Recently a post popped up on here that really pushed me over my limit of being quiet and just rolling my eyes occasionally at some of this nonsense, so I’m going to say something. You can feel free to ignore it as you like. I’m even putting it behind a cut, for the benefit of the sensitive (and, probably, the people this post is about will neglect to read it too).
There are some white people who have experienced more violence, hate and oppression than people of color. There are cis people who have horrible lives and trans people who are absolutely fucking spoiled. Because privilege isn’t black and white and doesn’t always invalidate individual experience. Jesus christ.
Beautifully said. Also I am getting really tired of people constantly slinging the word ‘privilege’ around casually and trying to use it in a way not really meant for individuals. It’s a value judgement and gives an indication that not only are you jealous, but you’re trying in a passive-aggressive way to attack someone you assume has an opportunity you want, based on their superficial ethnicity or external gender identity. Which is pretty damned discriminatory.
It’s far better to see people as individuals and work with those who struggle every day towards equality of all people, rather than being more divisive because of things that don’t matter. If you’re going to resent someone, resent them for being an asshole or a horrible person. Don’t resent them or try to ‘get them back’ for something you’re assuming about them based on some quality you’d hate to be judged by yourself.
I know I post and reblog many petitions and things that aren’t directly related to my artwork, and I know some of you may question why. Maybe you think I overreact. Maybe you think it’s easy to dismiss so many causes and so many things like this.
But it’s not. Now more than ever, we all need to take a decisive stand every time we are attacked. And it is attacks. And the people attacking are every bit as energetic and often much more vitriolic. These are powerful people who are abusing their power, who can influence so many who refuse to think for themselves. By not saying or doing anything in return to assert ourselves, we are complicit to their judgements. We are essentially consenting by silence.
Every time we allow something to be done to us without saying or doing anything in protest or disagreement, that sends a message that they can do it again…and next time, they can try to take more, do more, pull off more. Yes, it’s a great deal of work to have to babysit public figures, celebrities, and most of all government. But yes, it’s also worth it. We can’t live like children; and adults are only larger children, playing more far-reaching games of pretend.
I know some people skitter away from any historical parallels or warnings, which I feel is a mistake on their part. But recently I was reading about one of my favourite times — the 1920s — and in an often-ignored city in terms of that time (for various reasons): Berlin.
And maybe it’s because I’m in a couple of neatly-classified groups that would have had me shipped off to be mass-murdered for the good of the race, but I find the message that history has left to be a horrifying one. No country was a hero in any war, least of all World War II. Every country did atrocious things, to their own people and others.
But what is most sobering is the fact that the 20s was one of the most permissive times in Berlin, and not five years after the next decade began, it became harshly oppressive. Hideous. Inhuman. And murderous. Groups who had enjoyed openness and acknowledgement were now pariahs, less than human, killed like nothing, made to disappear. People were encouraged to be divisive, which made it difficult for groups to stand against this treatment, gradual as it was. Some groups were singled out as scapegoats for things that were not and could not even logically have been their fault. And it’s the same then as it is now: groups are attacked in ways to divide them, and they are only unified in the oppression of others, then made to feel like it has benefited them somehow.
I’m not saying these things will happen exactly the same way they did then. But that is a potent lesson on allowing the ambitious to go too far with ridiculous claims. We have the tools now to make it more difficult for them to succeed with propaganda and backpedalling when they say something they regret or that is ill-considered. The world is smaller and more communicative. And it is through petitions and the like that we can band together and make our voices known, in great number, and let them know that no, it is not okay to abuse us, whether verbally or through the attempt at passage of oppressive laws.
There is a tremendous amount of fear on the parts of these people lashing out most vociferously, and ignorantly, and that is what has powered most politics of the past quarter-century: fear. Fear of the unknown. Which is most regrettable since all it takes is a little willingness to learn, to banish that fear. Ignorance, especially willful ignorance, generates fear.
So what I’m trying to say is, now is not the time to throw up one’s hands or to simply tune out these things, to say ‘it’s not that bad’. It is that bad. It only takes a few seconds to sign and repost these petitions. It only takes a few seconds to do something, to add your voice, and to say ‘that’s not okay’. And that is really enough in many cases. It’s more than what most have done up to now. We have this amazing, powerful tool at our fingertips. Let’s not neglect it.
