structural inequalities

Academics have developed complicated theories and obscure jargon in an effort to describe what is now referred to as structural racism, yet the concept is fairly straightforward. One theorist, Iris Marion Young, relying on a famous “birdcage” metaphor, explains it this way: If one thinks about racism by examining only one wire of the cage, or one form of disadvantage, it is difficult to understand how and why the bird is trapped. Only a large number of wires arranged in a specific way, and connected with one another, serve to enclose the bird and ensure it cannot escape.

What is particularly important to keep in mind is that any given wire of the cage may or may not be specifically developed for the purpose of trapping the bird, yet it still operates (together with other wires) to restrict its freedom.

—  Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow
For individuals and groups, social life is a type of dialectical process that involves successive experience of high and low, communitas and structure, homogeneity and differentiation, equality and inequality.
—  Victor Turner, The Ritual Process: Structure and Anti-Structure (1966)

anonymous asked:

Hi. Will you be so kind to share your opinion about Spiderman after you watch it? I'd loveto read everything you'll say about it. Also, I heard IM is in the movie for like 10 minutes. I hope it's true. I don't need another "almost IM" movie. CW was enough.

Okay so I’m going to make this as descriptive as I can without giving any spoilers. 

- Tom, as we already saw in Civil War, is great as Peter. He’s fun, and he’s a kid, and they remind you that outside of the Spiderman situation, he’s still just a kid. 
- Tony isn’t in it for long #blessed and #grateful, he probably has around 10 minutes screentime, and I only rolled my eyes at him like 3 times, as opposed to every time he spoke like in Civil War. 
- Ned is the real star of the film, actual legend, and like let us not fuck around, every single one of us would be Ned if we found out our best friend was a superhero. 
- Not nearly enough Zendaya. However, every line out of Michelle’s mouth is gold and in a tag urself meme, I am Michelle. 
- There’s a line where they’re at the Washington Monument on a school trip and Michelle is reading a book instead of like, giving a fuck about the monument and their teacher is like “taking everything in Michelle?” and she’s like “Umm, I’m good, I don’t really want to take in something built by slaves” and he sorta laughs and is like “I don’t think the Washington Monument was built by slaves” and there’s a black security guard that just gives this “My man, it’s time to stop” look and Michelle just goes back to her book. Icon. 
- I love Michelle. 
- Aunt May isn’t a fan of Tony Stark and I for one, love that about her. 
- The antagonist in it as actually a very relatable character who brings up a lot of interesting points about power structure and inequalities in the treatment of the rich vs the working class and the poor. Does a lot of shitty things and I’m not excusing it, but it’s interesting - especially in the sociopolitical climate of the western world right now. 
- Soundtrack is killer. 
- Peter says at least 4 things that made me go “Tell me again why he wasn’t Team Cap?” because honestly….the kid is Steve Rogers 2.0 through and through. 
- Overall it’s a fun film, I wouldn’t say it’s one of the best Marvel have ever done, there are 4 o 5 that I’d choose to rewatch ahead of it, but it’s certainly one of the best they’ve done in recent memory - but that’s just personal opinion. But it’s fun, which like, was to be expected when you think about the fact it was co-written by this guy 

“How people themselves perceive what they are doing is not a question that interests me. I mean, there are very few people who are going to look into the mirror and say, ‘That person I see is a savage monster’; instead, they make up some construction that justifies what they do. If you ask the CEO of some major corporation what he does he will say, in all honesty, that he is slaving 20 hours a day to provide his customers with the best goods or services he can and creating the best possible working conditions for his employees. But then you take a look at what the corporation does, the effect of its legal structure, the vast inequalities in pay and conditions, and you see the reality is something far different.”
― Noam Chomsky

Say it with me, y'all:

-Nazis are literal pieces of shit
-BLM isn’t a hate group
-Reverse racism isn’t a thing
-All white people (including me) are, at least, a little inherently racist (cue the Avenue Q song)
-Silence in times of strife favors the oppressor, not the opressed (if you’re not fighting against evil, you’re in favor of it)
-Giving others the same rights as you doesn’t mean yours are being taken away. Treating rights like slices of pie is illogical
-Nazis don’t deserve to be ‘heard out’
-Pineapple belongs on pizza
-The best course of action against people like Nazis isn’t just ignoring them and hoping they go away, nor is it trying to reason with them. This is *exactly* how Hitler rose to power in the 1940s
-The best thing you can do right now as a white (or white-passing) person is to use your guaranteed privilege to take down the systematic structures of racism and inequality. With force.

The struggle between those who possess social power and those who do not, between freeman and slave, patrician and plebian, lord and serf, guildmaster and journeyman, in a word, oppressor and oppressed is a war fought with many and varied weapons. Of highest importance are ideas, weapons in an ideological warfare by which every class struggling to maintain its grip on the world tries to justify its position morally and rationally, while those fighting to overturn the social order produce their own self-justificatory ideology as a counter-weapon.

