How To Educate Yourself

Aight so I’ve been having a lot of conversations recently about people in positions of privilege not understanding why those not in positions of privilege sometimes have a hard time with life. These hard times range from small, everyday microaggressions to large, traumatising current events.

PAUSE, what does microaggressions mean??

From Psychology Today:

“Microaggressions are the everyday verbal, nonverbal, and environmental slights, snubs, or insults, whether intentional or unintentional, which communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative messages to target persons based solely upon their marginalized group membership.”

If you click on the link there are some good, unfortunate examples.

Now, I do not claim to be an expert on microaggressions, macroaggressions, or oppression in general. I have areas of privilege as well as areas of non-privilege and I am definitely still learning. Besides being a queer woman of colour I would consider myself pretty damn privileged. I’m currently typing in English on a rather expensive computer with my working legs crossed under me in a rather expensive city I’m temporarily living in for my unpaid internship. However, certain identities of mine have made me more cognizant of issues around me, so I am just going to attempt to show you what I’ve learned.

Here goes.

Why does educating yourself matter?

Some questions people in positions of privilege might have are: who cares if that guy called you exotic? Why can’t you take that as a compliment? And why should I care about the Charleston attack (and subsequent church burnings) if I’m white? And how come LGBT* people are still fighting for rights when marriage equality is now legal? Shouldn’t they be done now?

So here’s the thing. We all live in society together. When parts of our society are affected by something, we are all somehow affected by it, even if it’s not automatically apparent. The thirty seconds spent riding up the escalator from the metro every day constantly yields too many different kinds of people for me to stare at and/or fall in love with (metro lust is real, yo) without thinking about the effect each person has on this world and others around them. Additionally, the ever-expanding internet puts us in contact with so many different kinds of people. I mean you can’t really go anywhere without coming into contact with, guess what, people! Obviously this sort of depends on where you live because many areas are pretty heterogeneous. But again, there is this great thing called the internet!!!! If you have access to it, you shouldn’t be ignoring what’s going on (for the purposes of this post I’m going to be focusing mainly on the US because trying to address all worldly injustices would take literally forever).

Also, a recent census estimates that the white majority in the US is going to be gone by 2043. Racial and ethnic minorities currently make up around half of the under-5 age group. This means if you’re still around then, you’re going to be living in a very different country no matter what your race is. 2043 is in 28 years so you better start learning some shit fast. And you know what is also around half of the population? Women! Chances are, if you are a white man and don’t really know any people of colour (sad), you probably know at least one woman. I hope. Unless you’ve been living under a rock. Though really I think the real kicker is that LGBT* people don’t make up around half the population, and sometimes it’s kinda hard to pick us out of a crowd. You could be sitting next to one right now!!! Oh no!! Better yet, maybe you’re one of us 😉 😉 😉

If you’re still wondering why you should care, take these privilege quizzes. Right off the bat you’ll learn something, I promise:

Hehe not apologising for that last one.

I’m not saying these are perfect but I do hope they at least got your brain thinking. What I like about these quizzes is they make you realize that stuff you don’t necessarily think is a privilege is in fact a very big privilege. For example, “I have never gone to bed hungry,” or “I feel comfortable in the gender I was born as” are not necessarily ideas the average person would think about.

The thing is though, no social justice issue is mutually exclusive. None of us identify as solely one thing, which is where intersectionality comes in. According to Geek Feminism Wiki, intersectionality “is a concept often used in critical theories to describe the ways in which oppressive institutions are interconnected and cannot be examined separately from one another.” So, I care about the equality of women because they are oppressed, and I care about people of colour because they are oppressed, and as a result I also care about issues that women of colour face.

Now, even if you are a cis-hetero-white man, you can (and should) still care about intersectionality because you are reaping the benefits of privilege. However, this means you might have a lot more work to do than some of us in order to educate yourself about the struggles that many people go through every day. And even if you aren’t a cis-hetero-white man, there are probably areas of injustice that you are not familiar with and that you should start learning about so you can help advocate for others. Bottom line, don’t be Elizabeth Cady Stanton and only fight for the vote for white, middle-class women.

Alright, next step.

How do I learn about all this stuff?

I’ve asked around and pulled together some sources I think might be helpful.

For instance, educating yourself also includes speaking out when you see or hear something you think is not quite right. For this, Jay Smooth can help you out:

This video is kind of old, but definitely still relevant. He is also still making (mostly) race-related videos and you should watch some of them at his website called Ill Doctrine.

I like him because he puts current events into a perspective that is easy to understand.

