Social Justice Etiquette 101


A correct political reputation is beyond mere terminology. It is a lifestyle. Our Millennial Revolution is surface value ally-ship and hyper visibility in othered spaces.

Manners, like everything, vary by context. My generation has a very specific practice of polite standards in the matter of social justice. These manners start without before within.

We are increasingly concerned about political labels, and what that means for social value. That social capital is collected in on and offline spaces.

This currency is exchanged in a market of buzzwords, which seems to be the only thing my peers are concerned with in social justice conversations. We use words like “restorative justice” and “intersectional feminism” (insert snapping applause here) without really appreciating what it means.

In a way, it doesn’t matter exactly what it means or what it actually does to make change.

People can recognize each other.

We see #blacklivesmatter in a Twitter bio, or a rainbow flag on a laptop, or a “F*ck Trump” bumpersticker on a car, and we believe that person is on our side. They understand our personal beliefs and political goals. Our revolution isn’t taking sides per say, but the recognition of a correct political reputation.

I use correct political reputation instead of politically correct purposely. PC is our parents’ generation. It is using the correct labels to excuse yourself from any racist context (i.e. “Those blacks need to quit shooting themselves” versus “African Americans are killing each other, too”).

A correct political reputation is beyond mere terminology. It is a lifestyle. It aligns itself with as many marginalized groups as possible in the most accessible ways available. It’s BuzzFeed satire videos on Facebook and spoken word gifs on Tumblr. It’s “problematic faves”. It’s knowing more about the other than yourself. It’s collecting new information over interrogating the old.

Our Millennial Revolution is surface value ally-ship and hyper visibility in public spaces. We take to the streets to join in protest and shout demands, but then we cower in the classroom when discussing certain topics, or we reject others opinions in political conversation, or we argue over the “correct” way to discuss an issue without really understanding the issue in the first place.

Things might be picking up at an accelerating rate, but we aren’t the first ones to notice something is wrong with the system. Every social concern we hold dear to our hearts today are the same ones young people cared about decades and centuries ago. Our generation is not the first to care about the marginalized. We’re just the ones most privileged with the safety and security to do so publicly – especially in the US.

The number of times I’ve heard one of my peers say something along the lines of “Wow, like, you look at the Civil Rights Movement and it’s scary because we have the same issues today. We still have police brutality and shooting of unarmed black men.  We have to do something about this.”

No sh*t.

Why is this such a shocking revelation? If labels are truly important, why do we still not understand the meaning of systemic. It’s not that history repeats itself, but actions in the past influence repercussions in the present. We live with the world, and regardless of how distant we feel from people in time, space, class, color – we are a part of the whole.

Yeah, it sounds like some hippie nonsense, but it’s actually plainly logical. It’s Newton’s Third Law. And if a famous, genius old white man can’t convince you that the actions of some can greatly effect the actions of others, then I’m not sure who else can assure you.

Context is everything, and if you truly wish to align yourself with a cause or to be a part of a movement you need to understand its history; both of the social issue and of the movement itself. Your passion is important, but your knowledge is vital to affect change.

There’s nothing wrong with expressing pride in what your passionate about – buttons and laptop stickers included. However, your self-identification with change – and expression and promotion thereof – is not equivalent to an understanding of the key issues and how those issues relate, the historical context, commitment to the cause, and – above all – a love for those peoples involved.

If you really want your “team” to win, you gotta get right with yourself first.

This is,


1 Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s