Tag Archives: privilege

Onward in 2017

2016 was a harrowing experience in many ways for many people. Personally, I have been blessed with health and prosperity this year, though I have watched current events unfold with great sadness and concern. The awfulness of 2016 seemed to happen all around and just outside of my life and the experience tested my personal endurance to witness suffering.

I’m grateful, though, not only for the stability and good fortune that I and my loved ones enjoyed this past year, but also for the learning and growth I experienced as a world citizen. In the last twelve months, I had my eyes opened to the machinations of many systems of oppression and circumstances of inequality that have made me angry, uncomfortable, and desperately sad in turn. I began to identify privileges and prejudices in my self and in those around me that I never recognized before, and felt empowered to work against them. For the first time in my life, I really started to pay attention to the events happening on the global stage.

I can’t say that I didn’t sometimes feel the immediate need to turn inward and cocoon myself from all the ugliness that the world had to offer — when I was too raw, too disappointed, I utilized my unique privilege as a white, cisgender, American female to withdraw from it all, and just listen.

That’s the most important thing I learned this year: the importance and the value of shutting up, and listening.

At BlogHer ‘16, I attended a transformational panel on the value of, and how to be, an ally. It was delightful, powerful, and humbling. Ultimately, one of the primary effects on my person following BlogHer was to stop blogging as much. Yes, I was busy with work, newly pregnant, and lazy, but I was also suddenly very aware of the terrible inconsequentiality of the whole thing. As I said in my very first post upon launching The Real Sarah C, “how wonderfully self-important of me”, to establish this soapbox for my own personal use, when all of the things that I want to write about, all of the things that I think ought to be read about and discussed, are not things that are happening to, around, or within me. I started reading and talking to the people that were “in the trenches”, and I stopped writing quite as much. It just wasn’t that fulfilling anymore.

I don’t know what, if anything, will change in 2017. Not just for me — will I continue to write for myself? Which causes will I become involved in? — but for all of us. There’s been a lot of hand-wringing going on in the last few weeks since the presidential election. And I get it — I’m not pleased with the outcome either, but I’m hopeful. Not just because I have this annoying tendency toward eternal optimism, but because of the tremendous response from all corners of our world. People are awake; not all, and not always in the ways they need to be, but I see some progress. That alone is worth celebrating. And all of the work we have left to do, that’s worth looking forward to.

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The War on Christmas (is not)

Okay, so here’s the thing: it seems to me that political correctness is going the way of the dodo. It’s just not cool to be politically correct these days — it’s not edgy or original, and it just doesn’t get people fired up like it used to. The thing people really get excited about nowadays is arguing against being politically correct, because trying to avoid offending other people is so gosh-darn offensive! (As if inclusion and avoidance of microaggressions against minorities are personal attacks on one’s ability to be a member of the majority.) It’s like they’re arguing against “White Guilt”, but with everything: We, as white people, are not at all responsible for systemic racism — it was before my time. We, as able-bodied individuals, shouldn’t feel restricted in our story-telling, and should be free to make jokes at the expense of the disabled. We, as Christians, shouldn’t be put-upon to say “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas” just because there are other people on this Earth who have different religious beliefs, etc. etc.

Uhg. Get real for a quick sec and unpack your privilege just a teeny-tiny bit: Only 31% of the world’s population is Christian. THIRTY-ONE PERCENT. That means, Mr. High-and-Mighty, that you are sharing this Earth with a whopping 69% of people who don’t follow the teachings of Christ the way that you do — you really think it’s okay to exclude 69% of people from your tidings of holiday joy and peace on Earth? (Incidentally, if you do think that’s ok, I wonder what the Big J would have to say about that, you bigot.)

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I just don’t think the sentiment in this message is very, how do you say… “Christian”. I also have never heard anyone request that it be called “a holiday tree.” Ever.

It is totally up to you if you want to say “Happy Holidays” or not. If someone were to tell me “Merry Christmas”, I wouldn’t be offended. Actually, I don’t know a single person who has ever expressed any offense at receiving a “Merry Christmas” from another person, regardless of their religious beliefs and practices, or lack thereof. However, I do hear an awful lot from people like Donald Trump claiming that each and every “Happy Holidays” (or other equally secular greeting) is tantamount to a war on Christmas. He even went so far as to claim that 7 out of 10 people prefer “Merry Christmas” as a greeting, which is funny since, like I said, only 31% of people are Christian. Perhaps he meant 7 out of 10 Americans? That would be slightly more accurate though that number is dropping all the time.

Despite the fact that they are the cultural, if not the actual, majority in our modern society, Christians are the only ones bitching and moaning about the “loss of our sacred holiday”, despite the obvious problems with conflating “sacred” and “commercialized nightmare”. It’s as if they believe that December belongs only to Christmas, and all other yuletide celebrations are intruding. Don’t believe me? Think about your local mega-mart — none of your neighborhood Jews complain that this represents the entirety of their available holiday shopping:

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Well, at least they don’t complain to YOU.

But you best believe that if your local Target decided to invest as much real estate in their Hanukkah display as their Christmas display, shit would hit the fan.

So what’s all the fuss about? No one is asking you to be politically correct, and no one is offended by your “Merry Christmas”. By and large, the only people who are complaining are those members of the majority who are so intensely threatened by the mere existence of minority groups, that they don’t want those groups represented or recognized at all.

I’ll let that sink in for a second.

Majority groups, like Christians, like Caucasians, aren’t actually in danger of loosing their high level of privilege, but still they are so terrified by the slightest suggestion of equal representation, that any attempt at inclusion has them flying off the handle. As if to elevate minorities would cost the majority anything more that absolute control over the world that they have monopolized since time immemorial.

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Well, I guess if I had all of the power and all of the privilege, I might have some minor control issues, too.

It’s a shame that so many Christians fall into this mental trap. (Parenthetically it should be noted that of course I am not directing these criticisms toward all Christians. It is just easier to write in absolutes, so bear with me.) Maybe it’s built in to their belief system, the whole “martyr” thing, but truthfully, y’all have nothing to worry about. So long as Christianity is the opiate of the masses… uh, I mean, the favored religion of English-speaking Caucasians, you guys are in-like-Flynn. Nigh irreproachable. (Well, sort of.) And no amount of elevation of minority group status can touch you. Go find something else to invest all of that prodigious energy into that will actually do someone some good, why doncha?