Updated: Feb 6
I'm very, very active on Twitter. The vast majority of people reading this probably know that already because that's most likely how you found Satyr in the first place.
One thing I've come across a lot has been other Black people pointing out that it's not our job to educate non-Black people on the movement, police abolition, racism, etc, etc. And they're right. But naively, I decided to try anyway. After all, if the people asking are genuine allies trying to learn how to help the cause, then helping them learn and empathize has to be worth it, right?
But you have to understand: it's so easy to find these things yourself. When I post "ACAB" and you hop on the thread to say that you don't necessarily disagree, but you want to know how we could possibly function without the police, you could literally type that into a search yourself and find it. Maybe you just want a discussion. Maybe you genuinely want to hear my thoughts on it. But after a while of being quizzed on these topics, you start to think, "Do they actually want to know, or are they being disingenuous and just asking to lowkey let me know that they think I'm being ridiculous? That they don't believe me? That they just want to fill me with doubt?"
I want to make it clear: we need allies. We need solidarity. But to ask a Black person to justify the things that could someday save Black lives, including those of our own families, just to help you understand it...it takes a toll after a while. You start to doubt yourself. You start to think, "Wow, so many people are asking for proof when they could easily find it themselves. Are they really an ally? Do they really care? Is it to mock me? Is it posturing? Is it to look 'woke?' To prove they're doing what is, let's be honest, the bare minimum by trying to learn?"
There is nothing wrong with wanting to know more. In fact, it's what everyone should be doing, regardless of race. But in the wise words of nearly every Black person I've seen who has addressed this previously, Google is free. And the things you're asking me to clarify are things that we all should have known to begin with and would have if the education system hadn't so disastrously failed us and deliberately whitewashed our country's history. But it's not your Black friend/acquaintance's job to fill in the gaps. It's not our job to prove ourselves worthy of having your allyship. It's yours.
Maybe this sounds harsh. Maybe you're thinking, "Wow, I'm just trying to help and show support and you're giving me shit for it. I'm not sure I want to help you anymore." But that's the thing: if me hurting your feelings by asking you to be a better ally is all it takes to get you stop, were you ever really an ally at all?
All of this is meant to put you out of your comfort zone as a white/non-Black person. Recognizing your privilege is hard, especially if you've lived a rough life and are convinced that you have no privilege. I get that. I know it takes time. I know it sounds unrealistic and dramatic and accusatory. But it's supposed to. I'm not here to beg for your help. Hell, I've thanked many of you for being an ally, and I really do appreciate that you're willing to make yourself uncomfortable to do what you can to help, but the reality is that I shouldn't have to thank you. I shouldn't have to beg you. I shouldn't have to appeal to you, educate you, placate you, make you feel good about it. I do it because I'm, in all honesty, a very meek person filled with self doubt, no matter how my Twitter persona makes me seem. You put a lot of pressure on me and every other Black person by asking us to educate you, because then the burden of proving ourselves worthy of your attention and allyship falls on our shoulders. I know that's not (most of your) intentions. But please, when you see me post something you disagree with, look into it yourself. Ask yourself why my post sounds so outlandish to you.
Also, please don't try to educate me or any other Black person on racism. It was literally my major. And while I admit I have a lot of privilege compared to many other Black people I know, I understand what it's like to be my race better than you do. I understand what racism is. I know all about the various alt-right groups and what they do. I know all about the prison industrial complex, Jim Crow laws, white flight, all of it. I've OBSESSED over it, agonized over it, dedicated my studies to it, while chances are you only really started to look into it when it became hip to do so.
Again, I'm not trying to shit on you for trying. I just ask that you don't put the burden on Black people who are already burdened with these events, who have always been burdened with them, and who live with it and more than likely will continue to long after the hashtags stop trending.
And finally, I don't need your "respectful disagreement." I don't need you to talk to me like a child about how, "I love you and care for you deeply, but I have to disagree with you here." The number of times I have read these words almost verbatim from people I genuinely liked, is astounding. You came into a post that I wrote to vent my frustrations and made it all about you and your needs. You took time out of your day to cast doubt on my thoughts and beliefs just so you could make yourself feel better. You don't love me. You don't care deeply for me. Maybe you loved talking and joking around with me, but you don't care for me or any other Black person losing their mind over this.
Don't try to educate me on how much we need the police because your dear family member or friend is a cop and they're super duper nice. Don't tell me how much you care for me while tut-tutting about property damage. Don't throw straw men at me about, "Oh, I bet you'd be the FIRST to call the police when you need them" or "You support property damage so much but I bet you'd be angry if your house burned down." These are things I'll probably address in another post—even though I shouldn't have to—just so I can stop fucking HEARING about it.
I created Satyr Central to be a place for writers to share the work they're most passionate about. I still want it to be that. But I can't in good conscience keep the site running without making my position clear. Yes, we'll keep the rants, the short stories, and the usual posts going, and there's a lot of submissions I'm really excited about. But I wanted to be sure I let all subscribers know: feel free to unsubscribe if anything I've written here bothers you too much to stay. I stayed apolitical on social media and on my website for too long, and I have no intention of doing so any longer. If that bothers you, I don't know what else to tell you.
Overall, I had mixed feelings on how I want to move forward. I decided that writing distracts me, and while I don't want us at Satyr to ignore what's happening, I do want it to be a place where readers can still enjoy the myriad of odd, ranty, and poetic writings we feature here. As a result, we have chosen to start paying contributors ($0.05/word) and double up on the fee to donate to protest bail and small business funds. We've also started a Patreon so that those looking to support us (love you, by the way) can help us pay contributors and make donations accordingly.
My ranty posts like this won't stop. I find it therapeutic. But I think it would be good for everyone's mental health, including my own, to step away from it every now and then and enjoy the wonder of weird as fuck writing.
That's all for now. If you have any questions, please don't hestiate to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org. And if current events have been affecting you, don't hesitate to reach out to me personally if you just want someone to talk to.
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Jon Aaron Sandler