suddenly struck by the notion of whiny social justice
April 14, 2013
I do remember that post going around that social justice movements accrue around issues that most people don’t know about and this is why their adherents appear ‘whiny’ or their concerns trivial
while this can be understood as an explanatory model for nascent justice movements…
when we have long running justice movements (stuff like anti-racism, decolonization, and – even though it chokes me to mention it – feminism)
these are all, without a doubt, justice movements about which a great deal is known. They’ve been around for a long while. And, more importantly, many of the issues are well understood (if not nearly as nuanced as they need to be) and when not understood, there is, at the very least, a great deal of public awareness that these things exist and that they are problems that need to be addressed.
so what of nascent movements? what is even a nascent movement these days? maybe something like the disability movement or the fat acceptance movement. while advocates for justice for these two groups have surely been around for some time… it is also pretty clear to see that many of the issues and such are not very high on the public awareness radar (particularly, i’d hazard, with the fat acceptance movement).
I guess the problem i have with the notion that certain social justice movements appear whiny or that there is some connection with public awareness and this perception of whiny-ness, is that how does actually make sense in terms of the visible movements with a long history?
is today not the day that I”m seen a post with a bunch of racist white people basically teling Jamie Foxx to get over the Trayvon Martin shooting? and using all sorts of slurs and anti-Black stuff? is it not the perception that people of colour still advocating for racial justice that they are whiny?
and yet there is a great deal of latent awareness around racism and the like. white people know. they know it is a problem and, for the type who are making the comments around Trayvon Martin, they don’t care.
the thing is, justice movements have nothing to do with the perception of the majority. their success also does no hinge either on awareness or on education.
we free ourselves.
our freedom is not given to us.
the other problem i have with that framing is… the potential to draw attention to the ‘whiny-ness’ and thus pull attention away from some of the measures of oppression. From the understanding of its context, historical roots, and institutional support.
It has the potential of validating the whining of het aces seeking access to queer spaces. because it tells us that the perception of a group ‘whining’ might be an indicator of either a marginalized group, some unknown issue, some kind of institutional oppression.
when, instead, we need to understand groups of people like the appropriative ‘trans ethnics’ not as potentially highlighting some legitimate and oppressed group, but as one part of the institutional efforts to keep those who are oppressed, oppressed. because these groups serve only one purpose: to dilute social justice discourse and to drain the energy of people by not only having to resist oppression but to resist trivialization
[eta: here is the op]