Derailing for Dummies is a helpful summary of the rhetorical tricks people of privilege use to discount the experiences of a marginalized person, so you can call them on it. By deconstructing their arguments, you empower yourself. Unfortunately it's phrased from the perspective of the persecutor, leaving it up to the user to articulate their defense.

Here's one example:

But I'm Not Like That - Stop Stereotying!

Personalising anything the Marginalised Person may say is a great way of distracting attention from the issue at hand, forcing the Marginalised Person to soothe your wounded feelings or sense of indignation rather than concentrating on the argument they were making.

Rather than simply listening to criticism of a group of Privileged People with respect and consideration for the Marginalised Person, you must immediately take offence and leap in to defend yourself.

For example, when queer people are crticising the tendencies of some straight people, jump in and say something like:

"Not all of us are like that - you're prejudiced against straight people! You're judging straight people the same way that they judge you, and it's hateful! We need to not categorise people and make assumptions about them based on their identity! I resent feeling like I'm part of a group that oppresses you!"

- even though the criticism was very explicitly leveled at a specified behavior. (ie.:, "I don't like straight people who do ________.")

But of course, this can work in many different situations where Privileged behaviour is being deconstucted or criticised. Its resonance is in its lack of acknowledgement of the balance of power by suggesting that reasonable criticism of oppressive or discriminatory behaviour is equivalent to the oppressive and discriminatory behaviour itself. Remember that while the Marginalised Person's criticism can never adversely affect your life in significant ways, you must rank the discrimination they face - which does significantly affect them - as equal to the discomfort of your wounded feelings, to demonstrate how highly you rank yourself and how lowly you rank them. [emphasis mine]


Tags: anwering prejudiced arguments

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