Once Problematic, Always Problematic

An entry from the Codex of Social Justice Dogma

👩‍💻 by 📆 on Jun 6, 2018 🗄 in Codex 💬 Comment

A tenet of the social justice dogma that allows us to write people off for past behaviors (despite what they’ve done since).

What it looks like: if somebody, at any point in their past, said or did or shared or believed something that was problematic (i.e., unjust, oppressive, bigoted), we freeze them in that moment in time forever forward. Despite apologizing, examples (or years) displaying that they’ve learned or changed, or any other effort, when that person’s name is mentioned, we are supposed to highlight their problematic past.

Where it’s coming from: the goal of holding people accountable for their past is to make sure they’ve learned, unlearned, or changed.

Why it’s getting in the way: the outcome is this feeling that we don’t create any room for people to grow, change, or learn. When the brunt of the social justice movement is holding a perpetual trial for someone’s past self, it paints the picture that we don’t actually care if people change.

What we might do instead: point where someone’s current belief/stance/action is unjust, and explain an alternative path. Then give them space to walk that path, and grace to stumble a bit. If they stray, poke them. But don’t berate them for something they’ve done in the past if they’ve shown that they’ve learned and are making (or have made) it right.