Personalised expansion from something stolen from terajjin
Jul. 12th, 2006 @ 08:21 pm
Many ppl I know personally who view my journal don't use LJ much (except maybe to comment on my own posts), so they can't view some posts by friends who have gone "Friends Only" on certain or all posts. Nothing wrong w/ that, but it sometimes prevents them from seeing something which is otherwise really cool and interesting. So... for this post I've stolen some perspectives she found HERE and just making my own personal comment on them.|
Great excerpts from here about things I'm trying to learn, patterns of thought I'm trying to adapt.
Accept Your Privilege: It all starts with one simple self-realization: you are privileged. Chances are, your reading that has made you feel defensive. While it’s a perfectly natural, and common, reaction, don't let it get in your way of actually thinking about what the statement means.
I know what this is referring to, but I actually didn't feel defensive. When I read "you are privileged" I thought "I know that. So what." The second sentence answered that part for me. "Oh yeah, some people don't really realise that, do they." Now, we're all privileged and screwed, if you ask me, but relative to most of the world we're extremely privileged. I remind myself of the fact that most people in this world make less in a week than I do in a day. I am rich, relative to most people on Earth. Now, the thing goes on to talk about privileges more specific to things like gender and sexuality, the main focus being about racism, but the money one I find is usually a huge eye opener most of us don't think about. Besides, the money issue is really based upon a very unfair racist undercurrent that we are so used to, most of us take it for granted or are ignorant of its presence.
Site digression: don't think you're privileged to the point that the world ought to revolve around you. That's the unsaid append I'd put to the above, which is kinda implied later.
Learn to Listen Rather Than Speak: This one is a lot harder than it sounds, and I say this as someone who loves speaking and voicing her opinion on things. One of the greatest things we, as privileged people, can bring to a minority discussion is our closed mouths and open ears/minds.
Personally, I find shutting up is a lot of fun. :) You get to hear all sorts of things you'd never have heard if you blabbed. I mean first off, no one has ever really listened to me anyway. Secondly, I've been a quote monger since I was a kid, and I read some quote by some wise person once about keeping the mouth closed and the ears open and what you will learn as a result. It's true in everything.. including debates over controversial issues.
In person, I shut up. Online I hardly stop talking, but that's partly b/c I can read much faster than I can type, so someone can interrupt me in IRC or MSN and I usually won't miss what was said (assuming I'm looking at the screen).
Criticism is Not Hatred: Any time a minority busts out with an angry critique (or even a nice one), someone will eventually come up with the, "I'm sorry you hate men/whites/heterosexuals/etc." line. With rare exception, minority individuals do not hate privileged individuals, but we do hate how many privileged individuals act!
Willy's gonna shoot me for quoting Good Charlotte, but I have to. :)
"Lifestyles of the rich and the famous, they're always complainin', always complainin'." I'd quote the whole song but it's long, so click the link to read.
We hate rich people who complain about benefits they have that most of us will never have. I heard about one guy who complained about having to pay $50,000 in income taxes. Gee... I wish I made enough to be able to pay that much in income taxes. lol. People who feel underprivileged are jealous. It's not a hatred, it's just resentment for ppl who take their privileged status for granted. Similarly, minorities don't hate the majority, they just envy the actual and perceived benefits the majority seems to receive.
I keep forgetting that things which seem obvious to me are not to others. :/ Maybe it's because I'm used to being discriminated against even in childhood for SOMETHING.
You Can Only Sympathize, Not Empathize: This is probably the hardest one for me, personally, to wrap my mind around because I’m all about drawing links between oppressions. But, no matter how strong the link is, the facts remain that no two oppressions are the same.
Exactly. There is a huge difference between two things being similar, and two things being the same. This is a problem best expressed as trying to understand the difference between a metaphor and a simile. In examples, it's very easy to discern between the two, but in practical purposes, many things are said to be identical when, in truth, they are not. Oppression takes different forms for each type. You may understand on one level because you have also been oppressed or discriminated against, but unless you have been discriminated against for the EXACT SAME REASON (i.e., you're also a minority, or something like that), you can't possibly understand. In fact, empathy is hard because two people experiencing the same type of oppression or discrimination will still have very different experiences. There is nothing wrong with saying "I have experienced discrimination myself in my lifetime, but I know I could not possibly ever understand what you are (or have been) going through." Humility is a great thing, and universally appreciated.
It’s Okay to Make Mistakes: The road to understanding your privilege is one full of trial and error. What works in one situation may not work in another, and we may be clueless as to why.