If the revolution succeeds, that revolutionary ideology becomes transformed into a weapon of consolidation and conservation whereby yet further revolutionary challenges to the new dominant class can be resisted. Nothing better illustrates the historical progression of such ideological weapons than the revolution that created the twentieth century market-industrial society.

The society of Europe before the seventeenth century (with the exception of certain mercantile Italian republics) was characterized by a static, aristocratic scheme of relations in which both peasants and landowners were bound to each other and to the land and in which changes in the social positions of individuals were exceedingly rare. Persons were said to owe their position in the world to the grace of God or to the grace of earthly lords. Even kings ruled Deo gratia, and changes in position could only occur by exceptional conferrals or withdrawals of divine or royal grace. But this rigid hierarchy directly obstructed the expansion of both mercantile and manufacturing interests who required access to political and economic power based on their entrepreneurial activities rather than on noble birth.

Moreover, the inalienability of land and the traditional guarantee of access to common land inhibited the rapid expansion of primary production and also maintained a scarcity of labor for manufactories. In Britain, the Acts of Enclosure of the eighteenth century broke this rigid system by allowing landlords to enclose land for wool production and simultaneously displacing tenants, who then became the landless industrial workforce of the cities.

At the same time in France, the old ‘nobility of the sword’ was being challenged by the administrative and legal hierarchy who became the'nobility of the robe’ and by the rich commoners of banking and finance. The bourgeois revolution was brewing, a revolution that was to break assunder the static feudal-aristocratic bonds and create instead an entrepreneurial society in which labor and money could more freely adapt to the demands of a rising commercial and industrial middle class.

But the bourgeois revolution required an ideology justifying the assault on the old order and providing the moral and intellectual underpinnings of the new. This was the ideology of freedom, of individuality, of works as opposed to grace, and of equality and the inalienable rights to 'life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.’ Paine, Jefferson, Diderot, and the Encyclopedists were the ideologues of the revolution, and one theme comes through in their writings: the old order was characterized by artificial hierarchies and artificial barriers to human desire and ambitions and those artificial barriers must be destroyed so that each person can take his or her natural place in society, according to his or her desire and ability.

This is the origin of the idea of the 'equal opportunity society’ in which we now supposedly live.
Yet the bourgeois revolution that destroyed those artificial barriers seems not to have dispensed with inequality of station. There are still rich and poor, powerful and weak, both within and between nations.

How is this to be explained? We might suppose that the inequalities are structural, that the society created by the revolution has inequality built into it and even depends upon that inequality for its operation. But that supposition, if taken seriously, would engender yet another revolution. The alternative is to claim that inequalities reside in properties of individuals rather than in the structure of social relations. This is the claim that our society has produced about as much equality as is humanly possible and that the remaining differences in status and wealth and power are the inevitable manifestations of natural inequalities in individual abilities.

It is this latter claim that has been incorporated from an early stage into the ideology of the bourgeois revolution and that remains the dominant ideology of market industrial societies today. Such a view does not threaten the status quo but, on the contrary, supports it by telling those who are without power that their position is the inevitable outcome of their own innate deficiencies and that, therefore, nothing can be done about it.

—  Richard Lewontin

As anyone with eyes, ears, and internet access can gather, our current world is a frightening heap of deep structural inequality, unchecked global power, and incoherent mass media. Despite the warm comfort that comes with brain-melting repetitive labor, your worry-addled skull still needs a hand every now and again if you want to make it to lunch without hyperventilating. That’s why the Cracked Dispensary and the Cracked Store are here with a list of stuff to help you take refuge in your mind, man. It’s all going to be OK. 

We don’t know if it’s due to growing up on hyper-stimulating video games or if there’s something in the water, but people today are more fidgety than Kramer after … well, anything at all. Stop biting your fingernails and cracking your knuckles, and try giving this weighted desk toy a spin. After a few days of mindful whirling, you’ll impress your cube neighbors with your pointless prowess and improve your focus on work duties.  Usually $60, get this Stress Spinner here for $19.99.

De-stress With These 8 Home Life Products

Stupidity in women, as we know, is often expected in this male-dominated culture, and some women cultivate it because they see it rewarded in popular icons, from Goldie Hawn to Jessica Simpson. But what is the appeal in North America of the stupid man, and why does the representation of male stupidity not lead to male disempowerment? […] Male stupidity masks the will to power that lies just behind the goofy grin, and it masquerades as some kind of internalization of feminist critiques. The clueless male in movies usually requires a spunky and intelligent women to pull him along, educate and civilize him, and this masks the gender inequality that structures their relationship
—  Jack Halberstam, The Queer Art of Failure (57)

There’s something so deeply satisfying about my hatred for dumb fictional things on this site.

