Intersectionality is the idea that people's life experiences are shaped by all of their various identities together, and that they cannot be separated. The term was coined by Kimberle Crenshaw, who also started the #SayHerName movement. (If you want to find out more, her TED talk was incredible and moving-- I cried).
I guess that growing up mixed, I always understood that intersectionality existed. I might not have had the words to describe it, but it was always there, lurking. Intersectionality waved when my first generation- Polish- American grandmother winced at my African American mother and never knew quite what to say to her. It smirked as people silently questioned how my half Chinese female cousin and my white male cousin knew me when we went somewhere all together. Most importantly, intersectionality was there, shadowing me when my roommate’s boyfriend got pulled over in my car while driving on base for speeding and driving without a ticket. In a car full of white teens, two of whom are the daughters of Alaska State Troopers, I was 20, terrified, brown, and they laughed at me. None of them stopped to think about the prevalence of violence against brown people in our country, but I could hear my mother’s warnings in my head. I could barely breathe.
I can easily admit that I live a privileged life. My parents are both employed (tenured, even). I am able to attend University, I traveled to volunteer for my gap year, I like Camembert and chocolate truffles. However, I also remember the look on my mother's face the first time she got pulled over with me in the car. My father was there too, as we were on a family trip, driving to visit my aunt and uncle. My parents froze, so I did too. The officer was blunt, got cooler in tone when he saw everyone in the car, though he didn't seem please in the first place. I don't remember why we got pulled over, if it was for Driving While Brown, or speeding (it was probably speeding). All I remember is the pain in my rib cage as I tried to stay unnaturally, impossibly still, and my parents' words. "Do whatever he asks. Don't move until he says so. No sudden movements." My mom made a joke when it was all over, trying to loosen everyone up. I remember laughing, but feeling scared all the same.
This summer, with my roommates cracking jokes at the military policeman's expense, and reminiscing about talking their way out of tickets in the past, it hit me how different out worldviews were. I will be forever afraid of any missteps with officers of the law, and yet, these girls (who are far more likely than I am to do something borderline illegal--or blatantly so), will never understand. I was shaking as they laughed at me. Not with me, no comfort whatsoever. Just laughter and jokes.
At the end of the day, all i can hope for is that we continue to look out for each other as human beings should. We should see color, embrace our sameness as we revel in our differences. Most of all, we should all consider Taking a Knee.
Hello my lovely readers!
There are so many reasons that you could be feeling lonely in September. Maybe your friends are going to different schools than you are, maybe you are the one starting over and the thought frightens you, or maybe you just can't seem to make yourself leave your room. Whatever the reason, here are some of the things that help me most when I'm feeling far away from those I love.
1) Exercise. In my experience, it is hard to focus on anything other than the lactic acid flowing through your muscles and your labored breathing when exercising. Whether your poison is Pilates, yoga, free weights, or dance, go for it! I'm a big fan of the Pop Pilates videos on YouTube with Cassey Ho.
2) Play some music that makes you happy. In Fangirl, Cath goes for an Emergency Kanye Party, but if I'm being completely honest, Camp Rock and High School Musical are perfect for turning my day around.
3) Engage in something you love. Hairspray, Cinderella, and the Mighty Wind are some of my favorite movies for when I need a pick me up (or basically any time at all), and I also love to read. I just finished Their Eyes Were Watching God, and my life has been forever changed. I also just started Mindy Kaling's Is Everyone Hanging out Without me [And Other Concerns], which is already making me laugh and commiserate.
4) Go out and actually do something. Yesterday I attended the English Conversation Group at my school, and found myself laughing, talking, and making friends. Friends that I never would have even met otherwise! It is so easy to reach out to people you already know, but just as rewarding to seek out new people and situations.
5) Online window shopping. You don't have to actually buy anything to do this. Just browse online, imagining everything you could or would buy if you had unlimited funds and world hunger was already eradicated.
6) Eat a dictionary. Just kidding! But never underestimate the healing power of snacks. (and naps).
7) Do something I'm not allowed to do in the dorms. I am not talking about anything illegal or exceptionally dumb here, like lighting myself on fire or injecting glitter into my bloodstream (not that I have ever tried either of those things). At home I like to light candles and take a long bath, but I can't do either of those things right now. Another thing that helps is animal loving, but I have no pets right now either. Pillow fighting is probably allowed, but pillow fighting with yourself is lame and a little odd.
8) Send a message to the people you miss most. Chances are, they miss you too. Maybe they won't respond right away, but when they see your message, you might have helped them feel a little less lonely too.
There are lots of other things that help me out when I'm feeling a little blue. The main thing is remembering that you aren't really alone. At least, I'm here and I love you! You're more than welcome to make me your new friend/ send me love to make me more big-headed in the comments below. Heck, make it a party!
I am officially in the middle of my second week of classes, so everything is finally set up in my dorm room. On of the podcasts I've been loving lately is called "At Home With," which inspired me to write up this post. The podcast is mainly about interior design, and the narrators move around the person's space as they talk about it. Way cooler than it sounds, honestly.
Anyway, best of luck to those of you starting school!
Everyday Acts of Activism