Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents

Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents

Caste (Oprah's Book Club): The Origins of Our Discontents by [Isabel Wilkerson]

Isabel Wilkerson

 

The writer, lecturer and the Pulitzer Prize-winning, Isabel Wilkerson, examines in her newest book, Caste: The Origin of our Discontents, the unspoken caste system that has shaped America and shows how our lives today are still defined by a hierarchy of human divisions. Cast means the lack of respect, attention and human kindness to someone based on their standing in the hierarchy, and Isabel truly captivating explores this notion by reflecting and drawing parallels on oppressive structural systems in the States, India and Nazi Germany.

 

Isabel Wilkerson is an award-winning journalist and writer. She is a native of Washington, D.C., and a daughter of the Great Migration, the mass movement that she would go on to write her first book about.

Save the Date!!

We are the students of the Race, Racism and Anti-racism course at Åbo Akademi University. Our seminar on anti-racism entitled ‘Colour Still Matters’ will be held on Tuesday, 24 May 2022, and will take place in a hybrid format with presentations both on-site and via Zoom.

‘Colour Still Matters’ will consist of conversations on racism in Finland to raise and expand awareness of existing racist structures in Finnish society. The aim is to engage in a meaningful dialogue with panellists and keynote speakers representing varied specializations and academic backgrounds to address racism, social discrimination, social injustice, and racial disparities in Finland.

Save the date and follow all our social media platforms for further information. We look forward to seeing you there!

Social Exclusion’s Official Instagram Account

We have some grand news!

The Social Exclusion master’s program finally has its very own Instagram account! On this account, we will be posting updates on the program, as well as current news and discussions related to social exclusion, anti-racism and inclusion. Following our Instagram, you will also see more faces of the people in the program and be able to interact with contemporary topics regarding social exclusion and inclusion.

 

If this is something that interests you, follow us on @soexma_abo! The first post is already up!

 

Antiracism week – Finland without Racism

This week (21.-27.3.2022) the Finnish Red Cross’ annual anti-racism campaign week is taking place. The Antiracism week always takes place around UN International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination which is on March 21st. The main message of the week is said by the Finnish Red Cross to be SEE, SAY, SOLVE. Additionally, the Finnish Red Cross explains the premiss of the week as follows:

During the week, we encourage people to raise discussion on how to create an inclusive atmosphere to all people with the help of good decisions, positive images, stories, friendships and meetings. The campaign will comment on how a dream society is built through practical acts and decisions.

 

To recognize the week and its importance, we at Social Exclusion want to highlight a new application that would be beneficial to many and which is suitable for the theme of this week. The app in question is Finland without Racism, which is an antiracism app that aims to be a platform for learning about and reporting racism. The app was developed with the help of the head of the Social Exclusion master’s program Aminkeng Atabong Alemanji and the app developer Kayo Games (programming Sila Kayo Quality Assurance Alida Ines Ouandji). The app works with the principle of antiracism training or Antiracism Apptivism, meaning the goal is to disrupt the structural system of racism through knowledge and actions. The app was published in January 2022 for Androids and the IOS version is still in progress.

 

The app has four parts to it. Starting off with an image of a privilege walk, which was illustrated by Nam-Ke, to emphasize the different starting points people have depending on their origin, race, religion, nationality, and mother tongue. Followed by a learning section, which includes various educational videos about racism and antiracism. These educational videos are for instance, about the racism Roma and Sami people faces. The third part of the app is a short test, which includes eight questions regarding discrimination, racism, and antiracism to reflect upon. The last part of the app is the reporting of racist incidents, which includes a description and links to whom one can report these incidents to. Each part of the app highlights the antiracist purpose of the app, which is learning about structural racism, testing one’s knowledge, and reporting racist incidents and made understandable and accessible for all ages. In the future, the app is planned to be translated into Swedish and Finnish and to be used as a tool in antiracist training in educational spaces.

 

During this Antiracism week, a lot can be done and thought about, which should be implemented throughout the year. It can be taking part in some of the existing events of the campaign (found on the Finnish Red Cross website), downloading the new app and becoming familiar with it and its function or doing the work oneself and understanding what it means to be antiracist.

