It’s National Coming Out Day: It Gets Better

Recently, six young people committed suicide: they just couldn’t take being bullied any more for being different. They felt alone and hopeless; they gave up the fight.

In response to this, sex columnist Dan Savage started a you-tube channel where people can post videos of encouragement–to show that it does indeed get better, that they will one day find acceptance, love, and community. Read more about it in this article from the LA Times from Sunday October 10, 2010 by Nicole Santa Cruz.

In addition to you-tubes, there is a body of literature which provides narratives of surviving the pressures of the dominant culture. I teach as many of these narratives as possible each semester to help us all understand each other, including an essay by Bernard Cooper.

Most of my students in my classes express to me in various ways how much they enjoy the diversity of readings I assign for class and how they like seeing someone they can identify with in print. However,  some do not “get it”–that by learning about other cultures and ethnicities, and the experiences of others from and outside the dominant culture, we learn about ourselves, we learn about our neighbors, we learn how to empathize, and we see how we are more alike than different. Some students go so far as to insist that the readings are racist against white people, that there aren’t any or enough by “whites.” In fact one student went so far as to say the college itself is racist against white people.

This gave me cause to count the number of texts by people of color and by the dominant culture. I’m embarrassed to admit that even with my best effort to balance the curriculum so that we read works not written by the dominant culture, the texts are still primarily written and produced by whites (my best guess anyway):

Writing texts:
all written by whites

Book:
Botany of Desire
by Michael Pollan (white)

Assigned essays from 50 Essays edited by Samuel Cohen–
9 essays by people of color, 13 essays by whites (edited by a white man)

2 chapters from Splinter in the Mind (handouts) by Matt Lawrence (white)

Today, I hope you will join me in standing up for helping it get better for everyone who is outside the mainstream and to support the learning of those people in the dominant culture to help them come to terms with their issues and fears.

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