One easy thing all white people could do that would make the world a better place
A friend of mine recently came out as a man and is now fundraising in order to receive surgery to make the process more complete. If you’re looking for a cause to donate just $5 to, please read about Tristan :) To donate is to help him grow into the wonderful person that he has already proven himself to be.
Dear President Obama,
I am a great fan and supporter of all that you do, and on this fourth of July, I would like to thank you for your dedication, commitment, and promise to making this country a better place for all people.
I am writing to speak to you about Guantanamo detention camp. When I voted for you in 2008 and 2012, I was reassured that you would be the person to stop the atrocities the U.S. American government is unjustly inflicting upon detainees. After five years have now passed, I would like to remind you of this promise you made to us, your voters, and your commitment to closing this camp. I understand that it is a delicate time and that as President of the U.S., you place our security first; however, I challenge you to keep the promise you made and be a person who stands for the human rights of ALL people. I was very disturbed to hear about the threat rape via feeding tube and of prisoners who are medically mistreated by the staff on Guantanamo’s site. Not only is this heartbreaking considering these prisoners have not had a fair trial, but it begs me to ask…what kind of U.S. citizens engage in this awful behavior? Are we teaching our people to be humane, caring, empathetic citizens of the world? Or are we instead raising power hungry, abusive monsters? I fear to imagine how the staff at Guantanamo go home and treat their partners and children.
Please put an end to this, as I want to continue to be someone who is proud of our country and what we stand for.
Thank you for your time and continued superb leadership as President. I will continue to have faith in your ability to close Guantanamo.
(For anyone interested in reading what’s happening:
People are apparently reposting this article/letter on Facebook because it’s “sweet” that this dad just wants his little girl to grow up and find a man who loves her so much that she doesn’t need to keep him interested. Which is touching. But at the same time, why is no one asking why this father is ASSUMING his daughter will be heterosexual? Why is it okay that her father is a THERAPIST and isn’t taking into account maybe the idea that she won’t want a husband? Perhaps she’ll want a partner, perhaps she won’t be monogamous, perhaps she’ll grow up to be asexual, or perhaps…perhaps, he’ll be transgender.
Not to take away from the sweet message, but I wish people (especially people who are doctors and therapists) would acknowledge their assumptions and the ways in which they marginalize others in doing so.
Here’s the dad’s “sweet” letter for you to read:
This is so true and so sad. The U.S. needs to start caring about the injury or threat to injury of all its children and people, not just the white middle class folk. The death of an inner city black child is just as heartbreaking to a community as the death of any child, and as a nation, we need to be critical of our media’s eye and demand news coverage absent of discrimination.
The U.S. is a worse place for newborns than 68 other countries, including Egypt, Turkey and Peru, according to a report released Tuesday by Save the Children. A million babies die every year globally on the same day they were born, including more than 11,000 American &
Interesting women’s health article linking the U.S.’s 11,000 first day baby deaths per year to teenage pregnancy, unplanned pregnancies, and females in politics (the lack thereof).
- Student-Loan Debt.
- Psychopathologizing and Medicating Noncompliance.
- Schools That Educate for Compliance and Not for Democracy.
- “No Child Left Behind” and “Race to the Top.”
- Shaming Young People Who Take Education—But Not Their Schooling—Seriously.
- The Normalization of Surveillance.
- Fundamentalist Religion and Fundamentalist Consumerism.
Bikini body advise.
So here is the story of a man who is suing his gym because for 442 hours out of every year, the gym becomes a “women’s only” gym. The author, Peter Lloyd, is claiming that this practice is sexist, and he is requesting one of the following options: 1. The hours are done away with 2. The same courtesy hours are extended to men 3. That he be allowed to pay a lesser percentage for his gym membership as a result of not being able to use the facility. While I agree on a very surface level that it is not fair that men have to pay the same as women, yet are unable to access the gym’s resources evenly, I think that all issues surrounding privilege and access must be evaluated on deeper level.
1. First I want to look at his third request. I used to work at a private health club that granted access to several gyms and three pools. Many of our club members only used the pool and nothing else. Yet, several times of day, the pool became unavailable either due to specific fitness classes or because a local swim team was renting out the pool for practice. To Mr. Lloyd’s point, ” No customer, male or female, should pay for gym time they’re not allowed to use. It’s that simple” I think one could argue that by abiding by this policy, the gym opens up a Pandora’s box of excuses. Members unable to buy a “pool only” pass could argue that it’s not fair they are paying for the entire gym yet unable to use the one area that they bought their gym membership for whenever the local team comes to practice.
2. We have a common practice in the U.S. called “affirmative action.” Affirmative action was created to ensure that more minorities would have access to higher education. On a surface level, it sounds unfair; why would a black woman get into a University of a white woman who has better grades? But when you dig deeper and look at the systemic history of oppression that has made that white women inherently privileged since the day she was born (and actually beforehand to even consider which hospital, midwives, prenatal care her parents were able to afford), it becomes easier to see that measures like affirmative action actually level the playing ground to some degree.
