Cis white vegans are the worst!
Some might say I shouldn’t take it seriously but it’s hard not to when every. single. word. is aimed at a part of you. It’s even harder when it comes from a friend, someone who knows I fall under each of those categories. I responded with, “Umm gee thanks. Stereotype much?” then got back a series of rapid fire responses, sent so fast that I received them all at once, explaining it was exactly one person they were mad at and that one person was racist and I “obviously” agreed with her so must be racist too so they’d be happy to yeet me off their page (phew). I’d already been unfriended before I even read the last comment and they never even found out if I agreed with her or not.
The very next day, another friend wrote a post that said, in part, that white women are white first and then women. I took it literally, thought it meant we were born white first then female, and jokingly replied that I was pretty sure both happened at conception. I went on to agree that white women have far more privileges than black women. That was taken to be white supremacy (if it helps I think that having black skin and being a woman also both happen at conception). The friend proceeded to unfriend me and then message me to have me explain what I’d posted. I believe that’s called putting the cart before the horse. They haven’t replied since. They had been Facebook friends with me for years, followed my posts, and knew what the content of my post and my views were like, enough to know this was out of character for me (remember they did message me to ask why I said what I did), yet they still unfriended me because they didn’t like how I phrased one reply in five years.
The hard part is this isn’t the first time I’ve fallen into a situation like this. I’m finding an increasing and uncomfortable amount of inflexibility these days, especially in younger adults. For some reason people seem to feel as if their friends need to have all the same beliefs and opinions as them and, if you differ, you must be wrong and out you go; you’re yeeted to the curb like yesterday’s garbage. Often it’s incredibly fast, the person’s made up their mind and decided you need to go before finding out what you even meant. Heck, like I said above, both friends removed me before I even had a chance to speak. Why? Where is the friendship in that? Friendship involves mutual respect and understanding, it’s not hair trigger and walking on eggshells in case you say something wrong. You’re supposed to look for common ground and mutual interests, not nitpick over minor details and search for reasons to uncheck the friend box.
I know there are times you have to get rid of a friend. I had an online friend several years ago, then I posted a benign, “Axial tilt is the reason for the season” meme and she became frothing at the mouth mad and devolved into a series of incredibly racist comments. There was no misunderstanding, she made it extremely clear. She might as well have worn a t-shirt saying “I’m racist and I’m proud of it”. The friendship ended immediately with no regrets. Another was an IRL friend I knew from a couple of community groups. We got along fine until she realized who my ex was… and I realized she was a friend of his. Even that would have been fine except she suddenly decided that I a) had to realize what an incredibly great guy he is and b) needed to get back together with him immediately even though we haven’t been together in twenty years. I told her several times that he had been emotionally and financially abusive to me and had treated both myself and my two kids terribly for years and that I didn’t want to get back with him or even speak about him. She ignored my wishes and continued to badger me on reconciling with her “great guy”. By that time we weren’t living near each other so I simply blocked her. Again no regrets. But this is different.
These days it’s like there’s a socially acceptable checklist of words and phrases to use and say, a culturally acceptable clique of White people and BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour) who decide what’s correct. I see it time and time again where someone’s trying their best and has the best of intentions but gets lambasted because it wasn’t done or said exactly how things are getting done right now. No room for recognizing good intentions (remembering these are good intentions that caused no harm), no honest constructive criticism, just how dare you!!! I’ve seen people post on multiple occasions, “Is it safe to ask this here? I really want to know but don’t want to get yelled at…” And, yes, I know that BIPOC people have been dealing with crap for years but it’s not right for anyone to feel like that no matter who they are.
Back around nine years ago I joined a forum called Regretsy and made friends with a poster who used neopronouns. I had never, ever known anyone who used anything other than him or her, it was completely new to me. I asked a bunch of questions, got answers, then settled down with a sheet of paper and a few practise sentences. I worked hard to make sure I got those pronouns right. If he (the pronouns have changed) got mad at my initial fumbling questions, well I wouldn’t be transphobic but I’d be a lot more cautious and wary. I definitely would have been hesitant to ask any similar questions to anyone and there’s a lot that I wouldn’t have learned, a lot which Colin needed me to learn.
We pride ourselves, or at least we used to pride ourselves, on our compassion and on our understanding that we’re all equal. Equal rights… equal love… equity… we were trying to make the world kinder and a whole lot more fair. But more and more I’m seeing a “throw the whole man out” attitude. That person has “problematic” views? Just don’t speak to them anymore. Doesn’t matter if they’re your grandmother or a close family friend, they’re garbage now. Yeet them out with the trash.
When Colin changed his pronouns back in, umm, I think sometime around 2014, my parents couldn’t grasp it at all and refused to use them. They refused again when he changed his name to Emma for a year-ish and switched to she/her. By today’s standards he shouldn’t be speaking to them, ignoring the fact that they still loved him dearly and spent time with him and that he wanted to keep them in his life. Life isn’t black and white. They weren’t simply “problematic”. They’re his much loved grandparents. Not everyone has to (or should be) tossed to the curb like yesterday’s paper.
Another issue with this black and white, that person doesn’t count because they’re problematic/racist/transphobic thinking is people forget the person is still, just that, a person. You can disagree 125% with someone’s views and opinions and still recognize their basic humanity. I read an article today from British Columbia where a Native Canadian reserve has a covid-19 outbreak and the surrounding area has had a racist outbreak. Okay, I get it, racism is horrible but racists are not literal trash (like the garbage you put at the curb). They are still people. Debate them if you want (I do), explain why they’re wrong (I do this too), but back off before it gets personal. One person that was interviewed was one of the racists, who now realizes he was wrong, which is great except people were wishing death on his children (like multiple people) and he’s ended up suicidal. We’re supposed to be the good guys here. We’re not supposed to be driving people to the point of killing themselves. And we’re certainly not supposed to be hoping that innocent children die of covid to teach a stranger a lesson.
The thing is, sometimes people won’t agree with you 95% of the time. Or even 80% or 75%. That doesn’t make them bad people. It just makes them not you, and that’s okay. People are allowed to be different. And, as long as they’re causing no harm, it’s fine to live and let live. Not every opinion needs to be a battleground. Not every view has to be an “agree with me or you’re yeeted” perspective. Sometimes it’s fine to just discuss the things you have in common and back off on the other stuff. So your aunt thinks aliens built Stonehenge and that Elvis is still alive. Alrighty then, moving right along. You disagree over politics… okay, unless they’re raging asstwats and/or racist, maybe just take a deep breath and change the subject when T-Rumplestiltskin rears his ugly head. It doesn’t make them Satan’s cousin.
I can’t speak for anyone else but I want to leave this world a better place than when I arrived. Standing up for human rights is amazing but if we end up so narrow sighted that we ignore the simple fact that we’re all human, we’re not going to accomplish anything. Take the time to listen.