Call it what it is – anti-blackness and systematic racism

In an article by BBC describes the events that occurred to Martese Johnson on March 18th, 2015.

The language and story here is simple: the Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) attacked a black student, Martese Johnson, and acted with unnecessary force.

The issue here is not only the unnecessary force, but also of a greater narrative that goes ignored, especially given recent events in Ferguson where racial profiling – stereotyping people based on their race – by white police officers was called into question. At no point in the article is there implication of racial profiling by the ABC officers, yet the article clearly articulates that Johnson is black.

Why is being black important in the headline but not the details?

The language surrounding Johnson and the ABC ignores the racial component which is present in all accounts of incidents regarding black people. Our society has heavily ingrained certain stereotypes regarding black people; the obvious examples being that they are “thugs” and “trouble makers”. The way we view black bodies has a phenomenal impact on how we act against them. It is not surprise then that the Ferguson police – comprised predominantly of white men – have been founded to be conducting unjust, systematic, brutality against black bodies (CBC, 2015).

It is a race issue because we see black people as different, as “not white”. We understand and recognize that being black is a part of who they are as human beings therefore we should also understand that being black may influence the ways we unconsciously (or consciously) treat them. All issues involving black people will have undertones of race within them. You cannot discern an individual from their race because race shapes their experiences in the same way being a student is also an integral part of Johnson’s identity (Jones, 2014). We also cannot forget how these stereotypes are subtly ingrained into our society, how anti-blackness – a form of racism which specifically targets black people – is prevalent throughout our entire system, and how media has reinforced it by creating the image of the “thug” black person (Punyanunt-Carter, 2008).

Martese Johnson, from the indiegogo page.

Perhaps what is interesting is not only about the language, but the way Johnson is presented in the article as well. Johnson was a member of his university’s honor committee, and had a campaign to rerun for his position (“JusticeforMartese”, 2015). This detail is not in the article; however, it is an important detail as it presents Johnson as more than just another black student. These facts about who he is humanizes him, especially when contrasted against his bloody photos. There are also no pictures of Johnson’s campaigns, working on various groups, even being an active member of society; there is only him as a victim. This objectifies black bodies as nothing more than ways to shock and surprise people. Bloodied black bodies are used as a way to shock and horrify people, and in a sense it is also normalized, or presented as a normal occurrence. The more images we see of bruised, bloodied, black bodies in the media, the less sensitive we become to their suffering.

The language surrounding black movements for autonomy and basic human rights has been language that is clearly anti-black. This is most obviously when comparing the language between the Ferguson protests and the Hong Kong protests. The protests occurred roughly within the same time period, yet the contexts in which they existed, and what they were fighting for were radically different. One was an attempt to fight against white supremacy – a system of racism where white people benefit the most – and the demand for black bodies to be respected and free of racial profiling, while the latter was a fight for democratic rights. Wikipedia, which is a source people accurately use today to gain general information, describe the Ferguson protests as “unrest” whereas Hong Kong protests are called what they are – protests (Wikipedia, 2015).

So why does this matter?

Unrest suggests a fault on the protesters themselves, unrest implies a sense of chaos inflicted by the protestors. Unrest suggests it is the fault of the victims, and more importantly that somehow their protests are less legitimate because of this sense of chaos. Most of the residents of Ferguson were for their protests, but only a small majority were for the protests in Hong Kong. Ferguson was likely just as chaotic as Hong Kong, yet they were painted as a less legitimate cause. This is inherently anti-black because of the fact that the discourse around Ferguson has delegitimized the cause. It is seen as a less valid fight for basic human rights than Hong Kong because the protestors are black and fighting for black rights for human life.

In contrast, Hong Kong was praised by western as the “most peaceful” protest since many of the protestors did “polite” and “proper” thing such as cleaning up after their protests, creating study corner, etc (Fisher, 2014). It is difficult to ignore how this might interplay with the East Asian model minority myth in which East Asians are depicted as the “ideal”, submissive, docile but hardworking and polite minorities. Traditionally, this stereotype has been used to justify racism within white settler colonial countries; the failure of black Americans to succeed was not because they were not white but because they were black. The Asians did fine. It was blackness that was the cause of failure (Nakagawa, 2015). Of course, this is obviously not true, many Asians did not fit this stereotype and faced structural inequalities, and white supremacy was the barrier for black people in America.

This type of juxtaposition between Hong Kong and Ferguson emphasized how western media depicts one race (in this case, East Asians) as a toxic “ideal” and the other as a problem of blackness despite both essentially acting the same.

