To Be Radical or Not To Be Radical: The Inner Thoughts of a Southern Gay
We are quiet in the South. Passive Aggressive. Polite. You don’t talk about what goes on at home. You hide your emotions. You don’t tell people they’re wrong.
I am a radical Southerner in this sense. I object when relatives say that fat girls look scandalous in their prom dresses. I object when my girlfriend is dead-named. I object to micro aggressions. I object to hate.
But I recognize that my objections don’t always result in change. Objecting to hate disguised as a joke or a reasonable comment does not make the hate stop. All that is left is someone on the defense.
I have a lot of privilege. I am white. I am rich. I do not recognize oppression because I am not affected by it. I am a lot like the people I object to. Often I have been tempted to ignore the horrible parts of the world. It would be so easy to ignore the words of my family members. So easy to let it all slip by. It doesn’t affect me.
But I can’t.
I can’t let black trans women lose their lives or be thrown in jail because it’s easier for me to not protest against the Prison Industrial Complex. I can’t watch the environment be destroyed because no one will force corporations to stop taking shortcuts.
I am the oppressor.
But if I am the oppressor, I look like other oppressors. They are more likely to listen to me when I object than to someone more marginalized than me. I should use this to my advantage, I’ll slowly warm them up to respecting marginalized identities. I won’t be radical.
But doesn’t that mean I’m just being a voice for the voiceless? Do I just have a white savior complex? I should be radical and scream and tear down every system of oppression so that everyone can use their own voice.
What do I do?
I am not a perfect person. I have and will continue to make mistakes. I might not judge when the time is right to be radical correctly.
But I’ll try, I guess that’s all I really can do.