Nov. 14th, 2015

pandora_parrot: (activism)
This started as a letter to someone, but it's good general advice to myself, and anyone else that needs to hear it.

We live within a system that is generally referred to as a kyriarchy. That system has taught all of us to perpetuate the systems of power present in it. Women are "crazy" and "bitchy." Blacks are "uppity." Poor people are "jealous" and "greedy" or just "pitiable." etc. etc. Our thoughts and language are constructed, in part, by a society that seeks to place certain people at the top by stepping on those below.

As much as I hate it, to me, it's never a question of "if" someone engages in ableist, sexist, racist, homophobic, etc. behavior. It's a question of "what" behavior a person has, and how to change it. It's not about attacking a person and calling them a ____-ist. It's about recognizing the behaviors we have that affect certain people around us disproportionately, and negatively.

To me, this is a liberating thought. Knowing that we all have these behaviors, that we're all "a little bit racist" (as the song goes) enables us to spend time LEARNING about it and changing. We can, without taking it personally, learn how to be better people, every day. Instead of using its ubiquity to dismiss it, embrace it and do a better job of changing.

To be a good ally to those that are lower than you in some axis of oppression, you need to, at least in part, be ready to be called out, (or called in). When someone tells you they're being hurt by something you're saying or doing, when it exists along this sort of axis of oppression, listen.

Yeah, it's true that sometimes, people aren't going to be right. No member of any minority group is a perfect representative of their entire group. Sometimes, people project things onto their kyriarchical oppression where it doesn't belong. But regardless, an ally should always listen to it when they're being called out in this way.

Simply put. Allies don't get it. As a white person, I'll never grok what it means to be black. I'll never fully understand the life experience of what a black person goes through in life. And any ally, on any axis, is more than likely disadvantaged when it comes to understanding how behavior can affect those they claim to support. Chances are, as an ally, you don't know what you're talking about. So shut up and listen and learn.

When you're called out. Stop and think about what is being said. Talk to other socially conscious people about it. Learn about it on the internet. Educate yourself.

But for the love of god, don't get self-righteous about how you're not ____-ist and how the person who is being hurt is mean to call you ____ist.

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Pandora Parrot

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