Affirmative action is allowed because we want all people to have an equal chance at success, yet even with affirmative action we know that this doesn’t fully become a reality. As is, women lag behind men athletically. Men tend to have faster running, jumping, swimming, you name it, times and their sporting events are watched at outrageously more often then women’s. So how is allowing women the extra boost of time to work out any different than affirmative action when we view it as an investment in female athletes?
3. From a sociological and multicultural perspective, we have two ways of labeling groups in the world: A group or B group. The A group is comprised of individuals who are privileged or do not need to ascertain their identify for it is assumed. In the U.S., A group individuals tend to be white, heterosexual, Christian men who have money. On the contrary, the B group is comprised of those who are not of privilege in one identify or another. This includes non-white individuals, those who do not identify as heterosexual, women, those who come from a faith other than Christianity (or no faith at all), and those without access to large amounts of money.
For the B group, life is inherently “unfair.” I am speaking on behalf of a woman, so my examples immediately leap to the fact that it’s unfair women are the sole child bearers and that our insurance costs more because of it, it’s unfair that it’s legal to provide unpaid maternity leave when it’s difficult to work full time and attempt to breast feed your child, it’s unfair that the majority of lawmakers are men in my country yet they are able to make decisions that restricts my reproductive rights, it’s unfair that statistically my gender is more likely to be a victim of domestic violence or sexual assault, and it’s unfair that I am paid 77 cents to every man’s dollar, amounting to somewhere between $700,000 and $2 million over a lifetime…to name a few.
While as a woman I found these unfair truths to be outrageous, I’m not sure what single act I can do about it. I can fight for policy changes, advocate amongst my community, and educate myself on history and societal oppression. I can change the way I socialize my children and work to encourage awareness, yet at the end of the day, is there a single one person I can sue? Not really, because ultimately, my current position is a product of history, years of discrimination, undervaluing the work women do, policy and laws, systemic oppression, culture, and the socialization we provide to our children.
Back to Mr. Lloyd. I am under the impression he comes from the A group in that, upon first glance, he is white and identifies as a man. While he may have other B group qualities, his disposition and decision to sue suggests he most closely identifies with the A group and the privileges and benefits they receive. Those in the A group tend to walk throughout life receiving privileges without a second thought because they are rarely denied them. Members of the B group, however, are mindful and aware of the many micro-aggressions they face on a daily basis as a result of their identify. They must consciously make a decision to negotiate in which instances they will speak up and in which they will simply “let it go” because they are simply tired. There is no one they can sue, only representatives they can write and lobby to about reform, friends they can educate, and advocacy organizations they can donate to.
Yet when a man like Mr. Lloyd, an A group member, is denied a privilege, it is much easier for him to pinpoint the root cause because his denial is not the result of a systemic problem. Mr. Lloyd has done exactly this and has pinpointed Kentish Town Sports Centre in Northern London as the roadblock to his privilege. His solution: “I’m suing them.”
Please insert Wonka Face.
Now, I applaud Mr. Lloyd for recognizing that the separation of the genders is a form of segregation (though he uses the term discrimination). Just as we don’t segregate whites and blacks, I do not advise the segregation of men and women. But the point I’m trying to make isn’t about the gym’s policy or the way they go about it, it’s about Mr. Lloyd’s sense of entitlement, that the loss of one privilege to him results in his need to sue. EVEN IF B groups could identify the system that is the driving force in maintaining our oppressed status, we would have to have access to the kind of money A group members have. Thus the cycle often repeats itself: A group has a privilege revoked, they become angry, sue, and get it back thus continuing their status of privileged and ensuring that that privileged status often leads to more financial gain. B group has yet ANOTHER privilege revoked (Ie Women’s reproductive rights), they become angry, they are unable to access funds to sue (probably because of that damn unpaid maternity leave), they are not able to make change, they continue to remain at a sub-par financial status to their male counterparts.
I must end by letting Mr. Lloyd know that, no, it is not FAIR that you have to pay 10 cents more of gym time a day for time that you are unable to use so that women can get an hour up of physical activity time. But ultimately, if you dig deeper, Mr. Lloyd, it’s not fair that you have been granted so many undeserved privileges on the basis of your white male status from the time you were conceived. Unless you are willing to forgo all of those privileges, which would be impossible, I suggest you chalk this one up as a minor loss and get on with your life. All those B groupers do every day.
I would like to add a disclaimer that I am a white, heterosexual, woman and am only speaking on behalf of my B group identity with relation to my woman status and this article relating to female/male gym time and supposed male discrimination. I can only imagine what it is like to live a life where several of your identities fall within a B group identity and how much more these individuals face daily oppression and discrimination. I therefore acknowledge my privilege in this regard and my inability to know these deeper levels of discrimination that more wholly impact one’s life.