As a journalist, you are taught to take yourself out of the equation. Formal articles are taught to begin with a lead, nut-graph (fancy words for introductory statements) and follow a fact-quote formula. One thing that journalists usually stray away from is factoring "I" into the equation.
I am about to follow none of that.
Over my past college semester, I have learned the harsh reality of what it means to be a white, right-leaning female, who is the Managing Editor of quite possibly the most-hated paper on campus: the conservative one. Now although I am aware of the great privilege I do have in society, I still consistently get slammed with odd prejudices, such as the assumption I am "racist, homophobic, xenophobic" or my most recent favorite, a "colonist."
Now why, may you ask, would I be called such horrible things? Well, those who have called me these titles have one thing against me, the fact that I am right-leaning.
I tend to stray away from titles such as conservative or Republican- not because of the personal attacks I will receive, but because of my opinions. I am not a linear right-winger by any means, I like some Democrat policies, and I like a good amount of Republican ones as well. But it is that last bit that peers cannot seem to simply see past, and that is where my personal morals, values and opinions get me into trouble.
I say trouble lightly as well. By trouble, I mean personally attacked by people who may not even fully understand the policies of both sides. Speaking broadly, I am a fan of the fiscal and economic policies of the right. I prefer limited government regulation on economics, because of my upbringing in a household with business-driven parents. But in terms of social issues, such as reproductive rights, equal opportunity, LBGTQ+, I am definitely left-leaning.
See, something I personally believe is that any issue can be debated in numerous ways- and that discourse is very important. It is important to be open to others' opinions, and it is important to understand their background. Not attack them for it.
A big reason I came to this paper was because I had strong opinions that varied far from what the liberal community in the Minneapolis area represents. A large issue that I have seen growing with our young, liberal, social-justice warriors is the lack of understanding others' opinions. This causes them to be close-minded, which was a large turn-off when it came to supporting a side fully.
Both sides have serious polarization problems. If I may generalize, on the right, we have some hillbilly standing in the bed of his truck screaming racial slurs, and on the left, we have people marching about the streets, screaming "Fuck Trump."
This is where the generalization of both sides becomes a problem, because not all left or right people identify with those extremes, I for one, am one of them.
I am not a racist, homophobic "colonist" whatever the hell that means. I am someone who researches and identifies with policies because of where I come from, and that is just as okay as the other.
I, however, am not someone who wants to be marching the streets screaming "Fuck Trump," or organizing campaigns against him- and if that makes me a horrible person in some liberal eyes, well then, so be it. I have done my research, I know what and who I identify with, and that is all that matters.
A few weeks ago this Trump separation was brought to my attention when an acquaintance was messaged by another, "She voted for trump, just a heads up."
First off, what in the hell does that have to do with a friendship? Second off, I was not even 18, I could not vote.
This is when I was told that this made this person uncomfortable, because they are a person of color, and they did not need to hear anything from anything from a "UMN caucasian [person]."
They also called me a "colonist," which in case you didn't know is a, "Settler in or inhabitant of a colony," which I assume is another slur at my race.
I do not believe reverse-racism is a thing. In a society, nobody benefits from racism, however the ideas that were instilled in people years ago still linger in the minds of those oppressed by it. I believe this is sad, I do not support oppression; it drives a divide.
That being said, what I will not support is being slurred at by someone who feels they are oppressed, when I did not oppress this person in a racial way.
I do not out people. Nobody on my staff has outed people. Do we disagree with viewpoints? Yes. But we have openly liberal writers on staff and we fight to make our staff meetings an inclusive environment- regardless of what people believe in.
Writing for a paper is a way to keep up with my major, and continue my passion. I do not do it because I want to oppress others, I would not be a part of this paper if it was led by bigots, racists, homophobes, or whatever titles we have been given by our polarized leftist friends.
It is time we start growing up. Because if these non-inclusive values continue to be carried into the future- what we could potentially face is a completely divided, very polarized country. It is time we come together, rather than fight people for what they come from.
Stop ignorantly generalizing, like those images I portrayed above. Stop oppressing people for who they are, who they voted for, or what they believe in, research more, and become more open to new, undiscovered ideas. You don't have to compromise your values, you just don't need to attack another because of them.
We need to unite, or quite frankly, we will face bigger problems.