On having two identities and marginalization

“The days of you having a different image for your work friends or co-workers and for the other people you know are probably coming to an end pretty quickly. Having two identities for yourself is an example of a lack of integrity.” – Mark Zuckerberg

This is a line from an article written about the ways that Facebook is slowly and subtly destroying our free will. It’s very good and if you have time you should read it but I want to talk about this quote from Zuckerberg because it shows the mind of a person who has never had to hide parts of their identity just to exist safely in the world. This quote reeks of unexamined privilege and it is from one of the people who stands at the forefront of ushering the world into a new, connected age.

This is the statement of a person who has never had to pretend to be something they were not, something less than their whole selves in order to get and keep a job. This is a person who has never been afraid of the type of ridicule that could lead to violence for simply being 100% of who they were. This is the statement of a person who has never had to pretend to renounce their own identity in order to survive in the greater culture.

This is a statement of cis hetero white man. You don’t need to know that it was Mark Zuckerberg, Mr. Facebook himself, who said this to know that a white many said this. It is dripping with the privilege of safety and the knowledge that who you are in the world will always be accepted and treated with respect.

There’s nothing wrong with being a cis hetero white man but the world looks a lot different when you aren’t one. The difference in relationships between co-workers and other friends is, for him, the difference in wearing a tie or t-shirt to work. It is a surface difference. It is not the difference in appearing as a woman before your coworkers when they know you primarily as a man. It is not the difference of using your first initial only or going by your more ambiguous middle name so that people don’t realize that you’re a woman of color and reject your application outright.

White boy Mark has never had to do those things so he doesn’t understand how people who have had to do those things use his platform and perceive the future. It’s not a space where everyone is free to be who they are because all of these lines between people have been broken down.

Instead it is a place with less ways to form walls of protection. Although being online has allowed many people to find and build community, many marginalized groups have also become more open to abusive attacks from those that seek to continue to oppress and intimidate them. When Zuckerberg and other social media mavens speak of their imagined future, they focus on the first part because they have no real concept that the second issue is such a widespread concern for so many people.

In no statement has it been so blatantly clear that the creator of Facebook has limited understanding of the world outside of his own viewpoint then in that statement. When you exist at some intersection of marginalization, it doesn’t matter which one, you automatically must operate in much of the world as less of yourself, simply because the world was not built for you. If you want to survive, making concessions until you have the strength to fight the status quo.

That’s not what this quote is suggesting, that you fight. It is assuming that how you are will be fine for everyone you meet. That there is no reason to parse relationships between people, that everyone can be “friends” because in the homogeneous culture of Silicon Valley, this is possible. It is a utopia because it is built for and by group of people to support exactly who they are and what they want.

In that world, there are no reasons why anyone would need to present a different face to the world, we’re all just people right? But the world doesn’t see all people the same and everyone isn’t a friend, whether you’ve added them on Facebook or not.

The future can be a wonderful place to exist in. There are many exciting things happening in the realm of technology but while moving forward we must remember that those same biases that excited are still coming with us until they are dealt with. It’s not enough to say, everyone should just be excellent to one another (Rufus never showed up for anyone in this timeline), you must accept that people are still living under oppression and marginalization and that hiding is a survival mechanism.

Having two identities isn’t a lack of integrity. It’s a way to survive in a world that is often hostile to people who exist outside of the ideal of our society. Instead of fighting against an honest survival mechanism, why not call out the people who feel they have nothing to fear and use their social privilege to bully and harass people who are just trying to live?

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Don’t Hit Share : Here’s what to do instead

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In less than two weeks, we’ve experienced rapid changes to our political landscapes and in the struggle to stay up on all the changes so we can understand the order of the new world, we have turned our newsfeeds into bastions of fear. The easiest way to combat this toll on our mental and emotional well-being is to stop hitting share on every news story but I don’t mean stop sharing the news.

Instead of just hitting “share” on a post, copy the link of the news article. It’s really easy from mobile. Next to the share button are three dots. Tap them and the second option in the drop down menu is “copy link”. Select that. Go back to your page, make a new post with your thoughts on the article and what the topic is. Hit post. Then, in the comments share the link itself.

By doing this, it removes the constant news reports that come with their “urgent” and “devastating” headlines so people can pace themselves without missing anything. The Facebook machine is going to push all those similar news reports to the top of your feed if you just push share because chances are, everyone is sharing the same article or handful of articles. By removing those headlines and photos from the direct feed, we’re still sharing but giving people some mental distance so they can stay engaged without becoming so quickly overwhelmed.

We need to continue to share and speak on what is happening in the world today. That is the only way we can prepare for things and make plans for the way the new regime may harm us. Social media is a powerful tool as it allows us to share news quickly, however, thanks to its algorithms, it is also giving us a window that is largely fear based and causing greater anxiety in its users.

That’s us. We’re the users.

