to demand that a person speaks in a certain language.  Yes, speaking in English as a common language does help businesses where there are people who only speak in English, but that does not give owners the right to demand that the person only speaks in English because, often, it is easier to convey your feelings in your native language.  It seems as if the judge completely steps outside of his judicial boundaries by ordering that people learn English as a requirement to gain access to their children.  All this does is just make it easier for the judge to understand them when really it should be the judge learning the other language in order to adapt to a changing environment where English is no longer such a primary language.

Discrimination also injects itself into schooling.  This is often the place where black kids and other racial groups are told that they are not going to succeed unless they play sports because they do not have the brains to learn.  Yet, it should be the school taht puts effort into teaching the students rather than the other way around by emphasizing sports.  Sports should become secondary to becoming a successful individual.

I found the article about Columbia High School interesting because I went to a public high school that also had ranks to the education.  I was put into the higher learning AP (then IB) classes where I was surrounded with the same people.  Luckily, I was surrounded with a diverse group of individuals, but we were separated with the main campus (which created much animosity) because we were deemed more intelligent.  The main campus consisted of mostly hispanic and white kids in this po-dunk town where there were probably a grand total of 10 black students.  These tiers were often considered elitist because it raised the best above the rest and the bottom went even further down.  Rather than considering that the lower level students were given extra care in teaching them subjects that they struggled in, it was the common perception that these people were dumber than the rest.  So, the varying levels of education came with many negative connotations.  I suppose this is a sticky situation to break down because you do want to work towards everyone’s different needs, but it is hard to do without that stigma.

The other articles about schools were startling.  The guidance counselors telling different students to go to different colleges based upon race and income was surprising mostly because I was told I could go anywhere I wanted.  Now, this was because I was in a school that viewed high school as a preparation for college rather than the last amount of schooling before working.  And, it probably had something to do with me being white and middle-class.  I just cannot imagine a counselor neglecting to tell me about a school because they do not believe in me.  Everyone should be given an equal opportunity if they strive for higher education and be encouraged to go anywhere that would best suit them whether that be a community college, state school, or private liberal college.

I could also relate to the Lesbian suing the school district over harassment article by Judy Peet because I was harassed in high school over people thinking I was gay.  Luckily, that was at the main campus, and I eventually moved over to the Hartman specialty IB campus where it was easier to be accepted.  I suppose these issues happen because it gives the perpetrator a power boost by confronting their homosexuality and proving how much of a man or woman they are.  They demean others in order to give confidence to themselves which is a vicious cycle.  I know that I never made my persons of authority aware of my harassment mostly because I shrugged it off for people being ignorant.  Nevertheless, it’s hard to read of someone struggle for help and recognition only to never, allegedly, recieve any.

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