Dear Progressive Ally: The System Needs an Upgrade That Requires Your Attention to Fix
Dear Progressive Ally:
I worked in software development as a project manager.
With my history degree.
But that’s another story…
Let’s get back to my duties as a software project manager.
I was responsible for managing projects with hundreds of human resources and a budget in the millions of dollars.
When the software was deployed to production and the end user started to use the system, they would eventually report bugs in the system.
A bug in the software world is what’s known as a defect. An error. A null pointer exception.
As a software project manager, I hated seeing bugs.
Couldn’t stand them. I took them personally. Like someone was harming my intellect.
I mean, I didn’t program the code. I didn’t create the graphics. I didn’t design the database. I simply managed the people who did all those things.
But somehow I saw the reporting of bugs as an annoyance.
“So what if the user can’t check-out,” I’d mutter to myself. “Why can’t the end user just simply try again? Click around until they get the desired result? Why the whining? Geez, it’s not like this is life or death. Just close the browser, re-launch, then start again. They lack imagination.”
Even though I didn’t create the software directly, I was irritated that the user was wasting our precious time directing our attention to what I believed were inconsequential, minimal, and not important issues in the system.
But only I had the power to get the programmers to squash the bugs. I had the authority to assign the bug to the right programmer and escalate it until there was a fix.
You, a progressive ally, are a lot like the software project manager.
The end user, people of colour (POC), complain, whine, shout, protest, and report bugs in the system (of oppression).
“The system isn’t operating as it should,” say POC. “We need you to fix it.”
“But I didn’t create the system,” says the progressive ally. “Why can’t you just try again? Work harder until you get the desired result? Why the rage? The tears? The whining? I don’t like your tone. Geez, it’s not like this is life or death? Let love and life.”
Like the software project manager, you, the progressive ally, did not create the system of oppression.
The programmers (your ancestors, the settlers), along with the graphic designers (institutional oppression), and the database administrators (white men) all conspired 500-years ago to create a system which fabricated social hierarchy based on skin colour.
You, the progressive ally, did not design the system (of oppression). But you maintain it using fragility, centering, exceptionalism, tears, spiritual bypassing, and toxic patriarchy.
The denial, complicity, and ignorance.
Despite this, just like the software project manager, you, the progressive ally, has the means to influence a fix.
A software upgrade.
No, you did not create this system (of oppression), but you can escalate and inspire urgency until the system of changes.
Are you ready?