Where Privilege Intersects with Oppression

In the past few months I have been actively trying to be a better ally.  I have been immersing myself in writing and discourse, and I’m just now starting to take a more active role in promoting and educating on intersectionality in my various social groups.  The concept of privilege and intersectionality is not simple.  It is, by definition, complex.  But once you get the tools to understand what it all means, you can start deconstructing your interactions and reactions and you at least are speaking the right language.

One thing that has been a struggle for me, however, is transforming the idea of “ally” into something tangible.  Luckily, there are so many sources out there that exist to make this work make sense.  Last week I was reading one of my favorite writer’s tweets (not uncommon), and came across this:

I saw it while I was waiting for the train, and literally repeated it out loud, right on the platform.  Look for where your privilege intersects with oppression – that is where you act.  I thought about it for most of the commute.  I tried to think of examples of where my power was, where I could attack the system.  What I love about this phrase is that if you let it marinate, you start to convert the abstract to tangible action.  At various points in the past week, that phrase would rise to the forefront of my mind.  It is stuck in my head as my own rallying cry.

What does that mean for me?  Well, let’s start with my privilege.  I am a white attorney who works at a large law firm.  I’m heterosexual and married.  I was born in the United States (Alaska though, basically Russia according to some) and I speak English.  All in all, pretty privileged.  I am also female and Jewish, but I work in a city and in a profession that treats Judaism as normal, so I mostly “pass” there.  Jewish lawyer in Chicago?  Nothing to see here.

Where does my privilege intersect with oppression?  My workplace is the first place that comes to mind.  I think it helps to start small, so let’s start there.  As a heterosexual, white attorney, I am able to speak for others without the associated detrimental outcomes that might occur if those without my privileges took the same course of action.  For example, transgender accommodations are a huge topic these days.  I can comfortably sit in a conference room and opine on the need for gender-neutral bathrooms without feeling like someone will view me any differently.  In that context, I’m just a person stating my opinion.  When it comes to staffing, I can affirmatively request other women or people of color to be on my team, and I can check in with them to make sure they are getting the experiences they deserve.  That comes with the territory of being an associate, and can fit easily into my job description.

I also have been involved in recruiting.  Getting the right people in the room is essential, and if you are one of the gatekeepers, you can use that for good.  When I recruit, I consciously work to take it one step further instead of just connecting over similarities.  Similarities are the comfort zone, and like attracts like.  But if that’s all I look for, I’m going to have a bunch of petite women who really like reality television in the room.  Not necessarily a bad thing, but not the point.  Connecting through differences takes practice, and I’m happy to work at a firm that proactively trains on addressing unconscious biases during the recruiting process (and elsewhere).  You can do that important work too.

Once you have the mantra in your head, you see it everywhere.  Take the Grammy’s, where Adele used her acceptance speech to promote Beyonce.  I’m not going to go in to why I think Lemonade deserved to win Album of the Year, because lord knows the last thing the internet needs is another Lemonade thinkpiece by a white woman.  Let’s just say I’m a fan. So when Adele stood up and used her moment to promote a black woman, it meant something to me.

Was she perfect?  Probably not.  But she was real and she was authentic and she used her privilege to address something wrong with the system.  And as a white woman who is working on ways to be an ally, Adele was inspiring.  She gave ME strength to speak up from the heart, even if it’s scary or you might get it wrong.

So I’m taking my mantra and running with it.  Thank you to the women of color who have lived this their entire lives and still take the time to educate the rest of us.  I stand with you.

Advertisements

Countdown to Hometowns

We’ve made it down to the final four!  I haven’t posted in a bit, so let’s hit some of the highlights before we delve into RACHEL AS THE BACHELORETTE!!!!

Corinne vs. Taylor

This seems so long ago, but I don’t want to let Taylor go without a proper goodbye.  Corinne and Taylor are both some of our younger contestants, and I think that Taylor, as smart as she clearly is, did not have the “emotional intelligence” or maturity to move away from that toxic relationship.  I don’t think Taylor bullied Corinne, although I do think Taylor was condescending, which turned out to be a dangerous tack to take, because Corinne may be a lot of things, but she knows how to turn a situation to her benefit.

i-win

I’m not going to go through all the Corinne v. Taylor interactions, but I do think Corinne made a huge play when she preempted the issues by bringing up the issues in the house with Nick directly.  Let’s not forget that Nick has been on this show before, and he was the “villain,” or at least seriously misunderstood, both times on the Bachelorette.  That makes him predisposed towards sympathy for other victims of misunderstanding, like Corinne.  To Nick, it sounds like Corinne noticed a problem with the women, confronted the issue maturely, and moved on.  So he’s already on Corinne’s side when Taylor tries to bring her down.

I like Taylor, and I liked her commentary on this season.  But Corinne just brought her down.  I’m not surprised that Nick went for Corinne when faced with a decision between the two.  Taylor (I think mainly because of how she was pitted against Corinne) was a bit of a sourpuss.  Corinne kept her cool and was playful and sexy.  So, yeah, Nick went for her.

taylor-1

Danielle L.

