by Meg Thompson
During the lead up to the 2008 presidential election, when I was an English Instructor in western Missouri, a student said to me, shaking his head, “A woman and a black man. Can’t we just have a normal person run for office?”
I don’t remember how I responded, perhaps because I fainted. Back then, barely a semester out of graduate school, my approach to handling the delicate issues of race and gender veered toward melodrama. Today, when met with similar rhetorical questions, it is not uncommon to find me crouching in front of the student’s desk like I am taking an order at Chili’s, nodding, probing with my little questions: Why do you think that? After class, we would go to the university coffeeshop so we could chat one-on-one, more in-depth.
Now, in 2016, that black man is getting ready to finish his second term and that woman has the democratic nomination in her grasp. My female students come to my office, which is now in rural Oklahoma where I teach, and tell me in hushed tones that they aren’t feminists, but they believe women should be given equal treatment. Continue reading