How I’m Learning to Fall Back in Love with my Scars


I heard the click of the bic lighter, a sound I would later come to pretend to love and then I saw the flames.

It’s one of those cute stories I used to tell. That time I put a fire in a diaper out. At first I forgot about the lighter. I blamed it on a faulty furnace. I forgot where the burn scars came from, scars that only some of my more observant lovers would notice. They are actually all over my body and I remember now how I treated them myself. A cold shower flushed the plastic down the drain, but the scars remained.

I issued excuses, and then covered those up. It’s all a series of elaborate lies. I could lie so easily, my intelligence and respectability, my pale skin acting as a kind of alibi only I would ever have to live with.

Now it’s all of you who will need the alibis.

Only once did they ever ask questions, my body seems to know how to hide. My body knows how dangerous the truth can be, maybe that’s why I’d fall in love with the truth later as an adult. Maybe that’s why I went looking for it.

And so here I am today, thinking about how best to cover up defensive wounds on my wrist from that Christmas they tried to kill me. I remember how they got there now and I used to be grateful only those with the right background could see they weren’t self inflicted. Pretty clear defensive wounds, kids. I wasn’t kidding about some of my skill sets. I got them from the father in died in prison for selling the same drugs you are now all entrepreneurs for selling.

I lied because I had no choice and you can call that convenient but I know my brain is magic because the truth only came when it started to be safe. All right, I lied again. It came a little sooner than I would have liked but that’s the way my brain handles things. I’m not in control of it and that has turned out to be the greatest miracle of all.

Or so I thought.

Then I got reminded how much pain my scars could cause.

I could lie but the truth should be obvious now. I can play CSI on myself. I change the subject and pretend to be normal. Do the scars or the Stanford degrees come first?

No one seems able to process both.

So from now on you’ll have to listen to those stories about each scar because each and every single one of them is proof that I belonged at Stanford in the first place.

You did extracurriculars. I survived murder attempts and rape.

I’m not going to apologize for that. I won’t be backing down or lying anymore. I’m here because my own brilliance saved me from multuple attempts on my life.

My ability to get back up and laugh after rapes can be called madness all you like but it’s also why I’m an unstoppable force. I refuse to apologize for that either.

I’m going to stop apologizing for my pain. I’m going to start falling back in love with my scars. I know who I am and I’m not going to be told what to hide anymore. Choose to deal with it or don’t. I can’t help you there.

But if you want to know how to survive, how to thrive even, when everyone around you is mad enough to light babies on fire, I’m your girl.

The answer to the question of how I’ve survived seems to be jokes, music and love. Little acts of kindness made by people who didn’t have the power, fallen soldiers in a war we lost before I was even born. I got conscripted before I even had a choice, like my ancestors before never, going further back than I even know. We come by our stubbornness honestly, because what other choice is there? They said give me liberty or give me death, and too many people weren’t given the choice at all. I’ve always been more of a lover but that’s a weapon too when the whole world wants war and the struggle is against anger, pain and hate. They called me stubborn, and I call that still being alive. That stubbornness was all passed down from ancestors who survived long enough to keep me alive.

My body is all the more beautiful because it has been marked by monsters that fell long before they could take me with them and I’m going to fall back in love with it even when no one else can handle it.

It’s not my concern anymore whether or not it hurts you because maybe you need to know discomfort. There is beauty in this kind of madness. I wonder sometimes how much beauty the rest miss out on because they are so afraid of being anything other than normal.

But I can’t make you see what is patently obvious to me.

This is centuries of the human condition. I wasn’t the first fire. I won’t be the last one sold. This isn’t an unfamiliar story, it’s just one that never gets told.

I’m almost bored by it these days. It makes you forget your social graces.

“Oh shit, was it just inappropriate to mention the murders I witnessed. My bad.”

That’s my mundane.

And I’m not sorry about it.

And the reason I’m not sorry is because despite this, I’m still standing, and laughing my ass off at this whole charade.

That’s a choice.

It’s always a choice you have.

So make that choice like your life and the lives of everyone depends on it.

Those scars, they aren’t going anywhere but if they remind you to love they are beautiful, and you should demand love for them.


Actually Teaching Racism to White People is Kind of Like Teaching Anything to Anyone: Hard as Fuck. Here is Some help from ACTUAL Educators.

I’ve been seeing posts about how hard it is to teach racism to white people.
And I just want to validate this: teaching is really hard. Teaching racism is just as hard as teaching anything else, though I’ll take it over teaching math, which is why I was a history teacher and not a math teacher.
There is actually A LOT of great anti-racism curriculum out that has been made. Unsurprisingly, it has been made through churches, small state and private schools that normally don’t get attention, and private organizations that don’t get the backing from big names like Stanford. Here are just four who have resources online which are available to you, IF you CHOOSE to do this work. No one HAS to.
It is a choice and it is work. If you are truly interested in learning about how to teach anti-racist curriculum to white people, I’m always happy to be a resource or direct you to resources. I have watched MANY people across disciplines do this work successfully.
We all understand that it is extra hard to teach adults. Some things calcify overtime and adults are less inclined to sit through lessons given by other adults. The people who choose to do that work are special angels. If that is beyond you, that is ok! Focus on the kids. Try to remember that children are what they are taught and that there is nothing inherent to racism. Children need all the mentors who will tell them the truth that they can get.
Here are those resources (and a big ups to the many grassroots organizers and unsung heroes of the people that put these together, that was work too!)
1) Howard Zinn, the writer of A People’s History of the United States, got his start with SNCC as one of the curriculum designers for Freedom Summer. Before he died, he and his students and disciples started putting that work together and expanding his curriculum. Those resources are here.
2) If you are more interested in teaching through art, Barnard has it’s own curriculum for that. It is pretty comprehensive and has clear lesson plans. A rare blessing indeed. You can find their work here.
3) I’m personally extremely partial to the work done by Teaching for Change. Their resources and readings are some of the best I’ve seen and though they don’t have lesson plans yet, I worked with A LOT of their curriculum and would be happy to share that with anyone because I am a dirty socialist who doesn’t care about getting credit for my work. Their book is beautiful, and they are backed by a lot of really important thinkers around these issues. You can start here.
4) I wanted to find a faith-based organization for those working in more rural and religious areas. Christianity and Catholicism both have deep strands in their ideology that are anti-racist. Christian and Catholic leaders have both been at the forefront of fighting against other people who would claim to do these things in their lord’s name. If you aren’t sure how to put anti-racist curriculum into terms the religious might understand, I suggest that you look for a progressive religious leader in your area. I’m also happy to help with this, because even though I am an atheist, I was fortunate to be surrounded by that strand of Christianity throughout my life. Fortunately, some resources are already online for this work, here is one example.
I hope the comforting news in the midst of what must look like a mountain of work is twofold:
1) There ARE resources and help available and you are not alone in this struggle. You are not new to it and there are people doing this work successfully, even if you don’t know their names.
2) This country already has the basis to convince people not to be racist, we just need to get better at making those arguments.
Which isn’t to say that you will successfully reach everyone, every time. Some people will be too angry to learn. Some will be too hungry to learn. Some will just be enormous douchebags you can’t control, but if all of us are trying our best we’ll make some progress.
That’s how ideological change happens.
That’s how you change hearts and minds.
And remember that if you were lucky enough to encounter anti-racist curriculum in your school experience, that someone had to go through a lot to put it in front of you. Be grateful, and pay it forward.
All my anti-racist teachers deserve a medal and a parade. And ain’t none of them have asked for one.

