intersectionality etc etc etc
Age is kind of like those other things that bring their biases, prejudices, and judgements…you know, the ones that inherently bring about the look in some settings.
My parents were immigrants.
I'm a female.
Even the labels we can choose - i.e. I’m a Republican/Democrat.
They bring about the phrases:
“But you don’t sound like it”
“You don’t act Black”
"Wait, how do you pronounce it?"
"Where are you from?"
They can also intersect things like education, money, family, because you know, stereotypes. If I say I’m Mexican and I don’t look like it, let alone I don’t speak Spanish, you’re met with a really confused face.
Even sometimes, “so, you’re not really Mexican.”
I've had both Mexicans and non-Mexicans say this to me.
I remember in first grade at my birthday party, a friend gave me a Dora the Explorer birthday card. I didn't know why. I wasn't 4 years old so there was no reason why I would watch Dora the Explorer. Like why don't you give me a Sabrina the Teenage Witch card or something??
"We had to get this card for you because you look like Dora!"
My first grade self: " ?? I would never wear that outfit or have a monkey as a best friend. Dogs are way better."
It rubbed me the wrong way and I never knew why. Also, I could tell my first grade friend and her family weren't intentionally trying to make me question this birthday card. I honestly don't even know if I was offended. Which maybe means I wasn't offended. But either way, I still have every right to be offended.
I hate the word offended. It doesn't mean I'm a "snowflake," it just means some people just have learning to do, and that's not a bad thing. But, that's another rant.
Anyways. They just didn't know. And I still don't know how to take that situation.
I've had a lot of these interactions. Some worse than a b-day card, but still just as confusing/intense. And it's still just as confusing, battling the am I offended/did they mean to be a jackass/am I overreacting/wait, but they're my friend/maybe they just don't know.
Some people get heated up at things I wouldn't think twice about. And sometimes, it's the other way around. Sometimes someone could say something that I think is racist toward Hispanic people, and another Hispanic person isn't taken back at all.
It's weird and confusing and full of anger and more weirdness, but that's the world so why not try to be prepared for situations, versus just always being a jackass?
— The struggle of intersectionality —
I’m bi-racial. I was born in the U.S., at a hospital most of my family was born at.
50% Mexican, 50% European…and when I say European, it’s a mix. My grandmother was adopted, not everything was written down, like most families.
My mom doesn’t speak Spanish. My dad doesn’t speak German. Both because their families thought it was more important for them to speak English in a racist post-WWII society.
Therefore - I only speak English.
I’ve been very fortunate. You may look at me and think I don’t know what struggle is. But, everyone’s struggle is different. Isn’t that inherent?
I’ve also been in and out of therapy for severe anxiety and depression and spent a good chunk of my high school days in a hospital suffering from anorexia nervosa.
I’ve dealt with death more times than I can count on my hand.
Our identities, the ones we were given at birth and those we choose and discover as we develop, are:
1) Not always visible
2) Not always assumed
3) Not always accompanied by their typical stereotypes
Everyone is part of groups based on some of these identities, or our individual personalities.
I’m 22 and I’ve also done a lot.
I've never been homeless or lacked a meal come dinner time. But, I've also dealt with a lot of adult things before I was, well, an adult.
This has made fitting in even more complex.
I look like I’m about 15, which yeah, I get it middle-aged folk, will serve me well when I get to be your age because, yeah, I’ll age well.
But being 5 ft and losing cartilage as I age will drop me down to 4’11” if I’m lucky.
“Oh, you’re only 22 you wouldn’t get it.”
“You still have plenty of time, don’t worry about it.”
As if my age justifies or limits my abilities, needs, desires.
I often get told I’m an old soul.
I’m not saying we each need to carefully dissect everyone’s identities, both chosen and given, but I do want us to be mindful.
Don’t be limiting with your empathy & indulging on your judgement.
In an age bound of stereotypes and inherent bias, and simply not knowing what we don’t know, some people simply, just don’t know.
Yeah, I get pissed when someone treats me differently because I’m 22 when for some reason, I'm mature enough to be sitting at the table with you, but I obviously can't understand anything beyond that because, you know, I'm 22 and also don't know anything about life.
I also get pissed when people treat me differently because I’m Mexican.
I also get pissed when people treat me differently because I’m Mexican and don’t speak Spanish, etc, etc.
Everyone deals with this dilemma at some point or another, and as part of their various social groups. Because our identities aren't one size fits all - that's why stereotypes are built on a basis of nothing.
But people don’t know what they don’t know. I don't need to know everything about everybody on the face of the earth, but for those I do know, and those I’m getting to know - I stay mindful.
I stay mindful of my experiences and how this person may not know my struggles and I may not know theirs. I stay mindful that we may come from two different places, or a very similar one, and race/religion/wallet doesn’t dictate that.
True relationships are fostered out of humility and understanding.
Moral of the story, if you don’t know something, don’t be a jackass.
If you don’t understand, have a discussion.
But we can never be too indulgent in learning about other people’s experiences.
Never be too limiting.