Ltte: Feminist Collective differentiates between identity, political opinion

To the editor,

To the Case Western Reserve University Community: We, as members of the Feminist Collective at CWRU, have witnessed repeated instances of misconceptions about what tolerance should look like on our campus.

We would like to clarify a few points in response to rhetoric from our peers concerning the place of oppositional political views. First and foremost, it is important to recognize politics do not exist in a vacuum. They have real ramifications on the lives of every human being, meaning all policies—from trade deals to abortion regulation—greatly affect our everyday lives. This is especially apparent for individuals whose identities intersect in ways that leave them vulnerable to marginalization.

It is these individuals that represent the term “diversity.” There are a plethora of different life experiences having to do with religion, ethnicity, race, level of ability, gender, sexual identity, citizenship status and class, but political opinions are a personal choice.  Equating choosing to align yourself with conservative politics to, for example, being born Afro-Latinx is a straw man masquerading as an actual argument. The struggles faced by particular ethnic groups, such as Native Americans who are being pushed off their land and must face the high risk of having their water poisoned, are not equivalent to the supposed isolation conservatives may feel at time such as when a professor offhandedly expresses distaste for a political leader.

As demonstrated by the current injustices faced by the Native Americans, rhetoric and policy have operated out of historical forms of oppression that have been allowed to continue over the course of our history. In addition, following the election, there was an alarming uptick in hate crime and violence towards marginalized groups. Disregarding this systemic disenfranchisement by saying we should “set aside politics” is a display of privilege and ignorance; this privilege and ignorance perpetuates systems of oppression, and therefore trying to open this type of dialogue between targeted groups and privileged groups has no possible chance of being constructive. Not only is it unconstructive, but it can also be unhealthy and abusive to engage in dialogue with others who actively deny and undermine the existence of other individuals. No person should have to sit down and defend why they are a human deserving of respectful treatment.

We will continue to reject rhetoric that protects only the existence of people who will never be threatened by policy. To some, our active resistance will look intolerant, but let us be clear: Our goal is to act in the interest of those who are currently at risk because of the president’s administration. And sometimes, that means not tolerating hateful beliefs. Our resistance will be angry, but in the words of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, “We should all be angry. Anger has a long history of bringing about positive change.”

Jessica Lam, Tori Hamilton, Nailah Mathews, Nat Bick and Marissa Jones

Members of the Feminist Collective at CWRU Executive Board