Friday, February 21, 2014

Race, Class and Gender

Please answer the following questions?  Use textual support to back up your responses.

Did this reading give you any new  ideas or make you think differently?  Make sure to use specifics from the chapter, “Shifting the Center” to support your ideas.  How might you change your perceptions based on this reading?  This is a very open response, but it requires you understand its ideas and to discuss what they mean to you.
Also respond to how you view the power of words.  What do they do?  Why are they powerful? What effect do they really have when it comes to what we say and how we perceive?

27 comments:

  1. Human relations and behavior among various groups are centered around one’s knowledge about the various types of individuals that form mankind. It is easy to generalize a group based on their history, culture and society, however this initiates and is the catalyst to the stereotypes and misconceptions that plague mankind. In order to defy these social barriers, one must “shift the center”. By shifting centers it essentially gazes the visual lens and enables one to incorporate the voices of various perspectives that may not have been heard. In terms of race, class and gender, larger groups generally have greater control on the viewpoint of how mankind as a whole sees them and minority groups. By shifting centers one is able to reframe their method of thinking and not only see, but understand the value of the excluded.This ideal is significant because it opens the door to a new race of man. This new race is one that eliminates single stories because they able to recognize the relationships among people, who although may be classified differently, are all unified by the idea of being a global citizen. To note, “once we understand that race, class, and gender are simultaneous and intersecting systems of relationship and meaning, we come to see the different ways that other categories of experience intersect in society” (p.5). To elaborate, exposing oneself to the viewpoints of minority groups does not just enhance one’s level of understanding, but opens the door to seeing the ways in which we are all connected. By doing so, it weakens the boundaries and differences among various groups and promotes the idea of unity in diversity. Knowledge provides the fundamental basis to how we perceive, interact and classify members of humanity. Ultimately the actions of man root to words said and read. Words have an immense amount of capability for they act as a source of comprehension, thought and understanding. Words are a token of our thoughts, yet they are able to be vocalized and heard. Ghandi once said “your words become your actions, your actions become your habits, your habits become your values, your values become your destiny.” Texts are able to alter the way one views another, can alter our opinions, but ultimately it is the words of thought that predicts our action.

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  2. In a general view, overall, Shifting the Center, holds some great ideas. In the very beginning of the first paragraph it states how "...we might see the world differently if we were to shift our vision of society from one that is typically centered in the voices and experiences of dominant groups..." (Anderson. 1.). It goes on to talk about how we need to shift our focus, not only to recenter it but to look at it with a completely new lens. I believe that we do need to be more inclusive as a society. That we all need to open our eyes to experiences in the view of someone else's "thereby removing filters that groups bring to what they see"(Anderson. 2). I try to look at the world with a view that is purely my own. I don't want others to shift what I see, or tell me what I am seeing. Perhaps, upon reading this I might try to put "at the center of our thinking the experiences of groups that have formerly been excluded" (Anderson. 3). I slightly though disagree with this statement because I believe that though we should always have sympathy for groups who have been oppressed whether that be based on class, gender, race, or sexual orientation, I also think we should make judgements about people based on character and their actions rather than what they may look like.
    I think words can be compelling, inspirational and provoking. Despite this I really believe in the phrase that "actions speak louder than words". Words can lie. Actions reveal true morals and character. Words can help actions, but again the cliche phrase "practice what you preach" is truly more important. Like stated in anthology it "is more than just 'understanding diversity' or valuing cultural pluralism" (Anderson. 4.). We have to incorporate our words into all that we do or say or how we judge and perceive rather than just words on a page. When we can truly appreciate and change our "center" is when I believe that words will truly be just as important as actions. We can all be provoked by words to change but it is only effective when we act upon these words.

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  3. While reading this excerpt, I couldn't help but think how think how natural in human nature to fall into the majority and stay there. It is much easier to just sit back, join the crowd, not thirst for knowledge, and just stay ignorant, but it is much more courageous to really search for a greater understanding and wonder about the unknown. By the end of the first page, I was already sold on the concept because I think it is something that is easier said than done. It is a great challenge to really yearn for a better understand and realize that we don't know everything and we can actually benefit from knowing more. One sentence that stood out to me was, "the development of women's studies has changed what we know and how we think about women; at the same time, it has changed what we know and how we think about men" (Andersen, Collins 3). This passage really made me think about how everything that we learn has a double meaning. I have never thought of this before and how my opinion of men is shaped through my opinion of women. Also, when the author wrote, "they are typically judged through the experiences of White people, rather than understood on their own terms; this establishes a false normal through which all groups are judged" (Andersen, Collins 3). The more I thought about this sentence, the more it impacted me. I realized that I always have been looking at things through a "white" len rather than the lens of those who have experienced the hardships. Even though in social studies I learn about different races, it is usually through the mouths of white men, not by the people who actually know how it felt to be in the devastating situations. I realize that I can't keep narrowing my vision because it is easier, I have to take the time and put in the effort to really understand the minorities and the diversities that exist within the world. It will broaden my knowledge and expand my thinking more than I can think. I can't contain myself to what I know because their so much more than just my own thoughts in the world. Furthermore, this excerpt really showed me the power of every word that is written or spoken. Words can move a mountain or make it crumble. Words can solve a problem or make one. Words can encourage, words can discourage, Words are our thoughts put into a more simple form. Our thoughts are worthless until we put them on a page or say them aloud. That is when the have value. But words are also dangerous. They can we hurtful and painful to hear when we don't use them wisely. They are our most valuable gift, yet our most powerful weapon. Words impact the soul which is something that no other weapon can do.

