The days of lawfully allowing inequal rights among gender and racial groups have long passed. However, gender and racial stereotypes have encouraged discrimination and prejudice, making it a longstanding and troubling issue still today. Furthermore, these stereotypes can have profound consequences in all aspects of life, including education. Carmen Lugo-Lugo, an associate professor at Washington State University in the Department of Critical Culture, Gender, and Race Studies, has analyzed gender and racial stereotypes in the higher education sector and how it alters the educational perspective.
Although Carmen Lugo-Lugo’s essay “A Prostitute, a Servant, and a Customer Service-Representative: A Latina in Academia” reveals fundamental issues of racial and gender inequalities we currently face as a nation, her use of faulty reasoning leads to questionable conclusions, not providing clear evidence of her claims.
The main idea that Lugo-Lugo aims to convey is that her students form a pre-conceived notion or expectation about her the moment they walk into her classroom. She claims that because she is a woman of color her students assume, she is unintelligent and therefore unequipped to be a professor (193).
Lugo-Lugo supports her claim by sharing an exchange she experienced with a white male student. The student felt that he could demand that Lugo-Lugo cancel class that day because his parents pay her salary (189). From that exchange, Lugo-Lugo concludes that the student only made that statement because she is a woman of color and he was showing white privilege. Even though her conclusion is probably true, it simply cannot be verified from one interaction.
For instance, this student may make similar ignorant statements to other professors regardless of gender or race. Another example Lugo-Lugo uses for her claim is the course evaluations she receives from her students. She asserts that her students write evaluations complimenting her intelligence as if they did not expect her to be intelligent (193). There is little evidence to prove this claim making it merely an assumption from her own perspective. In short, Lugo-Lugo uses suitable experiences to support her claim, but the lack of proof, creates judgements based on opinions rather than fact.
Lugo-Lugo believes that one of the reasons her students draw conclusions about her is due to societies perspective of Latinos/as. To demonstrate this concept, she gives the data on a Census report which shows neighborhoods are segregated by race. As a result of our segregated population, Lugo-Lugo insists, that social perspective of Latinos/as cannot be based on interpersonal connections. Instead, they are based on media and pop culture. She goes on to explain that the media has turned Latinos/as into sexualized commodities (191). Although, Lugo-Lugo’s reasoning seems adequate, there is flaw in her logic. She does not consider that daily interactions with others do not solely occur at home. People regularly interact with other people outside of their neighborhoods. For instance, social interaction occurs at work, school, events, etc. Furthermore, there are no other facts given to support whether there is a link between the residential segregation of Latinos/as and societies perspective of Latinos/as a whole. As a result, her claim that societies perspective of Latinos/as is based on media and pop culture is not supported by appropriate evidence. In addition, Lugo-Lugo does not take in account that women in general are oversexualized in the media. So, by the logic in her essay, since American neighborhoods are segregated by race, the Latino/as population views all women outside of their race as sexualized commodities. In all, Lugo-Lugo has not gathered all facts or considered other factors involving her claim, instead she makes an inference that is based on an unsupported fact.
According to Lugo-Lugo, the fact that she is a woman will also hinder her student’s expectations of her. She explains, that because the typical professor is presumed to be a white male, being a female professor has its hardships. Lugo-Lugo substantiates these hardships by stating, “· women are still, to this day, not seen as prone to reason or even possessing intelligence; in fact, many people continue to regard them as volatile creatures dominated by their feelings, their ‘hearts’ ” (192). This statement is delivered in an emotional and extreme manor, as if she is presenting her point-of-view as a fact. Furthermore, the strong feelings present in this remark may lead readers to believe it is influenced by personal bias. Lugo-Lugo then backs up her statement with a conversation she experienced with a student. The student expressed that women would not be able to undertake engineering because they lack the intelligence. According to Lugo-Lugo, this begs the question, what could society make women think about other people, since society has made her believe she is brainless (192-193). While her argument is convincing, she uses one example to swiftly jump to conclusion. For instance, from one student’s absurd notion, she assumes all women would believe anything society told them. Not to mention, it is not known how this student came to believe this idea. Overall, Lugo-Lugo displays a bold claim but her seemingly bias tone and quick assertions make her claim difficult to believe as a fact.
Indeed, one could not argue that Lugo-Lugo is thoroughly educated on the topic of racial and gender discrimination. Her essay is well thought out and provides insight to real life issues, however, the reasoning she uses to come to her conclusions, may lead the reader to dismiss her claims as an assumption or opinion. Provided that opinions can be inaccurate or debatable, using faulty reasoning to conclude on such an important subject can skew the readers views of the topic. All in all, whether her claims are true of false, they are not supported by appropriate facts and evidence.
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