It is sometimes complex, in our modern world, to know when you can share which opinions you hold.
I say complex because it’s not hard. There are a lot of hardships in the world, but trying to be politically correct, while at the same time sharing the things you want to share, is not one of them. The reason it’s complex is because we all want to feel that our opinions are heard, and are valid, and sometimes we are obstructed by perceived barriers – things which devalue our opinion. The key is to know what your barriers are, and then make your point anyway.
A lot of people seem to think that the way forward in terms of political correctness and freedom of expression is a blanket ban on defining people in any way. Giving people a definition, especially one which you don’t share, is suddenly one of those barriers to open sharing of thought. How much easier to say that you just don’t see race, or that you’d never judge someone based upon their disability. The aspirational world of John Lennon, imagining all people living life in peace is nice, but probably not right.
Why? Because definitions make up a significant part of who we are as humans. To suggest that “there’s no need for feminism any more” or that “racism just doesn’t exist” is to completely ignore the history of huge swathes of people – a history on which they’ve built their culture. Not only that, but it is ignorant of the ongoing issues, from the gender pay gap to the struggle for LGBTQ* rights, to the repression of the Kurdish identity.
Just because some things have changed, doesn’t mean that the history doesn’t continue to impact us.
So what does that mean for a privileged white girl then? Does it mean that I can’t hold a view on something like the shootings which occurred in Orlando on Saturday night (get out from under your rock)?
As a person who identifies as a straight, white, western, middle class, atheist woman, can I really have a view of something so removed from myself?
The answer is, of course I can. And I do, because I believe it was a tragedy, and that the USA needs a radical overhaul of gun laws. I also believe that one Muslim is not representative of an entire religious community, and that no-one in this world should feel unable to leave the house because of who they are. It’s fine for me to believe all of this, and fine for me to share it. The only thing I need to be wary of is devaluing my own views by preaching change for people who I might not understand, or whose history I can’t engage with.
So, as a privileged white chick and in the full knowledge of how lucky I am to have a platform for my expression, and with the understanding that I cannot comprehend the hardship of others, I condemn all of the ways in which humans are hurting other humans. Because what makes us different is what makes us great, and we should be celebrating that.