Feelings Dump. Trigger Warning: Heterosexism, Racism

As I mentioned the other day, I am now in counseling. I think it helps, but I’m starting to feel that I am a real piece of work and I don’t know that I’ll ever be able to figure it out. I suppose I’ll start with the issue that’s been upsetting/depressing me most consistently: Racism, heterosexism, and the inability to recognize the impact of privilege.

It has been incredibly difficult to bring myself to write about this publicly, or even talk about it with someone who would be experienced because I don’t want to make these issues about myself, and I don’t want to make anyone I could potentially talk to feel tokenized. But I need some sort of outlet here before I explode again, if only to clarify my thoughts. To anyone reading this who might be wondering why I have to write this publicly, it’s because it’s the only way I can bring myself to write about it at all. For some reason, trying to journal privately just makes me feel ashamed and frustrated. I guess this is me trying to reach out.

It takes a lot of effort for someone as shy as myself to speak up about racism or homophobia, but I’ve managed a few times when I thought that I had a receptive audience. If the person I’m talking to recognizes that there are other valid perspectives, and that they were saying or doing something that made assumptions about what is “normal,” then it’s a lot easier to get through. The real struggle right now is that my closest friends here at school are white males who have never really had their culture and its inherent beliefs about what is “normal” questioned. They are not stupid, and they are not immediately bigoted–it’s only when these things happen to come up that I realize their real beliefs. Unfortunately, it took a while for these things to come out–long enough to develop a strong friendship based on other factors. I suppose you can say that they are tolerant, but not accepting, which is incredibly hard to deal with. I’m constantly torn between my beliefs–I want to try to show them the error in their perceptions, but I have never believed in telling people what to think. I sometimes want to leave and try to find other friends, but at this point they have done so much for me and I know that it’s only the easiest way out–leaving would allow them to continue and there will probably be no opportunities for them to hear about these issues. At worst, I might end up confirming their beliefs that people who talk about oppression in US society as whiny blowhards who can’t handle “reality.”

Let me give an example–I’ve heard this many times: “If people are offended, then that’s their choice to be offended. It’s not my fault that I’m telling the truth and there’s no reason for me to feel bad about offending them.” How the hell can I respond to that kind of belief? They are so certain that they are right and taking the most logical route, that arguing with them will only result in them taking my opinion less seriously, and remaining silent is practically agreement.

Trigger Warning below–Racism, anti-Native American, heterosexism, general assholery.

That is only the tip of the iceberg, however. I cannot believe some of the conversations I’ve been having lately, where they complain about a Native American class because they think their professor is stupid for trying to show them that Native Americans aren’t “savages, even though they fail to meet any of the criteria of a civilized society–they’re uneducated, stupid, prone to alcoholism, and all of their societies have failed. And we’re blowing millions of dollars to help them continue to fail.” I am still at a loss for words.

Even my boyfriend, who I thought could pretend to be sympathetic, really can’t. When he asked me what we did at an ally meeting, I started telling him about how we’re trying to develop a program to educate people about some of the basic facts and challenges involving being an LGBT person. At first he seemed receptive, then made some offhand comment about only knowing people in high school who “pretended” to be gay, and said that he couldn’t really understand the issues facing them because “there just aren’t any.” He claims that there are no challenges facing LGBT people, basically implying that they should just get over it. I tried to explain that feeling rejected or unacceptable is very powerful, and even if they weren’t discriminated against directly, the psychological pressure of these feelings should not be disregarded, and really needed to be worked against. He basically conceded that he had never experienced anything like this and would never understand how this feels (which I think is probably true), but really didn’t seem willing to try to understand in the first place.

I really don’t know how much longer I can stand being in a group of people who will, at best, just blow off other people’s problems because they are not their own and at worst…well, entirely justify racism and think that they’re being logical free-thinkers for doing so.

And again, back to my conflicts. I don’t know what the right thing to do is. I can try to put myself first and leave the group, but that isn’t fixing anything. It feels like the cowardly way out. I would like to change their minds, but I don’t think I can. I can break it off with my boyfriend, but that just feels like attempted emotional blackmail, and again, will probably just reinforce their beliefs about people who get offended. I just feel useless as an ally, and weak as a person.

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~ by madamespider on April 26, 2013.

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