Community critique is form of caring

Ori Tsameret, Intersections Editor

Gabe Darley

As has been noted in the past, Intersections has a history of attracting controversy through our content. As a section that prioritizes marginalized voices and points out the systemic flaws that create marginalization, it tracks that we would come under fire. 

This year, that trend has continued to prove true. Both my articles as well as other writers’ work  have come under scrutiny for being critical of the communities that we belong to. I’ve been accused of having internalized hatred, being divisive, promoting a political agenda and imagining my own lived experience. 

Despite the fact that Intersections’s work targeted specific institutions or cultural trends, not demographics, and despite the point of view offered as members of the communities we critique, many felt that we were finding flaws where there were none.

This hostility to open debate about the shortcomings of our communities stems from the gatekeeping of acceptable identities and ideologies within those spaces. Gatekeeping, in regards to identity, is when individuals or institutions determine, both formally and informally, who is allowed to access a particular identity or community. 

The barriers to membership of these communities that our section has strived to shed light on reflect the gatekeeper’s paradigm of the makeup of our groups, both physical and ideological. Without open discussion on the shortcomings of these paradigms, these spaces can never grow appropriately.

Consider the progression of visibility for marginalized identities. This progression would never have occurred without uncomfortable conversations and unorthodox movements pushing the needle on these issues. Even pride parades, now often criticized as marketing schemes, originated in riots.

Critiquing the communities we are part of is a way of showing care and passion for those communities, not disdain. Similar to the way that setting boundaries in a relationship is an effort to maintain that relationship in a healthy way, offering criticism on the weak spots of a space is an expression of a desire to remain part of that community. 

Analysis of communal tendencies is vital to healthy growth of the community. As discourse evolves, its application often lags behind, creating a dissonance between lived experience and theoretical paradigms. Robust appraisal of the condition of our spaces ensures that they keep up with the needs of the communities they house.

Improving the communities we are a part of is an integral way of strengthening them and impressing the need for their inclusivity. This is especially true for spaces of already oppressed groups. Due to the multitude of harmful ideations bred and spread by white supremacy, capitalism and patriarchy, minority groups are often pitted against each other for the metaphorical seat at the table. Community members directing energy at communal blind spots is not divesting from communal issues, but rather an attempt to unify different demographics and pursue collective liberation.

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