Co-culture, privilege and 8…

“Do your parents understand that their grandchildren with be mixed race?”  Girls mother wisely asked to her then boyfriend, who asking for permission to become her husband.  Girl was embarrassed, and thought this was a silly question, as she was obviously brown and his parents knew that and had accepted her. Girls’ mother, was a psychologist who had vast comprehension of complex experiences that can create long term hardships.  Girls’ mother also had legitimate experience drawn from her own life to know, that race is an issue.  Unfortunately, her mother was not wrong to have asked this question.

Girls’ in-laws are nice people.  They treated her very nicely while she and her husband were dating, and she never would have guessed that there would be bigotry along the road. However, throughout the years, there have been experiences that would make her feel as though she was in the south back in the 50’s, where girl and her children were the “other” and not apart of the family at all.

Girls’ mother-in-law would go from a nice conversation, to pointing out to everyone at the dinner table things like, “did you know that black/brown people are scientifically stupider than white people?” Other times she would talk about all the bad things brown/black people do that she she sees in the media, with disgust. There were devastating experiences with her babies and the mother-in-law.  When the first baby was born, the mother in law didn’t hold the baby, or say anything about how cute he was as doting grandparents usually do…instead, when Mother-in-law came to visit, she talked about herself the whole time and then left. Then, as that child grew, she treated him markedly different than her other grandchildren.  One particular moment that was especially jarring for this young mother, was when they were all together for a family event.  One of the grandchildren was playing with his cars, and the “mixed” son came over and asked if he could play.  The mother-in-law jumped out of her seat, and covered his cars with her arms and said rudely, “NO! He doesn’t share his toys.”  This poor child was bewildered, as was his mother.  There were many more bewildering experiences like this, even so much as the mother-in-law telling this “mixed” child’s baby brother who didn’t look mixed at all, that he was “beautiful and looks just like us!”  Sadly, there were so many more unmistakable experiences/conversations throughout the years, that mother-in-law asserted indignation for those unlike her.

Many of what this person experienced with her mother in law, was a created by mother-in-laws ideology (pg.167), and her unawareness of understanding privilege in the context of how “other” has not been on a “level playing field.”  In fact, it is those like her, that perpetuate the “invisible and normalized”  oppressive attitudes that preserves inequality and bigoted ideology, as she has passed it along to her children, whether inadvertently or not. One involved may wonder why the mother in law had ever allowed her son to marry someone of a different race. The sister-in-law had learned, (after an altercation/interference from her parents when she tried dating a man from a different race) it was because the daughter-in-law  was far less “ethnic”.

This all ties in to group membership, which Tim Wise, a known activist for equality, believes that those in co-cultural groups that don’t have “white privilege” are subjected to lesser power and because they have lesser power, the systematic oppression that is ignored or cast aside as not real, by those who, who actually do hold that power and privilege (pg. 187) and continues to reinforce those harmful marginalization on the “others”.

This marginalization of co-cultures is not limited to race, but extends to gender and socioeconomic class as well as sexual orientation. Members of the LGBTQ group, attending UVU, shared some experiences that they have had being “othered”, even in their own families.

There has always been an imbalance between co-cultures and people even having multiple co-cultures. And certain groups have always had disproportionate societal dominance and the upper hand. What it all comes down to, is the ability to see each person as a just that… a person. Times have been shifting, not easily, to call out these imbalances more recent examples of this, that are incredibly significant are women being sexually mistreated, finally standing up to those who have always held the power.  These are the kinds of moves that needs to happen…to call out imbalance of power and unethical behavior and demand restructure of a broken societal system.

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