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Conceptual Frameworks Essay

In chapter 1 some of the sections that mainly stood out to me were the concept of identity, dominant and subordinate groups, and the concept of privilege. The readings in this chapter took me through several steps as I read. I first thought about identity and how I view myself. Then I thought on how others view me. Identity then led into dominant and subordinate groups.

The way I identify myself places me in a dominant or subordinate group, often both at the same time. After reading about these groups and how one group, the dominant, is placed above the subordinate it all tied into privilege. In the dominant and subordinate groups privileges are present but more often in favor of the dominant group.

Identity is “shaped by individual characteristics, family dynamics, historical factors, and social and political contexts” (Tatum, 1997) When you think of your identity you should be able to answer questions such as “Who am I”, “Who do people say that I am”, and “Who do I want to be”. These answers guide your actions in everyday life, they shape the decisions you make.

For example the question “Who do I want to be”. If you know the answer to that your actions and the decisions you make will be based off getting you to who you want to be. The question “Who am I” should guide you with the people you surround yourself with and some of the personal choices you make. The answers to these questions also allows society to place you in ether a dominant or subordinate group in certain social categories. For example if I ask myself Who am I, I could answer I am African American.

The social category that fits in with would be race. While reading I was able to look into these social categories and see if I fell in a dominant or subordinate group. As an African American in the race category I would fall under a subordinate group. On the other hand if I answer that same question with I am a Christian I fall into a dominant group.

Dominant and Subordinate groups in these social categories shows how society groups people and places some groups higher than others. This led into the next part I read about that talks about privilege. “Privilege exists when one group has something of value that is denied to others simply because of the group they belong to, rather than because of anything they’ve done or failed to do” (Johnson, 2006). Dominant and Subordinate groups allows privilege to make it’s way through and cause social injustices.

For instance as heterosexual girls have a form of privilege against me because they are able to freely express their love and show their relationships without fear of judgement from peers versus myself, a lesbian young woman, who is not able to do those same things. I have experienced many moments where I was made to feel like my sexuality was something I should not make public because it was the not the norm. Even just as as African American I’ve been held at a disadvantage to my White counterparts.

Social Injustice occurs in many ways. One group receiving privileges over another solely based on their identities and what society perceives to be the norm is an injustice. What determines one group of people to be the “right” group of people ? From my readings I can only say that majority rules. As a people we should break down these social orders and dominance of one group over an other in order to prevent social injustice.

Reference Page
Adams, M., Blumenfeld, W. J., Castaneda, C., Hackman, H., Peters, M. L., & Zuniga, X. (Eds.). (2000). Readings for Diversity and Social Justice. New York, NY: Routledge. Johnson, A. G. (2006). What Can We do? Privilege, Power, and Difference. New York: McGraw Hill. Tatum, B. D. (1997). Why Are All The Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? And Other Conversations about Race. New York: Basic Books.

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