This time last year I had a friend who was told to “stay in her lane”. For those people who aren’t living in snowflake social justice warrior land, this means don’t speak over marginalized people. Use your voice as a support, not a sledge hammer. Let minority people have their voice. It sounds nice and simple, doesn’t it.
In this case the friend, who’s a big Harry Potter fan, got told to stay in her lane because… wait for it… a POC had an opposing view of Harry Potter (namely that he wasn’t an ass) and my white friend had to back out and let her speak. I pointed out that Harry Potter was not, in fact, black culture and that both people had equal rights to their opinions. The white friend had a huge amount of knowledge on the subject and, if anything, this was definitely her lane. That went over like a lead balloon and I ended up unfriending the “stay in your lane” person because she. would. not. stop. arguing.
Yesterday I discovered a picture of Roseanne Barr dressed up as Hitler, pulling little burnt Jewish people cookies out of a gas oven. There are so many shades of wrong in those pictures and I posted that I wasn’t going to watch her new show over this. Roseanne’s problematic in all sorts of ways, this was just the final straw. Then a friend of mine, the same friend who was told to “stay in her lane” over Harry Potter, told me the same thing. Stay in your lane, stay in your damn lane. She continued by telling me only Jewish people could have an opinion on this because Roseanne is Jewish (although she was raised Mormon) and no one else could apparently have an opinion on mocking the Holocaust except for Jewish people. Meanwhile the two Jewish people in the thread agreed with me and were quite confused over her opinion. The friend immediately unfriended me. Apparently I’m too problematic for her because of this one post.
I think the whole concept of staying in your lane is a good one. We shouldn’t speak over minorities to tell their story. We need ensure minorities have space to talk about their issues and listen to them while they work on solutions. Our voices should be used to enhance them and to stand alongside them for support. But standing up doesn’t mean standing silent, that’s something I’ve learned through bullying. Silence is usually seen as joining the oppressor. Staying in your lane should not mean staying quiet in the face of oppression, hands on the wheel, face forward, ignoring the prejudice.
I have a voice for a reason and that is to use it. I will stand up for intolerance whenever and wherever I can. If someone’s making transphobic comments, I will speak out against them. If someone’s blaming POC for getting shot, I will stand up against that person. If someone’s speaking out against any kind of equal rights, I will be there detailing why equal rights are wanted and needed. The only time I will stand to the side is if someone from that community is speaking, then I will simply support them.
In the end, the friend made the choice she chose. She chose to ignore Jewish people while telling me to stay in my lane. And if that isn’t a case of irony, I don’t know what is.