Next up is Franchesca Ramsey with MTV’s Decoded:

She comes out with a new video about every week and they’re all also very much current-event related (I also really like the “Does Race Affect Your Dating Life?” and “How To Handle A Racist Joke” videos) as well as addressing a lot of micoraggressions in every day life.

After that, the website Everyday Feminism (hint, you don’t have to be a woman to read this website, guys can be feminists too!!)

This is one of the articles I liked, but don’t just read this one. Dig around, get lost, check it daily!

http://everydayfeminism.com/2015/06/8-tired-questions-queer-women/

This website has so many topics and so many categories that I’m pretty sure you could find an article about anything you have questions about.

And finally, (and don’t make fun), Buzzfeed Ideas.

Here’s one article I thought was pretty well written:

http://www.buzzfeed.com/1demerith/rachel-dolezal-and-transgender-narratives#.wx3yxmd74

I still have a hard time taking Buzzfeed seriously, but some of the stuff they publish is really profound. The ideas section contains a lot of articles and some videos that talk about very important issues and have nothing to do with silly clickbait headlines.

OKAY THAT’S IT I’M DONE I’VE LEARNED EVERYTHING, RIGHT?

Lol, no. And if you’re thinking this, shame on you. YOU ARE NEVER DONE! And these sites are constantly updating so you will always have content to look at. Bookmark this post if you have to so you don’t forget to keep up to date with these issues. Also though, like I said, I am no expert, and this is probably not even one percent of the resources that are out there for you to take a look at. So ask around (and if you have any to add please comment I would greatly appreciate it)! And if you have questions, oftentimes just Googling or having a conversation is wonderfully eye-opening.

With that being said, congratulations. You’ve made it to the end of this ridiculously long post and I wish I could give you a certificate or something. But I think your real reward is that you can now hopefully live in society with a better understanding of its dynamics and how you can help make it a little better.

Thanks For Affirming My Personhood (Otherwise Known as FUCK YEAH MARRIAGE EQUALITY)

I’m young and have not even begun to think of settling down or starting a family or anything of that nature. I’m not even sure I will ever get married. And if I do I have no idea who I’ll be marrying. But the fact that my country has given me a choice to marry or not marry whoever the fuck I want is absolutely fantastic.

I am beyond excited and may or may not be tearing up at my desk right now.

However, just a reminder though that this does not mean all the problems are automatically solved. This country is a work in progress and we have a ways to go in a lot of things, but you consider at least this one thing checked off. DAMN DOES IT FEEL GOOD

This quote is probably going to be shared and overshared too many times to count, but read it and read it well:

“As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.”

The rest of it can be found here: http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/14pdf/14-556_3204.pdf (seriously it’s worth it, and Scalia uses the word hippie lol)

EVERYONE DESERVES LOVE

THANKS 5/9 OF SCOTUS FOR ACKNOWLEDGING (some of) OUR NON-HETERO RIGHTS

giphy

DC Is Like A Make-Your-Own Sauna

The title of this is a direct quote from a conversation I overheard while crossing the street. I wasn’t sure what he meant (besides the humidity) so I started thinking about what you need to make your own sauna, and/or what you need to make your own DC.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup weather app
  • 4 1/2 cups humidity
  • 5 feet rain that eventually evaporates into more humidity
  • 1 oz umbrella
  • 100 cups of strangers in either direction
  • 4 (or more) tablespoons of people you sort of know to make awkward eye contact with on the street
  • 3 oz of delayed metro trains
  • A pinch of overly air-conditioned museums or office buildings
  • 1 or 2 containers of I-have-no-idea-what-I’m-doing

Step 1: Wake up in the morning and check the weather on app. Lay out umbrella even if forecast is sunny

Step 2: Walk outside and add humidity and strangers. Mix

Step 3: Separate metro trains, add half, and delay (can also add sweatiness to strangers for extra flavour)

Step 4: Add free museums if weekend. If not, add office buildings but do not forget a dash of over-eager interns

Step 5: Mix in the rest of metro and sprinkle on people you sort of know and make awkward eye contact with

Step 6: Let sit for uncomfortable conversation or until metro arrives

Step 7: Bake in strong sunlight, rotating every half hour

Step 8: Add rain and thoroughly soak

Step 9: Garnish with I-have-no-idea-what-I’m doing and serve at an ungodly temperature. Repeat

America, I’m Getting Really Tired of Your Shit

I want to write about the Charleston shootings but there is not much I can say that has already been said with more eloquence on various news sites. Like this article from Huff Post (read it, please).

