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Kameron (Eastside & Co-ops CRF)–To Group or not to Group

Posted May 14th, 2010 by Allyson

After concentrating my learning this term on theories of social justice I have found one blatant truth; there is much that I was not and sometimes continue to be unaware of. As I have been learning more and more, I have been recognizing racism and other forms of oppression that exist everywhere around me.  Part of where this starts is in my own head and the times I classify people. Our minds are wonderful computers with the ability to classify different objects in order to survive. For example, it would be difficult and overwhelming to recognize over and over again that a knife is sharp or that a stove top is hot.   Although beneficial and necessary when dealing with objects, this can be severely detrimental when carried over to classify people.  I know that when I look at someone, I can automatically put that individual in a category.  It’s how I go about everyday life.  I don’t mean to hurt anyone, but I have realized what I have been doing is generalizing and stereotyping the people around me.  I automatically assume certain things based on the way they look, dress, or act.

It wasn’t until I started asking questions about myself that I started noticing what I was doing.  I’m not saying that I was oblivious to it, but I am saying that I was ignoring it and taking it for granted.  The ability to classify objects led me to start classifying people.  It is still a challenge I face every day.  I struggle with recognizing people for their social identities, without using what I see on the outside to shape my opinion (or classification) of them without getting to know them. I also realize that I want the same exact thing from other people.

I know I will continue to classify, but it won’t ever stop me from trying harder.  So now I put the ball in your court; can you see people as individuals AND as part of their social identities, at the same time not classifying them because of their social identities? I challenge you that it might be harder than you think.

Kameron Beeks
CRF – Eastside & Co-Ops

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    Kameron (Eastside & Co-ops CRF)-To Group or not to Group – Experience of a Lifetime