I sit on the brink.

I wonder if my professor knows how many value statements she makes in every class.

When she’s talking about how there’s no argument for child pornography or abuse, so therefore you couldn’t write a paper against it, I get what she’s saying. I also feel a little uncomfortable–there are men I don’t know in the room. She assumes they’ve never been complicit.

And I don’t feel as secure in that idea.

Because it’s an entry level class, her examples are generalized, broad. She wants to shock, to make sure she has peoples’ attention in a potentially boring class, so she reads essays on abortion, on embalming. She tells stories about students, including one who cried when he was telling her his father died, and that’s why he’d missed class, then apologized.

“Why would he say ‘sorry for being such a girl’, just because he cried? He was grieving!”

She doesn’t know how harshly men are trained to not show emotion. She doesn’t consider whether an essay on abortion might trigger anyone in the room, other than as a conservative who is against it–though she does skip uncomfortable parts.

Being white, monocultural, and not highly sensitive to others sounds so relaxing.

I’m reading in another class about the definitions of terms I’ve been familiar with all my life, in relation to culture and society. Most of them I learned in relation to being jarred out of my own culture and set in a totally alien one.

It was a good experience. And it destroyed my chances of ever not thinking about whether other people are experiencing something different from me. It’s not a virtue I have, though I think pursuing that understanding is a choice I’ve made.

It is uncomfortable.

Sitting in a lower-level college class is tough not because I already know the material and am bored, or because I am struggling–it’s because I am sitting on the brink of that culture, looking in.

Watching a white intellectual defending African tribal customs of early American slaves that led to vaccines…while still emphasizing their lack of education.

It’s hard for me to bite my tongue. (A bit of a cultural dissonance.) I’ve been trained all my life as a countercultural outlier to analyze how people are communicating, their biases that come through. And I’m starting to understand why I read shocking stories of supposed allies to the minorities who can’t tolerate being challenged.

I already can sense how unwelcome it would be to ask what tribe it was, since “African” isn’t an identity–whether she thought maybe deduction had as much to do with the ritual as superstition–whether we could discuss whether the white woman who decided to try inoculating her children also advocated for it to the less-privileged or only white slaveowners’ families.

This class is not about that. I’m not sure there is a class about that here. I’m hoping maybe my sociology class will keep going that direction, though. They are at least talking about what ethnocentrism is.

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