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  4. The reading “Shifting the Center” broadened my views on history. Last year was the first year a history teacher even attempted to discuss anything but the mainstream black and white view. I knew nothing about the grey areas in history. Next to nothing about ignored genocides or oppressed peoples. But this passage asked, “How much did you learn about the history of group oppression in your formal education?” Not enough. Even now the most we talk about “the losers” of history is a couple bullet points in passing. I don’t know what happened to them that caused the world to look like it does today. How did their cultures influence the culture that is writing the history books? That is why I need to move my center of study off of just what the victors say and more to a whole view. Take in information from all sides of the events, not just the side that wrote the history.
    This article encourages the reader to change their perceptions of the world. They need to “Shift the Center” to see all of its sides. The passage, “Does reconstructing knowledge matter?” made me wonder if my perceptions are mine. If all I do is absorb and regurgitate information then those words are not mine. But if I take in information from all places possible and reconstruct it into my own information I can better use it. I need to make my perceptions my own.
    At the end of the day this piece is still just words. But words have incomparable power. A couple words strung together made me want to change the way I see the world. Words can give you power or tear you down. They make you feel inspired and sad. Words are powerful because the world has given them power. Way back in the day when there was only the most rudimentary language words didn’t have power. Actions were power. But then people realized that actions aren’t the only form of power. If you can convince others to follow then you will not need action. But if those people refuse to listen. If they refuse to think about the words then those words have no power. If they do not let those words have power then they will have none.

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  5. To me "Shifting the Center" focuses on the way I am currently being taught to think about life and history. It shows the importance of not looking at events from one narrow point of view, but from many different perspectives that show the importance of each person or part of history. It brings attention to the idea of not comparing people's accomplishments to the standards and boundaries of another group, but instead recognizing the good effects each person or group of people has on society in its own way. Without gaining knowledge on different people and cultures it is difficult to have a new point of view, "First, learning about other groups helps you realize the partiality of your own perspective; furthermore, this is true for both dominant and subordinate groups" (page 4). A person cannot see clearly without a more broad perspective. It is also important to see the strengths that a person of any race, gender, or class has and not put restrictions on people based on low expectations or stereotypes, and hinder them from benefiting society, "Shifting the center asks you to think more inclusively. Without doing so you are prone to understand society, your own life within it, and experiences of others through stereotypes and misleading information" (page 3). People often believe something about a particular group of people and fail to understand the truth about individuals in that group.
    I think that words can have a lot of power over people. There are many people who will believe anything they are told and that is why so many people are mistreated and not given equal opportunity. If someone has been told all their life that they are either less than another person or better than another person, they are likely to believe it. Perception is reality for many people; therefore, it is crucial that people research and experience their own beliefs and truths to avoid being mislead.

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  6. The chapter, “Shifting the Center” brought about a lot of new ideas and ways to view race, class, and gender for me. Shifting the center is rethinking stereotypes, so that when we look at someone of a certain race, class, or gender, we can steer our thinking away from common beliefs, and see them as something new and fresh. Shifting the center really makes me think about how I could change the way I see people. “Exclusionary thinking is increasingly being challenged by scholars and teachers who want to include the diversity of human experience in the construction and transmission of knowledge.” (Anderson, Collins 3). When I read this I thought about how even trying to shift the center sometimes we are at fault. If we look at black people and we try to shift the center than we might try to understand them through slavery, and try to have empathy for them. But not all black people were involved with slavery, just like not all white people were racist slave owners. Also, when we look at people with latin heritage sometimes we try to shift the center when we look at them, and accept them as lower class, but not all mexicans and latinos have been in gangs or are lower income families. When we shift the center, it is important that we take history and customs into consideration, but also realize that everyone is different and we all have a different voice and point of view to share. Words are powerful, but actions will always speak louder, “If this is the basis for our knowledge (stereotypes and misleading information) about each other, then we have little ground for building more just and liberating relationships and social institutions,” (Anderson, Collins 3). If you approach someone and say something to them that is uplifting regarding race, class, or gender, then you might be seen as a friend, but acting like a friend and treating them as an equal holds much more weight than a few sincere words. Overall, I think people need to understand, and take each others backgrounds into consideration, but just treating each other equally and starting with a clean slate may “shift your center” and help you rethink stereotypes more effectively.

