Listening, Making Space, and Amplifying

Donald Trump is the president-elect of the United States. Words I cannot bear to say aloud (and can barely bring myself to type). Words I had predicted but hoped were too cynical to come true.

Two days before the election a boy in a wheelchair was pushed and mocked by Trump supporters at a rally. Violence against people of colour in America is up since Trump was elected, as a number of folks are beginning to chronicle on social media as is the Southern Poverty Law Center. VP-elect Mike Pence is anti-LGBTQ and appears to support conversion therapy. If you’re not a straight white abled cismale in America right now, you’re probably scared.

I’m also scared for my friends that live in the US: many of them have an even higher probability of facing violence than they did prior to November 8th 2016. I’m also scared for anyone traveling in the US, because nationality probably doesn’t make a difference.

This notwithstanding, at the same time I know that Canada has people that support Trump and his rhetoric. The difference is, at least for now, bigots have not been given the ‘okay’ to openly display their hate without fear of reprisal. But I’m not sure how long that will last.

We (that is, white folks) have to recognize and accept that white people voted for Trump. College educated and not college educated white people; white men and white women all voted for Trump in higher numbers than they did Hilary Clinton. It is wrong (that is, ableist) to call these white people stupid. It is also wrong to infantilize the white people that are from rural areas. However, it is also wrong to ignore the fact that America is in this situation because of white people. We have to come to terms with the fact that there are no good white people.

Sit with this reality and be uncomfortable with it, as you should be.

So what can we do?

First, we need to listen (not just hear – there is a distinct and important difference) to those who are facing or will be facing violence as a result of Trump being president. Judging by the preliminary list of those that will make up his cabinet, it will be an incredibly awful four years for minoritized peoples. Listen to their fear, listen to their stories, and listen to they ways they say you can help.

Second, we need to make space for marginalized peoples. In order to do that we need to listen to these voices, and bring them forward.  Let me explain this in more detail.

If you are a settler, you need to listen to Indigenous peoples and their experiences, and do what they say is best. This means you do not talk unless you are directly asked for your opinion. You do the grunt work and you do not act as a spokesperson for the cause. You stay at the back of the room, only taking a seat if there are some leftover.

If you are white, you need to listen to people of colour and their experiences, and do what they say is best. This means you do not talk unless you are directly asked for your opinion. You do the grunt work and you do not act as a spokesperson for the cause. You stay at the back of the room, only taking a seat if there are some leftover.

If you are straight, you need to listen to queer folks and their experiences, and do what they say is best. This means you do not talk unless you are directly asked for your opinion. You do the grunt work and you do not act as a spokesperson for the cause. You stay at the back of the room, only taking a seat if there are some leftover.

If you are a man, you need to listen to women and femme-presenting people and their experiences, and do what they say is best. This means you do not talk unless you are directly asked for your opinion. You do the grunt work and you do not act as a spokesperson for the cause. You stay at the back of the room, only taking a seat if there are some leftover.

If you are cis, you need to listen to trans and gender non-conforming people and their experiences, and do what they say is best. This means you do not talk unless you are directly asked for your opinion. You do the grunt work and you do not act as a spokesperson for the cause. You stay at the back of the room, only taking a seat if there are some leftover.

If you are able-bodied, you need to listen to dis/abled people and their experiences, and do what they say is best. This means you do not talk unless you are directly asked for your opinion. You do the grunt work and you do not act as a spokesperson for the cause. You stay at the back of the room, only taking a seat if there are some leftover.

In short, if a minoritized person is speaking about their experiences, they know what it is like through their lived experiences. You do not know more. Period. End of story.

Third, now that we have listened to minoritized peoples and made space for them, we amplify their voices. This means using social media to share minoritized experiences to greater audiences. This means asking them to comment on issues that affect them in the media. This means purchasing toys and books for our kids that focus on positive representations of minoritized peoples. This means supporting small businesses owned by minorities.

If we do these things, hopefully, maybe, we can make a difference. This will not make this entire situation better, nor will it make it go away. But we have to stand against this abled settler colonial cisheteropatriachal fuckery in every way that we can. We must.


Oh, and for the record, a) reverse racism doesn’t exist b) white fragility is nauseating, and c) I’m not having any of your white tears.

Advertisements
This entry was posted in Observations on Life Outside of Academia, Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Listening, Making Space, and Amplifying

  1. Pingback: Conferencing While Dis/abled | danielle dissertates

  2. Pingback: Storify Post: I Am Not Marching Today | danielle dissertates

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s