Disturb yourself now for clarity later

Shasa Sartin, Editor-in-Chief

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“Where we hold privilege is where the water is opaque. The prospect of stirring the water to disperse the sediment is frightening because you don’t know what lies there, but you need to know what you’re in the water with.”

– Shasa Sartin (‘19)

In my religion senior seminar titled “Love, Justice, and Resistance in the Age of Climate Change” — shout out to Professor of Religion Jim Martin-Schramm for the Chaco-wearing, Klean Kanteen-sucking, Hillary Clinton-voting, environmental studies and sociology double major with a religion minor-studying course title — we discussed the issue of empathizing fully with situations that do not feel personal to us. With realities that feel especially distant from our own. In our class I shared that this was difficult for me as it pertains to climate change, specifically. I am a deeply emotional and empathetic person, so when I read and or see things that are upsetting, I feel it throughout my whole body. Naturally, I try to limit the kinds of negative things I see, but I also like to be an informed citizen, so I read things that are upsetting like the decrease of funding to public schools in the United States, the retirement of supreme court justices in the era of T***p, and other disturbing news. Topics I have liked to avoid, though, are articles detailing the degradation of the planet. The concept of our planet’s temperature rising to unprecedented levels and changing life as we know it freaks me out. So, like the avoidant person I am, I scroll past the tweet with that headline. I then lock my iPhone and plug it into the charger in the wall of my bedroom. With my air conditioning blasting, I crawl into bed in a full sweatsuit because I’m cold from setting the air conditioning blasting. I now unlock my iPhone again and go to my GrubHub app to order delivery from an Indian restaurant. A GrubHub employee will drive from wherever their headquarters is located, to the restaurant, and then to my house. I don’t even know where to begin with calculating how much energy I used in that short combination of theoretical actions, how much any of it costs (except for the delivered food, of course), nor how many carbon emissions resulted from them. My privilege economically has allowed me to stay comfortably ignorant to this information because I don’t register the outcomes of these things as threatening to my livelihood. Contrastingly, I’m always aware of my identities as a woman, a person of color, and a woman of color, in particular. Every day I question my safety and security because I know there are people that want to hurt me due to any one of those identities. I can comfortably ignore the fatal temperatures in Japan, as high as 106 degrees fahrenheit, in Japan: I have air conditioning anywhere I live. And I also have a place to live. I can comfortably ignore the monsoons that happened in the south of India this past August, the deadliest in the past century; I know that if Minneapolis experienced severe flooding, I could easily fly to stay with family in other parts of the country. And again, I have a place to live that could be flooded in the first place. Where we hold privilege is where the water is opaque. The prospect of stirring the water to disperse the sediment is frightening because you don’t know what lies there, but you need to know what you’re in the water with.

I’m a long-winded person, so this was my roundabout way of encouraging all readers of Chips, and really all consumers of news, to read things that challenge your positionality — stir the murky water and find out what’s in there. If you do not often think of your racial identity as something that puts you in danger, challenge yourself to read stories about students experiences with racism on campus. If you do not often think of your gender presentation as something that puts you in danger, read stories where nonbinary students explain difficulties finding accommodating housing. Read the stories with the headline that makes you uncomfortable. It is our responsibility to elevate the voices of those who have those stories to tell, and let the chips fall where they may.

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