Guest opinion: The class you may have missed in high school
I am fully capable of understanding the paradox.
I can vote. I can work. I can do pretty much whatever the heck I want. I am a middle-class, degree-toting, white woman with a mortgage, car, kids, husband, dog and disposable income. I’m not on par with my male counterparts, but I’m pretty damn close. At times, that’s enough.
On the other hand, I know that by some measures, I’m just some radical white woman and a sore loser. I have much to celebrate and not much to complain about. Really, I get it.
So when I am still asked, “What are your problems, again?” and “Why don’t you just give the man a chance?” I have to stop, breathe and compose myself before I speak. I don’t want to be labeled with names like feminist, liberal, out-of-touch, left-leaning or nasty.
I am stunned and quite surprised by these questions, though. Many of them are actually coming from smart individuals and people I really like. I have to calm down before I explain that just because one does not see the inequalities, social injustices and the dismantling of civil rights, it does not mean that they do not exist. Unfortunately, they’re pretty hard to miss and even harder to ignore.
So now why am I complaining, again? Because race, sex, age, disability, national origin, religion and sexual orientation are still being used in discriminatory dialogue, practice and in policy, too. I feel like it’s my turn to speak up.
Having a voice and being able to use it comes courtesy of the suffrage movement, Planned Parenthood, Betty Friedan, Roe v. Wade, Title IX and the National Organization for Women. Thank you on behalf of all the women who have a privileged standing in society today.
We also stand squarely on the shoulders of Nat Turner, Rosa Parks, Emmett Till, the Freedom Riders, Malcolm X and the Montgomery bus boycott led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Thank you on behalf of my children, who do not see color when they play on the soccer field, sit on an airplane, have friends over to play or go to the park.
There is also the Trail of Broken Treaties and The Indian Reorganization Act. Though I imagine the people of Standing Rock could use our collective voices today.
Brown v. Board of Education gave us, “Separate does not mean equal.” Every single child who stands on our land deserves the right to a great public education. Our educators know this, but perhaps not our policymakers.
We can even give thanks to the Boy Scouts for recently lifting their ban allowing gay adults to be leaders. The LGBTQ community rises from the efforts of Harvey Milk, Laverne Cox and Martina Navratilova, just to name a few. Let’s not roll back the progress so painfully earned.
Today there are millions advocating for those whose voices are marginalized. The work is not done. So I proudly stand alongside the dreamers, motivators and out-of-the-box thinkers who respect diversity, equity and push for progress and change.
Lastly, I understand that my style may be considered loud and I know the pink hats are absolutely tacky. We can spend an endless amount of time discussing a vulva’s vulgarity and we can debate what we’re teaching our children by choosing to complain on postcards. These are distractions. Period. Attacking character aims to shift the conversation away from the real issues we need to address. Can you see past your own bubble even if you don’t agree with the tactics?
So to be clear, the real issue is that social activism threatens firmly held ideologies that are fueled by discrimination and hate. To see the world through a lens of empathy, conscientiousness and compassion would be to ask for an evolution of outdated social constructs. Can you admit to seeing rampant racial and religious intolerance and sit by in silence watching the xenophobia in practice today?
Sticking to the real issues forces us to really look closely at the underbelly of our nation. Respectfully, I’d be surprised if any of us could sit by idly any longer once we acknowledge them.
I think it’s time we all raise the bar just a little bit.
Andrea Chacos is a mountain mom living in Carbondale. She strives for passion and flair as she balances work at Snowmass, raising three boys with her husband and juggling her other responsibilities.
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