Stretching

Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah explores lots of things in this extended interview. But these paragraphs stuck out to me this morning.

I think there is sense that we need to deeply interrogate people’s practices all the time without saying what it all means or admitting how complicated everything is. But people are like family members that come around, and while you may not agree with all the decisions that doesn’t mean you can’t appreciate the context in which they operate. Even if you don’t get down with them really.

What’s strange to me is how angry people got that I was expressing love for another black woman who is seemingly different than me. I read the comments, I wanted to reply, I am sorry that you cannot see past all of our divergent personalities to see why I still get her. Understanding someone is not at all the same thing as agreeing with them. It was almost threatening to people that I was expressing understanding with someone who may be different from me.

She’s referring to her writing about Beyoncé and dealing with all of the naysayers hating on her particular flavor of feminism. But this sentiment applies in many other places as well. Feminism and social justice are wide and varied fields. The movement is not uniform. How do we expect privileged groups to shift their world to include us, when we can’t even manage to shift ours to include other marginalized people who’s tactics are a little outside our comfort zone? I feel like we’re finding out we were actually comfortable in our little cubby at the bottom of the ladder. It wasn’t great, but it was familiar. If we want to climb up, we need to move and stretch. We’re using muscles we’re not used to using. And we’re feeling the aches and pains.

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