Topic Paper: Social Justice Pedagogy

CJ Trowbridge

2018-11-06

SOC 110: Social Justice

Topic Paper: Social Justice Pedagogy

The concept of liberation is interesting and counter-intuitive to me, based on the name. I expected to hear about the liberation of self, but interestingly, as the author puts it, if black people could liberate themselves from racism then they would have. It is in fact the responsibility of the people with privilege tio interrupt systems of oppression through careful observation and analysis of the situations they encounter. It is an uncomfortable process which causes us to reject things we take for granted.

In this way, a liberation mindset is closely linked to the cycle of socialization. The default role we are socialized into is one which accepts the status quo with regard to systems of oppression. We may notice things that don’t seem right, but we ignore them and the cycle continues. Only by consciously rejecting this default role can we take on a liberation mindset and actually look for those things that aren’t right, and then actively reject them in our minds and personal culture. This liberates the formerly oppressed through acts of justice and breaks the cycle of socialization of systems of oppression.

One interesting concept which was new to me is the idea that the oppressed are not responsible and should not be expected to defeat their systems of oppression. This is an interesting idea which I had not considered in the past. It seems obvious on reflection that they can’t do this, and shouldn’t be expected to.

It feels weird to restate these items as a list, but it seems like that is what the instructions for the assignment want me to do. I would be interested in learning more about the ideas I mentioned at the beginning and end: that oppressed people can not interrupt their own oppression, and that they would not be responsible for doing that even if they could. I accept these conclusions, but they seem counter-intuitive. I will explore them further.

Social Problems: Critical Media Analysis

CJ Trowbridge

Social Problems

2018-10-30

Social Problems: Critical Media Analysis Midterm Paper

The group I studied was Stand Up Placer which is a nonprofit working on the issue of the human trafficking of children, and the victim-centered approach to this issue. Stand Up Placer worked hard to get Placer County and its municipalities to take a victim-centered approach to human trafficking enforcement, treating the victims as legitimate victims rather than criminal prostitutes. I expect that most news coverage of human trafficking will be an attempt by cities to label themselves as serious about “solving the problem,” but not clear on exactly how to do so. I hope to see more victim-centered enforcement, but I don’t expect to.

In “All-out effort to bring human trafficking out in the open” from the San Jose Mercury News published January 7, 2014, author Nancy O’Malley summarizes the human trafficking situation in Oakland using the FBI as a claimsmaker, “The FBI has identified Oakland as an epicenter of trafficking in the Bay Area counties. The majority of exploited children are 13 to 16 years old, some as young as 11.” This age range is actually not unusual. The FBI’s choice of the word “epicenter” is interesting considering there have been only 350 prosecutions since 2005. For comparison, Placer County had 141 just last year. Furthermore, the author comments that she is shocked when she quotes local human trafficking nonprofit claimsmaker M.i.s.s.s.e.y. as saying that human trafficking numbers in Oakland are increasing; the common-grounds rhetorical strategy of an increasing danger or risk which potentially affects us all. This fact however is also no surprise; the numbers in Placer County have more than doubled each of the last few years. In O’Malley’s words, “There are two sides — supply and demand — that make sex trafficking of our children possible. Human trafficking exists because there is an endless and disgraceful demand for children for sex and traffickers fill that demand daily.”

The author talks about several policymaking steps which have been taken to move towards a solution on this issue. First, a Regional Intelligence Center has been established and is working closely with local police to maintain a high rate of prosecution on child human trafficking cases. Secondly, a public advertising campaign has been launched with the goal of using media coverage and billboards to inform people in Oakland that purchasing children for sex is a crime…. Yes really. The policy outcomes seem clear. Informing people that purchasing children for sex is a crime is an absurd way to attempt to address this problem. It’s a waste of advertising money which could be spent on enforcement. The uptick in enforcement with the backing of federal resources though does seem like it has the potential to create a positive outcome in the community. For now, the problem is still getting worse. We will see with time whether this strategy will be effective. As we will see in the next article, full enforcement of human trafficking laws is not a given, and this is one way in which Oakland is ahead of the game in addressing human trafficking.

