For this reflection I want to take the theme of isolation and turn it back on myself. Specifically, I want to consider how who I am creates blind spots for myself. And I want to equate having blind spots as a form of isolation. And, like Mike Ferris in the episode, being isolated, I want to consider how it causes my mind to play tricks on me.
I am a white, heterosexual, American male. With those three distinctions come extreme privileges, things I’m sure I take for granted. An example is the privilege I have to walk down the street at night in my neighborhood and feel safe doing it.
Being who I am, and especially not being a woman or a person of color, I don’t have to think about things like going for a walk at night. I’m blind to that experience as a woman, who probably has to think about the possibility of being taunted verbally or, worse, being assaulted physically. An African-American male, who many people may assume is up to no good, probably has to think about how to appear non-threatening. Me, I don’t have to think about these things. I can just go for a walk.
Blind to this, I’m suggesting I experience a form of isolation. I am isolated from the experiences of others, as, obviously, we all are. But I, and other white, heterosexual, American males, have a certain power that other groups don’t have. If I don’t try to lessen my isolation, my mind will play tricks on me. It will tell me that I’m not privileged, that I don’t have power. In so doing, I think it will cause me to blindly do things that reinforce my power.
Taking all of this into consideration, I feel an obligation to be as broad-minded as I can be. I can’t stop being who I am. But I can work to broaden my perspective, to work to understand and trust the experiences of others, especially those different than me.
Where do I have blind spots? Where am I isolated? What tricks does my mind play on me because of it?
NEXT STEP: Theme #2