© 2011, Joaquin De La Torre-Mac Neill


Human beings’ understanding of the world around them, and how they interpret events that occur within that world, are expressions of their culture, their worldview (of reality). Many authors have written about reality as a social construction, some times through contracts (in a state, for example, the Racial Contract). I propose that reality can be (and often is) constructed through culture (within a group). The deconstruction of the officially (state sanctioned) accepted reality, by members of oppressed groups, is the first step in gathering the tools to empower themselves. This is a process of consciously recognizing the unconscious behavior of the privileged group/class. The reconstruction of a more accurate account of reality and the ability of individuals to identify themselves as a group is essential to affirming the reality of their experience as truth. Some cultures (for example indigenous peoples of the Western Hemisphere) have existed before the state that was constructed. In such cases, rather than reconstructing and creating, the task at hand is often remembering and affirming the validity of the (indigenous pre-conquest) culture. The psychological research into the social construction of stereotypes, and prejudice, confirms that much of these thoughts originate on an unconscious (and as a result unexamined) level of thinking. The consciousness raising techniques can begin to bring to the conscious level many of the quick (snap) decisions that rest beneath and behind prejudice and stereotypical thinking. Drawing on the work of MacKinnon, Mills, Foucault, and Banaji to bridge the gap between feminist theory and critical race theory by recognizing overlapping layers of oppression. In particular the oppression within oppressed groups, by those with limited degrees of ‘micro-power’ oppressing others within oppressed groups with no power at all. As a Native/Chicano/Irish person growing up in various different rural and urban areas throughout America, I integrate my personal experience into the philosophical theories.

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