In “’FINALLY BELIEVING’; Reports rise of human trafficking in Humboldt County; officials seek unified response, say bringing offenders to justice proves challenging,” published in the Eureka Times-Standard on August 26, 2018, author Will Houston argues a very different point. He quotes the local district attorney as a claimsmaker who shares that despite the same dramatic rise in human trafficking that we are seeing elsewhere (over 600 reports last year), Humboldt County has had only one successful human trafficking conviction, EVER. And that person is already out of prison. A claimsmaker referred to only as an “area official” says that one unique factor in Humboldt County which makes the problem of human trafficking more difficult to address is the deep entrenchment of organized crime related to the underground drug industry. The author also quotes the district attorney as blaming the victims for the lack of enforcement, “Ultimately, one of the biggest challenges is gaining the cooperation of survivors and victims that are being trafficked.” From the other side of the judicial power dynamic, Katrina Taylor is a claimsmaker who was also used as a rhetorical typifying example, having formerly been a human trafficking victim. The author quotes Taylor as saying, “one of the biggest problems is the victims themselves don’t even know they’re victims… I didn’t even know I was a victim. It wasn’t until I started hearing and seeing scenarios of different cases and people when I said, ‘Oh my God, that’s me.’” Taylor is now working with local organizations to try to expand education about human trafficking so that victims can learn that they are victims and seek help. At an upcoming meeting of the county board of supervisors, funding will be discussed to further study the issue.

This is a pretty shocking article for me. Just a few hundred miles from Placer and Alameda counties where there is enormous enforcement and a plethora of victim resources, Humboldt county is still in the stone age in terms of dealing with the problem of human trafficking. Humboldt County is doing essentially nothing despite the fact that the problem seems empirically worse than in “Epicenter” Oakland.

Quick Meta Analysis: According to numbers taken from the article, with just 0.6% of California’s population, Humboldt County’s reported human trafficking makes up 7% of all the reported human trafficking in California, whereas Oakland has 4% of the reported human trafficking with 1.4% of the population. Humboldt County’s per capita incidence of reported human trafficking is therefore four times higher than Oakland’s, yet Humboldt county is doing nothing about it, while Oakland is labeled “Epicenter.” This seems like a very biased FBI policy which ignores the affluent white area’s HT crime rate while highlighting the poorer, blacker area’s relatively lower HT crime rate.

In “How VTAs human trafficking awareness training inspired a state Assembly bill,” The Mercury News on June 14, 2018, author Kristin Lam discusses an important new statewide bill to tackle human trafficking. The author summarizes the grounds for this policy by saying that the bill is based on important earlier work done by the Santa Clara Valley Transit Authority, “ the bill aims to equip public transit workers with the skills to identify and report signs of human trafficking in and around transit systems.” Assemblymember Ash Kalra elaborates, “human trafficking… occurs along our streets or along our transit nodes and our transit system… We want to make sure we do everything we can to combat the scourge of human trafficking.” The author expands, “Through the training, they learn to recognize potential red flags: related to lack of freedom and control and poor mental and physical health. When they encounter indicators of human trafficking, VTA workers follow a protocol of who to call and what to do.” This law would apply to all public transit workers throughout California because as the Santa Clara Human Trafficking Commission’s legal services chair Ruth Taube said, “Typically the traffickers move the survivors or the victims around to different cities and counties. So I think it’s important for combating human trafficking that we have consistent training.”

This seems like an interesting and novel strategy to attack the problem in a potentially effective way. Absent from the article is any projection of how many victims could be rescued through this new program. The author does go over several other efforts at similar types of exposure around human trafficking, including mandatory pamphlets placed in certain businesses by law. Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen is quoted as hedging on the effectiveness of these types of strategies, “It’s hard to get details from trafficking victims about exactly why they sought help.” This seems to indicate that the official, conscious strategy is just to throw everything at the wall and hope something sticks, without much expectation of accountability for the spending or the effectiveness of the specific methods. The warrants seem clea here, but the conclusions seem vague. It is more about doing something, than about doing the right thing.

