Analyse how oppression, racism, discrimination and stereotyping operate to create social inequality
Personal Experience with Racism and Discrimination
In this essay, I will be reflecting upon the experience I had on racial discrimination, prejudice and cultural privilege and how it has shaped and influenced my life thereon. I have come from a family of more than third generations of Australians. I am born and brought up in Australia for the whole duration of my life. We have also slender ancestral link to German, English and Irish heritage. On my father’s side, my great grandparents were from Germany and my great, great grandparents on my mother’s side were from Ireland and England. My family and I are all baptized Christians and we have been living in this country for more than a century.
My family and I are a believer in God but we don’t live our life in a strict religious manner which means although being baptized Christians we are not regular to the church. I am a strong believer of friends and family and my values revolve around my friends and family. I have been in many difficult situations throughout my life and I have always had the loving support of my friends and family in those difficult situations. I believe in destiny. To elaborate, I believe that everyone has a purpose for their life and we all live through different experience towards fulfilling that purpose. My family has always been very open about my cultural and ancestral heritage and I have been aware of that from the very beginning of my life. I have always got an answer to any questions I have about my culture or ancestry from my parents or grandparents with a smile. My belief, values, and ethics are a clear consequence of my parents and grandparents teaching. They have instilled the belief in me that every gender, race, culture, religion, and creed has equal rights to live healthy prosperous lives. As a direct result of these, I tend to live my life unbiased irrespective of race, culture, creed or religion.
According to the Vygotsky’s sociocultural theory of development, the psychological tools and semiotic signs, which the individuals use to mediate development demonstrates their social origins and cultural identities. Like the sign, systems use to structure the relationship psychological mechanisms that reflect the values of the specific and unique culture and also the ethos of the society, groups or community. For most of the indigenous groups and the communities, the dance presentations or the traditional storytelling can become the priority in the learning process and development rather than the symbolic representation. This is clear that the informal forms of art and the oral presentations define and signify the values of the specific culture and their related attributes. Thus, like the Bandura’s and the Bronfenbrenner’s theories, Vygotsky also believes that the individual’s interpretation, perceptions and the view of the external world can be transformed by the external influences (Phan, 2012). Considering the theories this is found out that there exists a dialectic association between society and the individuals. The interpretation places a weighing on the values, beliefs and the ideologies if the culture and suggests that the situational placement of the individual in the communities and the societies plays the great role in the internationalization process. In the classroom learning, the student’s behavior, their thinking, their personal beliefs and the resources available, all combine to motivate and enhance one’s learning regarding the acquisition of knowledge (Park, 2015).
The Sociocultural Theory of Development and Its Impact on Racism
To be completely honest, I did not face racism that was directed towards me nor had I faced any significant barrier in my daily life or education. I went to a school with a mixed cultural background. There were students of color as well as a student from various ethnicity backgrounds such as native aboriginal Australian students. But, I did come to experience racism in an indirect manner and I have experienced students from aboriginal or ethnic origin being racially abused. For one instance, in high school, white students used to call names to the native aboriginal students or students from another ethnic background. I remember that white student used to call ‘Abo’ to aboriginal students behind their back. Whenever heard that kind of demeaning words being said, I used to protest and remind them that the behavior they are showing is wrong. They tend to stop for the time being and started doing it again just for fun even to the students they do not interact with based on their skin color. Outside of school, aboriginal and other ethnic students have been singled out or denied to a particular establishment just because they are aboriginal or belongs to the minority groups. I have faced experience where aboriginal students denied a pub or nightclub amongst other students but were given vague reasons like they were not dressed appropriately whereas other white Australian students were allowed to enter without fuss.
