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Letter to the Editor/Editorial Response

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Letter to the Editor/Editorial Response

Nora Fellas, Contributing Writer

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EDITORS NOTE:

On Tuesday, April 24th, an article by Michelle Wei, author of the Diversity Corner blog, was posted on the web. The article detailed Wei’s feelings on the bake sale hosted by GALS in which girls paid 77 cents per baked good and boys paid one dollar, to bring attention to the fact that on average, women make 77 cents to the man’s dollar.

The intentions of the price gap were interpreted by Wei as “lifting the stories of white women above those of black and Latina women,” since the wage gap for white women is very close to 77 cents. The article failed to acknowledge the efforts taken by GALS to draw attention to the intersections between race and the wage gap. Once the inaccuracies in the article were acknowledged, Tower removed the story from the main web page, rendering it inaccessible, unless specifically searched for. Before midnight on the 25th of April, the story was removed fully. The editorial board of Tower met with the author of the article to review the problems with the piece, and she has begun work on revising the piece.

Thank you for staying patient,

Tower Editors

 

NORA’S LETTER TO THE EDITOR: 

Dear Editors,

As Co-President of GALs, I write on behalf of GALS in response to Michelle Wei’s blog post (April 24, 2018) accusing GALs of “hypocrisy” and “fail[ing] in its mission” because it supposedly only supported “white feminism” and didn’t “fight against racism, homophobia, transphobia, Islamophobia, and any other xenophobic sentiment.”

I want to make five points.

1)         GALs welcome the debate about these important issues and anything that focuses attention on them, and it thus appreciates Michelle posting.

2)         This blog post falls into the trap of many who adopt progressive causes: criticizing those who adopt some causes on the ground that they have failed to adopt every cause. Thus, to a person focused at one time on homophobia, you can object to the omission of victims of gun violence. The criticism leveled against GALs could be applied to the blog post.  It identified groups it claims wasn’t supported by GALs,  but nowhere does it mention the mentally ill. The blog’s argument is philosophically flawed. Just because we focus on some causes doesn’t mean we don’t care about others. Those who want us to fail in advancing just causes would like to see us divided rather than united.  Let’s focus on what unites us, rather than what divides us. We will all make mistakes along the way, but let’s not forget that we are all on the same side.

3)         Regrettably, this blog post is factually inaccurate. The bake sale that it criticized wasn’t focused exclusively on “white feminism.” Before the sale, GALs was focused on the very issues of intersectionality that the blog claims GALs ignored. We discussed these issues at length before deciding whether and how to host it. Our concern for issues of intersectionality guided the way we conducted the sale. The price differential for sweets wasn’t based on the disparity between pay for white women and men, but rather on the average for ALL women. We used the number: 77 cents because it’s an average of all women’s equal pay disparity. White women on average make 79 cents, not 77 cents, as Michelle stated. While the price charged by GALs didn’t show the racial breakdown, we displayed a chart (below) that had the racial breakdown, and when people bought sweets, we talked about the racial disparity. Anyone who had come to the bake sale would know this, but many people, including Michelle, were quick to judge our brief announcement and didn’t attend. We spoke to students of color, who support the sale.

Gabi Seguinot said, “It was clear that the statistic in Morning Meeting was the average. I don’t understand why people were misinterpreting it. They wouldn’t even ask what was true but jumped to conclusions. Also, GALs held a sign that showed intersectionality. I’m a person of color and I accepted the average because it didn’t focus on white stats.”

4)         This blog post left out many of the steps GALs took to make our bake sale intersectional. GALs had many meetings about this. We also reached out to the leadership of activist clubs on campus with regards to future collaboration and received no responses — it was difficult to know how best to include issues that aren’t obviously under GALs’ jurisdiction. Money from the sale went to charity. Girls not Brides works to end child marriages and empower women in developing countries. GALs had an open forum following the bake sale because we understood there was controversy. We made a statement to the school, emphasizing that all were welcome to attend. This was the time to talk about what worked and what didn’t, the time for members of the community to voice their concerns about shared goals. But nobody came, not even the author of the blog. There was no effort made to reach out to GALs about this blog. Had there been, the inaccuracies could have been resolved. Opinion columns should express an opinion, but that opinion should be based on all the facts.

5)         Although the bake sale was controversial, GALS stands behind its decision.  Not only did it draw attention to the pay differentials that exist across gender and race, but also it also raised money for charity. As Laurel Thatcher Ulrich once said, “Well-behaved women seldom make history.”

Signed,

Nora Fellas, ’20

Co-president of GALs

 

 

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Letter to the Editor/Editorial Response