So a lot has happen over the last couple of months leading to an amalgamation of excitement, joy, depression, and an assortment of other emotions. I no longer live in Louisiana! My partner, Fred, got an awesome job at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute and I moved up with him to Cape Cod in early July. It was a bit of an endeavor moving a dog, two cats, a tortoise, a snake, and a goldfish 1500 miles, not to mention my stacks of books that could fill a small town library, but we did it! We are settled in and I am trying to enjoy my current part-time work from home status while it lasts.
I felt a sense of guilt when I left Louisiana, as if I were abandoning ship in the greatest time of need. When I moved there for graduate school it was never with the intention of making a life for myself there. In fact I stayed much longer than the 2 years I had anticipated. But I grew to love Louisiana and to care about the communities. There is a tremendous passion within he progressive organizations I belonged to and it was stunning to see people work tirelessly against daunting odds to create dialogue and banish ignorance. So, long story short, this move to Massachusetts, a state that aligns politically with me in virtually every way, felt somewhat like a betrayal. I would be lying if I said that my guilt didn’t stem slightly from the bitter relief I experienced as well.
As I’ve started to learn more about Cape Cod politics and goings on, I’ve had a bit of a surprise. This place has more work to do than Baton Rouge on many levels. Holy moly, the amount of homogeny here! 96% of the population is white. Which means that a conversation about race hasn’t even really begun here. I went to a meeting of women today sponsored by a group whose aim is to show women how to become more civically engaged. I brought up a point about diversity. The response was that they struggle with it, which is fair. Political groups in demographically diverse cities find barriers as well. However, I don’t think it crossed anyone’s mind that having a meeting at a mid-priced breakfast joint at 8 AM on a Friday might be a hindrance to working class or poor women. There is a level of bourgeois ignorance when it comes to the struggles of the working poor.
There was also a sense of liberal color-blindness, that the key to creating racial harmony lay in focusing on similarities, and not differences. Shouldn’t we celebrate differences as well? A very “All Lives Matter” vibe emanated from the group’s leadership. For instance I got called out for using the phrase “women of color” and another woman was defensively shot down for talking about white privilege. Oh, and apparently I’m not white, I’m “caucasian”.
I get this knee jerk reaction as an educated liberal, I used to be one. We see the science based evidence that there is no biological basis for our racial groupings. Scientifically, we are all one race. But culturally and socially, we are not, and that is every bit as important, if not more so, than our genetics. People get treated differently based on their melanin. End of story. When you “don’t see color” you’re essentially sticking your fingers in your ears, going “la-la-la” and completely ignoring the reality of our culture. More than that, you’re saying that having culturally different races is a bad thing, advocating for what’s essentially a cultural master race, whatever that might look like.
This is going to prove to be a challenge, not at all the preaching to the choir I expected the move to entail. The role I want to play is ultimately one that helps pass the microphone to people of color, particularly women. I want to make sure that the women’s movement doesn’t abandon intersectionality, even on a micro level. But I don’t know how to do that here. Maybe I need to cut myself a little slack, having just arrived, but I just want all the answers, right now! I feel alone right now. I need to find my fellow radical-intersectional-feminist-activists on the Cape.
Also, here’s me and my new BFF, Elizabeth Warren. She totally told me she loved my shirt.