It’s often said that social justice is about liberation, about empowerment – and logically, not about plummeting into a pit of endless belligerence, frustration and paranoia (perhaps even psychosis).
Reading the article below was quite an experience. For moment there I wondered whether it was a parody. It certainly read like something you’d find in The Onion. Alas, I think they meant it. They, as in the author, who uses plural when referring to herself (because it’s fashionable nowadays to contain multitudes).
It’s impossible not to feel some sympathy for people who live their lives, day in and day out, feeling like this. It must be exhausting. But the sympathy stops there – you wouldn’t want to work for or with someone like this, and you certainly wouldn’t want them to have any authority over you (or others).
The piece is titled “White people: this is how to check your privilege when asking people of color for their labor”.
To summarise – she seems to have written an entire diatribe, cultural references and quotes included, because some white person asked her for help (perhaps even the completion of a task) when she was emotionally unwell. The nature of said labour is not specified – just that, heaven forbid, someone asked her to do something for them. Twice. So imagine the state of mind one would be in to react in such a manner to a small request. Of course previous experience is mentioned, yet it seems that event triggered the whole thing. Let’s say her boss, coworker or whatever was indeed inconsiderate that day. This does not turn the issue into exploitation or racism. FFS. You deal with one dick and suddenly it’s a race war…?
Not specifying what “labour” refers to may lead one to believe the issue might’ve been trivial.
White people: what would you do to ensure the safety of the Black people and people of color who work with and for you?
If you claim to be allies dedicated to fighting systematic and individual racism, you need to do better. Remind yourself on how to be an actual ally!
If you are exhausting and hurting Black and non-Black people of color around you because you won’t take “no” for an answer when you request labor from us, you are no better than the “other white people” you are attempting to work against.
Jesus Christ. This could’ve been about a simple errand.
Many white people who approach Black and non-Black people of color for labor do not ask for our labor — they demand it from us.
Asking someone to do something leaves it open-ended with space for the person to say no. For example, the question, “If you are available and able today, would you like to _____?” is entirely centered on the other person’s needs, ability, and desire to do the request.
Demands back people into a corner. Demands make people afraid to turn you down.
Is that it? Office etiquette? Unless a favour done to a friend also comes under “labour” (and knowing intersectional feminists, chances are it does). In fact, it’s probably what happened, as your boss wouldn’t have the time luxury to ask whether you are available and able, in most situations anyway.
The most common opening for a demand that most white people don’t even realize is a demand is, “I need.”
Of course you have needs, but is it necessary that you consistently go to people of color, who also have needs that are systematically denied to them, to help you? Are you potentially putting them into a corner where the labor they provide might inadvertently harm someone else?
Robyn Matuto, a multimedia production assistant based in Toronto, frequently fields what appear to be innocent questions from white coworkers, but are actually requests for labor on Matuto’s part that often put her in less-than-comfortable positions.
So “I need you to go next door and photocopy this” is about race now? Who is she talking about? Where is this horde of white people consistently going to people of colour for help or answers? The only thing I’m clear about is that the above-mentioned keeps some sort of mental registry of what white coworkers ask, namely “what appear to be innocent questions”, in order to fit them into a narrative. That she filters everything they say through her paranoia, however innocuous. Which is more than a bit creepy.
“I often get people asking ‘is it right if I cast x for y role? Is it my job to write a role for x identity even though I’m white,’ stuff along those lines,” said Matuto. “It’s honestly such a catch-22 because I would want to give my input as a woman of color to make sure the representation is done properly and respectfully, but am I your gatekeeper? Am I co-signing on your narrative? If something goes astray, will you use me as your ‘well, my friend who is a woman of color says it’s okay’ cover?”
OK, so now we get to the crux of it.
The question everyone needs to be asking is why these people feel the need for verification in the first place. Why they need a gatekeeper, a censor, you name it – for decisions they should be able to make using their own intuition. Who created this culture of insecurity and awkwardness if not the far left, with feminists on the front line?
So first, SJWs create it, then they sustain it by complaining and bullying, and when the consensus is reached that they are the ultimate authority and everything should be checked by them, guess what – they complain that it’s a burden.
Maybe, just maybe, they shouldn’t have started policing creative work in the fist place. Had they not done that, no one would be pestering them now with requests of consultancy and revision.
And note that this request for advice is denied in light of the possibility of the coworker fucking up in that sense anyway. What a lovely environment to work in.
These considerations and intersections are on the minds of Black folks and people of color every time we are asked to carry the weight of these decisions. As we are working with white people, we’re also juggling the reality that our decisions and actions when engaging with you may impact another person of color in a negative way.
