If I wasn’t outspoken about my beliefs before, seven weeks of discussing race, class, gender, equity, micro-aggressions, and being “anti-racist” has ensured that I cannot sit silently and nod to ideas and actions that I just do not agree with.
If I did, I would get a fucking ulcer.
Backstory: Last week, I visited my grandparents. My grandfather who I adoringly call “Pappy” is a Baptist Deacon and obviously, very conservative. Because of his knowledge about Christianity, I asked him, in all seriousness, to teach me about some of the Christian denominations that believed in equality of the sexes.
I didn’t even get started about equality for LGBTQ identities…
He then went on a tangent about how those denominations are not on “God’s path” because women are not “the same” as men, God made the sexes differently. “That’s biblical and that’s that”.
“Well,” I scoffed. “I guess I can’t be a Christian then, because I don’t believe in a religion that sees me as inferior,” which of course, horrified him.
He then sent me a pleasantly condescending email about how he will be praying for me to accept Jesus and the “teachings of Christ”. Naturally, I screen shotted the sucker and texted it to my family in our group text. Here is what happened…
Now, I almost see my mother’s point. Why even bother with the old fart, right?
Because the issue is worth talking about, because I have things to say, because I have the ability to argue my opinion only because of the activists that came before me argued with the “old farts” and saw their movement as “worth it” even when they thought they could not change their minds. Even when they thought they could not change the minds of a nation.
Because becoming passive to oppression and inequality is the exact same thing as doing the oppressing yourself.
Then, for my mother (who, might I add taught me to defend myself, about gender equity, about not being a bystander to racism and hatred of ANYONE) to tell me that some things aren’t worth arguing about physically hurt.
WHAT?! You told me these things matter?!
You modeled this for me when I was seven. You wrote a letter to a Louisiana State Senator because you believed that the use of the word “nurturing” in criteria for state teaching evaluations was sexist language that perpetuated a majority female occupation and simultaneously perpetuated a stereotypical expectation of how women should act. AND DIDN’T STOP until you were listened to. AND GOT THE LANGUAGE changed.
AND TAUGHT YOUR NINE AND SEVEN YEAR OLD DAUGHTERS ABOUT WHAT YOU WERE DOING AND WHY AND HOW.
You modeled this for me the time I was 14 and came home to school and repeated a “funny joke” I had heard that day. “A woman just can’t be President, because then once a month the whole nation would come crashing down”. You didn’t fucking laugh. You shamed me for my ignorance, for laughing, for not realizing the offensive nature of what this boy had said. You taught me how to combat this statement next time and why it was important.
Mom, when did you get so passive?
This is an example of how I am increasingly feeling isolated from my own family. Different paths, different pages.