A few days ago, I got caught up reading a series of powerful articles about white female privilege, white feminism vs. black feminism, and what former UCLA student Alexandra Wallace’s viral rant (and the reactions to it) say about race and gender. I had heard of white privilege, but not white female privilege, and the authors brought up a variety of interesting points, some of which I agreed with and some of which I didn’t.
All I could think about while reading them was how much I would have loved to send those articles to Professor A and Professor B at Linfield and talk about them the next day in class.
I feel like I still want to talk about these issues because they’re not going anywhere. They may be easy to avoid, but they’re pervasive and ignoring them won’t make them go away. I could get into discussions about racism and gender equality all over the Internet if I wanted, but they’re unlikely to be constructive or even polite. Linfield classes, with fifteen students max, were great forums for discussion. You can’t really sit down at the dinner table and be all, “I read this great article about black feminism versus white feminism – what do you guys think?”
Well, maybe you live with social activists or gender-studies professors and conversations like that are standard fare at your dinner table, but the rest of us haven’t really had an outlet for that kind of thing since college, if we had it at all. Some of you from bigger schools may still be struggling with the idea of having a discussion in a college class. (Our professors knew our first names, too. We had barbeques at their houses sometimes. Yep.)
Or some of us just couldn’t be bothered to study racism and privilege on our own time, either because we think it doesn’t affect us or because we don’t see any way we can help fix the problem. I am okay with that. That’s how I am about most politics. Ask me about current events and I will most likely make a Glenn Beck joke and then refer you to my fiance, who can actually give you an informed response. Unfortunately, race and gender issues are still rampant, and I don’t know where the issue gets addressed on a personal level outside the classroom or like-minded political groups.
I’m not trying to sugarcoat liberal arts classes, because they weren’t exactly fountains of brilliance and world-problem-solving. The drawback to attending a small liberal arts college was that most of the students were white and, well, liberal. I spent several discussions during Multicultural Communications (or maybe that was American Lit) feeling distinctly hypocritical for discussing race in an all-white classroom populated by kids taking notes (or surfing Ebay) on their laptops. Racism wasn’t really an issue inside the small-college bubble – it was something that happened to other people, and it was bad, but no one had any ideas for how to fix it.
Now that we’re out in the real world, those issues have mostly been forgotten. Are you still, or have you ever been, interested in staying informed on topics like racism and sexism? Where can you go to get a well-rounded discussion between a good mix of people?