Monday, July 09, 2012

What your privilege looks like.

Buckle up homies.

Today I want to talk about how to recognize when you are using your privilege like a weapon and you may not realize it.

Let's talk about White Privilege for a moment.

Here are some reactions to things I've read about on the internets lately, reactions I've had right here in my litterbox and experienced in my actual life.

Picture yours truly explaining something concerning being a Black person maybe I'm talking about feeling discriminated against, perhaps I'm talking about some jackass touching my hair, maybe I am talking to other Black people about Black People Life experiences.

If you have ever done any of the following and wondered why people got mad at you I'm going to clue you in:

  • But that happens to me too..
  • I just don't see race.
  • Race doesn't matter to me.
  • You have decided you are too "uncomfortable" after you've already started to get into the conversation and dropped it.
This is your privilege in action. The thing is that regardless of your personal circumstances, (if you're queer, your socioeconomic status etc) you have the absolute choice to never in your life deal with racism.

If you are a White person specifically in America, you never ever have to think about it. You don't have to be traumatized by racism either directly or indirectly. You have the absolute choice to go on about your life without ever having to deal with or talk about racism.

Does that mean I think that's awesome? No I don't. Does that mean you get cookies or back pats if you talk about or are publicly anti racism? No it really doesn't.

Sometimes White folks when you are trying so hard to prove how not racist you are, you wind up using your privilege like a sledgehammer and people like me get pissed off.

You may get told to fuck right off and jam your allyship up your ass. You may have someone curse you out. You may get ignored.

Here's the thing.

Most POC I know don't have the energy to take every non POC by the hand and explain to them the five million reasons why no we don't want your opinion about intra-POC problems, why we don't need your opinion about what is or isn't a function of racism or whether we have or have not experienced racism.

Yes you may mean well but your well meaning method of being an ally can really do way more harm than good.

Now I'm going to ask y'all to brain some. Apply these things if you are thin, able bodied, a man etc.

If you are honest with yourself and you catch yourself in a moment where you've been arguing with say fat people and you realize that our struggle has no impact on your life right now and walk away. There's your privilege at work and being ugly.

I said something like this last week on tumblr but I'll say it again here.

Sometimes in order to be a good ally you need to shut the fuck up.

Yes you really do.

Sometimes it does a cause more good if allies just listen to what we're trying to say. 

If you have declared yourself to be an ally and say you get famous for the things you say, don't do what people like Laci Green does.

  1. Don't use the words and issues of people you are not (POC, fat people etc) and get super exposure and then not have the decency to thank those people. It's stealing. Oh hi internet/famous feminists I'm talking to you here too. Just don't fucking do that. 
  2. If you get called out for being inappropriate whether it's something you've said, done, co signed etc- apologize like a grown up. That means you say something like Oh shit I am so sorry I fucked up really bad. You don't demand an explanation or teaching as to why you made that mistake. You don't turn it into OMG Y SO MEEN U BULLIES. Don't talk about your intentions. Don't expect to be instantly forgiven if ever forgiven. Don't expect to royally fuck up and then have everyone magically forget if you do apologize. Don't be passive aggressive. Don't demand cookies if you don't fuck up in the future. Yes, allies are human and humans fuck up a lot. Good allies don't keep doing it blindly, good allies don't expect to have their ego masturbated because they had good intentions.
  3. If you fuck up and sincerely don't understand how, don't expect to be handheld or cuddled about it. Learn to exercise some judgement as to when it is or isn't appropriate to ask someone to explain to you. And don't sit on your entitlement, by which I mean you are not entitled to anyone teaching you about your own behavior.
  4. If you are really serious about being an ally and learning about your privilege the most important and powerful thing you can do is listen. You can start learning that privilege isn't an insult, it's not name calling it's not an attack it just is. It is a thing and you can learn to navigate around the world without using your privilege like a hammer.
You can do this. It's really fucking hard sometimes but I have faith in you.

Sometimes you have to look at yourself and understand that yes you may have opinions but not every venue is a place to express those opinions.

Sometimes you have to let other people speak for themselves.

Sometimes your feelings are going to get hurt.

Sometimes you are going to fuck up.

Sometimes you are gong to hurt other people.

Sometimes, things don't need to center on your experience because your experience isn't what  is being discussed.

Sometimes the way to show the whole world what an awesome ally you are is to do or say nothing.

If you read this entry and feel guilty, listen to yourself. If you know these are things you do/have done consider this your moment to decide not to do them anymore. You don't' have to be great at this immediately. You can make the effort.

This is one of the hard moments.

Embrace it.

Work with it.

Work with yourself in order to be a better ally.

Now that's all. I'm off to do writer business.

Homo Out.


1 comment:

Amanda said...

"Sometimes in order to be a good ally you need to shut the fuck up."

words of wisdom

Thank you for the reality check

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