After a fantastic and much-needed break with my girlfriend, I’m back and ready to blog about my findings and experiences over the past week. Now, you might think such a week was only riddled with REM sleep, Bay Area excursions and karaoke with college friends. However, my mind can’t stop thinking about issues with international development. Fortunately for me, my girlfriend is equally impassioned to act towards global injustices. Conversations ensued, and I’d like to tell you about a few.
We talked about the Bay Area’s advantages and issues while relaxing on Lake Merritt. As a Midwestern girl, she spoke about her confusion with the Bay Area. Anybody that has come to visit the area immediately notices an exclusive eccentricity; folks ostracized for their beliefs, interests, and backgrounds come to the Bay to find a community of outsiders. The neo-hippie community, diverse racial communities, and a smattering of interests both cosmopolitan and rustic can be found close by. The Bay Area is also well known for its progressive outlook; with such movements founded and popularized like the Free Speech movement, the Environmental Movement, LGBTQ rights in the United States, and issues of race and civil rights though America’s history, the Bay Area has consistently been a hotbed for protest.
At the same time, however, the Bay Area community is a very Western locale. The cost of living in the Bay is exorbitantly high, and many individuals can’t live there without drastically tightening their belts. Poverty is rampant, and the area has been run over with a Sillicon Valley impassioned entrepreneurs, a community focused on innovative tech design for economic gain instead of ways to combat inequity. Although diverse communities are present, the powerful communities of the Bay look very much like communities in other places; white, male, heterosexual, and affluent. Although I understand that that hipocrisy is everywhere, and not just in the Bay, to me it matters little. We shouldn’t try to become better to compare to other communities, we strive to be better because of a deep sense of justice and truth for maligned communities. By helping the hurt, we help ourselves.
That being said, there seems to be a drastic hypocrisy here; a community with normative demographic interests live alongside the minorities of every population. Although some might see a paradox, most people aren’t aware. Questions like these are rarely asked, even in a place as progressive as the Bay:
- Who still has the power? Who doesn’t?
- How are Bay Area communities progressing and represented?
- Where are there disparities, why have they been developed through history, and why haven’t they been addressed?
- And, most importantly, what is the community doing about it?
One important thing that must be done, just like addicts progressing through the 12-step program, is acceptance of reality. These issues must be discussed before they are correctly addressed. Speaking on the confusing and concerning is the first step towards change. First of all, the issues the community purports to support, must include communities of all demographics, and not just for the sake of inclusion. The fact is, many intersectioned communities will be hurt even more than others.
Consider global climate change. On the whole, the dominant community which speaks to further climate change issues are white, male, heterosexual, and relatively affluent. Even if the community isn’t only dominant demographics, it definitely suffers from tacit exclusion. To their point, to persuade the powers that be, the issues with climate change need to be addressed in a way so thy can see how everyone is hurt by lack of action. However, I have a feeling that this isn’t the main reason for such a normative facing message; I believe other communities don’t understand that they will be hurt MORE by climate change than people of more powerful demographics. The truth is, when a climate drops unexpected disasters on the world, it will hit the poor the hardest. It doesn’t take a degrees in sociology or economics to understand that there are powerful correlations between minorities and poverty (the most powerful one being race). However, activists concerned with race and class, and concerned with environmentalist issues, are conspicuously absent.
Another issue being developed in the United States is the lack of understanding of LGBTQ minority issues. A very prominent example of such issues is the recently famous Twitter hashtag, #solidarityisforwhitewomen. A backlash against the hipocrisy of certain white normative feminists, the hashtag spoke about rights of different races, different genders, placed behind the rights of certain women. An interesting discussion on the divisive issue can be found here.
These issues speak toward larger structural inequities that we should question, understand, and press to change. Questioning any and everything which speaks against deep feeling of inequity is completely necessary for social progress, even in arguably the most progressive region in the United States. Resting on the laurels of superficially solved, yet deeply historical problems only brings tension to the forefront.
I intend to be at the front of this fight. Of course, my girlfriend had her own issues that we spoke upon, but I’ll make you wait until she writes her thoughts. Until then, check out her blog here. If anything, it is a great opportunity to think about these issues while napping here, on a lazy afternoon.