Thoughts on Orlando and Love to Everyone

This weekend was Boston pride. I went yesterday with my friends to celebrate ourselves and be in a supposed safe space. It was rainy and wet and, as every year, I felt annoyed by the over-commercialisation of what was going on around me. Most of these companies don’t care about a whole lot besides making money and gaining more customers. But still we went because it’s pride month and why not. I was complaining about how cold I was but apart from that I had few other deeper thoughts about what pride really means in a larger context. I constantly forget to be afraid for myself in regards to my gender, race, and sexual orientation, especially because Wellesley can be a safe haven. What happened in Orlando though is a stabbing reminder of how unsafe this country (and the world) can be for LBTQ+ individuals, especially those of colour.

Here are some things to remember as you go about your day today:

  • What the news isn’t going to focus on is that the theme of the night at Pulse was for Latinx people, and that most of the people murdered were QTPOC. News outlets are also already injecting Islamophobia into articles and coverage of this tragedy, which only serves to further alienate all of us who are already marginalised. Islam is not a religion of hate, even though this misconception is going to be touted again and again. Do not let this separate us from each other. An act of hate is an act of hate.
  • Also speaking of marginalisation: Look up Wounded Knee (150 were murdered) or Black Wall Street (300 were murdered). These hate crimes have been been erased and forgotten over the years simply because those affected were not white. As you mourn today, do not forget about these tragedies – fold them in to your memories alongside this hate crime and remember that we are all affected by what happens in this country.
  • The focus in the coming days will (again) be about gun control. While obviously this is a necessary conversation, do not forget about the LBTQ+ victims. Guns are not the only issue and extreme bigotry still exists that also needs to be addressed.

Basically, let’s not forget about each other. Let’s support each other and let’s love each other.

I am truly lucky to be surrounded by so much love today, and my heart is pained for the families and friends of the victims. My heart is also pained for those who were and are not out and are unable to express the hurt they are feeling right now. And to the LGBTQ+ Muslims out there, know you are seen and you are wonderful.

If anyone is grieving, please please do not hesitate to reach out. Take care of yourself and know you are never alone.

Also shout out to my aunt who texted me to say she hoped I was okay and that I was safe at any LGBTQ celebrations I would be going to. Love you lots!!

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.