sanromero

Socio/Political and Historical analysis necessary for my peace of mind.

Category: Cultural Analysis

Whiteness and Privilege within Minority Movements.

The thing about white privilege is that if you are white skinned, have blond hair with blue eyes…. you have it. Even if you are a minority in one aspect, you can be privileged in another. For example, I am a Latino, and although I could not be labeled as white, I do have relatively light brown skin.. and this means, when comparing to more dark skinned Latinos, I face less racial discrimination. Another easy example is that although I am below the poverty line, I have a privilege as an American Citizen that others around the world do not enjoy. I recognize my “easy american life” is not due to magic but due to systematic american imperialism – the plunder of the resources in Latin America, Africa, Asia, and Middle East. Privileged in one aspect, oppressed in another – an example of how intersectionality works.

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What is Propaganda? (Part 3)

Let us start with an analogy that I think will be helpful. You have two people. One is a king, the other is a peasant. The peasant is not happy with the king, and as a result is making this known to anyone who will listen. He goes around the kingdom talking about the King and saying that the King is a bad person and that someone should do something about it. He does this all the time, so much so that everyone in the kingdom, even the king himself, is aware of the peasant’s constant complaining – this goes on for years. The king, in turn, does the same to the peasant. One day he starts talking about how bad he thinks the peasant is and that someone should do something about it. This goes on for a week or two, and after that we find that someone actually did do something about it… they killed the peasant.

We ask ourselves two questions 1) If the king and the peasant had identical actions, why did the results differ so much? 2) If the King knew his actions would yield a radically different result, and expected it, does the king have a higher responsibility than the peasant to not engage in similar behavior?

We should know the answers to both these questions really easily. The Kings actions had different results because he is the king – he has power and influence, obviously so, that the peasant does not have. The peasant can say anything he wants, but because he has very little to no power, nothing much will come of what he says. The King on the other hand, rules the land with influence and anything he says, no matter how small, has a large impact radius.

The second answer is also relatively easy to think about. When you have that much power and influence, that means that you have to be that much more careful with how you use your power and influence – a mistake from the powerless will do nothing, a mistake from the powerful means everything. The idea that because actions  are identical, they have the same moral standing is outlandish – no one thinks that. A child can bully another child and while it is wrong, it is not as wrong if, say, a teacher is bullying a student – the actions may be identical but the different power structures at play mean that one action (the teacher’s) is on a different moral standing.

What does this have to do with our definition of Propaganda? Everything.

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What is Propaganda? (Part 2)

So hopefully, now that we saw a brief overview of a fairly successful effect of Propaganda in part 1, we have convinced ourselves that, at least feasibility, there exists some form of Propaganda in America. The next question is, once you are aware that it exists, how the fcking hell is it even possible? People are not stupid, I am not stupid, you are not stupid, so how is it possible that we can be fooled to such an extent? I mean no one is talking about wild conspiracy theories, no one is talking about shady government figures watching our every move and brainwashing us with some advanced technology (Although with the recent NSA revelations… ).. what we are talking abut with Modern Propaganda is a far more natural thing, a thing that is fairly easily established by logic and fairly easy to prove with facts. So here, in this post, I want to give a brief, and probably boring but necessary, history of US propaganda.
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What is Propaganda? (part 1)

As someone who lives in America but is of Salvadorian dissent, I have noticed something. That most American Citizens are astonishingly uninformed about American Foreign Policies. Importantly, they are amazingly ignorant about their own  History of Militarism and Terrorism in regions like Latin America. If I talk to an American about what America has done and is still actively doing all over Latin America… most either won’t know, won’t care, or even worse still believe america is like Mother Teresa to all Latin America, and that Latin Americans are “too stupid” to understand just how “helpful” America is being. The third response is by far the most common response I have ever had, and this response is telling – it highlights a particular mentality Americans mostly share.. that they can not comprehend why the rest of the world “hates us” when we “do so much good.”

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Manufacturing Consent: A Necessary Framework for Media Consumption

So it has occurred to me that if I am to engage in proper media analysis on this blog, that I need to build the proper foundation first. In that, there are conclusions that will be reached in future analysis, that may seem like non sequiturs and thus destined to be misunderstood. That is, if someone is ignorant about the topic of media analysis, then they will not understand or keep up with the various conclusions reached. As such I would have to be forced to either lay out the basics in every single post about media analysis, or build the proper framework now such that everyone will be on the same page.

I hate constantly being stuck at a 101 level because the person I am talking to had not done their HW. As such, in order to bring this conversation to the level that I require… I need to lay out a proper framework that will be necessary for any future analysis of corporate media. That framework, can, in fact, be found in Naom Chomsky’s Manufacturing Consent. However, the book is super duper long, and is written in a style that I know most people hate. I would just throw every mther fcker there… but… practically speaking very few will end up taking up that advice and end up looking at the source material. So, let me just instead summarize the very basics that would be found in the book.

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Ambivalent sexism

You ever compliment a woman on her beauty, telling her to smile more to show it off, only to have her look at you with disdain? Ever hold a door for a woman only to then see her uncomfortable, and insist she can do it herself? You know what the first gut reaction of most males, and some females, are to the this type of female reaction? C’mon… you know… it is to call them btches, which is a highly volatile sexist reaction. Yet, what if I told you that it is not just this plausible negative reaction that can be construed as sexist, but in fact the actions before that (the door holding) are in fact sexist as well, what would you say?

