I am an optimist. Really I am. But one week into the outside-of-moxie world and I feel I’m always frustrated by the world around me and sadly lacking 7 other people to discuss it with.
This weekend I was celebrating with a friend for her 21st birthday in New Orleans. It was my first time in this city — the city’s divisions were physically clear. In certain parts of town, residential buildings were dilapidated and unused. But the famous Canal St. was well lit and full of expensive shops and restaurants, Bourbon St. showed almost no sign of having ever been submerged under several feet of water.
I wonder if I’d visited NO a few years ago if I would have been as shaken by the calls in clubs for “sexy ladies” to come up on stage? A man in every establishment with some form of amplification announcing that men please “not touch the ladies on stage, but buy em a drink first!” Ah yes, I thought, another example of capitalism perpetuating rape culture. Selling drinks and women’s bodies along with em! The message was sent loud and clear.
All along the famed Bourbon street, men on balconies above shout and jeer at women below, asking them to perform in some way to earn a string of beads being thrown down at them. Some skip this part altogether, and elect to get a woman’s attention by simply throwing the necklaces at her.
One bar describes the possible “side effects” for the number of signature drinks one consumes. At 4 drinks it reads, “chicks may be inclined to show their tits. I spent most of the weekend contemplating the state of our society as I saw women’s bodies used as advertisements, incentives to purchase drinks, and rewards for paying cover charges.
None of this is unique to New Orleans, of course. I’ve found myself being similarly critical of some parties at Duke, and even in certain places in New York.
In all of these formerly “fun” settings, I am disgusted by things I once saw as normal, and terrified by words and acts I may once have been flattered by. This is a result of my own growth over three years of undergraduate classes and experiences. But for my new habit of making connections between things I’ve read and things I experience from day-to-day, and my tendency to spend time thinking about systems of power and effects of marginalization on people – I have Moxie to thank. As burdensome as it can be to take issue with several things I hear or experience almost every day, it is also a blessing. I can’t speak to the lives and intentions of all of the people around me, but I can speak to my own journey. And knowing how far I’ve come in terms of developing worldview that doesn’t simply accept things as they are makes me all the more grateful to have had such an amazing summer program.
I hope I don’t lose my new habits. I hope I’m getting closer every day to being a true radical – someone who can affect real change. And most of all, I hope I never stop being pissed off at the world. This angry black woman hopes she stays that way.