In conclusion, my initial hypothesis was correct. None of these jurisdictions seems to know what to do about a problem that is getting dramatically worse every year, but all of them want to be seen to do something. Materially, that ranges from essentially nothing as is the case in Humboldt County with its upcoming public debate on whether to research the issue, to mandatory statewide training of all transit employees as human trafficking sleuths. I was very surprised by the way the local paper in Humboldt county seemed totally fine with the fact that there is essentially no enforcement despite a far more serious crime rate than Oakland with its “HT Epicenter” moniker. There is no clear consensus about how to address the issue. Everyone is trying something different, and none of the ideas seems to be working, as the rates are still showing ubiquitous exponential growth. It is interesting to consider the converse relationship between perception and reality in Oakland versus Humboldt. I think the public would feel more afraid in Oakland before reading these articles, and more afraid in Humboldt after reading them. It’s worth reflecting on the biases that lead us to these conclusions.

A Call To Empathy!

LGBT1 – Midterm Exam

CJ Trowbridge

LGBT1

2018-10-23

LGBT1 Midterm Exam

1.

What is the problem of the gender binary? The sexual orientation binary? Explain how these binaries are both repressive and constructive. (What does it mean for power to be repressive and constructive too? Apply this to both gender identity and sexual orientation.)

 

The gender binary is a social construct which does not reflect reality. This fact creates tension for people who do not fit into the contrived metaphor of a gender binary as imposed and constructed by those in power. One of the most common reasons a person may not fit into one of the binary genders is biology. There are dozens of biological conditions under the umbrella of intersex which place a person outside the gender binary. This leads to repression towards the person by the people around them and the people in power in local culture; the intersex person is often forced into one of the binary options which does not reflect the reality of the person. Sometimes this involves surgical gender assignment of infants or children, all at the behest of the people in power who impose cultural constructs about gender on the child and parents.

Another common reason a person may not fit the gender binary is because they recognize it as a social construct and do not accept it as a valid structure to define themselves within. Rejecting imposed structures is a fundamental quality of humanity. We want to break out. We want to be free. We construct and define ourselves outside the rules and norms which we are given by people in power. For many people, including genderqueer, transgender, and other groups, rejecting imposed ideas of gender becomes a fundamental part of their identity. The flawed social construct of the binary is often the first thing to be rejected during this process of self-construction.

Many transgender people feel that they were born in the wrong physiological sex; a belief that is corroborated by brain structure analyses and other means. These people may decide that their true identity lies across the binary, or that it lies outside the binary. No matter what the reason is that a person may reject their place within the binary, they all hold in common the truth that the binary is a socially constructed and fundamentally invalid perspective with which to approach reality.

The sexual orientation binary is another social construct which does not reflect reality. It is the result of myths and misinformation about sexual orientation which have percolated through our post-dark-age culture to form a stew of superstitious nonsense which many people attempt to use as a lens through which to view the world. It is convenient for them to use simple concepts to describe other people. This is a major factor in the categorization and labeling of people into sexual orientation groups by those in power. The problem is that it does not reflect reality. Early sexual research showed that there is a bell curve on the spectrum between homosexual and heterosexual, with most people falling in between rather than at one end. The idea of categorizing all people at one end or the other is repressive nonsense. This fallacious concept has led to criticism and repression of people who experience both types of attraction as “undecided” or “outside the norms.”

Another problem is the fact of asexual people, who experience no sexual attraction whatsoever. These people are clearly not in one of the two categories demanded by the socially constructed idea of a sexual orientation binary.

The sexual orientation binary has another overarching problem; its intransigence or immutability. Once a person has a sexual orientation label, they are likely to conform to that label rather than exploring outside it. This intransigence is imposed by people in power through the construction of these permanent labels which themselves do not reflect the truth of all people.

2.

Explain the tensions between the following groups in one paragraph each: a) LGB and T, b) Traditional Trans Narrative and Genderqueer, c) LGBT vs. Queer.

 

Tension exists between Lesbigays and Transgender people on epistemological, cultural, and historical levels. Epistemologically, Lesbigays generally see themselves as part of a valid gender binary and a valid sexual orientation binary. The Bi- (binary) prefix is right there in the middle of the word “Les-bi-gay.” Transgender people fundamentally reject all or some of these ideas. Culturally, Transgender people have a history all their own. The history of their culture and movement largely took its own direction without the support or aid of the Lesbigays and their movements. The converse is true as well. Lesbigays had their own historical culture and movement which largely excluded Transgender people.

