I posted a shorter rant on this on Twitter (as I always do), but I felt it required some elaboration for those arguing. I know most of them were arguing in bad faith, but for those who are genuinely misguided and just trying to help, I think this one is worth addressing.
Some “allies” have taken it upon themselves to give me advice in response to a post I wrote about how I’ve been blocking/unfollowing people on Twitter for All Lives Matter, saying they’re tired of the protests and that everyone should “move on,” saying that the looting bothers them (while staying noticeably quiet about why all of this is happening in the first place), being pro-Trump, and any number of similar things. I wrote that I had no interest in associating with them in any way, and while most people were entirely supportive (because the Twitter writing community is the fucking best…usually), there were some who decided to bless me with this bit of wisdom:
“You should love everyone.”
Look, I get it. I think you’re naive and you live in a fantasy world where loving everyone actually works, but I understand what you’re trying to do.
But before you give me this enlightening advice, ask yourself this: Why are you trying to educate me, a woman of color who is showing my rage towards racists and complacent moderates, to be nicer and show love to everyone, instead of trying to educate the racists themselves? Why are you sitting on a pedestal and talking down to me, someone who hates people for their hateful ideology, instead of those who hate people for how they were born? If you were an ally, you would put that time and energy towards trying to educate them instead of lecturing me about how I should try to reach out to those who hate me for my skin color and try to get them to understand me.
Why should I? Why is the onus for showing love and acceptance placed on me instead of them? Why do I have to prove to them that I am worthy of sharing space on this earth just as they are, instead of them having to prove that their ideology isn’t garbage and that they aren’t hateful and wrong for feeling the way that they do?
Why do you feel comfortable implicitly blaming me for my own anger? Do you join the threads of racists and All Lives Matter folks to tell them to “love everyone?” Do you try to appeal to their better nature, or lecture them for their “close-mindedness?” Somehow I doubt it, because that would make you uncomfortable. Your advice is empty and unhelpful. I know it sounds harsh, but it’s the truth.
Some might be thinking, “But what’s wrong with pushing all of us to love everyone? Why can’t we fight hate with love?” And again, I get it. We all want to live in a world where fighting hate with love actually works. But by implying that it’s my responsibility to “fight hate with love” and reach out to those who hate me for something I cannot change, you are giving those who hate a pass. You are equivocating two very different kinds of “hate,” and implying that hating someone for what they believe in is just as bad as hating someone for their skin color, gender, sexuality, etc. Intentionally or not, you’re legitimizing their worldview by trying to push me to “love” and “understand” them. It’s not my job to convince them that I’m worthy of existing, or to give them any sort of pass by continuing to associate with them despite their worldview. A real ally would understand that.
And please, please stop trying to tell me to watch Daryl Davis’s TED Talk about how he befriended Klan members and convinced them to leave the KKK. I’ve seen it. I get it. What he did was brave and impressive, and now there’s a few less racists in the world, and that’s great. But Black people aren’t obligated to do what he did. It’s not our job to reach out to people who hate us and convince them that, “Hey, we’re human beings with feelings, too!” By trying to tell me to “check out that video,” you are once again making it my responsibility to appeal to the racists, the Trump supporters, and the moderates who claim to care about Black lives, but not enough to step away from their “I don’t do politics” shtick. And why should I? Why are they the ones who need to be appealed to? What is it about them that makes you believe that I and every other Black person should do what Daryl Davis did and reach out to them, befriend them, convince them that I’m human too?
I know you are only trying to help. But lecturing Black people on how they should handle racism or how they should respond to those whose politics threatens their safety or undermines the movement, is not the way to go. I don’t have to associate with them. I don’t have to listen to their talking points, read their anti-BLM posts, witness their privilege and ignorance in action, or spend my time and energy trying to change their minds. If any other Black people out there want to give it a shot, they absolutely can. That’s their choice, and this is mine.
Finally, I don’t wanna hear your “free speech” bullshit. I’m convinced most of this country doesn’t even know what that means. I haven’t seen this as much personally, fortunately, but so many people have argued that refusing to talk to conservatives is wrong because conservatives have “free speech” and are allowed to speak their mind.
I’m sorry…did I argue that conservatives should be silenced by the government? Because that’s what “freedom of speech” means. It does not mean, “You’re allowed to speak your mind and everyone around you has to listen to you and like you regardless.” Conservatives have the freedom to say whatever they like, and I have the freedom to dislike them for it. It goes both ways.
All of this is just to say that if you are an ally, do me a favor and don’t make me waste more of my energy trying to convince you that I don’t need to associate with people “just because I disagree with them politically.” If you want to love everyone no matter what, you go right ahead. Spend hours appealing to them, or debating them. But don’t tell me it’s my job to do the same.
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Bryanna Gary is the founder of The Angry Noodle and a current editorial assistant at Del Rey Books–science fiction, fantasy, and horror imprint of Penguin Random House.