Three Things

1. I'm not offended; I'm contemptuous.

2. I'm not angry; I'm dissatisfied. (Except when I am angry.)

3. I'm not surprised; I am outraged. Because I expect more.

Me, on Twitter, last Thursday:

screen cap of Tweet reading: 'I love when my outrage at injustice gets misrepresented as 'surprise' so someone can assert higher enlightenment via their wise cynicism.'
screen cap of Tweet reading: ''I know so much about oppression that I don't even care about it anymore.' Well, aren't you special.'
screen cap of Tweet reading: 'That is a really bad habit of privileged progressives to justify their apathy. Good for you, but I expect more. [URL]'
[Link goes here.]

"I'm not surprised." I am explicitly calling that out as some silencing bullshit, because that is how it always functions. Whether it's deliberately misrepresenting informed outrage as "surprise" in order to justify one's own apathy, or in order to assert one's superior social justice cred by positing cynicism is evidence of wisdom, or both, it's hostile, unhelpful garbage, predicated on the implication that anyone else who is surprised is wrong, stupid, and/or overreacting.

To be sure, surprise genuinely expressed by a privileged person at some example of oppression is usually evidence of the ignorance afforded by privilege, which itself is also not helpful. But that's a whole different conversation than someone sniffing about their lack of surprise in a space where none has been expressed.

Because what "I'm not surprised" means, as it functions in a space concerned with social justice and expecting more, is: "Why are we even talking about this?" and/or: "I am so much more enlightened than you that I stopped thinking about this ages ago and resigned myself to doing nothing, unless you count trolling people who do still make a modicum of effort to care and make a difference by implying they are stupid rubes who are wasting their time."

If that isn't your intent, then you might want to consider replacing your "I'm not surprised" with an "I share your outrage."

All "I'm not surprised at this bit of bigotry" does is infuriate the fuck out of the people who dedicate their time and energy to calling attention to oppression and make the space feel unsafe to the people targeted by it.

(And really: If you think I still have the capacity to be totally surprised by any iteration of bigotry after doing this day in and day out for nine years, you are truly underestimating the toll this job takes.)

Surprise, or the lack thereof, isn't even relevant. If surprise indicates anything of any value at all, it's how far along someone is on their journey of unpacking and examining whatever privilege they have and understanding how to identify and process whatever pieces of marginalization they are obliged to navigate. What matters is the willingness to engage, and someone who boldly pronounces their lack of surprise in response to outrage, in response to the willingness to engage, is piping up just to say: "Not me. No thank you."

Which is fine. No one can engage with everything all the time. But sit with that on your own. Don't project whatever you're feeling about that onto people who are engaged by trying to cast them as fools.

I fight against the creeping, frightening, alluring petition of indifference every day to maintain the fight that underwrites activism, and having my passion miscast as naivete in order that someone might salve their own indifference is truly contemptible.

If you've got nothing to add to the conversation besides your (totally impressive, I'm sure) lack of surprise that people harm other people in mundane and extraordinary ways, then, truly, you've got nothing to add at all.

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