Conflict and change
When Donald Trump was elected, I was disappointed. I belong to another party, and that feeling was inevitable.
But I told my students about the power of US election systems. I explained that our peaceful transfer of power is a hallmark of US democracy.
Change is scary; this I know. I've been through many changes of my own the past two years. I'm an idealist, though. I believe in the power of the future.
The Executive Order concerning immigration status changes for citizens of seven particular countries didn't surprise me, nor did the way it unfolded. I'm not sure it was even about immigration or terrorism, but it is my job to continue to welcome the students that I have, and be there for ones whose families are directly affected.
This is how I make a difference.
Theory vs. reality
I don't back down from an argument. I'm not good at it. Even to my own emotional detriment, I keep on because I believe strongly that if I have enough facts, if I explain my thinking, I can change someone's mind (even just a little.)
But this is not why people hold on to opinions; even I am guilty of this.
I want to talk about intersectionality. Dr. Kimberle Crenshaw has written stirring analysis of the ways in which our various group affiliations contribute to our privilege and our oppressions, and as such, no one experiences either in the same way as the person beside them.
I want to tell you a story.
I believe it is important to make my view known. I stand up for my belief. Many do. And when I am criticized for that belief I try to listen and to respond thoughtfully.
"Sweeping judgments about entire groups of people is not a good way to enact national policy."
and he says
"There is enough of a risk to warrant sweeping judgment in the name of safety."
and so I explain.
I explain how men have hurt me in the past, but if I say "no more men for safety reasons," I am met with a chorus of #notallmen and reminded my sweeping judgment is irrational.
I understand that someone might find that irrational. I also understand that every man I interact with has the potential to enact violence on myself or my children.
Yet, every day I choose to take a calculated risk.
What happens next always happens
I try to explain this, and as expected he says that it isn't the same thing.
And 3 or 4 messages into the thread, he sends me the rape statistics committed by immigrants and refugees of a city in Germany with the warning that all women are familiar with.
"If you allow these people, your chance of being raped increases."
But there is pain in my chest now. He can talk of these things in theory. He can, in a single conversation, opt-out of the conversation of what violence is done to women by men who look like him (white, from the US) and
at the same time blame me for my own possible rape and murder when the violence is done by "the other."
For him, the argument is over. Well done.
I am left to deal with the pain.
Where do we go from here?
This is the value of intersectionality. This is how we learn to walk in someone's shoes.
I begin to understand that my intersectional groups both deny (female) privilege and bestow (white) privilege. My feminism has to adjust.
I am reminded of the ways that I pass (my sexuality or my religion,) and the ways that I don't (being a woman.)
These are questions we wrestle with in the age of worldwide refugee crises and the need for national security.
These are questions we ask ourselves in message threads.
These are questions I think about in the darkness when I wonder what I believe and why. I have a lot of blindness concerning the ways that racism, classism, and sexism affects people who belong to different frames, just as this man was unable to see the ways his argument affected my personal experiences.
I don't have a satisfactory ending. That is a rare privilege bestowed on almost no one.
Intersectionality - Essential background.
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