I wrote this as my final “essay” for my Gender and Race class.
An Ode to Equality
As we draw down to the end of the term
It’s time to assess what we might have learned.
That can feel like a rather difficult task.
But here is a brief tour of our term that just passed.
What do you get when you take a book on race, another on gender
and add movies, discussions, personal experience and articles to the Blender
Then mix it around and shake it up a bit?
You get a whole host of new ideas and thoughts from it.
For me, the meat of the class was the emphasis on connective tissue.
We can draw a thread through seemingly disparate issues,
Sewing together this piece with that part
In order to create a new fabric, or paradigm, from which we can now start.
Start to move forward and onward and up
Away from the old ways; the unfair, the unequal, the corrupt.
Hopefully we take from this class a feeling for how very lucky we are living in this place, in this time, in this skin.
The challenge, of course, is to not get too comfortable in this privileged situation we’re in.
But, from my own perspective, and as pointed out in the class readings
Every person can probably find a minority and majority group in which to find seating.
I am privileged to be white in a system that favors the lightness of your skin.
I have the honor, but perhaps not privilege, to be a woman in a system that favors the brawn without over the heart within.
Perhaps we are short, when the world likes us tall.
Perhaps we are big, when our world favors the small.
Yes, the media and, by extension, our culture favors the tall, skinny, blond woman with big boobs and a small intellect.
But, more importantly our culture wants the woman to be quiet and unaggressive; circumspect.
If I speak out in favor of more equal distribution of this nations bounty of rights and riches,
Then you know I’m probably one of those FemiNazi Bitches.
I don’t have a daughter, but if I did I would teach her about strength of character, body and mind.
I would show her every strong female role model I could find.
If she wanted to be a princess when she grows bigger
Then I would show her examples of the depth of the job, the importance, the rigor.
Because the point is not whether you want to be a princess or not.
The point is when the one cookie cutter image of a princess is all we’ve got.
But since I had the good sense to create a tall, slender, white male child in this particular society,
I will just have to teach him to love and respect women and people of all varieties.
I’ll have to help him to see the fallacy of the media’s portrayal of masculinity as angry, violent, stupid, and muscle bound.
I will seek out other definitions of manly and strong wherever they can be found.
My plan is to teach him and help him to grow into a man who is strong, respectful, smart, considerate -worthy of
The strong, respectful, considerate, smart woman who would be worthy of sharing his life and love.
And then there’s the issue of race
That’s now, thanks to this class, staring us right in the face.
I’ve been exposed this term to some of the subtle discriminations that are hidden in our supposedly nondiscriminatory system.
These are the kind of things that are quietly subverting true equality and as a member of the white race it’s so easy to miss them.
Or even to dismiss them.
Because on the surface it appears that we have eradicated discrimination based on your skin color
And those of us who aren’t prejudiced are tired of being blamed for the actions of others
We are weary of hearing how it’s still going on even though we have made so many strides and come so far.
This weariness, I think, leads to a reluctance to honestly look at the way things were and still sometimes are.
Or maybe we do look and we get overwhelmed by the systemic codification of discrimination and stereotyping that is far too often present.
How can we possibly root out these subtle and pervasive inequalities? This feeling can lead to apathy and even resentment.
The problem stems mostly I think, from a lack of honest and frank conversation about race and discrimination.
It seems as though sometimes it’s hard to have a talk without fear of some kind of retaliation or recrimination.
But, the real solution for our racial situation and indeed, I’d hazard, pretty much all of our societal woes.
Is free exchange of ideas and the honest baring to each other of our souls
I really responded to the article we read describing the symptoms of Attachment disorder and its effects.
I believe that we as a culture suffer from a form of cultural attachment disorder that leaves us distrustful and treating each other as suspect.
We, as a group, are guarded trying to protect ourselves from some real or imagined hurt.
This is perhaps understandable, but doesn’t often work.
All that happens, really, is that we create greater divides separating us.
We create more opportunity for misunderstanding when we treat each other thus.
I hope that in the next little while (because I can’t stand to wait very long)
We are able to sing a new, brighter more positive song.
The trick to the writing of this brand new song is, however,
That we must find the harmony so we can sing it together.
There is room within the music for everyone to sing their individual parts.
And music is the language that speaks directly to our hearts.
I know many people are nervous to get up and sing.
But the best part of music is that you can come to it with your own thing.
Can’t sing a note? Perhaps you play an instrument.
Not that either? Just hum or clap along with it.
From the information in this class I could probably come away feeling sad and wearing a frown.
I choose not to focus on how far we still have to go, but instead on the fact that we are on the journey; and pretty far down.