Stop Letting the College Kids Be in Charge


I got dragged into meetings a lot while I was in college, because if you are really a threat to the status quo, people will try to change your behavior. Fortunately for me, people took the time to help me develop, so as irritating as these meetings were, occasionally I learned something important from attending them.

I was talking to one of the university administrators that dealt with diversity issues and who was also queer identified. Complaining about my classmates and the enormously awful things they used to say in class This isn’t mild microagression stuff where people were being vague in their bigotry either, this is stuff like, “poor people deserve to go to war more often because they are better at killing. ” And stuff like, “don’t you just hate everyone in your neighborhood because they are like, trash, and you aren’t.”I mean, don’t get me wrong, I got the milder stuff too. Except when people asked me where I was from, they were sometimes black. The world was dark for the most outspoken, strongly self-identified working class activist on campus.

But the administration team had high expectations for me, and so they said, “honestly, Heather, a lot of this has to do with your age. Your classmates are still learning. So are you.”

Boy was that administrator right.


You know how radical the current crop of college activists is? Yeah, well, add some actual well-read Marxism, some righteous anger about having been poor and abused, and the influence of punk rock. I probably had a conduct disorder, but I was at Stanford anyway. And I drank, like a fish, to cope. So a typical Friday night involved me making my classmates cry about how privileged they were for sport. All the kids coming up after me who think they do this now are just pretenders.

I talked about incest at actual dinner parties. Freshman year, I made one of my male classmates hate me forever when I made a public performance of my personal protest about his having the Latina girls in my dorm do laundry. I made people break down in class, often. Men feared me, and some would go to parties just to see what crazy stuff they could get me to say.

And I was pissed about really valid shit. Don’t get me wrong or mistake what I am trying to say. I was right to be angry about classism, about sexual violence, racism and I was right to hate everything about that culture. But I had no idea how to express that anger in a constructive way, and I was too angry to see anyone else’s pain even when it was obviously there.

This was partially a function of my age. At 19, no matter how smart you are, or how much life experience you have, or even how talented an activist you are, there are certain things you just don’t know that you still need to learn.

One of those things, impulse control which (as evidenced by the professor that just got beaten by her own students) is a challenge that developmentally comes with time. Another thing is how to not follow a crowd, or not act like a complete asshole just because everyone else is doing it. I learned that one much younger than most, but others tell me that ideally children are supposed to learn that sometime before college. Based on the behavior of the college students who keep having struggle sessions against other marginalized people, this is clearly not a skill many of our college students (who to be honest are almost entirely rich and middle class) currently possess. No one who is getting lectures should be giving lectures.

I was part of the founding team of folks who were working on class and first gen issues. My work at 19 can be traced to the existence of first gen offices and the resurgence of class identity on college campuses. I’m damn proud of what I accomplished as a dumb kid, and my resume is far more stacked than most of the kids that are operating now.

BUT EVEN WITH ALL THAT, I can promise you that I am grateful everyday that an administrator or professor at Stanford encouraged me while keeping my voice on campus.

Freedom Summer participants weren’t given the control over their movements either. They operated, with extensive training, under the direction of activists like Bob Moses and Fannie Lou Hamer. And, frankly, I believe that the entire Civil Right’s movement of the 60s, pretty much got off the rails the minute the rich kids got back to their campuses and started treating activism like a popularity contest and rock concert.

That’s who I blame for the failures of the 60s and so does most of the rest of the country.

The elite college grads don’t have a great track record overseas either: the entire Cultural Revolution can be traced to largely the same phenomena.

Don’t get me wrong, we need their voices and we need their work. And they need to be trained during these years, but I think they’ve demonstrated that they can’t be IN CHARGE OF SETTING THE AGENDA and making the final call about tactics anymore. No one gave me that power at 19 and I had very serious problems, like PTSD, to discuss. I’m not sure why we are allowing them to set the agenda now.

What I am even more grateful for, is that I was raised with an ethos that you respect your elders.

These college kids think they know better than the people who have been doing it longer than them. And here’s the thing, those people are just as smart as them but have more experience, which makes them MORE QUALIFIED TO BE IN CHARGE. The fact that the college kids can’t recognize that makes me worry about the future.

Being in charge is a real and painful responsibility. I know because I never had a childhood, and I’ve been appointed a leader in my community for longer than I can remember.

It is hard. And if it is fun, you are doing it wrong. The responsibility and the the enormity of the task should haunt you.

Playtime is over when lives are at stake, and since I saved my brother from a fire when I was four, I’ve been keenly aware of that responsibility. So it worries me whenever someone wants to be in charge, but what worries me even more is when people lack the self reflection to even recognize when they shouldn’t be in charge.

One of the best classroom teachers I’ve ever met once said to me that the difference between a good teacher and a great teacher was the process of self reflection. We have to instill the belief that people should examine themselves.

All day, everyday.

Not scream about how mean people are when they point out that your tactics are likely to backfire during planning discussions where we are supposed to be professionals who care about others and serving the masses.

But I’ve also been loved by elders, and there’s something special about the people who DON’T HAVE to take an interest in you, who don’t have to deal with your incredibly shitty attitude, and who take aside the time to save you. I’ve got tons of those, and I learned from them.

They taught me that I was no smarter than prostitutes, or my grandparents or my teachers. They taught me that even if I was, I still had things to learn. They taught me about when grown folks was talking and in the process taught me how to be a grown folk.

At 19, I would have been a BAD LEADER for a national movement. I would have been mostly because my rage was still uncontrolled, but also because there are a lot of things that come with life experience. I have gained a lot of empathy and ways of speaking in the last few years just from my relationship with my husband. The fact that I fell so in love with someone with such a different background changed everything about how I approach my work. The fact that I’m now married has forced me to accept responsibility and maturity in a way I otherwise wouldn’t have. Pre-married Heather was likely to light some fires and go out like a crazy person when Trump got elected. Married Heather has responsibilities and has to plan better.