The traditional trans narrative includes an eponymous etymological acceptance of the gender binary. Trans means to cross over. Crossing over between genders implies acceptance of the gender binary. It’s in the meaning of the word “Transgender” and inescapable within that context. Genderqueer people reject the gender binary. They may change from the presentation and role norms of the gender assigned to them at birth, but they reject the idea that there are two sets of presentation and role norms to choose from. They freely accept and reject ideas throughout both sets, and outside either set. This fundamental difference between the two groups creates tension.

LGBT people categorize themselves within a small number of socially constructed identities which accept both the gender and orientation binaries to some degree. Queer people reject all of this. They reject both the binaries and the categories. Queer people see each of these labels as carrying with them systems of oppression which can simply be shrugged off by refusing to play the game of adhering to labels and categories. Their attitude and response to the question of their identity is a simple, “fuck you.” Naturally, this creates tensions between LGBT people and Queer people. Some common conflicts include hate crimes legislation, gay marriage, and gay adoption laws. LGBT people see these as necessary laws to impose equal rights for LGBT people on an unwilling Cis-Het majority electorate. Queer people see these laws as excluding anyone not named in them. The Queer solution would be to remove all government interference with marriage, adoption, etc based on any discriminatory factor, not just for gay people.

LGBT1: Sister Outsider Quiz

CJ Trowbridge

LGBT1

2018-10-13

Sister Outsider Quiz

1.

Audre Lorde critically approaches each of her three main intersections. She sees each of these movements as umbrellas which focus unfairly on privileged members to the exclusion of marginalized intersections, perpetuating those other forms of oppression. She approaches Lesbians as a Black Woman. She approaches the Women’s Movement as a Black Lesbian. She approaches Black people as a Lesbian Woman. In “Man Child,” she comments, “Raising Black children — female and male — in the mouth of a racist, sexist, suicidal dragon is perilous and chancy.”(a, pp81) This description of America shows how she considers it at odds with each of her intersectional aspects; as a black person struggling to justify her right to exist, as a woman struggling to justify her right to exist, and as a lesbian struggling to justify her right to exist.

Many other writers take the side of the movement associated with their first adjective. (ie. Black Lesbian Woman vs Lesbian Black Woman vs Woman Lesbian Black.) Lorde does the opposite. Her perspective is to critique each movement from the perspective of the others. In An Open Letter to Mary Daly, Lorde criticizes feminism from the perspective of a Black Lesbian, “Mary has made a conscious decision to narrow her scope and to deal only with the ecology of western european women.”(b, pp75)

 

3.

Lorde’s critique of Mary Daly shows that Mary ignores marginalized groups within the feminist movement and suggests she include examples from these groups in her publications. For example, she writes, “Then, to realize that the only quotations from Black women’s words were the ones you used to introduce your chapter on African genital mutilation made me question why you needed to use them at all.”(a pp76) Lorde goes on to question whether Daly has even read the work of black women beyond skimming it for quotes to copy and paste in order to confirm her preexisting conclusions.

The simplest suggestion Lorde has for Daly is that she live up to her own values and respond to the many criticisms leveled in the open letter, “I would like not to destroy you in my consciousness, not to have to. So as a sister Hag, I ask you to speak to my perceptions.“ (b pp78) Silence on the part of the privileged is an act of oppression, especially silence with regard to oppression. An ally uses privilege to empower and support the oppressed and to interrupt the cycle of oppression. Lorde’s simple suggestion is that Daly demonstrate the principles she espouses to, and offers support and voice for the oppressed intersections under the umbrella of feminism.

The War On Minorities

CJ Trowbridge

SOC 3: Race, Ethnicity, and Inequality

2018-10-19

The War on Drugs MINORITIES

In the mid nineteenth century, an enormous number of Chinese immigrants came to California to help build the railroads. White people didn’t want to do this work, and yet blamed Chinese workers for the lack of jobs. Bigotry, populism, and economic factors prompted white people in California to label these people undesirable. Undesirable groups such as these Chinese immigrant workers in California and Latin immigrant workers were labeled as different races in order to separate them from the rest of the population, then they were each targeted with criminalization of some of their customs in order to mass incarcerate them or drive them out.