The discourse around black bodies is one that suggests they are the cause of their own problems. Society polices – which is the act of enforcing certain restrictions – black bodies around respectability politics – which is the idea that acting, dressing, or behaving a certain way as to not be stereotyped in a certain harmful manner, and is used to deny structural inequalities such as racism – and this is shown in our discourse in both media (typically owned by and written by white people) to casually ignore their suffering or suggest it is not systematic, but an individual circumstance. This casually ignores anti-blackness and its violent manifestations, of which Martese Johnson, Mike Brown, and countless other black people are victim of everyday.

So let’s call it what it is: anti-black, systematic, racism.

Works Cited

“2014 Hong Kong Protests.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Web. 8 Apr. 2015.

“Facts at a Glance, University of Virginia.” Current Enrollment,. Web. 8 Apr. 2015.

“Ferguson Unrest.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Web. 8 Apr. 2015.

Fisher, Max. “Western Media Says Hong Kong Protests Are “clean and Orderly.” Is That Racist?” Vox. 2 Oct. 2014. Web. 8 Apr. 2015.

Jones, Denisha. “The Death of Michael Brown, Teachers, and Racism: 10 Things Every Badass Teacher Needs To Understand.” Bad Ass Teacher’s Association. 18 Aug. 2014. Web. 8 Apr. 2015.

“JusticeForMartese.” Indiegogo Life. Web. 8 Apr. 2015.

Nakagawa, Scot. “The Model Minority Is a Lever of White Supremacy.” Race Files. CHANGELAB, 25 Mar. 2014. Web. 8 Apr. 2015.

News, CBC. “Ferguson Police Report: 5 Examples of Abuse of Power.” CBCnews. CBC/Radio Canada, 5 Mar. 2015. Web. 8 Apr. 2015.

Punyanunt-Carter, Narissa. “The Perceived Realism of African American Portrayals on Television.” The Howard Jounral of Communications 28 (2008): 241-57. University of Oregan Library. Web. 8 Apr. 2015. <;.

“Virginia Governor Calls for Inquiry into Student Arrest.” BBC News. 19 Mar. 2015. Web. 8 Apr. 2015.


Gender Equality, in a Bake Sale

At Jordan High school in Utah, a few female members of the Young Democrat’s club ran a bake sale, where they sold cookies at prices of a dollar for men and 77 cents for women. Their aim was to raise awareness on the lack of gender equality, or the equal treatment men and women within laws, policies and society (Aulette and Wittner 249) in places like the workforce, where women do get paid less than men. Kari Schott, one of the students running the sale, was interviewed along with three other students on their opinions regarding the school event. I personally believe that Kari and her friends from the Young Democrats club did a great job of addressing patriarchal privilege, the idea that many men, although not all, benefit socially and economically as men (Aulette and Wittner 10), and how it is still present in our society both socially and economically.

Many students expressed anger towards the bake sale event on social media and eventually in person. “They were really mad about it. They didn’t think it was fair and I said yeah, it’s not fair. That’s why we’re doing it” says Kari Schott (ABC 4 Utah). The three other students interviewed expressed support in their cause and a belief in gender equality, although one student, Jake Knaphus, did not support the method that Kari and her friends used to get their message across the campus. “I believe in what they’re doing, […] I just don’t believe the statistics they’re using are correct” (ABC 4 Utah).

People believe in equality, and may support the idea of it. However, once it infringes on their own privileges, they can no longer stand by it. Perhaps if the cookies had no price difference and the sellers had only given out information sheets on gender equality, the bake sale would not have caused such a stir. But these negative reactions explicitly show how privilege is taught to not be recognized by those who benefit from it (McIntosh).

So this begs a big question: are people really aware of the pressing issue in gender equality? The wage gap between men and women is apparent, but problems arise when people fail to acknowledge this issue and the significance of it. I believe that the price difference with the cookies was an important and well executed way of helping students at Jordan High become conscious of how gender equality is, and how it affects women economically.

While these students did a great job of bringing attention to a huge aspect of gender inequality and said many words of empowerment, but I found that there were some critical downfalls in the things that they didn’t say. One aspect that I find very important within the issue of gender equality and equal pay is relevant to the topic of race. Race is “a contingently deep reality that structures our particular social universe” and a way of segregating people based on their physical appearance (Mills 48).

