Tuesday, February 06, 2007

A, B Symbiosis

Once, during a lull in some function, I was talking to a friend. She was there as a representative for the black community, and the topic of an activist from another ethnic community came up. To say this other activist was vocal would be a huge understatement, and at this point in time he had upset and directly insulted many people, even many in his camp. He’d gone after me a couple times too. Nevertheless, he’s the sort of person it’s hard to not like one-on-one, very charismatic.

Anyway, she told me something that has stuck with me. She said every movement for social and political change has two sorts of people, Xs and MLKs. Not as though she was or I am comparing anyone to these men, here, but she was saying these two men represent two different and necessary philosophies of political movements. To avoid a mess of comparison (as I’m sure what follows doesn’t sum up either man) I’ll call them Type-A and Type-B.

She explained that the Type-As are in the face of power; they aren’t asking; they’re demanding. They’ll take what’s their right by force if necessary (or at least make those in control think they would) and they’re not out to build bridges. They’ll shout, accuse, threaten, and disobey. If they aren’t violent, they’ll try to look violent and play more on the masses’ discomfort than their commonality. They’re here and they’re [blank] and you handle it however you want, but there will be consequences.

Clearly she was talking about this guy. And I must admit I’ve not liked this sort of behavior in any group. I’ve not seen it as productive. In fact, when in my community, I’ve seen it as dangerous and often pushing away what’s important for both the majority and the minority. But she gave me pause, and what she went on to explain still does.

There’s the other type, the Type-Bs, and, while the Type-As and the Type-Bs may overlap in places, the Type-Bs are far more conciliatory. They want those bridges; they don’t want to get their right by force or fear; they’d rather it be given out of conscience. While they may disobey; they do it with peace; they show respect for the other side’s humanity, even when the other side is out to hurt them. Now these are the people I’ve most respected in any social movement.

The way she explained it, though, is that the Type-Bs wouldn’t get very far without the Type-As. The majority moves for both fear and conscience. The Type-As give the majority motivation to look for a cooler head, and to question themselves. They make the minority’s problems pressing, and make listening to the Type-B’s a good option, one without the losing of face that’d come with “negotiating with the terrorist tactics” of the Type-As. A sort of good cop, bad cop on a larger scale.

I’m not sure how much I believe this or how applicable it is to a perpetually small minority. Some days I’m pretty sure I don’t give it much weight outright. But other days… I’m just saying it makes me far less quick to judge the far more radical queers of the world.

1 comment:

-L- said...

It's something I've noticed politically as well. Although most Americans are toward the moderate end of things, the most successful candidates are the polarizing ones. It's bizarre.