Who Said It Was Simple?

By: The Ridley College Positive Space Group

Who Said It Was Simple, a poem BY AUDRE LORDE

There are so many roots to the tree of anger   

that sometimes the branches shatter   

before they bear.

Sitting in Nedicks

the women rally before they march   

discussing the problematic girls   

they hire to make them free.

An almost white counterman passes   

a waiting brother to serve them first   

and the ladies neither notice nor reject   

the slighter pleasures of their slavery.   

But I who am bound by my mirror   

as well as my bed

see causes in colour

as well as sex

and sit here wondering   

which me will survive   

all these liberations.

An image of Audre Lore from britannica.com

In this poem Audre Lorde depicts how white feminists have the ability to see feminism as a singular battle, where women of colour fight the battle on two fronts.

In recognizing that we all carry within us many identities, and that those identities can be from multiple oppressed groups the word intersectionality was coined by Kimberlé Crenshaw in 1989. Being able to name a concept helps to bring it into focus.

We cannot heal what we don’t name, what we don’t discuss, what we don’t see.

Stereotypes are defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as “a widely held but fixed oversimplified image or idea of a particular type of person or thing”. They are beliefs that have impacted your life and the lives of every single person around you, be it directly or indirectly. These are thoughts that have been ingrained into our minds from stories and conversations beginning in early childhood.

Women are emotional.

Men don’t have emotions.

Lesbians are masculine. 

Men are strong.

Gay men are effeminate and flamboyant. 

Black people are athletic.

Transgendered people are sexual predators or pedophiles.

Women are nurturing.

Asians are smart.

Stereotypes cause barriers, especially in the workforce. Image from Centre for Research and Evidence on Security Threats

Stereotyping groups of people just because they aren’t a cookie cutter clone of you and your beliefs is an incredibly disastrous thing to do. It sets us against them. Each individual has something that is unique to themselves, but when we group people without taking this into account we assume things that are often untrue. Stereotyping can affect the way friends view each other, the way teachers see students, and how people are treated in public spaces. They can destroy or prevent the beginning of relationships. Stereotypes are merely an oversimplified and often incorrect belief about a certain thing, and they can have dangerous impacts that can last a lifetime.

In that definition of stereotypes it looks at ‘types of people’. The fact of the matter is that we, as humans, are meaning making animals. We categorize our surroundings, including other people and we do so in many different ways:

Our family, friends, acquaintances and people we don’t know. Us, and them.

People are naturally diverse in identity. Racial identities, sexual identities, gender identities, socio-economical identities, ability and even identities we choose for ourselves like religion and careers. We also know that people are naturally complex, no one belongs to just one identity. Racial identities like white, black, Asian, and Latino are combined with gender, socio-economic status, religion and ability all in a single person.

Someone can be:

Black, cis-gendered, wealthy and in a wheelchair,

Or…

Asian, trans-gendered, poor and able-bodied.

These to people will experience the world in vastly different ways.

This is intersectionality. 

According to Newcomb’s theory of attraction, we instinctively feel safer around people who share similar values, race, attitudes, beliefs and views as ourselves due to the fear of being judged or misunderstood by others who think differently. 

Due to the fear of being judged.

We set us against them. We make assumptions based on physical features in a feeble attempt to protect ourselves.

Looks define appearance, not anything else. Image from Kansas State The Collegian

Though we are all naturally prone to gravitate towards those we are similar to we need to recognize that those similarities are often found below the skin. 

We should also make an effort to overcome the tendency to only mix with our in-group. Why? Diversity has many benefits.

We are lucky to live in a world where diversity is all around us. We get to enjoy…

Dia de los muertos and it’s amazing images broadcast around the world.

Anime as an unique form of expression.

Music from all over the world.

And of course our favourite meals…chicken parm, ginger beef…

At our schools, we can participate in conversations about world politics and events that expand our view and help us see through different lenses.

Studies show that diverse workplaces are up to 35% more innovative and more productive.

The way we view the world changes much about how we go about living our lives. We learn from the people with whom we interact, socialize and work and so it is important that we broaden that group of individuals. 

Talk to people you don’t normally associate with.

Expand your knowledge. 

Add facets to your lenses.

Celebrate all diversity.

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