I was a much worse activist before I became a teacher, and I wouldn’t be half the teacher I am if not for the mentoring and wisdom of an veritable army of older men and women who guided me through that process. And I know this because I’ve had the time and distance to reflect on my actions and behaviors. 19 year old Heather was not this smart, reflective and mature, and 19 year old Heather was arguably one of the most qualified college students of that time to be leading a movement.

So here is my plea to the adults: Let’s stop pretending we don’t know this is true because we are afraid of discouraging people. Anyone who is unwilling to put the work in, and listen to other people or reflect on their behavior does not have leadership qualities in the first place.

Anyone who resorts to physical violence or emotional bullying hasn’t learned how to behave like a grown up. They’ve demonstrated that they are not developmentally ready for the task.

Real leaders can control their behavior. These should be baseline qualifications for who gets mentored and handed the microphone. Even Malala had her dad, and Malala has yet to see her best work. I can basically guarantee that.

College is a special time and place, and I’m so grateful that I had the opportunity to argue, debate, and learn from my classmates. I’m a better speaker, writer, and activist because of every white boy who was willing to engage me and learn from me, and I think most of them would say they are better at what they do because of their friendship with me (unless they were traumatized by what I did to them in which case, I’m sorry, I was young).


They were people when they were learning in college, and as awkward as it was to be invited to lunch to talk about my childhood like a token, I’m happy about every lunch I went on. Either they learned something or I learned how to talk to people better. If all of our activists behaved this way, it’d be a lot easier to push an anti-racist, pro-working class and feminist agenda.

So here is my plea: stop treating this struggle like it can be run by a bunch of self-contained and disconnected brats who have no life experience.

There are people who are really truly suffering who need our help and these college kids need to be trained before they are useful. No one should be leading on a national level without some frontline service work behind them. They should have some actual success and the demonstrated commitment to the cause of the suffering of all before they are given a national platform to operate. They need to learn how to do research, and care for kids, and show up and take down chairs, and sweep floors before they can make themselves useful to any of the people they claim to serve.

They need to know what it is to serve.

They need to know who the masses are.

They need to not put their issues at the center of the struggles for people more marginalized than them.

They should be able to recognize those people without their professor’s checklist for what the marginalized are (First of all, most of the professors can’t remember either because they haven’t seen the masses in a long time, but secondly, the word oppressed has meaning and they should be able to recognize it independently without help before the training wheels come off).

The fact is, we aren’t even serving them when we give them as much power as we have over the last few years. We should all be ashamed of ourselves. The adults fucked up real bad by abdicating their responsibility in the name of self esteem.

And like adults, we should roll our sleeves up and get to work.

It’s already too late.

Because Trump is President and the left lost so badly, they still are trying to develop amnesia about it.

But the conservatives may be in power a long time, so the time to be forgetful is over.

Now is only the time to plan and to sweep and to teach.

Some of you must remember what that’s like?

You sure remembered it in my case.

And for that, I am grateful.

My First Rally


I remember the first rally I was involved in planning quite clearly, though I never talked about it until now. The reason I never talked about it is because I don’t really consider it a big deal and I don’t really think of it as mine. This was a community victory, that I was proud to be part of, and I didn’t feel the need to bring it up until I kept having other leftists tell me who was in my community. You see, according to the left, white people and black people always live apart, never intermarry and apparently never go to school together before college. This was news to me and if you had told me this when I was a child I would have laughed in your face. When I tried to laugh in the left’s face for the same offense, I got called racist and then told to shut up. Because clearly the goal of the left is to end racism by stopping poor whites from suggesting that they live with, love, and feel a part of the black community. That’s obviously a problem worth fighting. Still, I didn’t want to bring these inconvenient facts about my upbringing up because I was trying to keep my mouth shut for the good of the group. But because the left went and got Trump elected and have clearly demonstrated that they have NO IDEA what they are doing, I’ve decided to stop doubting myself and explain to you why I think this whole idea is complete bullshit.


I grew up in a black community. The whole time. I have black family members and neighbors. I love them. And if you try to do anything to them, I will fighting cut you the same way they promised to cut people for me when I was a 15 year old girl and the other white girls at my high school were threatening to jump me and the black girls told them that if they came for me, they’d better come for them too.I have not forgotten who I still owe. And I owe the black community a lot. They have been my home and my shelter even when I was cast out from my actual family. And then I got to college and this curious thing happened and people kept telling me that I hated black people. This was extremely confusing, because my first thought was, “why the fuck would I hate my own people?”


You see, the idea that we are somehow separate was not mine and I know this for a fact because I remember the community I was raised in. I went to high school with the children of actual Black Panthers and the real grassroots folks of Civil Rights. They were vets, factory laborers, and yes, hookers and drug dealers too (if you are judging right now, you have the problem, people need to feed their kids). Though you certainly could not tell who’s parents held what job by their race (that’s right kids, trafficking can happen to anyone even white girls who went to Stanford!). I don’t remember EVER being in the racial majority in school and I don’t remember ever being that upset about it. It never really seemed strange because these were my neighbors and friends. We grew up together. We got in fights. We fell in love. We died beside each other in battlefields. We were married into each others’ families. The very first question everyone asks me when they visit Stanford for the first time is, “why are there so few interracial couples?” And maybe this world isn’t yours. Maybe that’s not in your sociology books or it doesn’t reflect your lived experience. I don’t know, but it is mine, and I’m proud of it and I’m sick of apologizing for it. We did some beautiful things in this world.


When I was 14, I had just been elected class president. In February, it was brought to my attention by my people that our school, despite being majority black, didn’t have a Black History Month Rally. We found that rather egregious, so in addition to the normal basketball homecoming festivities, we decided it was time for our school to represent basic reality. Although I helped plan the basic logistics of that rally, I had very little to do with it day of, and in fact sat in the audience. Instead, I handed the microphone to my good friend who gave what I still consider the best spoken word piece ever written outside the Civil Right’s era and then the black community ushered in their own traditions because it was THEIR show.

I’m not here to change that. Black people have their own histories and struggles and pain, and some of that struggle has been in common. Some of those issues we can fight together on, but no movement for justice in this country can happen without black leadership. I know this, everyone who truly does this work for any period of time knows this. If given power, the first thing I will do is hand over the mic to my black friends, family members, community leaders and activists LIKE I HAVE SINCE I WAS 14.

When they tell you that WE HAVE TO BE separate, know that is their game. Know that it has taken an army of subversive poor white folks who have believed that we can love each other to get me to this point. We don’t have to let the likes of Steve Bannon and Richard Spencer speak for us. First of all, they ain’t working class and secondly, they don’t know our people. And if they so much as look at my community the wrong way, they aren’t going to have to worry about sucker punches. I don’t sucker punch. I bare knuckle box because I was raised right by a community that loved me, and by a community that was majority black. There ain’t nothing those racist pieces of shit can do to me to make me forget that and don’t for a second think they haven’t tried.  Know that I also know it has taken an army of subversive black folks who have also believed in love to get me to this point too. They all paid the price for it. And I know who I owe and who I serve.

