We need to clear this up once and for all. I continue to see this phrase used, misused and misunderstood. Let’s make sure we are all clear on what it does and does not mean.
It does NOT mean: You, a white person, should never talk with a Black person ever on any topic. This phrase is VERY specific. It is not about EVERY topic.
It does NOT mean: You, a white person, should not ever talk about racism. You SHOULD talk about it. However, there is a time and a place.
It does NOT mean: You, a white person should not join in on a conversation on any topic ever if Black people are talking.
What it DOES mean: When PoC are talking about race, their experiences BEING PoC or how things affect their lives BECAUSE they are PoC, you a white person, should shut up and listen. This is not an arbirary term that should be thrown around the way that it is. Yesterday I saw a white person tell another white person that they were not to talk about racism TO A WHITE PERSON because it was their job to soley “Shut up and listen.”
NO! NO! NO!
How can you collect your people when they are acting up if you can’t talk about racism? This makes no sense. It has EVERYTHING to do with the GROUP. Everything.
I am currently talking about race but where being an “Ally” is concerned, it is important to note that the “Shut up and listen” phrase is and should be used in other areas. For example, If two Trans People are talking about their experiences BEING Trans People, I have NO BUSINESS jumping in with my opinion on the subject. It has nothing to do with what I do or don’t know about the subject. It has nothing to do with the fact that I agree with every single thing they say or disagree with every single thing they say. It has EVERYTHING to do with me jumping into a conversation where my perspective, no matter how inline I THINK it is with theirs, is different.
It is not about “Agreement.” It is about perspective. I can’t know what it is like to be a Trans Person. I CAN NOT KNOW. No matter what I do know, what I think I know, I can’t TRULY know. This is why the “Shut up and listen” would be an appropriate phrase for someone to use on me in this situation.
Now, where I SHOULD speak up is this: Straight cis person saying shitty things or even saying incorrect things not meaning to be shitty, I MUST SPEAK UP. If I am ever to call myself an ally, this is the moment that I must speak up.
Comparing oppression is unacceptable and incorrect. When it comes to “Allies” however, there is no compression. An Ally has the SAME RULES no matter the group they ally for. NO MATTER THE GROUP. The rules you have for being an ally for racial justice are the EXACT rules that I have for being an ally to the LGBTQ Community.
An Ally is an Ally is an Ally. Period.