It’s Very Good; It’s Not Okay

It’s very good to support women and be anti-sexist; it’s not okay to use racism in critiquing sexism.

It’s very good to support BIPOC and be anti-racist: it’s not okay to use anti-gay prejudice in critiquing racism.

It’s very good to support LGBTQ folks and be anti-heterosexism/transphobia: it’s not okay to use classism in critiquing heterosexism/transphobia.

It’s very good to support financially marginalized people and be anti-poverty: it’s not okay to use ableism in critiquing classism.

It’s very good to support the disability community and be anti-ableist; it’s not okay to use ageism in critiquing ableism.

It’s very good to support the agency of children and elders and be anti-ageism; it’s not okay to use fatphobia in critiquing ageism.

It’s very good to support body positivity and be anti-fatmisia; it’s not okay to use sexism in critiquing fatphobia.


 

You can mix these up all you want and they still apply!

If we are pointing out someone’s problematic behavior or words, we must remember not to use problematic words of our own to characterize them.

If we do, we’re not just criticizing that person, we are playing into stereotypes and making life harder for vulnerable others who are not that person. We are engaging in bigotry ourselves!

For useful, practical ways to call out problematic behaviors and words, check out this helpful guide from Southern Poverty Law Center.

 

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Women Online: Mental Health Risk

Unsurprisingly, research supports women’s–especially Black women’s–descriptions of their experience of online abuse:

 

 

It’s pretty hard in 2018 to avoid being online, so it can be hard to avoid abusive interactions. This can leave vulnerable people with increased depression, anxiety, and other trauma-related symptoms. Ideally, various platforms would develop better algorithms and reporting mechanisms to limit online abuse. Even more ideally, people would stop being abusive!

Failing that, you need to support your own mental health as best you can:

  • Be mindful of how much time you spend on social media. Take breaks!
  • Find supportive groups / circles / allies to focus on
  • Find supportive, helpful media sources and check in regularly
  • Develop a free “block” or “mute” hand – you don’t owe others your energy, attention, or explanations!
  • Document any threats or threatening communications before they are removed, and report abuse
  • Know that you are NOT crazy–it really is bad!–and you are not alone ❤

 

What to Say Around the Table

For many people, the holidays are a time of increased anxiety and depression because of ongoing family conflict. Often people struggle to find ways to respond to outrageous or subtle expressions of prejudice or bigotry. Responding to the prejudice of family members and neighbors is even harder if you experience anxiety, PTSD, or your family is a mental health risk! It can help to make sure you are feeling stable yourself, and to be prepared beforehand.

First of all, remember to take care of yourself. You deserve protection, and you are allowed to set boundaries about how family members treat you! You are also allowed to withdraw and rest when you need to, to ask for help with tasks, to say “no” to unwanted activities, and to take care of bodily functions such as eating and going to the bathroom. That may sound obvious to some, but if your family has some dysfunction, those may be things you need to practice allowing yourself.

Secondly, try reading through this list of six steps (below) to speaking up. It will help you to frame your responses and to feel stable in your understanding, which will reduce your anxiety about a possible confrontation even if no conflict occurs. It also explains how to point out unacceptable behavior without name-calling or escalation:

Six Steps to Speaking Up Against Bigotry

If you are interested in broadening your skills in speaking up, here is a comprehensive list of a variety of situations and topics for which you might need a concrete and useful way to respond:

Responding to Everyday Bigotry

Have a peaceful and healthy weekend!

Instead of “Privilege,” Think of Game Settings

The classic John Scalzi discussion of how the emotionally difficult term “privilege” can be explained with a gaming metaphor. All models may be wrong, as they say, but some models are useful. And this model has held up as very, very useful:

American Psychological Association on Race Discussions

A brief introduction to race discussion.

Racism needs to be confronted in a useful way. Remember, “you don’t get points for disagreement if that disagreement happens in silence.” – J. Pavlovitz

 

For concrete, practical, simple approaches for speaking up in many situations, read Southern Poverty Law Center’s Responding to Everyday Bigotry.

A Year After Charlottesville: Combating Hate

“We can’t assume others will do the talking.” Heather Heyer’s mother discusses learning to speak out:

 

Southern Poverty Law Center’s “Ten Ways”: