Written by: Serena Holland
I have been involved in online advocate circles since 2018, and, although that may seem like a small pocket of time, information spreads like wildfire in this digital age. Yet, somehow, I would always see the same topics regurgitated from page to page. Trapped in the territory of white guilt, transmedicalism¹, and rainbow capitalism², I rarely learned anything that could help me be a good ally or even understand the systems in place which worked against me and my peers. In recent months, it has been explained to me that social media algorithms allow users to shut themselves into informational bubbles, where everything that’s discussed lines up with their current beliefs. I think mine began to deflate when I happened upon the concept of intersectionality.
In an interview with Columbia Law School, Kimberlé Crenshaw, the black feminist scholar who coined the term in 1989, describes intersectionality as “a lens through which you can see where power comes and collides, where it interlocks and intersects.” She elaborates further, stating that “It’s not simply that there’s a race problem here, a gender problem here, and a class or LBGTQ problem there. Many times that framework erases what happens to people who are subject to all of these things.” Intersectionality aims to recognize and acknowledge the variety of identities which overlap and create different forms of bigotry, disadvantages, and, on the opposite end, privilege. A white woman, for example, can be set back by misogyny and still held up by white privilege, which she has the power to abuse or utilize to uplift women of color, who experience misogyny in a way that is also affected by their races.
Along with an understanding of this theory came the realization that I was not far enough out of my comfort zone. By only focusing on the issues that affected me and the most acknowledged marginalized groups, I was contributing to the deprivation of attention that should be granted to other communities. I began to broaden my horizons, following pages which touched on issues I had no prior awareness of. Not that I was ever a truscum³, but I developed an understanding that the ideology comes from a rigid, classist and eurocentric mindset. Although I hadn’t fully gotten out of my informational bubble, I was well on my way.
Over time, my activism became more and more intersectional. I can’t say for sure, as I’ve never been quite able to keep accurate timelines of my experiences, but I think it didn’t take long for me to get to where I am now. With the help of befriending some intersectional and radical thinkers, I’ve become more aware of the world around me. While developing this awareness, I also began to process something I’d like to share with you now (finally): The concept of the mainstream minority.
My narrative begins with society’s understanding of the Black American community. Persevering through 400 years of oppression, including slavery, a civil rights movement, the War on Drugs, mass incarceration, and police brutality (and a horrendous amount more if I chose to put myself through the traumatic experience that is researching the history of black suffering), we’ve arrived in a time where not supporting us is a clear indicator of ignorance and/or bigotry. Thankfully, it is no longer acceptable in society to be openly anti-black. However, there is a misconception among allies that supporting the black community absolves any responsibility to listen to us, or to support and uplift marginalized racial and ethnic groups besides us.
Take, for example, the Black Lives Matter movement. There’s not a person I’m close to who hasn’t spoken on and voiced their support for it. News coverage of the movement spread worldwide through the last several months, and, although tainted by its focus on the perceived negative affects of our rage, it helped to raise awareness and curiosity from otherwise uninterested parties. People have been radicalized by the atrocities committed by the state, and I’m grateful for the much needed change.
When we look at this movement, and compare it to most others, there is a considerable difference in how the public treats them. #LandBack, a movement dedicated to the return of sovereignty to Indigenous nations, scarcely receives notice beyond the communities within it. The case is similar with the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women campaign, and the lack of public awareness on issues such as forced hysterectomies in ICE detention, gentrification in Hawai’i, and the rampant and escalating antisemitism in America.
Speaking to and learning from Jewish voices, ranging from my own friends to TikTok influencers, I came to understand that antisemitism is especially ignored and denied by people on every point on the political spectrum, despite having earned the name “the oldest hatred”. Jewish people are seldom listened to on issues that concern them unless their opinions are deemed beneficial to the arguments of goyim⁴.
Through the understanding of this, along with hearing the pleas of numerous other marginalized racial and ethnic groups, I came to notice the pattern of ignorance. Looking at the history of the United States, there is so much for white people to be ashamed of aside from their transgressions against the black community. However, white people have always seen black people as their direct opposition, as day is to night. By reconciling with and fighting for the black community, otherwise apolitical white people write themselves off as having effectively done their part in healing humanity.
Despite “standing with” the black community on issues such as blatant racism and police brutality, many non-black people have not respected us beyond a certain point. Even with BLM, people struggle to understand and accept that every black life matters, not just the perceived “innocent” ones—this means gang members, former and current convicts, people of questionable morals, anyone the public wouldn’t normally be willing to admit has a right to equity.
In addition, cultural appropriation against the black community is ordinary by now. I’m not just speaking on box braids and cornrows; I’m speaking on the integration of black culture into modern culture without our consent. Let’s talk about the lack of credit for the black community when it comes to trends like the Y2K aesthetic, colored wigs, dramatically laid “edges”, lip gloss and hoop earrings. Let’s talk about the lack of credit for the incessant misuse of AAVE (African-American Vernacular English), for twerking, for sneaker culture and street fashion. I could go on, but I digress. I’m sure this brings to light the hypocrisy that is performative activism towards the black community.
In essence, the mainstream minority is one which is acknowledged by the public more than others, but only under specific circumstances. The mainstream minority is a conflicting status as although members of one may be grateful for the steps that people outside of it have taken to support it, they may be rightfully unsatisfied with how much is left undone. This status is not always a sign of privilege as much as it is a sign of the public’s desire to silence minorities. It’s terrifying to witness. Other examples of mainstream minorities are binary trans people of the trans community, cishet⁵ black men of the black community, and people with non-stigmatized mental illnesses and conditions.
I’ve been dealing with guilt due to being several mainstream minorities. It’s easy to feel like my identities have “stolen” or “hoarded” the spotlight, but this isn’t true. The onus is not only on me, but also every person with basic human decency to look beyond themselves and help those in need. I try my best to educate myself and seek communities to give support to, not because it’s trendy or expected of me, but because I know it’s the right thing to do. That’s the attitude we need to adopt. That’s how we move forward.
¹ Transmedicalism – A view on transgenderism rooted in the belief that trans people must experience gender dysphoria and seek to medically transition in order to be considered genuinely transgender.
² Rainbow Capitalism – The phenomenon of businesses profiting off of marketing towards the LGBTQ+ community without actually supporting the community.
³ Truscum – A person who believes in transmedicalism.
⁴ Goyim – A term used to refer to any non-Jewish people.
⁶ Cishet – A term used to refer to any person who is heterosexual and not trans.