Well, it has been a week, hasn’t it? At the time of writing, we’re less than 48 hours from the 2020 US Presidential election being called in favour of Joe Biden. The Orange Fascist who currently sits in the White House, unsurprisingly, is not conceding quietly. My home country, the UK, is back in our second four-week lockdown to curb the spread of COVID-19. And in the last two hours, I have witnessed some of the most shocking and violent transphobia on social media directed at my friends and members of my community. It’s a lot, and this is just the top of the iceberg. So let’s talk speaking out against injustice.
TW: I’m going to be talking about difficult subjects including anti-LGBTQ violence, sexism, transphobia, racism, police brutality, and the rise of the far right. Please take care of yourselves.
I am very aware that there are people who wish that people like me would shut up. They’ll call us SJWs, snowflakes, the loony left, and so on and so on. The thing you have to remember is this: they really, really want us to shut up. You know why? Because we terrify them.
Bigots and oppressors hang on to the status quo because it serves them. They either don’t care about the people they’re standing on to get to the position they’re in, or they’ve trained themselves not to see it. They hate us because we make them see it. We force them to confront it. People who benefit from injustice will do anything they can to hold onto the power and privilege it gives them.
All that is needed for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing, as the famous quote goes.
That’s why it is vital that now, more than ever, we continue to speak up.
Joe Biden’s victory is a huge win for human rights and anti-fascism, but Trump’s defeat doesn’t mean the battle is won. There is still so much work to do, not just in America but all over the world. LGBTQ+ rights are still under attack in so many places. Institutional racism and the police brutality it enables continue to run rampant. Abortion rights are coming under fire. Here in the UK, our own brand of far-right nationalists are still gaining traction. And so on and so on and fucking so on.
We must keep going. Keep fighting. Keep speaking up and speaking out, raising our collective voices to say we will not tolerate this. Because one person might not be able to change anything on their own. But together? Together, we can change the fucking world.
I feel an obligation to speak out against injustice when I see it. And I don’t think this makes me a special or amazing or extraordinary person. I’m not, and I don’t want cookies or accolades or thanks. Frankly, it boggles my mind every single day that anyone can see the violence and oppression and bigotry going on in the world, and not want to do something to stop it. Such an astonishing lack of empathy or care for one’s fellow humans is just something I cannot grasp.
No matter how many people yell at me on social media, call me names, threaten me, launch hate campaigns against me. It’s happened before and I expect it’ll happen again. I can’t truthfully say it doesn’t matter and it doesn’t hurt, because it does matter and it does hurt. But to shut up and let them win? That would be like cutting out my soul.
I’m afraid I don’t know who to attribute these words to, as I’ve seen them floating around on social media for years (if you know who the originator is, please tell me so I can credit them!) But I think this sums it up beautifully:
Winter is coming. We will not be quiet. We will never stop speaking out against injustice – because enough snowflakes form an avalanche.
I want to leave you with this, from the incredible Grace Petrie:
But if there’s a fire in your heart
It only needs to be a candle
Every fire in the world
Started from one spark
So take the fire in all our hearts
We will be more than they can handle
Take my hand in here tonight
And we will light up all the dark
(Header image by Johnny Silvercloud, licensed through Shutterstock.)