This segregation can be seen to affect people in many places such as the workforce. Women make less money than men, and on top of that, women of colour make less than white women. In 2012, the American Association of University Women (AAUW) plotted how much a woman in the US makes, weekly. Women were categorized by their race, then by their educational standing. The plot showed that within gender inequality, there is also racial inequality. It was found that, on average, white women with advanced degrees earned about $1,164, while African American women with the same level of education earned $997 and Hispanic women at a weekly wage of $1,093. In general, women with lower levels of education were observed to earn less per week, but in every category, women of colour are consistently seen to make less than white women.

These statistics show how race and gender intersect – a connection between identities such as race, gender, and class (Aulette and Wittner 45)Similar to male privilege, people with white privilege benefit simply because they are white. Peggy McIntosh writes about how these privileges are in an ‘invisible backpack’ and everyone who benefits from some social advantage carries one. Some of these advantages are so small and normalized that people forget to acknowledge them.

I would have liked to see them address racial equality, which is an equal treatment of people regardless of race, within gender equality, since it is still very relevant to their focus on the right to equal pay. The inequality of race, especially in Western society, often goes unseen and raising awareness on racial inequality will be the only way to end it.

Aside from these, I believe and support the cause that the three girls of the Young Democrats club were fighting for. I am also glad to see that there was support shown by the students who were briefly interviewed, showing that times are slowly changing as more and more people become aware of the social issues that stop us from reaching gender equality. Also, broadcasting stories like this is important since some people may not be conscious or simply do not know of the fact that gender inequality is still present in today’s societies. Kari and her friends send a strong message to viewers, especially to younger individuals such as Kari and her friends. They show that it is the younger generations that can take the biggest steps to reaching gender equality in the future.

Works Cited:

Aulette, Judy R., and Judith Wittner. Gendered Worlds. 2nd ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 2009-12. Print.

Carlisle, Randall. “Gender Equality Bake Sale Causes Stir at Utah High School.” Good4Utah. NexStar Broadcasting, 17 Mar. 2015. Web. 02 Apr. 2015.

McIntosh, Peggy. “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack.” Web. 02 Apr. 2015. <;

Mills, Charles W. “But what are you really?” The metaphysics of race. In Blackness visible: essays on philosophy and race (1998): 48.

“What Does a Race Have to Do with a Woman’s Salary? A lot.” AAUW: Economic Justice. 26 Apr. 2013. Web. 1 Apr. 2015.

Gender Equality Bake Sale Causes Stir at Utah High School

Since the late 19th and early 20th centuries, there have been significant improvements for women’s rights and large steps have been made towards more equality between the genders. In the past century, women have gained the right to vote, certain reproductive rights, taken on more prominent roles outside the home, and it has become more socially acceptable for women to work full time. Despite these accomplishments, women are still the victims of discrimination in the gender-based wage gap. For every dollar a male earns in the workplace, women earn seventy-seven cents, thus creating a wage gap of nearly twenty-two percent. In addition to this, women of different ethnicities and aboriginal women in Canada make roughly ten to twenty cents less than white middle class women (“Pay Equity & Discrimination”). Although many men and women alike believe that we have achieved the highest means of equality among the genders, the current presence of the gender-based wage gap proves this to be untrue. It is arguable that this wage gap is a result of systemic discrimination and outdated notions of gender binary-based roles (“Pay Equity & Discrimination”).

A few weeks ago, on Tuesday March 17, 2015, a group of Utah-based high school students held a bake sale to raise awareness for the ever-persisting gender wage gap (Carlisle). During the bake sale, male students had to pay one dollar for two cookies, while female students had to pay only seventy-seven cents. The differences in prices were reflective of the average differences in earnings between male and female workers (Carlisle). Although the bake sale raised much controversy among students and in the news, the students responsible were able to get their point across in an effective and safe manner (Carlisle).

One student, Jake Knaphus stated, “I believe in what they’re doing. I believe in their standing for a cause, but I just don’t believe the statistics they’re using are correct.” In addition to this comment, the news article on the web page was filled with hundreds of comments echoing disbelief in the fact that women make seventy-seven cents for every dollar a man earns (Carlisle). Most of those who commented were quick to state that the wage gap was a myth, or chose to blame it on differing interests based on stereotypical gender roles, discrepancies in education or they blame it on the fact that women are responsible for raising children and caring for the family (Carlisle). What I find most horrifying about this situation is the fact that so many men and even some women today think that there is no gap at all. Moreover, I found it appalling that many of the comments resort back to arguments based on the ideal family, ideal femininity, and ideal masculinity. It is these arguments that allow for the systemic discrimination of women to continue well into the twenty-first century (Carlisle).

