Tamar Carroll and I are cousins-through-shared-cousins, which means I’ve spent roughly 1/4th of my holidays growing up (about half of the gatherings on my father’s side) with her. Between the combination of a significant-enough age difference that always affects interactions with the ‘once-removeds’, geographical distance, and an almost diametrically opposite upbringing, I had never considered that we had much in common.
I am sorry for that perceived and assumptive brush-off, Tamar.
We both published a book within a year of each other, and I still considered us at somewhat ‘opposite ends’ – her book being based on ‘real’ education and mine only on ‘opinion’ (we all understand the significance of that, and I admit it).
With the normal expansion (and division, in some cases) of families, I began to see less and less of her. Then we became ‘Facebook friends’ (still a funny term to me). I ‘see’ her regularly now; more than when we saw each other at family gatherings.
We are both adults, she is married and I once was, and we are both parents. As expected, the age gap that seemed so divisive long ago has declined with age and commonalities became more … well, common.
I (finally) began to notice things, like specific-subject-matter posts she put up, and her likes/comments on certain posts of mine – and I began to see a resemblance between us, and our way of thinking.
So, I went to Amazon and looked up her book –
and realized I was a complete idiot.
First of all, it was not some lofty, over-your-head thesis type, written only for the well-educated to debate at dressy cocktail parties, laughing while barely opening their mouths.
Again, I’m sorry for my assumptions – all of them.
Secondly – and this was the biggest kick in the pants – her book is about ‘community’ activism, the affecting of change, the banding together of groups usually marginalized, AND how they are all intertwined.
Isn’t that what I write (preach) about, in my own way, in my own words? About separation and pre-supposition? About pervasive attitudes and ignorance of the scope of their reach?
And I missed this in her? Because of my own ‘programming’ that seeps into my thoughts and actions?
This means that as much as I talk about fixing certain problems, I am still an active part of them.
The first step is admission. To be able to admit I’ve done something wrong or negative, I have to be well enough away from it to view it from the outside. Now, any assumptions I make are not ‘habit’ but choice, because I’m aware I make them.
This also validates points that she and I both touch on in our writing: how ingrained our ‘learned’ behavior is, the un-awareness of the full scope and pervasiveness of certain issues, and the ties between them. It is all connected. We are all connected.
Now, this ‘young grasshopper’ has learned – yet again – that with all she has learned, she still has so much more to learn.
Thank you for the lesson, Professor.
Purchase her book here: Mobilizing New York: Aids, Antipoverty, and Feminist Activism (Gender and American Culture) by Tamar W. Carroll
From the back cover: “Carroll contends that social policies that encourage the political mobilization of marginalized groups and foster coalitions across identity differences are the most effective means of solving social problems and realizing democracy.”
From the Preface: “… I began to doubt prevailing assumptions that a strong group identity is likely a barrier to social movement building, and I wanted to learn more about how [these] coalitions maneuvered within the difficult terrain of identity and power.”