I know I’ve gone into some pretty serious territory here, and I know some might laugh it off or say I’m exaggerating. I am not. The situation is not exactly the same, and it never will be. But it is a sobering fact that even the most liberated environment, even the most tolerant and permissive culture, can be turned into a harsh, hostile cesspit of hatred virtually overnight. We must be ever vigilant. We must never allow ourselves to become complacent.
This world is by and for us. When any of us is treated so poorly, made out to be a scapegoat for problems that are nothing to do with us, even driven to suicide…no matter what, we must stand up, put our feet down, and say ‘no’. We must send a clear message that it is not acceptable.
So I hope you will take the time to spread the word when I post or repost about these issues, petitions, and causes. They are important. And I would rather take a little time now to try and send a clear message that these things aren’t acceptable than to have to fight harder, later, to undo the damage that was caused by people being too complacent and accepting things they should never have allowed.
Please consider these things. The internet is an amazing treasure. Let’s not neglect its potent ability. And let’s also not deny our own potent ability, the ability to change the world, one voice at a time, to make it a better place for everyone.
We are online. We should be beyond all of this nonsense I see popping up on my dashboard regularly. When we first meet someone online, we don’t have the qualities of their birth staring us in the face; instead, what we have is their personality, their writing ability, and most of all their minds. Why, then, should anyone online still espouse the hateful fear of and contempt for the ‘other’ that permeates offline society even today? Get over it. See past the things that appeal to your ignorance, and instead put it aside and appreciate someone for who they are.
It doesn’t matter what race you are. It doesn’t matter your gender or gender identification. Sexuality, political leaning, religion — it doesn’t matter. If you prejudge someone or exclude them because of inborn traits, you are as much a bigot as you are presuming to preach to others about, and I for one won’t have it. I’m going to start unfollowing and blocking with Tumblr Saviour. Tumblr people, over all else, should know far better than this, and I come to Tumblr to enjoy myself and relax, not to be reminded of stupid people and their asinine hang-ups.
Let me just lay this out as briefly as I’m able, because I see these assumptions all over the place:
Just because someone shares a social trait or two with someone you identify as a criminal, hatemonger, heretic, power holder, oppressor, or any other negative force, it doesn’t mean that individual person also has those traits, or has anything to do with them, now or at any time. Expecting it of them is insulting (not to mention highly bigoted), and it’s about as ridiculous as going to Spain and holding any random individual Spaniard responsible for the actions of the conquistadores. They weren’t there, they probably aren’t related, and the fact that they share inborn traits is a ridiculous attempt to affiliate them…exactly as ludicrous as, say, judging people who have dark or light skin to be all alike…or those of a certain gender…hmm, I’m seeing a trend here.
Without the support of people outside of our social label groups, we may not be able to achieve great things. I know that without the support of open-minded heterosexuals, a trait I’m identified by — homosexual — would still be treated as even more second-class citizens than we are. It would be stupid and insulting for me to assume that any heterosexual was just a ticking time bomb to a hate crime, just because there have been homophobic avowed heterosexuals responsible for hate crimes. In a similar way, it would be unacceptable for me to ask any random heterosexual I know — judging them solely by that single trait — to apologise for these crimes, as if they have something to do with them because of their own inborn social label they did not ask for and can’t help; how stupid would that be?
So before you presume anything about someone just because of a social label or two that they were born with, think about whether or not it is justified (hint: it isn’t) or whether it just makes you look like a huge bigoted hypocrite. And tossing political terms seemingly at random into your racist and sexist diatribe only further cheapens your message. Inborn traits and social labels, with very few exceptions, do not make an individual person by default better or worse in any job, task, or other role, and in any case none of these have much of anything to do with arbitrary application of political labels.
I’m just an ageing hippie, but I try to give people neutral respect when I meet them. I’m civil and cordial, but until they prove by their actions and words, one way or another, I don’t esteem them or hold contempt for them. And unlike some people, I accept the possibility that, shock of shocks, I can be wrong.
