Culture… where to begin – Detroit Community-Engaged Research Program

Culture… where to begin

Last night as I was falling asleep, I was formulating this blog post in my mind: When your eyes are opened to the nuances of culture and origin, particularly the interweaving of oppression and privilege that it entails, it can be difficult not to become incredibly disillusioned. Particularly in a place like Detroit, where decades of institutionalized oppression are apparent almost everywhere you look, this issue is impossible to ignore. In the wake of a shooting in Charleston, police violence on a young black girl in McKinney Texas, and countless other victims of police brutality against African Americans, I have been finding myself angry at the country that claims to be “the land of the free”. It becomes worse watching an old white male Fox News anchor claim that it is “un-American” to claim that institutionalized racism still exists and seeing firsthand people in a position of privilege defensively unwilling to admit that their success, in part, came from cultural factors working in their favor. Ignoring racism, sexism, and other forms of oppression does not mean that they don’t exist, and the people who are too willing to dismiss it as fallacy are too often the ones in a position to change the system for the better.

These issues have been important to me for some time now, but being in this program in Detroit with so many others who care about and have been affected by these issues, I find it often at the forefront of my mentality. Let me clarify, I am proud to be an American and feel very fortunate to have grown up here, but we have a ways to go before we can truly claim to be the best country in the world.

Today I woke up overjoyed to find out that gay marriage is now legal across the entire United States. I come from a family that has enough gay people to play a gays vs. straights game of volleyball at family reunions, and have close friends that proudly identify as gay. They grew up believing that they would never be able to marry their soulmate or be able to walk down the street with their partner holding hands without getting strange or even menacing looks. For me, this decision represents so much more than a simple legal right. It is a huge step in a larger cultural shift towards equal treatment to people of all backgrounds and sexualities. While we undoubtedly still have a long way to go, today I am more optimistic about the future than I have been in a long time.

Cultural identities and the societal treatment that comes with them can be very difficult to talk about, but without free discussion of these issues it is next to impossible to change them. I know there is so much I will never fully understand, but I strive to be an ally in any way I can. For today though, I’m gonna take the opportunity to celebrate a victory for equality won.

(Disclaimer: This doesn’t have as much to do with my community site as it should, but there are a lot of important cultural things happening around the country that I feel I must discuss. I’ll be sure to follow the prompt more closely next week)

1 thought on “Culture… where to begin”

  1. Eva,

    Thank you for talking about the injustices we have here in the US. It’s really jarring when one starts noticing instances of institutionalized racism increasing. Use that anger and knowledge you have to help disenfranchised people! ^_^

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