Category Archives: Rants

An Internal Monologue of Reading this Article by Someone My Alma Mater has Clearly Failed to Teach the True Meaning of Privilege

[full text of the article in question]

Intro paragraph: Unnecessary cheap shot at Obama…pointless reference most of your audience won’t get that you threw in there just to sound ‘Princetonian’…oh lawd, we haven’t even finished the first paragraph and you’re equating checking one’s privilege to being apologetic. I’m not sure I can get all the way through this.

…And the second paragraph starts right off with a casual reference to reverse racism, as if that were a thing.

I do not accuse those who “check” me and my perspective of overt racism, although the phrase, which assumes that simply because I belong to a certain ethnic group I should be judged collectively with it, toes that line. But I do condemn them for diminishing everything I have personally accomplished, all the hard work I have done in my life, and for ascribing all the fruit I reap not to the seeds I sow but to some invisible patron saint of white maleness who places it out for me before I even arrive. Furthermore, I condemn them for casting the equal protection clause, indeed the very idea of a meritocracy, as a myth, and for declaring that we are all governed by invisible forces (some would call them “stigmas” or “societal norms”), that our nation runs on racist and sexist conspiracies. Forget “you didn’t build that;” check your privilege and realize that nothing you have accomplished is real.

 

*Hint: racism is a system of power, and as such marginalized persons cannot, by definition, be racists.* Lol none of your accomplishments are purely personal. Literally no one’s accomplishments are purely personal. “The seeds you sow” are planted in a field your family has been cultivating for years, and I’m guessing they had some help somewhere along the way, if from nothing else than an economic system that wasn’t built upon their unpaid labor and a social system that wasn’t built upon their fundamental exclusion from public spaces and public assistance. But of course you won’t recognize those things, because you’re laughing off the “very idea” that “our nation runs on racist and sexist conspiracies.”

…I can’t tell if this 3rd paragraph is a glimmer of hope or if the sarcasm just isn’t coming through as well as it could on paper. *continues reading with extremely cautious optimism*

…I put too much faith in strangers on the internet.

Because I am in a hotel room in Stony Creek, Virginia and have literally nothing else to be doing right now, I’m going to take the time to break this down for this person, because these are the things I spent my time at our shared University learning to understand.

The word “privileged” does not mean that no hardships have ever befallen you or your kin. It doesn’t mean that you’ve never been the victim of violence for some inherent characteristic about you, be it your race, your religion, your sexual orientation, or whatever. Privileges exist along literally every social characteristic that a person possesses, so the vast majority of human beings in this world are privileged in some ways and disadvantaged in others. Being told to “check your privilege” in regards to a certain statement you’ve made does not entail that the person who told you to do so thinks that you and all your ancestors have floated down on a fluffy cloud of privilege through history. Rather, being told to “check your privilege” is simply today’s shorthand for telling you that there are alternative perspectives than your own that your previous statement(s) or action(s) suggest an unjust level of disregard concerning.

Now that we’ve cleared that up, I would like to take a moment to recognize the significance of the atrocities your grandparents faced during the Holocaust, as well as the struggle they endured after emigrating to the United States. Those are real and valid and should not be glossed over…

…but they don’t erase your privilege. See, the thing about privilege is it’s rooted in those “invisible forces” you called “stigmas” and “societal norms” complete with the scare quotes. You are certainly correct in saying that coming from a family whose history includes physically and psychologically violent religious persecution is not a privilege. But that’s about the last place I can agree with you, because your personal history then continues:

“Perhaps my privilege is that those two resilient individuals came to America with no money and no English, obtained citizenship, learned the language and met each other…”

Pause. My Spidey sense is tingling. Fun fact: emigrating to the United states and being able to obtain US citizenship—and then exercise your rights as a US citizen—were, in fact, privileges that only people of certain racial categories had access to in the 1930s.

“Maybe my privilege is that they worked hard enough to raise four children, and to send them to Jewish day school and eventually City College.”

