Seeing as how in the past four weeks I’ve written and published over 300 pages of a book-in-progress, you’d think I would have, at some point, mentioned for whom I’m doing all this writing. If it surprises you that I haven’t – well, ditto. Let’s remedy this together.
First, if you’ve been reading this as I’ve been writing it, and appreciating my discussions of social justice dogma (SJD), it’s for you. If you’re not mentioned below, tell me who you are! Right now! Show yourself!
Okay that got intense, but my goal is to make room for everyone in tents.
From the first thing I created under the moniker “Social Justice, Minus Dogma”, I have tried to be clear about this:
Come one, come all. A Big Tent. Want to live in a society that is equitable? Willing to step outside the unwritten rules of the Social Justice Dogma? Then we’d love you to join the conversation. We believe everyone has a unique perspective we can all learn from.
And I’ve been consistently surprised by the people who show up.
People in roles I previously wasn’t considering in my writing have joined me in the tent, like farmers, paramedics, and therapists. People from all over the world, not just the places I had mentally connected to SJD.
And people from a variety of age groups, identities, and walks of life. Disproportionately, the people who enrolled in the course I created were way more likely be queer, women, trans or gender non-conforming, People of Color, or combinations thereof. I’ve had a dearth of White, cis, straight, man people, but worry not: our voice is represented (as always, whether we worry or not) – but not in a sockpuppet or vox populi way, I hope.
Every time I’ve learned of a new person who is engaging with the materials I’m creating, or who is interested in or passionate about social justice minus dogma, the tent has gotten bigger. That’s another person who, in my mind, I’m writing for when I type the next words. And you’re welcome! There’s plenty of room in the tent. Come on in, y’all.
There’s also a tiny tent within our big tent that’s a little cozier. In it are the people I’ve been speaking to directly and privately about SJD and all of these related subjects for years.
In that tent are mostly professional social justice organizers, educators, and activists. People whose entire lives, like mine, are dedicated to dismantling oppression, and creating opportunities for liberation.
And while we’re disproportionately representing gender and sexuality justice (i.e., people who mostly work to end oppression in the forms of sexism, heterosexism, cissexism, binarism, and genderism in general), thanks to the coalitions I’ve formed doing what I had called “global justice” work for years, there are also people in our tiny tent who wear other stripes of justice: racial, environmental, accessibility, secular humanist, prison abolition, and economic. And most of us, despite what’s on our sleeve, have all of those stripes painted on our hearts.
All of my writing has been anchored primarily to doing justice to the conversations we’ve had behind closed doors, to amplify the ideas we’ve shared with one another in ways that don’t distort the signal. And I’ve consistently sent things as I wrote them to my tiny tent people, inviting them to tell me if I’m drifting astray.
My hope being that our tiny tent is in some way representative of the needs, concerns, wonderings, frustrations, aimlessness (at times), and hyper-focus (at others) of all professional activists, or anyone who has committed their life to doing social justice. Because if you’re one of those people, I’m also writing for you.
In fact, you’re who I initially started writing for.
I’ve always, to some degree or another, been primarily motivated to write for people who are dedicating their lives to social justice – either entirely, or in part. People who teach others, facilitate workshops, write articles, blogs, and curricula, and who run (or fund) organizations whose mission is at least partially justice-oriented.
Basically I’m writing this anyone who has ever put the label of “social justice person” on themselves (in all of its manifestations).
And while a lot of other people have joined our tent, it’s your voices – the voices of all-types-of-social-justice people – I’m most hoping to hear as a response to my writing. Consider this me passing you the mic, and granting you an all-access pass to my heart and mind.
Here’s the simple truth – and I’m not brown-nosing or blowing smoke up your ass or even really sure why so many idioms of insincere flattery involve butt stuff – you’re the ones with the power here. You’re the ones who get to say whether we uphold the dogma, or transcend it.
And I’m hoping that I can make that decision easy, whether you’re already on the fence, noticing your bad faith, or a staunchly social-justice-dogma-supporting social-justice person.
Because I don’t think we have much more time to make things right. Downstream, the people I’m writing this for are all the people who say, “Yeah, I’d support social justice in general, but…” and cite dogmatic activism as their reason for opposition.
And even further downstream, the people I’m really, truly, bottom-line and at-the-end-of-the-day writing this for are the same people I’ve dedicated my life to: everyone currently suffering from oppression and systems of domination, whose lives are hanging in the balance, in desperate need for a transition to living social justice.
If you’re someone who wants to see that transition, I’m writing this for you.