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This, my dear friends, is the Cycle of Oppression that I am familiar with. I want to stress that this is my own interpretation, and that the definitions can vary depending on who you ask. 

The Cycle has four main components, and an optional fifth component. I will attempt to take the Trayvon Martin…. event, through the Cycle of Oppression. 

1) Stereotype: A Stereotype is an Idea. A Stereotype is any generalization made about an entire group of people. Common stereotypes you may encounter include “Asians are good at math”, “Asians are bad drivers”, “Mexicans are [undocumented]”, “Black people are suspicious”, “White people are racists”. Stereotypes can be Functional or Dysfunctional, Functional when they are validated by an experience where it is fulfilled, or Dysfunctional when they are refuted by an experience where it is not fulfilled. 

>In the case of Trayvon Martin, the Stereotype was likely: “Black people [in hoodies] are suspicious.” 

2) Prejudice: A Prejudice is a negative idea. A Stereotype that has negative connotations or causes negative feelings about a group of people being stereotyped becomes a Prejudice. Prejudices are negative feelings and ideas about a group of people, functional or dysfunctional. 

>In the case of Trayvon Martin, the Prejudice was likely: “Suspicious Black people are a threat, probably some criminal.”

3) Discrimination: Discrimination is an action. A Prejudice that manifests as an action is Discrimination. The act of Discrimination is towards an individual or to a group of people belonging to the group being stereotyped. Two important acts of Discrimination to note/compare/contrast: “Black people are suspicious, and thus untrustworthy, so I will not hire a person with a Black name” and “White people are racists, and thus I have negative feelings about them, so I will not hire a person who is white (or has an Anglo name)”

>In the case of Trayvon Martin, the act of Discrimination was likely: “Suspicious Black people [men] [in hoodies] are a threat or criminal; this person is a Black man in a hoodie, thus he is a threat or criminal, so I should pursue him and detain him to prevent criminal activity, I should also carry a weapon because he is a threat.” 

4) Oppression: Oppression is systematic and widespread trends. Oppression is the systematic and institutional (government, education, law enforcement, healthcare, welfare, media, social norms, etc) perpetuation of acts of Discrimination. Specific forms of Oppression include Racism, Sexism, Heterosexism, Ableism, Ageism, and many more.

Because Oppression is about systematic and widespread perpetuation, this is why I define “Reverse Racism” to be a myth. Studies have confirmed what many people of color know already from their own individual experiences: having a non-Anglo name reduces your chances of getting a job on a macro level. Having an Anglo name, having a portion of White Privilege, shields one from the Act of Discrimination that are based on a Prejudice against Black names that are associated with the Negative Stereotype of suspicious/untrustworthy/lazy Black people. 

>In the case of Trayvon Martin, the tragedy that occurred was nothing unusual to anyone who pays attention to systematic racial discrimination by law enforcement, and probably even less unusual to those people of color who live everyday with the fear of being racially profiled by a police officer.

The institutionalized criminalization of Black people is a subset of the Oppression called Racism. The media and discriminatory drug laws perpetuate negative stereotypes about Black people as suspicious and untrustworthy, and a normalized image of the criminal Black man enters the minds of everyday people. The idea of a criminal Black man. A Stereotype. That is how the Cycle of Oppression perpetuates itself. 

5) Internalized Oppression: But there is a more sinister component to the Cycle of Oppression. Internalized Oppression is when individuals from the group being stereotyped actually begin to internalize the negative Stereotypes, the Prejudices, the acts of Discrimination, and the systematic Oppression that they feel they just cannot escape. A person may begin to believe that there is no future for them, that the education system will fail them, that law enforcement will racially profile them, that their peers will stereotype them, that they will be turned away from jobs they should have been qualified for. And from that Internalized Oppression, that self hate and despair, a person may turn to the negative Stereotypes that have been put in front of them. And then they too become part of the Cycle, becoming the negative Stereotype forced onto them, and perpetuating the Cycle. 

A Note on (Conservative) American Exceptionalism

If you watch the news, or just the Daily Show and Colbert Report, you’ll notice that there’s a lot of hoopla from conservatives like Fox News and the entire GOP Presidential field about America being the best country in the world yaddah yaddah yaddah, and how they kinda force liberals like Obama to adopt that kind of rhetoric. Anyways, I take serious issue with Conservative American Exceptionalism, the idea that being “American”, whatever the hell that even means, makes you a better person than non-Americans. 

Hit Read More for my reasoning. 

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A Quick Note on "Choices"

A few days ago I posed the question: Would you rather have economic stability at cost of your dehumanization, or be respected as a full human at the cost of economic stability?

