One thing that I have noticed in myself over the past few months is my anger, particularly in regards to activism or calling out bullshit. I fundamentally believe that dealing with anger and other negative emotions (sadness, grumpiness, etc) is a part of being human but I’ve noticed that I’m not particularly great at dealing with those negative emotions. I tend to experience anger, sadness, grumpiness, etc over legitimate issues but have no way of dealing with them in a healthy way. When I experience anger, my anxiety is almost immediately triggered and I tend to deal with anger in a very internalized way. I don’t really express my anger in a physical or outward way but I have noticed that I get snippy/rude and usually just socially shut off when I’m expressing anger.

I do believe that the way in which many people, including myself, deal with anger is unhealthy and can sometimes be dangerous to individuals and those around them. I believe that we as a society need to re-imagine the way in which we deal with anger and start to practice healthy ways to respond to how we are feeling. This is just my opinion, based off of my experience dealing with the world. There is so much that goes into this that also ties into abuse and abuser dynamics that for right now, I’m not going to touch and I’m going to just get back on track. Just know that I’m aware of the implications here and soon will start to untangle issues of abuse and anger.

My point with this entire post is that I tend to get really angry and frustrated over issues of oppression and privilege very quickly. I have an almost instantaneous reaction to people claiming reverse racism within the US or others saying that trans identities aren’t “real”/shouldn’t be accepted or respected or the whole MRA situation. As a queer white feminist, I fundamentally disagree with all of those thoughts (and those like them). I realize that reverse racism doesn’t exist and that trans identities are legitimate and should be loved and accepted. However, I almost always get worked up and angry whenever I’m involved in situations where I’m faced with problematic viewpoints. And without fail, each time I also spiral into anxiety. My hands shake, my stomach gets upset, and I find it hard to breathe.

So I’ve been wondering the best way in which to deal with these situations and the best way in which to deal with my anger and the anxiety that follows it. So I came up with some personal things to start doing whenever I’m dealing with anger, grumpiness, or anxiety.

  • If possible, removing myself from the situation, particularly if its an online argument.
  • Reflect on why I’m feeling angry or anxious – if possible, start writing about what I’m going through.
  • With that – write as much as possible. I have always loved writing and have kept a journal for years now. Writing is the way in which I’ve been able to process my thoughts and understand the world.
  • Go for a run or the gym and listen to music.
  • Creating something – a knitted flower, working on planning a road trip, etc
  • Actually going to therapy and getting on medications for my anxiety. (I know that doing this will have some major positive implications for myself.)

These are just my personal solutions to anger and anxiety and there’s so much that goes into the topic of anger. I hope that over the next few months I can start getting better at handling my anger and anxiety.

Racism 101 – a brief overview

One of the biggest problems that I have encountered over the past few years has been that people (okay white people) don’t know what racism is. (The worst is when people believe that reverse racism and/or racism against white people exists but that’s another post for another time…)

So here it is. A racism 101 post. None of the things below are new concepts and there are so many resources out there that deal with this topic.

**I am writing this as a white person and I’ll probably fuck up. I’m not trying to talk over people of color but instead, trying to better understand the issues at hand. Please feel free to call me out on any mistakes. And this is seriously just a brief overview and is most definitely not my final post on the issue**

There are some that will argue that racism is something like a dictionary definition of “a belief that inherent differences among the various human races determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one’s own race is superior and has the right to rule others.” That’s kinda but not really what racism is.

One really great definition of racism is “discrimination based on the color of one’s skin for the purposes of subjugation or maintaining subjugation… One cannot be a racist unless he has the power to subjugate” (thanks checkprivilege on tumblr for that!). One has to have systemic and institutional power in which to be racist (ahem fellow white people) and one doesn’t have to be aware of the ways in which you benefit from racism to be racist.

Racism is the belief that one’s race is superior to others and the systemic and institutional ability to maintain your superiority. (That AND in this definition is important to understanding what racism actually is.) Sara Luckey wrote a great piece on reverse racism and stated that:

“Racism exists when prejudice+power combine to form social constructs, legislation and widespread media bias that contribute to the oppression of the rights and liberties of a group of people. Racism is systemic, institutional, and far reaching. It is the prevalence of racism within social structures and institutional norms, along with implicit and explicit enforcement by members of a group, that allows racism to run rampant and unchecked.”

Racism is more than prejudices and beliefs – it’s also the ability to systemically and institutionally oppress others (even if you aren’t trying to or meaning too).

Now, what does the ability to systematically and institutionally oppress others mean? Among other things, it means that whiteness is seen as the beauty ideal, with skin bleaching being an actual thing that happens (Vera Sidika from Kenya for example).  Another example is that Marianne Bertrand and Sendhil Mullainathan found that those with white sounding names were more likely to get callbacks on jobs than those with black sounding names. The two did a study by sending out resumes for jobs and wrote a paper called Are Emily and Greg More Employable than Lakisha and Jamal? A Field Experiment on Labor Market Discrimination and you can read about the study here. The New York Times also wrote about the issue that people of color being compelled to whiten their resumes.

