Thursday, September 12, 2013

Orange is the New Black: A Follow up to Allan Johnson's "Power, Privilege, and Difference."


Just recently my husband and I have started watching the Netflix show Orange is the New Black. Several friends told us that it was laugh-out-loud funny, and that we had to see it. So we gave it a try. It's hysterical. The show is about a white woman named Piper Chatman who goes to prison for a crime she committed ten years prior to her conviction. I won't get in to the plot too much here, but thought that it would be appropriate to put up a post about how this show connects perfectly to the discussion we have been having in class and online.

One example that Allan Johnson uses to describe privilege in our society is through the statement that "African Americans, (for example), have to pay close attention to whites and white culture and get to know them well enough to avoid displeasing them." There are several great scenes in ONB that illustrate this point perfectly. This particular clip from the show is a spot-on example, it's a bit crude and vulgar, but it's fitting. In prison many of the African American and Latino women talk about how they need to "look" or "act" white when they go to hearings or to trial. They believe that if they do this they may get their prison sentence reduced. It's a perfect example of a cultural connection to the realities that Johnson discusses in his book. Orange is the New Black is funny and it's real. It flat out addresses the many power struggles within our society, in a wonderfully unapologetic way. Good show. Good connection. Good food for thought.

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