Thoughts on listening to marginalized people

Marginalized people are, first and foremost, people.

Marginalized people are not a hive mind. Not as a whole, and not by group, either.

Listening to marginalized people means listening to actual people who you encounter.

That means listening to what people tell you, even if it’s not what social justice theory or any other ideology told you that they should think. Listening means listening. It doesn’t mean you have to agree. In fact, you *can’t* always agree since people who experience the same category of oppression believe contradictory things about it).

What listening means is understanding what they are actually saying, without talking over them with your theories about what their life means. Talking over people with social justice ideology is just as bad as any other form of talking over people.

It means, also, acknolwedging that margianlized people don’t all agree with one another, even on really important things. And that, sometimes, you have to take a position. And you have to evaluate what you think, sometimes. But, you never have to be a jerk about it.

And it starts with listening to the person who is actually before you, and assuming that they understand their life better than you do.