There’s a reason that the top two entries on Derailing for Dummies are about “educating” privileged people: Because those people think their privilege should also extend to our time, effort, and patience as we hold their hand through the basics of social justice. They believe they are entitled to that from minorities, and why? Why, when we are already oppressed by them on a daily basis, are we also burdened with the job of explaining our oppression to them?
Let me directly address the education-demanding privileged folks for a moment, and outline just a few of the reasons why a minority might not want to be your personal tutor in the subject of marginalization:
1. It is another way for you to shirk responsibility. By placing the onus on us, you take upon yourself the ability to say that it’s our fault that you’re a bigot, because we won’t help you change. It shows a complete lack of responsibility for your actions, and is disrespectful and further marginalizing. If you want to prove that you don’t see us as lesser than you, prove this by donating your own time to educating yourself, instead of demanding that we sacrifice our time for you. By demanding that we succumb to your whims, rather than taking responsibility for googling simple phrases like “what is white privilege?” you’re telling us that your time, your effort, is more valuable than ours.
2. You are not the first bigot we’ve encountered. It takes only minutes for an individual to search information for themselves; it would take us a lifetime if we had to constantly provide that information to every oppressor we encounter. By being yet another of a long line of privileged people demanding our efforts, you’re reinforcing the social structure that tells us that our time, our lives should be spent solving the problems of privileged people. We’re already told that constantly; it’s part of what keeps us oppressed.
3. When we do make the effort to educate, our attempts are usually disregarded. There are few things more frustrating than encountering someone who says they “only want to learn,” and they want your help, and then having them spit in the face of all the legitimate information you convey. Most of us have tried to be educators in the past, and that is exactly why we don’t want to do it anymore. We’ve personally encountered how largely fruitless those efforts are. If you, as a privileged person, don’t think the subject is worth enough of your effort to wander over to a search engine and educate yourself, 99.99% of the time, you’re not going to think any of our arguments are worth your effort to legitimately contemplate. Those who demand to be educated are those who are most averse to actually opening their minds, and we’ve learned this through harsh trial-and-error. Those who demand that others must change their minds for them are those who are least willing to have their minds changed at all.
4. Educating you on the ways you oppress us can be harmful and triggering to us. To use a personal example, I am tired of males thinking they can tell me rape isn’t a feminist issue, then demanding that I educate them on how it is, lest I concede my defeat. I can blog about my experiences, and it is done during those times when I can distance myself from the reality of them. But sometimes that cognitive dissonance is not possible, and when I’m rape triggered, the last thing I want to do is explain to a self-righteous man how damaging the realities of rape and rape culture are to women. We, the oppressed people, are victims, and victims don’t owe you an explanation of their victimization. It’s disrespectful to demand that someone dredge through all of their personal experiences just because you are too lazy to hit up a search engine.
Is Google that complicated? Fine, here, I’ll help. You’re welcome.
The primary criticism of this mindset is that it makes social justice inaccessible to laypeople. It’s what makes feminists into feminazis, makes all activists look angry and unreasonable. Well, guess what? We are angry, and we have every right to be. And “anger is often the first step toward action,” so I won’t apologize for it. If you understood the prejudice and hatred that really exists towards minorities in this world, you’d be angry, too. Or at least I dearly hope so, because otherwise, you are truly a lost cause.