Intersectionality and Identity Politics

Intersectionality and Identity Politics

Writer and social justice coordinator with the American Humanist Association, Sincere Kirabo, interviewed me about misunderstandings of intersectionality and the problems with the term “identity politics.” He writes:

…White identity politics go “undetected,” as we’re socialised to regard the sustaining of dominant culture as “what is expected” or “the way things ought to be.”

Dr. Zuleyka Zevallos, sociologist with Swinburne University, echoes this sentiment, stating:

‘If the phrase has any value at all — and it really doesn’t — “identity politics” calls attention to the ways that people from majority groups, especially White people, do not “see” how their identities are governed by politics. This is how Whiteness works: White culture is embedded into all fields of public life, from education, to the media, to science, to religion and beyond. White culture is constructed as the norm, so it becomes the taken-for-granted ideal with which other cultures are judged against by White people.

‘Hence, White people do not recognise how their race shapes their understanding of politics, and their relationships with minority groups.’

Read more in the link!

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Commenting policy

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I moderate comments to maintain a safe space first and foremost for women of colour of various backgrounds, and also to support the voices of other minority groups who are marginalised. I welcome comments but please note that I do not allow abuse. People commenting should discuss sociology; be polite; stay on topic; and be aware of their own bias. My commenting policy is in my About section of G+ and also here: https://othersociologist.com/about/commenting-policy/

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#sociology #socialscience #intersectionality #peopleofcolour #poc #antiracism #humanrights #justice

Gender, Race, Power and The Beguiled

Gender, Race, Power and The Beguiled

How do White women perpetuate gender and racial inequality in film? A new adaption of the 1966 novel and 1971 film, “The Beguiled,” is hitting the silver screen. The original story opens with a limping, dirtied White man, John (also nicknamed “Mr B”), played with relish by Clint Eastwood. The audience knows the violence and lies he’s capable of, as we see flashbacks that contradict his charm. He is an Unionist soldier injured in battle towards the end of the American Civil War. He staggers his way to a secluded boarding school for girls and young women, where he is nursed back to health by the older women, a mixed group of begrudging and bemused ladies who are stifled by their secret desires.

The 2017 version has already built up high praise, with director Sofia Coppola being awarded Best Director at the Cannes Film Festival. This is the first time the prestigious award has been given to a woman. Coppola has given an interview to explain why she chose to erase the character of Hallie, a slave woman who features prominently in the original.

“I really thought it was interesting because it was a group of women all living together, all different ages with different stages of maturity, and how they interact. It’s a group of women kind of isolated in the world… I’m definitely attracted to stories about female characters, and characters that I can relate to. I’m interested in stories of groups of women together… At the heart of the story, it’s really about the power dynamics between men and women that are universal, but that are sort of heightened in this kind of premise.” https://goo.gl/74SgRK

Copolla makes two points in this interview:

* She loves women’s stories (read: White women’s stories).

* By saying she chooses stories that she relates to, and having omitted the only Black woman from her script, she is saying she only relates to White women.

This may seem “natural” to White people: why would a White woman relate to a Black woman character? This logic is how Whiteness works: by taking for granted the power dynamics of race.

Hallie (played by Mae Mercer in 1971) is the sole Black woman character in the original story. Her presence alone would disrupt Coppola’s picturesque vision of gender unity. Her existence as a slave is both a reminder of the violence that White women are capable of, and the violence that is to come. She discusses life as a slave and comments about the racism the other characters throw her way.

White women like Coppola ignore two crucial points. First, White women benefited from slavery. Second, White women today continue to benefit from slavery. For example, being in control of a story set in slave times and removing enslaved women is power. It is an example of White supremacy.

Read more on my blog: https://othersociologist.com/2017/06/21/gender-race-power-the-beguiled/

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Commenting policy

Before commenting on this post, please read my article, and the scientific sources referenced.

I moderate comments to maintain a safe space first and foremost for women of colour of various backgrounds, and also to support the voices of other minority groups who are marginalised. I welcome comments but please note that I do not allow abuse. People commenting should discuss sociology; be polite; stay on topic; and be aware of their own bias. My commenting policy is in my About section of G+ and also here: https://othersociologist.com/about/commenting-policy/

Please note I often lock my posts overnight or close off comments after a few days when I’m unable to moderate. This keeps my threads free from abuse.

