Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Yet Another Argument

So, as I have written before, I have an interesting relationship with my Sociology class and the people who teach it. What happened about two weeks ago was another argument about race and it's place in the perspectives that this class teaches. Unlike last time however, this argument was with the TA, whom I dont talk to all that much since he usually teaches the Supplemental Instruction.

Anyway, many times in the class, the main professor has said repeatedly that classes on race or gender are okay as side ventures but you cant grasp the full perspective of economy, capitalism, and government unless you take a course like his that focuses on modest.

This phrase i have thought about a lot all semester. My opinion about it stays the same, that you cant grasp the full perspective of economy, capitalism, and government without investigating the intersections of race, class, and gender, because that is what the U.S. system is based on.

So, picture this: I am at a study session for the final, which is being taught by the TA I previously mentioned. After the session is over, I chat with the TA, along with a few other students. The topics were about Capitalist systems of government and the effect of alienation on it's citizens to keep capitalist labor running. Students start to leave and there is only me, the TA (white), and another student (also white). As we talk about the Sociology class in general, the TA mentions again the benefit of having this sort of "general" class. I responded with the fact that what was taught in class I had previously started to learn already through the courses and programs on race and it's intersectionality with class, gender, government, etc. He, at first, tried to get me to deny that i had learned such things from a "race class". And then he started talking about how issues of class, capitalism, and government cant be solved through learning about race. Race was more or less, a side business that would get solved later when issues of class were solved...yeah.

I tried to explain to him how my perception of class is one that can not be seperated from race or gender. he didnt get it. Instead he repeated how because of my "preoccupation" with race, I could see the bigger picture. In fact, because I was black, I was in fact, biased. I attempted to point out how neither of us were unbiased in this argument. Him being a white male was just as much a bias. (the student who was listening to this argument wasnt happy with this inference either)

And then he pulled the "I'm part Irish and the Irish werent white" trick. Key term in that phrase "werent". The I basically countered with how Irish and Irish Americans are very different and although Irish isnt white, Irish American certainly is. I tried bringing up the book "How the Irish Became White" but he switched back to the original subject.

He started to focus on specific arguments to prove that class was independent of race. like how is your black, you are not necessarily poor, but if you're poor, your poor... Which basically was his entire argument.

I tried to explain to him again, how i believe in the theory of intersectionality and how a "solution" to class inequality could not come without dealing with race because they are part and parcel of the same big picture. it was this perspective that i dont think he ever grasped. he kept saying how class and race were seperate. (and then accusing me of saying that race was the most important aspect when i say no such thing. I just didnt discount it as some "side accessory" to be dealt with later. which means never)

I even attempted a metaphor because at this point, I wasnt trying to change his opinion. I was just trying to get him to see my point. whether he agreed or not. but he refused to see it. I used Gumbo as a metaphor (i know, i know, but i was really hungry at that point. it was like 8pm and i hadnt had dinner yet.) Basically Gumbo or class, isnt gumbo unless it has all the ingrediants that make it gumbo in the first place. Class isnt just on category, it's a label meant to identify certain experiences and elements that does not exclude race or gender.

but eventually i gave up. he wasnt hearing me.

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