A more radical version of me might call “Jewish day school” a privilege in and of itself in the same country that literally beat my ancestors’ ethnic heritage out of their systems, but I digress on that point. Rather, I will note that emigrating to the United States guaranteed your grandparents the safety and protection of the US government after the atrocities in Nazi Germany, while the grandparents of people who look like me were being purposefully injected with syphilis courtesy of the US Public Health Service’s experiments at the Tuskegee Institute. Also, I’m glad you mentioned that your father and aunts and uncles were all able to attend City College, a university that didn’t have an open admissions policy aimed at racial and ethnic integration until 1970; while your father and his siblings were able to attend City College, my father would have been turned away simply due to the color of his skin. That is the definition of systemic privilege—an ability one person has over another person due to some inherent and unalterable characteristic around which society as a whole or some particular social institution, such as higher education, is constructed.

Having privilege doesn’t mean no one in your family worked a day in his life. It doesn’t mean that you’ve never had to make sacrifices. It doesn’t mean that your achievements “aren’t real.” It means that those little invisible social forces gave you and yours a helping hand somewhere along the way, sometimes in really obvious ways like racially discriminatory admissions policies. Sometimes, though, this helping hand is more covert: for instance, I assume that this wicker-basket making business that your grandfather ran was run out of some sort of storefront, no? In that case, I would call it a privilege that he didn’t have to fight to hold that space in something like Harlem’s Real Estate Race War, and that it wasn’t looted and burned down because a man like him had more wealth and prestige than the men who were used to being in power, like happened to Black entrepreneurs in Greenwood, a neighborhood of Tulsa, Oklahoma. The means of successful entrepreneurship in this country have always been linked to having been born on the right side of a racist society. For a second example, check out Princeton professor Devah Pager’s book Marked, which details how business owners, who are overwhelmingly white males due to the history we just discussed, are more likely to hire whites with a criminal record than people of other races with a clean background; chances are, the color of your father’s skin helped him get that good job he’s been working hard at for the past 25 years.

Thus, I find your summarizing argument that

“That’s the problem with calling someone out for the “privilege” which you assume has defined their narrative. You don’t know what their struggles have been, what they may have gone through to be where they are. Assuming [the people you call privileged have] benefitted from “power systems” or other conspiratorial imaginary institutions denies them credit for all they’ve done, things of which you may not even conceive. You don’t know whose father died defending your freedom. You don’t know whose mother escaped oppression. You don’t know who conquered their demons, or may still conquering them now.”

to be fundamentally flawed. One should never assume one understand the details of another’s narrative, true, but I think you’re missing the point of the multifaceted structure that is social privilege. I don’t need to know your whole family history to know that there are ways in which the social institutions that determine quality of life in this country have favored people whose identity categories align with many of yours. And when I, or anyone else, asks you to check your privilege, we aren’t asking for an apology. The simplest way I can explain this to you is that we’re asking you to recognize that everything that happens in your life is influenced by what happened in the lives of your parents, your parents’ parents, and your peers’ parents, and their parents’ parents, which means that, historically speaking, the ability to work hard and have that hard work turn into sustainable capital gains that increase your family’s quality of life and educational opportunity is, in and of itself, a privilege.

I feel like I’m supposed to have some opinion about this whole Miley Cyrus VMA performance. I haven’t actually watched it in its entirety, but I have seen enough clips, GIFs, tweets, and scathing critiques that I have a pretty good idea of what happens.

My first reaction is to say, ‘Little Hannah Montana done lost her goddamn mind.’ But as soon as that thought crosses my mind, I chastise myself–there is absolutely no reason to criticize or even shame her for doing something I’d do on a dark dance floor on national television. I won’t pretend for a minute that “face-down-ass-up” isn’t a position I find myself in from time to time, so I sure as hell can’t knock her for it. In fact, given my general feelings about openness with regards to one’s body and one’s sexuality, I almost feel like I should be applauding her for not giving a damn what anyone thinks. #doyouboo

But then people keep throwing this word “appropriation” around. And I’ll admit, appropriation is a concept I struggle with, especially with regard to something as complex, multifaceted, and thoroughly disagreed upon as “black culture.” The air-quotes there are legit–I can’t feel comfortable using that term in the singular. So Miley twerks. In order for Miley twerking to be appropriation, twerking must be a “black thing,” some part of our culture that she is using for her own benefit without any of the repercussions that face members of the actual group when they engage in this activity, right? Well, when as my friend R put it on Facebook, we’re seeing more media about Miley Cyrus twerking than we are about Syria, I think that Miley is facing repercussions. But that’s not even the part I want to push back on–why is twerking a black thing? Who decided that? Am I supposed to claim it as some inherent part of my culture? Because, uh, bump that shit. It’s a dance. I think of it as an American thing, I guess. As a Millennial thing. Maybe even as a ratchet thing. But I don’t think Black folk have a monopoly on ratchetness, even if we coined that term. (Did we? Ioneenkno.)

