Empathy and Privilege

I woke up on November 9th feeling a little bewildered, but not surprised. There were too many Trump yard signs in my blue state in the weeks leading up to the election for me to be surprised by the outcome. And with a little reflection, even the bewilderment lifted as I realized that this election outcome doesn’t change much for me. I’m white and heterosexual. I live in a blue state. I have a college education and although I don’t personally earn any money, my family’s income puts us firmly in the upper middle class. And as for the misogyny, that was no worse on November 9th than it was on November 8th. Today I can still live anywhere in the United States, just like I’ve always been able to. I can still use my passport and leave the country if I want to—and expect to be let back in—just like I’ve always been able to.

More than this, I’ve already been living my values, never as well as I’d like to, but always in that direction. I’ve been wary all along, watching my elected officials to see if they’re overstepping their authority and the powers granted them by the U.S. Constitution. This election doesn’t actually change that. It might end up giving me more to do, but it doesn’t change my level of alertness.

I also don’t believe that things would be all hunky-dory if Hillary Clinton had won. The hate and vitriol and violence, the ugly and dangerous expressions of racism, misogyny, homophobia, Islamophobia, xenophobia had already been unleashed. It’s possible that it would have been as bad if Clinton had won. Perhaps it would have been even worse because of the backlash against that election outcome.

The challenge for me remains the same either way: To be aware of the oppression going on around me without making it about me. Because I retain all of the privilege I had before the ballots were cast. I will continue to challenge myself to be aware of inherent bias in my thoughts and behaviors just as I was before. I will continue to be ready to step in if I see violence or mistreatment of another person, just as I was—or fervently hoped I was—before. Read More

Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris

Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim
Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

In preparation for writing this review, I read back over my review of Naked. I do this a lot: read things I’ve written. I joke with my spouse that my blog is my favorite blog. Everything in it is relevant to my life, and I relate to the author so well. It’s a joke, but it’s true.

So I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that I found myself nodding in agreement as I read through my review of Naked. I thought about just copying and pasting that review here, with a few modifications, but that seemed like cheating. And I didn’t feel exactly the same about Dress Your Family as I did about Naked.

Unlike with Naked, there wasn’t a particular section of this book that I could point to and say, “The second half…this was the funniest part.” The pieces and moments that touched me and/or made me laugh were peppered throughout the book. As usual, the things I loved about the book were also the things that left me feeling self-conscious that I loved them. Read More