Author Archives: mac2121

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.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-31965856

http://www.thestar.com/news/world/2014/11/25/the_shooting_of_michael_brown_three_versions_of_how_it_unfolded.html

http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/video/2014/dec/04/i-cant-breathe-eric-garner-chokehold-death-video

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. (http://www.naacp.org/pages/criminal-justice-fact-sheet)

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.

Lilting Review and Analysis

 

On February 2nd Reelout presented a feature titled Lilting. Hong Khaou brings a moving tale about two people coming together through grief, translation, and misunderstanding. Taking place in London, the relationship between two strangers pivot as they mourn the most important person in both of their lives. Pei-pei Cheung takes on the role of Junn, the mother of Kai whom is played by Andrew Leung. Ben Whishaw plays Kai’s boyfriend Richard, who after Kai’s death goes out of his way to build a relationship with Junn so that he can organize the remains of her son. We observe the struggle they face daily in an attempt to connect without a common language so Richard hires a translator to allow Junn to communicate with her love interest, as she speaks six languages none of which being English. Together they address the obstacles that they face, and come to terms with the death of the man they both loved. Key themes from Lilting include Intersectionality, hegemony, acceptance, and barriers. Their journey expresses a beautiful tale of coming out, acceptance, and understanding of one another. Lilting was very powerful and had a profound influence on my understanding on race and coming out.

 

Through the knowledge I have gained throughout the course GNDS125, I was able to see and interpret the film from a new perspective. Further, I was able to recognize the themes of the movie and analyze their importance. Notably, there were two scenes that stuck with me even after the film was over. The first impacting argument between Richard and Junn was fierce as Richard accused Junn of being a burden for Kai as she refuses to adapt to English culture despite living in London for years. Throughout this scene visual culture is represented through the decoration around the room such as the furniture and flowers. This provided us with insight that English culture was being forced upon Junn; in her new home she is forced to live in a home that doesn’t suit her likings. However, despite being surrounded by English practices, Junn represents her culture in the ways that she can. This is important for the film, as it made it clear to the audience that they need to differentiate the two cultures from each other. They made this easier for viewers by introducing some stereotypical traits of race. An example of this is Junn’s character, who is a very petite old lady that is very strict, just as Chinese elderly frequently are portrayed through media. This is important to recognize, as it is an ongoing issue throughout media and can trace back to orientalism in visual culture. Junn speaks six different languages and is capable of learning English, however she refuses to pick up the language and accept the culture, which displays hegemony and pride for her culture. Hegemony is dominance, especially by one country or social group over others (Root Autlette and Winttner, 82) She expresses and displays this through her belief that her culture is superior and dominates English culture, and completely unnecessary for her to conform into the social construction provided by the director. This is important to address and think critically upon as it creates a divide and inequality between the characters based on their race. I believe this is a key aspect of the film, as it sets up a boundary for the two characters to overcome, through understanding and acceptance. The second scene that I was able to form a critical analysis for repeats multiple times throughout the film. This is where Kai attempts to come out to his mother about his sexual orientation. It is clear that he is extremely nervous about telling his mother, as she may be homophobic because homosexuality conflicts with her traditional views. Kai presents her homophobia as something he is struggling to deal with; as Junn questions her son what is wrong he is unable to seize the opportunity to come out to her.  This scene left me feeling sorrowful, as it was such a burden for Kai to be honest with his mother despite having such a strong desire to be. This further essentializes her character by making the assumption that she will not accept that he is queer, which is the belief of a set characteristic that make them who they are (Root Autlette and Winttner, 61). Thus, Kai’s mother being homophobic will never change in the eyes of Kai. It provided us with an insight to the difficulty one might go through for being apart of the community and benefits viewers by providing an understanding and perspective on what members of the LGBTQ community may suffer through. This personally triggers a disappointed and somber feeling, as no person should go through that pain. Another analysis that is important to address is the intersection of sexual orientation and race throughout the movie. Kai is a cisgender gay individual that immigrated to England from China. He has an ongoing struggle of being queer and Chinese throughout the film, which is an example of intersectionality. This is expressed through his essentialism of his mother’s disapproval for him. This key theme is essential to our understanding of every day conflicts people may suffer through. Overall the film provides the audience with the ability to make an analysis of events that occur in everyday life.

 

Lilting personally touched me, as my best friend has been unable to come out to his family about his sexual orientation due to his culture. I see the struggle and difficulty he has with it and how much it impacts him. The film presented a different but similar experience, which enriched my understanding on the topic. Reelout arranged an environment for everyone to be comfortable in and an enjoyable experience. I am privileged and grateful to be apart of a community that is so welcoming and where we are taught to be accepting of everyone no matter his or her differences. Reelout provides entertainment that members in the audience enjoy ad they are open-minded enough to have an interest in the festival. I would highly recommend Reelout to everyone.

 

 

Citations

Root Autlette, Judy, and Wittner Judith. Gendered Worlds. New York: Oxford, 2015.

Print.