“We keep coming back to the question of representation because identity is always about representation. People forget that when they wanted white women to get into the workforce because of the world war, what did they start doing? They started having a lot of commercials, a lot of movies, a lot of things that were redoing the female image, saying, “Hey, you can work for the war, but you can still be feminine.” So what we see is that the mass media, film, TV, all of these things, are powerful vehicles for maintaining the kinds of systems of domination we live under, imperialism, racism, sexism etc. Often there’s a denial of this and art is presented as politically neutral, as though it is not shaped by a reality of domination.
–bell hooks Reel to Real: Race, Sex, and Class at the Movies
I’m trying to find my peace
I was made to believe there’s something wrong with me
And it hurt my heart
Lord have mercy ain’t it plain to see
In the last 24 hours, I have accomplished the following:
- Finished my binge-watching of Orange is the New Black
- Signed the NAACP petition calling for the Department of Justice to launch a civil rights investigation against George Zimmerman
- Requested a copy of Piper Kerman’s Orange is the New Black from the local library. It is “sold out” in the library world, so to speak.
- Unfriended an old coworker who implied that talking about race is a problem and that murder happens everyday.
- Proceeded to use my FB+Twitter time to update my perspective on what is happening in regards to race in this country.
Really though, none of this means that much. This is not the be all, end all of change. Revolutions need the internet, but that is not where we live and breathe and feel the full breadth of consequences from injustice.
Note how every one of these “accomplishments” were done online. Which is to then say that each “action” I took had this familiar sense of passivity–as if a click of a button or typing a few words equated to nothing. Even now, as I am writing and releasing my reflection on a blog, I am overcome with this sense that I am not really doing anything noteworthy. I am not putting myself out there and making a significant difference in the world because I am privileged enough to hide behind a screen, share my thoughts, unfriend and block the people I need to in order to share what I want to share safely, and carry on with my life without taking these thoughts with me into the tangible world.
I am, in many ways, just updating my websites–anything and everything that is attached to me–as a means to keep up and give the illusion that I am doing something and that I am someone. This is privilege in action. Or privilege in passivity?
Whatever it is–it is not all that needs to be done. And it is time that certain characters stopped being the center of these stories. No more Tim Wise-ness, where a white man becomes the leader or expert on racial oppression. No more blatantly stealing and using the words and experiences of others as a means to create a platform for yourself. No more Piper Chapman’s being the gateway for legitimate change and understanding–no more privileged pathways leading to the truth. We need to hear more from Sophias, Claudettes, Pousseys, Suzannes, and Diyas, especially as Trayvon’s narrative is silenced and dismissed.
The leadership, understanding, and narratives that these characters provide is invaluable to create dialogue and promote change. As long as these narratives and characters (fictional and otherwise) are framed in the center, pro-active and meaningful change can be possible.
It is finally happening. I am actually traveling to Positano, Italy to spend time with her. Despite how broke this trip will leave me and how much it annoys the rest of my family, I know taking the opportunity to have this great adventure is the most valuable thing I could do with my life right now.
At this moment, I am unemployed. I am twenty-two years old. I live at home and spend my time with a puppy. I am a LGBT advocate, a feminist, a videographer, a sister, a lover, a daughter, and a friend, in no particular order. I am both endearing and a nuisance–wonderful yet, detestable.
I will never again be the person I am right now.
I won’t have opportunities to travel always because I am, like most people, finite when it comes to my time on earth. So I am going to a beautiful place, traveling across the country and the Atlantic on my own, to the arms of someone who I love and who loves me. I will eat good food, laugh with lovely people, and enjoy my life in a new part of the world. And I will do this all with a sense of gratitude, that I can do something like this while I can. Because really, when am I ever going to be in this position of unfocused unemployment at the ripe age of 22, ever again? As gloriously confusing and unfocused as it is, I can’t help but surrender to the confusion. And you know, enjoy life in Italy in the meantime.