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white privilege

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Posted by Anonymous on Jan. 31, 2016 at 7:10 AM
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by Anonymous 1 - Original Poster on Jan. 31, 2016 at 7:11 AM
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You’ve heard it said before. You might have been the one to say it.

“I don’t see color. I just see people.”

Or maybe: “We are all just people.”

Or it might have been “…” – the sound of silence.

Such comments (and racial avoidance) have a name: colorblindness.

The colorblind approach to race is not an accidental phenomenon; rather, it is the result of an education – a training – that many of us have received, especially White Americans.

Many of us are taught from an early age that talking about race – even just acknowledging race – is a no-no.

In some ways, colorblindness makes sense: Race can be uncomfortable – its mere mention can thicken the air with tension.

Moreover, this country’s racist history is deeply uncomfortable: “Let’s just start fresh in a world where we don’t acknowledge racial differences and, with luck, we can move beyond our racist past. After all, this country is a big melting pot anyway.”

Unfortunately, like many other lessons we have been taught – drinking juice is good for you,complimenting appearances is always nice, menstruation is gross and shameful, asking Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders where they are really from is okay – colorblind ideology is fraught with problems and pitfalls.

Before I elaborate, please don’t feel judged if you have espoused such an approach in the past.

As I mentioned, how could many of us not do so after years of training?

I have spent nearly 15 years in public high school classrooms, and my students – particularly my students of color – have provided a wealth of evidence that, when it comes to colorblindness,we desperately require an alternate training.

Since it’s the responsibility of White folks to educate ourselves and each other (and not expect people of color to be our trainers), I encourage you take to heart the seven reasons I’ve already been taught:

1. Colorblindness Invalidates People’s Identities

Because of the prevalence and history of racism, just the word “race” can conjure negative connotations.

However, racial oppression (not to mention the flipside, racial advantage and privilege) is just one dimension of race.

Race is also intimately tied to people’s identities and signifies culture, tradition, language, and heritage – genuine sources of pride (and not in the White Pride kind of way).

Like many other factors – gender, religion, socio-economic status – race is a basic ingredient that makes up our being, whether or not you consciously acknowledge its role in your life.

Imagine being forced to suppress one such ingredient that you openly acknowledge and value. Imagine, for example, being forced to let go of your religion. For people whose faith is a fundamental part of their lives, such a thought is unfathomable.

Yet doing so for race makes no more sense.

Asked what he appreciates about his race, one student – who describes himself as Japanese, Black, and English – responded, “My race is everything to me.

For this student, not to mention many others for whom race is a valued part of identity, what would colorblindness leave him with?

Denying people their identities is not racial progress, but rather harkens back to this country’s sordid racist history. Slavery depended on severing the cultural ties of stolen people. TheIndian Boarding School movement had similarly devastating effects on Indigenous groups.

True progress will come when White Americans no longer feel threatened by the racial identities of groups of color.

2. Colorblindness Invalidates Racist Experiences

Colorblind ideology takes race off the table. But for many people of color – as well as for White people who work to dismantle systems of privilege – race is very much on the table. Racism forces it to the tabletop.

Colorblindness just pretends the table is empty.

I’ve worked with a Mexican American student who overheard a White American student say, “I hate Mexicans.” I’ve worked with an African American student who endured being called the N-word by a classmate and another Black student mistaken for a drug dealer.

Students of color at the predominately White school in which I work have described themselves as “bad seeds” and “outcasts.”

Who benefits when those stories are suppressed?

Most certainly not these students of color, who must swallow their stories and bury their experiences. Beverly Daniel Tatum, author and president of Spelman College, explains that the cost of such silence on students of color is isolation, “self-blame,” and “self-doubt ofinternalized oppression.”

Instead, we need an environment where such stories are heard, valued, and thenthoroughly addressed.

Unfortunately, colorblindness derails the process of addressing racism before it has even started.

3. Colorblindness Narrows White Americans’ Understanding of the World and Leads to Disconnection

White Americans are not the only ones who adopt a colorblind approach to race but, in my experience, they are far more likely to than any other racial group. Ultimately, however, colorblindness hurts them as well.

