Across the globe today, there have been campaigns against political radicalization, with the condemnation of actions suggesting racial, gender, or class discrimination becoming common. However, although the campaigns have continued to be considered to be effective, the current American society still has a strong representation of such radicalization. American society has continued to look at individuals from other races as primitive, exotic others. As such, anti-black and anti-Indian discrimination have continued to coexist within the larger context of political opposition to racialism. These anti-radicalism campaigns have always been seen as reactionary, only existing in conservative politics. Apart from racism and class discrimination, American society has been plagued by the vice of gender discrimination. In the book “Lakota Woman,” Crow Dog elaborates her experience with racial, gender, and class discrimination.Her narration covers how her experience led to her transformation into a strong woman from the minority community.
The Effect of Race on Crow Dog’s Perspective
From her experience with racial discrimination, Crow Dog views the world as a place where minority communities are not allowed to express themselves or enjoy any kind of freedom. From her experience as a toddler, she came to realize that the white man does not appreciate the presence of the minority communities and only sees them as a disgrace to society(Dog and Erdoes, 2014). This experience came at a tender age when she got humiliated by her teacher, who was one person that she was supposed to look at.
In her narration, she illustrates how her teacher sought to humiliate her at the grocery store. While she was only intending to get an orange to enjoy eating, the grocery owner displays to her his displeasure of seeing her in the store. However, although the discrimination from the grocery owner was cruel, her biggest disappointment at the time came from the type of discrimination she received from her teacher. By yelling out her displeasure at the poor child, it did not only humiliate Crow Dog that it was a white person, but it was also her teacher. At this point, her grandmother’s advice comes to command relevance as she claimed that the white people were always disgusted by the presence of people from minority communities(Dog and Erdoes, 2014). This advice causes Crow Dog to start being cautious when she is around white people. It causes her not to trust them.
Crow Dog’s experience with racism also gets her to develop a view that white people act out brutally against those from minority communities out of fear. In her view, white people are scared of their counterparts from minority communities, and they view them as animalistic. She develops this perspective after she sees the mother to her white childhood friend flee from her grandmother after she threatened to chop off one of her ears. From this perspective, Crow Dog begins to believe that the only way to defend herself from the white man’s racial discrimination is through resorting to violence. She believes that for minority communities, becoming violent is equivalent to standing up for oneself. From this experience, therefore, Crow Dog comes to appreciate the shacks that they lived in since it meant that they were the safest place they could be(Dog and Erdoes, 2014). She likens the security she felt within the shacks to that which the womb provides a fetus.
While growing up, Crow Dog learns that the perspective of white people on their counterparts from minority communities drives them to try to humiliate them. She comes to understand that racism is taught to white children at a tender age. She develops this perspective, remembering her encounter with the principal’s daughter at the playground. For the principal’s daughter to liken her to a monkey, and go further to claim that she smelled like an Indian, it comes out clearly that the principal had taught her daughter how to be racist.
The Effect of Class on Crow Dog’s Experience
Crow Dog elaborates on her experience with class discrimination, pointing out how the people in privileged positions always attempt to trample over those that are not quite privileged. In one instance, while attending a class in English, the priest who was taking them through the class was seen to resort to humiliation as a way to gain control over his students. From his actions, it is claimed that he wanted to gain respect. However, for Crow Dog, respect has never been earned by looking down at others. Instead, to her, it only warranted rebellion(Dog and Erdoes, 2014). In her tracks, she is seen to rebel against the priest while trying to help out one of her classmates who was being bullied by the priest. From experience, Crow Dog’s perspective regarding class discrimination reveals that people of the higher class tend to look down upon those in the lower class because they believe they disgrace them.
In another instance, Crow Dog’s experience with class discrimination reveals that people in higher social classes always tend to dictate the behavior of those in the lower class. In most cases, people in higher social classes have been seen to act out in extroverted manners, trying to have others follow their lead. They would often attempt to use humiliating actions to try and keep the introverted individuals from low social class to fear them and do as they say. In one instance, while in a religion class, her teacher points out how she was a bad example to the rest. This assertion defines the perception that the teacher had a certain code of conduct that she had spelled out for the students to follow. As such, therefore, anybody that did not follow the code of conduct would be labeled a bad example(Dog and Erdoes, 2014). As a way of trying to control the behavior of other students, with the aim of discouraging them from following the “bad example,” she resorts to humiliating her subject in front of the others. This experience outlines the perception that extroverted individuals from a high social class are obsessed with controlling others.