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  7. "Shifting the Center" pin pointed how I viewed history and how I looked down on the way people acted in history. While my perspective on history was left the same after reading this, I am now more aware of when I have a narrow mentality towards people and time periods. This reading had put me in a place where I now question my view of some situations in history and I want to relearn history. "Understanding race, class, and gender means coming to see the systematic exclusion and exploitation of various groups. This is more than just adding in different group experiences to already established frameworks of thought. It means constructing new analyses that are focused on the centrality of race, class, and gender in the experiences of us all," (pg. 4). This passage from the text perfectly explains how we try to fix our narrow mindset and shows the true cure. "Seeing inclusively is more than just seeing the world through the perspective of any one group whose views have been distorted or ignored," (pg. 5). We cannot simply add a few different points of views to our already corrupted thoughts. The only correct way to judge history is to see history from a world view. Not a white, American or western view. But look at the world from the worlds perspective. While beliefs will clash, that only adds to the truth of history. The one question that comes to my mind is how could this be at all possible to accomplish? Can any one person see the world in a non prejudice manor?

    Words can be beautiful, but words can also tear something beautiful down. Words give identity, like names, but they also provide corruption and false sources. It is horrible that people would write/say things to twist thoughts and beliefs, and it is even worse that we will all believe these twisted words. The more our world advances, the more that words will be a way to destroy hope. But words have the power to protest. They have the power for one person to spread an idea to a whole community. We are all given this power of "words" and this power can be an amazing thing. We must learn from what Uncle Ben said; "With great power, comes great responsibility." One of the hardest things to deal with in this modern world is to judge whether words that have been written or spoken by a person are reality or lies.
    “Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.”
    ― Rudyard Kipling

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  9. The chapter "Shifting the Center" brought about new realizations that most everything we ever learn or are taught is usually from the perspective of the more dominant group. History is always shown through how events have shaped and molded the lives of modern day Americans. We learn about groups of people and events in the past, but it is always linked back to us. We never see how it affects the other minor countries or even on a smaller level, how it affects minority groups in America. Say that in future, we begin learning about a document that was signed to allow people to drink at age 16. We'll begin to learn about how this document affects companies, government, and "the average human being". We find a group of people, usually the dominant one, to show the mass majority of humans how they were affected in the past. We don't get to far enough into detail as to see how this change affects the Asian Americans, or even families who just moved to America in the last year. We begin to judge the minority classes without even stepping into their shoes. On page two of our packet in the chapter Shifting the Center, a quote reads “When they are seem, they are typically judged through the experiences of White people, rather than understood on their own terms; this establishes a false norm through which all groups are judged.” We give out so much information, that we are forced to pile it down into the views of one mass majority rather than seeing the points of view from other minor groups.

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  10. “Shifting the Center” displays an idea. An idea that states how in order to better shape our society, people must shift their point of view from theirs to other kinds around the world. They also explain it is very important to not only shift from yours to one other kind, but to make sure one includes multiple point of views. This idea is clearly stated, “Instead, it means actually seeing things differently, perhaps even changing the lens you look through- thereby removing the filters (or stereotypes and misconceptions) that groups bring to what they see” (Andersen, Collins 1). As the authors talk about changing the lense in which one looks through, they mean pushing aside everything you knew about one group and relearning it the way they do. This passage provides a clear way to explain how to do this, but in reality it would probably be much harder to complete. People find comfort in the way they have always done aspects of life, and that reason is why change is so hard to initiate. Through the words of this reading I am more aware about different perspectives than I was before, and so when a certain situation arises, I will be able to think about it from many different perspectives.


    The power of words is one of the most influential aspects of life in my opinion. People may do or may not do certain actions based on what people say. Words are the only thing that can come from another human and I believe that to be the reason why they can be so powerful. Despite what people may say, most want the respect and acknowledgement from other humans. It is in our nature. That is why words can inspire change and stop evil. Words are an output for human interaction and connection. Interaction and connection between each other is one of the main points of life. Without it, the importance of life would be shifted extremely differently.

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  11. Human relationships and social policies are largely centered around societies knowledge of the past. How we view other races, life choices, and social norms are all influenced by history. While in the beginning this concept was hard to grasp, as the chapter progressed I began reviewing the key concepts of history and humanities classes. A common theme is that the history of the majority is what is the most important. While in some cases the history of the majority includes the history of this country, America is not one race or one point of view. One important effect of this one sidedness is, “by minimizing the experiences and creations of these different groups, we communicate that they have no history or that their work and creativity is less important and less central to the development of culture than is the history of White American men,” (p.2). Not only does our views of different societal groups hinder our judgement and create stereotypes, but it also produces the idea that these people are not important to the culture of America or its’ history. This chapter also brings up the point of seemingly factual history being completely wrong, “when you learn, for example,, that democracy and egalitarianism were central cultural beliefs in the early history of the United States, how do explain the enslavement of million of African Americans? The genocide of Native Americans,” (p.2). Our view of history is so completely skewed, at least based on this reading. The true power of words is clearly shown in this chapter because it is such a relatable topic especially for those currently learning about history. Words are persuasive, either through the truth, or what seems to be the truth. Anyone can sounds truthful, any fact can seem true and any feeling can be evoked when reading the words of any writer.

