Being a social justice advocate is tough. It’s tough to stand up and say, “Actually, I think that’s inappropriate.” It’s tough to dedicate time and energy to analyzing, educating, advocating, and simply speaking up.
But sometimes the hardest part is just the awareness you develop. You see it all, you know? That’s racist, that’s homophobic, that’s sexist, that’s faithist… If you know what you’re looking for, soon you just start to see it everywhere without even looking. You have to develop some pretty thick skin. And for every thing you see, every comment you hear… you have to make a decision: “Do I address it or do I let it go?”
I never want to let it go. I can’t. Because then I immediately think to myself, “UGH! I could have said something! Every little bit counts!” And every little bit I don’t resist that privilege and offense, then I’m allowing it to continue. I’m guilty. I’m an enabler.
Nobody wants to hear that they’re being offensive. Nobody wants to have to be super sensitive about every little aspect of every person’s life. But the truth is, we only make things better when we try. If we just skate along on that path of least resistance, all the –isms persist. We don’t learn or grow; we don’t progress as a society. We have to take responsibility.
Normally, I can handle all the little triggers. I address them quickly and nonchalantly. “Could you not say that? It’s not really inclusive.” It’s short and simple and then you move on. But sometimes you just get overwhelmed…
In the past day or two, I have been overwhelmed. I have heard things and seen things and even been personally targeted in a number of ways (the responses to the Man Day post as examples). And tonight, I’m burnt out. My thick skin is worn through. Addressing privilege is normally an intellectual exercise, but the consequence of failure is emotionally implosion.
I’ll get a good night’s sleep, and I’ll try to refresh myself, and get back to my normal routine. But. it’s a burden to see what I see and think how I think. It’s a burden I’m proud to carry, because it means I can make a difference, even if no one else sees the difference I am making. But on nights like these where I feel distraught and alone, it’s a burden that’s just a burden. With no one to help me back up, I have no choice but to let it weigh me down.
We need to support each other or we fail.
This week, I let some starfish die that I could have saved.
I wish I did not have to write this post.