Chinese immigrants were targeted for mass incarceration or expatriation by the prohibition of opium smoking which was a custom of theirs, according to the outlines. Latin immigrants were targeted for mass incarceration or expatriation by the relabeling of Hemp as “Marijuana” and its subsequent demonization and prohibition, according to the film The House I Live In. White people already did both of these things for centuries, and did so under different labels and stigmas which did not come with punishments. For example according to the film, Bayer sold Heroin as a brand name product and all the founding fathers grew and smoked hemp. White privilege is the difference between smoking hemp and smoking marijuana, or between drinking opiate syrups from the drug store rather than smoking those same opiates. The customs of white people were not illegal, though the same substances consumed in the preferred manner of marginalized cultures was illegal.

“The War on Drugs” was Richard Nixon’s 1971 moniker for a wave of harsh new drug sentences and police militarization. The ostensible goal of this campaign was “getting tough on crime,” but in reality the war on drugs blames victims of addiction for what is actually a health crisis, rather than a crime crisis. This is bad enough, but the real goal of the war on drugs was more sinister. According to the film and outlines, there is a great deal of evidence to suggest that Nixon and others knowingly misrepresented the real goal of this “war” which was to target political dissident groups and racial minorities with mass incarceration. Mandatory minimum sentences and three-strikes laws were very effective at mass incarcerating millions of victims of addiction as well as political dissidents such as “beatniks,” and “hippies” and racial minorities. Many of these people are still serving decades or life in prison for nonviolent and trivial “crimes.”

The War on Drugs deliberately and methodically targets minority groups for incarceration. According to the documentary as well as several course outlines, black people and Latin people are dramatically over-represented in prisons, and enforcement of drug laws is typically done based on geographical areas where minorities live. It is commonplace for police to simply round up a group of marginalized people who have been forced into this pervasive shadow economy, and look after the fact for trivial crimes such as possession of a minuscule amount of drugs. The marginalized people then face decades or life in for-profit prisons.

In fact, the problem of over-representation of minority groups in American prisons goes all the way back to reconstruction. According to the outlines, it was a commonplace and widespread practice for sheriffs in the south to round up thousands of free black people and arrest them for confusing charges which their victims would not understand how to contest. Then these wrongfully imprisoned people would be rented out by the sheriffs to do hard labor for former slave owners, to the personal profit of the sheriffs. This system was in place over a century ago, and the prison industrial complex has never satisfied its appetite for profit-taking from the unjust mass incarceration of racial minorities.

The film shows interviews with cops, prison guards, community members, and private prison executives, all of whom agree that the war on drugs has done nothing to decrease or ameliorate the problem of drug addiction, and rather has had the opposite effect. Not only has it increased drug use, but it has industrialized it, as well as its opposition in the executive and judiciary. Those sheriffs who feel entitled to attack the rights of minority groups now have a whole industrial complex of their own, giving them every expensive military advantage in their war on minorities. They even have conventions as highlighted in the film, where they can meet vendors supplying new types of military products for the war on minorities.

According to the documentary, the war on “drugs” has made drugs cheaper, purer, and more widely available than ever before. It has also dramatically expanded the private prison industry as well as expanding legal services surrounding what has become a pipeline through the judiciary and into the prisons. A whole professional services sector has emerged to profit off of mass incarceration, and their profits have never been higher than they are today. The film highlights many awkward interviews with vendors at a convention dedicated to these types of professional services relating to mass incarceration.

Another side effect of the war on “drugs” has been the rise in generational poverty and “red-lined” areas of cities all over the country where minority groups live. According to the film, these people were often forced to live there through public housing policy. Once there, they can not get access to mortgages or other avenues of escape from the cycle of poverty and crime which was deliberately constructed to contain them.

Drugs were banned primarily to allow the mass incarceration and expatriation of racial minorities and political dissident groups. Ostensibly, they were also banned because of the idea that prohibition can actually stop something from happening, rather than driving it underground. This is not a crime crisis, it is a public health crisis. Only by ending prohibition and expanding our public health awareness to include these vulnerable people can we improve conditions. Militarization, mass incarceration, and victim blaming have done nothing but make the problem worse.

