An interesting story at the American Conservative from a Latino student:
Anyway, there were a few standard questions about what we do to take care of ourselves and I was feeling fine about everything. Then, on the fourth question, the moderator asked, “How do your intersecting identities affect your mental health?” A parade of rather predictable responses followed. “I’m black, so nobody expects me to succeed, which is why I fail so often.” “I’m a woman, so I often feel as if I am supposed to be in the kitchen instead of the study.” And so on. I was the last one.
I thought about it for a second and decided to take a stand (paraphrasing): “I don’t think about my intersecting identities. It simply isn’t useful. It’s more useful to think of myself as an individual and not subject myself to imaginary group pressures because that leads to pathology. I prefer to grant myself agency and allow that I have the power to determine my course regardless of these happenstance characteristics.”
The circle became visibly tense and the people next to me were physically repulsed. The moderator looked at me and sneered, “White male.” Seriously, she said that.
I was a bit taken aback. I smirked a bit (it is rather funny) and said something to the effect of, “There are words to describe people who make assumptions on the basis of skin color and gender, and they aren’t particularly nice. And I’m actually Mexican–” She interrupted me, saying, “Well, you have very light skin.” Can you imagine the nerve of this woman? Seriously, she said that.
Of course, I’m paraphrasing my own words here because I don’t remember exactly what I said. I responded, “That’s quite the observation. What you can’t tell by my skin color and gender [she assumed my gender! The nerve of some people] is that I am on the autism spectrum. What you can’t tell is that my parents divorced when I was very young, that my family lost everything in the Great Recession, that my grandparents grew up in boxcars, that my parents never finished college, that my parents were abused as children, that I have had many personal struggles. These aren’t the things you can get out of melanin and genitalia…” I went on for some time like that and we went back and forth a few more times, with other students jumping in to tell me how insensitive I was being.
How dare he assert individual circumstances over identity politics.