I want to start with Andrea Ayvazian's Interrupting the Cycle of Oppression. Specifically speaking, her subsection about providing positive role models.
I believe that it is difficult for young people to grow up and become something they have never heard of. It is hard for a girl to grow up and become a commercial airline pilot if it has never occurred to her that a woman ca and do fly jet planes.
I have to agree, it is hard to find someone to look up to. And in the age of technology, I feel like a lot of people look for the media as a form of finding the someone that they're will look up to as a role model. For Mae Jeminson, the first black female astronaut it was the fantastic and intelligent Uhura from Ster Trek: The Original Series that took on the role of... well, a role model. She says: "In many interviews, Jemison has recounted how her girlhood dreams of spaceflight began with watching Star Trek. When she was on the space shuttle, Jemison used Uhura’s signature line 'Hailing frequencies open' during the course of her duties (Penley, 1997, p. 19)". Let's be honest, media representation sucks these days - we rarely get to see our people (people of color) in dominant roles; there are rarely people of color in a position of leadership or power.
And with Jeminson's next quote, I'll make my seque to Fletcher Blanchard's Combatting Intentional Bigotry and Inadvertently Racist Acts. To quote Jeminson once more:
Majoring in engineering, I would have maybe one of two or three African-American students in my classes. Some professors would just pretend I wasn't there. I would ask a question and a professor would act as if it was just so dumb, the dumbest question he had ever heard. Then, when a white guy would ask the same question, the professor would say, ''That's a very astute observation.'' As a medical student, sometimes I needed to hear the criticism in order to become a good doctor. Also as an engineer, and as an astronaut. But many times what's lacking is the praise. Race is always an issue in the United States. You always run into people who aren't comfortable with you. But we all -- the way people look, whether or not they're heavyset, for example, influences us. Anyone who says he isn't influenced by race is lying.I think this goes hand in hand with one of the points that Blanchard was pointing out in the article. Even thought colleges and universities are "trying" to get make racism go away, they simply aren't trying hard enough. When they come up with one policy, it's missing something, and when they make a policing that makes that up, they forget about something else. To take Jeminson's quote as an example, even if the school had policies against intentional racism, this "inadvertent racial harassment" would go unnoticed because no one else has anything to say against it. And it happens more often than one might think. I'm not saying it has happened to me, but as a person of color, while i was in high school (and in some of my classes now), I feel like what happened to Jeminson has happened to me. But I digress. To end this paragraph, I'll quote Blanchard once more: "The fact that people of color often find themselves numerically underrepresented in academic institutions exaggerates the discomfort and pain that arises out of insensitive acts." Such as the one that Mae Jeminson experienced all those years ago.
To end this exhaustingly long post, I want to refer back to something that Blanchard said that didn't quite sit right with me. [On the subject of whites with [egalitarian values":] "Few, for example, have vicariously experienced the pain felt by a friend who has suffered racial harassment." This is where I can sometimes have a problem with the extent that ally can go with their...allyness. Even though the word "vicariously" was used, I still don't think it's entirely possible for whites to feel the pain and oppression people of color feel on a day to day basis, or even worse, while being racially harassed. The whole "experience the pain of the oppressed" thing is something that has always bothered me, especially when it comes to LGBTQ+ related issues. I'm sorry (except not really), but you (as a straight person) can't possibly feel the hate, the oppression, the harassment that I (as a queer person) have endured by people in any position of power. I think as allies, you have to know that there is a line drawn as to where your sympathy for us, as minorities, ends and where it begins. Just like I know, that as a male feminist, I will never understand and have never understood the oppression and pain that women go through while being denied of the privileges men have.
(sources: NYT article; Visual Inquiry)