Difference is an all encompassing word. In Audre Lorde’s piece Age, Race, Class, and Sex: Women Redefining Difference; we read about the complex aspect of difference within western european history and the affects that it has had on social construction and human interaction. Difference can be see simply through binaries like “dominant/subordinate, good/bad, up/down and superior/inferior” (114). Though these binaries give a basic understanding of what difference can circumscribe, the conflict that difference creates is much deeper.

Lorde says, “Too often, we pour the energy needed for recognizing and exploring difference into pretending those differences are insurmountable barriers, or that they do not exist at all” (115). Lorde makes a very valid point stating that the differences of intersectionality are not to be overlooked. Growing up as a white, upper-class, privileged woman, difference was not something that I experienced every day. Because of that, my understanding of racial segregation as well as general hostility between people was minimal. Not until I came out, was difference something that became apart of my every day life. There is a dynamic to difference that perpetuates social interaction as well as the education of society. If we do not continue general education of the differences that we all share, diversity will get lost in the shuffle. It’s not about homogeneity, it’s about having an identity that can be brought to the collective.

When Lorde talks about the ignorance of white women who only focus on their oppression as women and their disregard of race, sexual preference, class, and age , I agree that they are important issues to a point. Lack of intersectional exposure can limit an individuals ability to see oppression outside of their social surroundings. It is hard to understand difference when diversity is lacking in your environment or the generational gap between individuals is seen as a span of time not worth breaching. We can learn so much about race, class, age and sex from the people around us each day. Continuing a relationship with your elders or working to enlightening younger children can help break the disconnect that is shared between generations, classes, sexes, and races which makes difference less consequential. This also allows for intersectional growth so that “we don’t have to invent the wheel every time we have to go to the store for bread” (117).

To recognition difference like diversity would create an opportunity towards a more balanced society. The hostility that is shared across these intersectional barriers is worth being heard. Homophobia, racism, etc is not going to disappear overnight. Like the repeal of DADT, you may be able to openly serve in the military as a homosexual but does that mean you will receive the same respect as others? Can we change decades of behavior and opinions that are so strongly against gays just because a piece of legislation makes it so. As Lorde states, difference is not a subject to be ignored. We need to talk about the differences that we all share or the world is going to keep perpetuating bad habits and hatred towards people that are not apart of the norm. The subjugation of those in the minority reflects complete disregard for the diversity that our nation shares. We would not be the melting pot of the world if we didn’t have the diversity that we do.

-Sarah Klapperich

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