PSA to the “Let’s not make this political” crowd

“Let’s not make this political.” Except – EVERYTHING is political. Everything. Waking up in the morning to get ready to go to work? Political. It’s an act that supports capitalism, the 9-5 workday, the need for job security to provide for yourself and your family. You’re doing what’s “right” and you can feel happy with that. So you get up and get dressed with work-appropriate clothes. Political. What’s work appropriate? Who decides?

“Let’s not make this political” – so you haven’t agonized over questions of identity, your way of life. You can get up and go to work in the morning without worrying about childcare needs, disabilities, your legal status to work. You’re wearing “work-appropriate” clothes because you can afford to buy whatever’s considered work appropriate. Maybe you slip on high heels because it makes you look and feel more feminine. But only if you birth certificate is stamped with an F of course. So bully to the people who can’t fall in line, right?

“Let’s not make this political.” But your very identity is a political statement. And I’m not talking about identities that you might think of as “other”, outside of the norm. How do YOU define yourself? “I’m a working mom”. Political. You live in a society where women are allowed to work, but need to consider child care needs at the same time. “I’m a high school graduate.” Political. How did you afford your education? Was it provided by the government? Did your science curriculum include evolution? Did your history and literature curriculums consider global perspectives? What about perspectives from different ethnic and cultural groups from your OWN country? Did you think there was only one?

“Let’s not make this political.” So you fit in the status quo and don’t want to rock the boat. But what about the people who don’t fit into the status quo?; who are persecuted because of it? And do you see what’s wrong with identifying people who sit outside the expected norm as political? Maybe you’re angry because you think they’ve made a choice and you personally should not be effected by that choice. But consider for a moment if parts of your identity was not a choice. “I am citizen of this country because I was born here.” Not a choice. You can not choose the country of your birth. Just as you can’t choose your skin colour or gender and sexuality. (And people who identify as a gender different from the one assigned at birth or to a non-heterosexuality are NOT making a choice.) “I grew up rich. Poor. Middle-class.” Not your choice. But are you still expecting people who did not choose their identity to live up to the same requirements as everyone else?

“Let’s not make this political” is a statement of privilege. And wait. Hold up. Beford you feel attacked by the word “privilege”, let me clarify that privilege doesn’t mean you didn’t struggle or suffer. Privilege means that you didn’t have to jump over *some* hurdles. You know the adage “walking in another man’s shoes”? Well consider instead running an obstacle course but your obstacle course has less obstacles than another’s. Or maybe obstacles in different places or of different difficulties. Unfair, right?

“Let’s not make this political.” You fit in the status quo. And people who don’t- well – that’s their problem. Except. Refusing to take a stance IS a choice. Refusing to take a side equates to choosing to continue with the status quo. And while the status quo might not personally effect you, we live in a community, a society made of up various individuals with a wide range of needs and interests. Politics is about addressing the needs of all. Are people hurting, suffering, struggling because they can’t fit in to the status quo? And are you okay with that?

“Let’s not make this political.” I laugh and cry when I see this statement made with regards to the arts (especially film, music, and literature). All art is political. Each artistic choice is a political choice. You’re reading a story. What’s the identity of the character? Is it explicitly defined? That was the author’s political choice. Maybe the character isn’t explicitly defined. So you assume that the character is a cis-white-male because it doesn’t have any details indicating otherwise. Here, YOU’VE made a choice, as a reader, a choice to identify the character as a cis-white-male because it’s not otherwise stated.

“Let’s not make this political.” Okay. So maybe you’re not worried about rocking the boat and keeping things calm. Maybe you’re ANGRY at things you see as political. You’re favourite movie is being remade but they’ve replaced the cis-white-male main character with someone who is LGTBQ+ or a visibly different race or a female or a disabled character. And you’re ANGRY at what you see as a political choice. That anger is a political choice too. But I’m sorry that society has failed you, that you can’t open your heart to empathize and be compassionate with all members of your community.

“Let’s not make this political.” = I personally am not effected/affected by this and I don’t care about the people who are. That’s statement in itself is a choice; a political choice. And a heartless one.

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