September 12th, 2005

red panda eating bamboo

"It's not our job to educate"

This is based on a comment I made in a thread in rmjwell's journal here. The thread is about the idea "It's not our job to educate you about []ism."

My take is: Sure, I can choose to educate people. Sure, members of a group of people who are discriminated against can choose education as a way of getting more access to what they want. But people cannot require me/the group to do so.

Some people in the cultural mainstream or closer to centers of power take the attitude that whenever someone not in their group speaks up, that person *MUST* *JUSTIFY* their taking up public space; that person must take on all the work and all the responsibility for whether mainstream people are listening to them.

It can be a tactic for keeping people's ideas out of public discourse, insofar as they can just sit back and say "Yes, but" or "Sorry, I didn't like they way you put that" until the end of time.

If I want more power or access, ONE WAY is to try to educate people who have it to understand me better, so they'll decide I'm nice and give it to me. But it's not the only way, and I'm not required to go that route. There are other ways.

And in the situation where mainstream people are saying to a group farther away from the mainstream, "Why won't you join our movement?" and the group farther away from the mainstream is saying "Because you don't understand us," then it's DEFINITELY not the JOB of that group to educate the mainstream people. If they want to, then that's a good thing. But it's not their JOB.

I have no idea whether this is anyone else's take on the issue. It's my take on explaining to people how discriminiation and prejudice affect me as a member of some groups who are discriminated against. I do plenty of educating, but I resent the hell out of the attitude that I have to justify myself to people who have no interest in really hearing what I'm saying. I resent it so much that I would rather get far away from those people, and that means not spending energy on supporting whatever cause they would like me to support.