I explore this topic in much more depth in a previous article. In it, I argue that White Americans who avoid race, a behavior that colorblindness encourages, have a skewed view of the world.

After all, understanding any situation requires multiple points of view. A news story must consider various sides of any conflict to keep itself out of the editorial section.

A court trial could never be considered fair if only the prosecution presented its case. A novel could never be fully understood if we only read about some of the characters.

Novelist, and perhaps coolest-person-ever, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie calls for multiple perspectives so that we avoid what she calls, “the danger of the single story.”

Colorblind ideology limits the stories that get told, keeping White America comfortable, but also keeping racism thriving.

It also causes disconnect. If you are espousing colorblindness, your failure to deeply understand race means you have likely been tripping down a long unnecessary road paved with stereotypes and microaggressions.

And while you may have been banking on the bliss that comes with ignorance, the people who know full well that race really fucking matters — people of all colors — do not trust you.

The result: Colorblindness cuts you off from so much beauty in this world.

4. Colorblindness Equates Color with Something Negative

The comment “I don’t see color; I just see people” carries with it one huge implication: It implies that color is a problem, arguably synonymous with “I can see who you are despite your race.”

As evidence, note that the phrase is virtually never applied to White people.

In over 40 years of life and nearly 15 years as an anti-racist educator, I have yet to hear a White person say in reference to another White person, “I don’t see your color; I just see you.”

In my experience, it is always applied to people of color (nearly always by White people).

For the students of color whose race is core to their identities, the comment effectively causes many to feel “invisible.”

“Then you don’t see me,” one student of color once responded.

Multiracial students who look very White have shared stories of having their faces examined, often by White people, looking for “what else” is in there. The whole scenario assumes white is the norm and the something “else,” the color, is not.

Altering the scenarios often serves to illuminate the flaws in such comments. For example, I once said to my Jewish wife, “I don’t see your Jewishness; I just see you.” Until I explained my intentions, the experiment did not help our marriage.

5. Colorblindness Hinders Tracking Racial Disparities

Racial labels and terms are complex, evolving, sometimes limiting, and often problematic. But the problems associated with the colorblindness are arguably far worse. Without being color conscious, we would never know:

  • Black preschoolers are three times more likely to be suspended than White students.Preschoolers. This data from a federal study has prompted some to rename the school-to-prison pipeline the preschool-to-prison pipeline.
  • In Seattle, despite making up just a tiny fraction of the district population, Native American students had a “push-out” rate (more commonly known as “drop-out” rate) of 42% during the 2011-2012 school year.
  • In the school district in which I work, Seattle Public Schools, Black middle school students are nearly four times more likely to suspended than White students, a disparity that prompted a federal investigation by the Department of Education. (See graph below.)


Unfortunately, deep racial disparities are not limited to education.

If a person’s race truly shouldn’t matter – which I acknowledge most people are trying to communicate when they espouse colorblindness – then such disparities wouldn’t exist.

With such staggering disparities, again I ask: Who benefits when we ignore such racial categories? Certainly not those most negatively affected.

6. Colorblindness Is Disingenuous

If you are saying “I don’t see color; I just people,” I’m sorry, but I just don’t believe you.

Essentially, you are saying that that you don’t notice any difference between Lupita Nyong’o and, say, Anne Hathaway, two similarly aged actresses who I’m betting have never been confused for each other. They are both just people, exactly the same.

f1afdeba7f3c45cb_463100197.jpg.xxxlarge_2x    Anne-hathaway-chanel-face

Really? Again, I just don’t believe you. And Idris Elba playing James Bond won’t ruffle any feathers, right? (Just like no one noticed when he played a Norse god in Thor.)

Was it really just openly racist people who objected to these casting choices or were they joined by proponents of colorblindness?


Or when you see a group of Black youth walking toward you on the sidewalk, you feel the exact same feeling as when it’s group of White youth?

Though the concept of race is a social construct and ever changing, let’s just be honest that those of us who can see really do see the physical differences (skin, hair, eye shape) commonly associated with what we call “race.” If you are choosing colorblindness to avoid being racist, you have chosen the wrong strategy.

7. Colorblind Ideology Is a Form of Racism

In fact, just a few years ago, Psychology Today published an article titled “Colorblind Ideology Is a Form of Racism.” See?

