Social Justice League

May 21 2012 | arielmstallings

Sailor Swayze pretty much nails the challenge of trying to produce content for a progressive audience:

Image courtesy of Sailor Swayze

Don't get me wrong: I love that so many people on the internet are committed to encouraging us all to examine our privilege and carefully consider the many ways that words have impact. But there are times when I see it start become a game, and too frequently the well-intended corrections are loaded with self-serving white guilt. Sometimes it feels like checking your privilege has become a form of online performance art for young white people.

I share the values and applaud the motivations behind privilege-checking, but I'm looking forward to the online discourse about the issue evolving into a less reactive, more constructive place. For a great example of what this might look like, check out Il Doctrine's video:

  1. "There are times when it feels like checking your privilege has become a form of online performance art for young white people."

    There is a dissertation there.

    12 agree
  2. Hmm, I think if I were still living in San Francisco I'd be inclined to agree with you. But oftentimes reading through Offbeat Empire sites I'm reminded of the whole "left coast liberal bubble" thing.

    I live in Australia now which has progressive pockets, but on the whole I find it filled with unacknowledged privilege – primarily racially and economically. (As one example, the mainstream media commonly uses the term "boat people" to refer to immigrants and nobody sees this as a problem.)

    So on the rare occasion that I actually read an article or see someone here make a comment acknowledging their own privilege I find it really refreshing. And I think it's the first step towards progress. Nobody's going to try to fix a system if they can't see that it's broken.

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    • I'm totally with you on the liberal bubble thing — but have to contest the "left coast" component. With editors in Iowa, Illinois, and Alabama, the Empire definitely is NOT produced out of a left coast bubble.

      Liberal bubble, sure. But left coast, not so much.

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    • You are oh so very right about privilege in (parts of) Australia. I think this is where Ariel's point regarding "less reactive, more constructive…" really has value. I am an Australian who left in 2006 and will probably return. As a teenager I was heavily involved in campaigning against treatment of asylum seekers under the Pacific Solution. When people attacked me for it, I would often come back with something along the lines of "You're white, you're relatively well-off, and you're an ignorant racist commenting on something you have no clue about."
      Honestly, I still feel that. Of course I do. But these days I ask "I'm curious, how do you arrive at the conclusion that we can happily have two different standards of human rights operating on our soil?"

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    • I am Australian, still living here, and I have to agree.

      Although, the strange thing is there are a lot of people who do see the stupidity of terms such as "boat people", but as long as the mainstream media continues to feed that line along with blatant lies, it will continue to be seen as the majority view.

      There are definitely people who share your views here, but we don't always have a voice in the mainstream.

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  3. I feel like the reactionary, emotional response to these situations has the exact opposite effect of what the react-or intends, every single time. My first reaction to accusatory, overemotional or "you are a–" responses is that the person saying it is an idiot with absolutely no clue what they're talking about. They seem illogical, irrational and more than a little crazy. These are the responses that I feel most quickly garner the "UGH WHY SO SENSITIVE" response, which isn't helpful for discussion for other side of the issue.

    However, someone who thoughtfully mentions that something is offensive or upsetting to them and brings to light the issue or cause that they are concerned about–they get my mind working. They're where discussion comes from! And I think discussion is okay.

    Of course, I've seen time and time again when someone has a hyper rare phobia, condition or situation that they're quick to get upset about. And while it's great for us all to be aware that these things are out there, I feel like it's always a Social Justice League defender suiting up and championing a cause for little or no gain. I has a trypophobia so I get it, but whenever someone points out HEY THIS MAKES MY SUPER RARE PHOBIA GO NUTS, I can't help but shrug. Is that heartless? Is it my responsibility to tend the hurt souls of people who are literally the only one of their kind in the entire readership?

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  4. I love the video! I'm a social worker and have been focusing a lot lately about how to have better conversations with people regarding holding them accountable for their actions (i.e. "You failed a drug test, this is bad." v.s. "You're an addict, this is bad.") yet still leave the conversation with them wanting to speak to me again. Discussing behaviors (things you can change) instead of identities (things you likely cannot change, or won't change) is a HUGE first step!

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  5. Great article and love the Ill Doctrine video. I live in Mississippi, where I'm often aware of this kind of thing. Even here, though, I can find myself in a liberal, hippie bubble.

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