elps 432: photo elicitation project

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Oppression, Social Justice, and Privilege in High-ResolutionRoy Rodriguez

Loyola University ChicagoOppression

Oppression #1: For Customers OnlyMy friend and I were sitting on the outside patio of a restaurant in Downtown Chicago when we witnessed an older White house less man take a seat at a table. After a short moment, a member of the staff approached the man and said, Excuse me sir, but you cant sit here. This seating is reserved for customers only. The older man got up and sat at the curb a few feet away. Because of the way this man was dressed and looked, he was seen as someone of a lesser socioeconomic status than what the restaurant aimed to attract and was refused access to the establishment. Because of the way this man was dressed and carried himself, he was automatically associated with being from a lower, disadvantaged group of society (Young, 1990). Though we all saw the incident occur, no one (including myself) did anything to help the man or address the social injustice at hand. In that instant, myself, the server, and everyone else who witnessed the incident occur all became the oppressors.

Oppression #2: Man UpAs I was walking home from work at Loyolas Lakeshore Campus, I noticed a young man approaching me with a very interesting shirt: MAN UP. My initial thought was not that this was a form of sexism; rather, it was nice shirt (Hackman, 2010). This style of t-shirts, made famous by the Nike brand, has become very popular over the past year as it uses key phrases in large print on solid colored shirts to emphasize thoughts, motivate those who read them as they pass by, or, in this case, oppress particular groups of people. This shirt perpetuates sexism in our society by explicitly associating masculinity with strength and demonstrating any lack of courage as weakness (Hackman, 2010; Lorber, 1994). Seeing this student proudly wearing this shirt reminded me of my duty as an educator to advocate for other oppressed groups by engaging in dialogue with those around me. After taking the picture, I approached the student to ask him about his shirt and what it meant to him; he had no response and quickly hurried to class.

Oppression #3: Heterosexism (New Image)

This photo is one I took of a heterosexual couple at a Loyola retreat I facilitated. Although I do not see this particular couple engaging in this activity everyday, this is a public display of affection that constantly impacts the lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) community and I. I immediately saw this act as oppression in the form of heterosexism, the overarching system of advantages bestowed on heterosexuals (Blumenfeld, p. 371, 2010a). The mere fact that this couple could publicly display their love and affection for one another without being subjected to discrimination, I feel, oppresses the LGB community. This form of cultural homophobia, or the social norms that operate within our society to legitimize oppression against members of the LGB causes these individuals to live in fear of expressing their love for one another (Blumenfeld, p. 378, 2010b).Social Justice

Social Justice #1: Equality, Made in USAThis photograph showcases a water bottle with the Human Rights Campaigns (HRC) Equality logo on it. When I see this sticker on my bottle everyday, multiple times a day, I am reminded of what it means to be a gay man in America and the work that still needs to be done in order to achieve equal rights for my community. This image does a great job at motivating me to start conversations about equality for the LGBT community and advocating for such rights in order to contribute to a more socially just world (Ziga, 2010). When I am on the bus or at the gym and I take a sip of water, people ask what the sticker means and how they can get one. As we engage in dialogue, I am able to convey the struggles and social injustices that impact the LGBT community to people as a result of our heterosexist society (Blumenfeld, 2010a).

Social Justice #2: Same-Sex America (Display courtesy of Student Diversity & Multicultural Affairs, Loyola University Chicago)

At work, I frequently find myself walking past Loyolas Office of Student Diversity and Multicultural Affairs (SDMA). Outside of the office, the department places up-to-date news, literature, and research pertaining to various social injustices in our nation. One of the graphs that caught my attention was one of the various pieces of legislation some states have impacting the queer community. A large portion of the graph shows much of the country with bans on same-sex marriage and other same-sex unions. SDMAs display motivates me to continue on and advocate for the queer community at Loyola and educate others of the hurdles the community is facing in achieving their rights (Ziga, 2010).

Social Justice #3: Undocumented Student Ally (New Image)

Hanging on the bulletin board above my desk in my office is a postcard that shows that I have completed the training to be an ally for undocumented students at Loyola. Everyday that I loom at this image I am reminded of the struggle undocumented students face in the United States on a daily basis and my role as an advocate for social justice to ensure that those who are in higher education are supported. Munin and Speight (2010) assert that allies are a crucial group in the in the work for social justice (p. 249). Being an ally for undocumented students means that in order to obtain a socially just climate for undocumented students in higher education across America, it takes education and dedication in order to understand the various systems of oppression that are in place that limit the rights of undocumented students and their access to higher education.Privilege

Privilege #1: ClassismMy social class is often a privilege that I disregard. The other day I went to Starbucks before class to get a drink and as I waited there for my latte, I noticed two women sitting at a table, like so many others in the coffee shop, typing away on their laptops, sporting designer clothes and handbags. This led me to observe my surroundings even further and realize what privilege I had by having the financial ability to step into such an establishment and have someone make me a specialty coffee drink. Despite coming from a working class family, being in a graduate program and having a job that pays well has significantly altered my social standing (Adams, 2010). I was reminded of the privilege I hold for being able to take part in something so simple such as buying Starbucks and sitting down at a table with my MacBook to sit and study for a class when there are many other people who are not as privileged

Privilege #2: AbleismThe privilege I hold being an able bodied individual constantly eludes me. I never think twice about the privilege I hold being temporarily able-bodied (Castaeda, Hopkins, and Peters, 2010). Walking on the street one afternoon, I noticed a man engaged in a deep conversation with a window. As I approached the man, I thought that he might be thinking out loud or commenting on something he saw on the television on the other side of the window. When I walked past him, I noticed that he was holding a conversation with his own reflection. I am not making an assumption of this mans mental abilities, however, seeing this man holding a conversation with his reflection made me think about my own privilege and the obstacles I do not have to face because I do not have any visible or non-visible disabilities.

Privilege #3: Christian Privilege (New Image)

Walking around Loyolas Lakeshore Campus this holiday season has been quite the spectacle. At every main entrance of the university there are Christmas trees adorned with bright lights like the one in the image above. When I saw these decorations put up I thought back to the reading on Christian privilege and the list of privileges Schlosser (2003) presents of those who identify as part of the Christian faith are granted in American society. Since Loyola claims to be a home for many faiths, I could not help but think how these explicit displays of Christian privilege may impact students of different faith as they walk through the university everyday. Students who do identify as Christian and that do take part in the celebration of Christmas are rewarded for their identity by being granted time off from school which is not the case for many students of different faiths whose religious holidays may not even be recognized by the institution (Schlosser, 2003). They can also be reassured that the campus climate at Loyola will be warm, festive, and welcoming to them.AnalysisAs I began this journey through social justice I was quite apprehensive as to what was waiting to greet me along the way. I did not believe that a class that was overwhelmingly white could be an environment for healthy dialogue on issues of oppression, privilege, and social justice. From my own personal experiences, white folks had a privilege I could never imagine, and because of this privilege they possessed they were incapable of understandings the complexities of my own identity and the oppression, I believe, they bestowed upon me. This privilege could only prevent them from being ready to establish a positive White identity and make them incapable of ever being able to understand me (Henry, Cobb-Roberts, Dorn, Exum, Keller, and Shircliffe, p. 163, 2007). I was jaded, I was intimidated, and I was fearful that I would face hostility from my colleagues if I ever revealed information about myself that did not coincide with the socially acceptable practices and beliefs of our society. By coming into the semester with such a closed mind, I was well awa