The things I hate in real life are huge, complex problems that impact hundreds of thousands of people each day, involving structural inequalities and fights over limited resources. Often, there is no right answer, and even to make progress towards a best answer would require years of coalition building, initiative, and compromise.

Whereas someone who sorts fictional characters into the wrong Hogwarts houses is just wrong, and the rage I feel at their post is Pure, unfettered.

i’m listening to the book self compassion by kristen neff and even tho a lot of this stuff is important and helpful, i’m constantly put off by how bourgie it is. it’s so clearly written by a white upper middle class academic for other upper middle class white professionals. there’s no talk of structural inequality or oppression. she never mentions how self compassion might be a major psychologically and physically protective factor for people who are marginalized and oppressed, or victims of systemic violence. 

the examples she gives of people needing to use self compassion range - I kid you not - from resenting your celebrity mom to not tipping a waitress out of anger bc she took too long bringing the bill (i automatically identify w the waitress here, clearly neff doesn’t). there’s brief mention of more serious issues like ptsd from war or assault but on the whole these supposedly normal problems are so… exclusive.

this is an egregious flaw in a lot of psychology and the mindfulness movement. most people in this world are oppressed by structural forces, and those struggles largely define their material and emotional lives. self compassion is beneficial for everyone but if it’s never tailored to the people who need it most, how good is the work being done? is the empowerment of oppressed people thru better emotional health too risky for the professional class, even psychologists? 

Identifying structural inequality or institutional racism was not just of scholastic interest; linking Black oppression to structural and institutional practices legitimized demands for programs and funding to undo the harm that had been done… The entire dynamic of the Black struggle pushed mainstream politics to the left during this period.
—  From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation, Keeanga Yamhatta Taylor
Even in countries with strong women’s movements, feminism forces all women and men to think about social inequalities and about their own relationships to systems of power. For some, it conjures the fear of losing taken-for-granted privileges; for others, it brings up the pain of acknowledging lack of privilege. Neither is a very pleasant prospect, especially if feminism is presented in the oversimplified language of male oppression and female victimization. Portraying a movement as blaming one group (white men) and denying the resilience of another (all women) will keep it unpopular, even though, as I will argue, feminism at its best offers much more complex interpretations of the dynamics of gender, race, and power. For those of us raised in the United States, a related antipathy sometimes operates, since acknowledging any kind of structural inequality challenges the deeply held myth of equal opportunity. The myth professes that in America anybody can succeed, as if there were no obstacles based on gender, class, or race. To raise questions about fairness implicitly asks whether those who have succeeded are in fact the most deserving. Little wonder they are left fearful of feminism.
—  Estelle Freedman, No Turning Back
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Now that it’s cool to celebrate failure, it’s time we talk about how that reinforces inequality and structures of power.

If we’re going to learn from our mistakes let’s really learn from our mistakes.

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vox.com
Something is breaking American politics, but it's not social media
A new study finds political polarization is increasing most among those who use the internet least.
By Ezra Klein

I asked Gentzkow what he thinks might be part of the fuller picture. “I have two main hypotheses,” he replied. “One is stuff that has nothing to do with media at all but is structural, like increasing income inequality. The second is non-digital media, and cable TV and talk radio in particular.”

The latter piece makes particular sense if you think about the fact that older Americans make up the base of both the cable and talk radio audiences. More than a third of talk radio listeners are over age 65, and half of Fox News’s audience is over age 68. As bad as getting your news from Facebook can be, it’s often far better than relying on Fox News or Rush Limbaugh.

Money, money, money

  • Note: I am not a historian or an economist and I am sure none of the following is particularly new. This is just me thinking out loud.


In the wake of recent events, there are lots of discussions out there about the rise of fascist and neo-Nazi movements in the US and the historical contexts. Obviously, these types of hate groups exist elsewhere–I’ve spoken with friends in countries around the world who have seen similar alarming shifts, as I have in Canada. Racism and anti-semitism are hideous and not uniquely American, and neither are some of the other things I see underpinning these movements.

It is interesting to me that very few of the American historical discussions mention the role of wealth and finance in this whole mess. It is an ugly undercurrent I see where I live–the idea that “outsiders” are dangerous not only because they hold different beliefs or look different, but because they somehow threaten economic stability…or the ability of a few to obtain and sustain wealth. Its not a new concept, of course. It’s been used through the ages to protect the status quo. It’s the American Dream, right? That anyone can become rich, so the power structures of the wealthy have to be protected.