Oh man do I know what that feels like. I never know why I've managed to piss someone off. 99% of people I'll encounter seem to like me, then I meet that 1% who just freaks out for like no apparent reason and it sets my nice Taurean pasture through an earthquake and I get all dizzy and confused (and depression wakes up). THEN, realising I fucked up, I try to fix it (before depression notices what happened). I get confused if the person acts like trying to fix it is making it worse. Then I dunno what to do and figure maybe I should just disappear b/c I'm not doing anything right (depression takes over).
I try damn hard to avoid confrontation as much as possible, unless I'm being a shit disturber (which is pretty damn obvious, because I'll make a loud proclamation like "Christians actually worship the devil, not the loving god they think they worship"). But in general, I try to avoid argumentation. I like my peaceful predictable pasture and I want to keep it that way! Mooooo..... *chews more cud*
Don't Make It About You: First of all, there’s a difference between using your own experience as a foundation for understanding, and making something about you. The former requires you thinking about a situation and trying to understand it the only way you can - through your own personal lens. The latter, however, is often a defensive reaction (especially around minority groups, because privileged groups have been trained to keep the focus on ourselves) that will shut down dialogue faster that you can say "moo".
I hadn't even read this when I just moo'd. :) While this sort of seems self-explanatory, I'd personally also mention that one should not assume that someone who is trying to understand, who tries to use a different circumstance as an analogy or attempts to elaborate on waht they are trying to say to get a better explanation, that this is NOT an attempt to make the conversation about the listener. They are trying to put themselves in your shoes, not make this about them instead. I've had people who seem to misunderstand my empathic methods. In person, I don't have to do much because I'll feel the emotion directly off the person. Over the Internet, I can't always do that, so I try to detract temporarily so I can internalise the feelings and truly understand how it feels to be that person. Then they can ramble all they want. It's like "wait, just a second... let's let me feel how you feel (more or less, it'll never be exact) and we can continue." I'm not making things about me, I just want to help understand. If I can't empathise, I'm about as useful as a wall.
Revisiting "Politically Correct": Your first instinct might be to dismiss words like "herstory" and "womyn" as "that PC crap". If so, sit back and think about that. Your privilege gives you the power to dismiss the decisions of minority groups, and further deride them by turning "politically correct" into a slur.
I hate it when people insist on calling people something other than they wish to call themselves (or be called). The Inuit are NOT Eskimos. The First Nations people are NOT Indians. And so on. If you want to use something different in private conversation, do so. The best way I can describe what would usually take a ramble, is to use a quote I learned last night. Sometimes it's better to be a little deaf than it is to be right. I'm pedantic, you all know that, but I would never tell someone that they're wrong for using "magick" or "womyn" instead of the dictionary spelling. Spelling decisions for political reasons are delicate issues. And to those of you who are phenominally bad at spelling, don't cheapen this by claiming you're bad at spelling for political protest against literacy or some crap like that, k? :P
Communicate, communicate, communicate!: Contrary to what society teaches us, all relationships - from a conversation between strangers to one with a love interest - are partnerships. . . . One thing to remember, however, is that, coming from a position of privilege, when you enter a minority space you need to first show that you are willing to be respectful of them before you can hope for them to be respectful of you.
Yes, I have been snipping the original post in every segment, but this is the only one where I cut stuff from the middle instead of the end. I digress.
Personally, this one has always been huge. I have always liked First Nations people and I always try to make it apparent when I meet some that I hold them in high regard. They're usually amazed when I tell them I think they're the ones with the right idea and it's the rest of us from Europe who are messed in the head. Sorry if you feel offended, but that's my opinion. If you know my religious stance or past life history, that's not a surprising statement. Most of you have heard over a million times that I grew up in Mississauga. Some of you know that means I grew up in schools whose population was half non-white. The only reason I notice skin colour these days is because it's like a breath of fresh air when I see it. "Thank GOD! A minority!" No, I'm serious. I LOVE the influx of visible minorities we've had in this region in the last 10 years.. I'm starting to feel more at home, culturally. I had someone at Sitel who used to tell me I'm sophisticated because I talk to him like I'd talk to anybody. I don't treat him differently. It never occurs to me to do otherwise. When he found out I'm from Mississauga, he said "Ah! That's why!" He told me a lot of people in St. C ask him "Why did you come here? Why did you come to St. C?" and he says to them "To teach you. To teach you there is a bigger world out there." We both laughed over that. Yes, I have wyrd conversations when lining up in fast food places. :)
That's the one thing I do like.. anywhere I go, when I make it evident by my behaviour and actions that I don't think any differently about them than I do anyone else, people of any race or creed are usually very open and friendly to talk with me. I don't blame their caution because you never know who you'll meet, but everyone respects a friendly face. :)
Apologies to terajjin for cutting out a lot of her post. I just don't want this to turn into a novel. -_-*
Actually there's a lot more to the original website than is shown here. You should go read it (if you haven't yet). It's very good.
Current Music: Mad Caddies - Spare Change?