Rasisminvastainen viikko 2019 | RedNet

Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race

Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race

Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race: The Sunday Times Bestseller by [Reni Eddo-Lodge]

Reni Eddo-Lodge

 

In Reni Eddo-Lodge first book she further explores her own experience and thoughts about race conversations with white people. The book is a continuation of a blog post of her’s posted in 2014 where she states her frustration talking to white people about race, the inequality of those conversations and how the emotions of white people are taken more seriously than the emotions and killings of Black people and people of color. In Eddo-Lodge’s book Why I’m Not Talking to White People About Race she features seven essays talking about the history of racism, how is it systematically implemented, what white privilege is, feminism and class to mention a few topics. Her bold way of writing calls out injustice many racialized individuals can relate to and situations white people can reflect upon and educate themselves about. Her book has won several awards, like the 2018 British book award and is also a SundayTimes Bestseller. Additionally, her book has earned both longlisted and shortlisted for various other awards.

 

Reni Eddo-Lodge is an award-winning journalist, author and podcaster. At a young age, she was introduced to feminist activism, which helped her build her political persona, which she still finds useful today. She is born and raised in London, where she still lives.

The Exclusion of War

 

On Thursday, February 24th, many woke up to disturbing news. To some it was completely unexpected, a few had anticipated it and others heard or saw the treats but only thought of them as empty words. Even if, the invasion of Crimea in 2014 was still recollected by many, a war eight years later was not anything many had foreseen. Veterans who still remember the Second World War was thrown back to the fear and worry the time gave them. Others could finally see a light at the end of the corona tunnel, only to find themselves and the world in a crisis.

 

Now two weeks later, a lot has happened. Pictures of collapsed buildings after airstrikes, people living in bunkers and seeing the mass on train stations piled together, trying to flee the country to safety has filled most of everyone’s social media feed. We’ve also seen a tremendous amount of support for Ukraine and its people. Many countries have accepted Ukrainian refugees with open arms and supplied them with anything they need and globally different companies and even whole countries have boycotted anything Russian. However, this crisis has also visualized some horrendous aspects and treatments of already excluded individuals and people.

 

Within the borders of Ukraine, and looking at the people trying to desperately escape, the discrepancy in the way people have been treated has been saddening. Ukraine accepted many international students or exchange students to study, for instance, medicine. However, now in the middle of a war, many of these students have not been aided when trying to evacuate like the rest of the Ukrainian citizens. These international students, mostly from African nations, have been removed from trains, not let onto trains and when women and children have been asked to board, Black women have been turned away at the door and not accepted onto the trains. In addition to the racism seen when people try to evacuate, there have also been cases of transphobia. Ukrainian trans women, who still have their previous gender on their passport have also been denied leaving the country in pursuit of sanctuary in a different country.

 

Meanwhile, the people within Ukraine has faced racism and discrimination, you can also see the exclusion of people as a result of war globally. For instance, in Finland, Russian citizens have faced an overwhelming amount of harassment and prejudice for the past weeks. Surely this is not a new phenomenon in Finland, where Russians have faced discrimination before, but it has increased and nationalistic Finns see the war as a reason to be mad at Russian citizens, even if they have nothing to do with starting a war. Additionally, the way this war and the Ukrainian refugees has been treated globally, compared to other conflicts and refugees also shows hypocrisy.  Wars that have been going on for years and decades still go by unnoticed in Western media and no sanctions or boycotts are put into place to help these nations in crisis. What these crises have in common is their geographical positioning in the Global South and that it involves non-white, non-western and non-European people. How the world was so quick to condemn Russia was impressive but compared to the crisis in the Middle East and how the West chooses to turn a blind eye is devastating but not surprising. When it comes to Ukrainian refugees, which neighbouring countries should definitely find shelter for,  the way they have been treated and discussed in the media has been completely different compared to other non-white, non-blue eyed and non-European refugees. The Ukrainian refugees are welcomed and taken care of, whereas other refugees are and have been treated like animals and forgotten. All in all, making it clear that some people matter more than others.