That is a massive responsibility, and one that we cannot carry alone.
How can someone be so consumed by their relation to others and yet so distant when it comes to individual interactions? It’s not the white race who asked you a question; it’s just Bob from casting. And whatever you tell him, he probably won’t start a race war over it during coffee break. Jesus.
They think in terms of communities and races, not individuals simply engaging in conversation. I bet the Pope is less careful about what comes out of his mouth and how that might “impact the world”, at least when he’s not addressing a large crowd.
It is important to reflect on how generations of access and entitlement to our labor across does not mean you automatically get it from us now.
This just gets more annoying by the second – not because being asked for advice is not someone demanding your labour – but because this process only takes place to obtain your approval in the first place.
It’s pretty important that you see us as human beings. That’s a non-negotiable. White people need to admit that they often don’t pay nearly as much attention to people of colors’ lives as they do to those of their white friends.
Take a peek at our social media (if you have access and permission), or go on Google and do some research before you ask us for labor. Life happens to everyone, and it is important to pay attention to it.
A better question: do you even know us? If you don’t, are you willing to invest the time and labor to do that, or will you only give just enough effort to have that one Black friend? And even then, are you a well-meaning white person who is doing harm to their Black friends without realizing it?
So someone asked her for “labour” without checking her social media profiles first in order to check whether she was busy? Would she rather have everyone pry into her daily activities before attempting to contact her? Apparently.
I get the part about trophy friends, one from every minority. I profoundly dislike these types who befriend others based on their race; it’s objectifying. That said, I dislike the author just as much. She is no different from these types as she shares the same obsession.
You can easily find stories online of how white people often approach strangers of color through social media and immediately request astronomical amounts of labor.
If you are looking for a guide to online etiquette while interacting with Black people and people of color, Shannon Barber has a list of recommendations. One of my favorites from Barber is, “If you want to tell your story about what a wonderful white person you are, take it to your own space because we’re not here for it.”
“White folks, I get it. You’re curious, you have questions that you genuinely want answered, and you think asking a person of color is a way to support and center them,” wrote Lina Houston of If/When/How.
“For people of color, each day is a barrage of microaggressions, macroaggressions, and interactions that highlight and trigger our personal identities of oppression. And let me tell you, it is exhausting,” Houston continued. “Although your question may have been the first time you thought about race today, your question may be a trigger for your friend/colleague/relative of color and it may be the twelfth one they’ve dealt with today. Their refusal to answer your question may be motivated by self-protection.”
You do not need to walk on eggshells around us.
With that in mind, working with us looks like checking in not only once, but consistently, about everything: How is the labor you are requesting impacting us? Are we getting tired? Do we need a break? Do we need more time? Do we need help? Are there other intersectional needs that need to be addressed throughout our labor, like our mental health?
Working with us looks like checking in with yourself, too: Do you have adequate compensation for our labor? Are there materials or supplies that we need, but that only you can afford? Are your requests inherently racist, derogatory or insulting? Are you requesting labor that is actually possible for us to do? Are you willing to be corrected if you are wrong?
Honestly, if I only knew what this labour was it might put things in perspective. All that has been mentioned so far was a question regarding casting someone into a role. Is this about projects a white person asks a person of colour to collaborate on? Or simply about working in an office with a bunch of folks? It could be anything, really.
Honestly, this is surreal.
White people: why is it so important for us to always be nice to you? What does being nice even look like?
Being nice to a white person means acting and behaving like a white person. In case you forgot, we are not white.
Many social activist spaces that center people of color and Black people have a “no white tears” rule.
I’m sorry; what…? Is she implying that all white people, from beggars to millionaires, think and behave the same way? What is this “behaving like a white person” caper?
Asking us to be nice to you is actually not nice of you. There is a difference between being civil, and asking someone to go above and beyond in their emotional performance around you because of them being a person of color.
I’d love to see it even once – because I don’t think it happens. What would that request sound like? Please protect my feelings because I’m white?
Maybe there are issues I don’t get. I certainly don’t live in a country plagued by racism, such as the US, where efforts have indeed been made by the right to cover it up. I understand things are insane over there, in some parts more than others.
But honestly, I don’t see how this attitude helps anybody. It’s just acrimonious, off-putting and extremely racist in turn, whether it claims to combat racism or not.
I’m attaching an older post based on the same attitude, though much tamer.
“It’s not my job to educate you about my oppression!”
