How I Maintain Respectful Dialogue About The Violent Oppression that Doesn’t Affect Me in the Slightest

An Allyship Satire

Today’s ANNIEGRAM is a bit different from the norm, in the form of a satire I wrote a’ la Reductress style.

If you don’t know what Reductress is, HAVE YOU BEEN DISASTER PREPPING IN A BUNKER???

No but seriously, here are some of my favorite Reductress pieces:

So without further adieu, here is my attempt at a satire article.

How I Maintain Respectful Dialogue About The Violent Oppression that Doesn’t Affect Me in the Slightest

Oh hey, folx! I just wanted to pop in here in between my Soul Cycle class and Black author Book Club to say I am seriously SO proud of my fellow straight white allies (myself included) for keeping cool while talking to the bigoted people in our lives about topics like the BLMs and the LBGTs and the ETCs. (LOL! SEE WHAT I DID THERE?)

It’s SUPER easy for those conversations to get fraught and ugly, ugh! What with all the N-words, and the F- words, and the well-meaning “love the sinner/hate the sin” convos about invalidated gender identities and the bone-melting fires of Hell-- it’s almost like people can’t agree to disagree and maintain respectful dialogue these days! 

Thankfully, despite the tension, I see my friends in the white ally community keeping it classy--and giving themselves well-earned “props” for doing so! 

For example, on a Facebook post started by her Aunt Cathy about “those black thugs and deviants in Portland destroying the city,” my friend Jennifer offered a gentle perspective on systemic racism and protest-- all while staying kind and sweet to her hyper-conservative aunt who openly mocked her, blatantly ignored her in-depth efforts, and responded angrily with Q-Anon videos and Candace Owen tweets!

“Well,” Jennifer commented finally after hours of impotent conversation, “I’m just glad we can have an open dialogue about this, Aunt Cathy!” 

To which Cathy replied: “Me too! I’m so glad I can disagree with you about the fundamental rights and safety of certain people groups and know I won’t have to experience any actual, tangible, unpleasant dynamic shifts in our relationship! See you at Christmas, hun!”

Look, I’m not saying it’s easy to maintain a laugh and a smile while talking theoretically about a deep-rooted issue of systemic violent oppression that doesn’t really affect my life personally, because it IS. 

It’s tricky to both openly criticize my Uncle Bob’s extremely homophobic and racist mindset WHILE also assuring him that there won’t be any relational consequences to my disapproval of his political choices. Do you know how hard it is to disagree with someone AND reassure them that you’ll still hug them at Thanksgiving, even if their policies have caused life-long damage to the LGBTQ community, immigrants, BIPOC, and the poor? Talk about diplomacy! Way to go, ME!

One of my LGBTQIAPLUS friends tried to tell me that maybe I am able to keep chill while talking with my far-right friends about the validity of marriage equality because the debate isn’t centered around a vital part of my humanity so it’s easier for me to maintain emotional distance, and also because the outcome of these theoretical debates doesn’t impact my inherent safety or rights or life as a citizen in this country in the tiniest bit.

What a rude implication! As if we’re separate! As if it’s somehow EASIER for me to talk about these issues “respectfully” because I navigate the world with a safety and privilege that’s not afforded to her, in a consequence-free existence that operates blithely outside of the actual fraught, dangerous, stressful, and damaging reality she faces. THAT can’t be why! Because I’m TOTES impacted by all this! I CRIED watching PHILADELPHIA, y’all!

But look, as emotional as I get, I can’t just cut people out of my life! They’re good people! They give to their mega-churches and cut their neighbors’ lawns on the sides that touch their own! So I HAVE to make nice talking to them on Facebook. I can’t just be mean to people (ew, tacky).

Plus, it’s not like I’m enabling abusers or whatever.

I’m just doing absolutely nothing to effectively hold the people in my life accountable for their damaging political choices while maintaining a self-congratulatory moral superiority about how well-mannered and equanimous I’m being on topics that don’t really hurt or harm me either way!  

When they go low, I go high! Because that’s the way to do it, right? I mean, if it worked for Martin Luther King, Jr., it can work for me, right?

A (Black) friend recently tried to tell me that white people congratulating themselves for “civil discourse” was a form of respectability policing used to undermine the rightful anger of oppressed people groups in order diffuse the power behind their actions by labeling them as “dangerous” or “not respectful.”

But, honestly? Her tone got super frustrated when we were talking about it JUST because I said I didn’t see how being FORCEFUL could be more efficient than being NICE and she asked me if I had ever studied any US History and then I got real testy so she let it drop and then we were chill. (See? It IS possible to talk about these things and stay friends!)

Anyway, good job, fellow straight white allies! Way to stay even-keeled about something that doesn’t really affect you in the slightest. And remember, keep it Cool, Calm, and Classy, or as I like to call it: CCC (not to be confused with KKK, LOLOLOLOL--I crack myself up!).

LINKS TO READ:

Civility as a Tool for Keeping People of Color in Their Place

The Definition, Danger, and Disease of Respectability Politics, Explained.