Wednesday, August 18, 2010

"Hold your head up, you silly girl."

I have a lot on my mind lately, and don't know where to start. That said, this post will likely be all over the place. You've been warned. Proceed at your own risk.

I'll begin with some good (albeit belated) news: On August 4, California's Proposition 8 was deemed unconstitutional by Chief Judge Vaughn R. Walker.

As I think I've mentioned before, I'm a total news junkie. I watch both CNN and the local news every day, follow various news sources on Twitter, and read whatever my friends post to Facebook, as well as articles in the papers I find lying around the house/campus. But the day Prop 8 was overturned, I happened to be out of town with a friend (more on that later), and therefore, wasn't near the TV or computer. I didn't hear about the ruling until the following day.

Figures. I tune out for a grand total of twenty-four hours, and just look what I miss!

But I'm so happy about this. And hopeful. Incredibly, incredibly hopeful.

And I guess this leads me to something else:

Despite the good news, I don't feel like I have much of a right to celebrate. I'm not contributing enough to the effort to better the world. I keep finding myself in situations where I can't decide whether it'd be best for me to shut up or speak out.

I'm pretty opinionated, but I know that trying to discuss particular topics with certain people would be futile, and choose not to waste my energy on such interactions.

And yet, as someone who believes deeply in diversity, and knows that achieving it is impossible without communication, I find it tremendously difficult to be quiet. By shutting up, I'm going against what I believe in. Yet by speaking out, I'm only pissing people off, because so many of them don't want to listen to what I have to say.

I think people are afraid to communicate because they assume that by accepting what I have to say, they're agreeing with it. That's not what I'm asking for. (We wouldn't be very diverse if we all thought the same way.) All I want is to be able to speak as loudly as those who get away with spouting off every day as if theirs is the only opinion that counts.

Earlier this month, I went to Memphis, Tennessee and Cleburne, Texas with a friend who wanted to visit some of her friends and relatives. Being in the South was one hell of a weird experience for me: Every little thing got on my nerves. I heard a song on a radio station down there that began: "Our houses are protected by the good lord and a gun." And all the way through Arkansas, I made a game out of counting bumper stickers that mentioned Jesus and/or Glenn Beck.

So here I am, telling people I believe in diversity, and yet, whenever I find myself surrounded by people whose mindset is different from mine, I want to be with people who think like I do.

And I've found myself in this situation many times: My decision to leave Saginaw was largely based on the fact that I felt like I was wasting too much of my energy defending what I believed in, instead of actually accomplishing anything.

And yet, I even find it difficult to communicate with members of my own family. My mom gets all up in arms whenever I mention that I'm not a fan of capitalism. My grandmother refuses to accept that I don't believe in God.

It's frustrating, because all I want is to be accepted, and yet how can I ask for that when I can't seem to accept others for who they are?

It's all way more complicated than it needs to be.

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