“But We’re Not All Bad!” Is the Wrong Answer

25 05 2011

This might be my most favourite derailing tactic (and by favourite, I mean most facepalm-y) of all time. The old “we aren’t all like that!” trope, guaranteed to derail a discussion in 140 characters or less. If you are privileged enough to have never experienced this (if you haven’t already done it yourself) I’ll give you an example. Adjust the situation for the oppressed/oppressor relationship of your choosing:

Trans woman: Wow, I really wish cis LGB people would quit directly playing a direct hand in my erasure, denial of services/basic humanity and the often fatal harm of me and women like me. That would be great if all that would stop.
Cis LGB person: HEY WE AREN’T ALL THAT BAD/IT’S JUST A COUPLE OF ASSHOLES DOING THAT/YOU HAVEN’T MET EVERY CIS GAY PERSON EVER SO HOW CAN YOU SAY THAT?

And on, and on, and on, and on, and on it goes. More derails follow, the discussion goes to shit and the oppressor often ends up getting consoled instead of the marginalized person being attacked (also known as white women’s tears) and the attempt for a meaningful discussion or call-out is abandoned at that time. All of this because of a six word sentence that has no validity in any of these discussions whatsoever.

Far too many discussions that need to happen do not, because there is always at least one privileged champ who comes in and fucks everything up with this tactic. It is not the way that one in a position of privilege should be reacting when a marginalized person speaks their truths. When a person of colour is talking about their frustrations with harmful things white people tend to do, the correct response isn’t “I don’t do that!/We aren’t all that bad!” The reaction of a person who is truly socially conscious should be to listen and learn. Only after listening and learning (not demanding someone be your Mystical Minority Teacher(TNM)) can you begin to maybe do something about this problem. Not throw a temper tantrum about how all white people aren’t in the Klan, but ask yourself “What can I do to reject my privilege, help end the systemic and oppressive problem the group I belong to has a history of doing, and how can I work to uplift marginalized people?”

The one in the role of the oppressor has no business to “prove” that their group is “not all bad” to a marginalized person. The fact of the matter is, these problems that are spoken of are systemic within the entire communities of privilege. It is not something that occurs only in fringe/extremist/super duper hateful circles within those communities of privilege, it is everywhere within the community. The goal should not be to to prove to any marginalized person that you aren’t all bad (attempting to deny the lived experiences of any marginalized person is fucked up in and of itself.) The goal needs to be to end the systemic oppression of marginalized people that requires these discussions happen in the first place.





Rampant Transmisogyny and Transphobia at Pace University

27 11 2010

Disclaimer: I am a former member o the Stonewall Coalition and a former student of Pace University’s NYC campus.

When I logged into Facebook yesterday I saw I had an invite for something called “Drag Night.” I groaned and clicked on it to see what it was about.

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What do we have here? A primarily cis gay club hosting a drag event meant to “commemorate the Trans Day of Rememberance.” Because if there’s one thing that honours and respects the dead, it’s making a mockery of their lives, cultural appropriation and perpetuating stereotypes.

This is heinous, at best. It continues the stereotype that trans women and men (but let’s be honest, mostly women) are just gay men and lesbians in drag. Not only does this not honour anyone, it is directly harmful to trans women and men.

Cis people here have an obligation to stand up against this hateful fuckery and relentlessly call out the organisers of this event for who they are. The response coming back is as expected.

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Cis is an insult, we’re not appropriating anythintg, this is different. The same old silencing bullshit that every Cis GLB group has thrown around for decades. This is not an original argument, but it’s still harmful. And despite repeated call-outs, the attempt to silence all dissenting voices continues.

Share photos on twitter with Twitpic

Share photos on twitter with Twitpic

Share photos on twitter with Twitpic

Continuously, when trans voices confront their hate and call it for what it is, they return with more hateful fuckery.

Share photos on twitter with Twitpic

Share photos on twitter with Twitpic

This is still going on as planned. If you are a student at Pace’s NYC campus, go to the event Monday and let it be known that this kind of appropriation and disrespect will not be tolerated. Go to a meeting an speak out against the cissupremacy of the Stonewall Coalition. If you have a facebook account you can participate in the call-out, as this is marked as a public event.

If you are cis you obligated to stand up against this shit. Don’t let this happen silently.





Voting and Privilege

26 10 2010

Voting is largely inaccessible. Trans women and men, people with disabilities, people of colour, people living in poverty and people living in rural areas often are unable to vote because of the myriad barriers blocking access. This is a reason why there is so often low turnout among these groups (among other factors). This post, however, is not directed at people who are blocked from voting.