However, I would just like to remind my fellow non-black POCs (and really just anybody no matter what your race is) that staying silent on this issue or denying that there is any issue at all is not going to help anybody. The fact that these hate crimes (and frankly, acts of terrorism) continue to happen and are then subsequently shoved under the carpet is infuriating. America cannot continue to advertise itself as an accepting country when the black community is suffering every day. THIS IS A RACIAL ISSUE. The Charleston shootings were not a senseless tragedy carried out by a mentally ill white kid who was so soft spoken that we have no idea why he would do such a thing (etc, etc). Do not let yourself or anyone else think this.

To quote the Huff Post article, “To be black, specifically in America, is to be in a constant state of fear. There is no refuge. There is no escape. There is no sanctuary.”

Because there is no way I could put into words the immense sadness and frustration that I am seeing and feeling and reading, here is an excerpt from Citizen by Claudia Rankine:

/

You are in the dark, in the car, watching the black-tarred street being swallowed by speed; he tells you his dean is making him hire a person of color when there are so many great writers out there.

You think maybe this is an experiment and you are being tested or retroactively insulted or you have done something that communicates this is an okay conversation to be having.

Why do you feel okay saying this to me? You wish the light would turn red or a police siren would go off so you could slam on the brakes, slam into the car ahead of you, be propelled forward so quickly both your faces would suddenly be exposed to the wind.

As usual you drive straight through the moment with the expected backing off of what was previously said. It is not only that confrontation is headache producing; it is also that you have a destination that doesn’t include acting like this moment isn’t inhabitable, hasn’t happened before, and the before isn’t part of the now as the night darkens 
and the time shortens between where we are and where we are going.
/
When you arrive in your driveway and turn off the car, you remain behind the wheel another ten minutes. You fear the night is being locked in and coded on a cellular level and want time to function as a power wash. Sitting there staring at the closed garage door you are reminded that a friend once told you there exists a medical term — John Henryism — for people exposed to stresses stemming from racism. They achieve themselves to death trying to dodge the build up of erasure. Sherman James, the researcher who came up with the term, claimed the physiological costs were high. You hope by sitting in 
silence you are bucking the trend.
/

When the stranger asks, Why do you care? you just stand there staring at him. He has just referred to the boisterous teenagers in Starbucks as niggers. Hey, I am standing right here, you responded, not necessarily expecting him to turn to you.

He is holding the lidded paper cup in one hand and a small paper bag in the other. They are just being kids. Come on, no need to get all KKK on them, you say.

Now there you go, he responds.

The people around you have turned away from their screens. The teenagers are on pause. There I go? you ask, feeling irritation begin to rain down. Yes, and something about hearing yourself repeating this stranger’s accusation in a voice usually reserved for your partner makes you smile.

/

A man knocked over her son in the subway. You feel your own body wince. He’s okay, but the son of a bitch kept walking. She says she grabbed the stranger’s arm and told him to apologize: I told him to look at the boy and apologize. And yes, you want it to stop, you want the black child pushed to the ground to be seen, to be helped to his feet and be brushed off, not brushed off  by the person that did not see him, has never seen him, has perhaps never seen anyone who is not a reflection of himself.

The beautiful thing is that a group of men began to stand behind me like a fleet of  bodyguards, she says, like newly found uncles and brothers.

/

The new therapist specializes in trauma counseling. You have only ever spoken on the phone. Her house has a side gate that leads to a back entrance she uses for patients. You walk down a path bordered on both sides with deer grass and rosemary to the gate, which turns out to be locked.

At the front door the bell is a small round disc that you press firmly. When the door finally opens, the woman standing there yells, at the top of her lungs, Get away from my house. What are you doing in my yard?

It’s as if a wounded Doberman pinscher or a German shepherd has gained the power of speech. And though you back up a few steps, you manage to tell her you have an appointment. You have an appointment? she spits back. Then she pauses. Everything pauses. Oh, she says, followed by, oh, yes, that’s right. I am sorry.

I am so sorry, so, so sorry.
/
P.S. Today is Juneteenth, commemorating the end of slavery in the U.S. Think about that and then think about why we haven’t seemed to have grown at all as a country.

A Letter of Regret From Your Anxious and Depressed Friend

Definite nail on the head right here. I’m not sure it all applies to me, but this probably applies to at least one person that you know. Just a reminder to be cognizant of those around.

talkingthisandthat

Dear Friend,

I was not always this way.

I did not always hide away from the general public for months or weeks at a time. Once I was quite confident. I occasionally felt happy. I had a full time job and I could face customers with no concern. I would chat to people over the phone, make an effort to see friends, be interested in daily life. I could cope with negativity. Overcome it, even. I wouldn’t let anything bring me down because I had something inside me that made me keep going out there, into the world, facing it all.

