Sometimes I make other people uncomfortable. This usually happens when I venture into spaces where you usually wouldn’t find someone like me, safe spaces for bigotry if you will. Where people are so used to everyone around them being just like them, coming from a similar background, sharing similar values so they don’t have to audit what they say in the name of political correctness or politeness, because there is usually no one around who might disapprove, or as they like to say “get offended.” In these spaces people are used to talking about people like me as if we are other, without ever considering what that means and how it affects us. I make people uncomfortable, not because they suddenly realise what they are saying is wrong, but because there is actually someone in their face who challenges their assumptions about the world.
I rarely say anything, I have to preserve my energy for the long haul, and these every day little encounters are draining. If I fought every battle I would not have the energy left to do the work I do. When I tune out, or leave the room, it is not because I am trying to express the ‘offense’ (I am not offended I am contemptuous by the way) It because I am tired, and your words make me angry, so I would prefer not to hear them. Since you do not have the good manners not to say those things in front of me, I must remove myself from situations that upset me. This may make you uncomfortable. Unfortunately I am never going to smile and agree with what you are saying. I will be polite and not challenge you on what you are saying in order to preserve the peace, that I am willing to to do, as much as it pisses me off.
What I am really trying to say is that you SHOULD feel uncomfortable spouting bigotry around me. If you are that means I am doing my job correctly. Ideally you should feel uncomfortable spouting bigotry around anyone, but in the mean time I will settle for this small victory. When you say racist (or sexist, or homophobic or ableist etc…) things please don’t worry about offending me. I’m not offended. I am contemptuous. What you should really worry about is WHY I am contemptuous. It is because the attitudes you feel comfortable expressing when I’m not around hurt people. They are part of the rhetoric that is used to oppress people, and really that is what you should feel uncomfortable about. OPPRESSING PEOPLE.
People use the term political correctness, as though it is akin to censorship. At its core ‘political correctness’ as people like to call it is simply about not being an asshole to your fellow human beings. Is that really too much to ask? If it is then perhaps you should take a long hard look at yourself. I will continue to advocate for not being an asshole, because I believe that all people have the right to be treated as full human beings, not just people with privilege.