Dear Sophia: Love and Politics

How do I go about encouraging the girl I’m dating to take part in cultural workshops on campus? As we’re people of color, I feel strongly that if you don’t know your history, you’re doomed to repeat it, and it’s important to me to be conscious. Every time I try to get her to come with me, she just seems uninterested and says, “I have these conversations all day anyway” — but she doesn’t. She’s not aware of social justice at all.  Dear Frustrated,

I understand the frustration of wanting people you care about to be more involved or engaged with issues that you care about. This is especially frustrating when you know that the issue affects them, too.

It might be helpful to sit down your lady friend and tell her what’s on your mind. Don’t make it about her not doing something that you think she should — she may feel attacked, defensive, or like you’re challenging her identity. And those feelings wouldn’t be entirely unjustified: While you may value engaging with your identity as a POC in a certain way, who are you to impose those standards on her and tell her how she should or should not engage with a part of herself?

Instead, make it about you. These issues are important to you, and as such, you want to share them with her. Say something like, “This upcoming event on race sounds interesting. Would you come with me? I’d love to hear your opinions and be able to talk to you about it afterwards.” Unless she’s against talking about race, how could she say no?

But even if she is against it, that must stem from somewhere. Maybe her experiences have made her hesitant to talk about these ideas. Just because you both are people of color doesn’t mean that you have the same lived experiences or the same emotions associated with it, and you can still be compatible without engaging with social justice in the same ways.