Sorry Not Sorry that I am Harping on the Disenfranchisement and Death of People

Have had multiple left-leaning activists try to silence me, since it seems it will continue and I have more important things to do, I’d thought I’d make some general statements so that you all will step your game up and at least make it  interesting for me.

The following are pretty representative of the kind of messages I get on the regular.

“I’m not trying to shut you up but I don’t understand why you harping about class so much, aren’t there more important things?”

“Aren’t you engaged in class warfare?”

“I think poor white people should just stop whining”

“We understand you are emotional right now, should you be writing this stuff?”

“Most people already understand this stuff, do you need to keep talking about it?”


Here is my response:

        1) I’m not just trying to reach the people you think are worthy of speaking to, and that construction is so elitist, I suggest you reflect on it for a while.

         2) I’m “harping” on it because I am still seeing Establishment elites making that claim and the problem with that claim (AS I HAVE MADE CLEAR THROUGHOUT MY WRITING) is that it lets the rich have a scapegoat and lets them off the hook for what they did to us. It also provides the left with a nice bit of schadenfreude when they see Trump fucking over the poor, which makes them feel like they don’t have to actually help those people, even though those people are dying. I know this because I’ve seen them post a bunch of times about how funny it is that we will suffer under Trump, and they continue to do so. I explain all of this in these posts.

         3)  If you REALLY cared about bringing socialism to the people you’d spend your time doing what I do, which is trying to help poor whites understand that they are ALSO oppressed and need to work with their families and neighbors to challenge the power structure. The fact that you self identify as a leftist but don’t get why that matters suggests to me that maybe you should be spending some more time learning from me and reading and a little less time gaslighting me and wasting my time. And I will add that NONE of you has been a more successful activist than me, so I’m not sure why so many people assume they have the right to tell me what to do.  I don’t try to go around bragging about my accomplishments because it wasn’t how I was raised, but I challenge you to find someone our age on the left that has done more work to successfully challenge the power structure. Maybe instead of lecturing the person who made it possible to talk about class on elite campuses, and the person who demonstrated the ability to close the achievement gap with culturally relevant pedagogy, and the one person that came from the poor that also has the research and analytical abilities to lay this all out, you should try to learn from me. You know why I’m not a household name? I was so surgical with stuff at Stanford that no one even knew what I did until they started researching my work years later. If you graduated any time after 2006, and you are first generation or low income at an elite institution, there is one direct line you can trace back to the supports you have now. And like all the roads in Rome they lead to one bad bitch. The reason you don’t know this is because I do my work to empower others and get stuff done, not to be cool on social media. Still don’t believe me? Go say my maiden name on the Stanford campus to any administrator that was there between 2006-210. My actual students will happily vouch for the rest. So please stop telling me what to do, unless you are, I dunno, Pope Francis or something.
               4) I’m a big girl and I’ll decide what is worth my time, if the left doesn’t like it I guess they can try a little harder to silence me, because these bullshit little messages that attempt to guilt me aren’t working. You want to actually help the poor? Then maybe you should be doing something worth your time, and actually help us when we speak instead of telling me how to talk.
            5) I’m talking about this because the media narrative matters and it matters that we have evidence. For many years, rich people have heard what I said and denied it with the words, “but you don’t have evidence.” Considering that we are talking about the death and disenfranchisement of people, I’d say that’s a pretty distasteful response. Now I have the evidence and they can’t deny it on empirical grounds so what do they do instead. They gaslight me and then try to co-opt me by turning my focus elsewhere. One wonders what could possibly be more important than getting to vote and not dying, but let’s talk about what a dick Trevor Noah is instead.
       6) I’m glad you have finally come to understand my value in solving other problems, perhaps if you had made such an offer sooner and had offered me math and science classes in high school that co-option strategy might have worked. Unfortunately, we are far past that point and I’ll write about whatever I want. Because the day that Trump got elected on your watch was the day a new sheriff came to town and she is a harpy cunt who doesn’t care what you think.


     In the efforts to gaslight me, some have asked if I am stressed. OF COURSE I’m stressed, I’m a human being and not a robot. You’d be stressed too if you were trying to do all this stuff with what is going on in the world. But let me tell you something else, I’ve always been stressed. The last nine months were the first time I experienced life that wasn’t stressful. So I’ve been stressed the whole time and you know what? I’ve managed to accomplish quite a lot in that time.
        You don’t think I was stressed when my 3 grandparents died my senior year and I still managed to get FLIP off the ground, put on a theatrical production, graduate with a high GPA and speak at a pro-immigration rally? That was pretty stressful. Going to school hungry as a kid after having not slept so I could protect my body was pretty stressful too.  Closing the achievement gap and teaching anti-racist pedagogy at a title one school while my body literally fell apart was also stressful. I’ve been stressed and I’ve still managed to do lots of things very successfully. So if you are really concerned about my stress you will fight with me to change those things because no one should ever have to be under the stress I’m under and then have to contend with the feelings of the people who supposed to helping her on top of it.
       I posted this knowing there would be social costs for a reason. One, I wanted you all to finally see the kinds of messages I receive on a near daily basis. The left has gotten away with doing these things because I have taken their bullshit for the team, but it has become quite clear to me that they don’t care about the team at all and that they don’t deserve to be in charge. I kept silent about the voting suppression that happened in the primaries during the general election at the request of other leftists. I’ve been quiet about class because other leftists told me I was racist otherwise. I have kept my mouth shut about the sexual harassment and abuse that left leaning partners and classmates have done to me over the years to help keep the team together. I’m not doing it anymore, I’m not backing down and I’m not shutting up.
          Someone complained that I don’t provide actionable solutions, so I’d like to take the time to re-state some possible solutions that are a better use of your time than telling me how to talk.
1) Feeding the homeless
2) Learning from the homeless, from the poor, from women, from Black people, first nations, and queer people
3) Elevating those voices by promoting them where and when you can and that includes social media but also at the dinner table
4) Spreading and shouting the truth and learning to be open to criticism
5) Reading
7) Reading to illiterate adults and kids
8) Calling the women in your life to telling them you value and love them and will fight Trump’s assault on them
9) Supporting progressive businesses with your money
10) Helping to organize unions
11) Helping to organize the working classes and giving them the opportunity to be read and heard.
12) Getting involved in local civic organizations
13) Learning about local politics and becoming engaged in them
14) Talking to vets and listening to them, then lobbying your politicians to meet their needs
15) Organizing or participating in boycotts
16) Focusing on raising your kids to be better people and to be strong enough people to make the world better than the one we are giving them
17) Volunteer in classrooms, help teachers with the grunt work of teaching, advocate for higher pay
18) Demanding affordable housing
19) Fighting for paid leave for all
20) Working to change male culture so that we have healthy masculinity and men worthy of the title “American.”


