“This is getting too confrontational, let’s have a civil discussion”
Anybody who has advocated for any sort of positive advancement in any society has heard these words, or a variation of them, usually spoken in the same tone as the word “relax.” A reminder that people (often those who benefit from the status quo) must be convinced of the reasons why it should be changed and that this convincing must be done politely, or else.
We are reminded that we must “make a case” for why the world must work for all of us not just those who are white, male, rich, heterosexual…when we advocate for the end of racism,sexism, homophobia, transphobia, we are told to be polite lest we alienate even those whites,men, heterosexuals, cisgender people who might want to listen to us.
We are reminded of the power that those who benefit from the status quo have over us, the power to unsee our pain, to render our suffering irrelevant, not news worthy, simply by choosing to ignore us.
But we have always known this because we have been ignored all along; we have tried to be polite, and yet our pain has not lessened. Meanwhile, our oppressors get bolder by the day. Mr. Museveni, who is currently trying to remove age limits from Uganda’s constitution to allow himself to rule till death, recently told Ugandans that his NRM revolution cannot be locked out by mere technicalities. The technicality he was referring to is Ugandans’ freedom to choose our leaders as enshrined in the constitution. Last week, #MeToo trended on Twitter and we saw womyn sharing their experiences of sexual assault at the hands of men. Many (African) men, after reading horror story after horror story from survivors of sexual assault continue to #notallmen us and insist that they don’t know any abusers. Who is abusing us then?
An 8 year old boy was tortured to death by his step father who thought the little boy was gay. We are expected to smile at people while these things happen and calmly explain to them why we are dying, why we are afraid, why we can’t live.
Our freedom is urgent and cannot wait for people to finish playing “devil’s advocate.” The freedoms we fight for are not some abstract future ideals, we need them now! To love how we want, to walk down the street at anytime of day or night without fearing for our lives, to choose our leaders, to design the lives we would like to lead. “The future is now.”
Angela Davis told us, we are never assured of justice without a fight, and she is right. We must be confrontational about our freedom!
I think of my freedom in very confrontational terms and I am always ready to defend it. When I interact with another human being, my intention is to do so as an equal. The moment something is said or done that even attempts to unhuman me, I step up! Because maybe they didn’t see this “full human being” very clearly. I am not averse to reminding people, now and again, that they are dealing with a human being and should do so accordingly. You shouldn’t either.