#sociology #socialscience #socialjustice #equity #inclusion #diversity #poc #slavery #whitefeminism #whiteness #racism #film #history #sofiacoppola #gender #power #race

Tone Policing People of Colour

Tone Policing People of Colour

When White people try to dismiss Indigenous and other people of colour’s (POC) discussion of colonialism and its present-day impact by focusing on “tone,” that’s racism at work. Tone policing is when members of majority groups focus on the language and perceived emotion of marginalised or underrepresented groups during discussions of inequality. The majority group sees themselves as entitled to infer “illegitimate” arguments based solely on the words being used, rather than the meaning of what is being said. This is an attempt to silence or derail discussions, to shift power away from the lived experiences and knowledge of minorities or disempowered groups.

On my latest blog post, I discuss a recent example where a White Australian woman felt a need to tell me that they refused to read an article I’d tweeted, which was written by an Indigenous woman author. The title was White “Australia” Has a Black Future. I didn’t tweet the article to this woman and she doesn’t follow me. Yet because it was being shared by others, she felt a need to comment to me, a non-Indigenous woman of colour, that the title was “offensive.” She said: “We need to maintain civilities.”

She continued to argue for hours that there are nicer ways to discuss Indigenous issues without putting “allies” like her offside with language. The article is about the history of Australia. Everything is fact. There is no offensive language—no swear words; no hate speech. So what exactly is offensive about a Black woman talking about the history of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people? Especially during Reconciliation Week, where Australia reflects on Indigenous rights issues?

If White people can’t handle POC talking about racism, it doesn’t matter what words we use; the issue you have is that we’re talking at all. There’s no “nice” way to talk about racism. Racism is structural; it envelops us; it ruins the life chances of POC. There’s nothing “positive” about racial inequality.

White people who imagine there’s a “rational” way they deem acceptable to hear discussion of racism is actually them saying they want to dictate how POC express their lived experiences and knowledge of racial oppression. As POC point out all day, every day, White people put more effort into policing discussion of race so they don’t have to work on themselves.

Read more on my blog: https://othersociologist.com/2017/06/17/tone-policing-people-of-colour

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Commenting policy

Before commenting on this post, please read my article, and the scientific sources referenced.

I moderate comments to maintain a safe space first and foremost for women of colour of various backgrounds, and also to support the voices of other minority groups who are marginalised. I welcome comments but please note that I do not allow abuse. People commenting should discuss sociology; be polite; stay on topic; and be aware of their own bias. My commenting policy is in my About section of G+ and also here: https://othersociologist.com/about/commenting-policy/

Please note I often lock my posts overnight or close off comments after a few days when I’m unable to moderate. This keeps my threads free from abuse.

#sociology #socialscience #socialjustice #equity #inclusion #diversity #poc #indigenous #tonepolicing #whiteness #racism #australia #reconciliationweek #history

Ring a Bell? Charles Murray and the Resurgence of Scientific Racism

Ring a Bell? Charles Murray and the Resurgence of Scientific Racism

My latest for American Humanist Association. Below is an excerpt.

In his latest podcast episode titled “Forbidden Knowledge,” atheist author Sam Harris guides political scientist Charles Murray through an extensive defence of Murray’s widely debunked body of work, focusing mostly on The Bell Curve. Co-authored with psychologist Richard Herrnstein (who died around the time it was published in 1994), the book was universally critiqued as an example of modern-day scientific racism.

The Bell Curve was founded on a flawed premise that inferred a correlation between intelligence, socio-economic achievement, and genetics, without accounting for the effects of discrimination (https://goo.gl/X9TtBT). The research was funded by the eugenics-promoting Pioneer Fund, while academics like Stephen Jay Gould showed that The Bell Curve obscured data (https://goo.gl/GXSdL5).

Time has proven the book to be scientifically “reckless.” (https://goo.gl/lZi3rD)

It enjoys a resurgence in 2017, the era of Trump, specifically because it is read as proof that White people are superior to racial minorities, especially Black and Latin people. […]

Harris’s characterizations of Murray’s critics are a projection of the push back he feels he’s unfairly faced. “You were one of the canaries in the coal mines,” Harris tells Murray. Having previously dismissed Murray, Harris now feels an affinity due to facing rebuke for racism (while continuing to espouse similar views).

