Editor’s Note: Publishing this article in lowercase words was a stylistic choice by the author.
(this is a response to the strong reactions my article about the horrible leadership and suffocating amount of privilege at this institution has received. here’s a full-fledged love letter for those who sent me light and strength.)
to the young womyn of color who sent me light:
self-preservation above all. do whatever it takes to survive. our social and political standing as womyn of color have debilitated our ability to say no in order to perpetuate the societal structures that oppress us. in a world built on the destruction of your agency and autonomy, the most revolutionary thing you can do is to put yourself first, take care of yourself and love yourself unconditionally.
loneliness in a world resistant to powerful womyn of color is a heartbreaking reality. breathe. follow your truths. become the most unwavering source of love to yourself. have your chosen family close when you cannot love yourself. failure is not failure. vulnerability is strength.
your light is the energy of the world. where would this world be if not for the ability of womyn of color to give and give and give and give and give even after so much has been, and still is, forcefully taken from us? you are awe-inspiring, you are worship-worthy, you are greatness, you are noble, you are everything you are meant to be. you are a work of art and magic, an eternal moment of sheer brilliance, more beautiful than any dream anyone could have ever dreamed of.
to the allies who sent me strength:
thank you. so much.
to those who sent me entitlement:
i am not interested in your opinion. your opinion, despite what society tells your privileged ass, is not that important.
i am not interested in the opinions and argumentation of those who claim to cling to objectivity and rationality over all else. if, at this stage of your life, you are still delusional enough to think objectivity exists, i am embarrassed for you. every opinion and perspective you have is influenced by the standing and status of the identities you claim and are placed onto you.
as for rationality, fuck those who wish to neatly separate emotion from any issue. if you think that the anger and suffering at the face of injustice and oppression is less valid and compelling than quantitative data and detached and insular information, you are beyond saving.
my article was not about ‘concrete solutions’ or ‘next steps’ you can take; it was about how privilege and power dynamics need to be challenged for real change. my article said that to do what needs to be done, the first step is to be hypercritical of ourselves and our society. you could not wrap your head around this. send me productive criticism, not patriarchal, racist, misogynistic, entitled bullshit that you wrap up in a pretty gift box and call ‘diplomacy.’
my job is not to educate you so stop with the you-need-to-teach-us-and-show-us-the-way histrionics. my article was not for you. my article was for everyone else who suffers on this campus and their friends, allies, and well-wishers. my article was me screaming from the mountaintop to those who would listen. not. for. you.
to the young men who sent me hatred:
only two hours after my viewpoint was published, i got on a taxi to go to the airport for job interviews in dallas. the taxi driver looked at my breasts and said, “hello, sweetheart” with a wolfish grin. at an airport restaurant that very day, various men insisted on starting conversations with me despite every sign that i did not want to. during my two days in dallas, some male interviewees harassed me, berating me to tell them where my room was so they could come over. on the trip back, an airport trolley driver drove behind me honking and catcalling as i walked towards my gate.
after a complimentary upgrade to business class, i walked to my seat and watched the horrified faces of the other occupants of the business class: all rich, white men wearing starched suits, shocked, confounded and disgusted at my presence in what was clearly their space. during the three-hour flight back, i had to endure glares and whispers. the man next to me threw glances every few minutes to make sure i hadn’t stolen anything of his.
this was two days. i have been on this earth almost 21 years. i will be here for about 60 more.
how dare you say i attacked your identity?
i attacked your privilege.
your head is so far up your own ass that you cannot tell the difference between the two.
what does it say about you that me defending my humanity, a lament from an aching soul, is what you chose to attack?
Sumana Palle is a Business senior, founder of Shakti, leader of the Michigan Women of Color Collective and e-board member of What The F magazine.