Being Scared Since 2016 Is A Privilege | ELLE UK

Say No To Selective Indignation: Equality Is For Everyone

In light of the international women's marches and a petition protesting against Trump's recent #MuslimBan, we explore the importance of speaking up against all injustices, and not just those that affect us

As Martin Luther King, Jr, once said:

'Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.'

Over the weekend, hundreds of protesters took to New York City's JFK airport to protest Donald Trump's controversial #MuslimBan on immigration. As a result, thousands of people marched in cities across the UK last night, after almost one million people signed a petition calling to prevent the US president's state visit to the UK later this year.

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The protests come weeks after the international women's marches, which saw more than half a million men and women joining in solidarity, fighting the threat to women's rights that Trump poses.

While 2017's activism is astonishing, as well as necessary, we must all be careful not to fall prey to 'selective indignation,' by only kicking up a fuss about the issues that we feel immediately and directly affect us.

If we go about things the right way, the spirit of protest may just be the thing to bind us together as a people; the thing that will have us rising like a phoenix from the flames of destruction.


Activism as a trend

By 2017, activism has become as common as a rainy day in Britain.

It's the new brunch, don't you know.

But that attitude is exactly what we have to be careful about. It's important to enjoy being an activist. Hell, drink mimosas on the front line if it gets you out there, but this new surge in giving a sh*t needs to be sensitive to the fact that, for so many people, activism and protest has been a necessary and painful way of life, for years.

Those championing #BlackLivesMatter, for example, have done so after losing sons and daughters to police brutality. Those fighting for refugees have done so in the face of torture and total desperation.

And we have to acknowledge that those struggles have existed since way before they became fashionable.

The image of the trendy protester isn't a bad one. If it gets people out there fighting for the cause, then the more the better. But let's be sure to mobilise our fashionable front line to help lend weight to those causes that have been floundering for lack of support.


Death To Slacktivism

In recent years, we've seen the rise of slacktivism, whereby people fill out a survey, sign an ePetition or watch a video to make themselves more 'aware' and then call it a day.

Petitions are important - hey, we've just seen a petition gain enough momentum to make the British parliament consider revoking Donald Trump's invitation to the UK for a state visit.

But they aren't enough. And carrying out your activism exclusively on Facebook is lazy.

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In the increasingly echoing world of social media, signing a petition and posting about it will most probably only preach to the choir.

If we are to sway the tides of opinion, it is the people who don't usually hear our voice or share our opinions that need to start being made to listen.


Middle Class Feminism

Feminism is fantastic, and many a great, wonderful, landmark, groundbreaking thing has been done in feminism's name.

But we must not forget that feminism is not the preserve of the white middle-class yummy mummy, who joins in the fray when her (already top 2%) wage is threatened.

Feminism, it its very core, means equality.

Equality of the sexes, yes, but also equality for all women, not just the ones with the loudest voices or the money to back up their opinions.

Now is not the time to subscribe to 'feminist-lite' or the feminist elite - it is not a private members club for the privileged and the middle class.

It is for the cleaner who climbs a backbreaking number of stairs every day, it is for the woman who can't afford childcare, it is for everyone who has ever suffered sexual harassment on the streets and it is for the refugee girl waiting to know if she'll ever see her parents again.


Selective indignation

Being upset when your own rights are threatened is completely understandable.

The women's marches globally were an incredible vision of just how many women considered their place in society to be fundamentally undermined by Trump's regime.

But imagine if all the men who considered their wives' and daughters' rights to be threatened had joined the march. Yes of course, some of them did, but imagine if every woman had brought at least one man to help, the impact would have been completely staggering.

Because really, reproductive rights, wage gaps, the criminalisation of sexual assault, these are matters that affect both genders, even if indirectly.

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We can apply that same logic to other crucial causes too.

Imagine if all of us women that went on the global women's marches a week ago joined the next #BlackLivesMatter protest.

Luvvie Ajayi, a New York Times best-seller took the opportunity following the International women's marches to remind the crowds of predominantly white middle class they walked in 'a body of privilege'.

Referring to the racially-motivated deaths of black US citizens, she wrote on Facebook: 'When the next Sandra Bland, Aiyana Stanley-Jones, Rekia Boyd, Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Eric Garner etc etc etc happens, you better come out. We will need you to show up again and again, in these numbers.'

The protests outside the airports to counter Trump's #MuslimBan have had their impact - with lawyers convening to help those affected and Washington moved to become the first state to sue Trump on the issue, but there is so much more work to be done.

The Pope made a poignant statement - that denying refuge to those fleeing oppression is un-Christian - but in reality it's more than that. Denying refuge to people fleeing terror and persecution is not just un-Christian, it's inhuman.

And just as Trump may care about his status as a good Christian, we should all care about our standing as good humans.

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But it's going to take all of us being really brave.

As activist and Instagram user ShiShiRose says: 'It's one thing to strongly support something, it's another to put your self on the line and be willing to physically stand up for something.'

To add to this, it's an entirely other thing to stand up for something which doesn't obviously, directly concern you. We can't pick and choose which social injustices to be p*ssed off about like it's pick 'n' mix. Social injustice is social injustice – worthy of a united fight from all supporters.

Ideals and principles are non-negotiable.

All For One And One For All

Any threat to a person's rights – be it gender, race, sexual or religious – is an indirect threat to society.

Of course, many people are reluctant to speak out against threats to other communities, for fear of misspeaking, misappropriating or misunderstanding their cause.

In addition, it is difficult to be omniscient, passionate and willing to stand up against all injustices relating to race, gender, religion and the environment.

If you were out on the streets fighting for everything, you'd pretty soon be out of a job.

However, by remaining quiet on the issues that affect others, we're unconsciously reinforcing segregation throughout society.

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