I’m new to this whole sociology thing. I took my first class to start off my sophomore year and I’m currently up to my neck in ‘social-change.’ My professor (probably the most compassionate woman I’ve ever met) tells our class to never let a single comment about racism, sexism, or classism go unnoticed and to correct it at it’s core. Even our books tell us to do so. This is in reference to that coonty-coont who wrote you about being a feminist.
Is there some sort of balance to all the activism madness? Like still making a difference in trying to eliminate my own privilege without allowing oppression to continue. I know I can’t stop it completely but what can I do?
A little help would be nice, I don’t want to end up screaming till my voice goes out about situations that may not even be appropriate talk. You’re wonderful and I feel like you have more than just a grasp on the knowledge of privilege and what not. Anyways, hope you have a wonderful day.
Your professor is absolutely correct, but probably not in the way that you think.
You should never let racism, sexism, or classism go unnoticed, but by acknowledging it in your own mind, you have already corrected it at its core. That’s all you need to do.
By simply recognizing it, you have defeated it.
You are not responsible for other people’s minds, and I assure you, if you take it upon yourself to correct someone else’s way of thinking when they’re not open to it, you are wasting your breath. You create nothing but confrontation.
Please understand, I’m not talking about cruelty or suffering. If someone through their racism, sexism, or classism is inflicting cruelty or suffering on others and you are in a position to alleviate that suffering, by all means do so.
Alleviate the cruelty. Alleviate the suffering. If you are diplomatic and graceful about it, you may very well show the offender that his or her way of thinking caused pain in others.
That is what will change minds, not screaming until your voice goes out.
As for worrying about social privilege, the same thing applies. Don’t let it go unnoticed, and by acknowledging it in your own mind, you have already eliminated it.
I have no doubt that your sociology professor is a compassionate woman, but ivory tower academics who prattle on about privilege need to be reminded of their own hypocrisy.
Professorial tenure as an institutional entitlement is the very definition of privilege, so before she slathers you with guilt for being born a white male, perhaps she should abdicate her own privilege and renounce her tenure.
Fair warning, don’t say that shit out loud in class. If you do, she will fucking destroy you. I only bring it up to point out that no one is innocent, not even her. Still, her privilege isn’t the cause of another person’s oppression. Neither is yours. It’s not a zero-sum game.
In other words, you needn’t feel guilty for your social privilege. It’s enough that you recognize it, acknowledge it, and thereby eliminate it.