Radical Inclusiveness

by rseiderman

I haven’t run this past Sonya yet, but I think that I want my next content week to revolve around radical inclusiveness. TBINAA already addresses a few intersectionalities, but I think that we could address a lot more—there’s rarely, if ever, anything specifically for trans* people or indigenous people; we don’t generally talk about things men might experience differently; there’s not much acknowledgment of the vast variety of people that the acronym “POC” encompasses. In short, we’re not nearly inclusive enough.

I’m a little bit wary of taking this topic on because I know that there’s a lot I don’t know. My embodiment, of course, affects how I perceive and talk about particular issues, so, although I want to cover things like experiences that indigenous people might have, I don’t feel qualified to do so. And I don’t want to be offensive.

One of the ways I’m thinking about trying to acknowledge and circumvent that issue is to conceive of my position as one of opening a conversation rather than one of providing information. So I might find a few Tumblrs that provide opposing viewpoints on an issue and ask my audience to engage with me on the topic: What do you think about this issue? Are your thoughts molded by the identities you claim? If so, how?

This is where I’m really seeing that being a professional writer is important. Rhetorical analysis is difficult because I can surmise things about my audience based on their reactions to past posts (both my own and others’), but I can’t know all the identities that my audience members may claim. And I don’t know if saying particular things or asking for feedback on particular topics will alienate them.

For example, I’d like to write an article about marginalized groups reclaiming or appropriating slurs that they’ve been called as a way of taking back or enforcing their agency. (In said article, I’d talk about things like women reclaiming slut in things like Slut Walks, gays reclaiming queer and using it to self-identify, people with disabilities reclaiming cripple to talk about themselves, and fat people reclaiming fat in place of euphemisms like chubby or full-figured. Of course, not all people in each of these groups uses those words that way—I wouldn’t be making blanket statements but rather pointing out instances.) Because, despite the old adage, words have a lot of power, and I think that reclaiming or appropriating words that used to have so much negative power can be really, well, empowering.

My worry is that, since I’m not part of some of these groups, my opinions of these reclamations might be acceptable in academic or theoretical contexts but still harmful on the ground. So if, after I run this by Sonya, she approves, I’ll have to be really careful about the assumptions I make and how I go about defining the terms I’m planning to define. Outside of that, I need to find engaging outside sources—spoken word poetry on YouTube, memes, stuff like that—relating to the theme. Should be doable.

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