Lectures for Week 5
The power of many of the personal accounts in Part VI of the text stems not only from their expressions of the
pain and conflict in others' lives but also from our general lack of familiarity with other people's points of view.
Some of us may respond strongly to this part of the book; the authors' personal narratives concretize the more
abstract concepts from other parts of the text, often in gripping ways. Thus, Part VI can provide us with
powerful tools for encouraging ourselves to think through the experiences of inequity, both in terms of our own
lives and in terms of being sensitive to the conflicts others must live through. The consequences of social
hierarchies are not abstract, and they are not purely perceptual (that is, thinking differently about them won't
make them go away). They are material, and the operations of race, class, gender, and sexual hierarchies can
be observed in all aspects of day-to-day living. Several of these selections emphasize the ways that everyday
details reveal the structures governing our lives, if we look carefully enough. But the personal focus in this part
can often lead us to individualize the problems the text has tried to emphasize as being systemic,
dilemmas. This is not to say that individuals don't experience these issues; they do, obviously. However, in
thinking through these issues only from an individual perspective (which is what many of us may do early on in
our educational careers), we can miss the big picture. The Assignments this week are designed to help us keep
focused on the social framework in responding to the essays. It can be helpful, in fact, to literally read the
essays here through a lens constructed by points from other areas of the text.
Turn now to the Unit III: Week 5 Reading Assignments.
You've been engaged in some great conversations, both with yourselves individually in your journals and with
others in the Discussion Board. In your journals, that place for informal, quick, unedited responses to the
issues, you've been able to express many emotions, often from the gut, highlighting everything from shock to
despair to epiphanies of insight, hope, and even joy. Your Discussion Board conversations have also expressed