I promise to get back to my discussion on interracial dating beyond the racial binary soon, but a detour for now--I finally want to talk about the class I'm taking this semester on queer minorities.
I read something interesting last night--something about how law students experience more emotional stress than even medical students...which is interesting, considering I figure medical school is a lot more difficult, time-consuming and stressful, hands down...not to mention the fact that the white kids in law school--particularly the white males--seem to enjoy it, on some sick level. But whatever. Anyway, the article, at some point, mentioned how some students become "disengaged" from law school, as if that's a bad thing or as if that leads to their unhappiness or increases it.
Something hit me with that. "Disengaged." Totally me. You know, this summer helped me a lot. Even though I didn't like my job, I ended up feeling happier than I've felt in a long time, and I knew that was because I was away from law school and because I'd met my friend Angel. And I think one of the reasons I really dreaded coming back here--to the point of nearly completely putting off getting my class schedule together and waiting until after everyone else had moved back to campus to come back myself, and so on--was because I feared that all the progress I'd made this summer in my demeanor would turn around...and it has. If I hadn't met Angel and we weren't e-mailing each other on a regular basis, then I think that right now I'd feel incredibly similar to how I felt last semester--super depressed.
But, in all honesty, I find my disengagement from school--i.e. skipped classes, not caring about the material, not having enough credits right now to possibly graduate at the end of next semester like I'm supposed to and all those kinds of things--to be a coping mechanism.
What does all this have to do with that queer class? Well, I thought that getting away from the law school and taking classes outside of this program would help. What this class has cleared up for me is I'm not solely disenchanted with law school. I'm fed up with school, period. I'm tired of academia. And I find myself wondering if attending a "less prestigious" school, perhaps where the kids aren't quite as nerdy and hyper-into the material, would have made a difference. I mean, because that's really what I'm tired of. I'm tired of being around people whom I need a dictionary or thesaurus, or have to think really hard, to understand them. I'm tired of reading assignments that are like that. I'm tired of people wanting to talk about ideas that relate to whatever their field of choice is incessantly.
And, you know, I don't want to be insulting towards people who have these passions and this intellect by calling them "nerds." I understand that what's really going on is I'm lost right now and don't have the passion for anything. I know that my greatest wish is to be somewhere on a deserted island, not thinking, not analyzing, not researching, not having intellectual discussions. I just want to be. Those works by famous GLBT writers of color seem so overrated to me right now. I'm not in the frame of mind to read works that are written the way they write them. I mean, Audre Lorde is okay...and they all make points that I agree with, when I have the strength to have the desire to even understand the points they are trying to make. But I'm just tired of this kind of stuff. I'm tired of reading stuff that goes as if these people feel a strong need to prove how intelligent they are when they write. Not saying Audre Lorde reads like that, and that's honestly one of the reasons why I can even say she's okay.
And you know what else about all this? I remember I wrote months ago somewhere in this blog that when it comes to issues of race and sexuality...I just, for whatever reason, care more about race than I do about sexual orientation. And I so feel that right now. And the works in this class always seem to bring up how some people "rank oppression" and there's this tone with it as if that's completely wrong. But I just don't think it can be helped, or that it's always done mindfully.
I remember writing in the post about animal rights activists that some people just have their issues that they care about over others. And that's me. And I thought about it last night, and I think that's because race has always mattered in my life but sexual orientation has almost never mattered in my life. These "I felt like something was wrong with me" sob stories are not mine, because my story is really different--I never felt like that, even when I was well aware that I liked a girl romantically and sexually. It has always been a non-issue for me, until the past couple years. Thus, issues surrounding sexuality are just not my passion. Of course, not much right now is my passion. I'm all out of passion, and I do think that is, in large part, thanks to law school. But if I had to say anything was of interest to me, it'd be race.
In this class, being that it's about queers of color, sure, we deal with race. I think the problems are, for me, that of 1) tell me something I don't already know, and 2) why can't you just write this in English? Don't tell figurative stories. Don't write poems. As bad as this may sound, don't intertwine your native language with English, especially if you're, in some sense, trying to educate "others." Don't use field-specific or academic words. I mean, you want "others" to understand you better, but you throw up all these road blocks along the way. Just spit it out and get right to it in a way that even the most lay layperson could get.
I think maybe I've simply been in school too long. I also know I have a bit of a free-spirited nature. And school is too controlling, especially considering that we're now in our 20s and 30s. They want to insist you attend class, assign you seats, force you to participate and all that junk. I'm tired of that, too. And it's like the more a professor begs us to come to class, the more class I miss. I'm rebellious like that all of a sudden.
Then there's the fact that I have this sneaky suspicion that the majority of the people in my class aren't queer. I certainly don't feel like the majority of them are "of color." And, yes, there is something very disappointing about both of those things. It's like you can't win for losing at white universities. You can't go anywhere and have the majority of the people who show up be minorities. Now. I realize that this is one of those times when race is playing tricks on me. I know that there are people in that class who "look white" but identify as some ethnic minority, such as Latino. Still, that's not comforting all the time, is it? Sometimes you want to look around and see other shades of brown besides yours. I don't get that from this class.
And there's always something irritating to me anytime you have people from the privileged group speaking "knowledgeably" about groups to which they don't belong, especially when the group is nearly composed of all privileged people--not to say that everyone is either privileged or they aren't; there's definite overlap, but go with me on this. Here, I'm not really talking about race/ethnicity so much as queerness. Either way, it's like you're having a discussion about people, saying what they're like and what they go through, and those people aren't even there. They aren't included. To me, there's something poignant about that. Just think--it's a white university, naturally, a hetero university. You're talking about the invisibility and the alienation of queers and minorities, and especially queer minorities. And look around--the fact that they aren't around just kind of proves the point, especially in a class that is about them.
Needless to say--and although this may disappoint some of you, because it further maintains invisibility and alienation--I am rather disengaged when it comes to this class, as well. And that's the thing. I am so disengaged that I can no longer care at all about how my actions or inactions affect the whole picture, i.e. serving to make blacks look lazy, unintelligent, or keeping black queers invisible. Not that I ever cared that much, but the thoughts do cross my mind sometimes when I'm, for example, doing my very nearly daily mental coaxing for why I need to get out of bed and head to class.
And I'm also tired of everywhere you go in academic environments, there's all this cliqueyness. Everybody knows everybody else, nobody makes the effort with the ones they don't know. And when you're as disengaged as I am, you're not going to make the effort with those cliquey people. Like I said, mentally, I'm on my own island far away from school. Since I'm far from the only person in law school--even my law school--who is like this, I suggested to a friend that this should be an organization at our school. Those of us who are just not feeling this should identify each other and get together. Eff all that cliqueyness. Eff all the nerdy convos and the "what are you doing after graduation"s and crap. Let's get together and talk about nonsense and pretend we're a lot less intelligent than we actually are.
I need well-roundedness and balance in my life, and that is what I'm not getting--and that's what makes me fight for it by disengaging myself. Those people in the program that the queer minorities class is offered in are even more hardcore than the law students, too, it seems. So there's no escaping around here. There's like this really big shift, it seems, between the way students are in undergrad and the way they are in grad school. And for a lot of these people, they went straight through. So what the hell happened?!