I saw an interesting discussion about why the poor are supporting Trump. It talked about the “elevation” of poor white men by wealthy plantation owners to help subjugate slaves and, later, the segregated black population. It was a fascinating study in the ability of the rich–who historically create poverty as they create their own wealth–to enlist the poor in protecting the very structures that preserve inequality. I am reminded of a line from “Romancing the Stone”: “He made you think you needed it, you sap.”

So I find it interesting that in the discussions of the US response to Hitler’s rise no one is talking about the money.

Anti-semitism is very real and very easy to see behind the choices the US (and other nations) made with regard to the rise of fascism in the 30s. However, it is so telling that Hitler emerged from economic crisis. That even as Germany struggled under war reparations, they and the rest of the world were clawing their way back from the devastation of the depression. That some of the loudest of those promoting anti-war sentiment in the US in the 30s were its surviving millionaire capitalists.

There are lots of theories about why the depression happened, but there have been some enlightening studies recently that compare the 1929 crisis with the one in 2008. In particular, the increase of finance’s share of the GDP–which many experts interpret as a misallocation of resources, and which they also see going hand-in-hand with a rise in financial inequality and personal debt in both cases. The New Deal proposed to redress the hardships caused by the Great Depression through social programs and increased taxation. In my own lifetime, I have witnessed how well these things go over with the rich, so it isn’t much of a stretch to see why the wealthy in many nations were initually so easily impressed by Hitler. His party infiltrated and then dismantled the socialists and set themselves against communism. This certainly had to have been music to rich American ears. All they had to do to eliminate the horrifying redistribution of wealth in their own country was to let Hitler be proven right/succeed by keeping America out of the war.

I have seen other commentary on tumblr about the influence of the Jim Crow laws and other American racist structures and policies on Hitler’s Germany. Which, in light of the discussion about using poor whites to protect the wealthy by turning them on blacks, is just stunningly obvious. It makes America’s initial response to WWII so clear–new century, new war, exact same people with the exact same goals (protect the structures that secure wealth for a very few while convincing poor white people that these actions are in their own best interests).

Has anything changed? I don’t think so–dig hard enough around any nation’s conservative politics and you will find the protection of the wealthy there. It is just so easy to manipulate the disaffected and exploit existing racism and anti-semitism (and misogyny and homophobia) to keep the imbalances in place. It just bothers me that in the wake of Charlottesville more Americans aren’t drawing a straight line from the “alt-right” to the long-standing economic agenda of the American wealthy and the GOP in particular. They want to win (i.e., become/stay rich) so badly that they don’t seem to care about the destruction being wrought by the mechanisms they are using to inflame their base. They don’t appear to be rational enough to recognize that they are setting everything on fire just so they can toast their marshmallows. They don’t care who suffers.

Seems like maybe we–everywhere this is happening–need to follow the advice of one Trump commentator on MSNBC. In response to every new catastrophe or shocking revelation, his answer is always “Follow the money.”

I know there is more to it, but this seems like a good place to start.

When Asian American students seek therapy…their mental health issues–overwhelmingly perceived as intergenerational familial conflicts–are often diagnosed as being exclusively symptomatic of cultural (not political) conflicts. That is, by configuring Asian cultural difference as the source of all intergenerational disease, Asian culture comes to serve as an alibi or a scapegoat for a panoply of mental health issues. These issues may, in fact, trace their etiology not to questions of Asian cultural difference, but rather to forms of institutionalized racism and economic exploitation. The segregation of Asian American health issues into the domain of cultural difference thus covers over the need to investigate structural questions of social inequity as they circulate both inside and outside the therapeutic space of the clinic.
—  David L. Eng and Shinhee Han, “A Dialogue on Racial Melancholia,” Loss: The Politics of Mourning, pg.355-6 (x)
"white people experience racism."

because white people are killed by white police for being white? are white people fired for wearing dreads or braids because it’s “unprofessional?” do white people have trouble finding jobs because they’re white? are white boys followed because they wear hoodies and “look suspicious?” do white people have to endure centuries of the remnants of colonization, slavery and apartheid? do white people get paid less than black people? does the majority of the white race live in ghettos which are rife with gang violence because of structural inequality and racism? are the majority of white people on food stamps? do white people experience colorism? do white people have to work harder to prove themselves? are white people followed around in stores when they go shopping because the shop owner things they’re going to steal something? do white names become hashtags because they were killed because of the color of their skin? are white people stopped & searched at airports because they look like “terrorists?” are white people mocked & shamed for practicing their culture? do white people have their culture stolen by people of color for profit? do little white girls get told that their afros are not fit for school because they look “unkempt?” are jails full of young white men who have been arrested because of structural racism? do white people get called “nigger” or “kaffir” or any racist slur that is rooted in a history of colonialism, slavery & apartheid? i could go on forever. but really… do you still think that white people experience racism?

— @beeyroyce.