Friday, January 27, 2017

False Dichotomy of the Day

Actually of the... decade? Probably much longer but I've only been in this for a few years. Anyway.

Once again we're facing the problem of moderates and liberals and other wishy washy people looking for reasons to not have to fight the good fight being all "people I have privilege over are being mean to me by pointing out that I have privilege and that makes me not want to help them :( :( :( :(." Actually, it's more common for people to say "if you point out privilege then privileged people aren't going to want to help :( :( :( :( :(." I'm hoping it's because most people realize that the former statement makes you such a huge asshole and so they don't want to outright say it.

I've already discussed how basically threatening to withdraw support if the people you have privilege over aren't nice enough to you is completely abusive and terrible, but so many people still engage in debates about being "inclusive" and "supportive" or whatever to privileged people because they're so afraid of scaring those in power off. But if you support privileged people in this kind of conditional and abusive behavior, you're withdrawing support from those who really need it. The actual oppressed people.

This has come up once again over the signs held by black women asking us white women why we didn't come out for other issues, like when black men and women kept getting gunned down in the street and their cars and homes and murdered in jail cells, etc. Liberals and my fellow white women are now whining that call-outs like this only make the white women who came out for the Women's March not want to protest again because it makes them feel bad :(.

And yeah, I'm sure it does. But you know what, people have to deal with bad feelings sometimes. There needs to be some discomfort along the journey of activism and acknowledging one's privilege and role as an oppressor.

Here's the thing. In these discussions, liberals, white moderates, or whatever, are constantly creating a false dichotomy - a fake reality in which there are only two options and no middle ground. Which is ironic, because, "moderate."

There are actually ways to let oppressed people like black women express their anger towards us white women for failing to support them while encouraging fellow white women to keep coming out instead of being scared away by this confrontation. And it's us white people who need to do that work. Those of us who understand privilege and the need for the oppressed to express their anger need to explain to the frightened protest newbies that it's not about them. And we can guide them to resources that will help them become aware of things like Black Lives Matter protests they can attend, anti-racist organizations, white privilege workshops, etc. If we're afraid of our fellow white women being scared away, we can actually step in and prevent that without telling black women to shut up and be nice to their oppressors!

It's not either "no signs calling out white women" or "no support in the fight against Trump." It's "well yes some white women are probably going to feel defensive or discouraged by these messages but we can help many of them understand and overcome their defensiveness and if they refuse to even try then they were never going to be useful in the movement anyway and it's better to support black women than cater to their fragile egos and abusive actions." And you can navigate that gray area based on each individual situation and the many various factors surrounding each. Okay?

Do the work. None of this was ever going to be simple or easy.

No comments: