SOC 110: Intro To Social Justice
Social Identities Pie
I have decided to analyze each component of my identity in descending order by the amount of conscious deliberate attention I put into them.
My strongest and most conscious identity is probably related to my sexuality and my identity as a gay person. This certainly receives the lion’s share of my attention as it is directly related to my social justice and entrepreneurial career. I work for a San Francisco based non-profit which throws large parties every couple of months. My job is to increase attendance diversity (within the queer spectrum) through communications. Within my community, my identity is very normal, but outside my community it still often makes me the target of hate speech and violence from strangers.
I am an atheist which I would equate with rational humanism. In the past, I was more militant about it but I have learned to be more tolerant of the superstitions of others unless challenged. I am always open and honest about my trust in evidence and rationalism, and I enjoy very much those moments when I can debate with others. I am aware that atheism is the fastest growing religious group, and the most popular among young people, but I think this still puts us in a small minority in the world today. We must constantly fight against the legislation of puritanical nonsense and the denial of realities like climate change and the need for renewable energy sources.
Now we get to the things where I know I have privilege. As someone who is from a middle-class family, I know I don’t really have to worry about problems that may come up. No matter what could possibly happen, I will be able to eat and have a place to live and go to burning man, etc. I know that this is not the reality for the vast majority of humanity, especially in the United States. To this end, I participate in several groups which work to elevate the position of people who are less lucky. I am an advocate for issues related to people who are homeless and participate in regular meetups where we make care packages to hand out, while also informing people who are homeless about resources such as continuum of care.
As a young, white, cis-male who is tall and able-bodied, so I also have a great deal of physical interpersonal privilege. In the words of Jesse Jackson, “There is nothing more painful to me at this stage in my life than to walk down the street and hear footsteps and start thinking about robbery. Then look around and see somebody white and feel relieved.” This is awful, but it’s a fact in American culture today. People make judgments based on physical characteristics. This is an advantage to people like me, but it also puts us in a position to act effectively against prejudice. I try to follow the advice of Philip Zimbardo and call out prejudices on the part of people in the same groups as me whenever I see it. In his words, this is the most effective way to prevent evil.
As a tenth-generation American, I grew up speaking English. In every country I’ve visited, I’ve made some effort to learn the local language. Despite that, when I’m in Berlin and I order a pretzel, “Ich moechte ein pretzel, bitte.” I inevitably hear the response in English. This is true in Norway, in Spain, in Holland, all over. Speaking English as a first-language is an enormous advantage no matter where we are in the world. And it’s a constant source of conflict and prejudice on the part of people who want everyone to speak English rather than broadening their own skills. Again I try to take the Zimbardo perspective and call out the evils of nationalism and language prejudice in order to prevent that evil behavior.