Time and time again I’ve come across well meaning white activists in the ecological scene who want to improve ‘diversity’ or know how to make their camps/actions/organizations more ‘intersectional’. Yet, few of them have any idea how to go about doing this. In a world where whiteness is the norm, a white supremacist society, to be non-white is to be ‘other’ and is to be defined by your ‘race’ in your everyday life. Do you know what it is like to experience your life as a white person? In order to do this, you need to understand and contrast this to the lives of non-white people (…) Decentering the white middle class subject as sole agent of revolutionary change is essential to this and listening, really listening, to others experiences is crucial. Often, I’ve heard white people presuming equality, and proposing that both groups need to listen to one another, not realizing that some people have been forced to listen for long enough. Additionally, it often falls to people of colour, women, trans and non-binary people to repeatedly raise problems within groups and challenge oppressive behaviours which, at best can be chances to learn about relative privileges and oppressions. Yet, when specific meetings are called to tackle these issues key people fail to turn up engage in difficult conversations. Thus, the status quo is maintained through white silence. As sexy and topical as “intersectional organising” sounds, attempting to decentre those with privilege and making space for those with less, is a messy process that requires humility and patience. Ultimately, stepping up to the challenge means getting dirty. It means that privilege of race, gender, sexuality and ability, needs to be up for discussion and difficult conversations about how these privileges play out need to be had.
Ali Tamlit in Our activism will be intersectional, or it will be bullshit… (Redpepper)