I am not rejecting our right to ratchetness out of some desire to appear proper or respectable or some such bullshit. All I’m saying is, as far as I’m concerned, shaking your ass is a fundamental human right. I don’t think anyone can own that shit, and so I don’t know that Miley can be stealing twerking from us as a people. I honestly don’t think I give a shit either way. It’s her body and she can do what she wants with it as long as she’s not hurting anybody–this is my philosophy about all persons at all times.

What I DO find problematic about her performance is the moment which she smacks the ass of one of her backup dancers and proceeds to pantomime rubbing her face in it. That crosses the line into using another person’s body as a prop, showcasing its difference from your own in a dehumanizing and stereotype-enforcing manner. I agree with those critics who are likening that moment to the way in which Sarah Baartman was made into a living caricature of black womanhood in 19th century Europe. And what I find most problematic about the discussion about her performance is that no one who is shaking their head at her is giving Robin Thicke any shit–he was just as much of a participant as she was, so cut him a slice of the shit pie if you’re serving it.

Tl;dr: In the wise words of Missy Elliott, “Girls, girls, get that cash/ if it’s 9-to-5 or shakin ya ass/ Ain’t no shame ladies do your thang/ Just make sure you’re ahead of the game”

I don’t want to live in a world in which a mainstream media outlet reporting on the verdict barely mentions the victim in their rush to lament the fact that the “promising lives” of the defendants have been ruined and that this “will haunt them for the rest of their lives.” I want to live in a world in which negative consequences are considered the logical effect of committing a terrible crime, and a sentence for rape that is shorter than those regularly doled out for drug possession or downloading academic papers is viewed as pretty damn lenient.

I don’t want to live in a world in which girls are so well-schooled in the consequences they’re sure to face for speaking up about a sexual assault that the victim immediately tried to assure people that she “wasn’t being a slut” and initially didn’t want to name the defendants ”because I knew everyone would just blame me.” I don’t want to live in a world that proves these fears justified time and time again.

I don’t want to live in a world in which the victim’s former best friends testify against her. I don’t want to live in a world in which girls learn to slut-shame and victim-blame other girls in order to maintain a sense of false security for themselves. I want to live in a world in which we stick together and fight the forces that seek to split us apart, recognizing that victim-blaming anywhere makes us all less safe and less free.

I don’t want to live in a world in which a coach is seen as someone who will “take care of it” if his players are accused of rape. I don’t want to live in a world in which young athletes are treated like gods and arrogantly learn that there are no consequences for their bad behavior. I want to live in a world in which coaches take seriously the great and potentially wonderful influence they have in young people’s lives and act as valuable mentors who hold their players to high standards–on and off the field.

I don’t want to live in a world in which dozens of kids see a girl who was so drunk she was passing out and don’t take her home. I don’t want to live in a world in which kids see a girl who was so drunk she was puking and joke about urinating on her. I want to live in a world in which people can get too drunk–while out with friends or aquaintances or total strangers–and expect that they will be hungover, not sexually violated, in the morning. I want to live in a world in which girls have the right to be reckless and not get raped, and I want this to not be a controversial statement.

I don’t want to live in a world in which many people seem to truly believe that women must be constantly “aware of their surroundings” and vigilantly guarded against being taken advantage of, or else they bear “some accountability for the incident.” I don’t want to live in a world in which anyone believes that Mays and Richmond “did what most people in their situation would have done.” I don’t want to live in a world that assumes guys are naturally sexual aggressors who will opportunistically take advantage of an incapacitated girl, or forever push, push, push at the boundaries of consent until they hear a clear and forceful “no.” I want to live in a world that gives boys more credit than that.

I don’t want to live in a world in which a boy describes a girl as “like a dead body” yet still claims that the acts were consensual. I want to live in a world in which female sexual agency is respected and girls are seen as active and equal participants in sex, and so the idea that it would be at all unclear if someone had or had not consented would seem totally ludicrous. I want to live in a world in which it is universally assumed that no one except a rapist would want to have sex with someone who ”wasn’t participating.”

