In a world where prejudice and discrimination are far too commonplace, people of goodwill must speak out in defense of the marginalized. Sometimes speaking out means raising awareness. Sometimes speaking out means calling for action. Sometimes speaking out means sharing ugly realities and examples of what needs to change.
And sometimes that ticks people off.
Actress and activist Jameela Jamil addressed the people who complain about her calling out injustices on her social media pages. With an exasperated exhale, she shared a message on Instagram for the folks who tell her they'd prefer she just put out "good vibes" on her platform.
"When privileged people tell you to stop calling out injustice and only put "good vibes" out. You know what the ultimate good vibe is? EQUALITY.
You can take your harmfully lazy, complicit and wholly irrelevant good vibes and shove them right up your bum.
Clearly, Jamil is not one to mince words.
The context for her post, which she shared in an Instagram story, was a series of messages she'd received criticizing her for calling people out on social media for "their difference of opinion or views." As Jamil pointed out, comments that are harmful to a marginalized group are not matter of opinion. "This is about more than a difference of opinion," she wrote. "This is about the life or death of human beings and their basic rights."
The exchange was specifically about the transphobia discussions surrounding J.K. Rowling, but Jamil's sentiment applies to any instance of calling out injustice. Some people seem to believe that just focusing on positivity will magically create a more just world, but Jamil explained that's not how it works. "You can't good vibes your way out of being murdered, raped, denied housing, safety, medical care, and basic human rights," she wrote.
Upworthy receives similar complaints when we share stories of injustice—"Why can't you just focus on good/positive stories?" And the answer is because we are focused on the best of humanity—which includes taking a stand against injustices that impact entire groups of humans. Uplifting, "good vibes" stories are wonderful and absolutely vital for maintaining hope, but shining a light on injustice and inequality so that we can clearly see what we need to work on in order to build a better world is also imperative.
As Jamil wrote, "You know what the ultimate good vibe is? EQUALITY." Exactly. And the truth is we can and should do both. We can highlight the positive while also addressing the problems that still need solutions. We can celebrate good samaritans while also standing up for victims of oppression.
What we can't do is ignore the real issues impacting humanity in favor of feel-good stories that make us forget that we have important work to do. We have to balance our need for hope and positivity with our need to act on injustice. We must temper our desire for emotional upliftment with our duty to lift up our fellow humans who are suffering. We can do both—and we should.
Thank you, Jameela Jamil, for explaining this so succinctly.
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