This post is for everyone who can vote.

If you have the privilege of access to voting, it is absolutely imperative that you vote consciously next Tuesday. It is important to research the positions that your candidates hold. Study voting records, speeches, debates, endorsements, whatever you can get your hands on and educate yourself before voting. It’s also necessary to recognise what great privilege you have with your access to voting. This is something that cannot be taken lightly and must be carefully thought about before exercising.

And what do you need to do after you’ve recognised your privilege of voting access? You can either use your privilege to uplift the people you oppress or you can ignore it and continue to harm (directly or indirectly) the most vulnerable people in our country. You can choose to vote for the candidates that are endorsed by marginalized people, candidates that truly seek to uplift oppressed people and make this country a better place for all of us. Or, you can choose to vote in your best interests. For tax cuts that will harm the poorest in our nation, hateful candidates who seek to exterminate trans women and men, candidates who are pro-corporations, candidates that, if elected, will “send a message to the Obama administration,” candidates who want to continue to harm the most vulnarable.

Or you can choose to sit at home on election day, throw your privilege around in the faces of those of us who don’t have voting access and tell us that voting doesn’t matter anyway, man.

I’m going to vote consciously next Tuesday. Will you?





My Beef With Self-Declared Allies

24 08 2010

If you have declared yourself an ally, you are not going to like this post.

Many blogs and twitterfeeds that claim to be about social justice like to put the word “ally” somewhere in their bio/about section. Trans ally, LGBT ally, POC ally, PWD ally, etc. This is supposed to signify that the writer is *really* about social justice and is *really* about helping the marginalised group of people in whatever way they can, right? RIGHT?!

Not so much.

Instead, what this usually means is the writer is badly in need of some hipster activist points and among PWP (progressives with privilege) this is an easy way to get them. Many of these “allies” who feel the need to tout their ally-ness are more interested in how they look as a PWP and yelling about what a good person they really are than in uplifting any marginalized group. This is best seen during any argument an “ally” gets into with a person of a marginalized group.

Ally: [does something incredibly privileged without realising it]
Marginalized Person: “Hey, try checking your privilege because that thing you said/linked to/endorsed was harmful.”
A: “Check my privilege? What do you mean privilege? I’M AN ALLY.”
M: “Be that as it may, you still have a fuckload of privilege and you are currently using that privilege to silence me. Stop it.”
A: “NU UH I’M AN ALLY. YOU SHOULD BE GRATEFUL I’M HERE. YOU ARE SO WRONG AND NOT MAKING ME FEEL SAFE AS AN ALLY. STOP BEING SO MEAN TO ME!”
M: “You are still doing it, and now you’re derailing the conversation. Stop it.”
A: “WHATEVER YOU’RE JUST ANGRY AND DON’T APPRECIATE ME BEING AN ALLY.”

The “ally” will typically then rattle off reasons why they’re such a good ally, or why there’s no way they could have done something privileged. The person the ally claims to be helping will suffer, and the ally will continue to do harm under the guise of “being a good ally.”

If you truly want to uplift people you oppress and use your privilege for good, you do not need to tell everyone that you are a Super Ally. But, if you were *really* interested in doing those things, you would already know that.





Marginalized People and the Self Fulfilling Prophecy

15 06 2010

Last semester, in my Minority and Intergroup Relations class, we did an exercise where we were Social Workers who were trying to help find work for a young African American cis male and a 50 year old white cis woman. Lots of legitimate suggestions came up (computer classes, technical school, etc) and then a brilliant person mentioned the Self Fulfilling Prophecy.

“Well you know, sometimes minorities will believe that people are going to discriminate against them and so they’ll act like they’re going to and then they’ll end up not getting the job.”

Yes.

That’s right.

Marginalized people, who face discrimination in every aspect of life, bring employment discrimination upon themselves. It’s their fault they can’t get a job! They should stop acting so black/trans/disabled/gay if they want a job!

I was discussing finding a job with my case worker today, and she asked me if I thought I’d been discriminated against in trying to find a new job. I have experienced quite a bit, as employers think because oif the disability they can see, I won’t be able to work. But I probably just set myself up for failure because I know that employers will discriminate against me because of the way my eyes look.

Blaming the marginalized person for the hatred and discrimination they face is a silencing tactic. It makes the victim of discrimination feel as though they are responsible for the hatred they face, that they are somehow deserving of it. And when this happens, discrimination goes unreported, privilege goes unchecked, and hatred is allowed to flourish.