The atheist movement has changed. Once the almost-exclusive domain of White men, calls for equality have challenged conversations, as diverse groups of women and minorities seek a more inclusive vision for atheism. It is telling that aggrieved White men feel more comfortable hosting uncritical discussions on scientific racism than engaging in anti-racism practices to reform the movement.

Read more on The Humanist: https://thehumanist.com/commentary/ring-bell-charles-murray-resurgence-scientific-racism

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Commenting policy

Before commenting on this post, please read my article, and the scientific sources referenced.

I moderate comments to maintain a safe space first and foremost for women of colour of various backgrounds, and also to support the voices of other minority groups who are marginalised. I welcome comments but please note that I do not allow abuse. People commenting should discuss sociology; be polite; stay on topic; and be aware of their own bias. My commenting policy is in my About section of G+ and also here: https://othersociologist.com/about/commenting-policy/

Please note I often lock my posts overnight or close off comments after a few days when I’m unable to moderate. This keeps my threads free from abuse.

#sociology #socialscience #socialjustice #equity #scientificracism #racism #poc #socialpolicy #thehumanist #americanhumanistassociation #humanism #atheism #charlesmurray #science

Better Leadership through Diversity: A Case Study of the March for Science

Better Leadership through Diversity: A Case Study of the March for Science

My latest for American Humanist Association: In failing to take responsibility for diversity in a methodical and transparent manner, the March for Science leadership made four major errors. First, the organizers attempted to set up the march as “apolitical” without having thought about equity, inclusion, and accessibility (https://goo.gl/f8gcbr). The organizers failed to connect with diversity experts and activist groups.

Second, the march organizers did not proactively manage the anti-diversity discourse that their supporters engaged in (https://goo.gl/FNV5WW).

Third, the march used an ineffective communications strategy that exacerbated poor diversity practices (https://goo.gl/acgFek).

Fourth, the organization was not welcoming of diversity. Several women publicly left over dysfunctional dynamics and lack of support for diversity (https://goo.gl/cOk4Xq).

In short, rather than learning from similar problems of exclusion that emerged from the Women’s March, the March for Science replicated them, particularly by marginalizing people of color and community activists.

The best way to redress the inequities in science is through structural reform. This means reviewing policy through an evidence-based process. A more productive approach to diversity focuses on responsibilities of leaders to enhance measurable results. In other words, for science to make the most of everyone’s talents, leaders must “walk the talk,” modelling best practice and promoting accountability for themselves and other managers.

Read more on The Humanist: https://thehumanist.com/commentary/better-leadership-diversity-case-study-march-science

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Commenting policy

Before commenting on this post, please read my article, and the scientific sources referenced.

I moderate comments to maintain a safe space first and foremost for women of colour of various backgrounds, and also to support the voices of other minority groups who are marginalised. I welcome comments but please note that I do not allow abuse. People commenting should discuss sociology; be polite; stay on topic; and be aware of their own bias. My commenting policy is in my About section of G+ and also here: https://othersociologist.com/about/commenting-policy/

Please note I often lock my posts overnight or close off comments after a few days when I’m unable to moderate. This keeps my threads free from abuse.

#sociology #socialscience #socialjustice #equity #marchforscience #sciencemarch #inclusion #diversity #poc#socialpolicy #thehumanist #americanhumanistassociation #humanism #leadership

Making the Most of Diversity Lessons from March for Science Australia

My latest on Women’s Policy Action Tank discusses the various delays in addressing equity and diversity at the March for Science Australia. At the national level only around half a dozen of the promoted speakers were representative of Australia’s multiculturalism. I also discuss the gaps in the national agenda for the march, and its local goals for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Stronger integration of equity and diversity in leadership would improve outcomes in future science events. Below is an excerpt of my article.