                You don’t get to kill and exploit us and then tell us when we can talk about it. My friends don’t treat me this way and I don’t care about your opinion. If you want to be down for the struggle ahead and you aren’t already on the team or poor, you are going to have to do A LOT of work to prove yourself to me and my people. I don’t trust you and I don’t know why you think you deserve it. You’ve been drunk at the wheel for years and I learned that you can’t trust delusional alcoholics to act like adults. I suggest that you recognize how effective it is for you to keep talking and shut up until you are ready to help us.

Blame Trump on the Rich, Part 5: Los Angeles, the City of Angels and Very Fashionable Devils



The Establishment has forcefully pushed the explanation that Clinton lost due the fact that “working class whites” voted for Trump because they are racist. I was surprised to hear this theory, because as a poor white person, I know that the rich always vote for Republicans and the poor have very consistently voted for Democrats. This holds in exit poll data back into 1984 (we’ll talk about the income data and exit polls in general in a separate post, but that data can be found here). This year, Clinton only won those making 50,000 a year, while losing the other income groups.


Some have noticed that Trump won more uneducated voters, and called these people working class. This seems strange for two reasons

  1. Trump also won the educated white vote.
  2. Only 30 percent of the country has a BA and BA’s are no guarantee of social status in a country where there is limited social mobility

More detailed contextual information is here. After seeing these arguments, it was suggested that Clinton won the cities, where the poor are assumed to be nonwhite (there are in fact, poor whites in urban areas, I used to be one), while Trump won rural, white voters living in poverty. This theory will be deconstructed by looking at the precinct by precinct data. That data, which goes beyond exit polls to actual vote totals,  can be found using this link. Please subscribe to the LA Times for being kind enough to make big data accessible to everyone.

Los Angeles, The City of Angels and Very Fashionable Devils

I’ve been very fortunate to have been offered the opportunity to teach a group of wonderful freshman to see what consultants apparently can’t see. I’ll be teaching at a small school in Downtown Los Angeles. The class I’m teaching is majority English Language Learner and mostly low income. I’ll share more information about the school after I reflect on the lesson, but let’s take a look at their precinct and the communities that voted for Trump in Los Angeles.

Here’s what the map looks like for the regions close to the school I’ll be working at.


Gee, you think that’s a trailor park in the Hollywood Hills? MUST BE!

Now, as you can see, the area I’ll be teaching in went deep Clinton. This is no surprise given the diversity and poverty of that area. It’s 85 percent Latino, and has the one of the lowest educational attainment records in the city. It is also disproportionately young and poor.

But what might surprise some, is that out in the Hollywood Hills, there is a little enclave of Trump supporters who are apparently very angry about manufacturing or something. I’m not really sure, they still haven’t been able to accurately capture the anger of poor white people in any publication, so I guess we’ll never know.

I’m just kidding, of course. Let’s take a look at that map a little closer.


Yeah, it’s the houses next to the Country Club. A satirist couldn’t make this funnier

Hm… that’s odd, do you think they allow trailor parks next to Country Clubs? Let’s see what houses sell for there. I’ll save you the time, it’s 23 million. How much did Trump win by there? 54 percent of the vote, with a larger turnout than the poor section too. For more information about this area, check out this lovely tourist information. It’s ok, you aren’t the only one who was surprised by how much the rich love the oppressor. Except, they did kind of tell you. Don’t worry, I won’t hold too much of a grudge if you guys start acting like you really do believe in empiricism.


Trumpettes are white, but they sure as hell aren’t working class.

But maybe that was an isolated incident, let’s take a look at some of the other areas in Los Angeles that voted for Trump.


Those special liberal coasts….


For those of you not familiar with Los Angeles real estate, the houses on the beach are extremely expensive.No, there are not million dollar trailor parks.  By the way, that little strip had higher RAW NUMBER turnout than the more densely populated, poor area I started this post with in Pico Union.


How much do you think the houses sell for here? Just kidding, it’s the same amount as the other rich ones. I’d just like to point out that Trump won the rich neighborhoods with a higher turnout from the rich in EVERY case, as well as a higher percentage than  the middle class KKK neighborhood we talked about yesterday. I think I’ve made my point here.

Next week, I’ll be looking at how exit poll data has changed for income over time and we’ll start talking about the findings in the swing state of Wisconsin. Ultimately, we will also discuss the strange health correlations and what has been happening to poor white neighborhoods.

Read all of the other parts of this series here:

How Mobilizing the Poor Might Have Changed the Election

Blame Trump on the Rich Part 1: Gridley and the Two Sides of the Tracks

Blame Trump on the Rich Part 2: Those Poor, White Mountain Towns

Blame Trump on the Rich, Part 3: Beachfront Trumpers

Blame Trump on the Rich, Part 4: The KKK and the two Neighborhoods Adjacent 


Blame Trump on the Rich, Part 4: The KKK and the two Neighborhoods Adjacent 



The Establishment has forcefully pushed the explanation that Clinton lost due the fact that “working class whites” voted for Trump because they are racist. I was surprised to hear this theory, because as a poor white person, I know that the rich always vote for Republicans and the poor have very consistently voted for Democrats. This holds in exit poll data back into 1984 (we’ll talk about the income data and exit polls in general in a separate post, but that data can be found here). This year, Clinton only won those making 50,000 a year, while losing the other income groups.


Some have noticed that Trump won more uneducated voters, and called these people working class. This seems strange for two reasons

  1. Trump also won the educated white vote.
  2. Only 30 percent of the country has a BA and BA’s are no guarantee of social status in a country where there is limited social mobility

More detailed contextual information is here. After seeing these arguments, it was suggested that Clinton won the cities, where the poor are assumed to be nonwhite (there are in fact, poor whites in urban areas, I used to be one), while Trump won rural, white voters living in poverty. This theory will be deconstructed by looking at the precinct by precinct data. That data, which goes beyond exit polls to actual vote totals,  can be found using this link. Please subscribe to the LA Times for being kind enough to make big data accessible to everyone.

The Largest KKK and the two neighborhoods adjacent

I remember my first week of Stanford like it was yesterday. I wish I could say they were positive memories but they certainly were instructive. During one of those getting to know you exercises, we talked about our backgrounds. I hadn’t been around rich people long enough to be self conscious yet, so I was honest about my experience around the other white kids who lived in very white bubbles.

“Well, I guess I can’t say I lived in a bubble. I’m proud to say I’m from Sacramento, which is one of the most diverse areas of the country! It’s great, I’ve always had diverse friends. I feel so lucky.”

After I wrapped up a characteristically eager defense of my ‘hood another girl spoke.

