Homophily, the desire to connect with people like ourselves, causes us to create our own realities.
Our narratives are derived from a slanted perspective that leads us to feel our views are correct by amplifying them in our choice of friends and media consumption. This can be dangerous when it leads to filtering facts through personal opinions instead of allowing our beliefs to be modified by new facts. To counter the confirmation bias, an active mind looks for more than one reputable source to back up a story and checks for context and veracity, especially when the article seems advantageous to personal agenda or too shocking to be true. Critical thinking allows the possibility of reevaluating our beliefs when we encounter stories that don’t follow the trends we’ve established in our narratives. We must be willing to assume our roles as global citizens by staying informed, ready to discuss the world and local news and become the change we wish to see. The cultivation of an engaged mind is a lifelong process.
With that said, behaving in fear to the perceived liberal unity at the forum in the Chapel on November 11th was an inappropriate response to hearing the beliefs of people who were afraid of more than loss of face. It is fallacious to place conservative worries about ridicule from peers on the same level as the Muslim and LGBTQ community’s fear of hate crimes due to the rising white nationalist movement, which has been bolstered recently by the election of a man endorsed by the KKK. The fear of appearing ignorant in political matters is far removed from the fear that Donald Trump will deport your family, support laws that disproportionately imprison African Americans and remove what newly earned legal protections you have as an LGBTQ person.
It is also an insult to marginalized groups to claim that the fear of losing political and social rights began on November 8th. This statement erases the palpable terror echoing across American history. These justified fears existed when Native Americans were forced from their lands and slaughtered and reverberated into fears of the police violence and encroachment by the Dakota Access Pipeline at Standing Rock. These fears have been present since African slaves were brought to the colonies and have had to fight every step of the way to be considered as human as white people and as deserving of civil and political rights. For many, the fear isn’t that they will lose their rights, but that they’ll never fully have them. There still isn’t a federal law protecting transgender people from discrimination, racial profiling and police brutality still occur and LGBTQ youth are still subjected to conversion therapy. Each incident is part of a white Christian patriarchal system that dehumanizes people in order to maintain the current power dynamic.
In this hegemony lies the difference between being part of a minority group and being marginalized. For example, the wealthiest 1% of Americans are technically a minority, but this certainly doesn’t mean they’re inherently oppressed or removed from society. In this case, it means the opposite. It is important to refrain from using loaded terms like “minority,” which carries the societal connotation of injustice, in an attempt to strengthen a cause that simply has fewer people. It would be better to state that conservative millennials represent retaining portions of the current overarching power structures that a greater number of millennials want to change.
It is difficult to claim you are opposed to racism and sexism while supporting a presidential candidate who is racist and sexist. A vote is a sign of approval. There is no way to cast half a vote if you only agree with the candidate’s economic policy; it’s an all or nothing vote to give one candidate the power to fulfil the promises he or she made on their campaign. Therefore, the ballot rests on personal priority. “What do you value most?” amounts to asking, “Who do you think matters?” Forgive me if I can’t be close to someone who uses the political process to place the modern figurehead of white supremacists in the highest authoritative office and proceeds to distance themselves from the implications.
Finally, a rebuttal to the most commonly offered solution to racism, sexism, homophobia, etc. “Disregarding demographics” entails erasure of the extremely different roles that people of color, women and LGBTQ people have been historically forced to occupy in this county. When this phrase is applied to race, it is a plea to be “colorblind,” a problematic and ableist term for pretending everyone has had the same experiences and opportunities. Saying “people are all people” and “I don’t see color” functions on the premise that emphasizing our mutual interests and shared humanity automatically restores power to the oppressed by claiming you don’t think of them as oppressed. Or, to put it bluntly, you want to see everyone as white, void of the appearance and cultural history that systematically lowers them on America’s sociopolitical hierarchy.
I realize a single article does nothing on its own. 921 words cannot scratch the surface of the institutionalized oppression that has endured the passage of time in ever changing forms. I can’t remove misogyny, ableism, classism, racism, homophobia or Islamophobia with one piece in a student newspaper. However, I think we should try. We should be honest about the underlying systems at work in this country. And we should hold each other accountable for the consequences of our political and personal actions, regardless of intent.