Just before the last general elections in 2017, I had just joined campus. As a Political Science student, I strongly felt that I had both the moral capacity and right to make a reasonable case on why we need to vote for leader X and not leader Y. I spent days wondering why my friends who were hell-bent on voting for the other party were so emotional and could not seemingly hold a ‘decent’ and ‘calm’ conversation on politics.
Four years later, I think I was the unreasonable one as I seemingly tone policed my friends, including making the case that surely we could not expect rioters to have a reasonable opinion on electoral reforms in Kenya. (Tone policing is a term coined by Layla Saad that exemplifies how we dismiss other peoples opinion because they are emotional about it). By taking this stand and making these comments, I was enabling social injustice. I was making a case that electoral reforms do not matter just because my candidate of choice was on the winning side. In tandem, I was enabling police brutality in arguing that those who went to the streets to protest were just hardliners that refused to accept defeat.
This is just one of the attempts I am making to reconcile how I think about social injustice on all fronts. For the next couple of weeks, I hope to write(on this newsletter and Medium
) about social injustice and how we contribute to it. I will also try and talk about how I can do better and how we can all do better. The topics that I hope to touch on include racism, tribalism, ethnicity, police brutality, gender inequality, homophobia, and other issues where social injustice permeates society.
I am sending this newsletter fully aware of two underlying sorts of notions. The first is the idea of perfectionism. In fact, this newsletter is late enough because when people took to the streets and to social media to talk about racism sparked by the murder of George Floyd and, of course, the persistent racist incidences that have gone on for generations, I felt that I did not have an opinion. I was clueless about how to talk about racism, or rather I felt I didn’t have the perfect knowledge to talk about. But I am learning that that is really beside the point. Refusing to talk about racism and social injustice at large because I do not know enough about the topic is just an excuse for playing safe.
The second is sharing this in the full awareness of critics and comments such as …“lol..took you long enough!”…or you are not donating to the movement or sending enough petitions or links. While all these are somewhat reasonable accusations, they don’t seem to take us in the right direction. The point is I am writing these articles now, I believe in the same justice you believe in, and I am trying to do what is enough and while I may fail at that…I am trying, and that should count for something. I believe that cannot be divided on issues with regards to social justice, or else we will fail in this fight.
Have a great week ahead!