I don’t want to live in a world in which kids witness a rape in progress and record a video or take a photo instead of stopping it. I don’t want to live in a world in which a kid sees his friends assaulting an unconscious girl and claims that he didn’t intervene because he didn’t realize it was rape. “Well, it wasn’t violent,” Evan Westlake explained. ”I didn’t know exactly what rape was. I always pictured it as forcing yourself on someone.” I don’t want to live in a world in which this could ever be a believable excuse. I want to live in a world in which there is universal mandatory education on enthusiastic consent in schools and public figures do not make distinctions between “forcible rape” and other kinds of not-so-serious rape and the media clearly, unequivocally calls non-consensual sex what it is.

Ultimately, the perpetrators alone are held legally responsible for their actions. As they should be. But rapists are created, not born. And they are enabled by a culture that excuses their actions. It is hard, but not impossible, for me to muster much empathy for these boys–the ones convicted as well as the bystanders who watched–when they showed absolutely none for their victim. But again: “We socialize empathy out of boys all the time.” These kids are not particularly unique and Steubenville could be any town in America. And until we accept that we are collectively responsible for that, nothing will change.

We should all feel a little guilty today.

Maya of Feministing

If your “feminism” replicates the prescriptivist and hidebound patterns of kyriarchy, telling women what they should and shouldn’t do, putting them into boxes based on their adherence to your behavioral dogma, then it isn’t any feminism I can recognize.

If your “feminism” appears never wavering from a tunnel-visioned perspective that cannot even acknowledge that people exist on the margins, let alone give a moment’s thought of their lives, if it inculcates divisions by suggesting that those people’s needs can be addressed later, or by someone else, or in some other framework than whatever advocacy you call yourself doing, then it isn’t any feminism I can recognize.

If your “feminism” isn’t about uniting people in a group effort to push aside oppression, and instead further balkanizes people based upon a dogma you unveil piecemeal, in order to further your own brand and gain personal recognition, then it isn’t any feminism I can recognize.

If your “feminism” isn’t about cultural critique (unto cultural demolition) or policy analysis and instead focuses on individuals’ (typically cis women of privilege unless you’re talking about — and over — poor people) behaviors rather than the hierarchies and systems which confine individuals and falsely constrains their behavior, then it isn’t any feminism I can recognize.

If your “feminism” isn’t vital, dynamic, inclusive, intersectional, focused on both meeting instrumental needs and addressing systems of oppression which leave marginalized people wanting, then it not only isn’t any feminism I can recognize, it’s as akin to any feminism I know as a lollipop is to a bullet.

AmadiTalks

Listen,

It does not matter what you say. As a woman, as a woman of color, as a woman of size, as a woman with large breasts or no breasts and a lifetime of experience with bucketloads of passion. It does not fucking matter.*

Because unless there is a white guy backing you up, you are an angry bitch. Uppity, spirited, “that girl,” the femanazi, the super-libber, the PC chick, the conspiracy theorist…

I just wish my own experiences were enough. That the experiences of fellow women were enough. But we must always come with backers. We must always have a few men nodding along behind us in the crowd. And at the very least if we’re going to be so bold as to bring up racism or sexism in polite company then we better be willing to quote reputable studies that have been widely recognized by the psychological and sociological communities.

If we lack this armor we are just drama. Dramatic or… wait for it… psycho bitches who think everybody is out to rape them or thinks they must be, “Like, soooo attractive to be hit on so much and totally, probably, like, thinks like a victim.”

This is so dangerous because I believe it teaches us not to trust our own judgments. Sadly, in this world, that can be life or death. When that guy hits on you for the third time at the club we should just get over it. He wasn’t being that creepy. “Oh no, girl, don’t talk to the bouncer about him, that’s just drama. Just have a good time.” I complained anyway but nothing was done.

And hey, when he tries to attack you while leaving the club—which happened to me and a friend in June of this year—the police may ask you why you didn’t complain “more than once” to security. I shit you not.

