Tuesday, November 26, 2013

About "You Don't Speak for Me: Instructions for would-be-allies", are we listening?

"What do you need?"

During one of my favorite classes at seminary we have discussed a model called Decent Care. (Note: I will dedicate a separate post to discussing this concept) The first question that must be asked under the Decent Care model is this one: what do you need?

As I have been discussing with people the blog post You Dont Speak for Me: Instructions for Would-be-Allies by Dianne E. Anderson from her Faith and Feminism blog, some of my friends are conflicted. (Go ahead and read it and then come back here)

Even if some of us say that they would have written this article with a different tone and/or using different words, I fully agree with what is in my opinion, the biggest lesson: we first have to listen.

If you look at the first line of the article it is "Listen up", and the last line is "Are you listening?" Listen/Listening appears over 15 times, along with this:

Come in close and cry as we cry. Allow our hurt, our pain, our continued, daily oppression to sink into your soul. It will never be a part of you like it is a part of us, but you cannot empathize if you do not listen. Our anger will make you uncomfortable. You will want to shout that you are “not like that,” but that is not what we need to hear – we don’t need to hear how our experience affects you. We need to you to simply listen and be with us.

If you plan to be an ally (or like me you already consider yourself an ally) I agree with the writer:
"We need to you to simply listen and be with us."

It appears that most of the disagreement in our discussion with my friends is centered on what to do AFTER we listen. But still we all agreed, we have to listen. My friends, I believe that after listening, and before we suggest anything we must ask: what do you need?

Once we listen to the answer, then we can continue and we must be ready to do what is needed even if that doesn't match our expectations. If we are asked to give up the mic, then we give it up. In the meantime, we educate ourselves and try to educate others. And when the moment comes to take the mic ourselves, then we shall do it with passion, compassion, and love. What do you think?

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