Sunday, 4 May 2014
At the intersection of privilege and oppression:
One of the big problems with social justice is that people adhere to simplistic thinking, you're either angel or devil, no grey areas.
For example, I often end up arguing with PoC advocates who use oppressive language that affects me and others while talking about racism and their racial oppression. That's a grey area, because I am addressing something harmful but I also have white privilege at the same time.
Problem is folks continually act like my white privilege automatically means I can't have a point when I complain about oppressive language being used to discuss oppression. For the record being able to criticise us for the privilege we have, doesn't mean we don't have a point when we say you're being oppressive. The resulting conversation usually goes the same way each time and I'm a little bit tired of it.
The first hurdle is that if we talk about it in a separate conversation? Well we do it by ourselves. I write about it but truth be told, it isn't making any difference because those who use it aren't listening and those who do listen already don't use it. In short, people like me are put in the position where the only time we get an actual response at all from the people being problematic is if we call it out directly in use, which puts us in a position of literally having to interrupt the conversation to ask for it to stop or continuing to be subjected to harm via it's use.
I've written countless essays on how it's problematic to use slurs that don't affect you while talking about your own oppression. Yet the only time I get a response from a person of color using one? Is when I'm triggered enough to directly call out it out in use.
So from my point of view there isn't any way to try and persuade folks to stop saying shitty things that harm me without having to be "that racist asshole". Which to be honest, is not something I really want to be, which is why it only happens when I'm triggered past the point where I can tolerate it.
When we bring it up in the only chance we actually have to address it? It immediately heads to derail territory, not because of us but because the default response is "I'm talking about my oppression, how dare you say I'm being problematic" followed two hours of complaining about being asked to not use it.
Because apparently one post asking you not to say problematic things is the derail, not the two hours you spent arguing with us about how we're awful people for asking you not to say things that oppress us while talking about your oppression.
Then we've got the assumption that by asking for people of color not to say problematic things while addressing oppressions, we're asking to be centered. In reality as I've said over and over, all that is required is that you acknowledge it's problematic and stop using it. Called a racist a "moron"? Told it's a disabilist slur and asked to stop using it? Only required response is "Okay, Racists are assholes then" and trying to remember not to use "moron" as an insult in future.
I don't want to have a discussion about it, or you to spend all your time on my oppression. I just want you to stop using oppressive language, or at least try. It's not difficult.
The other issue is that it's always assumed that you're mentally stable by default and can take any amount of pounding that you're deemed as "deserving" for interrupting and criticising a narrative specifically for negatively affecting groups you're part of if someone you have privilege over posted it. As I've said, I only address triggery oppressive comments from PoC when I'm triggered to the point of having to say something. That means I'm incredibly fucking wound up when it happens. Those of us with a point that whatever is being said IS problematic to our group are basically lumped in with privileged white shits who are super offended just because you're talking about racism. Our distress is often openly mocked, because hey throwing up with stress from oppressive triggers, is just like being a privileged person who is merely offended by you talking about their privilege.
It's just another part of the "you have a privilege I don't, so therefore you have all the privileges" narrative, it's harmful. Sometimes people are being assholes, but sometimes they're being assholes to ask you to stop being one.
I've yet to have anyone realise that I have a point when I address triggery oppressive content in anti-oppression conversations. It is possible for that racist asshole to have a point. It is possible for me to both be racist and to be right in saying that what you said contained triggery oppressive language. When I continue to insist that yes, the oppressive thing you said was a problem, I'm not denying that I'm being problematic or denying being racist, I'm asking for you to stop oppressing me so I don't have to be that racist asshole by asking you to stop.
I'm honestly sick of having the same argument over and over, so why don't we try a new one in which everyone tries not to say oppressive shit and if they fail simply goes "okay" to being told rather than doubling down on it? It would be a change at least.