Because it is never good enough. It’s always a teachable moment from man to woman. So listen up, child, because that’s exactly what you are. At least until a white man comes to back up your claims. But I don’t have to tell you that. You already know. The trick is for this argument not to be dismissed outright by some dude in a Quicksilver t-shirt because the fact is, he has final say on the veracity of our claims.

–Olivia Marudan, of Persephone Magazine

(via Free Bird)

People say kids always tease and that it’s an innocent rite of passge, but it’s not. Every time an Edgar or Billie called me “chink” or “Chinaman” or “ching chong” it took a piece of me. I didn’t want to talk about it, and kept it to myself. I clenched my teeth waiting to get even. Unlike others who let it eat them up and took it to their graves, I refused to be that Chinese kid walking everywhere with his head down. I wanted my dignity, my identity, and my pride back; I wanted them to know there were repercussions to the things they said. There were no free passes on my soul and everything they stole from me I decided I’d take back double.

–Eddie Huang, “Fresh Off The Boat: A Memoir”

(via knowledge equals black power)

Susan A. Patton, I gives no fucks about your argument.

When BW gchatted me this morning out of the blue to share something she described as rage-inducing with a http://www.dailyprincetonian.com URL, I prepared myself for something bad. But try as I might, I could not have been prepared for these levels of willful ignorance, raging unchecked privilege(s), elitism, and just plain damn foolishness.

“For years (decades, really) we have been bombarded with advice on professional advancement, breaking through that glass ceiling and achieving work-life balance. We can figure that out — we are Princeton women. If anyone can overcome professional obstacles, it will be our brilliant, resourceful, very well-educated selves.”

I’m sorry to have to be the one to break it to you, Susan, but Princeton women are not special snowflakes. Those of us fortunate enough to be in the 7-8% of applicants admitted to our alma mater are not, by definition, more brilliant, resourceful, or necessarily more well-educated than a great many of the other 92% of applicants, male, female, and other-gendered alike. Truthfully, I have met some amazingly smart Princetonians. I have also met Princetonians who work extremely hard, but don’t seem to have natural intelligence dripping like sweat from their pores. I might actually support the argument that our peers at less prestigious institutions have the potential to be far more resourceful than Princetonians, as Princeton does the hard work of being resource-full for us. And while Princeton opened my eyes to entire disciplines and ways of imagining the world that I’d never contemplated before, I think it would be impractically presumptuous to say I couldn’t have been exposed to the same kinds and levels of thinking at another institution, be it a peer of ours or not. The only thing Princeton guarantees is an education that will cost someone a lot of money. So I’m pretty sure that Princeton women should be up in arms about the issues that affect women in the workplace, rather than simply throwing their hand up and saying well, if ANYONE can avoid these issues, it has to be US!

“Then the conversation [at the recent breakout session after a Women and Leadership conference on campus] shifted in tone and interest level when one of you [current undergraduate women] asked how have Kendall and I sustained a friendship for 40 years. You asked if we were ever jealous of each other. You asked about the value of our friendship, about our husbands and children. Clearly, you don’t want any more career advice. At your core, you know that there are other things that you need that nobody is addressing. A lifelong friend is one of them. Finding the right man to marry is another.”

I think you mean that clearly, young soon-to-be-professional women today want advice about more than just our careers. It does no one any good to be prepared for work and not prepared for life, just as it does no one any good to be prepared for life and not prepared for work. I don’t speak for all recent female Princeton graduates when I say this, of course, but I know that for me personally, job I like and am good at + active social life including substantive friendships = “having it all” at age 23. Regardless, kudos to you for reminding everyone that substantive friendships are an integral part of the support system humans need to be functional in life. That’s not a thing I hear talked about at Princeton super-often.

And hey, assuming that all Princeton women a) want to get married and b) want to get married to men is a) patriarchal and b) heteronormative (on top of being patriarchal). But giving you the slightest bit of leeway here, finding the right person(s) to spend your life in partnership with (if spending your life in partnership with someone(s) is a thing you desire) IS a thing we, as Princeton women, and just as humans on the planet, need that no one is addressing. So I’m not particularly mad at you yet. You have yet to bypass the level of typical annoying shit I see on the internet that makes me question the notion of American progress.

“Yet” being the operative word in those last two sentences, because this is the only part of this article that will win any points with me. As soon as that small nugget of wisdom/worthwhile advice came out of your mouth, you put your foot into it.

