It’s easy to say that racism doesn’t affect me, that homophobia has no impact on my life, that sexism isn’t something that actually exists, transphobia is a myth.As a privileged straight white woman, I could easily say all of those things and more. I could avert my eyes from the suffering of others and focus on my own privileged straight white world. But I won’t say those things. I can’t say those things.Because I am a part of the Goshen community where I interact with people who face oppression on a daily basis.
I have friends, classmates and peers who face microaggressions every day. They’re called by the wrong name, or someone touches their hair or they get asked where they’re really from.
I don’t deal with these issues — not in the same way they do.
But that doesn’t mean it’s not my problem. It doesn’t mean that I can take a step back and watch as my queer friends, my Muslim friends, my friends of color, my undocumented friends struggle to get through each day — struggle for equality. And so I try to be an ally.
I don’t always get it right. More often than not, I slip up. I say things I shouldn’t. I do things I shouldn’t. But I try and take constructive criticism. I’m only going to become a better ally if I listen. That’s a key to being a good ally — listening. Pay attention to what your marginalized friends are going through. Be a support for them. A listening ear, a shoulder to cry on. Just be there.
It’s so easy to get caught up in your own world. To pay attention to what’s happening to your personal life and block everything out.
But I suggest you break out of that mindset and educate yourself. Read this week’s Perspectives pieces. Read my article on DACA. Attend the International Coffeehouse on Saturday. Attend an Latinx Student Union meeting. Do something outside of your own world.
It’s so easy to say no. No, I won’t attend that seminar on DACA because it doesn’t affect me. No, I don’t need to participate in the Intercultural Coalition walkout because I’m not a person of color.
But when you say yes, you contribute to the Goshen community; you make Goshen College a better place to study.
Not only a better place, but a safer place.