Continue reading Making the Most of Diversity Lessons from March for Science Australia

Why Memphis Has Two Marches for Science

I was interviewed by WIRED on the disunity caused by scientists who have tried to split the March for Science from social justice work done by scientists, and who undervalue our collaboration with activists. The case study in this article is the appalling treatment of organisers in Memphis, USA. Scientists split from the Memphis March to form a separate rally in the same city. Both groups have scientists but the March has centrally been led by women of colour activists with more experience in social movements, and they incorporate a focus on inclusion of minority communities. This is symbolic in their decision to march to an historically Black university. Participation of minorities in science is not mutually exclusive to the goal of enhancing evidence-based science policies.

I’ll point out what I said in my interview: scientists from underrepresented groups have always been part of, and learned from, social justice movements.

“Both groups feel that their work isn’t done—and with the perception that science is under attack in the US, they wish they could show a united front. But ‘that in itself is a false picture of science, because we are not united,’ says Zuleyka Zevallos, a sociologist at Swinburne University in Australia who has studied the online reaction to the March for Science’s shifting messaging. Saturday’s marches, rallies, and other events around the world will surely pull some science supporters together. But they’re just as likely to highlight the clash over science’s priorities. Should the science community focus on fighting back against a hostile administration? Or on improving itself from within?”

Learn More

Read the rest on Wired.

Check out my science articles on the March for Science.

Scientists and Activists Look Beyond the March for Science

Scientists and Activists Look Beyond the March for Science

I was interviewed by the The New York Times:

‘It set off alarm bells,’ said Zuleyka Zevallos an applied sociologist from Swinburne University of Technology in Australia. ‘How can we trust them to look after inclusion and accessibility if they are going to buckle under pressure?’

The statements from the organisers in this article are easily disproved from public record. For example, the organisers resisted the idea that science is political, and they have created a series of sexist, racist and ablesit problems (discrimination against people with disabilities). They have completely ignored the needs and representation of LGBTQIA scientists.

The organisers have also inadvertently created an anti-diversity discourse the fuels exclusion amongst their supporters.

Most tellingly, several women have left the organising committee due to a toxic organisational culture, with influential women of colour in particular leaving after months of problems.

The problems with the march reflect broader issues of discrimination in science and academia. This includes a lack of awareness about the structural barriers inhibiting the full participation and success of minorities and White women in research. The march is also plagued by ineffective leadership, policy and practice responses to diversity, which is another troubling hallmark of science.

We must do better to ensure everyone can achieve their full potential in science.

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Read my science articles on the March for Science

>The March for Science Can’t Figure Out How to Handle Diversity, Latino Rebels: https://goo.gl/2mskSK

>Analyzing the March for Science Diversity Discourse, DiverseScholar, 8:1: https://goo.gl/FNV5WW

Commenting policy

Before commenting on this post, please read the original article, and the scientific sources referenced in my articles above.

I moderate comments to maintain a safe space first and foremost for women of colour of various backgrounds, and also to support the voices of other minority groups who are marginalised. I welcome comments but please note that I do not allow abuse. People commenting should discuss sociology; be polite; stay on topic; and be aware of their own bias. My commenting policy is in my About section of G+ and also here: https://othersociologist.com/about/commenting-policy/

Please note I often lock my posts overnight or close off comments after a few days when I’m unable to moderate. This keeps my threads free from abuse.

#sociology #socialscience #socialjustice #inclusion #diversity #sciencemarch #nytimes #newyorktimes #woc #urm #poc #socialprotest

Bill Nye And The Science March’s Fight To Fix Its White Dude Problem

I was interviewed for this article by BuzzFeed on March for Science:

“It took one tweet by one high-profile male scientist for the organisers to completely retreat from the diversity statement that they put out” Zuleyka Zevallos, a sociologist at Swinburne University in Australia, told BuzzFeed News. “It’s important because it shows that there’s a wavering commitment to diversity that is swayed by the status quo in science.”

Continue reading Bill Nye And The Science March’s Fight To Fix Its White Dude Problem

“I have as much right to be here”: Women of Colour in Space

“I have as much right to be here”: Women of Colour in Space

I wrote this post below for STEM Women on G+ about a terrific MAKERS documentary focused on women in the American space program. I wanted to add some notes about two women of colour featured in the program.