Topic Paper: Sexism, Trans Oppression, Heterosexism

CJ Trowbridge

Social Justice

2018-10-09

Topic Paper: Sexism, Trans Oppression, Heterosexism

Examples; Interpersonal Institutional Internalized
Sexism Gender roles in relationships. Wage gap. Stereotype threat.
Transphobia Deliberate or accidental misgendering. Student ID with dead name instead of chosen name. Acceptance of the binary or pathologization and related complications.
Homophobia Prevents heterosexuals from forming close relationships with members of their own sex. Military banning some sexual orientations. The belief that it is wrong to be gay.

The readings from this week reinforce my previous research on the topic of interrupting sexism, transphobia, and homophobia. (These were the terms used on the handout.) The same is true for the terms used on the Canvas assignment. In the deeply informed words of Philip Zimbardo, calling out evil behavior including the use of language and action to harm groups of people, and responding to that by intentionally forcing the perpetrator to see their targets as humans is the most effective way to interrupt cycles of evil behavior.

Each of the authors this week seemed to elude to a similar idea, directly or indirectly. In the words of Evans and Washington, “Being an advocate… involves… confronting inappropriate behavior.”

I think the biggest challenge faced by allies of any group is to understand how and why each group is oppressed. Something seemingly innocuous could in fact be highly triggering and oppressive. Something as simple as assumptions about gender presentation and pronouns can be a vicious attack to the person who isn’t understood. The things we think least about are often the most important things. This is fundamental to privilege in any system of oppression. It is only by building trust with marginalized communities and learning about their concerns that we can learn to be effective allies and to support them in the way they want to be supported.

After that, it takes having the courage to ruin Thanksgiving dinner by calling out a drunk grandparent for saying something sexist or heterosexist, or something against any marginalized group. That is the cost of being a decent person, of being an ally.

Social Problems: Local Claimsmaker Analysis

SOC 301 Social Problems

CJ Trowbridge

Local Claimsmaker Analysis Midterm Paper

Description of the group

Stand Up Placer is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in Auburn, California. According to their website, the organization was founded in 1974 by a group of concerned women as a rape crisis line. The organization has grown a lot since then. Today it includes nearly a hundred people of many genders, ethnicities and sexual orientations. I had lunch with CEO Jenny Davidson to talk about how Stand Up Placer provides services for survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking throughout Placer County, and about what kind of impact they are trying to have on the issue of underage prostitution as a subset of human trafficking in the area. I also spoke with one of Stand Up Placer’s volunteers who works with the FBI and local police on human trafficking stings as a decoy, luring Pimps and Johns as part of a larger strategy to tackle the underage prostitution issue in a novel way.

Methodology

I selected this group because I was already familiar with the important work they are doing in the community, and because I have many homophilies with the people involved through other causes and organizations we share stakes in. The main interview took place at Panera in Auburn and lasted about an hour. I also spent about an hour attending a meeting of the Roseville city council along with several staff members from Stand Up Placer. This included Jenny who was scheduled to speak about the issue of human trafficking and child prostitution along with Roseville Police Captain Glynn. The officer was very enthusiastic about Stand Up Placer and about the work being done between the organization and the local police on the issues of prostitution and human trafficking. My last interview with the volunteer who works the front line doing stings with the FBI took place the next day at a Starbucks in Auburn. This interview lasted about an hour as well. The main sources of secondary information were the organization’s website and data published by local police, newspapers, and the Department of Homeland Security.

Grounds

According to the Department of Homeland Security website, “Human trafficking is modern-day slavery and involves the use of force, fraud, or coercion to obtain some type of labor or commercial sex act.” According to Davidson, in practice in our area, this usually means young people being forced to have sex with “Johns” by a romantic partner or family member through threats of violence or other types of coercion. In most cases, the trafficking victim is underage.

Quoting from the DHS again, “Traffickers use force, fraud, or coercion to lure their victims and force them into labor or commercial sexual exploitation. They look for people who are susceptible for a variety of reasons, including psychological or emotional vulnerability, economic hardship, lack of a social safety net, natural disasters, or political instability. The trauma caused by the traffickers can be so great that many may not identify themselves as victims or ask for help, even in highly public settings.” When trafficking victims are caught by police, the traditional view holds that the child has committed a crime and should be held responsible as a prostitute.

