Let’s Talk About Sexism and Racism
i know, i know. i said i was going to only be posting on wednesday but this weekend stirred too much in me to wait. i attended the women’s march in downtown denver on saturday and it was the first time i have felt hope since the election. i cannot sit quietly or idly by and no, i will not simply accept our new president. i cannot.
i strapped my 4.5 month old daughter to my body, locked arms with my mom and joined the 100,000+ other people who won’t stand for this.
i won’t stand for the current administration threatening to remove the rights and choices for what i get to do with my body or what you get to do with yours. i won’t stand for threatening to take away rights of people who identify as LGBTQ. i won’t stand for the overt racism towards muslims, latinos, blacks, native americans or any community of color. i won’t stand for a muslim registry. i won’t stand for blanket deportation of undocumented people. i won’t stand for my daughter to have the leaders of our country be bullies, to invoke fear and hate.
i will stand for:
positive and peaceful disruption
it absolutely baffles me that anyone voted for this man but especially women. he is so outrageously and blatantly sexist while also admitting to sexual assault it blows my mind that people can look past this.
you may not agree with me but this is my platform and i will no longer let fear, the feelings of inadequacies or not saying the perfect thing keep me silent any longer.
if you are unsure why people were marching on all 7 continents (yes even antarctica), in every single state and many countries around the world – it is because we deserve better and won’t stand for what is happening in america.
i have my master’s degree in social work with an emphasis on community based social justice work. this means instead of focusing my studies on direct human service work, meaning one-on-one therapy, casework and working with individuals – i studied how the entire system needs an overhaul. i studied institutionalized racism and sexism, i learned about how traditional social work often continues to perpetuate many of the issues because it’s a bandage approach (and absolutely still necessary until we can have that system overhaul).
these are all complex issues. i have often felt paralyzed in fear that i wouldn’t accurately be able to speak about them or i might forget to include something but that in itself is privilege – i get to decide whether or not to talk about these things. i have a new awakening in me that i need to be more vocal about these issues and i don’t have to be perfect. i need to have an open mind, receive feedback and get to work.
on my personal facebook page, i have been engaging in discussions around what all of that means and i want to share it here too.
what is feminism? it’s a person who believes in the social, economical and political equality between the sexes.
it is not women wanting to be superior to men – it is wanting to have equal access to the world of politics, power, influence, etc. as men. men can (and should) be feminists because we need you to join in our fight for equality.
what is institutionalized racism?
this a form of racism that is within systems such as the government, schools, the military, criminal justice systems, corporations, and organizations. it is not directed at an individual or a few people but rather is deeply ingrained in the structure that ensures an unequal distribution of resources between racial groups.
this is also where white privilege comes into play – we, as white people, benefit from institutionalized racism because it benefits the majority.
here is one of the first pieces i read about this was when i was 18 years old and it completely blew my mind because i never had to think about my race before then. it’s called “white privilege: unpacking the invisible knapsack” by peggy mcintosh.
another good article to read is “why it’s hard for white people to talk about racism”
personal examples i have experienced based on white privilege and institutionalized racism:
- when i started on my first day at the native american youth and family center as a housing specialist – i went to a county meeting with my boss (who is latino and native american). the coordinator immediately assumed i was her boss, though she regularly attended the meeting and had 20+ years more experience than i did
- i have never been pulled over by a police officer (many of my friends of color have and for bogus reasons)
- my parents never told me how to protect myself when interacting with law enforcement because people who look like me aren’t assaulted and murdered in disproportionate numbers (that concept never had to occur to them)
- i have never been followed around a store
- i can easily and always find make-up and hose that match my skin color (in fact, bandages used to be called “flesh” color, which match my skin perfectly).
- when my white husband and i were on the light rail in portland, oregon – a trimet worker got on to check tickets. i dug around my purse to find our proof of fare. the inspector asked a latino couple a black man, a group of teenagers and a young woman of color to show him their tickets. he never asked to see our tickets.
what is institutionalized sexism?
along the same lines as institutionalized racism and is the discrimination against one gender, usually women. it restricts the opportunities for one sex compared to the other sex.
the ‘patriarchy’ does not refer to a male conspiracy to seize power over women, but rather a society that privileges men.
- any time my husband and i go into a bank to talk about the business that we co-own together, people always ask him about our finances. i manage every dollar that goes through our business.
- many people have assumed that i am his assistant
- when people and organizations write us letters that say “mr. and mrs. ryan avery”
- when we got engaged, nobody asked if he was going to take my last name and instead it was heavily assumed i would take his last name. i eventually made the conscious choice after a 2.5 year discussion about it.
- when people assume i am the cook in our family
- after my husband and i got done giving a keynote, the meeting planner referred to me as “sweetie” and my husband as mr. avery
- when our tax company would always list my husband first on our taxes and call him for questions about it (again, i manage all finances for our business and family)
- i was first ‘cat-called’ as i waited at the bus stop in 6th grade. it has continued ever since.
- when people tell my daughter she is cute or a sweet little princess – often little boys get talked to about being strong, athletic, etc. at least tell my daughter she’s the freakin’ queen (and that’s she is smart, capable, brave, kind, etc).
- when i told a woman at the store that my daughter was home with my husband, she said “oh, how nice that he’s babysitting all day!” actually, it’s called parenting.
i saw someone post about shirts saying “the future is female” but if he wore a “the future is male” shirt, everyone would be upset and why do we have to put gender in it at all? i will tell you why.
“the future is female” is worn with the hope that someday and someday soon, women will hold the same power and influence that men have had since this country was created. we live in a patriarchal society – there is no denying that (45 MALE presidents though women are just as smart and capable to hold that role).
by wearing a shirt that says “the future is male” wouldn’t make sense because the PRESENT and past have always been male.
it’s the same reason why BET (black entertainment television) station exists but not a “white entertainment television station” – every other channel IS white entertainment featuring the lead roles by white people.
when people who voted for the president continue to tell me to “just accept it” and “get over it and move on” now you know why i cannot and will not.
if you were one of the millions of people across the globe marching on saturday, thank you. marching is a start but doesn’t change much so we must continue to act. thank you marin for sharing this with me – here are 10 actions we can take these next 10 days and i am committed to doing them.
we deserve better than this and we will work to make that happen.
love always trumps hate.