Sernett Response

Chapter 29 of the Sernett reading, about Amanda Smith, related to a topic that I find very interesting. Smith talked about her experience as a traveling evangelist. She told stories about her experiences with other churches that she visited and people she encountered, whether positively or negatively. Although many of the experiences she described were positive, there were a few that upset her. She talked about going to an African American church service to hear another woman preach and being asked to sing. After the service, a strange woman asked who invited her and demanded that she leave. Another time, she was talking to a group of African American men about going to the General Conference to get ordained. The men scoffed at her and said that they would fight against women being allowed to be ordained. This reminds me of a concept that I learned about in an English class last semester known as “idealization of the victim.” Basically, this concept states that people tend to believe that victims of oppression or stereotyping will be less likely to oppress or stereotype other groups of people because they know the folly and unfairness of that and how it feels to be oppressed. While this is sometimes true, it is not always the case. In my English class we read a book called Maus, which was a true story narrated by a man whose father had survived the Holocaust. Obviously, as a Jew, his father was very much oppressed and stereotyped. He suffered incredible abuse at the hands of the Nazis simply because he belonged to a certain religious group. Yet in the States, years after the Holocaust, his father refused to stop for an African American hitchhiker. The narrator tried to rationalize his father’s decision by saying that stopping for hitchhikers in general can be dangerous, but his father replied that he would’ve stopped if the man hadn’t been black. Despite being the victim of unfair profiling, the narrator’s father unabashedly acted in the same way towards a different minority group. It’s even more shocking to me that Smith had similar experiences with people in the same oppressed group as her, whether it be the woman demanding she leave the church (presumably for being of a different religion) or the men treating her differently because she is a female.

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