The events of this year have me frustrated. I am a millennial, but before you tell me to suck it up and do something about it instead of whining, hear me out.
In the past two years I have not only moved to college and tried to figure out what to do with my life, something that I am still struggling with, but I have also been through my first major election, became an RA, and even participated in my first march for equality. Because of these events, I have gained an increasing awareness of the oppression that still exists in the world against all people who are not cisgendered white males above the age of 50 with a home and a job that pays for their living expenses.
Because of my increased awareness, my discontent with the way things are has risen as well. As a millennial, I am frustrated. As a woman, I am frustrated. As a person of color, I am frustrated. As a person who identifies as bisexual, I am frustrated. And, as a person who knows what it is like to grow up in a state of near homelessness, I am frustrated.
Being a millennial, I am frustrated because, even though I have tried my hardest to fight for what I believe in these past two years, no one seems to want to listen. I do not feel like I have affected the change that I set out to do when I entered college, and as a result, I feel like a failure. Given my current feelings, it should be understandable that whenever I see posts on Facebook about how millennials need to quit whining and try harder, I cannot help but to get angry. All we have done is try. We never stop trying to make the world we will inherit a better place. But it is the rich, white, over-50, cis male that seems to call all the shots. Thanks to those who hold any real power, millennial protests go unheard and ultimately we are told to stop whining and try harder even when our hands and feet are tired and calloused from all that we are doing.
Being a woman, I am frustrated because my opinion seems to be invalid. My voice seems to be too quiet for anyone to care to hear me. No man in power wants the opinion of a woman because he doesn’t want to be out-smarted, out-shouted and generally out-done by one. Women are shoved aside and told to sit pretty and be quiet, to only be things to lust after, to be sex objects rather than an actual person. If you believe that this is not true then please explain to me how Brock Turner only got three months in jail for raping a woman even after there were two witnesses and so much evidence stacked against him. If this is not true then tell me how men like Brock, who live across the country and seem to have no chance of going free, get turned away from the doors of justice just because a male judge “has a heart and wants to see the man succeed in his future.”
Being a person of color, I am frustrated. I am frustrated because whenever I try to share my story of oppression I am shut down. I find that I am constantly talked over as people try to understand my story and then, whether they have the facts or not, insist on telling it for me to their fellow white friends. I am not frustrated that you want to understand what is going on from my perspective, I am frustrated because you refuse to let me tell it as if I am incapable of relaying my own experiences. Let me talk. Let my voice be heard. Let me captivate an audience with the facts. If you are constantly talking for me then I will never have the chance to teach people that what is happening is real and valid. After all, when you don’t hear a story from the person it happened to, it sounds like a fable, a dream that disappears in the morning.
Being someone who identifies as a member of the LGBTQ+ community, I am frustrated. I am frustrated because even though I have seen my fellow LGBTQ+ friends and I fight for equality, our efforts are constantly being undercut by those who “do not approve” of our actions. I am frustrated because we are humans and inhabitants of this world as well and as such, being a citizen of the United States is supposed to ensure us the inalienable right to life, liberty, and happiness guaranteed by the Declaration of Independence. But apparently this doesn’t apply to us. Why is it so hard for you to see that our definition of happiness just happens to be different than yours? Why can’t you see that even though we might like someone of the same sex, identify as someone of a different sex, or identify as a different gender, we are all still human? We are all still Americans.
Finally, being someone who has lived their whole life below the poverty line and just escaping homelessness, I am frustrated. I am frustrated because no one seems to care about the mothers and fathers who are doing their best to provide for themselves and their children but are just not cutting it. I am frustrated because everyone seems to want to blame these families’ personal poverty as their own fault when in reality they are working two or three jobs just to make sure there is enough money to put food on the table. And those government-funded programs like EBT, SNAP and Social Security that everyone likes to bash? We need those to survive because large corporations would rather pay a person next to nothing, forcing them to live in horrible conditions, so that they can line their own pockets. For a good portion of my life I know for a fact that even though my mom was doing her best to put food on the table, if we didn’t have any of those programs we would have been shelter hopping. Poverty is a fact of life for 564,708 Americans (according to endhomelessness.org, and these are just the ones that they were able to count) and sometimes all you do can never be enough. Why can’t you understand that?
I am not sharing my story so that you can pity me. I don’t want or require being pitied. What I want is a change of thinking. What I want is action. We are all humans and we are all, in our own ways, facing many struggles at different points in our lives. Some of us who come from a more privileged point of view may not see the same struggles as a black person, as a homeless person, as a disabled person. And the list goes on.
What I have written is not a comprehensive list of all the problems facing every oppressed person in America. No one person can tell you all the problems of a whole people. There are too many diverse ways of moving through life. So take this list for what it is, a list of one person’s way of viewing the world.
As you move forward through your day, I hope you don’t forget this article. I hope that this article does not get pushed aside on your coffee table, and I hope that I have made you think. I expect that I have created some cognitive dissonance with how you view your world, but I hope that you remember all the disadvantaged people who you will affect with your daily actions and word choices. We do not live in a vacuum where your decisions affect only yourself. Rather we live in a continually changing and interactive world where everything you do affects someone else. Remember that.