Third Reflection (Tedi)

When it comes to equality, there seem to be two general, at-war schools of thought. One, that true equality will be achieved through erasure of individual identity—that there is equality in reducing every author and artist to their most basic identifier: human. Symptoms of this sort of thinking including espousing epigrams like, “I don’t see color” or “The only race that matters is the human race.” Its competing theory entails the opposite- that true equality is achieved through an acknowledgment of individualism by validating the variety of the human experience. People and their works are acknowledged within the sociocultural ecosystem of their birth. Instead of claiming “I don’t see color,” one might recognize another’s blackness and that their experience differs from the white experience, instead of invalidating this experience by diminishing it through erasure. Instead of ignoring our differences, we see them; instead of flattening the human experience, we give it dimension and color.

But how do these two theories of equality relate to digital humanities?

Before I embarked on my Digital Humanities journey, I liked the notion that Digital Humanities could be inclusive through anonymity. The computer would serve as the great equalizer, rejecting the biases and prejudices that commonly plague the humanities (and academia in general.) In Digital Humanities, the creator would be appraised by their scholarly work—gender, color, and creed aside. However, after some thoughtful reflection, research, and article-reading, I tend to stray from my original conclusion. I don’t want my project to be viewed void of context, a piece of creation born and then immediately divorced from its maker. I want my viewpoint, politics, and experience to be considered in duet with my work. My website was made by a white, able-bodied woman, upper-middle class, transposed from her Southern megalopolis into a tiny Northern town.  I don’t want to erase my authorship of this project; instead, I want to own it. I gravitate more towards acknowledgment over erasure, recognition over refusal.

In the articles I read, feminists addressed intersectionality instead of perpetuating white feminism (which is hardly feminism at all.) They attacked a “neutral point of view” as being deaf to the systemic biases against women, people of color, those in poverty, and the disabled. “Listen to us!” we want to scream, “Instead of ignoring us! Hear our experiences and recognize how they differ from your own.” Part of my responsibility as a disability studies researcher has been to not speak over the voices of a marginalized people, but to allow them to speak with autonomy (and I’m doing my best to do so, to avoid the tantalizing “savior complex” role that so many seem to revert to.) It is not my place to scoff at or deny someone’s experience of racism or ableism, in the same way that it is no one’s place to demean or belittle my experience as a woman. Good allyship ensures equality through representation, not repression, of identity.

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