On Tuesday, Nov. 27 the TRiO Student Support Services held a town hall meeting regarding the topic of the intersections of male privilege, race and gender. TRiO Assistant Director, Ronal Holland, presented the discussion. The event was held in D-106 and was attended by approximately 50 students.
The discussion of male privilege, race and gender started off with a short skit presented by student volunteers. Volunteers performed a skit to better illustrate the issue of male privilege and race.
Holland started off his discussion by quoting Thomas Merton, who said, “To consider persons and events and situations only in the light of their effect upon myself is to live on the doorstep of hell. The quote denotes how people tend to look at themselves in a situation that is twirling like a sot. People tend to look at themselves easier when they feel oppressed by injustice and inequality. Given that situation, Holland reminded students to always remember to not focus on the pain. Instead, according to Holland, people should never forget that the power of speech could have an impact on change.
To better illustrate the concept of the power of speech, Holland played a You Tube video entitled “Slip of the Tongue.” The video depicted young man who made a pass at a beautiful stranger and got an eye-opening schooling on race and gender.
The discussion went on and covers topics such as the danger in focusing on vilification versus the survivor and how it impacted communities of color and the community as a whole. In one of the question and answer sessions, one student questioned whether the media played a role in the perception of men of color. The question raised opinions and sentiments from other students which leads to a discussion regarding media portrayal of certain ethnic group and sex.
Holland initiated the discussion concerning race and gender privilege because for the past nine years of working at Bellevue College, he had never seen such topics being discussed. Holland felt the need to provide a space where a safe and healthy discussion regarding the topic of race and gender privilege in the hope of sparking more awareness about relationships and interactions of men and women of color. According to Holland, male privilege for men of color focuses more on race and not on the connections between men and women of color themselves. “Unless we have an open conversation and deal with the issues of relationship and interaction between men and women of color, we as a community of color will not be able to fight for equality in a racist system,” said Holland.
Student Maureen Ndeani came to the discussion to learn more about the male privilege. According to her, male privilege goes in deeper than what people think. “As much as people of color strives to end white supremicists, our own society is being destroyed from the inside by male privilege,” said Ndeani. Ndeani added that women of color are being put in disadvantage because how society has shaped and potrayed them.
According to student Lisa Mojin, men don’t realize that they have so much power over women. The media puts a lot of emphasis on male privilege and makes it okay for men to behave inaptly towards women; inappropriate pick-up lines and name calling are a few examples.
For more information, students can join discussions and learn about the issue of male privilege within communities of color on the Facebook page Facebook.com/MOCprivillege.