Why am I seeing you getting mad, why am I seeing you announce a friend cull on Facebook, why am I seeing you getting ‘woke’ sassy in the threads and looking for the latest tea.
Hey ally, shouldn’t we be engaging with folxs who are skeptical in a way they can examine and potentially revisit their views. Should this not be our primary task. Take a seat-
Ok, so you know some shit now and it’s traumatic information I agree. You also are aware that those who you stand with been knew some shit longer and don’t have the privilege to take a distant “objective” approach to these nuanced discussions. Or at least you know that as of now.
You probably agree that we all need to radicalise our thinking, challenge our understanding, in fact you’re feed up because it’s proving to be a great deal of work.
But here’s the stinger, your depreciating patience is doing a disservice. Your sassy attitude is minimising the voices of those you stand with vs project. Your tea sipping is low key just about how you get to feel. And I’m looking for where the actual work is. The real work where we allow people around us space to evolve and change (spoiler alert: we don’t).
Oppressive behaviour is not the default position forever -we CAN all change in the right environment. Our performance can change too if we can find the best way to foster “debiasing” within our circles of influence to raise experiences and facts that invite others to a broader and more nuanced perspective.
Im not talking about inviting trolls into your circle I’m talking about how we manage enquiries, and problematic behaviour/language when we see it. How we manage our spaces in a way that invites those we identify with to meet us where we are at with our work in destabilising the social prescriptive norms that are harmful to others.
Biases are predispositions of a psychological, sociological, or even physiological nature that can influence our decision making. They often operate subconsciously outside the logical process on which decisions are based.
Allies, we ourselves are not immune to bias. Thinking we are is actually a form of bias in itself, called overconfidence.
Let’s shift our decision making around the tasks of “debiasing” by identifying where our own behaviours need work.
Note: We are not playing devils advocate here, this is how we can improve and be more active by intentionally responding from a place that is principled, informed and centered.
- Facilitate a happy to be wrong conversation. Remember, you are not saying everything they believe is right because you agree with one thing or because you’re listening. If you have ever thought like they did, you can describe how your own view was once like theirs. Don’t focus on how you have grown. Look for places of maximum alignment as opportunities to start the dialogue.
- Know that the ‘denying’ statements that trigger negative emotions within you often undermine your listening. But you do need to listen. Think about how can you better manage your own knee jerk reactions. Let the connection between you air out for a minute. Literally. Wait a goddamn minute. This is the building block of your effort to move them forward.
- Manage your communication so that you don’t convey judgment. Let go of the desire to chastise them about their viewpoint. Ask them to share an experience that explains why they see things like they do. Think about what facts, studies, or explanatory concepts you might want to bring up later in the conversation.
- Be savvy about the conversation(s) taking into account the setting, mood, and other factors. Information processing is different for everyone.
- Do some reflection on your own beliefs. Maybe when you responded “you’re a racist/ableist/—phobic/speciest” in 0.3 seconds of the conversation, how did you suppose the dialogue would continue there on after. Did the system you’re fighting finally crash? No. Is your skeptic now more firmly planted in their position- likely.
- Stop hyperbolic discounting. We as humans show a preference for ‘rewards’ that arrive sooner rather than later. Remember that productively engaging the issue takes more than one conversation.
- Are you trying to connect with this person or are you trying to confirm your assumptions about the person. Confirmation bias is a social skill, but you’re not a psychologist siting opposite a patient. Identify where you are probably outright asserting a narrative or perspective that reflects more about your own assumptions vs reality.
As an ally you want to make space in future iterations for emotion and identity, so practice the same empathy and sensitivity you expect, where it is needed from your side also. This is not to say we foster environments that tolerate problematic behaviour, this is to say that we don’t af.
People with oppressive beliefs are not right. Society moves forward and forward is always more progressive by way of extending rights and safety to others, not less.
Take this seriously by collaborating with others to look for larger unifying truths.
You are not trying to change their entire world view rather finding a good opportunity to continue talking and collaborating going forward.