What you shouldn’t do when discussing minority issues

Note: I’m writing this based on “discussions” I’ve seen regarding Black Lives Matter, the Israeli occupation of Palestine, and the Indian occupation of Kashmir. I use the words majority/minority for the sake of convenience; in some cases “underrepresented” and “represented group” would be more accurate terms.

Everyone wants to be nuanced in a discussion. Nuance is good. Nuance is a reality. It should play a role in our discussions and debates, because nothing is so simple as “this is good, and this is bad.” Everyone, hopefully, knows that there is more than one side to a story.

But for God’s sake, don’t try to invalidate the experiences and sufferings of a minority group by saying, “What about what you’ve done wrong?”

Don’t shut down the complaints of a minority by trying to create a checklist of all the different ways both sides have wronged each other. That’s called missing the point.

Don’t tell minorities how to feel about their experiences. (Can we make majority-splaining a word?)

Don’t blame the poor treatment of minorities on a) things that other people within that minority group have done, or b) things that have happened beyond their control. You see the latter happening in India, where the extremist Hindu majority seeks to punish the Muslim minority for things the Mughals did 500 years ago – but hey, the British are lovely people!

Don’t use words like “phobic,” “reverse racist,” or “discriminatory” when describing the pushback of a minority against the narrative of the majority. These are tools that can only be utilized by those in power. People without power cannot spread a phobia.

Don’t gaslight. Don’t make them second-guess their pain. Don’t tell them they don’t know what they’re talking about. Don’t make it seem like this is the natural course of things. Don’t assume they’re only trying to spread an agenda.

If you are the majority, then swallow your pride. Believe them. Listen to them.

Listen to us.

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