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By Lina Zhang, V Form
Examining Classism on College Campuses through a Critical Social Justice Lens
This September, New Mexico planned to pass a law that would offer free tuition for its public four-year colleges for all residents of the state. While legislation like this and policies such as affirmative action are increasing education accessibility, the article in The Atlantic questions whether institutions are truly addressing the lives of low-income students after they enter competitive colleges. Through exploring several aspects of campus life, the article exposes the institutional inequalities that low-income students face on campus because of their class status and positionality. When elite colleges fail to provide for the dignified wellbeing of low-income students, they reinforce classism, a complicated and historical system of oppression that manifests itself as internalized sentiments of dominance and oppression and intersects with multiple aspects of racism, doubly disadvantaging low-income students of color.
To begin understanding classism, we must first view classism not only in terms of individuals and anecdotal evidence but through overarching patterns throughout society. In its explanation of oppression, the textbook Is Everyone Really Equal highlights the “pervasive, historical, and political relationships of unequal power among social groups” (Sensoy and DiAngelo 65) that cause the “-isms.” In a capitalistic society like the United States, wealth has always been the clearest determinant of power. As politicians, legislators, CEOs, and—in this case—board members of colleges usually come from the upper class, this contributes to an inclination towards the benefit of the upper class and the institutional oppression of members of the working and lower classes. This perpetuates a social stratification or social hierarchy, wherein different amounts of resources are allocated to different social groups based on a good/bad binary constructed by the dominant group, or the upper class. The article examines several correlations between income and admittance and found that students from the top 1% were 77 times more likely to be admitted to an Ivy League compared to students from low-income families. It also found that, despite policies such as affirmative action, low-income students still overwhelmingly choose to pursue their education at less-selective institutions and colleges even though these institutions offer lower-quality education. As these students will then not be able to progress to a higher social class, the cyclical system contributes to the solidification of social hierarchies and the system of classism.(more…)
By Anu Akibu, V Form
Sexism in the Workplace Through a Critical Social Justice Lens
This was an essay I wrote for the class Social Justice. We were tasked to “write an analytical essay that evaluates [a] resource through a critical social justice lens, applying the terms, ideas, and concepts we studied in this module.” The article analyzed in this essay is Boston Has Eliminated Sexism in the Workplace. Right?, so the issues presented focus on American society. I am still learning about critical social justice and challenging the way I view the world around me.
The Boston Magazine article explores the gender-wage gap in prestigious jobs at presumably equitable areas of the United States such as Boston. Highlighted within the article are the narratives of various women’s experiences with discrimination and microaggressions in their workplace. Although the companies have taken action against sexism in the workplace, there are still numerous ways for society’s cultural and ideological nature to align with its progressive efforts. (more…)
By Tate Frederick, IV Form
Serving Up Equality: The Quest in Women’s Tennis
With the rampant gender inequality in professional sports, tennis could easily be considered one of the least sexist due to its recently equalized prize money. In fact, the World Economic Forum recently wrote that “the Women’s Tennis Association [is] pushing the women’s game and pioneering gender equality” (Edmond). Contrary to public perception, the professional tennis circuit still has to make significant improvements in order to achieve gender equality. The financial distribution still heavily favors men, some of the rules perpetuate sexist values, and unfair stereotyping of female players is frequent.
Despite the fact that prize money became equal in 2007, women still make far less than male players. On the Forbes’ list of top-earning athletes, Serena Williams only comes in 51st, behind five male players, even though she has won more grand slam titles than any player, regardless of gender, in history, and holds endorsements with companies such as Nike, Gatorade, and JPMorganChase (Wang). Williams has earned tens of millions of dollars less than Novak Djokovic even though she has won many more titles than he has (Macur), due to the overall amount of prize money. If Williams, arguably one of the greatest athletes of all time, can’t achieve equal pay in comparison to her less-winning counterparts, where is the hope for women in less acclaimed positions? By maintaining this inequality, the tennis circuit is discouraging and discrediting the achievements of women in the sport. (more…)
By Lucy Martinson, V Form
Taboo or Taking a Stand? Why Sexual Assault Needs More Attention
Editors’ Note: In Dr. Worrell’s Social Justice course, students identified an issue that they wanted to take a stand on and then researched to write an evidence-based editorial to demonstrate that they have built knowledge and skills. This assignment was modeled on The New York Times Learning Network Student Editorial Contest.
Sexual assault has always existed but became more visible recently with actresses such as Ashley Judd, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Angelina Jolie accusing acclaimed director Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault. The outbreak of these allegations brought the nation’s attention to the issue of sexual assault and harassment. Following this, actress Alyssa Milano started the hashtag #MeToo on Twitter, encouraging women to speak out and share their stories. This movement gained rapid popularity and snowballed across various means of social media, with thousands of women (and men) replying with their experiences and/or their support. Yet, even with these recent high profile cases, there is still work to be done to raise awareness regarding the prevalence of sexual assault. (more…)
By Laquan McKever, VI Form
Social Justice and Why Every Life Matters
My unwavering pursuit of social justice for all has left me isolated from one of the very communities that I vigorously fight every day to progress: the black community. I am President of SHADES (Students Heightening Awareness of Diversity through Service), and I helped to facilitate a national Student Diversity Leadership Conference; still, though, I invest a significant amount of time supporting other communities. Upon learning that I support and defend the LGBTQ community, a student of color told me, “You spend too much time worrying about others while you need to be worried about the injustices we face.” In that moment, I began to realize my actions are neither understood nor taken lightly by those who think they are more invested in social justice for black individuals than I am. What most people do not know about me is that through horrid experiences from my childhood, I have developed a feeling of obligation to genuinely support anyone hidden in the shadows of oppression — including people outside of the black community. (more…)
By Alan Gao, IV Form
Explaining the Immigration Crisis with Confucianism
In recent years, news of immigrants and refugees flooding into Europe along with reports of violence and terrorist attacks have spread rapidly. As a result, many people have become more hostile towards immigrants, especially as Donald Trump appeared on the political stage. In Europe, which has been affected most by the refugee crisis, there was a rise in anti-immigrant supporters that led to an increase in support for many populist right-wing political parties. France, for instance, saw the National Front rise to be the second largest party in the nation. In Hungary, the leader of its current ruling party, Fidesz, has claimed that “[f]or us migration is not a solution but a problem … not medicine but a poison, we don’t need it and won’t swallow it” (The Guardian). In Netherlands, the “Dutch Donald Trump” Geert Wilders, led the Party for Freedom to be the second largest party in the nation as well. Not to mention, there are many countries, like Denmark, that have already instituted a strict immigration process in the past dozen years. What is the cause of the rise? (more…)