Is Marginalising the Non-Marginalised helpful to Equality movements or have we seen such a fast change that we are struggling to understand and keep up with the wider implications of current society.
Over the past year we have seen a quicker decent into identity politics than ever before. In the past, most Americans would have viewed assaults by US Police on Black citizens as isolated incidents. Now it appears that this is something we are confronted with in the news almost daily.
Three out of four people, in the US, now accept that there is an overarching systemic problem between the population that has never been appropriately address or educated towards since the disappearance of racial segregation in the US.
No one can deny that highlighting any and all injustices in civilisation is a good thing for the progression of Equality and Diversity across the globe.
The rise in coverage and the increase in Black Lives Matter protests has worked to raise awareness and support for the cause while undoubtedly enabling a long overdue global debate on racial equality.
As a result, we have seen a swift and frantic change in attitudes from corporations, brands and institutions to demonstrate support for BLM and wider social injustice issues.
Whether it is NFL players taking a knee to Nascar banning confederate flag, Skittles removing the rainbow in support of the LGBTQIA+ community or Calvin Klein promoting openly transgender models in their new campaigns, we are now seeing corporation after corporation, brand after brand, business after business openly stating their support for Black Lives Matter and a range of other marginalised groups
It is not only in the US where these social changes are rapidly developing. In Britain opinion is shifting too. There have been nationwide protests, new public and media conversations about our colonial history and the appropriateness of the celebration of certain cultural figures and institutions we once didn’t think twice about.
Just as in the US, businesses are actively supporting the marginalised in our community with brands like Yorkshire Tea openly attacking opponents of Black Lives Matter stating, “Please don’t buy our tea again”.
Our conversation has forever changed, and our interactions have become polarised.
There is an undercurrent of identity politics that support these conversations, they state to individuals that; You and Your Experience Matters.
What could possibly be wrong with that?
Nothing … in theory. But what happens to society when one group of people expresses to another group of people that, in the case of race, non-white people have no opinion or rights in the discussion unless they fervently agree with all facets of the discussion.
Furthermore, is the speed of this movement and movements like it working for the betterment of one group over another. Are we marginalising white people towards the benefit of non-white people? Are we marginalising the straight community in favour of the LGBTQIA+ community? And what of the wider black community, how are they being affected and treated as a result of such a vast increase in exposure and protest?
The conversations around these issues are not easy ones to have and it is therefore easy to see how #alllivesmatter grew out of a polarised viewpoint and response to #blacklivesmatter.
No one ever said that “only” Black Lives Matter, however in a society where information is so fast spreading, it is understandable that reactionary identity politics has actually worked to create as many difficulties for the cause of BLM as it has done to help it.
Terminology such as “Thug”, “White Privilege”, “White Saviour”, “All Lives Matter”, “Silence=Violence” and “Ally” have sprung up as the go to phrases to either support or oppose the opinions of individuals. All that has served to do is create a greater divide, with a small subset of our global community straddling the divide in the middle and calling for a reasoned debate.
Suddenly, questioning any social movement seeking equality is met with the enquirer being branded a racist or a homophobe rather than with a discussion and education. This means that instead of drawing people towards the conversation, we are actively turning them away.
There is no doubt that marginalised group have the right to equality, freedom and fair treatment just as much as anyone else. However, only allowing a discussion on the subject at the marginalised groups permission doesn’t do anything to help any cause.
This polarisation of the issue sees an influx of viewpoints that work against the overall sentiment of those who seek equality.
Now, when a White person is assaulted, or even killed, by a Black person, the rhetoric becomes about what the outcry of support for White lives will be rather than an effort to understand why Black people felt the need for their movement in the first place.
People outcry “Who will take the knee for the victim? Who will protest for them? Who will raise it in the Governments?” and so they should, however the polarisation of identity politics has meant that that is where the conversation ends.
Without working to discuss, educate, engage and understand our more complex social issues we may never reach a consensus on what it means, not to be Black, White, Straight, or Gay, but what it means to be Human.
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