The persisting wage gap is an example of systemic discrimination because it exemplifies the fact that patriarchy, defined as a male dominated society, is extremely prominent in the world today and has been for centuries (Aulette and Wittner 7). By executing such blatant misogyny in the workplace, it enables men and society to remain functioning in a patriarchal fashion. Misogyny is most commonly defined as the hatred or dislike of women and girls, and it can be manifested in various ways, including discrimination in the workplace (Aulette and Wittner 95). These ideas of patriarchy and misogyny are not inherent to human nature, but rather, are taught to children in the form of gender socialization. Gender socialization is the process by which children are taught the dos and don’ts of gender binary, boy and girl (Aulette and Wittner 58). From gender socialization, norms of emphasized femininity and hegemonic masculinity are instilled throughout society. Emphasized femininity is an exaggerated form of femininity in which girls are expected to conform to the needs and desires of men (Aulette and Wittner 8). In addition, girls are taught that they must be soft-spoken, dress nicely, and adhere to certain interests such as dancing, Barbie Dolls and the colour pink. Hegemonic masculinity is the idea that men must always be the superior gender, and therefore, they should be the more educated, breadwinners of the family (Aulette and Wittner 8). Moreover, this relates to the wage gap, as it is these ideas that society has normalized that resulted in women being paid twenty-two percent less than men. These norms have also enabled society to attribute the wage gap to differences in education, interests, and ideals of who should be responsible for childcare.

This wage gap becomes increasingly more complicated with the intersectionality of race and gender (Aulette and Wittner 7). While Caucasian women make seventy-seven cents for every dollar their male counterparts make, women of ethnic minorities and aboriginal women on average, make ten to twenty cents less. The fact that women of different ethnicities make less than white women is another example of systemic discrimination against both women and race. Moreover, it clearly demonstrates the idea of white privilege, which can be defined as social privileges that benefit white women (in this case), in Western societies (Aulette and Wittner 117). Additionally, in situations like this, the idea of a glass ceiling comes into play. A glass ceiling is described as the seen but unreachable barrier that keeps women and minorities from reaching the highest corporate rankings, despite education and achievements (Aulette and Wittner 527).

To conclude, the bake sale carried out by the teenaged Utah students, and the wage gap among women themselves, are prime examples of male privilege, as well as white privilege. Those who are generally the best off within society are white, middle-class men, as they earn the most and have the best education available to them. While this has changed for women, and continues to do so, it is important to remember that the fight for women’s rights and wage equality is not over and will not be for some time. As long as outdated notions of the gender binary (male-female) are persistent in society, one can expect systemic discrimination against women; especially women of aboriginal descent and those who are ethnically diverse.

 Works Cited

Aulette, Judy Root., Judith G. Wittner. Gendered Worlds. Third ed. New York: Oxford UP, 2009. Print.

Carlisle, Randall. “Gender Equality Bake Sale Causes Stir at Utah High School.” Good4Utah. Nexstar Broadcasting Inc, 17 Mar. 2015. Web. 05 Apr. 2015.

“Pay Equity & Discrimination.” Institute for Women’s Policy Research. Institute for Women’s Policy Research, 2010. Web. 05 Apr. 2015.

The Harsh Reality of Injustice

North America is believed to be a progressive, safe, and solely a first world continent. However, the harsh reality is that we live in a flawed society that promotes cruel and unjust treatment called oppression and inequality. Justice is defined as being “just behaviour and treatment” (Root Autlette and Winttner, 70). As a society it is important to whether our system of justice follows that definition. It is evident through the many cases of violence against incarcerated people of colour, police brutality, and unjust convictions that the judicial system is being used as a tool to drive racial injustice. With all of the evidence and examples of this injustice, it is clear that North America’s judicial system is not following the true definition of justice. There have been some cases where legal institutions being used to legitimize racism and allow race-based judicial injustices to occur. Martese Johnson was no exception to this injustice, state officials used excessive force and brutalized him when he attempted to get into a bar with a fake ID. Alcoholic Beverage Control agents describe Johnson as aggressive and belligerent, however, an eyewitness explained that Johnson was not being aggressive and that the agents were using unnecessary force. Why is it that Johnson was considered to be aggressive and belligerent? Would the agents regard Johnson the same way if he were white or of a different race? There are societal restrictions placed on certain words that make it no longer socially acceptable to openly and blatantly discriminate individuals based on their race however, this does not mean racism does not exist or occur through actions. When an individual commits a crime automatically people will make assumptions and stereotype an individual, this person will face intense discrimination in social situations. Due to the overrepresentation of people of colour in jail there is a perpetuating prejudice that individuals of colour are more likely to be criminals, violent, and aggressive. This case can be related to how people of colour are perceived and the respectability politics they must conform to. Respectability politics is when marginalized groups attempt to police their own members to conform to mainstream values rather than challenge mainstream groups to accept their differences (Root Autlette and Winttner, 86). In order for people of colour to not be seen through a violent lens, an assumption created by dominant groups, they must conform to white supremacy and white culture (Root Autlette and Winttner, 85). White supremacy is the belief that white people are superior to other races. By making the decision to not conform to the guidelines that respectability politics set up, people of colour have a higher chance of receiving injustice.