According to Davidson, the problem is getting much worse, not better. In fact, Stand Up Placer has helped more than fourteen times as many survivors of human trafficking in the first half of 2018 as the entire year of 2015. They are on track to help twice as many people as last year, which was double the year before that. More than half of the survivors are minors, and almost all survivors are under 22 years old.

Warrants

The traditional view that child prostitutes should be held responsible has recently come under scrutiny. Groups like Stand Up Placer are reframing the issue. Talking about child prostitution is an issue with many positions, but when child prostitution is phrased differently becomes human trafficking; a valence issue. The traditional view ignores the obvious fact that child prostitutes are typically victims of human trafficking. They are being coerced into this kind of work through threats and other means. The real criminal is the trafficker. They are taking advantage of vulnerable children and forcing them into prostitution.

According to one of Stand Up Placer’s FBI sting volunteers who I interviewed, an average child in the trafficking industry in our area is forced by the trafficker to have sex with up to ten “Johns” per night. The child is not the criminal here. The idea of punishing a child caught in a bust after they were just forced to have sex with a dozen “Johns” becomes inconceivable to the person who was arguing for punishing criminal child prostitutes under the traditional view of the issue

I think Stand Up Placer’s use of typifying examples and an excellent rhetorical strategy to redirect attention from what used to be considered criminal children to the real villains, traffickers, is an excellent and effective strategy for accomplishing the change they sought to make on this social problem.

Conclusions

Through recent legislative, judicial, and policy accomplishments, the bizarre traditional view is changing. Stand Up Placer is one of the organizations at the forefront of this issue, working with local police and policymakers to change the priority from targeting children who are victims of human trafficking, to instead targeting traffickers. “It’s been years of work to get here,” said Davidson.

When I visited Roseville city council with Stand Up Placer, Roseville Police Captain Marc Glynn described the new strategy around the human trafficking issue in the area. As quoted in the Press Tribune, “Our crime suppression unit will be a victim-centered approach focused on supply and demand. The ‘supply’ will involve undercover operations where we rescue the victims and arrest the pimps,” Glynn said. “The ‘demand’ part of it is where we will set up sting operations where we use ‘reverse Johns’ (in an effort to entice and catch the traffickers). This operation will be a positive move in the right direction.”

Councilman Scott Alvord responded, “I’m really appreciative [sic] how (Roseville Police Department and Stand Up Placer) are working together… You guys (Roseville Police) are catching them and you guys(Stand Up Placer) are taking care of the victims.”

Per Councilman Alvord’s comments, survivors of human trafficking have the need for many important services such as therapy, legal, medical, and housing services. Stand Up Placer provides all of these things free of charge to any survivors who need them.

This change in perspective to treating victims as victims instead of criminals marks a new chapter in enforcement around human trafficking in Placer County and especially in Roseville. No longer will children and other victims of human trafficking be subjected to punishment or treatment as criminal prostitutes rather than the victims of human trafficking that they really are.

Audience

Stand Up Placer does outreach through seminars taught at schools and organizations around the area, as well as through awareness events like Take Back The Night. Many of these outreach methods are targeted at survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence which are other issues the organization deals with. The majority of the human trafficking survivors who come to the organization are coming not from media outreach but directly from police stings. They are rescued and taken to Stand Up Placer in order to get those critical services and start rebuilding their lives.

Relationship with/use of media

Stand Up Placer has a weekly TV show on local public access TV where they talk about important issues relating to human trafficking. They also use social media and lots of outreach events and fundraisers to reach a wide audience with their important message. Most of the substantive policy work they do is done directly with local officials or through Federal intermediaries like Title IX or the FBI.

Transgender History by Susan Stryker

I read this book as part of a LGBT studies class at Sierra College for my degree in Social Justice. It’s a great read and eponymously covers the history of an important marginalized group in America; transgender people.

As always, I am happy to share the audiobook with any friends who want a copy.

This book is an excellent introduction to many of the concepts and terms related to the history of transgender issues in America. There is a big focus on intersectionality and the related history of the women’s movements and the LGBT movement.