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  12. When reading this I thought of a story I'd heard about a girl from a middle class family in Nigeria who came to the United States for collage. Everyone was shocked that a girl who grew up drinking muddy water could be where she was. The truth was she had never drunk muddy water, but that was all people had ever heard regarding Nigeria, the only story they had heard, the only area they had looked. The two idea here, and the one in Race, Class, and Gender are similar yet very different, but when combined could be very powerful. You can't look at the single story, or through one lens at just one area. You need to focus your lens on multiple different areas, and try a few lenses, then and only then can you make your judgements and be fully knowledgable on what ever it is you are looking at. I went through the reading nodding my head, what the authors said simply put eloquent voice to many things I have long held true in my head but never put into words. The ideas about knowledge especially stuck out to me, you can't form any kind of an opinion, or rather accurate opinion, on anything with out having knowledge first.

    But the ideas presented in both are still different, in Race, Class, and Gender the authors talk about how shifting the center can change how you look at few different things, "Shifting the center is not just about illuminating the experiences of oppressed groups, however. It also changes how we understand the dominate culture and groups…" (Race, Class, and Gender). This was one of the most interesting points brought up by the authors to me and I think the reason for that was their diction. They chose words and arranged them in a way to make you think about what you aren't seeing in the world because of who is in power and the sides you have heard. Words are very powerful, capable of doing many things great and small, bad and good, or as J.K. Rowling says so beautifully, "Words are, in my not so humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic. Capable of both inflicting injury and remedying it."

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  13. While reading “Shifting the Center” I came across ideas that struck new thoughts within me. I have been taught many times over that there is more than one side to a story and I should try to avoid the single story. This chapter touched that concept by saying “... recognizing that knowledge has been constructed largely from the experiences of the most powerful groups...” (Andersen, 1). This is a very important message to take from this text. That there are minorities that often do not have strong enough voices to be heard by the slightly ignorant. Our “center” has been focused on these powerful groups so we can not see the people who are deprived from knowledge and rights. This writing creates the message of “shifting our center” so that we can value more than the majority groups and gain a richer more diverse understanding of the world and of history. An example of being fed the single story is History books that teach in favor of the countries they come from which in turn can sometimes shed an unclean light on other countries or groups of people. When someone does not take time to learn both sides of the story they can sometimes be fed lies and will willingly take them because they do not any better. From this reading I have learned that shifting our centers is not only about learning about minorities but connecting their stories and experiences with majority’s group to get a well rounded view of the truths that go on in our world.

    Words have a way of attaching themselves to us in the form of stereotypes and rumors. This is a nasty way that people can gain close minded views of a person or group of people. Words can bind us down and make us think that we can not be anything but what other people have deemed okay for us. Words are the only way can communicate and if we mess them up and screw with them to from lies and cheats we can not fully understand the people around us.

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  14. This reading made me think about maybe what we don’t looks at or see in the picture or in our day to day lives. Basically just to look at the big picture or the opposite, look at the details, the things you don’t usually focus on. And doing this could create new ideas or viewpoint that make you think in a new way. “We begin this book by asking, how might we see the world differently if we were to shift our vision of society from one that is typically centered in the voices and experiences of dominant groups, to the lives and thoughts of those who have been devalued, marginalized, and excluded?” It might change my perspectives by having me try not to focus on what is given right in front of me but maybe what’s behind it. The pen is mightier than the sword. Words are very powerful and can impact the lives of millions. Really they impact our lives every day, whether it’s something funny your friend said, or something your teacher taught you or something mean said to you. They can be powerful in a lot of different ways, sometimes it’s because of the truth they hold and sometimes because of the lies. Perception plays a huge part when it comes to words and their effects.

