Session called by Nemo Martin (they/them) @zeus_japonicus
-I began the session by recounting why I’d called it: a few months back, I was part of an British East Asian acting/performing/writing group who made transphobic comments using the same language they rallied against when used about East Asians – and it really annoyed me.
-Another person mentioned that it tends to be a BAME person’s family – and the people around them who tend to be -phobic / -ist, or queer people who ‘get a pass’ on racism. We talked about having built personal bubbles of tolerance.
-We talked about stealth-mind changing, how it takes patience and time to “mass convert” a group.
-We talked about how BAME people don’t talk about these issues a lot because we don’t want white audiences to say “we might be homophobic but THE CHINESE ARE WORSE”, in a way throwing on of our discriminated-against groups under the bus of the other.
-Can we allow ourselves to trust an audience and make work calling out our fellow People of Colour, and trust that the White audience won’t take racist sentiment away from it?
-We talked about who we were out to: it’s far easier to come out to people in the workplace because if they don’t respect you, there’s HR / you can easily (and guilt free) cut them out of your life (there’s a sort of parachute.) Not many of us out to BAME family because of prejudices.
-We talked about imposter syndrome, and how being British-born / Mixed-race / White passing – we often feel like part of the oppressor when white/cis/straight people feel ‘more comfortable’ talking to us about issues than to ‘real’ BAME. As if we’re the translators between two races.
-We talked about Playing the Game for Arts Council funding – Am I bringing in a ‘diverse’ audience? No, because I want to make work that TEACHES white people, not PoC.
-Someone mentioned a group who taught white people to teach other white people about racism without the emotional labour of being in the room each time.
-We started talking about How to be a Good Ally: recognising shitty situations and helping without speaking over the person being discriminated against.
-We kept falling back on the idea that this mostly happens on Facebook/ public forums. There’s a sense of immediacy/ that you have to WIN or you’ve LOST. No time to reflect before answering.
1. ASK the person if you can step in. This might be a brief correction “eg. You might not be aware, but that kind of language is transphobic because…. Here’s a wikipedia link with more info”, or a prodding of the person with a “I’m not sure I understand the joke, can you explain it to me?” that leads to a brief conversation about why those kind of jokes are not acceptable.
2. Don’t be overly gushy when consoling/talking with your friend (i.e. “oh nooo! That’s so bad :’( you’re super protected and valid here ok?? You’re special and important :’((((“)
3. Recognise signs of internalised shit (for me it was thinking I wasn’t East Asian enough, or that I’m not trans enough.) Let the person think about this with gentle encouragement (again avoiding 2 and being a White/Cis voice telling them that it’s true because YOU said it.)
4. STEP BACK. Recognise when people want time to reflect, and allow your friend to be angry – trying to move past the issue / console them can seem as if the anger isn’t justified.
-We then built the Ally flowchart (please see attached images!) Feel free to spread this around. If these aren’t accessible to you in some way, please let me (Nemo Martin) know at [email protected]