There are certain discussions that make me really uncomfortable. Not always, but often enough. I am really uncomfortable, for example, when race/gender/sexuality/ethnicity - pretty much any identity discussions hit on something that I should feel kind of guilty about. I also get very uncomfortable when discussions about behaviors and choices start to force me to think about behaviors and choices that I am not happy about in my own life - when the discussion hits close enough to the mark that I start making associations. Sometimes it gets really uncomfortable - like lose sleep over it, feel like shit about it uncomfortable.
That's the best time, because the worse it feels, the more you are growing and making positive, fundamental changes.
We don't change our thinking or behaviors when we are all cozy and comfy. We don't have any impetus when things seem rosy, so we get complacent. It isn't until we are uncomfortable that changes we need to make can happen. The problem with this, is that all too often we decide to just blame what or whoever exposed us to the discomfort and attempt to banish them or at least get them to shut up and stop making us uncomfortable. Like we really want our token brown/gay/trans/ethnic minority friend around to make us feel hip and progressive - we just wish they would talk and act more like us and quit trying to make us understand their perspective. It is sooo uncomfortable when they do that...
The problem is, by and large they do. They want to - you know - work and have friends and all that, so they do shut up and just pretend it's ok. They often actually feel guilty for our fucking guilt! I want you to think about that for a moment - one of the many things that privilege means, is that minorities actually feel guilty for our fucking guilt, so we don't have to be uncomfortable enough to do something about it. Talk about fucking privilege - we make them feel guilty about our guilt that wells up when they talk about their discomfort. Here's a tip - the feelings of the disenfranchised are valid. They have a right to feel that way, even if you didn't intend something you said that was offensive to be offensive.
I have been trying to write this post for sometime now, but keep getting blocked by my anger about one of the most egregious points of contention; I have the privilege of writing this post without much concern for retribution. I don't really need to worry overmuch about how people who will have an impact on my career - my future might feel about me for saying this. I am not going to get labeled an angry brown/gay/trans person for saying this. Sure, some folks may argue with me about this, but in the end I sport beige skin and rather than a uterus, I have a cock - and I am engaged in a heteronormative relationship.
So it's all good, because I am in baby!!! I'm part of the club.
But if, for example, my totally brilliant and super hot girlfriend decided to write openly about this under her real name, it could well have an adverse affect on her future. Folks might decide that they really don't want to hire an angry brown women. At the very least, she will be told that her feelings aren't valid. Hell, that whole thread is chocked full of people who just can't believe that people who really don't like to be referred to as "the brown person" have valid feelings on the matter.
The message I am getting there is; "Your discussion about things that make you uncomfortable is making me uncomfortable - I sometimes say things like that and hearing how it makes you feel is making me feel vaguely uneasy and bad about myself. And of course, my feelings are far more valid than yours, so please just shut the fuck up and let me get on with feeling good about being a decent person."
Shut the fuck up, you whiny little asshole. Seriously. Shut the fuck up and consider why you feel uncomfortable. Hell, just think about that discomfort and consider that rather than shutting people down for making you feel that way, you can actually change your behavior and respect the feelings of others. Because the last time I checked, my GF can't change the color of her skin (and I would be really bummed if she could and did - she is totally hot). Isis can't change the experience she had growing up. That token queer friend of yours can't do anything to change how he internalized all the times he was separated out by his sexuality.
You however, can accept and embrace your discomfort, allow it to foster change in your life so you can quit being a fucking asshole and making others feel bad about things that they cannot change.