Whenever I see someone in a social media comments section trying to explain an ism/phobia to someone who just doesn’t “get it” (especially if the confused person is a self-proclaimed ally), I want to encourage the explainer to drop it and move on.
Tired of trying to explain your humanity? Stop doing it.
Tired of trying to justify your upset? Stop doing it.
Tired of having to say the same thing to the same types of people every time an incident (racist/sexist/transphobic/etc) happens? Stop doing it.
The person who can’t “get it” — especially about racialized oppression? They know.
You’ve heard this song before, right? Have a look/listen, but pay attention to the lyrics AND the audience.
Your clueless friends and acquaintances know.
Just like their parents knew.
Just like their grandparents knew.
Even the commenters who show up openly hostile to pick a fight–they know.
Okay, so maybe some people don’t know that they know. Denial is a thing. Well, there have been enough blog posts, articles and books written — and being written–for confused folks to get what they need on their own. Even better, there are people who get paid to teach! Let the true seeker of knowledge invest in a Google search, a library card or a “recognizing an ism and doing something about it” training.
I know you’ve seen this too:
“The function, the very serious function of racism is distraction. It keeps you from doing your work. It keeps you explaining, over and over again, your reason for being. Somebody says you have no language and you spend twenty years proving that you do. Somebody says your head isn’t shaped properly so you have scientists working on the fact that it is. Somebody says you have no art, so you dredge that up. Somebody says you have no kingdoms, so you dredge that up. None of this is necessary. There will always be one more thing.”
The person who (either gently or with rage/hostility) always needs you to justify/explain yourself/teach but never “get’s it” is also a distraction.
That “explaining” time can be turned into “self care” time. It could turn into “community conversation and healing” time. It can turn into a “let’s concentrate on our own powers and how we can strengthen each other” time.
The seeker of knowledge is not showing up in the comments section — under a post where someone has expressed grief/frustration/sadness – asking someone to help them understand, challenging someone to explain, or engaging in hypothetical “what if” scenarios – etc. If someone puts the onus of their “education” on someone else – then they don’t want to know.
It hurts to have to explain, exclaim, reclaim and defend your humanity over and over again.
And don’t forget – some people enjoy watching you suffer.
To make a long story short (too late!), stop entertaining strangers and leave your clueless ally friends in their confusion. They can find their own way out.