PLEASE PLEASE READ THE INSTRUCTION CAREFULLY AND TRY TO FOLLOW IT AND DO YOUR BEST AND USE A GOOD EXAMPLE. PLEASE
Once you train your eye to look, it is not hard to find that the world is rife with injustices both great and small. One goal of this course is to prompt students to identify moments of systemic injustice, placing individual incidents within their larger social contexts, and to see them in places that may previously have gone unacknowledged. These can be structures of power that create inequities that you notice, race, ethnicity, or gender (or, ideally, an intersection) -motivated bias you see embedded in laws and policies, everyday cultural discourse you hear that contributes to exclusion, or something else.
Not only is an understanding of systemic injustice at the core of what you need to be successful in this class, and so worth practicing, being able to identify these systemic power issues requires a skill called “systems thinking” highly sought after from college graduates in nearly every field. And it’s a critical step toward disrupting those harmful systems to create a more just world.
Starting this week, you will write in a “diary” recording instances of systemic injustice you witness in your day-to-day life, your studies, or in the global news. You should describe the phenomenon you witnessed or read about as well as any additional research you did to understand what was happening, then analyze it according to the course concepts we are discussing. What impact does it have? How did you distinguish this as systemic injustice? What categories of identity were in play? What contextual or historical information do you need to understand this incident with the appropriate depth and complexity? What would need to change for this wrong to be righted on a systemic level? Be sure to focus on impact of the phenomenon you chose (rather than the personal intent of the participants or a change in personal beliefs).
If you’re not sure where to start, you can always start backward from a big concept to a local example. I’d recommend considering the phenomena mentioned in our modules as inspiration. For example, if you learn something new about US immigration policies or problems in ethnographic studies, you can look for an effect of that phenomenon within your daily experience (maybe your neighbor immigrated to the US and encountered difficulties, maybe there’s a recent ethnographic study you encountered in your studies that is flawed in a critical way) or in the global news (where are refugee crises happening in the world, what prompted them, what policies have other governments implemented, etc.).
Not only will you chose your best entry to expand and share with the class, but this assignment will also serve as an extended brainstorming activity for your upcoming group podcast assignment, so you’ll want to choose examples you feel strongly about, and that are complex enough for further inquiry should you choose.
To do this assignment well, you will need to:
Identify a possible example. Be sure you’re prepared to claim it’s an illustration of a systemic injustice.
Consider its context (i.e. do the people involved have a history of oppression as part of their group identity, is this an isolated incident or part of a pattern, etc.)
Do some background research to ensure you understand that context
Apply course concepts about systemic injustice to this incident and analyze it according to those concepts
Test your analysis—what would need to change to solve the problem? Can you point to what systemic change would need to happen?
You’ll get better at this each week as you learn more, and you’ll see more and more examples the further we get into the material. Be patient with yourself. Jot down ideas throughout the day then return to them later to consider which you’ll select for the week. A major part of this assignment is that early thinking stage in which you’re considering what qualifies, before you even write a word. You’re training your mind to think and experience the world in these terms through regularly practicing this kind of analysis.
