I recently saw this quote and thought it provided a nice addition to my earlier post on being an ally. I guess all I want in life is to be surrounded by people who dare to be outraged by injustice. What does it mean to be outraged by injustice?
It means that rape jokes turn your stomach even though you’ve never been raped. It means you get frustrated at ignorant comments about people’s race or ethnicity. It means you learn the right way to ask about it. It means you are pissed about racism, sexism, heterosexism, gender-ism, able-ism, and every other ism in all their many different shapes and manifestations.
You believe intergenerational trauma is a real thing (also related: post-traumatic slave syndrome); you believe in emotional justice. You might argue people on their inherent beliefs, if you are the confrontational type. You do not make assumptions about a person’s experiences or history anymore; you understand that these isms are real and just because you haven’t experienced them doesn’t mean they don’t exist. You understand why members of oppressed groups are pissed and tired about these issues and having to teach people like you over and over again that they are real.
It means you know that when a person laughs or chuckles at a joke about a factor of their identity they cannot change—such as their race, looks, ethnicity, gender, gender expression—that the laughter is usually from a place of discomfort or pain, especially if the person making the comment is a member of the dominant group (men, white people, straight people). Women jokes. Black jokes. Eskimo jokes. Jew jokes. Gay jokes. You know that such comments and jokes are not actually funny and when people laugh, they’ve either internalized oppression or they are pushing words around inside themselves, maybe even pushing rage around, and all they can do in the meantime is chuckle because the person making the comment wants them to laugh. They want them to laugh as if it means nothing to them, as if it doesn’t degrade or stereotype who they are.
If you are outraged against injustice, you need continually to get educated about what is happening to human rights in the world. You do not just read the news but you interpret the news based on who wrote it (dominant group? oppressed? what is it saying about the parties involved?) and you seek out alternative news sources and stories. You support the latest couples fighting for adoption rights, the women (and men) fighting for reproductive rights, you even embrace frustrated satire about violence and oppression… you don’t stop harboring the anger the same way those affected never stop experiencing pain and discrimination.
You stop believing yourself entitled to what you have. You question more if your accomplishments got you where you are or if your race and class set you up to be where you are. You understand that if things were different, you might have ended up fighting the system instead of benefitting from it. You ask the question more about why there are marginalized groups of people who never achieve what you have and you fight to understand and combat the barriers. Instead of building those barriers higher so that you feel more secure, you go for insecurity and discomfort.
You stop telling stupid jokes.
You start watching more documentaries.
You feel ashamed you did not see your own privilege earlier but you will do everything you can to stop being a blind beneficiary.
That is outrage.