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  15. Race, Class, and Gender present many arguments that trigger new thinking in the brain. The article starts off by asking the reader to think about how differently the world would be if race, gender, class, religion, creed, and sexual orientation were excluded from society. I found this exercise very interesting and important because rarely does the average human have or find the time to think deeply about this kind of material. This question requires the reader to create a whole new world where nobody is judge by things they cannot control such as race, class, or gender. When I created my own world I envisioned a world of peace free of judgement and prejudice. Everybody treated everyone equally which resulted in a very positive and productive environment where happiness was easily achievable. After I had completed this exercise I asked myself why humans had created such judgement based off of uncontrollable things like race, class, gender, sexual orientation, religion, and creed. Passing judgement on these things only complicates existing problems and creates new ones. If there was a society where these things were absent, like the one depicted in the article, the amount of human collaboration power and productivity would rise exponentially. throughout history, I have noticed that all problems mankind faces are caused by humans. The problem caused by judgmental thinking and action is just another problem which humans have created. After this reading I see human interaction in a new light. Passing judgment only closes opportunities that could be the best choices in one's life. I have always felt that these borders that society has put between people are only negative, yet I have never fully thought about how I can make them disappear. Although it would be difficult for me to change these segregating lines throughout society, I can at least do my part by erasing these lines from my thoughts. As I continued to read the article I was astounded by one argument the author proposed,"To begin with knowledge is not just some abstract thing- good to have, but not all that important. There are real consequences to having partial or distorted knowledge"(page 3). This quote caught me really off guard because in most social reform texts, the idea of knowledge and education is really prevalent for it gives equal opportunity to those who are in need of it. Here the author states that in order to start moving in the direction of social reform in the case of disregarding social segregation lines, we need to forget knowledge and create an entirely new world. This is a new angle that has been presented to solving segregation and prejudice problems. This new idea is special because if the human race was capable of erasing the past from their memory, everybody would be treated equally. This is due to the fact that nobody would be able to recall why they have prejudice or negative thoughts about one race, gender, class, etc. The ideas presented in "Shifting the Center" are very advanced and point towards a solution to prejudice and social reform.

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  16. The power of the word is one that can change history. Words are how humans express themselves to each other. If you really think about it words are vessels for emotions, feelings, wants and desires. Without words, nothing would be accomplished, progress would slow to the speed of a snail, knowledge wouldn't spread, celebration would lack happiness, etc. Words are the very vessel to the soul. In "Shifting the Center" words are very much indeed a vessel of emotion. The author has put their ideas, feelings, and emotion onto paper to share with the rest of the world, with the help of words. These words bring those very ideas, feelings, and emotions and embed them into the reader, forcing them to realize the vision of the author. Not only are words vessels, but they are the epitome of mankind. Mankind is set apart from the rest of the creatures in the world due to the amount of interaction humans have with one another. Words would not have been created if it were not for the desire to interact with one another, and I think it is important to remember exactly why we express ourselves with such things. The human race owes a lot to words. Who knows, we may still be in the era of caveman if it were not for them.

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  17. Throughout their text, Margaret L. Anderson and Patricia Hill Collins bring up the excellent concept of just how one sided most people can be. People grow so self-absorbed that they don’t take the time to think about the different viewpoints of certain situations. Not only that, but many people also don’t care to stick out of the crowd, they are perfectly fine going along with the majority, not drawing attention to them. I think that this is where most generalizations root from, no one having the desire to stand in somebody else’s shoes and viewing it their way. Anderson’s and Collin’s text remind me of a TED talk I watch in the past called The Danger of a Single Story by Chimamanda Adichie. She is a Nigerian author who talked about her experience of moving to the United States. When she got here, she often received many stereotypical statements about African all about the idea of it being very poor and having harsh conditions. In fact, Nigeria along with quite a bit of African is not this rough, it was just our generalizations of it that made all of Africa seem that way to us. This is a very good point of just how one-sided our minds can be, accepting one side and not bothering to look at the other side as well. Along these same lines, the authors state: “Shifting the center asks you to think more inclusively. Whilst doing so you are prone to understand society, your own life within it, and the experiences of others through stereotypes and misleading information” (Anderson, Collins 3). By achieving this open mind, people are more likely to understand different and cultures, thus also giving them a better comprehension of their own society as well. Along with this this text also expanded on the influence of words on people. Not only do words serve the purpose of enriching ones education, but they also impact ones emotions as well. They have the power to set a heavyhearted town as well as a joyful tone. Because of this, society has evolved around the ideals that create these feelings.

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  18. America consists of a wide variety of people. People of different races, classes, and genders. However, despite this mix of people within America, we tend to only hear from a single voice: white, middle/upper class men. This excerpt opened my eyes to the opportunities that are created when you switch your perspective. The world is viewed as a different place when you shift the center of your thinking to include previously silenced voices. “What false or incomplete conclusions does this exclusionary thinking generate? When you learn, for example, that democracy and egalitarianism were central cultural beliefs in the early history of the United States, how do you explain the enslavement of millions of African Americans? the genocide of Native Americans? the laws against intermarriage between Asian Americans and White Americans?” (p. 2). Hearing from only the popular voice can cloud our thinking and contort our judgement, but this has changed my own perception of America. This excerpt has made me connect exclusionary thinking with slavery. I always wondered how it was possible for the thousands of white people to believe slavery was “good” and “ok”, but now I know they believed it because they only heard one opinion. Then, more and more people began to hear another voice arguing against slavery, and that is what changed America. Imagine what America could become in the future if we could all shift the center of our thinking. So many opportunities and possibilities would spring up, decision making would become easier, and conflict would be decreased. It’s the power within words that hold the ability to transform America. I believe that words are th ultimate weapon because they can change the population’s thinking and persuade them. Think of all the strong leaders in history, Martin Luther King, Abraham Lincoln, Gandhi, even Hitler! They all used words and tone to their advantage to sway people’s opinion and change the world. With inclusive thinking, shifting the center, and the power of words on our side, America could improve itself drastically and change the world.

