Brace yourselves for the unrefined and incoherent! I want to talk a bit about being an ally or a supporter to people in a marginalized group of which you are not a member. As a white male of comfortable wealth I find myself on the outside of most oppressed groups. In order to get started, you will first need to accept the premise that you lack the perspective to know what life is really like for a member of such a group. If you’re not there with me, stop reading now.
There is plague of people showing up mid conversation lacking anything in the way of a clue and offering up
sage advice their uninformed opinion to people who have probably heard it a million times. If you are now thinking about the Van Der Graaf Generator album Pawn Hearts, you win… something. Moving on. I’ll do you the favor of only providing two examples in one link–note the topic of the original post and the contents of the comments.
I am a bike commuter. If I am proud of anything in my life other than surviving graduate school more-or-less it is this. On my way to and from campus I get regularly mistreated by drivers. I’m going to highlight one particular annoyance. “Get on the sidewalk!”
Riding a bike on the sidewalk is illegal–at least in every state I’ve ever biked in–and for good reason. It’s a hazard to pedestrians. A bike may not be two tons of steel, but it can still move at a decent clip such that one would not want to be struck by one. If you bike on the sidewalk for any reason other than to get to or from a bike rack, I am now going like this: >_<
So to get back on track, if you are behind the wheel and a legally licenced driver it is generally expected you know the rules. If you then go on to yell “Get on the sidewalk!” to a cyclist you are showing up to a conversation lacking knowledge you are fully expected to have in order to even participate. Don’t. Do. That.
If you can empathize with that at all, extrapolate from a frustrated bike commuter to someone enduring a full frontal assault on their own humanity. That has to be pretty damn awful, no? To understand my plight all you need to do is try to bike a few miles in moderate traffic. To get a grip on what it’s like to be a woman, a person of color, or trans* it’s going to take some reading and some empathy. Trying to butt in on a conversation having done none of that and expecting to be welcomed is quite rude at the very least.
Try to be not-a-douche fellow members of privileged classes.