Those of you who have followed Thoughts & Abouts over the years, know that it doesn’t revolve around one topic. That was the idea behind the name, anyway. So, this time, I saw it fitting to write about an issue that has been frustrating me, to say the least.
I got accepted into the best foreign affairs program in the world, and I celebrated this accomplishment not only for its prestige, but also for the platform I thought it would give me to discuss the most pressing issues of our times. So, you can imagine my shock when I got to campus and realized the scale of identity politics and the role it plays, not only in our classes, but also in our everyday interactions. That would have been okay had people been open to talking about it, but even those who claim to be open to everyone and everything, really mean that they’re open to everyone and everything who/that agrees with them.
Initially, I would tell myself that the reason I was so frustrated with this and the ‘woke’ culture was the fact that I come from a part of the world that has so much bigger issues to deal with. You know, like wars, refugees, acts of terror executed by leaders on their own people, to mention a few. And, while that certainly plays a role in my frustration, it is hardly the whole picture.
I realized only recently that I was mostly angry because I’m deprived of deciding, for myself, whether or not I’m offended by everything that apparently should offend me. I happen to tick many of the boxes when it comes to labels. I’m a short-almost-midget, Arab woman, who immigrated to America, currently making my way into a field that doesn’t have many women, first generation graduate student, brought up in a middle class family, and my income is currently below poverty line. I’m sure I can think of a few others if you give me a sec. Every. Single. Day. without exception, I find myself in a conversation/debate/chat/discussion/talk/whatever, where people are offended on my behalf. About everything. People who often don’t tick the same boxes I tick. Getting offended. On MY behalf.
Not only does this make me feel less of an immigrant, a feminist, heck, a woman, it also takes away my sense of agency. My right to decide what offends me. Where I draw the line. What actually matters to my fellow box–tickers. I have a brain that’s big enough to think, a mind that’s good enough to decide, and a voice that’s loud enough to speak. And, when I see the need to, I do.
And, this isn’t just me, this is everybody who ticks any box and feels like someone else who doesn’t tick that same box is offended on their behalf. I am not asking that we have less camaraderie or fraternity, that we lose our sense of solidarity, that we not fight for one another. I’m asking that if you do want to fight for me, or, better yet, with me, you actually give me the courtesy of sitting down with me and asking me what my challenges are. Really ask. Really care. Because, otherwise, I’m just going to continue believing what I’m currently led to believe, that those among us who are so woke are only offended for the **ck of it. Just to **tch and complain. Just because they want something, anything, to be angry about. Not because they want to find a solution to what they think is problematic. Not because they care.
(To all my non-constantly-offended brothers and sisters, please stop being afraid of speaking up and expressing your nonoffendedness. And to all those who ask themselves the question that’s on everybody’s mind, ‘how did we get here,’ this is how. Because those who speak are ‘woke.’ And those who aren’t often don’t speak.
Enough is enough.)