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  20. “Shifting the Center” brings attention to the fact that most of our knowledge and perceptions are based around and shaped by powerful groups in society. Our focus is placed on certain people while others are ignored simply because they are not prominent figures in the world. In tolerating this occurrence, we oppress inferior groups and damage our own thinking. Andersen and Collins argue that “by minimizing the experiences and creations of these different groups, we communicate that they have no history or that their work and creativity is less important and less central to the development of culture…” (Andersen, Collins 2). This statement has caused me to see the great detriments of oppression, not only to the direct victims but also to society as a whole. By ignoring certain viewpoints and ideas, we may be excluding individuals’ thoughts on advancements and solutions that civilizations could greatly benefit from. We limit our potential as successful societies by refusing to acknowledge the valuable experiences of certain groups. By allowing this to happen, we only reinforce our oppression of others and continue to develop “false or incomplete conclusions,” as Andersen and Collins explain. However, I don’t think that the general population participating in this operation intentionally; similarly, Andersen and Collins reason that our actions may not be because we “are intentionally racist, anti-Semitic, sexist, elitist, or homophobic; it may simply be because you do not know any better,” (Andersen, Collins 4). The fact that people engage in the process of reinforcing oppression without even truly realizing it is unsettling. From early on we have developed mindsets based on those in power and it is difficult to later step outside of our clearly defined perspectives and comprehend our wrongs. This is why it is so important that Andersen, Collins, and other minds use their viewpoints and revelations in attempt to bring humanity to its senses. Written language is an excellent communicator in its ability to take an individual’s epiphanies and relate it to whole populations. The spread of ideas is crucial to changing our ways. In this case, Andersen’s and Collins’ arguments are powerful motivators to transform and improve society by first enlightening people to the harsh consequences of their mostly unintentional actions. I, personally, would not have inherited this specific knowledge of power and oppression in society without reading this excerpt of Andersen’s and Collins’ work; instead, I probably would have continued on in my ways due to the mindset I have previously earned while my thoughts were centered around the most powerful groups in society. Words are necessary in bringing readers outside of their original perspectives and presenting new viewpoints. Writing is able to possibly alter the perceptions of individuals permanently, depending on what a reader takes away from a certain work.

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  21. "Shifting the Center" definitely widened my thoughts about what our society focuses on. It was interesting to me that Andersen and Collins touched on all of the groups that get left unmentioned, and did not only focus on one. One thing I could relate to this text was the common saying "there are two sides to every story." I could not believe how true that was proven to be in this anthology. It all goes back to the stereotypes and preconceived ideas we have regarding other groups of society. I think it's important to remember that not everything we hear is true, and we shouldn't base our entire thoughts of a race, class, or gender on the past. History is an extremely important part in our lives, and I thought it was interesting when the text brought up how sometimes we are not taught the whole story of a certain event, or that we only skim over particular parts of the past. It also caught my attention when it was addressed what kind of a role education played in it all, "Part of this process is recognizing that knowledge has been constructed largely from the experiences of the most powerful groups-because they have had the most access to systems of education and communication," (Andersen/Collins, 1). The amount of education different groups get can make a huge impact on the future and the things taught in the future. I think we must remember that no matter what race, class, or gender we are, we are not the only people out there. There are people entirely different from us, but they are not worth anything less, and they deserve to be recognized just as much as we do.

    Words are one of the most powerful things in our lives. I am one of the people that believes actions speak louder than words, but from personal experience I know that words can certainly accomplish a lot. I think our word choice and the tone in which we say them is what really matters. It all goes along with the phrase "that didn't come out right." Words get our points across, and they are something people can openly listen to. It's a way to get our ideas and beliefs out there in hopes of finding someone who shares the same ideas and beliefs as we do. Words have brought us a long way, and the human race would not be the same without them. It's the main way people connect with each other. Words are not all good though, because they have brought with them bad things such as gossip and stereotypes. Words are a completely indescribable powerful thing that has certainly changed the way we think.

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  22. "Shifting the Center" makes me question how much truth resides in the information being taught to us in schools and in our media. The author brings up the point that, “knowledge has been constructed largely from the experiences of the most powerful groups - because they have the most access to systems of education and communication” (Andersen, Collins 3). History has always been written by the most dominant organizations, which brings up the realization that the past has been recorded by a single, biased point of view; usually censored or totally false. In turn, this creates a problem because history repeats itself and if we don't even know the full truth of our history, then how are we supposed to prevent negative events from recurring? As a result, a continuous cycle of biased history is being fed into the minds of young adults. This cycle, although very simple, is almost impossible to break. But, if our current society decides to adopt the mindset of “shifting the center” then discontinuing this cycle is possible which would advance our nation.