“When I was an undergraduate in the mid-seventies, the 200 pioneer women in my class would talk about navigating the virile plains of Princeton as a precursor to professional success. Never being one to shy away from expressing an unpopular opinion, I said that I wanted to get married and have children. It was seen as heresy.

“For most of you, the cornerstone of your future and happiness will be inextricably linked to the man you marry, and you will never again have this concentration of men who are worthy of you.

“Here’s what nobody is telling you: Find a husband on campus before you graduate. Yes, I went there.”

Saying that your life plan involves being a stay-at-home mother (for almost any significant length of time, really) is still seen as heretical at Princeton in a lot of circles. Seeing this as a worthwhile endeavor and one “worthy” of a Princeton degree is admittedly something I still struggle with, but I am actively working to curb my primal negative reaction when I hear someone mention this, because I recognize that the viewpoint I held/hold is highly problematic. Princeton women, like women everyone, should be able to do whatever they want. Okay.

But then you get back into that 100% buying into the heteronormative patriarchy thing. I’ll have you know that some of us have no interest in defining ourselves by our potential marriages to men. Some of us will go on to marry women. Some of us will go on to not marry at all. And even those of us who do marry men shouldn’t be expected to view them as “the cornerstone of [our] future and happiness,” as if our lives are bleak and worthless outside of home and family life.

And then you raise this idea that Princeton men are somehow more “worthy” of us than men from other institutions. I am gagging on your elitism. I hate to break it to you, but like I said before about Princeton women, Princeton men aren’t special snowflakes. Those of us fortunate enough to be in the 7-8% of applicants admitted to our alma mater are not, by definition, more brilliant, resourceful, or necessarily more well-educated than a great many of the other 92% of applicants, male, female, and other-gendered alike. While I do feel a marginal level of kinship when I meet other Princetonians in real life, there is not, in fact, a set of experiences we all share in the same way that would somehow make us all great potential matches. Race affects how people experience Princeton. Social class affects how people experience Princeton. Deciding to join a fraternity or a sorority, and which fraternity or sorority, affects how people experience Princeton. Deciding to join an eating club, and which eating club, affects how people experience Princeton. Major and chosen academic discipline affect how people experience Princeton. Being an athlete or not affects how people experience Princeton. Being accepted into an a capella group or Triangle affects how you experience Princeton. I could go on forever, but the point here is that even if you could list all of the things that affected your personal Princeton experience in terms of binaries, such as “people who lived up-campus/people who lived down-campus,” “people who did theater/people who didn’t do theater,” etc. and searched high and low to find someone who fell on the same side of all of those binaries, there is still no guarantee that you and that person(s) would be a perfect match.

On an even more basic level, there’s nothing that guarantees that all Princetonians are even good people. As one in six Princeton undergraduate women reported experiencing “non-consensual vaginal penetration” during their time at the University recently, some Princeton men are rapists. #notmarriagematerial I can tell you from personal experience that some Princeton men are racists. #notmarriagematerial Some Princeton men subscribe to this same bullshit argument that they’re God’s greatest gift to mankind and we should worship them. #notmarriagematerial

And while I know a handful of Princeton women from my year who are already engaged to Princeton men, and am happy for them that they found this happiness at Princeton, I will freely admit to questioning whether a 22 year old female Princeton graduate is marriage material either. So few of the people I know from the Great Class of 2012 seemed to be settled into their adult selves fully upon graduation. As we grow and change, our personalities, desires, wants, and needs will grow and change with us–what I wanted when I was in a relationship on campus at 21 is not what I want now that I’m 23, and I imagine that what I want now at 23 isn’t what I’ll want at 28 or 30. So I’m not sure how much good finding someone who was compatible with my not-yet-grown self on campus would have done me in the long run.

“My older son had the good judgment and great fortune to marry a classmate of his, but he could have married anyone. My younger son is a junior and the universe of women he can marry is limitless. Men regularly marry women who are younger, less intelligent, less educated. It’s amazing how forgiving men can be about a woman’s lack of erudition, if she is exceptionally pretty. Smart women can’t (shouldn’t) marry men who aren’t at least their intellectual equal. As Princeton women, we have almost priced ourselves out of the market. Simply put, there is a very limited population of men who are as smart or smarter than we are. And I say again — you will never again be surrounded by this concentration of men who are worthy of you.