EXAMPLE INCIDENTS :
Still confused about what types of situations could make good material for a Diary of Systemic Injustices entry? Consider the following exemplary entries from your peers:
Ryan Antkowiak wrote about a recent case involving Brian Flores:
Brian Flores, the former coach of the Miami Dolphins, and one of few African-American head coaches in NFL history, has recently made headlines as he plans to pursue a lawsuit against the National Football league for racist and prejudiced practices. Against all odds, Flores finished his last season with the Dolphins with a 9-8 record after starting the season 1-7. The decision to let Flores go this year left a lot of people scratching their heads as Flores was respected around the league for what he was able to accomplish with what he was given. More recently, New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick reached out to who he believed was Brian Daboll congratulating him on winning over the New York Giants job. The only issue was that Belichick was actually texting Brian Flores and he still had yet to attend his interview for the same job, making people begin to question the ethics of the NFL hiring policies. According to ESPN, Flores’s lawsuit accused the NFL of ” sham interviews, incentivizing losses and pressure to improperly recruit players” (Seifert, 2022). Flores claims that he was offered up to $100,000 for each loss as the head coach of the Dolphins in order to improve their draft position. This is a great example of systemic racism in recent news because it details how the power structure in one of the country’s most popular professional sports leagues was built to keep minorities from achieving positions of authority and prestige. The mostly white, wealthy team owners and league authorities have created a structure within the league where African-American coaches such as Flores rarely get the same opportunities as white coaches do when it comes to achieving and maintaining these positions. When Flores was fired this year, many people brought up the fact that white coaches on other teams have not been fired in the past when they proved to be far less capable than Flores in leading a team. The fact that Flores was incentivized to lose shows that the NFL did not care much for Flores’s success in the league and was merely using him to pave the way for what is probably going to be another white hire. The NFL put on a facade as if they actually cared about making diverse hires, however these sham interviews that have come to light prove otherwise. This example of systemic racism deals with the National Football League’s intent to keep African-Americans and other minorities at the bottom of the totem pole when it comes to positions of power. The result of this over the years has been far too few of these minorities achieving and maintaining head coaching and coordinator jobs. The NFL tried to resolve this issue years ago by instituting the Rooney Rule, which requires teams to interview at least two external minority candidates for open head coaching jobs, but according to ESPN, many of these minority coaches “are not considered serious candidates for many openings” (Seifert, 2022). I think that in order for this systemic racism in the NFL to truly get resolved, the only answer would be increased influence of minority individuals in hiring processes as well as incentivizing teams to hire minorities for these roles.
https://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/33201180/brian-flores-nfl-lawsuit-prove-systemic-racism-know-claims-sham-interviews-incentivizing-tanking-plus-ne (Links to an external site.)
Kate Birath wrote about victim blaming, in particular in sexual assault cases against women:
Victim blaming is often seen in courtrooms when defense attorneys suggest that the sexual assault was the fault of the victim. A few real life examples of courtroom victim blaming are as follows:
Judge Derek Johnson: “The body can ‘shut rape down.’”
Canadian Judge Robin Camp: “Pain and sex sometimes go together.”
Judge Thomas Low: “Great men sometimes do bad things.”
Jeanine Howard: “[The accuser] wasn’t the victim she claimed to be” and “[the rapist] is not your typical sex offender.”
In 2018, a young Irish girl’s lace underwear was held up in front of the courtroom and used as evidence to determine her rapist “not guilty” of sexual assault because it was viewed as “suggestive” clothing.
Blaming the victim discourages sexual assault victims to come forward and, in a broader perspective, allows these criminals to continue doing harm in the community when they are not held accountable for their actions. Additionally, when victims are blamed, they are vulnerable to public ridicule, while simultaneously watching their assaulter live freely. In regard to myself, my friends, and my family members, there are several personal connections to choosing not to come forward in the case of sexual assault out of fear of victim blaming. Victim blaming is considered a systemic injustice as it relates to the entire justice system and not just one or two sexist peoples. It is something that defense attorneys and courts use throughout the world to penalize women and further push the roots of misogyny and patriarchy.
An article on victim blaming made an interesting point: “blaming the victim helps us maintain a positive view of the world. It reinforces the notion that ‘bad things happen to bad people.’ It overlooks the fact that perpetrators are at fault for inflicting pain and committing crimes” (Morin, 2021). This further suggests that court systems and people in power, whether that be men in general, law enforcement officials, or superiors in the workplace, perpetuate victim blaming as a means of remaining powerful over a vulnerable other.
Sexual Assault and Victim Blaming (Links to an external site.) (verywellmind.com)
9 Infuriating Things Judges Have Said When Ruling On Sexual Assault Cases (Links to an external site.) (bustle.com)
You might also scan the headlines for global news, especially in the areas that are referenced in our readings each week. Is there a legacy of of systemic injustice still operating now? Do the context presentations or readings help you see a pattern or resonance?
Your weekly entries must each cover a different example (if you are covering a major developing local story, like an ongoing controversy in your neighborhood or on campus or in the global news, contact your TA about permission to write about it more than once. Otherwise, choose a new topic each week). They should clearly describe the incident and what you identify as the injustices and/or power inequities at play.
about 250 words.
Your entries will be evaluated on the following:
Completion at required length
Sufficient contextual information
Thoughtfulness of your comments on how the situation creates or perpetuates injustice and inequality
Relevancy of the example you chose
Submission on time