When I joined the disability activism community, I learned a new frame of reference that changed how I engaged with the world at large: Accessibility. I had no idea that this concept would expand for me from a branch of activism to a life philosophy and identity: How to be an accessible person.
The focus of Yopp has always been to discuss all things related to social justice and civil rights. But another important topic that emerged fairly early on was issues related to abuse and trauma. Without much thought, we started writing a number of articles specifically about the experience of being abused, the aftermath, what recovery looks like, etc. We never really considered that the connection between abuse and trauma, and social justice may not be obvious to everyone. It occurred to us that it might be valuable to spell out these connections in article form.
This blog post was originally published as a subscriber-only article entitled “Yopp’s Guide to Being an Awesome Ally,” at the beginning of January 2020. I decided to share it more widely because it was such valuable information and I also updated it as my opinions and understanding of allyship had shifted over the years.
Do you remember a time when you were a child and an adult in your life changed something in you for the rest of your life? Maybe they were the only person who believed in your ability to achieve your dreams. Maybe they taught you kindness and compassion towards the people you found difficult to forgive. Maybe they saw you for who you were and reflected you as good and valuable when no one else had before. Even just a small word of encouragement can be important enough to us at that age that we remember it for decades. That person that helped you probably has no idea that they affected you so much, even if that impact lasted a lifetime. What if you could be that person for someone else?
The problem of activists feeling simultaneously overwhelmed by so much to do and helpless at how little they have control over continues to be prominent in circles of people devoted to social justice. Today I’m re-publishing an updated version of an article I originally wrote and published for The BeZine as “Using Social Interactions to Create Change One Person at a Time” in September of 2019 which covers my philosophy around enabling social change. Enjoy!
Boundaries are magic. They are protective and allow us to navigate our life as empowered and autonomous individuals. Most of us come to learn our boundaries through trial and error, and may not get good support around forming or establishing boundaries in relationships. As we approach a season of gatherings, including those with family we don’t have good relationships with, taking intentional time to reflect on who we’re connected to and how we want those connections to look can be valuable.
For every blatantly malicious bigot, there are 10 people who “meant well” or “didn’t mean it like that” or “had good intentions” when they said or did something that actually had a harmful effect on a member of an oppressed group. This excuse is used so frequently that it’s hard to see a single online argument about social justice without someone having to explain that good intentions does not negate or remedy impact.
When we undermine someone’s life-altering issue by framing it as something that everyone deals with, we dismiss the magnitude of the societal problems that contextualize bigotry, we disrespect marginalized people’s ability to assess their own problems, we discourage the pursuit of solutions for widespread unearned suffering, and we sign off on allowing that suffering to continue.
What is a slur? What’s the difference between a slur and an insult? Why shouldn’t we use them? Why do marginalized people get to use slurs that describe them and we don’t? These are just some of the questions addressed in this article about slurs.
In Power Dynamics Part 1, I looked at the traits and patterns that can be used to identify uneven power dynamics in interpersonal relationships. In Part 2, I explore how these patterns manifest themselves between marginalized and privileged groups in society.
An article of mine was published today on The BeZine, an online magazine that looks at efforts for peace, sustainability and social justice through the lens of art.