“Of course, once you graduate, you will meet men who are your intellectual equal — just not that many of them. And, you could choose to marry a man who has other things to recommend him besides a soaring intellect. But ultimately, it will frustrate you to be with a man who just isn’t as smart as you.”

Ooooh, now we’re adding a dash of sexism to our big pot of heteronormativity, patriarchalism, and elitism! If intellectualism is important to you, if your vision of the future involves  mornings with your partner debating over worldly issues in the New York Times or both of you settling into bed with thick nonfiction books, then finding someone who is around your intellectual equal is probably pretty critical for your happiness in future relationships. BUT the assumption that all Princetonian women’s visions of their futures involves such intellectual activities as part of daily life is absurd–if a Princeton woman’s vision of her future involves owning a horse ranch or living in a cabin on a mountain, then she’s probably better off finding an outdoorsy man. If finding someone whose background is similar to yours is important to you in a partner, then many Princetonians of color and/or poorer backgrounds are drawing from an incredibly small pool at an already small university.

I’ll admit that I am attracted to intellect. When I’m browsing OkCupid profiles, potential matches lose serious points when they have no real literature or non-fiction in their Books section. I have imposed a rule against fucking men who do not own bookshelves. #readingisfundamental I am in awe of people who seem to soak up information like a sponge. I’ve developed crushes on guys by listening to them talk in precept. But I wouldn’t say that all Princetonians are intellectuals. And I certainly wouldn’t say that all intellectuals are Princetonians. very nearly wasn’t a Princetonian. I know for a fact that there were many equally or more qualified applicants than me who did not, in the end, become Princetonians. I have a coworker who was the same major as me and idolizes the professor at Princeton who changed my life…but went to Virginia Tech. That doesn’t stop us from having great conversations about the prison-industrial complex or who exactly the recession is hurting the most. We graduated from school in the same year with the same major and minor (certificate for me) and are working at the same company with the same job title–I see nothing to suggest that he is “less smart” than me.

And even though “smartness” or intellect is something I respect, admire, and find attractive, it certainly can’t be the end-all-be-all of compatibility, especially in a system where we’re socialized to believe in notions of “smartness” based on biased tests and luck-of-the-draw admissions decisions. This idea of being “brilliant” as defined by a name on a piece of fancy paper in Latin is not what makes a potential match “worthy” of you. Dear Princeton women, my advice to you is the same advice I give to myself: find someone who can make you laugh. Find someone you can talk to for hours on end, someone you want to tell stories about your childhood and things you don’t normally talk openly about. Find someone who makes your body feel electric. Find someone who won’t bullshit you. Find someone you see important aspects of yourself reflected in, but who also has some significant streak(s) of difference. Find someone whose presence satisfies you. Find someone who makes time for the things that are important to him, and places you squarely among them. Find someone who feels like home. Or don’t do any of this, and spend your life with multiple partners, or moving from one to the next in a fashion that satisfies you. Do whatever the hell you want–just don’t feel pressured to do it here and now out of some backwards notion that you’re running out of time. Literally the entire world is in front of us.

“Here is another truth that you know, but nobody is talking about. As freshman women, you have four classes of men to choose from. Every year, you lose the men in the senior class, and you become older than the class of incoming freshman men. So, by the time you are a senior, you basically have only the men in your own class to choose from, and frankly, they now have four classes of women to choose from. Maybe you should have been a little nicer to these guys when you were freshmen?”

The patriarchy, it BURNS! I’m just going to play a little game of FTFY. As freshman women, you have four classes of men the entire world of people to choose from. Every year, you lose the men in the senior class, and you become older than the class of incoming freshman men one older class of people including dear friends and yes, perhaps some potential partners, but are then introduced to a whole new class of incoming freshmen who can become dear friends and yes, perhaps some potential partners. So, by the time you are a senior, you basically have only the men in your own class still have the entire world of people to choose from, and frankly, they now have four classes of women have the entire world of people to choose from too. Maybe you should have been a little nicer to these guys more focused on making lifelong friends and picking the right clubs and classes when you were a freshman?