The justice system failing to promote equality and police abusing their power is a serious issue that has been addressed yet has not been eliminated or resolved. Five times as many white individuals are using drugs as black individuals, yet black individuals are sent to prison for drug offenses at ten times the rate of white individuals (NAACP). This further proves that anti-blackness, the resistance of valuing black individuals is perpetuated through the judicial system through the high rates of incarnation and police attention. Within the past year alone there have been cases of police brutality that were popular in the media such as the Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and of course Martese Johnson. All of which I will provide links for articles below. All of these cases mentioned involved mistreatment of power towards people of colour that ended in death or hospitalization. The crimes committed by the officers were wrongfully dealt with by our justice system, as they didn’t face punishment. It is both shocking and disappointing that in this day and age we are have to fight for equal treatment and justice. What if the roles were reverse and the brutality was towards a white individual and a police officer of colour, would the judicial results be the same?

When analyzing intersecting features of injustice it is clear that there are connections between both race and gender. Statistics show that men of colour are far more likely to be arrested than women. Of the 2.3 million inmates in custody in the United States, 208,300 were women and 2.1 million were men. Black males and Hispanic represented 58% as of 2008, which is the largest percentage of inmates (NAACP). These numbers represent a disappointing flaw within our society. It is important to learn these statistics and question why there is such a significant difference between each race and gender and what we can do to change that. There must exist also a community-wide aspiration to understand and own the values of justice, inclusion, and equity, and how it is that our mutuality calls us to help forge new thinking. Creating an accepting society and eradicating all acts of intersectionality the connectedness of social categorizations of race and gender, white supremacy, oppression, and the many other problematic notions will achieve a safe inclusive place for everyone.

We are all playing key roles in leading our society to change. It is not about agreeing on everything, sharing the same views, or having the same background, it is about sharing acknowledgement, appreciation, and respect for each other. It is important to fight for each other’s equality and to end injustice for all races. Getting involved within your community and unifying for change will create a difference and help make safer and happier lives for everyone. It is time that discrimination within homes, institutions, the justice system, and governance is put to an end. By doing so, we can prevent any more individuals from suffering as Martese Johnson had.

Works Cited

 Aulette, Judy R., and Judith Wittner. Gendered Worlds. Third ed. New York: Oxford    Universty Press, 2015. Print

Criminal Justice Fact Sheet.” National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People. Web. Accessed 28 Mar. 2015. (

Gender Equality Bake Sale

For every dollar a man makes, a woman makes only 77 cents. This is the main gender inequality issue that a few women brought to the attention of their fellow schoolmates at Jordan High School in Utah. These female advocates had a bake sale where males had to pay a full dollar for a cookie, while females only had to pay 77 cents. One of the members of the Young Democrats Club, Kari Schott, stated that “On social media […] people got really mad, like they came up and talked to me […]. They didn’t think it was fair and I said yeah, it’s not fair. That’s why we’re doing it” (ABC 4 Utah). The Young Democrats members received much feedback from the students who experienced the inequality first hand, some expressing that men and women deserve equal pay and some critiquing the statistics. This kind of talk is what the Young Democrats club wanted to achieve because it allowed people to consider their thoughts and biases towards the issue, then reevaluate their own opinions about the patriarchy that is still prevalent in today’s society despite the equality claims.

The women of the Young Democrats club at Jordan HS have blatantly brought out the fact that such gender inequality exists. In relation to Peggy McIntosh’s “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack”, male privilege, the advantages made available to men because of their sex, is something that’s often be hidden from society, whether it intends to be or not. McIntosh states that “males are taught not to recognize male privilege”, which is exactly why Jordan HS’s Young Democrats club saw the importance of pulling attention to the issue. Often times, people do not recognize their own privileges, so Schott and the other members of the Young Democrats club ensured that this inequality was no longer invisible to their peers who otherwise may have thought that gender equality, equal treatment and access to resources for men and women (Aulette and Wittner), was fully implemented in society.

