There are a lot of things about academia and the academic institution which irk me, it’s obviously hard to ignore how capitalist and neoliberal our universities are. But I won’t deny that I can truly, genuinely appreciate good research that is relevant to what I’m studying and what I want to pursue. I am constantly doubting myself when I tell people that I am double majoring in gender studies and urban planning/ecology, a lot of people even scoff or giggle when I tell them, as if I am an indecisive student who doesn’t know what to choose to study and has an aimless future. I made a very conscious decision when I declared both majors, because I can clearly, on my own, see the intersections of gender with public and private space; gentrification, environmental racism, and gender; homophobia and gentrification. I think that it’s a field that has so much to explore and my research currently is definitely something unique and relevant to the real world. This is a field which is both terrifying and exciting with so many new possibilities and landscapes. Eviction, being pushed out of a neighborhood which is historically yours, environmental racism, being harassed and surveilled specifically on public transportation for your race and gender and sexuality–these are huge issues.
Anyway, I went to a beautiful lecture tonight for the opening of our new school for cultural and social transformation. The title was “Race and Queer Space: Paradox of Safety”. Holy shit, my coworker kept nudging me the entire time because of how relevant the subject was to my research and majors. They began to talk about how lesbian bars and clubs in Latinx working class neighborhoods have historically been known to be ~safe spaces~ for lgbt folk, and many white lesbians were attacked outside of the bars and clubs. When this became a large issue, police were asked to “secure” the neighborhood, and began to target nearby brown and black men at a gas station, even though they had no evidence that they were the harassers. The conversation turned into how a lot of the gay movement was attempting to improve and clean up neighborhoods, which turned into heavy policing of brown and black bodies. There was increased police surveillance instead of anti-capitalist and anti-racist and anti-homophobic movements–this touched on the assimilation politics and homonormative domestic policies of the time. Poverty was seen as a threat to gay identity, and it turned into a cooperative policing with economic developers. It showed how urban planning and zoning policies enforced a shifting form of racial capitalism and had two main points:
1. There is a conceptual and spatial distance b/w white lgbt neighborhoods and other neighborhoods that have predominantly marginalized communities.
2) These dynamics are not new, and noliberalism and yt liberals have infiltrated these movements from the beginning.
We also learned more about different rad organizations which threatened this homonormative narrative which perpetuated gentrification and policing AND IGNORE BLACK AND LATINX LGBT COMMUNITIES.
It was such an amazing learning experience for me.