Wednesday, August 06, 2003

post previous to the last one -- so much for chronological correctness

Appreciate the continued dialogue -- I think that these are critical issues. And not to belabor any of this, but thinking that these deserve discussion, I want to make a couple more comments. Please feel free to ignore or delete or whatever.

> interactionist perspective that I know), everything. My whiteness
> will afford me no advantage on an Indian reservation, in a bario, in a
> black ghetto, or in a variety of other settings. I have been the
> object of slurs

I understand what you are saying, but I disagree to some extent. In fact, I would say that your whiteness does indeed advantage you considerably in these instances. For one, you can leave these settings whenever you choose, many, if not most of the folks who live there, cannot.

Second, if something where to happen to you while there, in all likelihood, something would be done about it, i.e., it wouldn't be seen as "just another crime" on the rez or in the ghetto or whatever.

Brief example -- here in XXXX, a few years back, a white male, successful professional living in the well-heeled part of town murdered his wife by strangling her with a phone cord and then stabbing her with scissors. Very, very brutal crime. It was on the front page for weeks. Similar crimes happen in other parts of town that are equally as brutal, but don't stay on the front page for weeks on end. Of course, the underlying question was, "how could this happen to such a nice family in such a nice neighborhood?" Those same questions are NOT asked when something similar happens in other parts of town.

> regression analysis of quantitative data. Over the course of that
> interview,the chair of that search committee tried repeatedly to bait
> me intoattacking her positivistic orientation. I studiously avoided
> taking thatbait.

You are a far better person than I! I would have taken the bait, shot my mouth off and lost any chance of doing anything! Note that I do have a "day-job" at an NPO and only teach as an adjunct.


Comment on your experience, though...privilege comes in many shapes and sizes.

> would like to have a little more money on hand. I maintain that my
> having the ability to make sense of this example is a product of my
> humanity, not mywhiteness, maleness, interactionistness, etc.

yes, but the sense that you make could arise from one of those factors -- in fact, I think that it could be argued that it arose from all of those factors. This is why sense that is made varies form context to context.

> hetero cracker. I can, however, decide whether that label is
> important. Were I to be denied a job on that basis, I could decide to
> defend myself in aggressive ways or to become a zen-like duck and let
> it roll off my back.

Again, I think it is because you are identified as "white" by "society" that affords you these very choices. I don't doubt, nor do I impugn your humanity by making this statement. I have discovered that my humanity is born entirely out of the fact that I am identified as a white, male, well-educated sociologist. You are right, context IS everything and as much as I would like to appeal to some kind of universal sense of value and morality, I cannot ignore the fact that I am indeed, born from and reside in, particular, socially defined contexts.

> definitions of those experiences. Those definitions are a matter of
> interpretation, not predetermination.

Agreed. But, those interpretations are born out of the contexts that those people find themselves in -- some of their choosing, some not. I would argue that the extent to which one is able to choose his/her context reflects the amount of privilege one has.

> sentient, reflective beings. Reality is indeed obdurate. How people
> deal with its obdurate character, however, is an emergent process. I
> don't

Agreed and I would add that power is mediated by the participants within that emergent process. Your example of the chair attempting to bait you is a fine example of that. Why was she baiting you as opposed to you baiting her? The thought of you baiting her seems preposterous. What is the difference in that setting? A difference of power. Granted, an emergent process of reality was taking place, but it was one infused with power and for better or for worse, you didn't have as much as she did.

I hope I am not sounding like a jerk, XXXX, I just think that so much hinges on these kinds of things. Where I work, I see people suffer injury and death because of social definitions and negotiated reality. Needless to say, it is those who lack power who are the victims. I think this is why Blumer used that term, "obdurate" in reference to reality (as I suppose did Thomas in "...real in their consequences"). I don't know how much more obdurate and real one can get than death.

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