So often we are told to be quiet, to not raise our voices, to not make a fuss. Sometimes we feel like we shouldn’t bring up an issue so we don’t create any tension or don’t ‘cause a scene.’ Sometimes when we do, we are dismissed, met with disinterest, or the rolling of eyes, as if others are thinking, “oh, here they go again, going on about an Important Issue.”
I find this response very strange. I think sometimes people don’t want to know, they think things aren’t their problem, or they feel guilty, so it’s easier to ignore things. But you don’t have to feel guilty, it’s not like it’s your fault that injustices exist, and ignoring them won’t make them go away. It’s not your fault you may have more privilege in certain ways, it’s just about recognising this privilege and being compassionate towards those with less.
What I find even stranger is when people almost seem offended by someone bringing up an issue, and perhaps even challenge them for bringing it up. This makes no sense to me. If we talk about some kind of discrimination, shouldn’t you be offended by the discrimination itself, not me talking about it? Again, I think it comes down to guilt. And when you don’t experience certain forms of discrimination yourself, I suppose it can be easy to write them off. But I don’t understand how people can do this. Just because you don’t experience something yourself doesn’t mean others don’t. Just because it isn’t a reality for you doesn’t mean it isn’t a common occurrence for other people. Why would you dismiss what someone says when they tell you it exists, especially if they’re speaking from experience?
Ideally we should discuss all kinds of issues. We cannot always just continue blindly, focusing only on ourselves, and ignore what is going on around us and in the wider world. Sure, we can’t fix problems just by learning about them and talking about them, but we can broaden minds and raise awareness. We cannot let harmful words and opinions slip us by every time, unchallenged. We cannot be so afraid of annoying people, of being awkward, of dampening the mood, that we never call out ignorance or raise an important topic. If people are ‘offended’ by this, that is their problem, and they need to discuss these things even more so they can open their minds, be compassionate, and realise how ridiculous they’re being.
Don’t shrink yourself when you have something to say. Often it is the people who do experience various forms of discrimination that are made to feel like they have no voice, that they should keep quiet, and not cause a fuss. But we need to hear all voices, especially the marginalised ones. Whoever you are, you are not causing a fuss. Say what you have to say. Get your voice heard. Your voice is valid. More than valid, it is important. Try not to let people make you feel like your voice doesn’t count, or that it isn’t important and can’t have an impact. It could have a huge impact, even if it’s just on one person. You should say what you think and feel. You should be able to call something out if you if you want to when you come across something you find problematic. You don’t have to be ‘telling someone off,’ you could just be starting a discussion, and hopefully broadening their mind. So remember that your voice is important, and don’t give into the pressure to shrink yourself and hold back what you have to say.