Danielle L. was a front-runner from the start.  She was first out of the limo, which is an editing trick the producers use to showcase someone who will be important to the season.  She’s exactly Nick’s physical type (I actually think she looks very similar to Andi), and she’s a business owner.  All signs pointed to yes, at least on paper.

danielle-limo

But I’ve struggled with Danielle L.  I found her answers to be too pat.  She’s given us a lot of soundbites, but I couldn’t tell if she even liked Nick.  Like this – is this not a little too perfect?

danielle-quote

So it was hard for me to fully understand her feelings of love when I didn’t see it from her.  Maybe she had walls up, maybe she bought into the show too much, or maybe she did fall in love and just has a quiet way of showing it.  Either way, I wasn’t too surprised to see Nick send him home, although I WAS surprised at how hard he took it.  I’m going to blame lack of sleep on that one, he bounced back.

Kristina

How much of a badass is this woman??  I am SO glad we got to see her on a one-on-one.  Kristina was my pick for first impression rose right off the bat, but we didn’t get to see too much of her at the beginning.  I think I fell in love with Kristina when she said this:

not-stupid

No, Kristina, you are definitely not stupid.  She’s also clearly friends with the other women in the house.  Look, they’re having so much fun!

plane

airport

rose

SHE’S SO CUTE!  She’s also gone through a ton.  I’ve never heard a contestant with a story quite like hers, and I’m very glad she had to chance to explain her past fully.  It’s a story we don’t often get to hear, and her resilience is inspiring.  So I’m bummed to see her go, but I can’t wait for her to stay involved with the franchise.  I mean, she’d kick ass in Paradise (literally), so let’s do it.

beach

Evolution of Corinne

All roads lead back to Corinne, right?  Corinne is now in the final four, unless Nick really goes rogue next week, so she’s done the almost-impossible: come back from a 2-1.  The 2-1 date is a dreaded spot.  No person has been on a 2-1 and then won the season.  Even if you survive, odds are not in your favor.  But Corinne has somehow done it, and once Taylor got sent home, she seems to be getting along with the other women.  Corinne can be really endearing.  Who didn’t enjoy this?

eating

I’d be doing the same thing, Corinne.  She also showed surprising restraint during the group date with Raven and Kristina.  Kristina freaked out while snorkeling with sharks (Raven, on the other hand, was ready to punch them in the face), and Corinne could feel that the attention wasn’t on her (and for once, it wasn’t).  Instead of leading with her sexuality or doing something dramatic, Corinne recognized that it wouldn’t be appropriate to co-opt that moment and just let it be.

keep-it-together

Growth!  Maturity!

She had a couple slip-ups, which mainly seemed to stem from insecurity and the fact that she’s starting to truly care for Nick.  When Vanessa got a 1-1 for the second time, we saw a little bit of the old (young?) Corinne.  She attacked Vanessa for not having enough emotional depth and only talking about lame things like her family and her job as a special education teacher.  Coming from someone who works for her dad and has a nanny, it’s just not a good look.

 we-get-it

So, not perfect, but progress.  The women are basically separated from here on out, so Corinne made it through that part.  Now just to see who gets past hometowns.  And we get to meet Raquel the nanny, so there’s that to look forward to.

RACHEL AS BACHELORETTE

Before I get to my predictions, I have to talk about how MY GIRL RACHEL IS THE BACHELORETTE.  I have to do this before predictions because she climbed to my number 1 spot this past week.  I love the connection she and Nick have, how they’re always laughing, their obvious chemistry, and the ease with which they discuss potentially challenging topics, like race and family.  So I think it’s a pretty big spoiler to announce her as Bachelorette when I think she will still be around for awhile.  Maybe the family date doesn’t go well and next week is her last, but whatever happens, I am SO pumped for her season.  Rachel has been my favorite this entire time.  She’s a woman after my heart.  A fellow-lawyer in her 30s, working at a firm!  She’s fun-loving, honest, beautiful, and even-keeled.  And obviously incredibly intelligent.  So I am HERE FOR IT.

Rachel is also the first black lead the franchise has ever had, which is huge.  I’ll do a separate post on this because there’s a lot of history surrounding race on this franchise, and it will be interesting to see how they approach this.  Will there be more contestants of color this time around?  How prevalent will the race discussion be?  Rachel has the maturity and grace to handle her role as the first black lead, and it’s possible that the show will treat race as a “non-issue” (even though that is impossible in reality).  So we’ll have to see.  But I will be tuning in to see my girl find love.  You get it!

Predictions

Since Rachel clearly can’t win this season, I am left with only three.

  1. Vanessa.  Nick and Vanessa clearly have something.  It’s like they skipped the fun-loving, giddy part and went straight for Notebook-style love.  It feels really serious, but their connection is clear.  I know Vanessa wasn’t pumped with Nick’s response to her spilling the beans about loving him, but I can see why Nick is holding back, at least in what he says.  He doesn’t want a Ben Higgins repeat!  With Rachel out of the picture, I just can’t see Nick ending up with anyone besides Vanessa.
  2. Raven.  Raven is a boss.  I love how she rolls with everything and isn’t afraid to speak whatever is on her mind.  She’s a boss.  She’s ready to punch sharks in the face and take a stiletto to a cheating ex-boyfriend.  I can see chemistry between her and Nick.  I think next week will be interesting.  I just can’t see our LA-beauty boy getting along well in Hoxie, AR.  But that’s what makes this show great.
  3. Corinne.  Corinne has come a long way and I think Nick genuinely cares about her, but it feels a little paternal.  He’s proud of her growth, and clearly attracted to her, but I don’t think it’s enough to overcome his other relationships.  I am excited to see who raised this woman, though, so next week should be great.