Saturday, March 14, 2009

An outsider looking in...

I don't know why I feel this way, but I always have. I suppose it is the double-consciousness that DuBois spoke of, although I argue that I have quadruple-consciousness (I will explain below), that makes me have this mindset. I am fine with it, but it is extremely hard for other people to understand. Although I am an American born citizen, I never felt a sense of belonging in this country. And while I can appreciate the progress that has been made, the simple fact is that we are equal and we need equal protection under the law.

This sort of serves as my reaction to DuBois' notions (a Black feminist critique one may say) at times, and just my stance on race, gender, class, and life as a heterosexual.

The first mode of consciousness I have is my gender. DuBois, although he didn't speak of sex (in biological sense) in his work that shaped me so much, Souls of Black Folks, the message was clear. He was advocating for the rise of Black man, and I am fine with that, but you can't forget your sisters. Our community is known for this solidarity between its brothers and sisters, so we must now build each other up. So if the first Black man to receive a Ph.D didn't acknowledge that women mattered to, that's an issue. I always had the mindset that I am equal to any and every man. That has gotten me in trouble in life, and people have falsely labeled me a lesbian, but no I am not. I am sorry to burst your bubble. I am a feminist, first and foremost. I believe in gender equality. And just to clarify, at no time would I put down lesbianism or any other sexual orientation. I am a fierce ally of the cause of ending heterosexism, promoting diversity, and accepting/respecting lifestyles of other than our own.

My second mode of consciousness, and this gets me in even more trouble, stems from my views on class. I am a leftist. I don't like to say socialist or communist, b/c the labels are not the same for one and the negativity attached to them bogs people down. I adhere to the principles of the left. I am a Marxist. The Communist Manifesto made so much sense to me when I read it. People may think "well you are a Black American woman, of course you like the ideology b/c it evens the playing field." Yes, that is true, but I also am the child of two parents who worked hard for us to live comfortably. I know the value of a dollar and I love the thrill of spending it, but I also respect the work that goes behind getting that dollar. I respect the workers, because I am one and I hail from workers. Some people are born with privilege (money/attractive qualities/artistic talent that leads to $), and they never have to labor a day out of their lives. But most people work hard, all day/everyday, and never can live comfortably (not lavish, comfortably). That is a problem. I saw my parents struggle to make it, but we always made it. I vowed to myself that I could never go through so much to make a decent life for myself and my children, so I adopted the belief that education was the best way to guarantee a good life. With my education, I didn't want to become specialized in a field that would provide me with no joy and that didn't give back, like majoring in business, etc. So I dedicated my time to studying the social constructions of society and how these institutions have impacted humanity in the past. I am a history major and I firmly believe that we as a people, the human race, need to realize that what we are doing is wrong. We haven't learned lessons from the past. We can't simply give lip service to the tenets of liberalism, and live a lifestyle that contradicts it. That's why my leftist leaning drives me to be a community college professor, so I can educate the upcoming generation on the failures and legacy of individuals and groups in the past and inspire them to make the future brighter. So people may wonder why at a community college, and it's again tied to the idea of serving everyday people, and not seeking tenure at a prestigious University to give myself a false sense of validity. Community colleges lay the foundation for many who want to achieve higher education, yet may not have the means to do so. It makes perfect sense to me that a good liberal would work here, because one would hope that their students would go on to receive BAs, BSs, MAs, MBAs, Ph.Ds, law degrees, etc. That is why I can appreciate my professors from Richland so much more. They are amazing. :) My love for liberalism also impacts my dietary choices (I used to be a vegetarian for years, but now I am a pescetarian :/ but I know that the consumption of animal products does harm to your body and to the Earth), my love for the Earth, the planet that we are supposed to take care of (so I am environmentalist), and the need to love myself the way I am, but knowing that I can always make improvements (so I advocate feminism, so women do not have to go through extreme measures for body acceptance).

The third form of consciousness is race, and yes it is far down on the list for a reason. I said in an earlier blog that I don't look at race as much as gender and class b/c I think it is trivial, and I stand by it. In regards to race, it is a sociological phenomenon. I enjoy studying groups, but there is nothing innate in a member of the dominant group that makes them better than us. I am an ethnic collectivist, so I say US a lot. I support all people of color, so I never latched on to Black identity as others did. I felt all people of color were in the same boat, and when would we realize that we can not tear each other down buy dividing ourselves. I also don't subscribe to the mindset that claims that one ethnic group has had it worse than the other, so while I appreciate and have to understand my history as a Black American, that does not define me nor will I let it limit me. I am not bitter towards White people, well because I grew up with them and they were my friends, still are. I don't think it's fair to anyone when you limit the people you interact with based on false, preconceived notions about race. I can't stand it. So I don't and won't allow that negativity to limit the people I interact with. I think being a Texan people still find that hard to believe, but we need to get with the times. It's like there are two Americas still, and that's sad. It's not Black America and White America or a Union and a Confederacy anymore. We need to realize that & accept life and the world we live in now for what it is, a place where Whites learn from Blacks and Latinos, Jews learn from Asians, Native Americans learn from those of Middle Eastern descent, etc. Oh it will be a lovely day when people stop using race as a privilege.

And last but not least is my take on sexual orientation and my goal to always be conscious of the actions towards homosexuals/trans-gendered individuals, etc. As stated before, I am a heterosexual, but a devout feminist, so I think that has a huge impact on my views of heterosexuality and the treatment of the LGBT community. I view sexuality as something that you are born with, and if a man was born to love men, or a woman was born to love women, who are we (speaking as a heterosexual) to judge them? Why are people in power so afraid of extending the civil rights that the LGBT deserves and has (b/c there is no where in the Constitution that says one's rights are stripped away just because they love someone you don't approve of). So we need to do away with this heterosexist nonsense, and realize that male-female relationships are not the norm and we have no right nor basis to discriminate against anyone based on sexual orientation.

So this is where I stand... I am 23 year-old college student, who sees the world as it should be, but no one else seems to understand. It is very upsetting and disheartening at times, but I hope more people can look at the world through my eyes. We are all connected to each other through the common bond called humanity, and it is sad to me that we constantly find ways to become more and more detached and solitary. When will this madness end, and we all love one another?!?!?! It's so sad. I wonder what God thinks about us... Sigh.