Colorblindness is far more of a threat to racial justice than White Supremacists (who seem to be quite color conscious). After all, if you can’t discuss a problem, how can you ever solve it?

As Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun famously wrote, “To overcome racism, one must first take race into account.”

But if you don’t believe Blackmun, just ask PBS, arguably the least controversial resource a teacher can ever hope to use in the classroom. On the website of the PBS series, The Power of an Illusion, it is written in no uncertain terms: “Colorblindness will not end racism.”


In the aftermath of high profile cases of racist police practices, scores of articles have been published providing White Americans with advice on how to address racism. Here are a few:

If you add those up, you’ll end up with a lengthy list of ideas.  Not one argues for colorblind ideology.

As investment firm president Mellody Hobson says, let’s be “color brave,” not colorblind. Without such bravery, Selma director Ava DuVernay confirms, “You’re missing out on a lot of beautiful colors.

by Anonymous 1 - Original Poster on Jan. 31, 2016 at 7:16 AM
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by Ruby Member on Jan. 31, 2016 at 7:16 AM
2 moms liked this

I see color. But, no one on cm will ever admit that white rival edge exists. And no one will ever admit that they treat people differently because of their race because they like to pretend they don't see colour.

by Anonymous 1 - Original Poster on Jan. 31, 2016 at 7:17 AM

Kyriarchy 101: We’re Not Just Fighting the Patriarchy Anymore

If you’re familiar with feminism, you’ll have heard of the term patriarchy – the social order that privileges men and oppresses women. It’s a useful term as it gives a name to the institutionalisation of male privilege.

But feminism has moved on from being purely concerned with male privilege.

We now – thankfully and rightfully! – take into account the number of different privileges and oppressions that people experience.

First named by Kimberlé Crenshaw in 1989, intersectional feminism is concerned with the social order that privileges and oppresses people based on race, gender, language, class, sexual orientation, (dis)ability, culture, and so on.

Intersectional feminism tells us that oppression comes in many different forms. Someone is not simply oppressed or privileged: we can be simultaneously privileged and oppressed by different aspects of our identities.

For example, somebody can be privileged by the fact that they are cisgender, thin, and white, while being oppressed by the fact that they are queer, disabled, and female.

Because of this, we need a word to describe the complex social order that keeps these intersecting oppressions in place.

Kyriarchy is an excellent word for this concept – it is more in line with intersectional feminism, and is not as problematic as the word patriarchy can be.

Kyriarchy 101

The term kyriarchy was coined by Elisabeth Schussler Fiorenza in her 2001 book, Wisdom Ways: Introducing Feminist Biblical Interpretation. In the glossary, she defines kyriarchy as:

a neologism…derived from the Greek words for “lord” or “master” (kyrios) and “to rule or dominate” (archein) which seeks to redefine the analytic category of patriarchy in terms of multiplicative intersecting structures of domination… Kyriarchy is best theorized as a complex pyramidal system of intersecting multiplicative social structures of superordination and subordination, of ruling and oppression.

In other words, the kyriarchy is the social system that keeps all intersecting oppressions in place.

In the glossary of Wisdom Ways, Schussler Fiorenza points out that “the theoretical adequacy of patriarchy has been challenged because, for instance, black men do not have control over white wo/men.”

This is definitely true.

To extend this example, let’s imagine two people: one is a white, cisgender, heterosexual, able-bodied woman. Another is a black, transgender, pansexual, disabled man. According to the theory of patriarchy, the woman would be oppressed and the man would be privileged.

Sure – the woman will experience oppression as a woman, and the man might experience forms of male privilege. But it’s a whole lot more complicated than that.

In this situation, the man would not have control (or economic, social, and political privilege) over the woman. To merely call the man dominant and the woman oppressed without taking any other factors into account would be to erase all the other aspects of their identities.

This is not to say that male privilege can be totally erased because of certain factors. Rather, it means that the way someone experiences male privilege is dynamic and dependent on other identities.

Why Kyriarchy Is Useful for Intersectional Feminism

Oppression is not simply about discrimination. It is about being institutionally and systemically repressed.