Crow Dog’s experience with class discrimination also reveals that associations can change a person’s perspective of social class. From her experience of being mistreated for being an Indian, and being considered a second-class individual, she learns that although people may acquire higher social status by associating with those from higher social class, there will always remain a desire to want to relate to people from lower social class to feel contented. In the text, she gives an account of one of her friends who happened to marry a white person and began living the middle-class life(Dog and Erdoes, 2014). However, she reveals that she occasionally desired to act Indian. This assertion further reveals that those from higher social class can only accept to associate with others if they can be assimilated to fit the higher social class.
The Effect of Gender on Crow Dog’s perspective
The text elaborates on gender discrimination and how it plays a big role in a person’s perspective on life. Gender disparity has been seen to impact other aspects of living, especially socio-economic status. In the current society, it is already hard to be born in a minority community. For Crow Dog, the experience with discrimination can be seen to double: she is considered to have fallen down the pecking order by being a woman from a minority community. From the text, she illustrates her misfortune from being an Indian woman in society at the time, having to be forced to play second fiddle to men. She claims that society had already pronounced that it was foolish of a woman from the Indian community to come out too strong(Dog and Erdoes, 2014). She asserts that her experience with discrimination has given her the perspective that most men from plain tribes have been bred to view women as weak beings, who are only tasked with minding and caring for children.
Crow Dog elaborates on the shift in culture that has been presumed to have led to gender discrimination. She illustrates that the difference between men and women has lasted through ages, with men considered the stronger beings and women the weaker beings. Her illustration, however, asserts that men initially prided themselves in being generous to women as a means of showing their care and protection for them. However, brutal discrimination has cropped in due to the shortage of jobs and money that the men could be generous with. Society has continuously fed men a fallacy that they need to do away with the thought of caring for their men to be warriors(Dog and Erdoes, 2014). As a result, they live away from their families, and when they get home, they are brutal to their women.
Crow Dog also illustrates that women have since accepted the status quo regarding their position in society. From the text, she elaborates that women have viewed strength and success as a turn-off for men and that they can only show that they are gentle with their men by being subordinate(Dog and Erdoes, 2014). The women can be seen to shun the thought of challenging their men to split chores evenly from the thought that they would be humiliated.
Most Influential Force on Crow Dog’s Experience
Of the three forms of discrimination—gender, race, and class discrimination—Cow Dog can be seen to learn most from her experiences with racism. Through racism, she develops a strong sense of hate towards all white people on sight. Her feelings were strongly tipped towards hate from interacting with one white person. This strong feeling comes from the intense humiliation she received when she was still young. As a result, she grows to mistrust every white person. Her experience, however, takes time to be quenched, and she finally finds some white friends that she could start trusting again later in life(Dog and Erdoes, 2014).
Crow Dog’s experience with racism can also be said to have influenced her behavior, causing her to be rebellious. Back at school, the hate she felt for white people caused her to become unruly. She disliked the fact that white students always got preferential treatment from the nuns, and were always considered to come from good families. Her hate was further fueled by the fact that she always wound up doing difficult tasks such as laundry of dirty boys’ socks while the privileged ones got easier jobs after being treated to special breakfast(Dog and Erdoes, 2014).
The strongest influence that Crow Dog got from experiencing racism first-hand is the acceptance that she develops about herself. From the experience, she learns to embrace herself as an Indian living in the shacks. She recognized that living in the shacks was safest for her: she likens the security that she gets from the shacks to the protection that a fetus gets from its mother’s womb. From the experience, the development of a strong sense of fear of the white people got her to appreciate the little she got from her family and neighbors. She asserts that her appreciation of the shacks got her to worry less about the white man, and appreciate the overcrowded shack (Dog and Erdoes, 2014).
- Dog, M. C., &Erdoes, R. (2014). Lakota woman. Open Road+ Grove/Atlantic.