ROOM FOR CHANGE

ROOM FOR CHANGE

It was a boring evening when I logged on to Twitter to alleviate said boredom. A funny video and meme later, I happened on a tweet that was talking about how homosexuality will not be accepted in Nigeria.

“Never!” the Twitter user declared.

Some moments later, I saw another tweet like it, then another and another. I groaned, thinking to myself, “What is it this time?” Because clearly, Nigerian Twitter’s homophobia had been triggered by something ongoing that is gay in nature.

I found out what it was soon. It would seem that a brave soul had decided to protest the SSMPA and was even going on a hunger strike. Now, before thinking of Victor Emmanuel as brave, I was kind of irritated. I erroneously believed that his actions did nothing but remind Nigerians to be the homophobic cunts they are, and in a WhatsApp group I belong to, I expressed the same sentiment when the question of what we thought of his actions was asked.

However, I did some reflecting and realized my take was mostly shit and that he was doing more than I think I would be willing to do to fight the country that has remained staunchly homophobic. There was a ton of debate in the community over the wisdom of what he was doing, with opinions divided along the lines of those who thought his protest was juvenile and those who believed it to be commendable. I believed that better tactics could be used to make a case against Nigeria’s antigay prejudice, but since they aren’t being used especially by the people who are even funded to do so, concerned community members might as well take it to the streets. However, my thinking that his action was opening a can of homophobic worms was wrong, and I think that on some level, my privilege blinded me from immediately seeing it.

So I corrected myself on that WhatsApp group a couple of messages down. End of story, yes?

No!

Someone saw my initial opinion and was all like, “How dare you!” And I was like, “Calm down, sis, I know better know and I have corrected myself”

But no. I was labeled cruel, terrible, violent, etc. for even thinking what I did in the first place, it would seem.

I was perplexed by how seemingly vehemently this person was going against me for my opinion, and I asked him what exactly the issue was. He replied that I didn’t want to be held accountable, which confused me even further, because – how much more accountability do I need to own after admitting I made a mistake?

I asked him this, and it was crickets.

It was an interesting ride, to see someone just passionately want to be angry at something that was said and retracted almost fifteen minutes later from self-reflection. And it’s something that seems to happen a lot on social media. I get it; I kinda used to be like that, full of passion and using the buzzwords (VIOLENCE! CLASSIST! CHECK YOUR PRIVILEGE!), but I realized that it was me railing against the world and trying to feel better about myself from behind a keyboard, than actually caring about change.

However, my attitude towards social justice-ing online changed when I read a story.

It was about a mob that wanted to kill a man for abusing his family, and the man rightly deserved what was coming to him. But the thing was that the mob, at that moment, was just bloodthirsty; they would not be meting out justice. They’d be committing murder. Justice should be given with controlled emotion, devoid of glee from the punishment, with a clear head and understanding of what you are doing. It shouldn’t be about scoring points against or one-upping the other person that made your life miserable. It feels like a lot of what we see on social media is more like a (usually rightful) angry mob, just going for blood even for just having a “wrong” opinion or thinking. So we rail against them even after they are sorry and have expressed their contrition.

And that is just fucking weird. Allowance should be given for the possibility that the person who has erred has actually known better and that growth has been established. Because, if we refuse to acknowledge that, then what exactly is the endgame for our social justice campaigns? If our aim is to always never let people forget the mistakes they’ve made – especially when that mistake is an expressed opinion – then what is our purpose for fighting to make the world a better place?

This is of course what I think. I could be wrong. What do you think?

Written by IBK

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3 Comments

  1. Fred
    April 10, 07:32 Reply

    And I’m wondering if this logic also applies to repentant “kito scums”.

    • Mandy
      April 12, 00:19 Reply

      Kito scum actively and violently took something from us. They took away our dignity, our welfare, our sense of safety. That is vastly different from someone expressing an opinion that is wrong. A kitoer, in my opinion, would have to not make some reparations that go beyond simply saying, “I’m sorry. I did wrong.”
      That’s my own.

  2. Mandy
    April 12, 00:17 Reply

    It’s like the time Simi apologised for her homophobia and getting it wrong. I understood the rage and doubt that were part of the reactions to her tweet, but I thought it was all a little overboard, especially when we started attacking her husband Adekunle Gold and raising suspicion that the apology came because of something they wanted to gain. It may be so, it may not be so, but we as a community have to give room for when people realize their senses and turn around to support us, instead of fixating on our hurts and slamming the door in their faces.

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