    Words, if used in the right way, hold an immense amount of power. Words can break people down and build them back up. Words can inspire and discourage. Being able to talk and use words makes us human. Emily Dickens writes, "I know nothing in the world that has as much power as a word. Sometimes I write one, and I look at it, until it begins to shine." Words shape our mindsets and dispositions, as well as how we perceive ourselves, which is why they are so powerful. They control our emotions and thoughts. We're constantly judging ourselves based off the words given from someone. Words used incorrectly bring devastation, chaos, and disharmony to those whoever the words are directed towards. However, one good, positive word brings joy and hope to those who need it most. I'm thankful for the words that have shaped me to be the person I am today, both the positive words and the negative words.

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  23. As far as new ideas and thinking differently, I don’t think this reading really changed that, but instead further proved thoughts I’ve already had. These prejudices of cultural diversity come from the original facts of differences. In the chapter it said, “’shifting the center means acknowledging the diverse histories, cultures, and experiences of groups who have been defined as marginal in society […]” When groups are different or vary in the ways they act or their beliefs, there is always certain negativity towards those people. This is because people tend to not be as open-minded. They exclude these other groups of different race, gender, or class because they are unaccustomed to their ways of life. If people were to be more excepting and to allow the chance to learn from different cultures there would be less inequality. What people tend to overlook is that we are all the same race; we just come in different shapes and color. One other problem is that people also get the idea that they stand above these other people either because of incidences in the past or because of their obvious lack of knowledge or skill. However this “obvious lack of knowledge” could really mean anything. Having knowledge does not necessarily put you above others. There is difference between being “book smart” and having common sense, which goes along with being more open-minded towards new and different things. The chapter brings up the point that, “[…] knowledge is an abstract thing-good to have, but not at all important.” Not important in the way that it gives you an advantage over others. There is also a difference between having knowledge and being wise. Wisdom is something that requires an open-mind. Based on this reading, I would change my perceptions in the way that I would be less quick to judge. And I will focus more on including the experiences of others with what I have learned about my own cultures past. I would try to intertwine to create different viewpoints.
    Words have the power to control people. When they are used right they can be used to persuade people, to change their minds, and to make them do certain things. Words can give people ideas and new thoughts. Words have the power to change the world. They also have the power to change the truth. Sometimes in society the truth of events or the past can be changed in order to fit a certain perception of others. If people aren’t clear with what they mean to say or want to say than other people can take it to mean something entirely different. This tends to happen a lot in society. I believe it is a cause to many of the problems we face today. When the truth of other cultures and history of other groups is not revealed to others, than they are sheltered and kept from important knowledge that could potentially change any negative views they may have for that group or culture. Words are an important aspect of any society, but when they are not used in the ways that they should be, it causes controversy and unnecessary separation of cultures.

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  24. “Shifting the Center” widened my perspective on race, gender, and class interactions throughout history. When we talk about the Civil Rights Movement or Women’s Suffrage, we focus on that one group and how they have changed instead of looking at how that group has changed others. When society learns the experiences and hardships of a race, class, or gender, they simply add it to the experiences they already know. However, Margaret L. Andersen and Patricia Hill Collins state that to fully understand these races, classes, and genders we need to recognize how they have interacted with other groups and reconstruct our views and knowledge of everyone. Andersen and Collins show that a Latino boy has felt silenced by education. They state that his education is, “leaving him to feel like an ‘other’ in a society where he seemingly had no place, no history, no culture” (2). This boy feels like an outsider because society has simply added his culture and history to the end of the long line of races in America. To welcome this boy, and many others like him, society must change the way they acknowledge other groups. Instead of adding new experiences to the outside of a frame, we have to shift the center of focus to include all groups, their history, their culture, and their experiences. With shifting the center comes a better understanding of how people, races, classes, and genders, interact, and how their experiences and history intersects. A broader understanding of this could open our minds to a new way of viewing the world.

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  25. In the chapter "Shifting the Center" from the book Race, Class, and Gender, the topics of 'shifting the center', or more simply put, changing the way that you should view the world. This idea has really broadened my perception of what different cultures had and still have to go through to make it in this country. Even though America is perceived as the one place people can succeed in the world, we are failing all of the people who are discriminated against by the people. But it is not just my view on the topic of the mistreatment of different cultures and different people that this text has enlightened me on, it is also the sheer amount of people that do not get their basic rights and how controlling the men of this country were and still are. Men have been controlling of the media and the government of this country for so long, and this quote on page 2 really puts it into perspective, "Think about the large number of social science studies that routine make general conclusions about the population when they have been based on research only about and by men. Or, how much of the literature you read and artistic creations that you study are the work of Asian Americans, Latinos/as, African Americans, Native Americans, gays, lesbians, or women?" Men have been in power for so long that no one has had the desire to change this problem until the Civil Rights movement, over 200 years after this country was founded. Even though this did happen, there is not equality all throughout America, nor throughout the world. This is a problem, and it has yet to be fixed.