She decided to share with the group that she “had grown up in a different part of Sacramento than Heather and it was all white.” She wanted to make sure they didn’t make the mistake of associating us together and I never spoke to her again.

And I am so damn proud of my hood, y’all. I’m straight up North Highlands. You know how I know North Highlands is legit as fuck? Because when I used to tell my kids in East Palo Alto that I grew up in North Highlands, their response was “damn Ms. C is hella legit” and “that explains some things.” Being that I’m a poor white person from the hood, I was very curious to see if North Highlands had lived up to the stereotype that working class whites had voted for Trump. So I matched the voting numbers, and unsurprisingly to me, Clinton had won my hood.

I wanted to compare this to the red area of the map next to it in Rio Linda, but then I started looking at demographics and it turns out that I, yoga pants wearing, Stanford educated and green eyed, had actually grown up in a predominantly black neighborhood. And the truly funny part is I tried then to do the same thing in the projects I grew up in in Suisun, and it turns out that was also mostly black. Now, I had suspected this for years but the left kept calling me a liar or delusional every time I tried to explain why I talk and dance the way I do. Fortunately we can now close the book on that debate, we now know from data (since y’all don’t trust my lived experience), that poor whites live in black neighborhoods and that I’m apparently the only person accurately seeing things.

Small town America, with a side of the KKK

But after this fun little journey of self discovery, I still wanted to understand that little red part of the map better. I knew it well, it’s called Rio Linda. Rio Linda is the home of the largest KKK population in California. Rio Linda also has a reputation for being incredibly white trash. Now, I couldn’t compare North Highlands to Rio Linda because that could be explained by the minority numbers in North Highlands. So instead, I had to find a predominantly white community that went for Clinton. Fortunately, I didn’t have to look that far, because it turns out that the neighborhood my Black/Indonesian/Mexican/White sister in law is from is predominantly white. We call it Foothill Farms.

What happens when you type Foothill Farms, CA into Google images


Rio Linda had the good high school in the district, while Highlands (the one I went to) and Foothill often competed for most terrifying acts of violence and fewest numbers of books.

Rio Linda is about 77% white. Foothill Farms is 65% white, which you can compare to my neighborhood, which is just over the overpass and tracks from Foothill Farms and is only 20% white. North Highlands, which is where I grew up, has a poverty rate of 38.4 percent, which compares to the state average of 22% (California has the highest poverty rate in the country). Rio Linda is actually below the state average at 20 percent. Foothill Farms has a poverty rate of 25 percent. The Median Income in Foothill Farms is 38,000, while in Rio Linda the median income is 45,000.

So how did the poorer, but also white neighborhood with the shittier school do? Well, they voted for Clinton with 76 percent of the vote. Granted, the turnout was appalling, but the fact is that when people voted they voted for Clinton. Rio Linda has the reputation for being “working class” because it is more “rural” than North Highlands and Foothill Farms, but Rio Linda IS BETTER OFF relatively to the communities that surround it. Rural doesn’t mean poor, and it turns out that middle class people seemed to be concerned enough about their standing that they voted for a candidate who has promised to oppress their neighbors. Considering that the only time in my childhood that I remember seeing state sanctioned racism (instead of classism) directed at my friends was the one day I spent on the Rio Linda high school campus for summer school, I’ll let you draw some conclusions.

But I will leave you with this, it’s hard to feel racial resentment when

  1. You need your neighbors to survive and your neighbors look differently than you
  2. You don’t have anything to lose to begin with
  3. Your poverty and experience with your community helps you to understand that if you spend one more minute watching people being racist to people you love, you will burn the whole thing to the ground and therefore the way to stay out of jail is to just wait to take Driver’s Ed as an additional class so you can’t commit arson.

I was tryin’ to get out of there, not end up in lock up, but boy did they almost have me.

Tomorrow we will be talking about who voted for Trump in Los Angeles. We will talk about changes in exit polls,Wisconsin, and the curious health related correlations next week.

What do you know about da Highlands? For a taste of what I call home, check out this theme song.

The Bay Needs to Get Off Its High Horse


Techie engineers have informed me no less than three times in the last week that the tech community is progressive and open and just generally has no issues with race/class/gender etc.

The Bay Area in the last decade has become the economic engine of our country, and there are people throwing rocks at Google buses much to the confusion of the “progressive” people on those buses, so since I speak both, I thought I’d take this opportunity to explain why people are so angry.

The Bay Area, like most of the rest of this country IS NOT progressive. I’ve personally witnessed several instances of discrimination, if not, downright hatred of a large number of the general public. It is frustrating and sometimes it has made ME want to throw some rocks, but I think that a lot of people in the Bay Area are confused and I’d like to help with that.

So, I will allow you to call yourselves “progressive” when you accomplish the following:

1) When you no longer have the worst public transportation I’ve ever been on. Seriously, for a bunch of environmentalists, our public transportation is embarrassing. I’m doing serious, permanent damage everyday to my neck because of Caltrain and the VTA buses are worse than the buses that we had in the ghetto in Sacramento. It is indefensible and embarrassing and the only reason it happens is because Silicon Valley is one of the most classist places on the planet.

2) When you stop one-way busing, stop sending your kids to private schools, stop drawing district lines so that poor kids don’t go to school with your kids and when you fund schools properly. Seriously, if you are so progressive and you value education so much, why are all of these things happening? Why don’t you want your children to go to school with poor and non-white children?

3) When start-ups have more than 8 percent female representation of founders, when internet forums are safe spaces for women and when girls are no longer talked out of engineering and science because they don’t want to hang out with people who demean them.

4) When you actually do something about the fact that you’ve made it completely impossible, not just for the poor, but also for the middle classes, LIKE TEACHERS, to live in this area. By the way, who is going to feed you when we all are gone?

5) When you treat soldiers with the respect they deserve. Stanford, Berkeley and the Internet didn’t happen without defense funding. You are all so excited to meet Condi but you’d spit on my brother if I would allow you to do so.

6) When I no longer have to ask able-bodied men to get up from disabled seating.

7) When you start treating the people who serve you, feed you, clothe you, and otherwise care for you, with some semblance of dignity.

8) When I see inter-racial dating beyond the White Guy/Asian Girl trope, and you when you stop acting surprised by relationships that deviate from that norm

9) When you make apps that actually benefit someone other than lazy, socially awkward rich people.

10) When you vote to raise your taxes to pay for all of the social benefits I just listed.

