If you’re a social justice activist and we’ve been having an exchange on social media, it’s probably ended in a number of ways. If you’re reading this then you’ve not immediately labelled me a variant of misogynist/bigot/racist/homophobe and blocked me. I applaud you for that and being more open to dialogue than some.
I’ll limit this response to one possible context: you’ve told me that I should read more before I reply to you or express an opinion on our topic of discussion. This is usually based on one of two assumptions:
1. I hold the opinions I do because I am ignorant of the context/issues involved and if I simply read more I would see the world and the topics discussed as you do. Because, what reasonable, caring, intelligent person could do otherwise?
2. You haven’t quite worked out where I am coming from and are one step away from labelling me a misogynist/bigot/racist/homophobe at worst, or a cold-hearted, privileged, white he-devil socialised into prejudice and hatred of women and minorities by the colonial patriarchy. One slip, misunderstanding, or inconvenient fact will, of course, see me blocked. Disparaging comments about me may, or may not, be exchanged about me behind my back with others sharing your world-view, after-the-fact.
If you’re an SJA and have read this far, count me impressed. I’d like to offer a third possibility: I am not completely ignorant or uncaring regarding social and economic disadvantage facing some individuals and sections of society because their life circumstances are less favourable than some of mine. Nor am I a vile person without morals or an ethical/ideological framework through which I perceive the world and act. It’s just my viewpoints and beliefs differ to yours. Continue reading