We are all individuals. We are all mingled in race and tribe and people. All we ultimately have, above all other things that we accumulate in life, is ourselves, our minds, our spirits, the things that make up who we are. And that is what people should be assessed by, not by some presumption of privilege, oppression, ignorance, enlightenment, connection, insularity, innocence, or guilt connected to the arbitrary application of things we were born with, or history connected to us with which we had no real affiliation.
I hope perhaps this will reach some people. I wish I hadn’t had to say it again.
Sexism is sexism. Racism is racism. Discrimination is discrimination.
I agree with doing projects that have a particular subject. I’ve organised and realised projects with a unified theme, like uplifting pro-gay stories. I think it’s great when people get together with a good purpose like that.
But when participation in the project itself is restricted by race, gender, sexual orientation, or some other quality over which people have no control…that’s when I have to shake my head. Especially when it’s supposed to be for the purpose of furthering awareness of that group, or supporting that group, or something like that.
Speaking as a gay man for example, I can say that the support of non-homosexuals has helped immensely to further the cause of gay rights and equality. There are heterosexuals who have done a lot to harm gay rights, it’s true. But is that any reason to act exactly the same way and say ‘I’m doing a project, and you’re not invited’ to everyone who doesn’t share that single social label? That’s kind of exactly the same thing we’re trying to stop being done to us, ourselves. And that doesn’t in any way undo the good things that have been done by so many non-gay people. It is a kind of hypocrisy, and that doesn’t sit well with me.
These sorts of projects tend not to actually get a lot of participation outside the social group that they pertain to; most of the time, it’s people in a particular group who have something to say and want an outlet to express themselves. However, by denying the voice of others who may have something really excellent to say which can reach a new audience and affect them profoundly…that is arrogant, hypocritical, and nothing short of absolutely bigoted.
So whenever anyone’s looking to start a new project, I urge you to take a step back and examine whether race, gender, sexual orientation, or other such qualities are really essential to restrict in the participants of your project.
Hint: they probably won’t be.
As much good as you may do, you’ll do at least some amount of bad by carrying yourself in an equally discriminatory way as those you might be struggling against. And when you make someone feel bad about that, and about your project, you’re actually being counterproductive, and you may just turn someone off your work by association alone, someone who otherwise might have loved your work and been affected and uplifted by it.
The people supporting this law, HB 600, in Tennessee even included in the law that they thought that transgender people were insignificant. They didn’t think there would be enough complaints about it to care. They also didn’t think it would have a significant monetary impact.
So let’s show them exactly how much of an impact it will have.
Go to the Tennessee Human Rights Committee site here. Send them either an email complaint (be polite but firm) or fill out a form, or both. You can download the complaint form here. If you’re wondering what discriminatory act took place…the signing of HB 600 into law is a pretty discriminatory act, and one well worth complaining about. Let’s show them that they were wrong in imagining no-one would complain.
Also, boycott Pilot/Flying J. The governor who signed it into law, Bill Haslam, has a controlling interest in the company from what I understand, so it certainly deserves our contempt. Take a look at the following companies as well, and their statements, here. These companies were part of the chamber of commerce who pushed the bill through. Some retracted under pressure, some even helped to oppose the bill, and others were typically useless. Speak with your money. Send a clear message that you will not support companies that do not support you.
Don’t come to Tennessee for leisure. Don’t contribute money to Tennessee. There are plenty of places in the state that are holiday destinations and resorts, tourist traps, and the like. Send a clear message that this has impacted Tennessee’s tourist trade negatively.
Write celebrities who have shown themselves to be sympathetic to our cause, like Dolly Parton. You can write her here:
P.O. Box 150307
Nashville, TN 37215
If more celebrities come forward and let people know that they support us and our plight, we will be able to reach more people than ever.
Support groups that are already planning to challenge this law. It can be overturned. It really should never have been passed in the first place, and it is not only about GLBT rights, but also about city rights and county rights as opposed to state rights. This is going to be a fierce battle, especially given the corruption in Tennessee government that has already made national headlines.
We can make a difference. And we will make the bigots wish that they had never passed this law. It’s getting national attention, which they may think is what they want…it’s not. It’s just making them look very, very bad, which is a good thing. They are scum. And they will not win.
Let’s do everything in our power to focus ourselves and let them know that this will not be tolerated. Not at all.