Every year, thousands of Harvard students take part in internships, study abroad programs, and research. Many of us have a great time. Many do not. And yet almost no one would admit to having a bad time over summer break in casual conversation. Instead, boring internships in hostile work environments are reframed as “learning experiences."
Perhaps when we go out for dinner, we should experience a moment of discomfort, however fleeting, when we meditate on the arbitrary stroke of luck that separates the person serving from the person being served.
While I was spilling my secrets in a dark confessional booth, millions of similarly angst-ridden teens were sharing their stories online. Assisted by the Internet, our generation has made a lifestyle out of personal revelations.
As long as we maintain a definition of progress that limits itself to diversification—which often consists of the diversification of oppressive institutions—we lose sight of the real benchmark of progress: the elimination of the institutions that cause oppression in the first place.