Your Silence Will Not Protect You

After nearly three weeks in Costa Rica, I can get back into my normal routine. I’ll be returning to my usual Sunday blog posts but before that I feel I need to get something off my chest.

For most of my life, I have bitten my lip and done my best to be polite when dealing with micro-aggressions. I don’t always practise what I preach, which I find really frustrating. If I find myself angry or upset, I tend to check with others to see if my feelings are justified – I often wonder if I’m going mad so I seek validation from others. I want to challenge this pattern of behaviour and that’s why I’m writing this today.

A couple of months ago, I participated in a discussion on pin-up subculture. After the interview, I entered into conversation with my interviewer which ended up being problematic. I cannot post the conversation because the interviewer was very clear about not giving permission. I am sharing my experience and reactions to the conversation. I am sorry that the lack of screenshots and quotes removes context and meaning but I can’t risk the repercussions.

I spoke to several friends about this conversation and now I feel comfortable enough to share my opinions on the matter.

  1. I never gave permission for my information to be shared outside of the interview itself and posts on their social media pages.
  2. I didn’t feel comfortable being approached about participating in a contest when I know that many others do not receive the same treatment. It’s unfair; it gives me an advantage (even though my name wasn’t mentioned) and others a disadvantage. How is it a fair contest if some people are approached and encouraged and others are not?
  3. I have the privilege of having the time and means to share my writing with the world. My ability to write is subjective too. There are lots of people out there who can write much better than me – they’re just not able to share it. Again, that is unfair.
  4. I cannot stand the how do you improve diversity without tokenism? question. Marginalised people are not a tick-list, we are not a bloody pick ‘n’ mix. It’s demeaning to be told that they’d like a south Asian one, a trans one, etc. I think I find this question so aggravating because I know people have written to organisers with suggestions of how to make events more inclusive. Alixis Lupien of Ains & Elke StyleHaus wrote a letter with a list of suggestions from banning the confederate flag to offering hair classes for more than one hair type. Listening to POC and other marginalised groups to create an environment of inclusion will have more impact than a token tick-list.
  5. I’m tired of performing emotional labour and having to justify my feelings. There is a wealth of information online – I shouldn’t have to explain why I feel uncomfortable or what you can do to improve diversity.

I know full well that this post will not make me popular (to be honest, I never have been). Some will say I’m being over-sensitive, some will say I’m being aggressive. However, in the immortal words of Audre Lorde: ‘Your silence will not protect you’. I won’t make things better for myself or those from other marginalised groups if I remain quiet and polite. Of course, I’m fully aware that there are bigger and worse issues in the world but I’m starting here. I can’t encourage others without acting myself. I have to practise what I preach.

Marginalised people do not have to be grateful for bones thrown to them. Marginalised people must not be tokenised. Marginalised people deserve better.

Thanks to several incredibly supportive friends for giving me the confidence to write this. We fight the good fight together.

 

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