 

Discussing wars and conflicts there are always many perspectives and aspects to consider, in addition to it being difficult and even exhausting to talk about it all. It is not to minimize the struggle and hardship of people trying to flee their homeland and find safety, it is only to show how people are treated and excluded in different ways when it comes to crises. In a class held a week and a half after Russia invaded Ukraine numerous of the students shared different opinions and thoughts about the situation, many of which were briefly mentioned above. These are assumingly also aspects of wars which certainly plenty of individuals have also been reflecting on. War or conflicts and their consequences shape a multitude of people’s lives, not only within the borders of the warzone but people around the globe.

International Women’s Day

 

On March 8th we celebrate International Women’s Day. The day is dedicated to celebrating women’s achievements and seeking gender equality.

 

A Brief History Of International Women's Day - 29Secrets

International Women’s Day was marked for the first time in 1911 and the date March 8th was fixed in 1913. The first time the United Nations celebrated the day was in 1975. March 8th also has an annual theme and the UN and the UN Women have stated that the theme for the 2022 International Women’s Day is “Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow”.  The purpose of having this theme is to highlight the need for gender equality in the pursuit of having a sustainable future and to uplift women who are doing a tremendous job and working for climate change adaptation, mitigation and legislation to ensure a more sustainable future for everyone. Read more about sustainability and gender equality on UN’s and UN Women’s websites. Additionally, International Women’s Day declared that their 2022 campaign is #BreakTheBias. International Women’s Day on their website further explain their campaign as follows:

“Imagine a gender equal world.

A world free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination.

A world that is diverse, equitable, and inclusive.

A world where difference is valued and celebrated.

Together we can forge women’s equality.

Collectively we can all #BreakTheBias.

Individually, we’re all responsible for our own thoughts and actions – all day, every day.

We can break the bias in our communities.

We can break the bias in our workplaces.

We can break the bias in our schools, colleges and universities.

Together, we can all break the bias – on International Women’s Day (IWD) and beyond.”

 

Biases, whether conscious or unconscious, are not only hurtful and dangerous but directly contributes to gender inequality and the belief of a more “weaker” or “incompetent” body and mind.  Biases are already placed on you as a woman and your sexuality, religion, race, nationality, language, ideology, disability and/or occupation can in many cases add to the already existing prejudice and discrimination directed to your gender. To #BreakTheBias globally would mean mobility and freedom for women all over. It would mean the possibility for women to act and speak as they desire. To hear more about the campaign you can check out Anisa Nandaula’s spoken word poet about #BreakTheBias.

 

…………………………………………………………………

 

To find time for celebration might be hard or even impossible when following the current global conflicts and wars going around and seeing all women and so many others suffering and becoming refugees. However, today can be a day to donate to a charity aiding women, reflecting on female role models in your life or that you look up to or to read and educate yourself more on women’s issues and how conflicts and global warming places women in a vulnerable state. Regardless today is March 8th and this day is for us Women. I want to wish everyone who identifies as a Woman a really wonderful day wherever you might be. I wish that you have support, care and love in your surroundings and that despite anything you will succeed with all your dreams and passions. And for everyone who has a Woman in their life, as a mother, a daughter, a sister, a partner, a wife, a friend or even a neighbour, to be kind, encouraging, and respectful to Women.

24,904 International Womens Day Illustration Stock Photos, Pictures &  Royalty-Free Images - iStock

6 DON’TS when applying

Each year when the application for the Social Exclusion Master’s program opens, the program receives a plethora of applicants. Many of the applications are in order, with a well put together motivation letter and with the right documents included. However, each year the program also receives applications that have made an error or two, which results in the applications being rejected. To reduce these frequently made mistakes we have compiled a list of don’ts most applicants do. Additionally, check out Information for Applicants on the blog, where all the essential information for applicants have been gathered. So, without further ado, avoid these 6 things when you apply for the Social Exclusion Master’s program.

 

  1. Applying to the wrong track!

It is important to notice that the Social Exclusion Master’s Program has two tracks. 1. Master’s Degree Programme in Social Exclusion, Master of Arts and 2. Master’s Degree Programme in Social Exclusion, Master of Theology.

The first track, Master of Art, is the more popular track. This track allows for a wider perspective on what Social Exclusion entail. This track also offers students to specialize in Gender Studies, History, Philosophy or Study of Religion during the second term. Applicants with a BA in subjects like Study of Religions, Gender Studies, History, Philosophy or Theology can apply for this program. The other track, Master of Theology. Applicants with a BA specifically in Theology should apply for this program! Additionally, applicants who have a BA in Theology or Theology and another subject can apply for both programs.