Gender-based oppression, for example, is not just about someone making a joke about women belonging only in the kitchen. It’s about women being denied equal access to education, the job market, equal pay, reproductive health services, and legislative equality for centuries.

It’s about the gender-based violence that women experience.

It’s about women being presented as weak, overemotional, lacking sexual desire, irrational, and superficial by institutions such as the media, education system, politicians, legislation, and commercial groups.

It’s about stereotypes – of all sexes – being enforced by these institutions.

It’s about socializing people to believe one gender is superior while the others are inferior. It’s about the social, political, and economic repression of women.

Oppression is not about isolated incidents. It’s about a number of incidents, habits, culture, and tradition enforcing the domination of one group over another.

Effective anti-oppression movements will view oppression as systemic. These movements take into account the fact that oppression can only be eradicated through radical, holistic change.

We therefore need a name for the institutionalisation of oppression. Feminists often call the institutionalisation of sexism “the patriarchy.”

Mainstream feminism has been traditionally concerned with gender inequality. Intersectional feminism, however, is concerned with all types of inequality. The term kyriarchy is useful as it is therefore more in line with intersectional feminism.

1. It acknowledges that gender-based oppression is not the only type of oppression that exists.

We’ll never achieve equality by tackling only sexism.Inequality doesn’t begin and end with sexism – so why should we only recognize a system that keeps gender inequality in place?

Unlike the term patriarchy, which refers only to institutionalized sexism, kyriarchy covers all forms of inequality.

To achieve true, full equality, we need to tackle the systemic oppression of all groups of people.

2. It acknowledges that one can both benefit from and be oppressed by the system.

I’m oppressed by the fact that I am a woman. I am, however, privileged in that I am white. I’m both oppressed and privileged, and I can fight my own oppression while perpetuating the oppression of others.The existence of the kyriarchy means that we can be both privileged and oppressed at the same time. It also reminds us that since different oppressions exist, we can fight one form of oppression while perpetuating others.

This has been particularly true of the mainstream gay rights movement, which has at times excluded trans, gender non-conforming, intersex, and polysexual people. Gay rights activism in my country particularly has a history of being exclusive of people of color and poorer people. It is also true of mainstream feminism which has traditionally excluded trans people as well aswomen of color.

In both cases, the movement has attempted to challenge the oppression of one group of people while throwing another group of people under the bus, so to speak. This demonstrates that a movement can simultaneously challenge oppression and be oppressive.

A group of people can challenge one form of oppression while using their privileges to oppress others. We can be victims while being bullies.

Intersectionality tells us that fighting one form of oppression is not enough.

We have to be as inclusive as possible in order to truly tackle inequality. For this reason, we cannot merely challenge one form of systemic oppression – the patriarchy. We have to challenge all forms of oppression – the kyriarchy.

3. It could suggest why so many oppressed people are complicit in their own oppression.

Nobody is either a bully or a victim in the kyriarchy.

As explained above, most people are likely to be both bullies and victims – most groups of people consist of members who have dominance over another group of people.

Certain people, who experience both privilege and oppression, do not want to challenge the social structure that oppresses them. This is because they recognize that challenging this social structure will cause them to question – and perhaps lose – the dominance they have over other groups. As Lisa Factora-Borchers argues,

[S]tudying kyriarchy displays that it’s more than just rich, white Christian men at the tip top and, personally, they’re not the ones I find most dangerous. There’s a helluva lot more people a few levels down the pyramid who are more interested in keeping their place in the structure than to turning the pyramid upside down.

These people are the overworked lower-middle-class people who oppose state grants for the poor. These people are the gender-conforming straight women who shy away from feminism, thinking that the movement is only for queer or gender-non-conforming women.

Whether it’s out of greed or a matter of survival, people tend to conform to the system that spits on them.

4. It does not erase people who do not identify as men or women.

The idea of a patriarchy has a very binary view on gender. It asserts that one is either a man, and therefore privileged, or a woman, and therefore oppressed.

Yes, men definitely have systemic privilege over women. But what about people who do not identify as one of those two genders? The concept of a patriarchy fails to take into account that women who are cisgender will have privilege over people who identify as a non-binary gender.

The kyriarchy, on the other hand, can take into account the range of gender identities people can have, as well as cisgender privilege.

