Tag Archives: identity

Celebration, Culture, Community

by Hiroshi Ishii-Adajar, ’16

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I was recently working on homework amidst the rush of preparation of Pilipino Cultural Night (a showcase of Filipino culture through theatre and dance), and I read Sammie Wills’ stance on why cultural shows make her cry.  Her thoughts prompted me think about the evolution of my take on culture, especially after entering college.

As a high school, I despised what I perceived as “culture.”  This dislike was partially fueled by the way it tempered the lens through which people viewed me, a.k.a the stereotype.  Even deeper than that, however, the word “culture” seemed to imply to me that everyone belonged to one; as a man of mixed descent whose “cultures” have little in common, and one of which has oppressed the other, I could not identify strongly with any established culture.  “So create your own,” one might say.  But what is a culture that only you belong to?  Most people just call that a personality.  So I festered in my moral relativistic distaste of my cultural heritage. Continue reading

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Why Culture Shows Make Me Cry

by Sammie Wills, ’16

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There are few things I find more beautiful than the ability to resist oppression through happiness. There is a certain strength and grace in creating joy despite aggressors’ attempts to diminish hope.  This joy can be embodied through the dance and song and art of a culture, passed down to remember and celebrate the resistance engendered by a people.

This very mode of resistance demonstrates why I love culture shows.

First, I must be careful to note that there are indeed multiple problematic aspects of culture shows. The culture show itself is, and will always be, a highly-romanticized, typically-westernized performance of native cultures and traditions. Continue reading

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Sexual Quantification: No More Western Dichotomies, Please

by Erika Lynn Abigail Persephone Joanna Kreeger, ’15

What percentage gay/straight are you?

I was asked this question earlier today on a form I had to fill out for the iO Tillett Wright photo shoot this afternoon at Terra. I had initially wanted to get my photo taken for the same reasons as probably many of the other people who got their picture taken: it’s a national campaign, it’s making waves and iO Tillett Wright had a great TEDx talk about her project and sexual orientation.

But that question bothered me. It bothered me a lot. I ended up writing “me/me%- I don’t conform to bs dichotomies.” And I took my picture, and as much as I wanted to, I didn’t challenger her. But I kind of wish I had. Here’s why:

The most apparent concern is its treatment of bisexual/pansexual/non-gay/straight/fluid identities. As someone who is attracted to people of multiple genders, I don’t think of myself as part straight and part gay. I think of myself as someone who is attracted to multiple genders in very different ways. Furthermore, my attraction to those different genders (if you will, the degree of my attractions to these broad categories of people) has varied significantly over my life. Continue reading

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The Illusion of Isolation

by Holly Fetter, ‘13

This piece focuses on a post written by Jason Lupatkin for The Stanford Review, entitled “Why You Cannot Vote for SOCC.”  (The uncensored version is here, the updated version is here, and you can read a comparison of the two versions here).

The “Duck Syndrome” metaphor isn’t just for stress and health — we should use it to talk about race, too.

Sometimes, it’s easy to pretend that we’re a bunch of differently-hued ducks, floating peacefully in a multicultural pond of joy. We have FACES during NSO, “Crossing the Line” as awkward frosh, and we’re good to go.

But then the Jason Lupatkin ducks come along, and write blog posts like this one, and remind us that our diverse world isn’t so calm after all — there’s a lot of turbulence and chaos below the surface that’s rarely exposed.

If there’s one thing I appreciate about Lupatkin’s post, it’s that he had the courage to say what he said. Continue reading

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On Responsible Activism

by Heather Charles, B.A. ’10 + M.A. ’12

I am going to do what I always do in these conversations and state my credentials from the get-go. I am going to do this because I am white. And because I am white, and grew up extremely poor in an urban area where I attended some of the worst urban schools in the state of California in a community that is one of the most ethnically diverse in the nation and am living with a Mexican American man I grew up with who told his dad that he had no interest in learning Spanish because “he didn’t want to be one of those Mexican kids who can’t read English” and who is half white but knows he gets stopped by cops all the time because he is Mexican, I am intensely aware of how this whole speech and my mere presence in the activist community comes off, and came off while I while an undergrad, to the very communities that I work with. So demographically, when you ask me to be extra specific, I identify as working class, first. That’s the closest I can get to being honest. I do this because, when I entered Stanford I spoke a non-standard version of American English, and maintained the kind of wit that can only be learned on the playground and lot of people thought I was being a crazy asshole.  And I also do this, because I have the white privilege of not having to identify as my racial background. And because as a straight white woman I don’t have to identify as my sexual orientation either. But the fact of the matter is that the reality of my childhood more closely resembles that of poor folks who grow up in urban areas than it does the white peers I most closely resemble physically. On paper, people often assume I am black. This is because they are racist.

I am also an activist in urban education. Continue reading

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Class Confessions on Campus

by the FLIP Leadership Core

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The Stanford First Generation and/or Low-Income Partnership (FLIP) recently hosted a workshop called “Class Confessions” where students of all class backgrounds were invited to discuss our socioeconomic status secrets and share ideas for how to move toward a more honest and inclusive campus community. Over 50 students showed up, eager to engage in Stanford’s first cross-class discussion space.