Because age differences are not insurmountable barriers. I dated a guy who was a year younger than me at Princeton, and I was not made to feel shameful. The masses did not point and snicker. When this relationship ended, no one danced around saying it was doomed from the start. It was, in fact, as much of a non-issue as if he had been the older one and I’d been the younger one.

Susan A. Patton, you are thankfully not my mother, but this is what I’m telling you. Here is something everyone is talking about, but you somehow don’t seem to know. The world is changing. As someone from the class of ’77, you were born in the ’50s and raised on housewifery, and I have a sinking suspicion you weren’t burning your bra with the revolutionaries in your teens and early 20. But the Princeton woman of today knows that happiness comes from within, from getting right with herself and where she is in life, not from finding a Prince(ton) Charming to sweep her off her feet. The Princeton woman of today, like women of today (with an average first marriage age of nearly 27) more generally, might want to spend some time focusing on a career or adding a few letters AFTER her name before thinking about finding someone to settle down with. The Princeton woman of today might not be heterosexual, and even if she is, she might not be down for the patriarchal institution of marriage as a way of life. The Princeton woman of today has more options than she or you can possibly imagine, and I think I speak for the vast majority of Princeton women of today when I say what we would like you to let us explore them at our own pace without the pressure to get some goofball 22 year old guy to put a ring on it first, thank you very much.

#thishasbeenarant

The thing about being a little black girl in the world is that even when you are the youngest person ever to be nominated for an Academy Award, many people will use the occasion not to hold you up for all of the amazing things you obviously are, but to tear you down for the ways you don’t look like them, the ways your name isn’t their kind of right, the ways you don’t remind them of themselves, the ways you are not blonde or blue-eyed, as if those things could possibly matter when set against the otherwordly talent and beauty and brilliance you possess.​
The thing about being a little black girl in the world is that you come into it already expected to be less than you almost certainly are, the genius and radiant darkness you possess already set up to be overlooked, dismissed or erased by almost everyone you will ever meet.
The thing about being a little black girl in the world is that even when you are everything, some people will want you to be nothing. They will look at you through the nothing-colored glasses they will put on every time you enter a room. And the bigness of you, the outstandingness, the giftedness, will be invisible to them.
The thing about being a little black girl in the world who is already, at nine years old, confident enough to demand that lazy, disrespectful reporters call you by your name, is that most people will not understand the amount of comfort in one’s own skin it takes to do that, will not be able to grasp the sheer fierceness of it, the boldness, the certainty, the love for yourself, and will not be blown away at seeing you do it, though they should be.​
The thing about being a little black girl in the world is that your right to be a child, to be small and innocent and protected, will be ignored and you will be seen as a tiny adult, a tiny black adult, and as such will be susceptible to all the offenses that people two and three and four times your age are expected to endure.
But take heart.​

–Mia McKenzie, “The Thing About Being A Little Black Girl In The World: For Quvenzhane Wallis,” Black Girl Dangerous 2/25/13

(via Racialicious)

“Inglourious” did not walk us through provocative scenes of concentration camp torture, gas chambers and ethnically stereotyped victims. Nor were Jewish characters subjected to the indignities of being torn apart by dogs. And while we have our trusty authenticity card out, did the Jewish people not suffer the repeated verbal onslaught of “kike,” “rats” and other grotesque terms?

Were such words used in “Inglourious Basterds” more than 100 times? How about 70? OK 30? 10? Thankfully, Tarantino knew that he was perfectly able to tell a story without such gimmicks. (He also knew the community he claimed to be avenging wouldn’t stand for it.)

Hey, remember when Tarantino was selling those emaciated Jewish prisoner action figures with the concentration camp tattoos? So funny and ironic and harmless, right? No. That would have been cheap and disgusting.

[…]

A big reason slavery is avoided in American storytelling is guilt. Unlike the Holocaust, when it comes to slavery, our people were the bad guys. But we’re not German, so we can rail on Hitler and the Nazis all day without thinking critically about our legacy.

For descendants of slaves, and all Americans, our ovens — the slave plantations — are tourist destinations and wedding venues, home to preservation societies and guided tours. The “good ole days,” when faceless black folks with zero potential were merely quiet, collateral damage.

–Actor Jesse Williams, of Grey’s Anatomy, in his CNN piece “Django, in Chains

(via Colorlines)