The article’s central point is a differentiation between “living” and “residing.”
“Residing,” per Gonzales, is the way upper-class people exist. It is the quiet and hushed existence she was forced to endure with great discomfort at an Ivy League College. Residing is fundamentally “WASPY” (of White-Anglo Saxon-Protestants).
Residing creates an environment where, if one takes to hooting and hollering in the quiet space of a library or is yelling boisterously in their dormitory, someone trying to work will ask you to calm down. It is sanitary and disciplined. One is expected to control their volume. This is colonial oppression, according to Gonzales.
“Living,” per Gonzales, is fundamentally lower class. It is the life of ethnic and religious minorities. Living is the capacity to blare loud music through the headphones of a Walkman in the quiet space of a library. It is the ability to sit in one’s dorm room with their friends, loudly arguing about the best rapper of all time while ignoring the fact that someone is trying to sleep amidst the noise pollution.
“Living” requires a different environment than “residing.” “Living” environments are the environment of true freedom, according to Gonzales. “Living” environments are unsanitized, undisciplined and incapable of controlling their own sounds.
Gonzales lists a series of racial and violent acts of her being asked to be quiet for the comfort of others to demonstrate this oppression:
- Once she and her friends were being loud at his Ivy league school as others were trying to sleep, and someone asked them to be quiet.
- After college, she and her friends were blaring a radio while eating takeout, and someone knocked on her door and asked them to be quiet.
- Once, she and her friends were too loud at a brunch in a fancy hotel and were asked to be considerate of those around them.
“In those moments, I felt hot with shame and anger, yet unable to articulate why,” Gonzales bemoaned.
“It took me years to understand that, in demanding my friends and I quiet down, these students were implying that their comfort superseded our joy. And in acquiescing, I accepted that.”
“Living” people require the ability to inconsiderately bombard those around them with loud noises if they are to “live.” “Residing” people oppress living people by asking them to be considerate of our need to work and sleep at regular hours.