In “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack”, McIntosh highlights the fact that men won’t admit that they are over privileged, even if they know that women are disadvantaged. Jake Knaphus, a Jordan HS student stated in response to the gender equality bake sale; “I believe in what they’re doing. I believe in their standing for a cause, but I just don’t believe the statistics they’re using are correct. I would love to have a debate with them, about what they believe in” (ABC 4 Utah). Knaphus confirms McIntosh’s ideas almost word for word. Knaphus was likely feeling some degree of victimization from the gender equality bake sale and therefore tried to stand up for himself and his rights. This is the exact response that the Young Democrats club wanted to receive in hopes that people would realize that with every 77 cents a woman receives, she is made to feel significantly undervalued compared to men, especially when doing equal work.

After the Women’s Liberation Movement, a social movement that promoted gender equality in the mid-twentieth century (Aulette and Wittner), many people were under the influence that gender equality had been achieved. However, society proves to continue to be influenced by gender inequality. Several examples can be seen in Faludi’s “Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women”, such as the fact that the majority of women are being paid less than $20, 000 per year, nearly double the male rate (Faludi xiii). Or that female college graduates earn less than males who have high school diplomas, and a female high school graduate will typical earn less than a male dropout (Faludi xiii). According to Faludi, it is legal for husbands to rape their wives in 30 states, and only 10 states have laws against domestic violence (xiv). This patriarchy, when men hold the power and women are excluded from it, helps show that women’s rights were nowhere near liberated by the Women’s Movement because there is still a great deal of gender inequality that suppresses (arrests the development of a feeling, action, or expression) women and their rights as human beings.

When we think about the male privilege, gender inequality, and patriarchy that can be seen throughout society and proved by simple acts such as the gender equality bake sale, it leads us to the idea that if women are treated so unfairly when compared to men, then the inequality in regards to intersectionality, the connectedness of social categorizations, of race and gender, would be of an even larger issue. For example, if the same equality bake sale was conducted, but with females of colour versus white males, or even deeper as to cisgender, self-identity follows the gender that corresponds to their assigned sex, white males versus transgendered, when a person’s gender identity does not match their assigned sex (Aulette and Wittner), females of colour. These situations would produce an even larger response because the privileges in these situations would be much larger and in some sense much more invisible if no attention is drawn to them.

In order for improvements to be made in regards to the privileges that people have over others, the invisible knapsack must be unpacked, to use McIntosh’s terms. People need to pay attention to language and be aware of how they express their own privileges and the privileges they are trying to pull attention to.

Work Cited

Aulette, Judy R., and Judith Wittner. Gendered Worlds. Third ed. New York: Oxford Universty Press, 2015. Print

Carlisle, Randall. “Gender Equality Bake Sale Causes Stir at Utah High School.” Good4Utah. Nexstar Broadcasting, 17 Mar. 2015. Web. 08 Apr. 2015.

Faludi, Susan. “Introduction: Blame It on Feminism.” Backlash : The Undeclared War against American Women 1 (1991): Xi-Xxiii. Web. 7 Apr. 2015.

McIntosh, Peggy. “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack.” Web log post. N.p., n.d. Web. 7 Apr. 2015. <;.

Time for Change

Tracing through history, it is evident that progression has been made towards LGBTQ communities, however there are a plethora of problems that are present in today’s societies that are in need of change. Transgender individuals often undergo an immense amount of harassment and violence. Trans women make up 72% of anti-LGBTQIA+ homicide victims, and 89% of those victims are trans coloured women (Cox, “Laverne Coz Explains the Intersection of Transphobia, Racism, and Misogyny (And What to Do About It)”). This is an astonishing number that reveals a profound amount about our society and relates to the intersectionality between women and race through the systemically oppressive society we live in. Race and gender overlap through the victimization of transgender women, which is why intersectionality can be examined through these statistics. When taking into account intersecting factors such as gender and race, clearly there is an immense difference between trans males, trans women and trans women of colour. It is crucial that we take these statistics into account and ask why are these women being targeted and what misogyny the prejudice against women, gender or race has to do with it?

