Losing my ignorance

In the second grade, I would sit with my friends, colouring and drawing in order to find a creativity within myself that I didn’t know I had. It didn’t matter what they looked like, whether they were a boy or a girl, the colour of their skin, hair, or eyes. The way I saw it, everyone in my class was my friend. I always saw people for the combination of their smile, laugh, creativity, and for their ability to have fun. At the time, the reason was because recess was very important to me.

But I will always remember sitting there drawing pictures of our families and colouring with my classmates. The way we held the pencil crayons, our reckless or meticulous colouring around lines we created. People would always ask, “can you pass the skin colour?” This pencil crayon, a beige, peachy tone was considered the skin tone.

I grasped a vague concept of race but I always saw everyone as equal.

I had this idea in my head of what was normal, but as I grew older I slowly began to realize that almost everything around me was unfair. I saw the injustices in every realm of my life and as I learned more, had this constant feeling that I had never been told the whole truth when I was young. Slowly, I began to shed my ignorance and see so many of the issues I had with the world.

Being able to see injustices did not make for simple discussions. I used to work at a pizza shop where misogyny ran rampant and no matter how much I spoke about it, I wouldn’t see any change. Often when I spoke out, a lot of what I was saying wouldn’t get through. I never felt like I had all of the knowledge I needed to make my points. I was always viewed as young, impressionable, and ignorant. One man would consistently talk about how he would love to be a woman who did not have to work and would be able to sit at home all day doing anything. He never understood that a life like that does not fulfill everyone and that women have aspirations. No matter what I did, I could not get this through to him.

But looking back, after countless times of demanding to be listened to I gained a bit more respect from these people. While I didn’t change many of their viewpoints, I learned that no matter how small a comment, it is important to speak out and say something. In shedding some of my ignorance, I found my voice.

I heard and felt racism, sexism, privilege, and inequality all around me then, and the more I open my eyes, the more I feel it. But the more I felt it, the more I wanted to speak out.

Speaking out against intolerance is not something that came easily to me. It often still doesn’t. I have an innate desire to please everyone which leads me to say yes too often, and suppress my emotions, feelings, and thoughts. I know that I should not aim to please people who have hurt or offended myself and others. But it can be hard to remember.

Losing my piece after piece of my ignorance initially made me feel alone, but as I found people who noticed inequality around them. We began talking  about how unfair things were and I learned so much from them. I think this is when I found more of my voice.

Often, I still find myself shedding bits ignorance. Whether it was learning more about gender and nonbinary pronouns in high school, or speaking out about feminism. Daily, I make mistakes and assume countless things that I shouldn’t, but I am learning.