Friday, February 13, 2015

Roger Ebert

      Up until this week I had never even heard the name Roger Ebert.  In the past few days I have learned so much about his uplifting story and I'm happy to say that he is truly an inspiration. I can't imagine still being positive after losing the ability to eat, drink and  most importantly in my personal  opinion, the ability to talk.  To not be able to express yourself vocally seems terrifying.  I'm a shy girl most of the time but once I start talking to you I don't stop.  Even on those days where I don't want to ever speak, I still have the option and I think that's important.  Roger Ebert was able to rise above not being able to vocally express his thoughts and he evolved. 
     He started a blog and I recently read one of Ebert's posts called "All  the Lonely People." His words written in that blog speak to me on a personal level. I, like most other people, have experienced loneliness.  Maybe not the all encompassing loneliness that some people face but definitely some variation of it. We need someone else to know we are there.  We need to be acknowledged because we need to know we are visible.  A quote from Ebert's post that I loved sums loneliness up perfectly. "Someone once said the fundamental reason we get married is because have a universal human need for a witness." The part about needing a witness could not be more true. It doesn't have to be marriage, we just need someone to see us and keep us company as we go about our daily lives. 
     Later on in the post Ebert writes something that I think exemplifies the quintessence of life. "The biological reason we fall in love may be to encourage reproduction. Yet why did nature provide homosexuality if that is the only purpose? Why do people marry with no prospects of children? Babies are not the only thing two people can create together. They can create a safe private world. They can create a reality that affirms their values. They can stand for something. They can find someone to laugh with, and confide in. Someone to hold them when they need to be held." We need to love and to be loved to truly not feel lonely.
     Another topic that really relates to Roger Ebert is how we deal with challenges.  People take one of two routes.  You can rise to the occasion or be crushed; sink or swim. After Ebert had surgery and lost his voice, he rose above it.  He refused to let his experience tie him down and instead allowed it to lift it up. He turned to the internet which allowed him to share all his thoughts and inspire readers around the world. Every person reacts differently to the chaos in their lives.  A personal example I neglected to share in class relates to my mom and Aunt.  In early December my Aunt who's also my moms sister was diagnosed with stage IV Cervical Cancer.  She had a surgery to remove the tumor, but the tumor wasn't contained which of course means the cancer will eventually spread throughout her body. Her odds aren't good and currently she's still not healed from the surgery.  That means she can't start chemo or radiation and the longer she waits the more the cancer progresses. That may have come out a bit blunt, but sometimes that's the best way for things to be said. So anyway, when my mom was first informed it was like someone tied a weight to her leg. Weeks passed and the weight just seemed to get heavier.  My mom, when faced with a terrifying and awful circumstance has chosen to sink.  Currently, my aunt is doing okay, which is to say that she hasn't gotten any worse. I think it's harder to swim when the awful experience is still happening.  By that I mean, my Aunt's still alive but my mom is waiting for what she sees as the inevitable.  Now I can't exactly predict the future but I think that if my aunt passes on my mom will be able to swim again.  Once you reach rock bottom, the only way to go is up.  The weights will drag my mom all the way down but eventually they will become untied and she will slowly make her way back to the surface.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Racism in America

     Over the past few months we have spent a lot of time discussing racism in America. One of my favorite topics we discussed so far has been intersectionality. I have always been interested in gender inequality so when I heard of a topic that combined all types of discrimination together I was intrigued. Intersectionality says that gender, race, sexuality and social class all combine together to create a whole new type of discrimination.  This means that all these traits about yourself are interconnected and can't be examined separately. For example if you are a black female you face oppression because of your race and gender.  Intersectionality is saying that those two traits have to be examined together which breeds a whole new type of oppression. As a white, gay female, or a black transgender you face varying types of oppression because of the things that make you, you   

      Intersectionality is a relatively new idea, so the movement is just getting off the ground.  I read an article that stated that middle class, white, cisgendered females, who are advocating for intersectional equality, are actually hurting the intersectionality movement. I personally don't agree with this assessment but I do understand where the article was coming from. Interesectionality is all about how different forms of oppression come together. If you're white, cisgendered, which means you identify with your natural born sex, and middle class, the only part about you that is being discriminated against is the fact that you are a female.  Even though it makes sense, I still think everyone has the right to advocate for intersectional equality. Females everywhere face oppression and that alone should be enough for them to support the intersectionality movement. The more help and attention, the movement gets, the better the chance of success. 

         Another topic we started our racism unit with was white privilege. When white privilege was first brought up I was actually a little offended. I felt like it was saying that I owed some of my success to being white. That idea to me was preposterous because I felt that I had worked hard and I deserved all I had achieved. Then we began talking more about what white privilege really meant and I began to better understand. The definition of white privilege as stated on Wikipedia is White privilege (or white skin privilege) is a term for societal privileges that benefit white people in western countries beyond what is commonly experienced by the non-white people under the same social, political, or economic circumstances.  This means that being white protects me from institutional racism.  I don't have as many odds stacked against me when I start off my life.  That's not to say that minorities and people of color can't be successful because of course they can. They just have a slightly more uphill climb.

        One thing about white privilege that I think needs to be made clear is that being white does not automatically make you successful or guaranteed to have a good job.  People of every skin color need to work hard to achieve their goals. Also, being a successful white person does not mean you are successful just because of your skin color. It would be wrong to point at a white person and say that they got to where they are just because of their skin color because that is an unjust assumption to make.  Statistically there are more white middle class citizens in America than black and white privilege may have had a hand in that. The poverty cycle also plays into this because it's difficult to work your way up from the bottom in todays society.  At my school I don't believe that there is white privilege. Everyone who comes to my school is given the same opportunities.  Regardless of your ethnicity, you have the same opportunity for success.  To conclude I believe white privilege exists but I don't think it's a factor in every day of everyone's life. I also don't think someone's success or lack of success can be completely blamed on white privilege.  While it may have played a role, it will never be solely responsible for your achievements.