Similarly, the war on drugs has had some serious racial injustices, in which there are more arrests of black people than white people when dealing with marijuana. PolicyMic has a piece on this issue that not only discusses the racism involved but also includes several visual graphs that further spotlight the differences of arrests between races. Michelle Alexander wrote a book titled “The New Jim Crow”, which highlights the racial injustice that exists in situations like this. The “Stop-and-Frisk” policy from New York is another example of racism, in which racial profiling has resulted a good portion of those stopped are black or latino.

There are incidents of subtle, everyday racism as well. One example comes from a Latino friend of mine, who went to the same university I did. He told me one day that he occasionally gets asked (especially at fancy university events) if he works there, as if he doesn’t belong as a student. Racial microaggressions (including slurs) are another way in which racism is perpetuated.

White people, especially within the US, have that ability to systematically oppress other races, even if you don’t realize it. Even if you have the best intentions and aren’t trying to be racist, you (as a white person) still benefit from racism and white privilege. There is an incredibly well researched list on tumblr that deals with how it’s hard for white people (myself included) to see racism. Warning: not all the links are still active. Many of the posts deal with the concept of white privilege and how being white gives someone a lot of advantages in today’s society.

I’m going to leave it there for now, but there is so much more that goes into this topic and this is just the tip of the iceberg as far as racism goes. There are plenty of other examples of racism so don’t think that this is the end of the discussion. If you are interested in more, I do tag related posts on my tumblr that deal with racism and there are so many other resources that deal with the basics of racism.

Book Review – Black Girl Dangerous on Race, Queerness, Class, and Gender

Recently, I finishing Mia Mckenzie’s new book, Black Girl Dangerous on Race, Queerness, Class, and Gender. I cannot explain enough how much I loved it; not only was it extremely well written but the entire book had me critically thinking about my own privileges (particularly my whiteness) and about the systems and institutions that exist.

The book is made up of McKenzie’s pieces from the blog Black Girl Dangerous (of which she is the Editor) over the past two years and are on issues of race, queerness, class, and gender. She writes of her own personal experiences, has pieces of satire, and calls for everyone to be more accountable for their actions. There are also pieces on specific news stories, such as Paula Deen’s racism, and pieces on her experiences.

Mckenzie writes with such a passion and in such a way that was not only informative but also incredibly intriguing. I couldn’t agree more with Janet Mock when she wrote that Mckenzie has “a fierce voice among a generation of queer and trans folk of color.”

I definitely recommend this book, especially if you are looking to better understand the complexities of race, class, gender, and queerness.

On (personal) anxiety and mental health

** In this post, I discuss my current depression and anxiety.

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[Images of my tweets that read: “Growing up, my dad and I had similar political views and mostly got along. Then I went to college and realized how fucked up my dad’s views are. Since moving back and being home for a month plus, we’ve gotten in so many fights. Each and every time he usually tells me that I’m an idiot. And that I don’t have the life experiences to tell him what’s problematic. (Esp when it comes to racism.) Plus he thinks that I should be happy with any media coverage of the LGBT (esp the T part) community, even if it’s hella problematic. Basically being home has had such a negative impact on my mental health. My parents (dad) treat my opinions like shit and dismiss me]

Being home had turned into a lot more trouble than I thought it would. It’s been a little over a month since I graduated and I’m no where closer to getting a job. My dad and I are almost always bickering about issues and if we aren’t, he usually says something problematic and in order to not cause a scene, I have to keep my mouth shut.

Through these experiences, I’ve also thought about the idea of removing toxic people from your life. In many cases, removing toxic people and experiences is beneficial and a necessity. However, in this case (where the problem lies with my parents), how do I balance the problematic nature of my parents’ actions with my current situation? I depend on my parents for many things, especially since I don’t have a job and I still need a few more years of schooling.

My depression and anxiety have been major issues as well and without a job, I’m finding it incredibly difficult to get out of bed in the morning. Lately, just getting dressed/clean and out of the house is a chore. I’ve been putting off finding a job, writing posts, reading, really doing anything productive because I currently don’t feel like I’m worth it. Fighting with my parents has only made my issues even worse.

I know that I need to go get help and that therapy could help with the issues I’m facing. But with the experiences I’ve had since being home, I have zero trust that therapy will be anything but stressful. Sometimes I have really good days. Sometimes I have really bad days. Most of the time, I feel indifferent about life and almost all the time, I question whether or not moving home was a good decision.

Ultimately, I think it’s important to call out problematic things but when doing so starts to erode your mental health, it’s important to make sure you are okay. I’m sure one day I’ll be able to get my parents on the right direction and I’m sure one day I’ll have my life together. But until those days come, I’m going to do what I can to make sure I survive.