Why Social Justice Conversations Get Exhausting

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social justice conversations
Do you know what's exhausting about social justice conversations?

Do you know what is most exhausting about being a queer Black woman who participates in social justice conversations? It’s not the big stuff. The big stuff is what everyone agrees on — well, except those folks who believe it acceptable for unarmed Black people to be plugged full of holes by cops.

What’s most exhausting about this stuff is that a day doesn’t pass until I go online and come across some or all of the following:

  • “You won’t believe that racist thing that celebrity said!”
  • “If you think that’s racist, you don’t know what racism is.”
  • “OMG! Can you believe what misogynistic thing came out of that politician’s mouth?”
  • “It’s not misogyny if it’s true.”
  • “It’s 20XX! I can’t believe people still say this homophobic crap!”
  • “God, calm down. It’s just their opinion.”

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The same thing happens every time: somebody says or does something bigoted; people get understandably pissed; others cannot fathom that bigotry exists; the bigot delivers a BS apology; another group of people get mad at people upset at bigots saying and doing bigoted things. Meanwhile, I sit there like Puck and think, “Lord, what fools these mortals be.”

[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Only Black Twitter helps make this bearable.[/pullquote]

Can I confess something to you? I’m so, so tired of that. It’s monotonous. It’s predictable. It no longer has any educational nor entertainment value. Wait, that’s not exactly true. Sometimes, Black Twitter makes a hashtag that goes viral, and I enjoy myself immensely because laughing at bigots makes my day. But if it doesn’t catch on with Black Twitter — ugh!

Whether it’s someone being shocked — shocked! — that bigots still exist, people who support the things bigots say while not wanting to be called bigots, or “neutral” observers who just don’t understand why everyone is upset, it’s all boring and thus frustrating and therefore irritating.

This is something that some people don’t understand. What they see, at least from me, isn’t outrage. It’s irritation. It’s not a gunshot wound in a vital organ. It’s a pebble in my shoe. It’s a nerve-grating annoyance that won’t go away. In some ways, it’s worse that outright trauma because most people at least grasp that trauma is harmful. It’s harder for them to understand how the slow buildup of tiny incidents erodes your ability to cope.

(all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy)

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It’s not that I don’t care anymore. I’m still passionate about media representation, transforming institutions and analyzing how systems of oppression manifest in daily life. It simply costs too much time and energy to bother engaging with the same ignorance from people whose comprehension is not even rudimentary, and I’m not the most patient person to begin with. How many times do ignorant people have to regurgitate the same tired arguments over and over and over again only to be debunked again and again and again? How many times do people with no real stake in these things have to inject their opinions in conversations that they are clearly unqualified to participate in?

  • “Why are you mad at the Oscars when there’s BET?”
  • “What Bill Cosby did wasn’t rape.”
  • “Just because I don’t agree with your lifestyle does not mean I fear or hate gay people.”
  • “What’s so bad about calling him Bruce Jenner?”

It never ends. The conversation never elevates. It’s stuck on square one and won’t budge. And nobody’s paying me!

[pullquote align=”left” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]They call it controversy, but it’s cynical manipulation.[/pullquote]

What makes it worse is that media outlets have gotten hip to the fact that the best way to get attention is to publish the hateful, ignorant opinions of irrelevant people. They call it controversy, but it’s a calloused and cynical manipulation meant to make their particular corner of the media start trending. The problem with it is not that it’s frivolous, but that it makes it harder for people on the receiving end of that nonsense to go about their day without strangling someone. Those of us who are of color, women, LGBT, disabled, and poor and working class do not need the reminder that there are people who hate us, fear us and believe us inferior. We also don’t need to be made aware of the fact that even our friends, family and coworkers are ignorant jackasses who don’t know the first thing about what we’re going through.

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This is me saying that I won’t be manipulated anymore. My time and energy are too valuable to spend benefiting the people who have the most to gain from things staying as they are (because if things changed, they’d have to find some other way to earn page views). So, instead of getting sucked into the ten-thousandth version of the same debate, this is me getting off that roller coaster.