I sat down with an old friend yesterday. We were never close but were both involved in the Occupy Movement. We had some tussles on social media and decided to actually sit down and have Coffee together. Imagine that, sitting down in person with someone.
We are both on the social justice, Black Lives Matter, Feminist, pro-LGBT rights end of the spectrum. She is, for lack of a better term, more revolutionary than me. Where we differ the most is how we approach changing the world for the better and deal with our beliefs in every day life.
I approach things that we need to communicate and understand those who disagree with us in order to change someone’s mind. Those tough conversations need to happen where you confront people’s actions and words. To end racism you have convince a racists they are wrong.
Her approach is that any bigotry is intolerable. She will call you out on it. Stand up against social injustice to the point of loosing friendships. Her ideals are so important to her that she will not tolerate those who do not agree with them in her life.
I admire her conviction. I wish I had more passion to do all she does. But I am not her. I think people like her who put their lives on the line often in the name of truth and justice are vital to any movement. I need people to keep me honest and moving forward.
While thinking back on the conversation reminded me of a response I had to another of my Feminist friends posts. She had posted that you should never tell a women to smile. My insensitive comment back was about how I’ve told men and women to smile and what does that make me? She go very mad at me and I didn’t understand. I’ve worked sales and retail and smiling is part of the job.
What I didn’t understand is how, outside of those situations, that asking a women to smile is usually part of a cat call. “Hey beautiful, smile for me.” And that is, many times, the start of sexual assaults. Now I do because she explained it to me and I took the time to really think about it.
We concluded our conversation better understanding each other. We will probably never be close but I hope we can have more conversations. On a broader note, I think people like both of us are vital in movements. Though as she pointed out to me “Without struggle, there can be no progress.” – Frederick Douglass