5. It acknowledges that oppressions are interlinked.

The term patriarchy might still be useful if we’re talking only about gender relations. It could be useful if we are referring to a certain culture, for example. So I might say that Capetonian, middle-class, white culture is aggressively patriarchal, as the dominance of males over females is deeply entrenched.

However, considering gender relations without taking other forms of institutionalised oppression into account is extremely simplistic. Examining gender oppression on its own would be to strip the issue of its real-world context.

The use of the term kyriarchy is therefore better, as it demands that we take other forms of oppression into account.

To return to my example of patriarchal Capetonian, middle-class, white culture: It would be foolish of me to ignore the fact that it’s a highly elitist and racially exclusive culture, or that it is heterosexist and cissexist, too.

Ignoring these oppressions would mean erasing the experiences of people of color, queers, trans* people, and poorer people.

Additionally, a person does not simply experience being a certain gender or a certain race. Our experiences are informed by all of our identities, not just one at a time. I cannot separate my experience of being oppressed as a woman from my oppression as a queer person, as that is what I’ve been all my life.

The kyriarchy gives us the framework to discuss oppressions in context of one another.

by Anonymous 1 - Original Poster on Jan. 31, 2016 at 7:20 AM
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Quoting Salut123:

I see color. But, no one on cm will ever admit that white rival edge exists. And no one will ever admit that they treat people differently because of their race because they like to pretend they don't see colour.

The Lowest Difficulty Setting

Dudes. Imagine life here in the US — or indeed, pretty much anywhere in the Western world — is a massive role playing game, like World of Warcraft except appallingly mundane, where most quests involve the acquisition of money, cell phones and donuts, although not always at the same time. Let’s call it The Real World. You have installed The Real World on your computer and are about to start playing, but first you go to the settings tab to bind your keys, fiddle with your defaults, and choose the difficulty setting for the game. Got it?

Okay: In the role playing game known as The Real World, “Straight White Male” is the lowest difficulty setting there is.

This means that the default behaviors for almost all the non-player characters in the game are easier on you than they would be otherwise. The default barriers for completions of quests are lower. Your leveling-up thresholds come more quickly. You automatically gain entry to some parts of the map that others have to work for. The game is easier to play, automatically, and when you need help, by default it’s easier to get.

Now, once you’ve selected the “Straight White Male” difficulty setting, youstill have to create a character, and how many points you get to start — and how they are apportioned — will make a difference. Initially the computer will tell you how many points you get and how they are divided up. If you start with 25 points, and your dump stat is wealth, well, then you may be kind of screwed. If you start with 250 points and your dump stat is charisma, well, then you’re probably fine. Be aware the computer makes it difficult to start with more than 30 points; people on higher difficulty settings generally start with even fewer than that.

As the game progresses, your goal is to gain points, apportion them wisely, and level up. If you start with fewer points and fewer of them in critical stat categories, or choose poorly regarding the skills you decide to level up on, then the game will still be difficult for you. But because you’re playing on the “Straight White Male” setting, gaining points and leveling up will still by default be easier, all other things being equal, than for another player using a higher difficulty setting.

Likewise, it’s certainly possible someone playing at a higher difficulty setting is progressing more quickly than you are, because they had more points initially given to them by the computer and/or their highest stats are wealth, intelligence and constitution and/or simply because they play the game better than you do. It doesn’t change the fact you are still playing on the lowest difficulty setting.

You can lose playing on the lowest difficulty setting. The lowest difficulty setting is still the easiest setting to win on. The player who plays on the “Gay Minority Female” setting? Hardcore.

And maybe at this point you say, hey, I like a challenge, I want to change my difficulty setting! Well, here’s the thing: In The Real World, you don’t unlock any rewards or receive any benefit for playing on higher difficulty settings. The game is just harder, and potentially a lot less fun. And you say, okay, but what if I want to replay the game later on a higher difficulty setting, just to see what it’s like? Well, here’s the other thing about The Real World: You only get to play it once. So why make it more difficult than it has to be? Your goal is to win the game, not make it difficult.