Before the event, we asked people to submit their “Class Confessions,” or instances in which they had covered their class identities. We displayed these anonymous revelations at our workshop, where attendees could read and reflect on their peers’ class secrets. Here is a sampling of the more than 80 confessions, which were split evenly between students who identified as having class privilege, and those who did not:

  • When I was abroad, I pretended to be extremely sick because I wanted people to stop asking me why I couldn’t buy a plane ticket to explore nearby countries during a long weekend.
  • I use my knowledge about financial aid to pretend that I receive it when talking to friends and acquaintances.
  • I bought a smartphone and pay for the much more expensive plan to fit in with the rest of my friends whose parents pay their phone bills. Continue reading
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Gurl, I’m Queer as Fuck; or, Why Autostraddle Sucks

by Joanna Poppyfield, undergraduate student

Recently, I penned a post on STATIC entitled “Sex and Cis-tems of Oppression (NSFW) in which I opened up about my sex life, sexuality and gender identity to analyze veiled transphobia that affects the choices many people with regards to their sexual and romantic attractions. I got a lot of positive feedback, which surprised me somewhat, but I was thrilled to receive it.

Screen Shot 2013-02-07 at 10.47.33 AMA wonderful, amazing web editor of STATIC asked if she could contact other blogs on behalf of me to see if they would publish my piece. I agreed — I want this conversation, and other conversations about how ableism, racism, classism and other –isms can negatively influence how we experience sexual and romantic attraction, to occur in as many spaces as possible.

So she emailed a bunch of different blogs, some we never heard back from, others wanting to publish. And a few days ago, she got the following email from one of the editors at Autostraddle that made me want to vomit. Continue reading

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The Tragedy of Grey Matter

by Alex Nana-Sinkam, ’13

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I grew up glued to a reality of black and white. Don’t freak out, this isn’t an essay on the struggles of mulatto identity in 21st century American suburbia. I left and will continue to leave that dance to my 18 year old, boldly naive, college essay writing self (but damn did I do that introspection justice; always did picture my words metaphorically synonymous with a rebellious Taylor swift song). This essay is neither about the way I was raised. Because yes, my parents taught me morals. But no, never once was I presented with a blue vs. red pill. They never asked me to swallow, without doubt, an understanding of the world that was not my own. I’m also lucky to have never been made to feel like my soul searching was mindful ambling all for naught.

Instead, I was my own Oracle growing up. And for whatever reason, I painted my own Matrix in (what i considered to be) vibrant hues of black and white. My compass pointed me North or South, illustrated right versus wrong, narrated good against bad. [1] I credit my success throughout the first 1.8  decades of my life in large to my presumptuous moral understanding of the world during these years. For long enough it served as a nexus for my motivation, most crucial decisions, lifestyle choices, and appreciation of those people who added substantially and positively to my growth as a human being. Maybe now, such a stark outlook on existence would prove harmful (still paring this one out). For a while, though, the profound belief that being a skilled hurdler simply meant practicing, that divorce was wrong, that cheating (in or on anything) was never (not ever) acceptable, that skipping dance class was weak, that drinking was irresponsible (as was sex), or that working hard should not ever be question but simply nature, gave me a focus and ambition I could not even attempt to recreate today. Continue reading

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Our Challenge

by K. Blaqk, ’14

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The title of this piece is “Our Challenge.” Over fall quarter I discovered the “Nu Rainbow,” which replaces the traditional ROYGBIV spectrum with one representing the variety of colors  of human beings. This move felt especially important to me, as I was starting to see the urgency in queer politics taking on an explicitly anti-racist agenda as well. Lumped into queer issues and racism are also structural class inequality, problems of imperialism and militarism. So, “Our Challenge” is first to build a coalition of marginalized and oppressed peoples and then to channel that organization into a form of resistance and way of remaking the world around us. Continue reading

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Why You Should Take CSRE 26SI

by Holly Fetter, ’13

One of the most distinctive factors that sets Stanford apart from other universities is its diversity — diversity of perspectives, experiences, identities, origins, beliefs. It’s a word that’s used so often that it almost lacks meaning, like “multicultural” or “entrepreneurial.” Even the Dictionary.com definition is wack — “Diversity: the state of being diverse.” Roughly half of Stanford students self-identify as people of color. Unlike certain East Coast institutions of higher learning, this campus has been open to all genders since its founding. 15% of Stanford students are the first in their families to attend college, and 75% students receive some form of financial aid. Yes, our student population represents a variety of different identities. We coexist in residence halls, student groups, frat parties. We’re a very “multicultural” mix.

But are we really equipped to handle our differences? What do we do when it gets messy? How do we deal when we’re not sure if our words are accidentally transphobic, or that our actions make students from different class backgrounds feel uncomfortable? It’s super important that we each go beyond being best friends or “colorblind” classmates, and make the effort to educate ourselves on how to be active allies in the face of prejudices, both subtle and overt. An “ally” is someone who supports members of community/ies to which they do not personally belong, through interrupting injustice at a personal and/or institutional level. Learning how to be an ally can help us through those awkward encounters with -isms and -phobias that might otherwise leave us feeling powerless and uncomfortable. Continue reading

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