That ‘call-out’ no one wants. When a friend or group of friends and/or acquaintances feel badly about something you have done. It eventually happens to all of us and most likely does not feel good. Learning that something you have said or done has harmed others, hurts and is never a nice thing. None of us are perfect and we all make these mistakes because, we are inherently human. It’s not shocking. What we DO after making these inevitably human missteps is where we really need to ‘train’ our attention, reactions and subsequent behaviors.
Just the other day I tweeted out a wonderful piece of writing which exposes the language of “tone-policing.” A disturbing trend that constantly mars conversations amongst people discussing equality. A tactic commonly used to shut down the substantive conversation. I am sure you have seen it before. One faction of an oppressed groups stakeholder’s wanting the members of the oppressed group and/or other stakeholder’s to communicate more gently. Thus policing their tone. Even going as far as to say that they WILL NOT or CANNOT hear the content of their concerns unless and until they are packaged more tamely. We should never seek to control another person’s voice. In the case of Autistic people; tone policing a group that has worked for decades upon decades to be heard is just more overt oppression. Adding more insult to the already very injured.
Ironically, when I sent out this article that includes the cool youtube video by Chesca Leigh below, I added a few other people to the tweet thinking that those people may like to utilize it. One of the people I shared it with was not happy and felt that it was a commentary directed at them personally. It was not, which I succinctly answered upon being questioned as to why I had sent it. I apologized simply and admitted my mistake. What I didn’t do was question that person’s feelings or interpretation of what I had done or dismiss the way it had disturbed them. I accepted exactly what was said realizing this person felt harmed by my action and I apologized.
Pick up when YOU get the ‘call out.’
There was no need to explain away my intent, insist that the harmed party misunderstood me or list all of my work and/or accomplishments that make me a good person. Instead I listened and understood what was being said. That my action caused harm. Unintentionally or not is beside the point, I caused it, I am now aware of it and it’s that simple to move on from there. Really understanding what was harmful, apologizing and working to be better, it’s really all we can do. We will learn from each misstep we make while the disability community redefines itself. It is an exciting time, seeing people rise together in solidarity to change the overwhelmingly detrimental conversations about their lives. They are the ones with a legitimate reason to police the tones and attitudes of others because, the tones they have been forced to hear concerning their own lives have always been OFF KEY.
Raise your language and understanding bar. Be aware of the dismissive ways disabled people are treated in the name of good works. Open your eyes to the injustice that has run rampant for decades. Pledge to change that.
Shift your perspectives about the nature of disability and the ways we can respectfully include, accommodate and uplift this valued community of people.
“Let’s ALL get our shift together”