People tell me to be objective. People tell me to be reasonable. People tell me to weigh out all of the facts – too look at the pros and cons.
Webster’s Dictionary defines objectivity as to express or deal with facts or conditions as perceived without distortion by personal feelings, prejudices, or interpretations.
In other words, to argue something with legitimacy, you have to consider all of the facts in an encompassing, equal light.
I, myself, do believe that when discussing issues, we have to understand the entirety of the situation in order to create a formulated idea about it. Without understanding all of the complexities of an issue, we become biased thinkers.
In Ferguson, Missouri, an unarmed black teenager named Michael Brown was shot to death by a white police officer, Darren Wilson – while holding his hands up in a defense position, crying, “don’t shoot.” A lot of people are claiming that this case is only an addition to the countless cases of police brutality against primarily black and brown people.
On Fox News, Bill O’Reilly however argued that, “People unfortunately these days believe what they want to believe, alright? They’re not waiting to see what happened. That’s number one, that you have a number of forces in play, uhm, that are trying to convince people of the truth, unquote, alright, the truth; when they have no blanking idea what happened! None!”
I agree that facts are necessary to validate the wholesome truth and accuracy of this case. To achieve social justice, people strive to voice the voiceless, to reclaim histories that are lost in mainstream societal thought, and to portray a different view to garner understanding and desire for change. The facts help portray the real story, and the real story matters.
Yet, at what cost are people being told to be objective?
Are we actually trying to look at issues unbiased, or are we actually just letting issues stay stagnant?
Who is it that is preaching objectiveness? And who is it that these issues affect?
Racism, classism, sexism, militarism, and more – all of these social issues are stemmed from institutional and systematic facets of power. These systems of power affect how the rest of the structure is treated, what rights and privileges they are able to access and attain, and how they are represented in our media.
In Ferguson, a town that is 63% black with a 94% white police force, racial divide is very prominent in this issue, and it is something that should be taken seriously. In the protests following this case, black protesters have been attacked by police with tear gas and other militarized weaponry, even in their own homes; while protestors such as the KKK and others who support Darren Wilson have been safely protected. Our nation was built on the freedom of speech, why is that right only accessible to certain groups and not others?
An unarmed black man is killed every 28 hours by police and law enforcement, yet time and time again the legal justice system strives in the favor of the latter.
The truth is, when a lot of journalists, protestors, and other people try to convey the idea of “objectiveness,” on issues like these, what they are merely doing is scrambling to retain their power and privilege in the societal hierarchy.
When racial advocacy groups work to make impressionable arguments proving racial profiling and racism in society, a lot of people will get defensive and claim that they are “placing the race card,” because they are so afraid of putting their power in question.
When many folks claim that anger is “immature,” or “inappropriate,” what is actually happening is the silencing and erasure of people’s lived experiences – how political and social systems affect human lives.
Human lives matter. Anger, pain, and personal experiences should be taken very seriously in fighting for equality. Without understanding how social issues affect human lives, we lose track of what is being fought for. When people devalue the lived experiences of marginalized groups, we don’t understand the full extent of an issue.
Anger is real, pain is real, suffering is very real. Emotions are valid and should be justified.
I do believe that objectivity and understanding the entire story of a situation is extremely necessary to achieve social justice and equality, and that pointing fingers is not at all productive. However, when objectivity is used at the cost of erasing and silencing marginalized groups of people and the actual histories of these people, that’s when it becomes an oppressive tool.
by ZAIN AHMED