    Words are very powerful if used by the right people, in the right order, at the right time. Depending on what is said, words can have the power to inspire an entire group of people to change their lives, like what people such as Martin Luther King Jr. and Abraham Lincoln have done, but those same words, in a different context, can lead a perfectly harmonious society to break apart and crumble to the ground. The physical barrier that everyone has built up is not necessarily easily broken, but the mental and emotional one is. People do not want to know an ugly truth, they want to live a sweet lie, so when someone comes along and breaks that lie down and tells the truth, there is pain and despair, but there can also be hope that someone does something about the truth and changes it.

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  26. New Ideas:
    One of the new ideas that this article brought to light for me was that a lot of what we learn as students in public education is America can be biased. We dwart and distort history to our favor, we generalize large groups of people by the majority, we rarely ever focus or acknowledge the minority, we have textbooks, curriculum, manuals, and many other resources that tell subtle but sumitively large lies that eventually cause us to wonder what is even trustable. One passage that supported this states: “Think about the large number of social science studies that routinely make general conclusions about the populations when they have been based on research done only about and by men”. P.2. The author discusses that much of what we, as students, are taught is not completely true to the entire story of our history, and that we don’t acknowledge and give credit to the minority.

    How I will Change my Perceptions:
    This article was really fascinating and really helped me see the light at the end of the tunnel in that some good can come out of the history we have with slavery and with all of the terrible things that some white men did during that time that tainted the water for many other whites as we look at history. The article brought up many good points and had many arguments to make, but what I ultimately gained was that we can improve from these events. The main idea shared in the article is to shift the center, and to widen our views, as talked of here, “Thinking more inclusively opens up the way the world is viewed, making the experience of previously excluded groups more visible and central in the construction of knowledge”. P.3. Ultimately, this sheds a light on opening up our views and growing from the past.

    Power of Words:
    Finally, I learned from this article about the power of words and the effects that they can have on someone. The power of one is undeniable, and the individual has so much power, just like words do. Note the power of this statement: “Shifting the center asks you to think more inclusively…(by) doing so you are prone to understand society, your own life within it, and the experiences of others through stereotypes and misleading information”. P.2. Thus we see, words can have great power and can be the cause and essential precursor to the effect which ends in action.

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  27. Race, Class, and Gender shows that as a human race we need to “shift the center” of our thinking. By shifting the center we can see each different group in a different light. Shifting the center begins by saying that to start to shift the center you need to “recognize that knowledge has been constructed largely from the experiences of the most powerful groups.” I see this as an accusation, but and accurate accusation, against the races and groups that have held all of the power in the past. It is said often that history is written by the victors and that is most often the case throughout history. These “superior races/groups” then see themselves as better than everyone else, and create an image of themselves for everyone else that portrays the “superior” groups as ideal. The chapter then goes on to state that you need to “move you angle of sight” and “sharpening one’s focus.” This shows that many of the groups are simply not seem because they are not in the focus of the bigger group, or they are not even in the picture of this group. Sharpening one’s focus also helps to remove the stereotypes in place and show how each group really is. Although stereotypes are often deep and difficult to change, I think that it is important to remove them. This would help each group come to a real understanding of the others. Another idea in shifting the center is to shift the spotlight off of the main group. In their words shifting the center means, “putting at the center of our thinking the experiences of groups that have formerly been excluded. Otherwise, many groups remain invisible.” This really strikes me because for a group to remain completely invisible to the spotlight seems like that group is really outside the thinking of all the other groups. I think it is important for each group to feel not only like they belong with all the other groups but that they can interact with those groups as well. This exclusionary thinking is what keeps the groups so separated.

    Words have the power to create, inspire, destroy, and provoke. Many times throughout history words can be used to show many things. For example, Thomas Paine helped to provoke and kindle the fire that became the American Revolution. Many people have talent to use words to convince for good. Words can be also twisted, and used for bad, “Having misleading and incorrect knowledge leads to the formation of bad social policy--policy that then reproduces, rather than solves, social problems.” History has also proven here that words, even though they may be wrong, can convince entire groups and countries. A prime example of this is Adolf Hitler throughout the 20’s and the 30’s. He also had the power to provoke an entire community that was struggling, and brought it back to strength. In this way words are powerful. They are powerful because of the way they are interpreted. The right words aimed at the right people can help to spark a revolution. Words can be put into the mind and thought over many times and, attached to the brain they can work wonders. I believe that the pen is mightier than the sword.

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