But sometimes, Friend, things happen. Sometimes just one thing. Sometimes many things. The courage to face these things is strong at first, at least stronger than now. But depending on luck, or coincidence, or fate, or opportunity, eventually the voice of that courage for some people is quieter. Weaker…

View original post 1,242 more words

Observations/Questions/Advice

– It’s heartbreaking seeing homeless people right outside Whole Foods; the small distance between the doors and the bench conveys so much about what is wrong with this country

– Never go anywhere in DC without an umbrella; you may get stuck in an apocalyptic-type rainstorm that involves wading through gross rivers on the side of the road

– Is it the humidity that makes it hard to breathe, or my own oppressive body?

– Making friends with strangers on the metro is a wonderful and sad experience. You learn so much in such a short time but you’ll (probably) never see them again

– As the Huff Post says, “Transracial identity is a concept that allows white people to indulge in blackness as a commodity.” Transracial is not the same thing as transgender, you idiots. If you’re at all confused, please read the article that’s linked

– Pride is very validating I think it’s become too commercialised; I ended up with too many objects that screamed support from different companies. I’m sure they care, but how much? Why aren’t they more outspoken the rest of the year?

– Open mic nights inspire me but often these artists are nowhere to be found on the internet because they’re just ordinary people. But then I can’t read and reread their poetry afterwards! Maybe that’s the point

– If the lights go off on the subway, get off the subway. Even if the announcement is garbled and you can’t understand what’s being said

– The Swedes know how to put on a good soccer viewing party

– How many high-end stores can you cram in one place? I dunno, ask Georgetown

– It’s hot as balls

In Which There Are Weekend Shenanigans

I didn’t have homework looming over my head this weekend, which was pretty great. I felt like I should be doing something relating to grades, but instead on Friday Shreya and I found some wonderful art galleries in Dupont Circle. This experience was a lot more fun than writing an essay, even though I am now essentially writing an essay about it (it’s about the mindset though, stop judging me).

My only photographic evidence from these various galleries is this horrifically artsy picture from Instagram:

Screen Shot 2015-06-06 at 5.11.23 PM

It’s way cooler in person, I promise. If you want to learn more, check out the Hillyer Art Space website. The artist is a Taiwanese women named Hsin-Hsi Chen.The gallery seem to focus more on her 3D sculpture than these little squares. BUT I like these squares more and I wish you could see the full thing. It starts off with a drawing of a pencil, which then proceeds to blow up into these geometric shapes and follows an incredibly complex course of life until finally settling down again into a normal pencil shape. Shreya and I heard this lady next to us remark to her friend that this series was “an embellishment of the idea” (see Instagram caption). I think she was referring to the fact that a pencil can literally make anything you want it to make if you use it properly, so this series is merely an embellishment/showcase of a pencil’s abilities. I thought it was an interesting phrase, if not a little pretentious, but I’m slowly learning that this city is either filled with a lot of pretentious, put together people or a lot of cool, normal people masquerading as pretentious.

Also no one ever seems to change out of their work clothes. Personally I can’t wait to take off my suit pants at the end of the day but maybe that’s because I’m used to my normal grungy college-self and the more comfy I am the better. But maybe work clothes are comfy for these people? That’s an interesting lifestyle choice I must say but I guess that’s what you do when you work in DC.

Fast forward to Sunday (on which day there were thankfully a lot more casually dressed people): we went to brunch at this great place called Busboys and Poets. I wish I had a picture of the wall we were facing because it was absolutely wonderful. They had glued a lot of black and white pictures of activists from all over the world and had written inspiring quotes all over. Their food was amazing and we’re actually going back there tonight for a spoken word/open mic night hosted by them in conjunction with DC Pride, so maybe I can snag a picture of the wall then.

We also did a museum walk which was great because I got to explore more of the city. It seems big, but if the weather is nice it’s actually not impossible to walk 20 minutes and get to where you need to go. Unfortunately all my navigating has caused me to use up most of my data plan so hopefully I can fix that before I am stranded without (god forbid) an electronic way to get myself home. We were talking on Sunday about how people got around without directions on their phones, and I would imagine everyone was a lot nicer to each other because you had to rely on others to get where you where you wanted to go.

But my phone is just so comforting! <- this is how and why robots are going to take over the world, I guarantee it.

Okay cheers everybody I need to go make dinner!

Loneliness

It could be considered sad that my first ~official~ post is about loneliness and not about something more exciting, but I’ve been thinking about this subject lately and wanted to give it a poke.

