Put up boxes while you replace the fence!

So once again on Twitter there was a blow-up wherin women of colour within the Indy Wales movement were being portrayed as that stereotype the Angry Black Women. “Troublemakers” “Sowing Division” and similar terminology.

We need to stop…

OK. <deep sigh> Bant a ni… Let’s go through this.

If I, as a white woman (cishet, abled, vaugely middle class, and rapidly approaching middle age) discover that I have pissed off the #IndyWales / @YesCymru crowd there are very few consequences. My demographic will still be more than adequately represented.

There will be very little negative impact on my demographic from me personally not being involved or on the movement from not hearing my voice. There are plenty more like me already involved. (Maybe not quite enough women at committee levels but the general point holds.)

But when we talk about people of colour, people who are disabled, LGBTQ+ people, working class people, that changes. We don’t have enough representation from any of those groups and so flying off the handle at any one individual from among them does disproportionate harm.

It does harm to that demographic because they already face higher levels of abuse than people outside those groups and these things are cumulative. Other people from those demographics look at the behaviour and see ‘people like me get attacked here too’.

The movement risks driving away what is already a very small number of voices from those demographics. The movement then loses out on hearing those voices and the voices of people like them altogether.

It’s not right or fair and if the world was already just and equitable then we wouldn’t be in a situation where a handful of people are put in the position of be The Voice and The Face of their demographic. But we are. We have to deal with the world as it is.

I know it feels unfair to be apparently asked to be more tolerant of anger from Black women than from white men. But it’s not as unfair as still having to live your life under the lingering effects of slavery and imperialism.

I know it’s hard to get the gender wording inclusive in booklets and posters and videos – but it’s not as bad as having strangers constantly police your body image and which loo you use.

I know it’s timeconsuming and difficult to get marching routes that are wheelchair accessible and that it’s costly to get signers for the speakers but it’s not as hard or expensive as living your whole life in a world designed for bodies that don’t operate the way yours does.

Most of the barriers we face to participation as any majority demographic are inconveniences – they’re not existential threats to our safety or side effects of a world systematically stacked against us. We need to maintain a sense of proportion, bite our tongues and do the extra work.

We can’t be the people who look at this picture and moan that it’s too hard to provide boxes and people should just focus on getting the fence changed. (Or worse, be the person on the left and still stamp and kick and strop because someone took our sodding box…)

3 panel cartoon.
Panel 1 three people are standing on boxes to look over a fence.  The shortest person cannot see over
Panel 2 the tallest person’s box has been given to the shortest person.  All three can see over.
Panel 3 the fence has been changed to chainlink. Everyone can see no boxes are required.

Pic credit https://www.cawi-ivtf.org/sites/default/files/publications/advancing-equity-inclusion-web_0.pdf


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