Reflecting on the issue, it’s understandable that someone’s (even unwilling) lack of information regarding discrimination of any kind may be frustrating. However, each individual comes into a discussion with only their knowledge and life experience; it should not be presumed that they are 100% aware of all aspects being discussed.
It should also not be presumed that they are at fault for this lack of in-depth knowledge; we all come from different backgrounds and only experience bits of reality in our limited time.Taking an interest in matters which don’t affect a person directly is an exercise in openness, not an affront. If a quest for open communication is met with acrimony (i.e. “you should already know all this”), nothing good comes out of that.
Needless to say, the concept of “privilege”, while containing some truth, is highly debatable and should not be thrown around as a label, towards individuals it might not apply to (as it is nowadays).
Whenever too many questions are asked regarding someone’s claim of being oppressed, this seems to be a retort of choice. Of course these questions might have perfectly valid answers. However, enter the new attitude.
I paraphrase: “It is brazen for someone of privilege, such as yourself, to demand explanations from us regarding the harm we keep claiming you are causing us. It is not our job to educate you. Regardless, we reserve the right to assume you fully know what you are accused of and why, and treat you accordingly.”
This type of reasoning fails to take a very important issue into account.
When one is accused of something (in this case holding privilege over others), it is their accuser’s responsibility to present any evidence regarding said situation (wrongdoing would be an inappropriate term as this is supposed to be a passive, unacknowledged form of aggression). Otherwise, the accused cannot be held morally responsible for not taking the time to verify that which they are accused of, especially when oblivious to the possibility of such allegations before they were made.
In everyday speech and everyday situations, this would translate as follows:
“You know what you’ve done, so you’d better make amends!”
“No, I actually don’t. What have I done, exactly?”
“It’s not my job to tell you. It’s your job to figure it out. And if you don’t, I’ll call you every name under the Sun and tell everyone what an asshole you are.”
“I honestly don’t know what this is about. All I know is you’re pissed off.”
“Then you haven’t been paying attention, which makes you even more guilty.”
“Of what ??”
“Oh, so now, after you’ve wronged me and won’t even admit it, you expect me to waste my time explaining it to you? The nerve! Would I be upset if it wasn’t your fault? Think about it! If I’m upset, it means you’ve done something!”
In an everyday conversation, that attitude would not only be counterproductive but in fact manipulative (if not psychologically abusive, if sustained); it is somewhat reminiscent of the one women are often portrayed to have in domestic arguments.
Here’s a stereotypical post on the subject (though I have read quite a few).
Do you know what I love? People who say “It’s your job to educate me.” Because of the work I do, and because of the fact that I’m basically an intersectionality salad, people are constantly telling me that it’s my job to educate them.
I had this realization the other day: Jobs are paid. I don’t remember filling out a W-2.
Does this job come with benefits? Because I could really use some dental and some optical. How long is our lunch break? Do y’all do direct deposit?
That’s all fine when that education refers to sharing certain knowledge in a neutral way, in a neutral field. However, accusing people left, right and centre of -isms and -phobias without an explanation does not qualify.
It is so demeaning and dehumanizing to explain to people of privilege why people like them have historically and currently oppressed people like me.
That’s not where it ends though, is it? You’re extrapolating to make it look like they are oppressing you by default because people like them have oppressed people like you in the past (or are still doing it). Which is a whole different take on it, as everyone (I assume) has some knowledge of history and would not dispute that. Which is when they ask how exactly they are oppressing you in real time and you respond with “Google it“, apparently.
Reducing someone’s identity and personality to a group they form part of (often through no fault of their own) is a conversation stopper.
Feeling like you’re entitled to firsthand accounts about the abuse that I’ve experienced as a minority in this country reeks privilege.
Feeling like one is owed an explanation as to why they are arbitrarily placed in the same category as aforementioned abusers is only natural. Keep in mind that the individual you are speaking to might share no other traits with them but immutable ones (race, ethnicity, background etc), and should not be associated with them at a simple glance.
Have you ever had somebody demand that you educate them about a personal struggle that you experience?
If your stance is that it’s a major, common problem and should be addressed, it’s not surprising that they would take an interest, and it makes no sense to be offended by that.
Secondly, here’s another article from the same website (the gift that keeps on giving in terms of feminist propaganda). It’s titled “Is it your responsibility to educate a person you’re dating on race and racism?”
No matter what, a partner shouldn’t rely on just you to always play the role of a social justice educator. You’re not on call to unpack systemic oppression for another person.
You shouldn’t have to educate your partner on issues of social justice all the time, especially as they pertain to your own lived experience. Giving love and support shouldn’t require “evidence” on why someone needs it.
