What I really can’t get over is how NYC is really the perfect backdrop for the Moxie program. The broad issues that we discuss – oppression, poverty, capitalism – and the more specific issues – racism, sexism, and homophobia – all manifest themselves into everyday interactions and encounters more clearly in the city. Since the eye-opening Moxie seminars, it’s difficult for me to walk anywhere without having at least one reminder of either my privilege or my lack of privilege. I have become increasingly, almost hyper-aware, of my identity, or should I say, the label that society posts on me – white, female and heterosexual – as I have maneuvered throughout the city.
While I’m sure we could discuss these issues anywhere (I mean we do in the oh so exciting city of Durham haha), I love how we are both discussing and living them at the same time in New York – the birthplace of so much culture. When the Supreme Court announced that gay marriage would finally be legal in all fifty states, two days later I was marching down Fifth Avenue wearing a flower in my hair and waving a rainbow flag. When Ada assigned us an excerpt to read from Merle Hoffman’s Intimate Wars, a few days later we took the train down to Jamaica Queens and visited Merle’s revolutionary and life-changing reproductive clinic, Choices, and we even got to meet Merle herself! And finally, just when the newest season of Orange is the New Black came out, we went to see a Broadway play in which one of the actresses from the show was in it! While the last one was definitely just a pure coincidence, it still illustrates how the city and the Moxie program itself never fail to amaze and surprise me.
Although the city is exhilarating, it is also daunting. Every day on my five minute walk back home from Union Square, I always see new people, a new protest, or a new street performance. Each subway ride serves as almost a microcosm for the world as people from all different cultures, backgrounds, and ethnicities, suffer together in that ten minute ride. I am struggling to comprehend the enormity and complexity of New York and thus humankind as a whole. During the Moxie program, I have finally been awakened to so many systemic issues that need to be addressed. I have also had the opportunity to meet and work with many individuals who are dedicating their lives to helping those who need assistance advocating for themselves. My supervisor Lynn spends countless hours away at different conferences educating the legal community about domestic violence. She has written groundbreaking articles that have exposed the horrific effects that domestic violence has on the neurology of a child. In her office, she also has a picture standing with Ruth Bader Ginsburg…like what? And then I met Merle Hoffman, who gave women reproductive autonomy when she opened up Choices, which is the largest women’s medical facility in the United States. She has tirelessly provided women with much needed reproductive care and has fought against much opposition, including several death threats! And we also met Tim, who advocates for elderly members of New York’s LGBTQ community through his work at SAGE, which is a LGBTQ retirement center. These are just three of the many activists and amazing people I have met so far during Moxie and they have inspired me to want to make a change as well. I want to give a voice to the voiceless and I want to fix the system, but as I have realized since coming to New York, I have become cognizant of my relative insignificance so far on this Earth. It is one thing to be educated about the issues and another to actually do something. Like those who I have met so far during Moxie, I too want to be significant.