I have watched this TED Talk, The Danger of a Single Story, in multiple classes now, including in my Social Work class this past Monday. The topics in my class that followed this TED Talk included White Privilege, Male Privilege, and Heterosexual Privilege. We talked about how we felt about these privileges that have been formed in our country, and assumptions that are made based on these formations. The class also shared personal stories on how these privileges affect their every day lives. One class mate talked about how one side of the family encouraged her to do well in school and develop a career where she could be independent and not rely on any significant other, but the other side of her family constantly asks, "Do you have a boyfriend? Are you seeing someone?"
I openly shared with the class this one particular encounter I was in not more than a year ago. I was wear shorts with tights, and the girls around me kept calling me "White Girl" and telling me I was a "Typical White Girl." I do not believe these individuals identified as white, so the term was quite hurtful since it was always followed by laughter. I shared this story because in the midst of all of this "privilege" I have, I was still feeling excluded and down. Another girl in my class who did not identify as white, raised her hand shortly after I shared my story and said that the girls she went to high school with would most likely tell me to "Get over it" since they have to deal with that kind of "criticism" (for lack of a better word) on a regular basis.
This instance made me realize that, just because the girls that she grew up with are used to this kind of behavior, does not make me putting up with it any tolerable. Just because other people experience what I experience, does not mean that I should. I say this because I would never make anyone feel the way those girls made me feel, and I do not think anyone should make another feel this way. This all seems like a never-ending, unnecessary circle. I refuse to accept that this happens to anyone, regardless of race. "The Danger of a Single Story" led those girls to believe that all "white girls" are the same, but I refuse to let this experience lead me to the same conclusion. Someone led the group of girls that were laughing at me to feel the need to hurt someone back, but the cycle ends now; the cycle ends with me. As a youth development leader, I not only want to end the cycle in my own experiences, but I want to show youth that they have the power to end it as well. We share this country as our home, and we are all citizens that wake up every morning with responsibilities, problems, and events of our own. There is no need to discriminate or exclude. We have the power to change the world, and showing this power to youth will only make that power stronger.