When it comes to race, dating, and intimacy, I’m learning that it’s less about education and more about openness when it comes to listening and believing. Social justice is a collective process – and that should also apply to dating and partnerships.
In this instance, the “education” caper usually translates into motivating why you keep attacking this person and others, while demanding they shut up and listen at all times. By the way, bringing politics into one’s bedroom is usually detrimental.
It’s not someone’s responsibility to be an on-demand resource or be forced to speak on behalf of “their” people.
The person referred to is obviously from a different background since they don’t share the same experience. Asking might just be their attempt to get to know you or what you have experienced. A cold refusal based on the fact that they should’ve “educated themselves” is not conducive to efficient communication, let alone warmth (which is presumed in a relationship).
It’s not always so much about educating one’s partner, but on how to communicate ways that person can be more affirming even if they don’t intellectually or experientially understand something.
In other words, pardon the acidity, turn this person into an emotional bidet and a parrot of one’s attitudes, at all times. That doesn’t work if they truly seek to understand you and share their honest observations regarding a situation you are describing. Your interpretation is not right by default; everyone is fallible.
Sure, all of these moments could be complete accidents – or they could be moments where implicit racism and sexism show up. (…) Sometimes he’ll wonder why I’m so frustrated.
This might be true – the other person wasn’t maliciously intending to do harm. However, that doesn’t change the reality that my feelings are hurt and that I’m expressing those hurt feelings to my partner.
In other words, the author plainly admits to taking offence in situations others normally wouldn’t, which has a few descriptions of its own: nitpicking, pettiness, childishness, hypersensitivity, a victim complex, immaturity, a propensity for whining gratuitously etc. This is not an attractive trait (or easy to live with).
Feelings are not absolutes. They are also behind stalkers’ obsessions, murders triggered by fits of jealousy or paranoid people attacking those they feel are attacking them. None of this is justifiable, especially when it causes great harm.
A partner can acknowledge your feelings and at the same time offer a different interpretation to the situation you are referring to, at least to provide some nuance. Their awareness that you’d automatically take offence to that and your opinion must be considered valid at all times keeps them from communicating openly (and that can’t be a good thing).
But if I were just to share a story about how someone cut in front of me in line or cut me off while driving, there might be no reason to explain the specifics of why I’m frustrated.
Reckless driving can and does result in serious injuries or death, which is a real possibility in the real world, not just your head. It’s not exaggerated for someone to say they escaped death narrowly when put in danger on the road. It cannot be compared to “microaggressions”, which have no consequence whatsoever and are unintended.
We look to our partners to believe in us and affirm our experiences rather than making us doubt our observations as real.
Unless you are really clutching at straws, causing needless negativity in your life, which is when any good friend and especially your partner will tell you that your attitude is detrimental. They do not have to put up with it, especially when you single-handedly admit to the potential irrelevance of your grievances.
What often happens when my partner wants an explanation of oppression is that I just splutter back all of my feelings. For me, this isn’t just about having a conversation – I have personal stakes in the outcome of the conversation. (…) But rationality is often evoked as a silencing tactic and has made me feel that he was detached from my experiences. My emotions – my anger and frustration over issues of racism – are rational.
Someone who is articulate can analyse and discuss their feelings rationally, with their nuances, limitations and traps. It is not unfair to ask that of them, especially if these conversations are very common.
Oppression isn’t rational, at least not to me, so how could I ever explain it in rational terms?
If you want it to be addressed, especially through legal reforms, you have no choice. Seeking solutions involves rationality and objectivity, as in their absence tyrannical, inquisitorial practices can be instated.
The hypocrisy is monumental here.
Hence, explaining why you’re complaining requires emotional labour, but for someone to put up with that on a constant basis, without being able to ask you for details (to actually understand you) doesn’t.
Again – prior knowledge of one’s experience should not be presumed. Demanding unquestioning support from someone on an issue, without the availability to communicate at length why that is necessary, is more likely to alienate them.
Oh Blecchhh. More people who need to get a life. They expend ten times the energy explaining why they shouldn’t explain than they would if they just kept it brief and told people wtf their precious grudge is.
I would love to have my own talk show, have some of these fools on as guests , just so I could tell them to shut up. I’d call it ,’The Shut up Show!’ I think it would be a winner.
FEBRUARY 8, 2017
When your behaviour becomes a problem it’s fair enough to say you’ve got some issues and need help, but these people claim to right to complain constantly, with no end in sight, and that everyone else has a duty to put up with it.
FEBRUARY 8, 2017