Saturday, February 5, 2011


Regardless of our individual views, personal beliefs, or different worldviews we are all affected by society’s values. We are all products of our environment to an extent. Although we may not consider ourselves the people who “associate race with the term thug” or “avoid the black guy when walking down the street rather than the white” those thoughts and actions have been engraved in our psyche. The social theorist, George Herbert Mead expounded on this “I versus me” theory. I is the person who exists before being affected by the social forces that impact the shaping of our worldviews. Me is the person who is a complete product of society, Mead says that we “play the game” of being the functional social being while the person that we are aside from the coercive forces is only shown in our personal , private sector.

While I do believe this is true for us, I think sometimes we refuse to admit that we are affected by social forces and stereotypes that are engraved in the media. We sometimes want to act as if we are beyond societal forces and we are barely affected by them. I think we do this because we are afraid that we may appear to be another naïve person who is a result of a society who bases of thought and belief is only a shallow rocky foundation not grounded in facts. I really think this is common behavior for whites simply because they are a part of the privileged group in universal existence. By serving as a member of a group of privilege , one is not forced to see things from but one point of view.

By acting as if one is immune to the social stigmas and stereotypes that we associate with certain groups, I believe this makes one feel as if they are superior or beyond the majority of individuals. In social measures, I think the term white privilege is so ironic because it is a privilege to be white as far as social status but it is so much pressure being white when one wants to rise above and beyond the social stereotypes and stigmas associated and constructed by white people.

While in class on Thursday I was thinking about how hard it has to be to come from a history of ancestors who have pretty much taken everything from others in some shape or fashion. While we are all entitled to our own personal opinions, this is mine.

Also , I am excited about our class coming out of our shells . FIIINNNAAALLLYYYY now its going to be a funnnnn semester ! See ya Tuesday!


  1. Phylicia oh my goodness! This is so interesting. Ok, firstly, I would like to say that I completely agree with George Herbert Mead. In actuality, I think that the problem is that there are too many "I's" and not enough "Me's." Yet, we cannot blame the individual for this status quo. Societal constructions of what is to be perceived as a post-racial world have only further blinded those who hold influence in our nation. Secondly, on the term white privilege, I think that the term white privilege seeks to pinpoint the fact that there are some embedded luxuries that are given to a specific class based on the color of their skin and it should not be this way. However, in using this term itself, I think that it makes some people feel as if there is nothing that they can do about it because it's just the way that generations and generations of influence has shaped things. So, while many are aware of the affects of white privilege, few feel capable to do anything about it or change people's views of the world. Also, I think that in talking about race relations, often times people feel victimized. In class on Thursday I couldn't help but try to imagine how I would feel if I were a white person and all of these stereotypical views were being brought to the light. I imagined that I would feel somewhat guilty because everyone engages in stereotypical thoughts at some point or another and being in the dominant class, it only makes people more afraid to face the fact that there is definitely privilege occurring in their very own lives. I think that the sooner people are able to realize that yes, they are a product of American propagandistic biases and social prejudices, the sooner people will be able to get closer the the "ME" of themselves.

  2. Hey Phylicia,

    I think the I vs. Me dilemma raises some important questions about to what extent individuals can exist apart from, or in defiance to, our social environment. Keeping in mind that I have not read Mead, I am initially doubtful of the existence of an essential I which represents an internal, pre-existing core distinct from our status social, and societally-affected being. That being said, it does seem like even if we are raised in a society permeated by white privilege, that there are frequently cases in which people who consider themselves to be white, black, latino, asian, multiracial or whatever, transcend or defy certain prejudicial and bigoted racial beliefs. The common story of the first time someone has a meaningful relationship or encounter with someone of different race which transforms this individual's racial biases perhaps suggests that the recognition of shared humanity undermines (perhaps not entirely, but at least to some degree) racialized ordering of our world. Perhaps this step could be characterized as a sort of return to, or assertment of the I.

  3. Phylicia,

    I think this is an incredibly interesting aspect of human society. From the moment we are born, we learn things such as what society deems acceptable, what society values, and how one should act within their society. One example of this happening is the difference between sex and gender. Sex is biological and rather rational; there are two different sexes. Then the social construct of gender comes into play. These characteristics are known as masculine and feminine. Within these words lie the ideal images of man and woman. They are loaded words, and if an individual does not meet society's expectations for their gender, they become alienated. I think that we can look at race in the exact same way. Race is a social construct, devised by some of the philosophers who we have been reading. People love putting an order to the chaotic nature of life, and thus, racism was born. Now we have certain stereotypes for each race which are learned rather quickly by members in society. I can't imagine how long it will take to nullify these racist judgements because they seem to be relatively set in our psychologies. However, it is seemingly apparent that the majority of our society wishes to make progress towards a racism-free culture.

  4. I think that this is a very interesting and important point to bring up. While many people would agree that we want to be "racism-free", it is hard to see this as a feasible goal when within our society white privilege is engrained so deeply.

    Phylicia, you said that as a member of a group of privilege a person in that group is not forced to see things but from one point of view. I would agree with you in that in the overall population of whites, people who identify with this group often overlook the simple and often blatant privileges that are a part of daily life. Also, people who are white in the context of white privilege often will turn to the idea of color blindness when trying to "rise above" social stigmas and stereotypes, when in actuality this is again promoting the idea that whites see only a privileged point of view, because no point of view is not possible.

    I think that instances in which whites are forced to acknowledge the existence of white privilege and the alternative points of views that are within society, can an attempt be made to understand and acknowledge the ME in society. Continuing on what Ivy said about white privilege, I think that by acknowledging theses instances in which white privilege becomes so apparent can we acknowledge that there should be change within the embedded threads of society. It is not that nothing can be done, it is that there must be enough of a force to push for something to be done... and yes, one person can be the driving force with many people continuing on the mission of that one person.

  5. I think you hit it right on, Phylicia. This idea of a 'me' who is the societally constructed person the word sees as being different from the 'I' that is what my private self is comprised of is fascinating. I haven't read Meade either, but I do want to touch on a couple things about people believing that they are helping eleviate racism by not recognizing the differences in races.
    The idea that being 'color-blind' is at all helpful to reducing racism is misguided. For some reason, there has been this idea suggested to us, white Americans, that being 'color-blind' and not recognizing race is the way to combat racism. I see several things wrong with this. First, if one is truly able to not recognize race in people, they are not at all helping eliminate racism, but are rather avoiding any role at all. In order to make a change in racism, one must do the oposite, one must fully recognize race and realize how differences in race do in fact influence themselves and their society. The second issue I have is that being 'color-blind' is a an easy way for whites' to not acknowledge white privilege. As privileged in this society (even if whites' may not want to be, they are) white's must recognize racial differences and they was they are being disadvantages to that anything can be done about it. Sure, it's painful to realize that this sort of change, the reduction in racism, can't happen with the snap of one's fingers (or in this case the formation of a color-blind approach to the world), but it just can't and until white's recognize this, nothing can change. Lastly, being 'color-blind' does what I consider to be one of the worst things about racism and racial prejudice - it strips blacks and other non-whites of their cultural identity. Not recognizing a hispanic as a hispanic is to not recognize their culture, their language, their ideals, and a whole slew of things that have influenced their people for thousands of years.
    So acting as if you are immune to the societal influences that you have been ingrained with only does harm in the long run. I would suggest that admitting that you do have prejudices is a braver act then claiming you have non. And admitting your stereotypes, racist views, or prejudices is the only way to start working on changing them and being an example for others.


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