This article on Racism I’m reading touches on something similar. It tells the stories of many African Americans in the early 1900’s who were light skinned enough to “pass” as White, who got White, better paying jobs. It tells the stories of how they suffered silently listening to and going along with the overt racism of their White co-workers, pretending to be people who they were not, just so they could put food on the table for their families. 

A Quick Note on National Perspectives

From my many discussions and debates and learning in recent times, I’d like to categorize perspectives into 4 broad categories. These categories are all intricately connected, but to me, all seem to offer slightly different priorities. I consider the four perspectives (that I can think of at the moment) to be Political/Government, Economical, Sociological/Social, and Scientific. 

These are of course my own opinions, they are based on the knowledge and observations I’ve collected, and are not sourced. 

Hit Read More for my commentary. It’s really nothing new. Kind of regurgitating well known and obvious facts. I am also making generalizations about each of these categories, referring more to the most publicized or majority opinion of each perspective. 

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A Quick Note on Classism

OK. Ok. Ok. So I just started reading an article on Classism. Of note is that the article is from an anthology of articles in the frame of Social Justice. And the very first sentence is this: “Persistent inequality on the basis of social and economic class seems especially difficult to acknowledge in the United States, possibly because of our belief in meritocracy (that hard work and talent will be rewarded), possibly because we equate our system of political equality with equality of economic opportunity.” 

I am so excited and scared to see where this article is going. I’m just so amazed that it immediately has touched on something I just spent a lot of time blogging on (my Thought of the Day: On Value of Work) this very issue. I am so excited to learn more about this issue. 

Addendum: This just gets better and better. This article, written in like 2000, is talking about Rich 1%, the Affluent 9%, and the Rest of Us 90%. It’s talking about rich investors, wall street traders, and largest corporations. Mind=Blown. 

Haha really, Mitt Romney? Smooth move there, being in touch with the middle class. I’ll expand on this later.

Seeing as I’ve promised a lot of things already, I’ll list them out here for my own reference. These posts will be exploratory, based on information I’ve learned from other sources such as College Courses, news articles, opinion pieces, and more. 

Topics that I hope to cover during this 4 week Winter Break:

>Classism and Politics: Why money is a barrier to participating in the political process as a voter and as a politician

>Obesity Epidemic: Why might it be happening, and why we need to address the perpetrator, not just shame the victim.

>Marketing and Consumerism: Creating a problem, convincing people that they have that problem, then selling them a product to fix that problem

>Friend Zone: What is this phenomenon (of labeling an experience as such) and what might it mean

>Privilege, Allyship, and Advocacy: My perspective on this tricky topic I have to keep coming back to

>Privilege: What does it mean, and how do different people perceive it

>Glee and the portrayal of Asian Americans: My perspective and analysis of what the title says

>Ethnoburbs/Ethnic Enclaves/Ethnic Majority: In a decidedly not-post-racial society, one way to feel protected from perceived and real aggression is to be close to others of the same race or ethnicity. Pros and Cons, from my perspective.

>Confusing Social Class and Economic Class: How we associate wealth with character

>Motive for Innovation and Good Design: Do innovators and engineers build to build something great, or build to snag a sweet profit? And how do those mindsets affect the products we get?

>IMF and Developing Nations: When austerity goes wrong and globalization hurts countries

>Zero-Sum: What does this term mean, and how applicable is it to all of the issues swirling around in the world?

>Institutional Oppression versus Individual Failure: A crux of difference of opinion between a Social Justice perspective and a more… free market-esque perspective. 

>”It’s not as bad as it used to be”: Minimization and complacency of social ills, and why it is so problematic these days

>Biological Imperative versus Learned Behavior: Is it biological or learned behavior, the stereotypes of the emotional woman or the violent man?

A short piece at The Society Pages about the system in which acts of escalated police response to protesters operates. How the actions of people like John Pike are enabled and encouraged in the current system of law enforcement. Also links to the fascinating article on the “Broken Windows Theory”, which shows that increased Police patrols usually doesn’t actually reduce crime, but reduces the sense of crime in a community. And how then any “disorderly conduct” that breaks the norm of a “quiet and orderly” community, namely any form of public protest, becomes subject to escalated force. 

I heard snippets of this news here and there recently. And it’s still so shocking to read a report confirming it. GOP oriented lawmakers across the country are passing legislation that puts restrictions on voting under the guise of preventing voter fraud. I think anyone who paid attention in US History in High School can realize the connection to the Jim Crow laws of the past that restricted African Americans and other People of Color from voting even after they gained Constitutional voting rights. Stupid things like literacy tests that White people could barely pass. Now updated for the modern era classism and racism, targeting demographics that as a pattern just don’t need to have the specific required thing that the laws are asking for. Truly, it is a return to the idea of “Voting is only for Rich White Men”. 

