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Newsflash: I'm white. Who cares, right?
Well, I do. Because one thing that means with the work I do is that I hear it, see it, compile it, write it all through the lens of a white person. I can be as mindful, sensitive and careful as I want, but that still doesn't change that.
By all means, I do my research and do everything I can to be sure that the content at Scarleteen is as inclusive as possible: after all, I'm not a heterosexual person either, a male person, nor a young person for that matter, but I think I do okay when it comes to being inclusive for those groups here. And sure, I grew up with a parent who worked for the Civil Rights Movement, have always lives in very integrated, urban areas, and with a taught and learned sensitivity for bias in my world and in myself. Much of my background has been a big help to me when it comes to keeping my eyes open in terms of racial issues, and knowing that when it comes to pretty much everything, race does matter and isn't a non-issue.
But know what that doesn't change? My own race, and my experiences in my life and every single day being that race. I'm still white, and I'm still a white person who writes on sexuality, body image, reproductive health, gender and sexual identity, relationships and sexual politics through my white lens and with certain privileges my color alone nets me.
Even if you have no personal experience yourself being of color, or don't talk to people of color in your life about these issues, statistics alone make very clear that race (and, more to the point, how different races are treated and valued) and our perception of race changes things. HIV and unplanned pregnancy has hit women of color harder than white women, for instance. Contraceptive and sexual health access can often be tougher for those of color. Being gay, lesbian or bisexual can play out differently being of color and in communities of color. I can see all of those things in the work that I do. I can read about all of those things in journals or newspapers. I can certainly feel empathy, compassion and upset about racial imbalances... but what I can't do is acutely feel and experience those things the way my brothers and sisters of color do and can. That's not a minor quibble: it's major.
Hearing about those experiences from people of color, unfiltered, is not as accessible to everyone as it should be.
That given, we're rolling out a new blog series here at Scarleteen where writers of color have a highly visible space to write on all of these issues and more. We've got a handful of excellent activists, bloggers and Scarleteen users and volunteers ready to tell it like it is; to illuminate, inform and educate. We're thrilled to have this opportunity to provide a space in alignment with one of the core aims we've always had at Scarleteen, which is to assure that as much room is made here for people to talk about their own experiences and to represent themselves as there is for people to be talked about and represented by others.
Our hope is that if you are of color, you'll find some communion in these pieces, some empowerment and a whole lotta "Hell, yeah." If you're not, we hope that reading these pieces might bump up your awareness, make you think about things you haven't considered before, or start to think -- and maybe behave -- differently than you did before you read them. We're hoping that some of the issues and perspectives this series brings to light get seen and heard by those who really need to see and hear them, and that they will help to foster positive change and a greater spirit of compassion and unity. We want to open a window with the hope it opens more doors.
That time where we get down on our knees and outright beg our American users to vote or, for those not yet of age (and for those who are!), to get involved with the Presidential election with a vengeance. We need you. We've always needed you, but we REALLY need you this year.
YOU need you: many of your rights are on the line, and if you don't stand up for them, you might lose them, particularly since with some issues, like sex education, young adult access to contraception, healthcare, education, shipping young people overseas to war and the economy as it impacts people your age, rather than how it impacts older people, adults have a very different idea of what you need than you do. Just like we talk about when it comes to your body, sex and relationships, speaking up for yourself and actively choosing and insisting on what is right for you -- rather than passively accepting what is right for someone else -- is so deeply important. In 2004, 47% of those aged 18 to 24 voted (compared to 66 percent of voters 25 and over), and even that was relatively high: the last time substantially more people in your age bracket voted than that, I was 2 years old (in 1972). Imagine what might have happened if 100% did, or even 70% did? Imagine what could happen if this time around, ALL of you did.
So, as we've done in other years past, we'll be getting together nonpartisan guides for you on where the candidates of four parties stand on young adult issues and those central here at Scarleteen (like sex education, access to contraception and other healthcare, GLBT and gender discrimination, abuse and domestic violence protections) filling you in on how to register and how to vote, and giving you links to ways you can get mobilized, work actively to support the campaigns and get your friends involved, too. We'll also have some YA bloggers writing on their thoughts on all of this and their experiences as we go, and we'll address things like how to weather the escalating political arguments that can happen at home or with friends and partners around election times, how to have a political disagreement and make it productive, and talk more about why the youth vote is so critically important. We'll also include some helps for getting through the agony and the ecstasy that a big election tends to bring.
Not registered yet? Don't put it off: take care of it now. You can register to vote online at Rock the Vote right here.
If you've interest in writing for either of these series, we'd love to have you on board. Just drop us a line, and we'll fill you in on how to get started.