A Monster Outside of Human Laws

August 2021

Shower Thought
In every conversation about systemic racism I have had, particularly with people who occupy a position of privilege or power, there always comes a point in the discussion when they are about to begin to realise how they are complicit. They are about to realise that they occupy land, occupy positions of power and benefit from the oppression of racialised communities. The words ABOUT TO is key here: the problem is that they never actually reach the point where they realise.

From their perspective the aim of the conversation never meant to encompass complicity. The point of the conversation is to “learn how they can help”. They want to do something new to help, not to address their past actions. Listening to me as an act of allyship after all.
“I’m doing a good deed.
I’m the good guy.
I’m supposed to feel good.”
As this conversation progresses from an act of heroism to the revelation of villainy- they begin to perceive that this conversation is taking a hostile turn. Admitting complicity is an incredibly difficult emotion to deal with and most adults are not emotionally developed enough to process it. The conversation discussing allyship then turns into a defence of the oppressive status quo as a means to escape difficult emotions.

As their argument runs dry and their cognitive dissonance is unable to refuse the evidence that is being presented, they begin to shut down and make the issue a matter of semantics. The language that is used is apparently not “neutral” enough to have a “reasonable” conversation. They want the tone and terms of the conversation to be “equal” between both parties, even though the premise of the conversation is the lack of equality. Their final remark will be:
“I agree with what you are saying
But I don’t like the way you are saying it.”
This is the point in the conversation that demonstrates the lack of equity and justice. No matter how I speak, whatever words I use. They have the power to deny my request:
“Ask nicely”
I’ve not experienced this conversation on multiple occasions, but on multiple scales as well. There are rules that govern protest. Only peaceful protest- a limited and mitigated language- is lawful. Only requests that are made that do not wound the powerful too much are permitted. This is their leverage: they want you to ask nicely so that they experience little consequence if they deny your request. Only the emotions of the powerful are legally protected. Ours aren’t. They don’t want to share our pain.

“There is a difference between peace and liberation is there not?
You can have injustice and have peace? Isn’t that correct?”
“You can have peace and be enslaved.”
“So peace isn’t the answer.”
“Liberation is the answer.”
“Yes of course”
“Ok that’s what you should talk about, not peace.
Peace is the white man's word”
“But you would want peace in the end?”
But you can’t have peace until everybody is equal.”