One thing I especially liked is the way she compares gender and sexual orientation to language. Humans are definitely wired to have language, but we are not wired with a particular language. Likewise, we are wired for sex, orientation, and gender, but not for a specific sex, orientation, or gender.

Topic Paper: Intersectionality

CJ Trowbridge

SOC 110: Intro To Social Justice

2018-09-11

Topic Paper: Intersectionality

The authors of reading #4 state “from our perspective, no one form of oppression is the base for all others, yet all are connected within a system that makes them possible.” (pg. 23) Referencing your readings and our class discussion/lecture, discuss the impact of the ‘defining features’ of oppression and the three levels of oppression on the intersectionality of identities and the experience of oppression. Include critical analysis and detailed examples in your discussion.

Oppression is a complex topic. The reading for this week breaks its essential definition into six categories. These categories hold true throughout the various types of oppression, or systems of privilege and disadvantage which exist across three main levels throughout society.

Oppression is pervasive. This is important to understand. Oppression is not a single interaction, it is a ubiquitous feature of society. It is present consciously and unconsciously every day and in most (if not all) interpersonal interactions on one level or another.

Oppression is restrictive. It prevents people from having the same opportunities as others based on some characteristic which separates them from the people with power. It means they do not get the same treatment and advantages as others. It means the government responds differently when they are in trouble. It means they do not get to have the same full life
that other people do.

Oppression is hierarchical. It puts some groups above or below others. Importantly, it puts certain intersections of groups below or above others. A famous example is prison populations. Though black people are a minority in America, they are a majority in our prisons. This is because of many factors which work together to form what we call oppression.

Oppression features complex, multiple, cross-cutting relationships. Here
intersectionality is key. An upper-class black man has several forms of privilege which others do not. Despite being part of at least one marginalized group, this person is upper-class and male. These are both important sources of privilege, despite oppression this person endures as a
black person. Here we see intersectionality at play, illustrating complex, multiple, cross-cutting relationships.

Oppression is internalized. Black people who take standardized tests perform worse if they are asked their ethnicity on the test. This is an example of stereotype threat. When people hear a constant message that they are below another group, they start to act that way.

In our culture, we have many biases based on differentiating characteristics for groups of people. This gives rise to what the reading calls, “Shared and distinctive characteristics of ‘Isms’.” We have a culture and a social order which perpetuates and expands this constant propensity to classify and hierarchically rank groups of people based on often random characteristics. The reading describes this issue thus, “all [systems of oppression] are connected within a system that makes them possible.” We are so used to lumping people into categories and making assumptions about them, that we do this without thinking. This leads to many forms of prejudice, and indeed to ongoing systems of oppression in our culture.

Systems of oppression are individual. Both the oppressed and the oppressor are participating in oppression on a daily basis. Microaggressions and unconscious or conscious biases form the bulk of what becomes oppression, and the people who are targeted with these acts are subject to them on a daily basis. No evil deed is done to a group, it is always done individual by individual. What we think of as statistics are actually the amalgamation of individual experiences. This fact opens the door for justice by allowing individuals to become informed and change these behaviors, leading to improved conditions.

Systems of oppression are Institutional. From the freedmen’s bureau after the civil war to the prison system today, choices have been made at the institutional level which impact marginalized groups in negative ways. This leads to systemic institutional oppression. There are so many examples from sharecropping to the convict lease system over a century ago, to the modern predatory housing system and associated predatory lending systems, as well as the bail bond industry. These institutions systematically target, exploit, and oppress marginalized groups.

Lastly, oppression is Social/Cultural. It’s impossible to talk about the ubiquitous actions of individuals without talking about the culture they are a part of. The actions of groups of individuals could be seen as the definition of social behaviors and culture itself. The problems we face on an individual level with issues of oppression converge into a culture of oppression. This is a primary concern of social justice, and the only way to address these large aggregate issues is by examining them at the social/cultural level in addition to the individual level. Systemic oppression is an en masse cultural issue, made up of the aggregated interpersonal interactions of members of privileged and marginalized groups. In the words of Bobby Fischer, “In order to improve your game, you must study the endgame before anything.” This is as true in sociology as in chess. With an accurate understanding of the world as it is, both on the group and individual level, we can prescribe change which will positively affect these issues both at the interpersonal and cultural levels.