Y’all, it’s probably terrible form to take a rough draft of something and quote from it like it’s the complete intention of the author, but I read something from the Professor today that I wanted to share with you.
In brief background, the Professor’s work is (or I think it’s on this subject. I guess we’re about to find out if I’m understanding her when she tells me what she’s working on.) on the necessity not only of marginalized people being able to speak, but also on their ability to be heard. To be heard, she argues, is to be recognized as being a person. And so, she’s all about making people into just listeners (“just” in the “justice” sense not in the “only” sense) so that people can be heard.
Okay, so in this part, she’s talking about how there are few people left who still actively work for the exclusion of marginalized people from the public sphere, few actual white supremacists or full-blown women-as-property misogynists or whatever, but many people who still end up excluding marginalized people from the public sphere because they are not just listeners, not into, as she calls it, “epistemic openness.” Instead, because they aren’t listening to what the marginalized people need, they’re still advocating a mode of social justice along the lines of “just become like us and all your problems will be solved.”
Much of this resistance to change is not active and deliberate, not motivated by desires to continue exclusion or even segregation; or rather, it is done more by habit, or dependence on existing, unexamined ways of thinking, than by the few who actively defend practices of mainstreaming as the only acceptable method of inclusion and who fail to see mainstreaming as an active inattention to the testimonies of the people of color, poor, queer, women, and the like.–The Professor
This idea–of mainstreaming being an active inattention–is something so profound I about want to just tilt my head back and let the idea roll around in my brain for a little while.
Because, isn’t this the way we do it? We refuse to pay attention to what folks are telling us about their experiences, convinced as we are that we treat everyone the same, completely willfully unaware of how assinine that is.
People don’t want the right to be like me (or you, rather, because, let’s be honest, sometimes it’s good fun to be like me). They want the right to be respected on their own terms for being themselves.