We saw this after the election when we looked the feeds of people on the Red Team. What was found was that, aside from the “Fake News” problem (which was and likely still is a problem) were that these feeds were drowning in these fear based messages. The use of really salacious headlines and scary reports was designed to keep people engaged and clicking.

In the past less than two weeks, I’ve noticed my own timeline has become more and more anxiety filled as it’s flooded with news reports, all slated to get you to read them and I thought, “Is this what the Red Team has been dealing with all the time? No wonder they think liberals will be the death of the country!”

I don’t want the Blue Team to be that. I don’t want the Red Team to be that either but one problem at a time.

You may have seen the meme calling for people to “make Facebook fun again”. It’s a picture drawn in pen with different colored highlighters like it was done in middle school during a boring science class. Ignoring the art style, that meme is hot garbage and what I am suggesting is not that.

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I don’t think that people should ignore what is happening in the world in favor of puppy pictures. Puppy pictures are awesome but being up on current events is also REALLY, REALLY IMPORTANT. That meme (and resulting thought process) treats political movements as a sort of hobby that isn’t particularly enjoyable right now as opposed to events that could affect one’s life for years to come.

Feel free to push share directly on single creator blogs and networks, they NEED the clicks to get their content shown. Times, Reuters, CNN, HuffPo, WaPo, etc, do not need Facebook traffic from clicks so moving the content to a comment will not kill them. But it will give people a chance to engage with the news in a healthier way.

Social media is important in keeping us informed but we need to adjust how we interact with it so the negative consequences don’t outweigh the positive benefits.

You Don’t Need Feminism but Feminism Needs You

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There’s a photo going around Facebook of a black woman proudly holding up a sign that proclaims she “doesn’t need Feminism because” and then goes on to present a list of reasons that really just point out that she probably really doesn’t understand Feminism. I see this a lot from fellow black women and it’s a problem.

Now, Feminism does have a huge issue with intersectionality across the board. I’ll be using the term White Feminist in this piece to describe the particular brand of Feminism that tends to be exclusionary and is at the root of this particular woman’s objections as well as women like her. With this brand of Feminist thought, the needs and support for women of color as well as trans and disabled peoples are often ignored.

White Feminism is toxic, ablest, trans exclusionary and is basically just white supremacy in a female package. It’s different from radical Feminism which is all of those things but more blatant. The major problem with White Feminism is that it doesn’t realize it’s excluding anyone or that it harbors ideals that are harmful to other groups. It is a one size fits all version of Feminism and that size is upper-middle class White women. It is also unfortunately the version that many people have come to understand as standard but it is not what Feminism is. It’s very easy to see why so many women of color are against it.

Personally I was hoping that this letter would follow the opening statement with a lesson on Womanism but it did not. Instead it was a list of the oft repeated misconceptions of the movement and furthermore was extremely judgmental and hurtful to women who are not able to live the life that she is so proud of.

“I’m enjoying my role as a supportive wife I love that my man is the head of my household. And I value being a Stay at home mom over slaving for a corporation while neglecting my family.”

There’s nothing wrong with being a stay at home mom and focusing on the everyday realities of family life while your husband works but there is something wrong with implying that women who do work are neglecting their family.

This back and forth is actually one of the biggest issues in the representation of Feminism when it comes to black women. We have a history of always having worked outside of the home. As women we benefited from the inroads that Feminism made in the working world for opportunities for better work outside of traditional “women’s work” but the fact that having to go to work isn’t anything new to the black community is often ignored.

This is important because the push to “leave the kitchen” so to speak is a uniquely White woman issue. To women of color who have always had to work, the opposite is true. We want to be able to stay home. That is in and of itself a Feminist act which seems counterintuitive but it’s not.

Feminism is about choice. It’s not about leaving the home or staying in the home. It’s not about having babies or not. Getting abortions or not. It’s about having the choice to do or not to do as you please.

Some women believe that Feminism is at odds with traditional home making roles but it isn’t. The way that some women practice it may make it seem that way but the core of the movement is about choice. The choice to work or stay home. The choice to wear a hijab or not. The choice to have kids or not. Choice and equality.

This woman says that she doesn’t need Feminism but Feminism needs her. We need women in the movement who stay home and take care of their babies and husband. We need women who are fiercely religious. We need women from all walks of life to say, “Yes this is my choice and I support women who make different choices.”

Stay at home moms, you should support women who go to work every day because one day your baby might be one of them. Women who work you should support women who stay home with their children because someone may have done it for you or for someone you care about.

Feminism needs you to get rid of the toxic attitudes and stereotypes that surround it. It needs women to stand together and push back against those voices that create the division.

I’m really happy this woman can stay home and be a homemaker. It’s hard work! I will always support her right to do it. My hope is that she and others like her one day begin to support other women’s rights to live their lives in ways that make them happy as well without the judgement.