Pretending to be objective

Let's talk about objectivity and what it truly means. I was recently in a conversation with someone who said we should have conversations on matters like social inequality and injustice objectively. That is, without bringing emotion into it.

On the face of it, this looks like a laudable goal. But when you think about it even a little bit, holes become visible in the fabric of this goal. Because how does one take anger and pain out of the discourse on social justice when the only reason we are even having the conversation is because of the anger and pain that social injustice has created?

The illusion that someone as privileged as my interlocutor was suffering from is that he was objective. When in fact, he was as emotional about the matter as anyone else. It's just that the emotions he was using had to do with joy and equanimity.

A person from an underprivileged background, when they are expressing themselves about the injustice they face, cannot remove their emotions - anger and pain - from that expression. They are the core of the issue and they define their experience. People like the man who was speaking with me, similarly, cannot remove their need to be happy and guilt-free from the conversation. It's emotion garbed as objectivity. It's subjectivity disguised as detachment.

The one at the receiving end of the injustice cannot afford to be detached from the issue like the privileged can. Just as the privileged cannot hope to understand the anger and pain that they are having to deal with in the process of this conversation they find them in.

The one seeking this fabled "objectivity" is not actually doing anything of the sort. He is simply looking to have his personal subjective view of things accepted as objectivity.

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