No Man’s Land
Privilege — it comes up a lot when you are in any Social Justice movement. Depending on how long you have been around, you can have a pretty good idea of what it means and how it works. But, if you have been around long enough, you get to hear ALL of the derailing arguments and you get to see a very well-made point spiral down into nothingness. I want to talk about one in particular.
Hi, I get that there’s a lot of bad people out there that just so happen to be [white, thin, male, hearing, etc.], but why are you generalizing all ____ people to be evil? There must be at least some good people out there that just so happened to be _____ … right?
This argument is a derailing argument made by privileged people who want to still feel good about themselves. This shit happens in every Social Justice space, and the shit argument is exactly the same. What is really being said is “but /I’m/ a good person, and if you agree, then all of my responsibility for the shitty things that are being done around me is absolved. If I’m good, then I don’t need to change anything.” And let’s not even talk about how this is making whatever problem you were talking about suddenly about you.
So, no, it doesn’t matter if you are an ally or a supporter or someone who sits quietly and passively allows -isms to happen, YOU ARE STILL RESPONSIBLE. You are responsible because you are privileged. You are responsible for ending unearned privilege by using that privilege as a stage, a platform, for those who are denied the right. In this place, there are only two options; either you are an ally or you are the enemy. “We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” — Elie Wiesel
This particular argument bothers me more than others, honestly. I think it’s because this mentality is the same one that apathetic people have, and the only reason it comes up is because some apathetic person just became uncomfortable and wants to reaffirm they are a “good person” for not being whatever. All the other apathetic people just don’t care whether they are the problem. I’m starting to think that we aren’t really fighting against our oppressors, but instead we are fighting to gain support from the apathetic majority… oh what a sorry revelation.
This is why we fight…
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out —
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out —
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out —
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me — and there was no one left to speak for me.
— Martain Niemöller
Even for selfishness, we must continue to fight for the disenfranchised, because if we ignore our rights, they will go away.