(for ABW's Carnival of Allies)
First of all, the ranty bit, as excerpted and slightly modified from an earlier post (sorry for the repeat, regulars):
There's this, okay, -message-, I've been picking up, not just in the latest mess, but in a number of contexts, race-related and otherwise. (You can get an idea from skimming downward). Covertly and sometimes overtly, it goes roughly like this:
Oh, you can't possibly MEAN what you're saying. You're not really interested in -this-, are you? You're just putting it on. You're acting out of -guilt.- You're not one of THEM. You're one of US. You're just trying to be trendy, aren't you? Cool. More Radical Than Thou. Looking for "cookies" from, uhhhh, whoever's giving them out this week. Anything and everything but YOU MIGHT ACTUALLY MEAN WHAT YOU'RE ACTUALLY SAYING. And, further, you can't possibly LIKE -those people-, not -really.- They aren't actually -people-...no, sorry! I mean THEY are in fact -really people-, which is a -really- radical idea and I still can't quite get my head entirely 'round it but I'm -really- trying; it helps if I maintain that THEY are just like me (only not quite as Advanced).
As opposed to, garsh, I don't know, I like -some- of "these people" as PEOPLE, and therefore, by listening to them and getting to know them, I give a fuck when they say "ouch, this hurts," even if it doesn't seem to directly affect me (at first). Because
a) actually, as it turns out, most of the time if I look a step or a half-step ahead, why yes in fact I AM quite possibly next for the chop, say hello Pastor Niemuller,
b) besides, HELLO, how on earth do you expect people to be interested in YOUR righteous cause if you never return the fucking favor? Because you're Universal and they're a sideline and they should just wait patiently for you to get your rightful piece of the pie and THEN they might get a crumb? Because you think you're the only game in town? Wrong on both counts, and it's high time you got a clue.
c) those are my FRIENDS and LOVED ones you're talking about, you fucking zits. And/or at minimum, people I respect and like and want to hear what they have to say for -themselves-. PEOPLE.
And yeah, thing is, I do get why this might seem...not enough; we're talking about -structural- shit, after all, right? not just petty high school sniping over who's friends with whom. And yet...I'm increasingly convinced that actually, it DOES matter, this let's say "individualistic" approach, quite a bit.
Here's the thing: people do tend to respond most strongly to shit that resonates for them on a personal level.
And I’m going to go in a slightly different direction from the usual conclusion to this, i.e. “damn, I’m/we’re shallow and we suck, I Will Work Harder at intellectually understanding such and so, because it is my Duty,” maybe more: okay, I’m not feeling such and so terribly viscerally. Why not? Is it maybe partly because–in some cases at least–I don’t actually -know- any of the people directly affected by such and so?
And if not–maybe, does it make sense to go, “huh, maybe I could get to know ___ on a more personal level. Seek people out. Talk to people -as- people over the long haul, as an end in itself. Make real connections, not just ‘oh, i want to LEARN from you.’ See if the world maybe isn’t a little bit bigger than I thought, and maybe make some friends** along the way.”
Because, ime, once you do that, the “difficult” stuff often becomes a lot easier to understand. Because, now it’s not just some abstract issue. Now, it’s personal.
And, as we all know, "the personal is political."
**generally, a term I find myself using a lot more than "ally," unless the context really calls for the latter.