Laverne Cox presents an enticing argument that depicts possible reasoning for the aggression towards trans women. Laverne begins with telling one of her stories about harassment in New York around ten years ago. One Hispanic male cat called her on the street while another Black male argued with him that she was a racial slur for a male. The Hispanic man then argued that she was a derogatory slur for a female (Cox, “Laverne Cox on Bullying and Being a Trans Woman of Color”). This was important to highlight as the harassment began with a male calling out to her out of attraction but further turned into an aggressive argument. Cox addresses that there are many intersecting oppressions such as racism misogyny and transphobia, which occur through trauma tracing back to times of slavery. Black people were often tortured; typically males through being lynched and their genitals were sold or pickled due to some sort of fear or fascination of the Black male body. This represents a historic type of emasculation, which Laverne believes many of her oppressors look at trans women as an embodiment of this and as a disgrace for the race (Cox, “Laverne Cox on Bullying and Being a Trans Woman of Color”). Cox then states that she has so much love for her oppressors, for they are in pain. Laverne discusses the violence trans women experience, informing the audience that in 2011 transgender homicide rate went to 43-54%, most of which being trans women of colour (Cox, “Laverne Cox on Bullying and Being a Trans Woman of Color”). She believes there is a link between bullying and violence and that there is a great need to create spaces for transgender people, as they do not fit in with the gender binary mode and because of this, many trans kids suffer from bullying and have no way to express their gender. Laverne concludes her speech by saying love is the answer and if people loved transgender people that will be a revolutionary act (Cox, “Laverne Cox on Bullying and Being a Trans Woman of Color”).

The speech given by Laverne Cox is extremely insightful as it introduces a solution to the injustice transgender people receive and highlights Cornell West’s famous quote that “justice is what love looks like in public”. I believe that acceptance is the key to ending oppression. Laverne Cox’s story expresses her experience with intersectionality and how she was oppressed because of her race and gender. Cox was targeted by a dominant group, two cisgender males simply because of her race and gender which expresses anger and hate that should be eliminated through love and empowerment. Cox explains that oppressors need to think, what it is about you that you have a problem with. I believe this point is powerful as it entails that there is a need for change within the oppressor which can be done through mutual respect.  Clearly, transphobia, the prejudice against transgender people is an issue that is important to address and rid of within our society. Gender is a social construct that wields power over individuals in both positive and negative ways. Through the privilege of some genders over others, social construct is formed and disadvantages transgender people. Gender can empower an individual but it also introduces the opportunity of oppression. Gender is often viewed as a binary concept containing two options, male or female. Unfortunately, more times than not, this affects transgender groups in a damaging way. The traditional gender paradigm is not inclusive, especially for transgender people, as they do not identify themselves with the gender they were assigned at birth, which lacks presence within tradition gender paradigms. This negative way of thinking is the source of the bullying which is correlated with violence for the reason that it has the ability to condition the minds of people into thinking that there are only two genders that are acceptable within society and anything that differs is radical and repugnant. Transgender people are surrounded by and subjected to conventional gender boundaries, which often leads to mistreatment and being targeted for their differences. “Transgender people are among the most misunderstood and overlooked groups in our society” (Burgess, 35). This statement highlights how transgender people are constantly being judged, because they are different from the traditional gender norm, which leaves room for oppression and vulnerability. Transgender people as a whole face the complication of finding their true identity and have to do this in a society that invalidates the reality of what people may go through during transition, and have to go through this while enduring hostility due to the fact that it goes against traditional gender constructs. Through essentialism; the teachings of traditional ideas regardless of prevalent culture develops the mindset of traditional binary concepts of gender, that transgender are not included in the structural feature; people are rendered ill equipped to understand transgender individuals. The negativity through transphobia and misogyny often leads to bullying and violence, which can be only solved through the acceptance of transgender people. As Laverne Cox stated, creating spaces for transgender people is necessary for gender expression and for trans people to be true to themselves (Cox, “Laverne Cox on Bullying and Being a Trans Woman of Color”). It is crucial that we eradicate the binary gender model and develop an accepting and inclusive gender model, so that people are educated and can embrace the differences between each other. It is time for oppression to be an unfortunate past we look back on historically, and it is time for us to accept, empower, and spread love for each gender, race, religion, sexuality and class. Through love and acceptance we can achieve peace and justice and create a movement to end oppression throughout the world.

Works Cited

Cox, Laverne. “Laverne Cox Explains the Intersection of Transphobia, Racism, and Misogyny (And    What to Do About It).” Everyday feminism. Magazine, n.p, 7 Dec. 2014. 3 Mar 2015.

