2009 CAROLYN WOOD SHERIF AWARD ADDRESS: RIDING TROJAN HORSES FROM SYMBOLISM TO STRUCTURAL CHANGE: IN FEMINIST PSYCHOLOGY, CONTEXT MATTERS

Authors


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  • Beverly Greene, Department of Psychology, St. John's University.

  • I thank Lawrence Greene, whose thoughtful analyses of complex social phenomena always help to clarify my thinking, and Laura Brown, Sara Zarem, and Dorith Brodbar for their helpful comments in successive drafts of this article.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Beverly Greene, Department of Psychology, St. John's University, Jamaica, NY 11439. E-mail: bgreene203@aol.com

Abstract

Against the backdrop of the historical 2008 presidential election, I discuss the ways that the election of marginalized group members to public office can be used to silence the discourse on the social marginalization of group members and to remove these analyses from their appropriate context. I emphasize the need to materialize alternatives to the dominant cultural narrative as one way of contextualizing the behavior of marginalized group members, specifically African Americans, regarding their appropriate angry responses to their marginalization. The toxic effects of racism in the lives of African Americans are trivialized when we ignore their narratives and the social contexts of their behavior. Accurate explorations of social contexts require an explicit examination of social inequity and not just individual responsibility. I use the discussion of these phenomena to highlight an important aspect of the social context in which Black men become fathers and what happens when we understand their behavior as fathers within this social context as opposed to in isolation. My goal is to raise our consciousness about how ignoring social contexts reinforces dominant cultural stereotypes of Black men that vilify them, specifically in their role as fathers, and how in doing so they reinforce the racial, gender, heterosexist, and socioeconomic class social status quo.

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