Someone might be well-versed in social justice issues, may have read all the literature, might be really good at organizing people. Maybe others look up to them, maybe they’re an “expert”. Maybe they’re a social media wizard.
But maybe they’re also condescending. Maybe they’re aggressively self-centred. Fighting the “good fight” does not give anybody a free pass to be a shitty person. Oh, so you can analytically unpack institutionalized racism - clearly that means you can talk down to people who know less than you. OH you understand the nuances and intricacies of mental health issues - please, go ahead and eschew any opportunities for constructive criticism about yourself because everyone else is wrong, and you are always right.
When a poisonous personality bleeds into activism, it is frustrating. There is a difference between anger and hate. Hate is about destruction. Anger is about change. (see: Audre Lorde, Uses of Anger) When one person’s hate is masquerading as anger, it discredits all of us who are really angry. It makes a mockery of those of us who want real, lasting change.
Come here, armed with your anger, ready to do the hard things.
Do not come here, filled with your hate, pretending to be a team player when really you’re only looking out for #1.
A slave brought water, and Aristodemus washed himself before he lay down. Then another slave entered and said: ‘Socrates is here, but he’s gone off to the neighbor’s porch. He’s standing there and won’t come in even though I called him several times.’
'How strange,' Agathon replied. 'Go back and bring him in. Don't leave him there.'
But Aristodemus stopped him. ‘No, no,’ he said, ‘Leave him alone. It’s just one of his habits: every now and then he just goes off like that and stands motionless, wherever he happens to be. I’m sure he’ll come in very soon, so don’t disturb him; let him be.’