My first year in grad school I read a scathing critique about the Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education and accidentally assumed it was written sarcastically. I didn’t shy away from its existence. I didn’t cite my strongly held view of the importance (read necessity) of civil rights attorneys thinking creatively or the necessity of constitutional protections for communities of color. I read the critique, I took notes in the margins, and I discussed it with the rest of my class.
I share this because we are currently living in a world where students, more specifically young people, are increasingly taking it upon themselves to decide to “opt out” of important conversations. Refusing to educate yourself on a political candidate, view a work of art, or read an award-winning novel because of your personal perspective on the world serves only to reinforce and ultimately limit your own perspective of the world. If there was something I could tell my 18-year-old self today it is that despite the promises of education, it does not prevent ignorance.
And look, if this culture of shying away from debate is due to our increasing need to Photoshop our lives and please others without showing our ugly sides, then I get it. None of us want to look stupid and uninformed. But there has to be some give and take, especially when it comes to things that matter.
As a queer-millennial-first generation Latino-New Yorker, I understand feeling strongly about something requires conviction and resilience that won’t often show its face when surrounded by people who agree with you. And yes, many times it feels like everything’s so fragile if you make one false move your world will collapse around you. But making the personal political is something we as Americans have the right to do.
So let’s be clear here, I chose to get this tattoo. After all, America is still a highly puritanical wonderland and judging the choices people make to alter their body would do nothing more than continue the negative cycle of body censorship. Having this tattoo is a reminder to speak out against what scares me, even if it is with Hot Cheeto and Juicy Fruit breath. That being said, one thing we do have control over is the outcome of this presidential election. Sometimes making the personal political is all we can do.
Plus, it’s no surprise that the superrich, business mogul and now presidential candidate Donald Trump is leading the Republican primary polls; since in our political system, money buys power. But the question is will he use his money for good? More importantly, how can we elect someone we don’t necessarily trust would?
There’s no denying the Republican debate next week is going to be “uuge,” Surely we can all carve out some time to hear Trump’s words for ourselves and start a ground swell. To be a thoughtful, caring, passionate human being, is to recognize the value of the other side, even if it only fuels your fire. But then again, what does a wetback with a #trumpstamp know anyway, right?