To further see the differences between the two tracks, check an earlier blog post about them.

 

  1. Forgetting to apply for the scholarship!

Applying for scholarships is foremost for international students. When applying it is important to tick in the box for the scholarship in the application to be considered for the scholarship. More detailed information about scholarships can be found on the Åbo Akademi University’s website.

 

  1. Uploading faulty documents

Uploading the right documents is vital. It is important to remember to upload the documents and to check that the uploads are right. Any application with a faulty document will be discarded and seen as faulty. What is a faulty document you may ask? A faulty document can be someone else’s transcript or certificate, which is not your own. Even if you have all your other documents in order but by mistake included a faulty document, your application will be removed. In other words, double or even triple-check that you upload your own documents and NOT a friend’s or family member’s documents.

 

  1. Choosing the wrong language requirement!

When applying, double-check the language requirements. You can either submit your IELTS results, however, if your score is low or you have not done the test you can ask the program to assess your English language skills. For further information about the language requirements when applying check Åbo Akademi University’s website for the requirements and scroll all the way down to see all the exemptions and to see what is required for domestic applicants.

 

  1. Not knowing how to sell oneself in the motivation letter!

A motivation letter is meant for the applicant to stand out from the mass. It is a letter that gives the applicant character, it offers a way for the applicant to introduce themselves and connect to the program. What is most important when it comes to motivation letters is to WRITE ONE! Even if it might seem hard and difficult to sell oneself in the form of a motivation letter, there is a significant difference between writing one and completely leaving it unwritten. The motivation letter can include various interesting aspects of the applicant, like what have they learned in their academic career and what they want to achieve with the help of the program, or it can be a more creative writing showing of the personality of the applicant. INcluding a motivational letter in your application shows interest in the program, and your application will be taken more seriously.

 

  1. Leaving things to the last minute!

Immediately when you are interested in applying for the program start to think about your application. What you should include in the application, what to write in your motivation letter and which documents you need to prepare. This will reduce stress when it is finally time to click send. The application time is shorter than you expect so start to think about your application as soon as possible.

 

When avoiding these common mistakes, you should be all set to apply for the Social Exclusion MA program with a stunning application.

 

Good luck!

365,691 Applying Stock Photos, Pictures & Royalty-Free Images - iStock

Complaint!

Complaint!

Sara Ahmed

 

In Complaint! Sara Ahmed examines what we can learn about power from those who complain about abuses of power. The idea for Ahmed’s book Complaint! came about when a group of students at the University Ahmed was working at filed a complaint against sexual harassment. Ahmed was asked by the students to attend a meeting as a feminist academic and to listen to the students and to aid them with their complaints to the administration. However, the lack of action taken from the Universities side, lead to Ahmed’s resignation in 2016. In the introduction to the book Ahmed explains the situations as follows:

“We worked together to confront the institution more directly about its role in enabling and reproducing a culture of harassment. The harder it is to get through, the more you have to do. The more we tried to confront the problem of sexual harassment as an institutional problem, the more we refused to accept weak statements about what the university was committed to doing, the more we questioned how they were changing policies without communicating with anyone why we needed to change policies (chapter  1), the more resistance we encountered.” (Ahmed 2021: 7)

 

Therefore, drawing on these oral and written testimonies from academics and students who have made complaints about harassment, bullying, and unequal working conditions at universities, Ahmed explores the gap between what is supposed to happen when complaints are made and what actually happens. To make complaints within institutions is to learn how they work and for whom they work. Complaint as feminist pedagogy or to have a feminist ear as Ahmed also refers to listening to those who are not being heard and dismantling institutional barriers that stop hearing these voices.

 

Ahmed explores how complaints are made behind closed doors and how doors are often closed on those who complain since complaints are usually seen as negative, not heard, tiresome and a distraction from what is “important”. To open these doors—to get complaints through, keep them going, or keep them alive—Ahmed emphasizes, requires forming new kinds of collectives. In other words, Ahmed sets out to give complaints a hearing, to give them room, to listen to them and to show their importance, power and life-changing ability through the extensive work of her book.

