Charles Chubb

What are you really saying when you say, “You can’t talk about that because you’re not [insert minority group]”?

You’re basically saying that there is no conversation to be had on the topic.

I was thinking about this specifically when Don Lemon said to Elon Musk (I’m paraphrasing), “You can’t tell a black person in America that because you aren’t one.” I couldn’t help but think, then why did you ask the question?

It reminds me of a time a few years ago. I was out for drinks with some colleagues, one of them a female. She mentioned something about being a female in the workplace and I ventured to answer her, to which she replied, “But you can’t say that, you wouldn’t know because you’re not a female.” My reply was, “Well then what are we doing here, the second you say that, all the men are out of the conversation and you can go and figure it out for yourself.”

What I am trying to illustrate is the ridiculous nature of that idea that you can’t have an opinion about something unless you belong to that group, or have some particular experience in that specific thing. Of course, you can have an opinion, especially if the result will affect you in some way.

How are we going to be productive and have the best outcomes if all of a sudden, the majority of people are instantly excluded from the conversation?

The problem is worse when it comes to talk show hosts, journalists and interviewers like Lemon because their only job is to present facts and be a place of discussion. Talk shows should allow people to actually talk. Bill Maher is great at this on his show because they actually are allowed to talk. The View is horrible. It must be called the view because to go on it you must agree and only hold one view, the view of the hosts.

One thing which highlights the ridiculousness of the idea that you can’t speak unless you belong to the group is that women, people of colour etc should not be allowed to talk about white men or white people. Next time someone expresses an opinion, saying white men have this, white men do this, the reply can be, “How do you know, are you a white man?” or “As a white man, you can’t speak about my own lived experience.” By their own standards they can’t go making statements about another racial or gender group they don’t belong to. Hopefully, this makes them realise how ridiculous it all sounds.

However, with the change in the definition of racism and the rise of the idea that you can’t be racist against white people, I have little hope that people who aren’t white men will apply the same moral standards to themselves as they do to us. I think there has to be moral equivalence. You can’t have something be true for one group and not for another; that is how logic breaks down. That’s how we live in a world of contradictions which don’t help us get better and that don’t help us move on.

What I’m simply advocating for is open and honest discussion, with the removal of identity groups and the ‘you can’t say that’ attitude. We must get past our groups, allow actual discussion and look after individual rights, not group rights. You have to look after the minorities, as the greatest minority is the individual and they must matter more than the groups.

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