Cox, Laverne. “Laverne Cox on Bullying and Being a Trans Woman of Color.” Online video clip,   YouTube. Youtube, 19 Dec. 2013. Web. 3 Mar. 2015.

Burgess, Christian. Internal and External Stress Factors as-sociated With the Identity Development   of Transgendered Youth. N.p. 2008.

Doctor Refuses Treatment of Same-Sex Couple’s Baby

Krista and Jami Contreras were married in 2012 and welcomed a blessing in their life, their daughter, Bay, in October 2014. This same-sex couple knows first-hand about the occurrence of homophobia in the world. They are aware that there are people who are strongly against, and have hatred towards LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning) people. However, when the couple brought their 6-day-old daughter to their pediatrician for her first checkup, Krista and Jami were shocked to find out that “[…] Dr. Roi decided this morning that she prayed on it and she won’t be able to care for Bay” (MyFOXDetroit Staff, “Doctor Refuses Treatment of Same-sex Couple’s Baby”). Dr. Roi wrote a letter to the parents giving reason for her decision, stating that “After much prayer following your prenatal, I felt that I would not be able to develop the personal patient-doctor relationships that I normally do with my patients” (MyFOXDetroit Staff, “Doctor Refuses Treatment of Same-sex Couple’s Baby”). It could then be concluded that Dr. Roi was refusing to treat Bay, who has no sexual orientation of her own yet, simply because of her same-sex parents. After all, if Dr. Roi is worried solely about her patient-doctor relationship, then the sexual orientation of Bay’s mothers should not be a factor in the care Dr. Roi believes she can, or cannot, provide for Bay, right? Jami Contreras stated that “we know this happens in the world and we’re completely prepared for this to happen other places. But not at our six-day-old’s wellness appointment.” (MyFOXDetroit Staff, “Doctor Refuses Treatment of Same-sex Couple’s Baby”). Ultimately, the Contreras’ were shocked that an individual in such a profession could display such heteronormative tendencies. The Contreras’ were quick to find another wellness center and another doctor to treat their young daughter.

While searching for a new pediatrician, the couple felt as though they had to stress the fact that they are lesbian mothers and make sure that the doctor is okay with that. In the structure of today’s society, it is unfortunate that such heterosexual privilege still exists. There are so many movements that aim to diminish heteronormativity in today’s society. People try so hard to come together as one system and fight for equal rights of LGBTQ people and as much as their efforts have paid off, society is nowhere near equilibrium. This lack of equal treatment can be seen clearly through Krista, Jami, and Bay Contreras’ case.

Intersectionality, or interactions between systems of oppression and discrimination, is a prevalent issue that unfortunately still exists in today’s society. In order to understand the present, we must be able to understand the past and its history. It is clear that LGBTQ peoples were degraded much more in the past than in the present day. To some, the increase in support and acceptance may resemble a complete transformation, or fix, to the issue. However, as can be seen in the Contreras’ case, there has not been, nor likely ever will be, a complete fix to the inequalities between heterosexual and homosexual peoples. The oppression felt by LGBTQ people, which is based off of the discrimination by people who only believe in heteronormativity can be detrimental, especially in terms of self-confidence and the feeling of acceptance. Krista Contreras states, “Hopefully us telling our story can make sure by the time [Bay is] six-years-old this kind of thing can’t happen” (MyFOXDetroit Staff, “Doctor Refuses Treatment of Same-sex Couple’s Baby”). Similar to most people in this day and age, Krista and Jami Contreras can only dream of a world where their child can grow up without intersectionality and inequality.

Cornell West once said, “Justice is what love looks like in public”. A world without equality where certain groups of people are oppressed and therefore told that they deserve and are worth less than people with “desirable” characteristics is a world full of hatred. When justice is achieved for all people, that is when the world will be right, or in West’s terms, that is when the world will be full of love. Jami Contreras explains her scenario; being turned down for child care by her pediatrician for the sole reason that she and her wife are lesbian mothers as “[…] embarrassing, it was humiliating” (MyFOXDetroit Staff, “Doctor Refuses Treatment of Same-sex Couple’s Baby”). When justice is reached throughout the entire world, no human will have to feel embarrassed for being who they are.

Work Cited

Aulette, Judy R., and Judith Wittner. Gendered Worlds. Third ed. New York: Oxford Universty Press,   2015. Print

“Doctor Refuses Treatment of Same-sex Couple’s Baby.” MyFOXDetroit Staff, 18 Feb. 2015. Web. 10 Mar. 2015.