Finding Yourself In Places That Weren’t Built For You

“I’m tall, male, white, straight and wealthy. If it wasn’t for that ‘Jewish’ thing, I’d be fine,” I’d joked to another politically progressive friend on Friday morning ruminating about the state of America. Tragic irony that 24 hours later I woke to a reminder about how that ‘Jewish thing’ leads some to believe we don’t deserve to be Americans, or to live at all.

On Saturday’s flight home I finished Rebecca Traister’s Good and Mad: The Revolutionary Power of Women’s Anger. Traister has been on the self-described “women’s anger” beat since the 2016 elections and the book is a kaleidoscope of sorts: political history of female protest; sociological analysis of patriarchy’s impact upon the emotional framework that women are allowed; #MeToo memoir; and race’s impact on gender solidarity.

It’s a good read. Took me back to my undergrad at Vassar. I spent four years at a place that wasn’t built for me. One that, until a few decades earlier, explicitly forbid me. It survived and thrived for more than 100 years without me. Vassar was my first experience being somewhere where I wasn’t just the statistical minority (my childhood suburb was heavily Jewish) but at an institution where I was the interloper, the violator of a heritage. No number of coeducational decades can change the fact Vassar was a women’s college first. It’s in the walls, the trees, the soil.

Every once in a while I drop into the DMs of a friend on Twitter. “Hey, do you mind me asking you something…” it usually starts. I think by now they know that means “Hunter is about to ask me something about that tweet” and they’re gracious enough to educate me. Sometimes it’s a simple cultural reference that flew over my head. Often it’s an unpleasant reality that their identity – or intersectionality of identities – exposes them to but I’ve never seen or recognized. And I thank them for bringing me into a world that was hidden to me because I get to emerge more aware and connected to their human experience.

Later this week I’m flying to Nevada to canvass for Jacky Rosen’s Senate bid. I’m a little nervous about residents asking me if I live in their state and accusing me of being a carpetbagger, or someone who should mind their own business. I’m hoping to come up with a funny, disarming response before Thursday.

Can everyone vote on November 6th? And help America continue its bumpy journey towards being a place that wasn’t just built for those who arrived by a certain previous date. Or sound, or look, or pray a certain way. And if you want to go beyond voting, The Last Weekend can help mobilize you prior to Election Day. It matters.