In light of a very frustrating week, I want to explain to y’all, as directly as possible, how your beliefs, actions, and rhetoric can be counterintuitive to your ally role. And even if you don’t identify as an ally to those in oppressed groups, this is for you, too.
Because I keep seeing those on both sides of progress doing these things.
For starters, it is with great privilege that you can still have frank and earnest discussions about the intent of people perpetuating oppressive systems. I see it all over Facebook, in comments on this very blog, and in my personal interactions with others. Intent has very little meaning to me in regard to systemic oppression. Focusing on intent is damaging from where I’m standing, since people think they’re only hateful (racist, sexist, ableist) if they intended to be. Seriously, y’all. Even people in the Klan believe this.
Thus, I have no patience, time, or energy to investigate whether someone meant to be sexist when he told me my argument was invalid because I was “emotional” (while he was “logical”). I have no reason to investigate whether or not Jane Doe meant to be racist as she told me “to get over racism (and slavery).” I do not care about the intent of the very ableist person I had a discussion about the R-word with – he claimed he was just trying to expand the larger social vocabulary.
It doesn’t matter.
Like, at all.
The impact – the sexist, racist, ableist actions, matter far more than what they meant to do. Period. It is from the most privileged of positions that you can be so concerned with intent – because you’re not feeling oppression. So if you’re overly concerned with intent and you’re not a character on SVU, fall back.
It is exhausting and disheartening for me to continuously have to defend my humanity: why I (and others who look like me) are worthy of justice, why I am not overemotional or an angry black woman or a too-sensitive social justice warrior (SJW) just because I called out your perpetuation of the white heteronormative patriarchy. It is exhausting to be told that my education – my advanced degrees – mean nothing because you don’t want to hear what I’m saying or take responsibility for what you’ve said or done.
In addition, if you are policing my tone, my grammar, making a free speech argument where it isn’t applicable – you are derailing, and patriarchal as fuck. I do not need your thoughts on my tone, and my grammar is just fine, thanks (#EnglishMajor), so
1) Boo fucking hoo.
2) I can guarantee you that in reality (whether intentionally or unconsciously), what you don’t like is what I’m saying. You don’t want to hear how you can be implicated in perpetuating racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, or ableism.
I can assure you, it doesn’t matter how I say what I say. Someone will find fault with it because the content makes them uncomfortable.
I don’t know whether it is a trend or a select few, but rhetoric like this, seems to be more concerned with the hurt feelings (and intent) of those saying, doing, perpetuating varying amounts of racism, sexism, ableism, etc, rather than concerned with the feelings of those being oppressed, put down, and dehumanized with those sentiments!
Please recognize how ridiculous that is.
And please do better.