Oh, and one other thing. Remember when I said that you could choose your difficulty setting in The Real World? Well, I lied. In fact, the computer chooses the difficulty setting for you. You don’t get a choice; you just get what gets given to you at the start of the game, and then you have to deal with it.

So that’s “Straight White Male” for you in The Real World (and also, in the real world): The lowest difficulty setting there is. All things being equal, and even when they are not, if the computer — or life — assigns you the “Straight White Male” difficulty setting, then brother, you’ve caught a break.

by Anonymous 2 on Jan. 31, 2016 at 7:27 AM
4 moms liked this
I can see color, but I don't always notice that I'm the only white person in a room for awhile. I think that most people who claim to be colorblind means they don't care about what color someone's skin is, they like or dislike the person for their personality.
These days you never know what you can say without offending someone, which is sad. We all should be ok with our skin color.
As for any race getting special treatment, I don't believe in that. I think people get what they work for and go after
by Anonymous 3 on Jan. 31, 2016 at 7:47 AM
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Oh FFS.  Is this your grad school reseach project or what?  Statistics can tell you whatever it is you want to hear, you simply have to know which ones to use.  You should have learned that in one of your early research methods courses.

I "was born this way" which is that I am a female, caucasian, and I grew up in a family that was working class and prized the male children over the female children.  Males had every advantage in my family (not overall in the world because they were still from a poor, working class family) and were expected to attend college on a scholarship, probably an athletic one, because they would one day provide for a family.  Females were for looking pretty, scoring a good husband, and becoming a wife and mother.  There was never any talk of females going to college, because it just wouldn't happen.

I put myself through college (and grad school up to a PhD) because no one else was going to do it for me.  I struggled and sacrificed for a number of years and I'm still paying off student loans.  Along the way, I worked in a number of jobs where I saw others do some crappy things to people and get ahead of me, so I just moved on.  My road was NOT easy in any way.  The world did not blossom with opportunity in any way, shape or form.  I have worked my tail off to get what I have.   I do not blame anyone for my road being hard; it sucked and it's still not over.

Every day I see other people get things that I don't have.   I see other people get career opportunities that I did not have at their age.  I see people who make more money than I do, despite all of my education and hard work.   I see people driving nicer cars than me (including students of all genders, colors, religions), living in nicer houses than me--whatever.  Oh well. I can be upset by that or move on--I move on.   

I did not go to jail or prison because I did not get involved with crime.  I knew jail/prison was a bad place and I made a choice to not be involved with crime.  That was my choice.  It was not easy growing up without a lot of stuff.  

My job now pays a good salary.  I make many, many times more money than my father ever made or than my mother can fathom a woman earning.  I got my job because I am qualified or it (after many years of education and work combined) and I am good at it.  The thought that someone "gave" me this job because I am a female makes me so angry that I would like to take them into a back alley and beat the crap out of them (like a girl from my poor neighborhood might).  I earned the right to be here; no one "gave" me anything.

I have what I have because I wanted it, set a goal, and worked for it.  The whole "privilege" attitude defeats the importance of achievement.  Life requires sacrifice and people will get a whole lot further if they stop sitting on their asses, behind a keyboard, googling statistics and commenting about why the world is not fair.  Life is not fair.  Get over it.

by Anonymous 4 on Jan. 31, 2016 at 8:31 AM
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it's funny how Afriican Americans are usually the only ones talking about the color of skin. Thats only when they don't get their way then the rest of us are saying no or not doing what they want, thats when they bring our the color of their own skin.

by Ruby Member on Jan. 31, 2016 at 8:33 AM
11 moms liked this

Blahdy blah fucking blah. Screaming white privilage contributes to th racial divide. Enough already.

by Anonymous 1 - Original Poster on Jan. 31, 2016 at 9:00 AM

Quoting Anonymous 3:

I "was born this way" which is that I am a female, caucasian, and I grew up in a family that was working class and prized the male children over the female children.  Males had every advantage in my family (not overall in the world because they were still from a poor, working class family) and were expected to attend college on a scholarship, probably an athletic one, because they would one day provide for a family.  Females were for looking pretty, scoring a good husband, and becoming a wife and mother.  There was never any talk of females going to college, because it just wouldn't happen.

Did you watch the video and read the piece on kyriarchy?

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