There are a lot of problems facing social justice movements today, but this is the biggest one. Because it’s holding us back internally. People learn and read about social issues and oppression and abuse online and suddenly they think they know everything. And of course they’re angry - there’s a lot to be angry about. And yes, it’s a great, wonderful thing that they’re aware and are working to better themselves.
But omgosh, please just stop trying to teach it and spread it because you are doing it wrong. Lashing out and yelling out buzzwords and SJ jargon and calling people racist and sexist and writing people off with no compassion - these are literally the opposite of what we should be doing. Anyone who’s actually been trained in social justice, SJ communication, facilitation and dialogue sees that and gets embarrassed to be associated with that form of “social justice.”
Because it’s not social justice. It’s not fighting racism and sexism and classism and homophobia. All it’s doing it’s turning people off, closing their minds further and making everyone who knows what they’re doing look bad. All it’s doing is spreading more hate, more negativity and generally making everyone feel like shit about themselves - except of course for the OP, who feels great about themselves for supposedly doing their part and helping the movement.
But they’re not. All they’re helping is the oppressive structure holding everyone back.
I’ve been there. I’ve been pissed off and angry and lashing out at everyone and everything. And it bit me in the ass more times than I can tell you. So I stopped and I learned. I was trained in social justice education by the university that developed the most widely accepted program for social justice education. I have practical experience, both in my daily life and in dialogue, that proves that these methods are not only better, but the only ones that actually work.
That showing compassion for agents and those who are uneducated gets you much farther than writing them off as hateful assholes and refusing to teach them in a way they can understand. That listening to where a person is coming from is far more important than listening to what they say. That we must all understand that most *people* are not maliciously racist/sexist/classist/ableist, but the society we were all raised in *is*.
We are all trying to work within this structure set in place long before any of our great grandparents were born and we all have our own starting point on the journey.
The other, possibly biggest and most widespread problem among the untrained crowd is the complete and total lack of understanding of teacher/learner. You do not know everything. You only know your own experiences. That’s it. In order to actually teach someone about social justice, you have to teach them about your own experiences. In order to do that, you must be willing to learn theirs, too. You must have compassion and empathy or you will get nowhere. This is literally the most important thing I ever learned and it’s the one that I see lacking the most in online SJ.
Now this is specifically directed at fandoms (and more specifically the Teen Wolf fandom, which I call home) but this is a message for everyone. It pains me to see the field that I am so incredibly passionate about get dragged through the mud because people who consider themselves to be a part of it do such horrible things in such horrible ways. Online SJ has a bad name because it has earned it and I cannot tell you how much I hate that. Social justice is not only my work, but it is also my life. I will not stand any longer for people abusing it and using it to spread hate.