Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Why I'm Not A Great Candidate To Be An Ally...

Communication in America has become a bit like the list of foods my dietician recently gave to me.  It's a list of "don'ts" and a sparse sampling of what I can partake of.  We have become a society wherein speaking your opinion is only acceptable if that opinion is the same as the person with whom you speak.  

If you are from a different gender, class, ethnicity, background, age bracket, sexuality, etc. and state a position you hold, you're seen as someone who is encroaching upon an area you have no business in.   This is equally perplexing and amusing to me for several reasons.

I worked for several years as a journalist, reporting on that which I saw or gained knowledge of through research.  I am a poet, who makes use of the human experience as a whole for inspiration.  I am often paid to speak to organizations, at schools and to groups regarding my particular viewpoints or suggestions for positive change. Yet, on social media sites, I regularly see posts that essentially state that a white, cisgender, queer female should be silent and just well...just smile, I suppose. 

When did that become the answer?  What might that solve?  How can I say in poems "I fight for those women who have been silenced, who have lost their voice," then accept that I should be the same so as to not be offensive? I was silenced for years in my younger years and I will allow myself to be controlled as such again. In as such, I'm probably going to offend others at time. 
There are times when I get angered that more is not done to resolve societal atrocities and I speak out in haste. 

I will most certainly be in disagreement with those I strive to help on certain matters. I am not perfect and I suppose I am not a great candidate to be an "ally" to any one group. I have done community outreach for over two decades and until recent times never thought of an "ally" as something I should aspire to be. In my offline life I have never once been encouraged to not share my thoughts, never been told by those I encounter that I need to "sit down and shut up," in order to better help others.  

I don't have have "token" friends to drop the names of in order to give me a pass to speak out.  I have real friends who exchange with me their thoughts and welcome mine, though according to popular posts online the same is not encouraged elsewhere.  Perhaps I am simply exceptionally lucky in that way. Perhaps I am not such a great candidate to be an ally either.  I will just have to accept that if it means I am devalued as a person in the process. 

If I see something disturbing, hurtful, harmful or reprehensible in my eyes alone, at times, I will speak out.  I might lose friends in the process, perhaps respect from those I love.  But it will not prevent me from doing what I was called to do.  I chronicle life with words.  I won't apologize for that, nor should you if you do the same.  If I disagree with your opinion, I want you to feel free to express that opinion to me.  Feel free to debate with me. I won't be angered and will instead try to learn from you.  

I welcome the chance to communicate, even if you opt not to do so. I'm ok with that too.

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