I had an experience that changed my view of what being a minority like by walking to an event along with my roommates. This event was planned to discuss many racially challenged stories faced on our college campus and other campuses also. People present in that event shared their stories about how they are discriminated against or they are looked up differently for their race. I felt myself like an outsider over there during this. People shared their story one after another of the situations where people had done something wrong to them or had said something, which was hurtful to them. This was evident in this event that these things cannot be simply forgotten about easily. The students those who have arranged these events, they wanted everyone’s story to be heard so they gave the index cards for everybody to write down their stories. During the event, they asked everyone to write down the story where you or your friends have felt discriminated against for their race. After thinking hard about the question, I could not come up with anything. When I look around the room I saw most of the people were busy in writing except the white ones, they are doing the same thing like me that is scanning the room. I thought why everybody has something to write except me, this exercise showed me the separation between what minorities has to go through and what the white people undergo. I and the other white people, who have attended the event never, knew what was like to be discriminated against. Every person of color had their story, where they are discriminated for their race. This was a new experience for me and I felt a little weird in that situation. There was a black student, who made a long funny speech on his experience and how he was fed up of the white culture is the predominant culture in our college. He also described how all these becomes a privilege for the white students. He made fun of how we listen to music, how we dance to music at parties. He also poked fun of how we wear the clothing brands and at that point in his speech, I suddenly realized that he was describing me. When I go out I listen to that music he was talking about and even on that day I was wearing the same brand he was talking out. It seemed to me that at every element what he was talking about and what he has considered as the white culture, I took part in those. I understood that all he was doing to just vent out his frustrations and also for a joke, then I also felt that he was targeting me personally. I felt uncomfortable and felt attacked and also felt bad that he has associated me with all these stories of racism. I felt like I would apologize then I thought it would be unfair to apologize for something, which I have not done. He made all the judgments on my character based on my looking’s but not on what I did. That is the time when I realized that black people face this issue on campus all the time. This amazed me that being a part of the college, where I worked hard to earn my spot; I felt that I did not belong. I began to ask myself that is this is the way the person of color feels when they are discriminated against. For the time beings I felt awkward, attacked, but I was very glad that I visited such event and this event made me realize that how it felt, to be targeted by doing nothing. This event has opened my eyes to the effects of racism in our country.
The Effects of Racism in Modern Australia
By experiencing these incidents, it became quite clear that racism is still very present in modern Australia. Most of the non-white Australians have faced racism at some point in their lives. Studies have shown that almost 70 percent of students have confronted racism in their childhood, in school mostly (Priest et al., 2014). Studies also suggest that 1 out of 2 aboriginal Australians have faced racism in sporting events ("Mental health impacts of racial discrimination in Victorian Aboriginal communities", 2018). From this statistics, it can be inferred that racism in Australia might not be very open but it is still present in a subtle way in both institutional and systematic level. These experiences have made me much more conscious about the privileged afforded to white Australians. To understand the privilege white people have been afforded properly, researchers have discussed two terms elaborately: white privilege and white ignorance. In general, privilege means opportunities and rights which have been extended to a certain group of people. It also allows the notion that a particular group can be live life in a certain manner while other groups are not extended the same allowance. In contrary, others academic have argued that privilege can be defined that one group have all the advantages just because they have born into that group, but did not earn their right. White people have these unjust privileges to themselves even though they behave like they do not have these privileges. White ignorance can be defined as a lack of knowledge of their perceived privilege. It does not matter whether it is an innocent mistake or a deliberate act. Thus, it can be inferred that white privilege is a socially constructed notion which benefitted a particular group but it did not perceive as a privilege due to white ignorance (Torino, 2018). Racial discrimination has an adverse effect on the victims. Research and studies have shown that racism has made the victim much more self-conscious. To cite an example, we can provide the example of Australian actor and musician Kamahl. Kamahl is a Malaysia born Australian with Sri Lankan heritage. According to his own words, racism has put him in a psychological trauma which he is still trying to escape. Racism has made him feel inferior against other boys ("Five experiences with racism in Australia", 2018).
I had no such idea while growing up that my minority friends were experiencing the unpleasant feeling all the time. I realized that my minority friends will continue to face this racism throughout their lives so I decided that I had to make it the priority to change the way of the people’s thinking. This was very important to call people out when they say something racist even if it was not known to them it is very important. It is very unfair that the people have to go through the life facing situations where they feel they do not belong there. I would like to join and remain a part of the organization where the multiculturalism is practiced and shows respect towards multiculturalism. This is important that the people speak out against the racism and need to show the ignorant people about what the minorities are facing throughout their life.
Five experiences with racism in Australia. (2018). Retrieved from https://www.smh.com.au/national/five-experiences-with-racism-in-australia-20130530-2neu9.html
Mental health impacts of racial discrimination in Victorian Aboriginal communities. (2018). Retrieved from https://www.vichealth.vic.gov.au/media-and-resources/publications/mental-health-impacts-of-racial-discrimination-in-victorian-aboriginal-communities
Park, H. (2015). Learning Identity A Sociocultural Perspective.
Phan, H. P. (2012). A Sociocultural Perspective of Learning: Developing a New Theoretical Tenet. Australian Association for Research in Education (NJ1).
Priest, N., Perry, R., Ferdinand, A., Paradies, Y., & Kelaher, M. (2014). Experiences of racism, racial/ethnic attitudes, motivated fairness and mental health outcomes among primary and secondary school students. Journal of youth and adolescence, 43(10), 1672-1687.
Torino, G. C. (2018). Examining biases and white privilege: Classroom teaching strategies that promote cultural competence. In Whiteness and White Privilege in Psychotherapy (pp. 129-141). Routledge.