By: Caitlin Blake (@eduCaitlinB)
Hi white ravers and festie fam, I am another white person who is begging you: stop using P.L.U.R. to silence our BIPOC (Black and Indigenous people of color) brothers, sisters, andtheydies when they’re telling you how your actions or words are harming them.
For the purposes of this blog post, I’m going to assume that you are well-intentioned and maybe feeling a bit overwhelmed at the amount of anti-racism work that you find yourself needing to do. White people benefit from white privilege ( you receive benefits that are not earned but given based on the color of your skin—for example, knowing that you will never be pulled over by a cop for driving while white), and while some of us might have been doing anti-racism work for years, because of our white privilege some of us have never had to give a lot of thought to race relations in the United States and are just beginning our anti-racism journey.
No matter where you are in your anti-racism journey, using P.L.U.R. to silence BIPOC is unacceptable. When you do this, you are practicing toxic positivity. This might be a new term to you, and that’s okay—I’m here to talk to you about it. Toxic positivity is when a person uses their words or actions to end a dialogue or conversation, especially in a moment where someone is sharing something vulnerable or sensitive—such as trying to talk to someone about something harmful. Positivity is not toxic, but when you use positivity to silence someone it is a form of toxic positivity.
Let’s use an example: you post a photo intending to support BIPOC and use the hashtag #AllLivesMatter, immediately people start commenting to let you know that the hashtag you used is harmful; it’s used to uphold white supremacy and silence the experiences and feelings of BIPOC—instead, you should use the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter. You respond by telling people “You know my intentions are good. This isn’t very P.L.U.R. of you! I don’t understand why you’re being so negative!” and immediately block them and anyone else who dares to tell you that what you did was (at best) problematic.
First, P.L.U.R. isn’t an excuse to ignore your own problematic behavior and it is NEVER an excuse to silence another person. Let’s remember for a second what P.L.U.R. stands for: Peace, Love, Unity, and Respect. When you silence someone for trying to educate you and trying to tell you about how your words or actions have harmed someone, you aren’t putting Peace, Love, Unity, or Respect into practice. You are perpetuating harm. Let’s break down each part of P.L.U.R. and see how we might put it into practice amid the Black Lives Matter movement and beyond.
PEACE: You might feel immediately defensive or even angry that someone is suggesting you did something harmful. Change your perspective: appreciate that someone is taking the time to try to educate you and engage with you. Find your inner calm, don’t get angry or defensive when someone is trying to engage with you about something you did. When someone takes the time to educate you, it’s a caring act. Find your peace and recognize the act of care.
LOVE: Express gratitude and give thanks to the folx who are taking the time to tell you how and why what you did was harmful. Often BIPOC takes on a lot of emotional and intellectual labor when trying to dialogue with white people about race. When someone is communicating with you, it is an act of love. Return the favor by listening and reflecting. Pay that love forward and vow to do better in the future.
UNITY: Show up alongside our BIPOC brothers, sisters, and theydies. While we may not experience the racism and erasure that BIPOC faces in the United States, we can certainly stand beside BIPOC, share our platforms, and take on the labor of educating and addressing other white people. We are all in this together.
RESPECT: Listen to what BIPOC are telling you, honor their experiences, and offer support when and where you can. Hear what the person communicating with you is saying, and do not tone police them or ask them to more polite in their communication with you. Nobody is being rude to you by telling you that you have caused harm, but you are being rude when you dismiss what is being said to you. Respect the bravery and energy of the person you are speaking with.
And last but not least, before you tell someone to keep politics out of the EDM scene or out of music in general—JUST DON’T DO IT. Music has always been an outlet for political expression. Have you ever listened to the Star-Spangled Banner? Aside from it being the national anthem, it’s political: Francis Scott Key wrote the song after witnessing an attack during the War of 1812. Woodstock was a response to civil unrest due to the Vietnam War. Music is political—if you want to claim to love the EDM scene, embrace it, and stop fighting it.
At the end of the day, we can have different opinions. But if your “opinions” harm others or promote the oppression of people, then don’t claim P.L.U.R. because P.L.U.R. is the last thing you are being. Instead, use P.L.U.R. to fight racism and make the world a better place. As white people, we must dismantle the racist systems that those who came before us built.