I don’t get offended when POC talk about what white people have put them through because of their race.
Because it’s true.
What right do I have to be offended? My whiteness has never brought me discrimination or oppression. My whiteness has never removed me from consideration for a job, or housing, or political freedom. My whiteness has never been seen as an excuse for name-calling or harassment, or police brutality. My whiteness has never been used as an example of ugliness or lack of intelligence.
Just because I never personally owned slaves, or forcibly removed First Nations people from their lands, or corralled Asian populations into concentration camps, doesn’t mean that I don’t have to take responsibility for my white privilege. It doesn’t mean that I can just chalk all these things up to the white people of the past and tell everyone to “get over it”. Because this kind of oppression is still happening today. Right now.
It scares me to think about how many seemingly small things I may have said or done in the past that contributed to the oppression of POC and/or LGBTQ communities. But it’s nice to think that by acknowledging these things, maybe I can stop myself from doing it in the future. That maybe I can remind myself to think before I speak, and question my own privileges before I make snap judgments about others.
Today in “Doin’ it right.”
Today in, “Okay, I have Privilege. How can I think/talk about it without looking like an asshole?”
Take notes, muhfuggahs.
I started this semester off by emailing each of my instructors stating:
“My name is Brian A. and I am in your class. My legal name is (insert name), but I go by Brian, I also use male pronouns. This is the only name that I go by and will not respond to anything else. Thank you for your respect.”
By the next day I had received an email back from each person stating that they would make the changes in the roster and that they were thankful that I had emailed them prior to the first day. Only one of my instructors had emailed again saying that he had to leave the roster going to the school as my legal name, but he would still call me Brian, etc.
Everything is perfect except for one class, my English Comp. class. The first day I went in, I was called Brian throughout the class…but then she used a pronoun. It wasn’t what I had told her. After the class I went up to her and asked if she had made a mistake. She apologized for saying “she” and then proceeded to tell me this huge lie of a story about how she went to the English Chairperson for permission on calling me the correct gender. Supposedly, this chairperson said that there was some ethical law stating that it would be favoritism so she couldn’t do it but she would try to use just my name, although that would be favoritism as well.
I brushed it off and thought to myself that it could only get better, but how wrong was I. The next couple of classes she kept using the wrong pronouns, and then she’d look at me with this “Oops!” face. She even came up to me after each class and apologized. The next class we had we discussed our new paper over problems and solutions, what a perfect opportunity for me to fix this mix-up. So I went up to her and asked if I could get the information on this law so that I could use it for my paper. She took me outside and started talking to me like we were homies from the corner. Her story only grew longer and more in-depth, by story I only mean the hole she dug for her grave. She continued to tell me that I was born a girl and that I was a girl and I wouldn’t be a “boy” until I had surgery. She also stated that in order for her to be able to use the pronouns he, his, him unless I had a doctor’s note stating that I had sex reassignment surgery. She then proceeded to keep talking to me like I was her best friend and asking me about DADT and the military and her “favorite” (yes, I just said favorite) student wanting to join but he was gay. How did this conversation turn from something so deep and offensive to this bullshit?
The next day I went and found the English Chairperson, nothing like my instructor had described her to be, which was a hard rock Baptist who was very conservative. This woman was the nicest older woman I think I’ve met in a while. She told me that there was no ethical law stating that I could not be called the correct gender, and that there was definitely nothing about a “doctor’s note”. She also said that if I ever felt discriminated or graded biased, ect. that I should come to her and let her know. As soon as I left her office I went into the classroom and told my instructor that I had talked to the chairperson and there was NOTHING saying that I couldn’t be called my correct gender. She then replied with, “I’ll look into, I’m not too sure where it was.” Seriously, are we going to dig to China with this story?
But wait, the best is yet to come. Last night I had class again with this woman. She used “she” and “her” limitless times, pointing to me, not even giving a crap about it. So again, I waited after class to talk to her. She looked at me with this sickening grin and asked me what she could help me with. I looked her straight in the eyes and told her that there was no rule, there was nothing saying that I needed a note or any other bullshit. She said that she was still looking into it. I mean, how many times does someone have to throw dirt in my face to understand the consequences of their actions. I told her, “No! I’m talking about in the classroom, not this paper. I know what I’m writing about for my paper, but there is nothing that states that you cannot call me he, him, his or anything male. It’s really offensive and it hurts me every time that you use the wrong one. I’m not a SHE, I’m a man. Yes, I was born with a vagina but I am a man, a male.” She then said, “What? I thought you were a woman living as a male but identifying as a lesbian.” WTF. What the actual fuck. How does one even come to that conclusion. She then said, “So you’re transgender? The T not the L.” Of course I’m the T, I’m a transgender man. She continued to find reasons to not use my proper pronouns, saying things like well what did I check in the box when I applied for college. Hello! Invasion of my fucking privacy. She then tells me that she can’t call me male because it would confuse the class. OMG. She’s the one confusing the class by using the wrong pronouns, everyone looks at her like she is crazy. She said that they would ask questions, I offered to explain, I told her that I would out myself to the entire class just so that I could be treated as a male. But she said no and it would interrupt her class.
She doesn’t understand how close minded she is, or how much she is hurting me, or how much she is putting me in danger by calling me she when I obviously present as male. I’m done with this, she has invaded my privacy, asked me what genitalia I had, and denied me the right to be who I am. I’m going to the chairperson again tomorrow and if she can’t do anything than I’m going to the President of the fucking college. It shouldn’t be like this. If you’re going to be an instructor, at least educate yourself for your students.
Go to the chair first, but if that doesn’t work get the school’s diversity officer involved & use the magic words “hostile learning environment” at the bare minimum the school will intercede to avoid a lawsuit.
It was a long haul to the top for Kymberly Wimberly.
Kymberly had been a great student all her life. She and her co-valedictorian had known each other since 2nd grade. The two were part of a clique of high achievers, all racing to the top to be number one in their class.
Both opted to enter the Honor’s track when they started at McGehee Secondary school in the 8th grade. They enrolled in Algebra 1, instantly giving them an edge over other honor students who waited until the 9th grade to take that course.
Kymberly was also an all-star. Not only did she balance a full course load and come home with A’s in every class except one, but she was also on the basketball team, she played an instrument in the band, ran track, and was active in several clubs.
Towards the end of her sophomore year she learned she made the cheerleading team and was picked for the basketball team for the second time.
Then she got pregnant.