Monday, July 22, 2013

Societal Construction Is Affecting You in Every Way

Today I woke up at 6:45 AM after falling asleep at 2:05 AM. It seems like it’s inevitable that I only receive four hours of sleep each day. I woke up early and all of the women on my floor, my RA, and I went to go get breakfast together. I went up to get breakfast and realized that there were no tongs for me to pick up my pancake with. Then, I politely asked the lunch lady where they were and with no reply I proceeded to pick up one. She began to scold me and tell me that I had to use the tongs with she had in her hand and not available to me. This really made my day start off on a bad note, because she was extremely rude for no reason and I didn’t even see that she had the tongs in her possession. I began to think about how I could use this as a learning experience and instead of getting offended by her unprofessionalism I decided to forgive her and infer that she was exhausted from working in the kitchen for all the hours. Previously in the blog prior to this one I wrote about a rude Starbucks employee being rude to me and me reacting to her judgement by responding. Instead of arguing with rude people  I am learning to be the bigger person and walk away. 
One of Brown University's Dining Halls

After breakfast Sonya and I tried to find the building for our first Women and Leadership class.  We could not figure out how to get there and ending up asking for directions from several miscellaneous strangers.  As I asked for directions I met my new friend, Ruchi, she is Indian and loves to have explore the campus.
Ruchi Amin
 With Ruchi’s help we managed to get to class on time and we ended up sitting next to each other during class. Our class was from 9 AM to 11:30 AM and then we had a lunch break from 11:30 AM to 1:00 PM after the lunch break class resumed from 1 PM to 3 PM. I never imagined that people in college had so much freedom, but an unusually strenuous class schedule. I think that this might have actually been one of the easier class days, but after being sleep deprived I didn’t feel as energetic as I should have. 

When class began Dean Almandrez and the leadership teacher assistants introduced themselves. Dean Almandrez asked us to tell the group of name, where we are from, what gender specific pronoun would we prefer to be called by, and to tell the class one hope and one hope not. I already knew about Sarah Day, because she is the RA on my floor and I meet her yesterday. The other TA was Heidi, whom I had never met before directly due to her being a RA on a different floor. I saw her at the Leadership Institute community meeting, but I never had the chance to interact with her. She is hilarious and really decreases the amount of anxiousness in the room and this makes the class a lot enjoyable. I introduced myself after Sarah Day and I said, “Hi, my name is Alicia and I’m from El Sobrante, California, I don’t have a specific gender pronoun that I prefer, but she and her is just fine. I hope that we can all be civilized while hearing opinions that differ from our own. I hope that people don’t feed into the drama that is often associated with women. “I felt all of the eyes in the room examining me and felt like the girls were already judging me. At this moment in time I did not feel comfortable enough to jump in any of the discussions, but after a while my comfort level began to expand. My professor is so relatable and authentic oftentimes we have negative connotations about an average college professor but she completely defies these stereotypes.

 During class we discussed the seven categories of “otherness” which are gender, sexuality, socioeconomic status, ethnicity/race, ability, religion, and age.  We broke off into groups to discuss three of these terms that affect us the most throughout our lives and I chose ethnicity/race, gender, and socioeconomic status. I chose ethnicity, because when you are a young African- American women people automatically think that you are loud, ignorant, ghetto, and rude. Society believes all of the stereotypes that they have been shown, because that is all they have ever known to be “true”. I am used to be the only minority and excluded from most groups or interrogated about topics that were attributed with being a stereotypical African- American female. Most people will never know what it’s like to be followed around a store, because people assume that you are going to steal something. Most people will never know what it’s like to be labeled as “white-washed”, because she are articulate and don’t act like certain African Americans in an average society. These African-Americans are not complete representations of whom black people are, but that is as far as society cares to investigate. There are plenty of black people who are intelligent and making an impact in their communities, but these positive behaviors are never advertised or rewarded with acknowledgement.

After another exercise we went on a lunch break and I had to go back to the dining hall which I dreaded to my previous experience with a certain staff member. I quickly decided that it would be wise for me to go to the other lunch lady who I presumed would not look at me as if I had just harmed an entire community.
As I finished eating Crystal, Shraddha, and I returned to the Thomas J. Watson, Sr. Center for Information Technology building 
 to watch a film on single stories. In this film Nigerian author, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichi read discussed several experiences that she has had throughout her life where societies misconceptions on a  certain category has lead us to believe that they are valid. She talks about the things that she has read or watched that made her view a particular demographic in a negative way, because that is the only thing that she knew. I enjoyed watching the film and learned that instead of assuming that someone will live up to the stereotype they are associated with that we should get to know them and base our conclusions off of which they show themselves to be.

After we watched the film on Chimamanda Ngozi Adichi we discussed what it means have a darker complexion than the people who you are surrounded by. Most of the girls talked about how in their cultures it is more appealing to be light-skinned. In every culture the darker you are the uglier people perceive you to be. I was really appalled by some of the comments that were spouting out of my fellow classmates mouths. I felt as though some of the more socioeconomically advanced people felt as though those views were true, but did not have the gall to say it which I felt made them look exceedingly unaware. I was not offended for they were uninformed on what true beauty is and most likely had not experienced people from various backgrounds. The woman I was one day ago would have gotten defensive, but part of our class is learning how to control your emotions within an environment in a combative based setting. 

 After class I walked around with Ruchi and we went back to Perkins Hall to converse with one another in more depth. I can already see that I am changing my abrasive behavior and learning how to accept opinions that I don’t agree with. The last event of the day was at Sayles Hall and it was an activity which determined what type of leader you are. They used four directions: North, South, East, and West to describe different leadership types and made you select the one that mostly embodied your beliefs. I chose North, because it describes a leader who is decisive and knows what she needs her team members to do in order to accomplish that task at hand punctually. The bad side of this leadership type is that the leader can be very controlling and does not care about the feelings or opinion of others if it means getting the job done. I do not feel as though this accurately describes me, because I do care about other people’s opinions and I hope that they feel comfortable enough around me to pitch them to me.
At the end of the day I gained a lot of insight and managed to learn about being a leader without being too harsh. I am one step closer to being the women who I know that I can be and can’t wait to see what else might transpire within the next few days.
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