To Speak and be Listened to
February 22, 2010 Leave a comment
In my undergraduate career, I’ve grown used to people listening to me. When I want to jump in a discussion, whether it be in the classroom, the front stoop, or the coffee shop, I do. And people listen. After all, it is a discussion, not a pulpit+auditorium. If you disagree, you disagree. You can bring up articles and studies, personal experiences, and history, and discuss finer points. Often the subject moves in a different direction. Often, one or more of the discussants learns something new, which is good. That’s what we’re all here for.
Then, I go home (or leave campus in general). And every time, I forget that my younger brother doesn’t want to discuss. He wants to share his opinion. Often, he is wrong. Or sexist. Or racist. Or homophobic. My brother is a privileged, cis, straight, white male. Unfortunately, it is one of those privileged members that lives with blinders on. He doesn’t see how the world that he lives in is not the same for those different for him.
It’s frustrating dealing with my brother. I have to learn, and relearn, like other privileged people, my brother is going to view my attempts to discuss the ways his physical characteristics benefit him in society are going to put him on the defensive. He’s going to shut out my voice, his eyes are going to glaze over, and he’s going to eject as soon as possible.
I also have to learn and relearn that I’m also privileged. I’m able to take out loans to pay for my education, and I have enough self-confidence to speak up in class, and in random conversations. I have the privilege of, in most ways, of being visible by most of society, and have many of those same physical characteristics that society has taught gives me the right to speak up when I feel the urge to speak.
Of course, it doesn’t help when my brother is pushing my buttons, but when I cool down, it’s something I try to keep in mind. Especially when I’m listening to other people’s conversations I’m tempted to jump in on.