For those of you who don’t know, I’m in DC for the summer doing the classic intern-type thing. I’ve been here almost a week – a week filled with major growing up in my opinion. For example, I always took irons for granted. I’ve always had them wherever I’ve gone, be it my home in Minnesota (RIP) or my home in Wellesley. So arriving in DC and realizing I needed to iron out my crinkled work clothes came as a slight shock. Update: still don’t have an iron. Hopefully I’ll take a trip to Target tomorrow. I have to buy that along with a frying pan because my roommate does not own one(???)

Now I’m obviously not completely “adult” because my parents are funding basically all my summer (thanks guys if you’re reading this) so I’m not even spending most of my own money. But there are things I really never learned how to do like make any food besides pasta or remember that you do in fact need your key when you leave your apartment and that you really need to lock the door behind you because this is in fact the real world and not Wellesley (a fact I remind myself of every time I walk out the door).

What I’m getting at is that, in my opinion, growing up is a little lonely. It’s lonely because you make stupid mistakes that you don’t want to admit to anyone but yourself, and it’s lonely because no one is going through it quite in the same way that you are. I feel kinda dumb that I didn’t think to bring an iron, or that I haven’t really lived in the real world on my own even though I’m 20. Humans are pack animals; we enjoy our cliques and want to be accepted. To many people acceptance means shared backgrounds and opinions, so you gotta act just right and pretend like you know what’s going on even if you had no idea how to successfully wear a blazer until a week ago.

Humans also enjoy comfort and routine, and when you take a human out of her happy(?) routine and dump her in a city (hi, hello, that’s me) she can get a little lonely. Simply put, she misses her pack. The thing is, I know big cities. I can handle big cities. I just was not expecting the isolation that comes with actually living in a big city. I see all these strangers riding the Metro back and forth and I wonder if they have friends and I very much hope they do.

I often think about the many faces at Wellesley that I don’t see too much because their mode of operation is room -> class -> room -> occasional food -> room. If they’re happy with this, awesome! But I know Wellesley can be isolating and it’s very easy to stay in your own bubble within a bubble for an entire semester and not do anything, go out, or see anyone. Now imagine this on a city-wide scale and all the lonely workers going from apartment -> work -> occasional food -> apartment. This isn’t a novel idea but I think sometimes those people disappear into the woodwork. I don’t like that, and I hope that this does not happen to me. It probably won’t but it definitely can feel like it sometimes.

I’m going to connect this to Caitlyn Jenner really quickly too. I don’t watch Keeping Up With the Kardashians and I have only occasionally stalked Kylie Jenner on Instagram, so I honestly don’t know much about Caitlyn. However, I’ve been reading the news a lot lately because that’s a large part of my intern duties, and the amount of hateful articles and comments I’ve come across regarding Caitlyn has been ridiculous. Like why do you people care in the first place?

My point though is that I can imagine she must have felt very lonely for several long decades because she wasn’t living as herself. Remember when I said humans are pack animals? We want to be accepted and we’re terrified of fucking up. This is inevitable at one point in our lives, which is why our fear of fucking up is at a constant eleven on a scale of one to ten. So anyone out there who is criticising her and being dumb about this whole thing (definition of understatement), just remember that you’ve probably been lonely at one point in your life. Take that feeling, multiply it tenfold for a couple decades, and then, after years of this soul-crushing loneliness, push yourself to finally try to make some friends with the looming idea that you might say something incredibly stupid. That takes a lot of energy and soul and that’s probably nowhere near what she’s been going through. So like, lay off a little. We’re all human and not having a shared background with someone doesn’t mean you can’t try and understand them a little bit.

Anyways, I think I’ve exhausted my madly typing hands enough so I’m going to stop there.

If you read this whole thing, congratulations you’ve passed!

P.S. Also I discovered you can write in different alphabets, so नमस्ते to you all.

 

This Odd Thing Called Blogging

Hello all!

If you are reading this then that’s fantastic and you’re probably just my mom.

But if you aren’t my mom, thanks for finding your way here and being mildly curious about my life!

I’ve been thinking about starting a blog for a while as a way to comment on the outside world. I’ve been journalling since third grade, but I find that a lot of that stuff is just about me and not the world as it relates to other people and/or even myself.

I’m not going to make you any promises like “I’ll post once a week” or “I’ll edit everything” or “you’re going to be super enlightened after reading my word vomit” but I do hope maybe you’ll like what I have to say a little bit. If not, oh well I wasn’t really trying to make you happy anyways so joke’s on you!

With that being said, here’s my blog.