Now, most, highly sexist people, who read that last line will have a gut reaction that tries to dismiss such a claim as “radical” feminism. The use of the term “radical” here is just the idea that such things are “taken too far” and thus no longer rational. A lot of people will not take such claims (door holding for women is part of sexism) seriously.. and the ones who have an aggressive reaction to such claims, are the ones who are probably the most sexist.  These people probably think in stereotypical fashions about what gender roles women and men must take.

What I want to do here, is to make a framework that enables us to understand why such behavior can be in fact sexist. This modern framework will allow us to unpack sexist behavior and also to predict sexist behavior. It is a tool that will allow us to see past the clutter of sexist gendered norms, and instead embrace a more complex and accurate understanding of what sexism looks like. Ambivalent sexism is the theoretical framework we can use to unmask the way modern sexism operates.

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A Sociological Framework Around US Media

So I have been talking about social forces and implicit bias, describing how culture has the ability to impact our lives and points of views – often times more than we would like or be aware of. Now, if you are up on your social justice game and are culturally aware.. you are also going to see how easily this analysis holds when we analyze things like, US Foreign Policy and Corporate Media. Meaning, you are going to have a really good ability to spot BS – or as intellectuals like to call it, the ability to spot “modern propaganda” directed at you.

Now, modern propaganda is a term that is really mis-understood. When people see this term, they usually role their eyes and think that anyone who says it, must be a cooky conspiracy theorist. The reality is though, that modern propaganda is real – read Noam Chomsky’s Manufactured Consent if you want your mind blown. It does not take the form of shadowy figures controlling the world through subliminal messages.. that is just Hollywood donkey piss. (subliminal messages actually do not have a strong scientific bases, and their effects, when measured, are actually pretty trivial. Of the studies that measure an effect, a lot of them have technical issues such as sample size or selection bias)

The reality is that supraliminal messages, live advertising or movies or news, has a much larger impact radius which can be, and often is used (see the success of american anti-cigarette campaigns), to change cultural pressures. Modern propaganda is not some fool-proof way to actually brainwash someone… what is instead, is the outcome of various social pressures. It is a naturally occurring phenomenon due to social structures built around US  media. The various social pressures we have already explored through racism, sexism, homophobia.. etc… Those same social pressures that we accept can have impact on us… are the same social forces that can be used to shape what we call “modern propaganda.”

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Why Understanding Cultural Impact is Important.

People with the privilege tend to be unaware of their status – and thus have the ability to act incredibly bigoted. A lack of cultural awareness is not a good thing. Ignorance, specifically on how culture impacts us, is universally correlated to bigoted behavior on any issue around equality.

The only antidote, my homies, to combating things like ingrained gender roles, is attempting to arm yourself through awareness. You got to know your sht, before you can escape these sorts of cultural forces. If you want to be a legit egalitarian, you actually have to put in work. You have to work on understanding the various cultural forces that is likely shaping your ideology. If you can’t do that… you just wasting everyone’s time.

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Bigotry and Friendship

Does bigotry make the person?

No, no it does not.

Why?

Well, because bigotry, more often than not, is the effect of cultural conditioning… so it is not “all their fault.” If a society grows up teaching everyone to act bigoted, I have to expect people to act bigoted. How accountable to their bigotry they should be, is based on how they handle this internalization. If they handle in such a way that makes them an “Old School Bigot”.. spitting out racial slurs.. then yeah.. fck that guy or girl…

However, if they reject bigotry, but on occasion just act like a bigot due to conditioning… then obviously there is more leeway there. It, really depends on the person. Like I keep saying, racism, today, is not so much about intent or KKK types, but as recognizing power structures and the function of behaviors that result from implicit bias. The intent of the individuals matter much less – the way they function in a bigoted society and how to stop that behavior is where it is at.

Is some bigoted stance a person may take, enough to make another person dismiss them as a whole?

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I Wrote This While Pissed (Part 3 of 3)

Aight, so this is the last part of the events that unfolded within this online life of mine. It is also part of the actual reason I started to blog in the first place.

Anyway, back to the story here, so this blogger with lots of pull within the community I was opining on – posted my comments (shown in part 1 and 2) on her blog in an effort to get people on board with my line of thought. When that sht hit, I was like.. fck, I did not know this was going to get this much play! I was just pissed, and wanted to say something, I did not really intend to change anyone’s mind on this issue. Anyway she posted it, and some prominent members within the community linked it via twitter, and it finally got to Clueless White Boy Two, and he read what I wrote, in part 1 and 2, where I accused him of acting racist along with White Boy One, and well… he ain’t take that sht too kindly.

He ended up calling it a “witch hunt” – which was standard white boy tactic one, make yourself into a martyr and act like being called racist is just as bad as people burning you at the stake. Then a feminist friend of his, told him that this response was wack – he got taken aback by this, and reconsidered his position. That lasted for about a second, and then he went on to say how nothing I wrote was of substance, and instead it was just a mud flinging post, where he accused me of making him look racist when, clearly, he was anything but. All of a sudden I see AM comment and tell him to back that sht up, and that he should at least attempt to post a response to my commentary about him.  Clueless White Boy Two then in denial of his action, kept saying how my thoughts lacked any substance and implied they should not be taken seriously – needless to say no one believed him. So because of some social forces at play, he decided to comment on what I wrote. What processed was this off hand defensive BS attitude, and I then…. understood this guy was too ignorant to get WTF I was saying. So I responded to him as follows.

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