A friend of mine posted this link on their Twitter feed to a web page made to look like one of those Dummy books. Ya know, Excel for Dummies, Personal Finance for Dummies, Pimping for Dummies (I don’t think that one officially exists yet, but I feel like it will), and so on and so on. You get the point.
The name of the this web page’s Dummy book was Derailing for Dummies. The description of the “book” says.
You know how it is. You’re enjoying yourself, kicking back and relaxing at the pub or maybe at the library; …. The topic of the conversation is about a pertinent contemporary issue, probably something to do with a group of people who fall outside your realm of experience and identity. They’re also probably fairly heavily discriminated against – or so they claim.
The thing is, you’re having a good time, sharing your knowledge about these people and their issues. This knowledge is incontrovertible – it’s been backed up in media representation, books, research and lots and lots of historical events, also your own unassailable sense of being right.
Yet all of a sudden something happens to put a dampener on your sharing of your enviable intellect and incomparable capacity to fully perceive and understand All Things. It’s someone who belongs to the group of people you’re discussing and they’re Not Very Happy with you.
Apparently, they claim, you’ve got it all wrong and they’re offended about that. They might be a person of color, or a queer person. Maybe they’re a woman, or a person with disability. They could even be a trans person or a sex worker. The point is they’re trying to tell you they know better than you about their issues and you know that’s just plain wrong. How could you be wrong?
Fairly sarcastic but it hits a sore spot that I identify with.
Derailment for Dummies is a sarcastic look at the ways people insensitive to anything but their own world perspective will respond to others who try to “out” them on their emotional delusions and ingrained prejudices.
These are the people who say, “I’m like a black man cuz I can dance” or some asinine crap like that — because the extent of being black is talking slang, dancing, being an athlete and so on. Granted, these are popular (popular as in widely known) aspects of the black culture, made even more popular by what is promoted to society by mass media, like the Jim Crow robots in Transformers 2.
To me, those robots were offensive; however, at no point did I see any news about others being upset about the robots. And, it’s not like the movie wasn’t popular so it seems like many a black person would have seen the same thing I saw. And that thought leaves me wondering, “Did all these black kids and adults, look up on the screen and say, ‘That’s me!'”?
And these are the people who would in response to my being offended by that portrayal, tell me “I’m Being Oversensitive.” Which is one of the responses listed in Derailment for Dummies.
Once again, though very similar to You’re Being Overemotional, this one has a slightly different nuance. What you’re implying is that the Marginalized Person™ is looking for offense where none exists.
Once again, you’re disowning your own responsibility, and this is absolutely the crux of any derailment – you just can’t repeat or reinforce it often enough. No matter what, none of this is your fault – nothing you said that was hurtful, offensive, bigoted or discriminatory is really to blame here, because you said it in all innocence! After all, what reason have you ever had to examine your ingrained prejudices? Why should you start now?
So you want the Marginalized Person™ to know this is how you feel and that you really believe the responsibility is all theirs – if they weren’t looking so hard for offense, everything would be a lot more pleasant!
Isn’t it great? It’s funny cuz it’s true. Here are some other favorites:
You’re Being Hostile
This is a great one to pop out if it seems like they’re going to push the matter. After all, nobody wants to be “hostile”, do they? In a culture rigidly defined by social protocol, invariably designed to favor the privileged, people are very concerned about “getting along with others“.
Especially Marginalized People™! Know why? Well, since they’re marginalized, they experience a variety of discriminations, usually in many aspects of their daily lives. It is not at all unusual, therefore, for Marginalized People™ to have to be accustomed to being very, very cautious about the way they engage with the Privileged®. This is because discrimination may mean they routinely encounter violence, silencing, oppression or just good old-fashioned outright ridicule and diminishment. That can make life stressful and exhausting, so many Marginalized People™ develop complex strategies to avoid hostile engagements with Privileged People® .
Further to this, Marginalized People™ are forced into a certain sort of social behavior by Privileged People® – “appropriate” behavior. After all, there are different rules for them than there are for the Privileged®. This training in “appropriate” behavior usually begins when they are very young, so it is well-ingrained.
By accusing them of hostility, you will successfully enliven their sense of caution and anxiety around this matter. You may also provoke a feeling of guilt that they are not “behaving” the way they have been trained to.
But even better – by accusing them of hostility, you pass the blame back to them, rather than consider what you might have said that was so offensive and hurtful it caused the “hostility”!
This will definitely work in your favor, because it will further insult and enrage them. You are making progress…
And my favorite because it was recently used on me by a Privileged One®
Well I Know Another Person From Your Group Who Disagrees!
This one is fantastic to bring out if you feel at all backed into a corner. If, for example, the Marginalized Person™ is making sense and you’re beginning to get the unpleasant feeling that you were wrong about something, just whip up your friend – your black friend, or your trans friend, your friend with a mental illness, or your friend who is a sex worker, and vehemently express how they completely and stridently support your opinions on these issues.
Of course, you must make out as though you are entirely oblivious to internalized stigma and how your friends may have been adversely affected by discrimination wielded by the Privileged®. And, as established by the steps above, it is imperative that you discount the diversity of experience whilst seeming to support it. After all, your friend is proof that there are different opinions amongst this Marginalized Group™ but the fact they agree with you means you don’t have to in the least give credence to ideas alternative to your own, and certainly not from the Marginalized Person™ in question.
Plus it gives you that handy progressive veneer – see, all their accusations of racism/sexism/ableism/what have you are totally groundless because you have friends who are representatives from that group which shows how open-minded and awesomely cool you really are!
You know what the best part about this step is?
The friend doesn’t even have to exist!
That’s right, the friend can be nothing more than a figment of your imagination, conjured up to provide you with vicarious backup in your hour of need! How is the Marginalised Person™ going to prove it, after all! They can have their suspicions but that’s hardly hard evidence.
You’re definitely ahead in the game now!
So sad. So true. I definitely think Derailing for Dummies delivers on its promise of Making Discrimination Easier™.
Read more here. [link]