Home Opinion OPINION: Democrats Discuss – Addressing the donkey in the room

OPINION: Democrats Discuss – Addressing the donkey in the room

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Meah McCallister, a junior studying creative writing and minoring in political science, is president the Ohio University College Democrats. The following article reflects the views and opinions of the author and not those of the College Democrats.

It’s hard to describe the feeling of being elected to the position of president for an organization you adore. There is an intense flood of happiness, then anxiety at the thought of potentially destroying what you love — looking your members in the eyes and wanting to do whatever is best for them in every single situation moving forward. But honestly, the part that gets you through it is the smiling faces of your executive board and knowing with your heart that you’re all in this together. 

Then someone comes after your girls.

Constructive criticism is important, I will never argue against that. It helps push people to be better and strive for new goals. While I value the opportunity to fix any mistakes I might be making, I will not tolerate blatant attacks on the members of OUCD.

After the Ohio University College Democrats election for this school year, people had an immediate problem with our new executive board. The funny thing is, most of the accounts “calling us out” on social media had very few followers and some had no profile picture. They were clearly made just to harass us. The accounts ranged from short sentences of what the author clearly found funny, to people who tore us down to promote their own organization, all the way to the downright deranged, like those who compared us to the Ku Klux Klan. 

Despite the strong likelihood that those comments were made by privileged men aggravated that strong women were in positions of power, I still felt myself questioning the position I was put in. One valid point had been made in all the commotion: All of us are white.

How could I argue against that fact? I couldn’t — plain and simple. Sure, I could point out that it’s difficult to have an incredibly diverse organization when our campus itself is not as diverse as we would like it to be. But ultimately, that’s a cop-out, and I know it. So the only thing I can really do on that front is try as hard as I possibly can to make this year welcoming for all students. I hope that through my time as president, more people of color feel comfortable joining OUCD and running for executive board positions. I’ll do whatever I can in my power to make that happen. 

The truth is, no matter what I say on this topic, it won’t be perfect. I, nor any other member of our executive board, could ever understand the ins and outs of being a person of color. We cannot speak to those personal experiences — we can only listen. 

However, the definition of diversity is much broader than skin tone. OUCD is full of diverse members in other aspects. We have a large group of students that are members of the LGBTQ+ community. I myself am bisexual, something that I am proud to talk about. As someone who grew up with almost no representation of a bisexual woman in a position of power, I think it is important for me to be visible. Our organization grew our LGBTQ+ membership through outreach over the years, and this executive board has plans to do the same for other intersectional identities. 

We are already working with organizations that pride themselves on diversity to create events, and we are teaming up with them on different ways to get involved on campus. Hopefully, we can coordinate even more than we already have planned and encourage as many students as possible to get involved in politics. 

Most of us have learned the term “intersectionality” in our lives, but this concept is extremely important. The members of our executive board come from extremely different backgrounds that create vividly different experiences. In terms of our families’ economic statuses, we all grew up in vastly different socio-economic environments. Our differing religious backgrounds have given us all very different perspectives on the world. Not to mention, a large portion of us are members of the LGBTQ+ community. Through our different experiences, both as an executive board and the rest of our general body, we are able to expand on our own views.

I’d like to believe that the situation has blown over — that I’ll never hear or read comments coming after my team — but that would be incredibly naive of me. As women in positions of power, we will hear these arguments time and time again, but to those individuals who try and tear us down, I echo the sentiments I made last spring: privilege only shouts for diversity when privilege is left out. Expand your minds and understandings. Stop tearing women down while you yell for progress. 

I love being President of OUCD. I love the strong, powerful, unique women on my executive board. I am the President of the first all-women executive board in OUCD’s history, and I will never stop being proud of that. Love yourself, and all of your intersectional identities. Know that your individual experiences make you who you are — and that is beautiful. Diversity is a wonderful thing. Stop and appreciate it once in a while. 

 

This is a submitted column, and please note that these views and opinions do not reflect those of The New Political. 

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