One of my favorite people in the whole world is Kimberly Knight. Her Coming Out Christian blog on Patheos is a must-read for me, we’re Facebook and Twitter friends and we even know each other in real life. A church and tech nerd of the first order, she’s “down with the J-man” and a Jesus hippie par excellence (both terms I got from her). Short version, she’s my friend. Now, I do have a few good traits, including loyalty to my friends. So, when I saw Kimberly getting knocked around a bit for something she’d written, I couldn’t just sit by and watch.
What she’d written was a post titled You might be a Pharisee if…, in which she pointed out that there are a lot of Christians who act more like, well, Pharisees than Jesus, the guy they claim to follow. When I read it, I liked it. I also thought it was nothing I hadn’t said quite a few times myself. The reaction to her post was far different from anything I received, however. A lot of people were like me and not only didn’t see a problem, but liked what she said. Others, however, were not on the same page, feeling that she wasn’t as nice as she could be and she shouldn’t be all judgy because that makes people uncomfortable. To which my girl replied “If it ain’t making us uncomfortable, it ain’t the Gospel” (I’m not sure if this quote is actually related to the brouhaha; if it wasn’t, it should’ve been).
I jumped in to defend her, although I’m not sure how effective I was. More importantly, this furball (as in dog fight, not that disgusting stuff on Urban Dictionary) got me thinking and I realized that it’s easy for me to comment on what she should or shouldn’t say because I’m a straight, white man and the people in question aren’t attacking an essential part of my identity. They’re not saying that my gender disqualifies me for leadership. They’re not denying me rights because of who I love. It also made me wonder if I, the aforementioned straight, white man, would catch as much crap if I had written the article.
That’s easy question to answer because I’ve written articles that are way harsher and more judgy than anything Kimberly’s put out there and no one seemed to have a problem with it. No comments saying I should adjust my tone or that I should be all sweetness and light. Okay, my friends and family did tell me to quit being an ass. But, the blogging community? From them, I got either silence or encouragment. In fact, several people started following this blog because of some burn-it-down posts.
All of which brings me to my point. Privilege says that it’s more acceptable for me to call out injustice in a strong, uncompromising voice than for Kimberly to do the same. That, because I’m a man, speaking in that strong, uncompromising voice is my province while hers is to speak in a voice that’s gentle, sweet and tender. When we do this, however, the speaker isn’t the only one who suffers. We also rob ourselves of voices who have much to say on the subject, voices who have actually suffered the injustice they speak out against.
Privilege may be what’s for dinner, but it’s a terrible meal. Because, while it feeds some of our egos all too well, it stifles voices that need to be heard. Most especially by those of us chowing down.