 

Sara Ahmed is a feminist and independent scholar, whose work include intersectional feminism, queer, and race studies. Her research additionally includes how bodies and worlds take shape; and how power is secured and challenged in everyday life worlds as well as institutional cultures.

 

 

Happy Black History Month!

For the month of February, we are celebrating Black History Month! Many have certainly heard about Black History Month but what does it practically mean and how can each and everyone celebrate it?

Black History Month | School of Social Work

What is Black History Month and why do we celebrate it?

Black History Month is an annual celebration of the achievements of Black individuals and to remember Black history and its contributors to civilization. However, Black History Month was not always called that and neither did it start with an entire month of celebration. It started in 1926 as the Negro History Week when the American scholar and historian Carter Godwin Woodson wanted to celebrate the achievements of African Americans and focus on their central role in U.S. history. Woodson was the first to open the long-neglected field of Black studies to scholars and popularized the field in the schools and colleges of black people, making the field a “serious area of study”. Woodson decided upon celebrating Negro History Week the second week in February, due to both Abraham Lincoln and Fredrick Douglass, who both played a huge role in the emancipation of enslaved Africans and the abolitionist movement, celebrating their birthday during that week. However, the idea grew in the 60s as a result of the social movements protesting racial injustice and inequality and eventually evolved into today’s well-known Black History Month. Later in 1976, US President Gerald R. Ford officially recognized Black History Month and stated that it is time to acknowledge the too-often neglected accomplishment of African Americans.

 

90 years after Woodson envisioned a weeklong celebration to educate people on Black history and culture, the former US President Barack Obama stated in a speech on February 12th 2016 that:

“So we are so proud to honor this rich heritage.  But Black History Month shouldn’t be treated as though it is somehow separate from our collective American history — (applause) — or somehow just boiled down to a compilation of greatest hits from the March on Washington, or from some of our sports heroes.   There are well-meaning attempts to do that all around us, from classrooms to corporate ad campaigns.  But we know that this should be more than just a commemoration of particular events.

It’s about the lived, shared experience of all African Americans, high and low, famous and obscure, and how those experiences have shaped and challenged and ultimately strengthened America.  It’s about taking an unvarnished look at the past so we can create a better future.  It’s a reminder of where we as a country have been so that we know where we need to go.”

 

Additionally, each year Black History Month has a theme. The theme for 2022 is Black Wellness and Health, in honour and support of physical and mental health of Black individuals, in addition, to recognising Black medical practicians and decolonizing racial medical practises.

Things to do during Black History Month!

Now that we know the history of Black History Month, we can discuss what everyone should think about and do to uplift, support, and celebrate Black individuals. A lot could be said here but let’s focus on five key aspects.

 

  1. To celebrate Black Joy as much as Black resistance! Meaning not to only focus on pain, suffering and trauma, but to instead give room for Black joy. Black joy means to claim ownership of the free self through joy, celebrating Blackness and having the right to love Blackness. Below are shared links to read and hear more about Black Joy.

 

The Pleasures of Resistance: Enslaved Women and Body Politics in the Plantation South, 1830-1861 by Stephanie M. H. Camp

What is ‘black joy’ and why do we need it in our lives?

Why we need to celebrate Black Joy | Valerie June | TEDxNashvilleSalon

 

  1. Center Black voices and Black stories! It can be a movie, book, series, or other forms of media by Black creators telling stories that centre Blackness. To hear stories told by Black individuals about Black individuals is to decolonize the narrative of Blackness that Whiteness has told. This blog’s monthly book suggestion gives some suggestions, in addition, the Instagram account @womensprize also occasionally lifts Black authors. Otherwise, a simple Google search will give a plethora of great media to consume that centre’s Black voices.
  2. Buy Black! This entails supporting Black-owned businesses, shops, and brands, both local and/or global ones. To economically support Black business, today and always, is part of being an ally to a community that is deeply affected by systemic racism.
  3. Continue supporting racial justice movements and organizations! Whether it is economical support, following and sharing information or educating oneself on the matter are all as valid and important.
  4. Finally, even if we only celebrate Black History Month for the entirety of February, Blackness should be celebrated all year round. Meaning that these are not things that one should consider only during the month of February but something to keep in mind all year round.

10 Ways to Celebrate Black History Month This February | Houstonia Magazine