In light of the overwelming response (my own and on social media) to Jesse William’s speech at the BET awards, I am grounding this week's digest in the opposite reaction: the issues of inward and outward stigma and discrimination.
When Jesse William’s presented his speech on racial injustice at the BET awards, I, along with many others let out a triumphant ‘YES’ of approval. However this speech was not received in such a way by all. Others declared it to be inverse racism and a declaration of hate. For myself and Guardian writer, Juan Brammer, it highlights a startling disconnect within America, and moreover society at large. In Brammer's article he argues whilst many are becoming more willing to speak out against racism they ‘fail’ to recognise it when it is not a physical act but something much subtler, or something that seems more accusatory then literal like an act of violence or hate. Something which as William’s speech highlights needs to be addressed in order to be understood and most importantly listened to.
Although what can be done when stigma is not only projected by people outside the group by those it directly affects. Jenna Amatulli’s Huffington Post article depicts this in relation a ‘graphic’ tweet posted by a female twitter user about the one and only Taylor Swift. Arguing two key points that whether it be men objectifying women, or, women objectifying women, either is ingrained in society and cannot be remedied if those it hurts enforce it. “We’re oppressed enough. We certainly don’t need it from other women” (Amatulli 2016).
However ignorance is bliss right? Tom Stafford discusses this in relation the problematic notion of unconscious discrimination. In his BBC, article, Stafford proposes that these actions are ‘microagressions’ that may seem harmless or unworthy of discussion, but, actually allow discrimination and marginalisation to go further. Stafford grounds this in relation to experiments done by various institutions showing that one must consider how even if events are ‘small’ or ‘subtle’ in continual occurrence can have much larger consequences.
So where can we start to approach these inequalities or try and combat them ‘head on’ ? One would argue it lies in altering the spaces they exist within. Kelefa Sanneh discusses in his New York Times article in relation to misunderstandings and constructions as spaces classified as ‘ghettos’. Showing the implications around gentrification of urban space. “The call to save a neighborhood is most compelling when it serves as a call to help a neighborhood’s neediest inhabitants.” (Sanneh 2016). However it is important to note how this can in one way remedy inequality can also increase it ten fold.