When I took Introduction to Women´s Studies with Dr. Askeland in the spring of 2009, I was exposed to many new influences and factors in society. Dr. Askeland wove together much knowledge within the subjects of women´s studies, African American literature, American women´s literature, etc., helping me see how they are intertwined in many ways. Among the texts she had us read was this: White Privilege: Unpacking the the Invisible Knapsack by Peggy McIntosh.
This text is focusing on white privilege, but by reading it I think one can be helped recognizing other privileges: male privilege, non-handicapped privilege, heterosexual privilege, etc. READ IT, I think it will open your mind a bit (and that´s a great thing).
Dr. Askeland also explained racism and sexism in a way that has helped me a lot. Basically (and you tell me if this is incorrect Dr. Askeland, I am retelling the main points as I remember them) Dr Askeland told us to think of racism and sexism as an sickness that has infected society. From the moment you were born, you have been breathing in these thought patterns and your whole brain is full of it. But you did not choose to be infected, you did not create the sickness. It was all over society long before you were born. But it is there, in each and every one of us, in one way or another.
I sometimes catch myself thinking prejudiced thoughts, thoughts with opinions that I do not agree with. It scares me, but I find it useful tho think of the prejudice in this way that Dr. Askeland described, like a disease that has come to me because of the way that society is and has been for a long time. I don´t have to feel like a bad person for these thoughts coming up, BUT I do need to be aware of them and try to find the source of them. I am responsible for the way I deal with this disease. I will fight it, and becoming more aware of it and makes it a lot easier.
So I am trying to stop feeling bad for my prejudiced thoughts, being aware of them and working on becoming more open-minded and little by little this disease will go away. Don´t beat yourself up when you recognize these thoughts, be happy that you are aware of them enough to see them. And then use that knowledge to defeat them.