There are times when it comes to writing a blog post that I need to walk away and do something else. Not for any drama, but because whatever is floating around in my noggin, needs a little time to settle.
Earlier in the week, I happened to be assisting in an online event about the long shadow of racism in large institutions. Being behind the scenes, I had to stay quiet (a challenge, I know 😉), but in doing so, I was able to focus and listen to the speakers. They were are women from BAME (Black, Asian, or Minority Ethnic) backgrounds.
By the end of the afternoon, I felt that I’d witnessed a discussion to hear the stories first hand. Some of what they had to say was upsetting. Not just from an empathetic stance, but at the injustice of the system. We know the odds are stacked against you when you’re not a well off, straight, white man.
Did I feel that the current Trans struggle for rights is the same? No, it’s not exactly the same, but I think there are some similar outcomes. Peoples’ judgement of you based on how you look and the otherness forced by like promoting like. I’m very aware of my privilege as a middle class straight bloke, despite my trans nature.
The bit that really struck me was one panelist saying that equality is impossible while an organisation supports someone with racist views. Her tone was not firebrand radical nor other tired trope. It was that weariness of one who has seen and knows it’s a tough ask for others to accept. Feel free to nod sagely if I mention Climate Change, the science deniers, and the recent political scams in the US and UK.
I reflected on her point: is this true for trans people too? If those in positions of power hold us in contempt, how do we challenge that to change things? Is it about a groundswell of people, simply time, or a cultural sea change? Does it go further: should those who express bigotry be held to account?
I hear the rattling of the sabre around freedom to express. Perhaps, but freedom of consequence? I note a few – and I’ll use the kind term of ‘outspoken’ – pundits have been removed from Twitter or lost their radio show after the Black Lives Matter protests overseas and over here.
Where does this leave us, Dear Reader? Part of me wishes I had answers, but if I did, would have the same weariness as that of the speaker? Would I see the system as it is and shake my head at the issues I can now see?
Perhaps all I can do, maybe all of us even, is listen. Let the those who need to speak, be heard. Use our collective power to help, to build, and maybe, just maybe, the world will be a little better.