Latina Engineer Marleen Martinez wanted to be an astronaut from the age of five. She writes the scripts and procedures to test the Orion spacecraft. She is the daughter of migrant farmers and says she overcame a lack of role models to reach her goal:

“I do remember that engineer wasn’t really a girls’ field. There was other things you could do. When people found out I was becoming an engineer, a lot of people were taken aback. Especially being a Hispanic female, it’s not something that you really run into very often, it’s actually very rare.”

Physician and peace-corps worker, Dr Mae Jameson was also featured. She is celebrated as the first Black woman in space, a title she says frustrates her:

“I was really irritated that I was the first African-American woman in space, or the first woman of colour in space in the world. I was irritated because there should have been many more before me…  One of these things that people talk about nowadays is the overview effect [astronaut’s overwhelming experience of seeing the Earth from orbit, as a ‘pale blue dot’ without national boundaries]. But that wasn’t the part that struck me. The perspective that stuck with me is that I am as much a part of this universe as any speck of stardust. I have as much right to be here. It connected me with this greater universe. That perspective of belonging was what was important to me. “

#womenofcolour   #womenofcolor   #poc   #sociology   #socialscience   #science   #stemwomen   #latinas  

Originally shared by STEM Women on G+

Women in Space

Check out this must-see documentary by MAKERS (link below). It features footage and interviews with the pioneer women who joined the American space program including the inspirational Dr Sally Ride, the first woman in space, and the extraordinary Dr Mae Jemison, the first African American woman to travel in space. There are many interesting tidbits about the practical issues that helped make the case for gender equality. For example given that weight is an important concern to space flight, and the fact that women generally weigh and eat less than men, this helped rationalise the idea of allowing women into the space program.

Dr Randy Lovelace was the American physician who led aerospace medicine and he tested and passed the first 13 women for inclusion into the space program. He found that women performed better than men in the stress tests, and they also complained less during their physical tests. Having passed the training program, these women had to make their case to the USA congress because the law did not allow women to become jet pilots for the military, and that was a prerequisite for astronauts. Their request was rejected and the program was stopped almost two decades.

Women and People of Colour Wanted

The documentary notes that women’s eventual inclusion was not due to progressive views per se, but because women activists increased political pressure and there were economic concerns of lawsuits. Technological innovations also ushered in equality. With better design and safety provided by shuttles, astronauts were no longer required to be jet pilots and could instead qualify as mission specialists (researchers and physicians for example). In 1977, for the first time in a decade, NASA put out an advertisement for a new recruitment drive, adding: “Astronauts wanted: Women, minorities are urged to apply.” Women and people of colour did not apply because they’d been excluded for so long, which is why NASA recruited Star Trek icon Nichelle Nichols to help make their message of inclusion clear.

Women’s Endless Frontier

The documentary provides a fascinating insight on women’s space history, including the unique challenges faced by these women in their education and addressing bodily practices in space! A couple of stand out quotes:

On equality: “Women have lived in space, and women have died in space. And there is probably no greater equaliser than that.”

On recruiting more women in future: “I don’t particularly think the ‘first’ part matters so much except to the spectator crowd. It’s the work. Come be part of this adventure. Look what you can do. I don’t want someone saying, ‘Well the first has already gone, so there’s no reason.’ It’s not about the first. The first is a moment in time. It’s an artefact in the history books. It’s an artefact on the TV shows. The exploration, the discovery, the scientific opportunities the chance to make such a difference in the world is still all there. You are still a part of it. You can be a part of it. An endless frontier. Your endless frontier. Go after that endless frontier.”

Featured in the image below is Poppy Northcutt who, at 25 years of age, was one of the first women to support NASA’s mission control. 

Watch the documentary: http://goo.gl/eLbHgj

Learn More

As this is a documentary focused on America, of course it does not cover the first woman in space, Dr Valentina Tereshkova, who orbited Earth in 1963, two decades before Sally Ride flew into space. Read about Tereshkova: http://goo.gl/am2dt7

Want to know more about pioneer women of colour who supported the NASA space program? Check out our website for an interview we did with Candy Torres, a Latina software engineer who helped code for missions by NASA and the International Space Station. http://goo.gl/SRvBtW

Credit

HT Thank you Garron Longfield for sharing this on our sister community Science on Google+!

#stemwomen   #nasa   #stem   #engineering   #womeninstem   #womenintech