A Quick Note/Snipe on Opportunity

I live in the lap of comfort. Not luxury, but comfort. I am part of an upper-middle class family with a pretty desirable income. We can be pointed to as a “model minority”. But that doesn’t tell the whole story. Though my parents did work extremely hard to get where they are now, it’s important and easy to forget a critical detail. They received an exceptionally rigorous technical education through a state public university funded by the People’s Republic of China. If they didn’t get that start, aided by a government which is admittedly oppressive but also extremely dedicated to education for the talented, we would not be in our financial status we have right now. 

This story is a big reason why I am an advocate for education, funded by the government, to increase knowledge and opportunity for all. 

A Quick Note on Power

In my Honest Opinion. There is nothing wrong with being in the mainstream. There is nothing wrong with being Republican. There is nothing wrong with being Christian. There is nothing wrong with being White. There is nothing wrong with being Rich. There is nothing wrong with being Male, Able Bodied, Heterosexual, Average Sized, or whatever other Power and Privilege you may have. There is nothing wrong with having Power, unless you use that Power to harm others. 

A Note in Defense of Higher Education and the University of California

A friend of mine recently said in response to UC Student protests against the budget cuts and fee increaes that “Finally, if you absolutely cannot afford the tuition, then you shouldn’t be attending the university. I know plenty of people that chose community college over a public or private university in order to save money. Higher education is encouraged and recommended, but nevertheless, it is a privilege, not an entitlement. These students ignore all the responsible people that actually choose to LIVE WITHIN THEIR MEANS.”

It was pretty shocking to me to hear this coming from a person educated in the California High School system and the University of California system. But it’s a sentiment that I’ve been hearing from different sources. Education in America has turned from a Right into a, as my friend describes it, a Privilege. 

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(Not So) Fun Fact of the Day:

Went swimming today. Couple of young adult looking Caucasian males were having a barbecue. As I’m swimming, I hear a “This is f***ing gay”, likely directed towards some aspect of their food. Made me cringe, want to say something, educate them about how offensive that kind of language can be. Felt powerless though, a single 19 year old Asian male with not the most authoritative appearance explaining to four very fit and cut Caucasian males probably in their early twenties why they shouldn’t throw around “f***ing gay”? I want so badly to learn how, or get training, practice, on how to deal with these situations. 

NOTE: I am not saying that all Fraternities are bad and inherently sexist. 

However! Some Fraternities can reflect certain aspects of society. In this case, the Yale Fraternity in question is reflecting a Rape Culture or at least Ignorant/Trivialization Of Rape Culture that can be found on college campuses. 

A short news piece by Time, hosted by Yahoo News. This line is a kicker: “But climate change is taking care of that whole Arctic sea iceproblem nicely — albeit with some pretty worrying effects for the rest of us — opening up vast new areas for oil exploration.” 

So let me get this straight: The next place where there is untold amounts of fossil fuels, is in frozen wastelands normally unreachable by humans. As in, Mother Nature literally prevents us from accessing it. But thanks to (Man Made) Global Warming and the accelerated melting of the Arctic ice, oil companies can now access this untapped source of fossil fuels, so they can pump MORE greenhouse gases into the air? So basically it’s a wonderful cycle where oil companies extract oil from other places, degrade the environment, and with a big “F You” to Mother Nature, now gets access to more oil. This sounds like great business. I’m sure it’ll be great for the economy. Bring lots of wealth, cheaper gas, more profits. And, not making light of my post just an hour ago, further raping this little spinning ball of water and dirt that is the only place in the known universe on which we as humans can live. Thank you oil companies, thank you. 

It's Interesting

What you might be able to tell from a person’s language. 

For example today, I saw/heard friends toss around the words “gay” and “rape” haphazardly. I might be able to assume they are lacking specific knowledge or training on how to be an ally for LGBTQ, or how to be an advocate for victims of sexual assault, respectively. 

For example today, I heard a friend use “Ya’ll” when addressing a mixed-gender group. On a personal tooting-my-own-horn, I instinctively used “they” when referring to a person whose gender was not identified. And previously, someone using “partner” instead of boyfriend/girlfriend. When I hear those words I might be able to assume that the person is conscious of equality issues or they may be an ally. 


"Straw Feminist Trope" by Anita Sarkeesian.

Another great video on media tropes and women. While I don’t necessarily agree with every example used in the video, I strongly agree with the overall message: That “feminism” is often demonized in the media, to the point where people will say “I believe in equal rights for men and women BUT I’m not a feminist”.