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Fri Mar 29, 2013, 01:33 PM

When a member of a minority group doesn't agree with advocacy groups, whose opinion has more weight?

The member of the minority group or the advocacy group?

In real life, I've known African-Americans, LGBTQ Americans, Jewish Americans, American women and Latinos who have, on occasion, disagreed strongly with or found offensive the positions of advocacy groups which purport to defend them.

Is the burden on an individual member of a minority group to conform to the standards the advocacy group proposes, or on the advocacy group to encompass most or all viewpoints within that minority group?

PB

11 replies, 780 views

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Reply When a member of a minority group doesn't agree with advocacy groups, whose opinion has more weight? (Original post)
Poll_Blind Mar 2013 OP
LWolf Mar 2013 #1
Prism Mar 2013 #2
Poll_Blind Mar 2013 #7
Prism Mar 2013 #8
Poll_Blind Mar 2013 #9
Prism Mar 2013 #11
Prism Mar 2013 #10
JVS Mar 2013 #3
HereSince1628 Mar 2013 #5
Poll_Blind Mar 2013 #6
Starry Messenger Mar 2013 #4

Response to Poll_Blind (Original post)

Fri Mar 29, 2013, 01:37 PM

1. Neither. I think.

An advocacy group has a goal. Generally, many it advocates for support that goal. To a group with a goal, the goal can be more important than the means, and the majority carries more weight than the minority. That's logical.

An individual is a complex being with a pov based on background knowledge and experience, which is unique to that individual. They aren't obliged to conform.

In my opinion.

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Response to Poll_Blind (Original post)

Fri Mar 29, 2013, 01:39 PM

2. I frequently trash the gay establishment

Especially the cocktail crowd. During the DOMA problems in 2009 and 2010, it was up to us, the community, to make the connected LGBT political organizations march to our beat when their instinctive move was to protect their access and connections. The HRC did not take President Obama to task until we, the regular joes and janes, raised holy hell about it.

The advocacy groups often claim to speak for us as a whole, but when they're not, the onus is on the individual and the wider community to remind them why they're there.

Anyone with power and access must be constantly kept in check lest their privilege lead them down a divergent path that no longer represents and stands up for the least of us.

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Response to Prism (Reply #2)

Fri Mar 29, 2013, 02:11 PM

7. I agree, but how exactly do members of a minority group do that?

This has come up a bit with LGBTQ I know, but I have more experience with the Latino community where I live: How exactly do members of a minority group affect change on advocacy groups composed of politically well-connected, economically advantaged members who "fit well" in with the existing overall power structure in a community or even nationally?

I totally agree with your last sentence, but is there really a way to do that?

From my overall limited experience, and from what I've heard through the grapevine, once a person is part of an advocacy group which "meshes well" with the overall power structure, that's all she wrote as far as being able to change anything.

I use the terms "Fit well" and "meshes well" as euphemisms for advocacy groups which might often be viewed as non-confrontational to the existing power dynamic in a community. An existing power dynamic which is not always perceived as beneficial to the actual members of that minority group.

PB

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Response to Poll_Blind (Reply #7)

Fri Mar 29, 2013, 02:20 PM

8. In a nutshell, we flip out.

That's precisely what the LGBT community did. We stormed social media, cancelled our HRC memberships, and threatened to protest the HRC's own functions in response to its obeisance to power.

We made sure the President of the HRC felt very, very uncomfortable wherever he went. We disrupted his staged photo ops.

In short, the community very vocally made it clear that we were not afraid to declare our own self-appointed leaders the enemy if they would not carry our banner in a way that benefitted us rather than themselves.

They got the message awfully fast. I don't think I've ever seen anything like it. The HRC was practically under siege from its own people.

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Response to Prism (Reply #8)

Fri Mar 29, 2013, 02:25 PM

9. That's awesome, actually. I think more people should do that. DUers have generally...

...been exceptionally critical of Code Pink, especially once Code Pink began protesting under the Obama administration, but I think what Code Pink does, and what you have described the LGBT community doing is...in fact...the core spirit of Democracy in the truest sense of the term. And that's something that's lost on almost all Americans, IMO.

PB

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Response to Poll_Blind (Reply #9)

Fri Mar 29, 2013, 02:39 PM

11. The leadership crossed a bright line

They went from being our advocates to being our gatekeepers. Most LGBTers perceived this as soon as a pressing important issue materialized.

Politicians seemed to think they still lived in the 19th Century, when mayors and governors would go talk to the bishop to get those unruly Irish immigrants under control. Democratic administrations figured they just needed to have a chat with the Establishment Gays to get cranky LGBTers to settle down.

Boy did they miscalculate. In the age of social media, when anyone can trigger a tidal wave of momentum, there are fewer gates now and less need for keepers. Now, the HRC is very, very careful to make sure they're following the community rather than trying to force the opposite.

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Response to Prism (Reply #8)


Response to Poll_Blind (Original post)

Fri Mar 29, 2013, 01:40 PM

3. The one with the better argument.

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Response to JVS (Reply #3)

Fri Mar 29, 2013, 01:49 PM

5. Unfortunately, there's a lot of conflicted subtext hidden in "better"

Philosophically, I'm completely with you, But, I recognize it's easy to suggest a principle, but it's hard to make it operational.

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Response to JVS (Reply #3)

Fri Mar 29, 2013, 01:55 PM

6. How do you determine who has the "better" argument when, for instance, a member...

...of a minority refers to themselves using a term defined as derogatory by the advocacy group?

I've run into this specific thing a lot with members of my community who are also LGBTQ. When a transgender person proudly refers to themselves as a "tranny" or a gay man refers to himself as a "fag" or to his female friend as his "fag hag", some of those words being defined explicitly as anti-gay by GLAAD, who has the better argument to claim a position to make an authoritative judgement on the term's use?

This goes much farther than LGBTQ. I've known Italian Americans who referred to themselves as "wops" and quite a bit as "dago", which I believe are both defined as offensive by Italian American advocacy groups. That experience was years ago in a different part of the country and I have no idea if the term is still used so frequently.

Anyway, back to the point. So...how do you evaluate cases like that?

PB

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Response to Poll_Blind (Original post)

Fri Mar 29, 2013, 01:45 PM

4. I like to take in all views and form my own opinion.

There are feminist groups I don't agree with, like the new Lean In thing, which is aimed more at women in the business class. I have nothing in common with that and don't feel responsible for supporting their views.

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