Until you do these things, you can shut up and go to work like the rest of us in the Bay Area. People who were here before you, tirelessly working to make this area so incredibly wonderful, who get up everyday to serve your children and you and do it in silence while you act like entitled, spoiled brats. That would be progressive, what you do currently hardly makes you any better than the Republicans who are at least honest about their prejudices and hatred. The reason people are throwing rocks is because you walk around talking about how wonderfully progressive you are while being blissfully unaware of all of the problems other people are facing. Its infuriating and while I don’t condone the rock throwing, and I don’t think it is effective, I do understand the anger and I also understand that the people in question were left with few options because you choose not to listen to anyone but yourselves. So, I hope, that you will finally listen to someone who speaks in your own tongue. Please for the love of god, get over yourselves, shut up, and get to work before I start encouraging people to get the pitchforks and the guillotines.

Activism: Git ‘Er Done


I am going to do what I always do in these conversations and state my credentials from the get-go. I am going to do this because I am white. And because I am white, and grew up extremely poor in an urban area where I attended some of the worst urban schools in the state of California in a community that is one of the most ethnically diverse in the nation and am living with a Mexican American man I grew up with who told his dad that he had no interest in learning Spanish because “he didn’t want to be one of those Mexican kids who can’t read English” and who is half white but knows he gets stopped by cops all the time because he is Mexican, I am intensely aware of how this whole speech and my mere presence in the activist community comes off, and came off while I while an undergrad, to the very communities that I work with. So demographically, when you ask me to be extra specific, I identify as working class, first. That’s the closest I can get to being honest. I do this because, when I entered Stanford I spoke a non-standard version of American English, and maintained the kind of wit that can only be learned on the playground and lot of people thought I was being a crazy asshole. And I also do this, because I have the white privilege of not having to identify as my racial background. And because as a straight white woman I don’t have to identify as my sexual orientation either. But the fact of the matter is that the reality of my childhood more closely resembles that of poor folks who grow up in urban areas than it does the white peers I most closely resemble physically. On paper, people often assume I am black. This is because they are racist.

I am also an activist in urban education. I went to STEP for graduate school after being one of the founding members of FLIP and being heavily involved in activism for the low-income community while I was an undergrad. I was not well liked. Mostly because I am obnoxious, but also because I didn’t look like what we think activists should like, and I didn’t talk like one either.

As I said, I spoke a non-standard form of English. In fact, unless I am in a professional setting I still speak a non-standard form of English. This is important because when I came to Stanford my words were not typically well-received and I heard a lot of arguments by education reformers about how we need to train kids to “speak properly.” Now, I will tell you, that we do in fact need to train kids to speak in a way that allows them to be taken seriously by the elites who determine whether or not they get to escape the ghetto. I do this because I am an incredibly practical individual and I want kids to have the same opportunities my privileged friends do. But that doesn’t mean that I have to like it. I think the dialect of English that I happen to speak is beautiful. All of my friends who went to college back home (a tiny number, that as evidenced by my relationship with my significant other, cling to each other) are incredibly adept with the English language. That’s because the dialect I happen to speak, is all about quick thinking, metaphor and poetry. As a history teacher, I want my kids to have those skills, I just also want them to have the other skills too, because unfortunately I don’t currently have the power to decide which skills we value in society and I want my kids to be valued. I train kids to code-switch because I think their language is beautiful and because I think it is necessary for them to have choices in the world. Choice is the ultimate privilege. And I want them to have it. What I am saying is that it is fine to want to impart the skills that give people power onto others, but its not ok to pretend like those skills are inherently better or more beautiful than what they already have. You will never know until you can have love for both. I am glad I can sit in the classroom and debate the merits of Rousseau but I am also glad that I can handle myself on the playground. You have to love people and see the beauty in who they are, not who you want them to be. You can love people for what they are or hate them for what they are not, those are your options when you live/work in a community. And trust me when I say to you that you aren’t going to get anything done without love.

Even as I know my neighborhood well, I don’t presume to know everything about growing up poor in America. What happened in my neighborhood in North Highlands has commonalities with East Palo Alto, sometimes for better and sometimes for worse, but it isn’t East Palo Alto. So when I went to work in East Palo Alto, I didn’t pretend to know everything about East Palo Alto. At first I just shut up and listened. I also did as much research as I could about the community and asked a lot of questions. This is the most important advice I can give as an activist, you have to listen and be willing to learn. Look, Stanford kids are really smart. We are smart and hardworking and these are admirable and good traits, but they don’t make us omnipotent. They don’t even make us better people. We aren’t Gods, we are just human beings with a slightly faster processor and a whole lot of training. You don’t know everything about the community you are walking into, you can’t assume anything about people unless you can read minds, and even then that doesn’t mean you can fully understand everything about an individual’s thoughts. Listen, and be grateful that someone is giving you the opportunity to do so.

As I stated above, I am aware that I receive a number of white privileges, and now I am also extremely well educated. I knew when I was a kid that I had white privilege. You’d have to be blind to not figure that out when every time a cop is around one of your non-white friends gets hassled. Also, I studied history. And if studying history taught me anything it was that white people have privilege. I wish this weren’t true. I wish I could give back all the ways I benefit from my privilege and share them such that everyone benefited. I spend my days trying to find ways to do this for my students. But I have it, and wishing it would go away isn’t going to make it go away, the only thing that will make it go away is if white people start accepting and finding ways to tear down the structures that make it so. Am I pissed off that we have to wait for people who have the power to wake up and realize this and be ashamed of it and fight to distribute it more equitably? Yes. But, I am a practical woman and this is the reality of the situation. And there is also this, at Stanford people from my class background are in the minority. Most of my classmates are better off than my wildest imaginations could possibly create as a child. And we live on campus together and they are my peers and my friends. We have to live in this society together, I want them to be part of the solution. So I want them to acknowledge their white privilege at the same time that they choose to do something about it, and I want to help them by acknowledging my privilege and being incredibly patient while they figure it out, so long as they are trying to figure it out.

As I have said, I am a practical woman. In the words of Deng Xiaoping “I don’t care if it’s a black cat or a white cat, I just care if it’s a cat that catches mice.” He was referring specifically to whether or someone was Communist enough to serve the country because during the Cultural Revolution the conversation became a bunch of college kids shouting “I am more radical than you” instead of sitting around and saying “hey, we have all this power and privilege and there are people suffering, what can we do about that?” His leadership in China was marred with blood, but I am using this quote because he is right. I don’t care who gets things done, I just care that they are taken care of. I don’t much care who progresses human rights, I just want them to progress. My family, friends, and students don’t have time to wait around for the perfect “savior” to come along. Studying history has taught me that they rarely do. MLK had many affairs, he has a record that suggests that he was less than progressive towards the woman in his life. For me, that doesn’t change the power or importance of his message. The same goes for my personal favorite, Malcolm X, because even though I don’t agree with all the things he said or all of his methods, he was often right about very important issues. I have my own tremendous blind spots. In the 1950s Stanford sent one of the largest contingents of participants in Freedom Summer. This is a legacy we should all be proud of, but we should also remember the reasons for Freedom Summer. Black Civil Rights workers had been fighting and dying for a long time in Mississippi by the time that Stanford students traveled down there. The plan was to bring privileged white children to work down in Mississippi so that when one of them was murdered or beaten people would actually care. That this is what needed to happen for the American populace to care about the plight of black people in America is horribly racist, and profoundly disturbing. But do you know what else was horribly racist and profoundly disturbing? Mississippi in the 1950s. We live in a society that is still racist, classist, sexist and heteronormative. It’s hard enough struggling against those things without the infighting that occurs when we start making sure the ranks of activists has the right composition and purity. I will say this again, the people I love most in the world don’t have time for that. We need to stop asking ourselves if people who want to help are good enough to do so and start asking the only question that matters: what is the most efficient way to make things better? Because we have a job to do, and where I come from that’s the only thing that matters.

