Yes, we all need to talk about "politics"
Discussing topics that make us uncomfortable is necessary.
"I don't debate politics."
"I only use social media for fun!"
"Why can't we just have a normal conversation?"
"I'm sorry, but talking about racism messes with my depression."
Do any of these sound familiar? Have they been said to you, or have you said them yourself at some point?
Too many people utter these words regularly. It is a privilege to be able to choose to avoid topics about marginalization. As someone with many intersections of oppression, it is one of the most frustrating things for me to hear people say this. You can turn your nose up at conversations about race, but I have to live through them. Racism and oppression are hypothetical concepts for you, but they are everyday life for me. When you call social justice conversations "politics," you are speaking from a place privilege. I advocate against racism, sexism, ableism, and many other forms of oppression because I want fair treatment and equality for my people. It is not political to me. It is human rights. No, we can't just agree to disagree when your argument is perpetuating my oppression.
Using mental health issues as a shield against these conversations is problematic as well. I struggle with depression, anxiety, PTSD, and panic attacks...yet these things do not protect me from the harsh realities of being a WoC in a society that thrives on the suffering and failures of my communities. In fact, dealing with a biased and bigoted culture impacts my mental health in an increasingly negative way. We don't have the option of simply avoiding discussions that trigger us or use all of our spoons. There are days where I am utterly drained of my energy and patience...but I still have to continue dealing with how the world treats me. Your privilege of being able to reduce my livelihood to hypothetical scenarios means that I have to compensate for you. I have to still spend my time and efforts to educate and amplify...on top of trying to get you to understand why your disengagement is harmful.
When marginalized people talk about race/gender/class/etc. inequalities, we do it to spread awareness and encourage privileged people to take action. Calling our pleas and lived experiences divisive does nothing to help our movement. We aren't the ones pushing the narrative of separation and superiority, and we never have been. We've been used, hurt, silenced, and pushed to the sidelines for centuries. Us speaking up against our unfair treatment is not perpetuating division. We're not fragile snowflakes for wanting you to acknowledge your harmful behaviors and unpack. This bothers you so much because you are used to us taking everything lying down. You don't want the resistance and you don't want to give up any privilege to help us.
We are fighting against an unrelenting ocean of oppression and hate. Do you want us to drown? Or will you pull us out and take us back to shore?