I’m honored to feature the following guest post from a fellow blogger, Tatiana, who writes over at Parisian Feline about various social justice issues. Her posts are always interesting, perceptive, and discuss topics related to race, gender, and other relevant topics. Thanks for contributing, Tatiana!
How do you start a post trying to come to grips with reality and the soft cushion of social justice discussions?
Since I’ve begun blogging and following a number of activists on Twitter, I’ve accumulated more knowledge than I thought possible about social justice – a word that didn’t exist in my vocabulary eight months ago. I’ve learned about the never-ending debate surrounding black marriage, heterosexist language, and the complex notions of privilege. However, after thinking about it, everything seems so theoretical since our conversations are safely confined to the spaces of Twitter and blogging.
Indeed, knowledge is power. But as some preach to the choir, while others chase away the dissenters, I wonder what’s being accomplished. When it comes to translating social justice activism from the social media sphere to the “real world,” it becomes a slippery slope to navigate, and the disconnect becomes increasingly clear. During one of my many conversations with my grandmother about sexism and racism, she asked me, “What am I going to do with all this information?” And I paused. What was I going to do with my head full of slut-shaming rhetoric, female chauvinist pigs and how, as a species, we really haven’t progressed very far in how we treat each other?
Yesterday, a young boy was over at my house and was growing increasingly aggravated with his video game. He began to call it gay, swearing and referring to it as a “faggot.” I felt my entire body tense up, and suddenly my mind began to race: Do I go over there and speak to him? Do I lecture him about how he shouldn’t say that? About why it’s offensive?
Perhaps this might be my fear of confrontation since I’m often quick in trying to divert conversation away from possible discrimination. My heart races, my mind goes into hyper drive; I really just want it all to end. Extremely cowardly, I know, and quite hypocritical as I’m also all about people speaking up amongst their friends when they use hate-speech.
But what the bloody hell am I supposed to do when people around me start making disapproving noises about the black and gay parade? I often wonder what I’m supposed to do when not in the safety of like-minded blogs and strong-minded advocates. How do we train people to combat social injustices? Sometimes in the discussions of social justice, everything seems very macro and outside of anyone’s (or at least my) realm of reality.
It’s so easy – and contagious – to get caught up in the intellectual pursuit of equality versus actually doing anything. Is it the internet’s fault that we’ve taken to blogs instead of the streets with our disappointments? Have we become a bogged down generation that isn’t trained to be assertive or handle confrontation well (or is that just me)?
Genuinely, I have enjoyed learning more about social justice – it has expanded my understanding and relationship with the world in a way that didn’t existed before. But in the end, I am reminded of my grandmother’s question: What are we supposed to do with all this information? How can we put this knowledge to use in combating injustice in the “real world”?