HDF 110: Roots of Oppression was a required class that I had to take at CMU due to my minor of leadership but I strongly believe that this class should be required for all CMU students. I learned so much from this course that applies to so much in our generation and society.
Roots of Oppression discussed many topics and issues that individuals currently face, including: racism, discrimination, prejudice, stereotypes, oppression, environmental injustice, poverty and wealth inequality, poverty and social class, hate in America, gender oppression, religion, LGBTQ oppression, disabilities, and age and oppression, and most importantly, denial and resistance to these topics.
My class was made up of mostly white students, which made discussion a little more difficult with these topics since most students did not quiet understand the issues. I found myself always raising my hand to answer my professors questions, because I was one of the lucky individuals who have been somewhat educated on oppression issues before. That’s why I believe that every students at CMU should take this class. It opens your eyes and mind to many topics that need to be discussed and taught. Without discussing hard issues dealing with discrimination they will continue to stay relevant and never be fixed.
Two topics that really stood out to me:
- Native American Cultural Desensitization
- My background is Native American, and I was not aware of the issue of whites trying to take away Native American’s culture and identities. Whites forced Native American children off their reservations to enter a boarding school to teach them the “right way” to society (the white’s way). This was a huge problem that happened in history that is not taught in American’s history; which needs to be changed. This topic was not discussed in history throughout high school because it made us look bad as white American’s and that is what is wrong with society. If hard topics are not discussed and taught then history could repeat itself. Since my ancestors are African American this hurt my heart to hear, especially just first hearing about it in college. If you would like to understand this topic more, watch the movie Where the Spirit Lives. It really is a great film that captures this issue very well.
- Hate Crimes
- Learning about hate crimes and hate groups was so eye opening for me, especially since hate crimes are still happening and there are a lot of hate groups still very active in America. The three main hate crimes we discussed were: Matthew Shepard, who was killed for being gay by being tied to a pole and beaten, James Byrd, who was dragged beyond a truck on a gravel road to be killed for being African American, and the Columbine shooting. The examples stated just helped us understand better what hate crimes look like. Also The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr., Hate Crime Prevention Act was created.
- Reason for hate crimes: Intimidation and get people to move, quit jobs, etc.
- Hate crimes are against race, sexual orientation, religion, ethnicity, and disability.
- Most hate crimes go unreported because reporting hate crimes is voluntary by police departments, and there is differences in what is considered hate crimes in different areas.
- Look at the Southern Poverty Law Center website to see and find active hate groups currently in America.
- Looking at this map was shocking and scary.
The two topics I discussed above are important issues to learn about, but like I said early, I was not aware of these issues until I took this class. Sadly, this is the case for most students entering college. High school education shelters us from so much, which I think is truly wrong. Our society is still facing issues of discrimination and racism of all types. So many of my generation are oblivious to issues even though hate crimes against African Americans are on the news, Lady Gaga is performing on the Grammy’s to stand up for sexual assault and rape victims, and do you know Michigan does not have any law in place to stand up for victims of hate crimes? My generation is sheltered, and so many are not aware of some issues going on. People tend to say discrimination isn’t an issue anymore, but how isn’t it? Women still get paid less than men, African Americans on average still get hired less and paid less even if equally as qualified as the white candidate, people still use the r-word in conversation, some states still are allowed to deny services to homosexuals due to their religious beliefs, but yet you still hear some people say “everyone is equal now”.
Due to our lack of education on hard issues today our society still is racist and prejudice, and some even believe in “reverse racism” meaning that white people are the ones getting discriminated towards, even though the most privileged people on this earth are the white males. I believe taking this class is essential for gaining a well rounded education, and to also start discussions on how to make this world a better place. Starting the conversation and admitting to the problems is the first step towards fixing the problem – TAKE HDF 110 AT CMU!