I had lunch today with a friend and colleague that I hadn’t seen in several months. It was sincerely very invigorating to have dialogue and discourse of an intellectual level, something that I get only rarely, generally on twitter and with my students (and of course my fantastic partner). It was super fantastic and I enjoyed it greatly. Upon arriving they shared with me a quote that I like very much, so much in fact that I immediately tweeted it.
Phrase of the day. Shoutout to Grace. “It’s not you boo, it’s white supremacy” #msachat
— Gavin Weiser (@theweiser) February 9, 2014
Sometimes, people get offended at conversations regarding privilege. Generally it is the privileged that get upset, because they have never had to deal with these issues. I love having these conversations, but I found myself pulling punches with a group of largely white students the other day, for two reasons. I myself was in a position of power being the speaker, and I could see them getting very uncomfortable.
This was upsetting for me, as I didn’t want to alienate my audience, but did their education suffer because I didn’t want to deliver another blow to ciswhiteheteropatriarchy that was running the room? That brings me to my friend Grace. I cannot remember how or why they made this statement, but it resonated with me. In the past I have excused folks in a room for their past transgresses as it pertains to injustice, because if they didn’t know in the past, they ought to be, for ciswhiteheteropatriarchy runs rampant and due to it’s allure and the normative hegemony in our society it has taken the wheel. When we see the matrix of ciswhiteheteropatriarchy for what it is, then and only then should we be to blame for continuing to uplight this oppressive state of affairs instead of uplifting one another.
So next time you see students feeling the weight of the ciswhiteheteropatriarchy of our society, give em some love via Grace and tell them: “It’s not you boo, it’s white supremacy”, but with a caveat, this is a get out of jail card once. After that we must start the work of uplifting, supporting, loving and affirming one another. To quote a favorite show of mine, The West Wing, “Having talent and education does not place you above the rest of the world. It makes you responsible for it.”