This was originally posted by the lovely people over at Stanford’s progressive blog Static. The link can be found here:

People are People. Treat Them that Way


I had just gotten back from China, when I found myself on a party bus with a guy I was seeing on my way to a formal when he said to me “I just feel like I really want to have sex with a Japanese girl.” Facepalm. I had a conniption fit. And in response to my conniption fit he said: “well don’t you have things you want to do, like hook up with a black guy?” Double Facepalm. No, I told this granola eating, long-haired, alternative religion having, white male, I don’t reduce people to stereotypes or treat them like things I can collect.

Just so we are clear, I have interracially dated, several times now. It never once occurred to me that it was abnormal or special until I had people tell me it was weird at Stanford. We all dated outside our race. But I would never and have never gone out looking for men of a particular race. Though I joke about my desire to not date privileged men (which, everyone please calm down, is a joke) that applies more to the cultural jumps I would have to make and tolerate to be around men who read a lot of Ayn Rand and don’t appreciate my trophy wife jokes. I interracially date because it would be really hard not to and not in fact, be racist, especially as a white woman, and also because I have been attracted to different people from different races, because people are attractive. Given that this is the norm in the community I’ve grown up and my parents aren’t racist bigots, it was a bit of a culture shock when I got to Stanford and it seemed like the only acceptable interracial couple was Asian Women with White Men.

I studied China, and like everything I study I fell in love with the place. So I lived there for three months while learning Mandarin and became really well educated in Chinese history. It gave me fantastic insight and perspective on the world to have such a wide range of knowledge. Now I knew American history, Chinese history, and European history. My undergraduate adviser could make connections between anything and everything and I wanted that too. I didn’t want to have just one lens to look at things, so it was paramount for my growth. I didn’t think about the problems with the white men/Asian female trope until I acquired a few Asian male friends and also went to China. My Asian male friends explained to me that they felt desexualized by American culture, which was true when I looked at mainstream culture, though in my community, which has a large number of immigrants, Asian men were pretty much treated like all other men (meaning they needed a car and couldn’t have a baby mama-standards that make perfect sense in High School). I started noticing that most of my classes on China were populated by white men and Asian women. And then I went to China.

In China, it didn’t take very long for me to realize that something was amiss. There were 22 of us in the program and 1 Chinese-American male and 4 white females. Within a very short amount of time ALL of the white men admitted, proudly, that they had “yellow fever.” Why anyone felt the need to say that to me in a bar is anyone’s guess, but I have a gift for making people comfortable enough for them to say horrifying things I can’t unhear. The thought of “yellow fever”, by which white men have a strong preference for Asian females, just seemed wrong to me before I knew why this was happening. I was actually one of two people, the other being the Asian male (who I remain good friends with to this day), who was studying to had studied China. The rest of the crew was there for future business reasons, because they liked Asian girls or because they were trying to explore their own roots in depth. No one knew as much about Chinese history as I did, which is fine because I was the only one with that major.

Since I was being my sassy self, I decided, why not ask the source? And I did. I asked all of the men I hung out with in China why they had a preference. Universal answer: Asian girls are skinnier, more submissive and more ‘appreciative’ of white men and more willing to do ‘exotic’ stuff. I can’t make this up. It was so horrifying for me that I started taking long walks around the Beida campus with the only Asian dude in the program so that he and I could escape and pretend we were 12 and living in a magical secret forest (the Beida campus is really beautiful). I stopped going to social events. I stopped talking to people. I’m very sensitive about this sort of thing, when I see people getting exploited, especially by people I know well, it makes it hard for me to stick around.

Here is what is wrong with this. For one thing: it is racist. I am sure that China has women that act on the full spectrum of human behavior, so saying they are all submissive is a weird colonial hold over from when we still talked about white man’s burden. Skinnier and appreciative are more on the line of sexism, where in this universe women are trophies, but not full human beings, they are there to serve the men. Skinnier is also racist and highly problematic, again because it eliminates the possibility for diversity in the whole human spectrum. I met women who fit that stereotype and women who didn’t, and women who were hurting themselves to meet that stereotype which doesn’t sound that different from being at Stanford. That those were the only answers means that these men, all of whom were my age, were looking for a shadow of a human being. The sexual exoticism is both, it is the idea that men are entitled to whatever they want sexually, and that a woman is “better” (to be weighed and measured) if she will do what he wants, if her sexuality is defined by his. The assumption that Asian women have a somehow different sexuality from any other race reduces them to objects. I am sure Asian women, like all women exhibit a wide range of sexual preferences from the vanilla to the more extreme, because that’s what human beings do, and they are human beings. It is ok as a white male to find an Asian woman attractive, you just can’t feel that way for racist and sexist reasons and you can’t impose hundreds of years of colonialism on the body of the person you spend your most intimate moments with, ever. For any reason.

The fact that this was so socially acceptable that we could casually and openly discuss this in bars sort of scares me. In fact, many men at Stanford told me I was insane for pointing this out and treated “yellow fever” as a sort of rite of passage. It is part of a more problematic line of thinking among young men, which is that they are entitled to a sort of bucket list of sexual experience before settling down with a “respectable” woman. Instead of finding partners with equal interest in their sexual preferences they separate women out into objects to be conquered or gained in life experience before settling down their desexualized and virginal wife. With this line of thinking, they think they are entitled to certain experiences and that wives are not supposed to want to explore their own sexuality, so they must do that first before marrying. Women get reduced to points on a score card. And the women they do marry find themselves in marriages where they are never truly equal and full human beings, and where they will have had their sexuality sold out under them as one of their roles as wife.

This is what men my age tell me scares them about marriage, the loss of freedom and the fear of intimacy. And that is fine, that is human, I feel that too. But if they redefined the role of wife into one who is an equal partner, an equal explorer in this weird frontier known as life, then they wouldn’t “lose” their freedom and would experience greater and more secure intimacy because they would see the woman in this situation as less of a symbol of accomplishment. So in other words, gentlemen, you can be free when we are free. Human beings loving other human beings because of their beautiful humanity, that is what this is all about.