Before I get into this topic, a warning: this might get controversial. You ready? Ok…Google is your friend. In fact the internet at large is quite pleasant, especially if what you’re after is information in order to better educate yourself on a topic.
So often I see people online, often members of one or more marginalized community (Black, POC, Indigenous, disabled, LGBTQ+) talking about being approached by a stranger and that stranger proceeding to treat the person as their own personal encyclopedia. If this has ever been you, or if you have ever considered doing this, allow me to reiterate the above. Google is your friend.
I can already hear the naysayers, and you’re right. Like anything else, this isn’t a black or white situation. The internet isn’t all good, but neither is it all bad. The key is understanding how to go about looking for an answer. But I promise you when it comes to learning about marginalized communities doing your own research is far and away the better option.
Firstly Wikipedia is a pretty decent source, but it shouldn’t be your end all be all. Look at the sources cited by the wiki, research those as well. Sites ending with .edu or .org are likely to be more credible than the standard .com. As much as possible, stick to sites run by or for the marginalized community in question.
Look into the history of the community, learn about their struggles and the ways in which they remain marginalized in society. Seek out organizations doing public education on these topics. As much as possible keep in mind that your sources should be as close to or part of the community you are trying to learn about. Read books, watch movies, listen to music created by that community. Find own-voice stories told by members of the community.
Apart from doing this personal education for your own growth, if you do engage with a member of a marginalized community above all just be respectful. Be kind, be courteous, be human. Members of marginalized communities have to do so much just to survive. Taking time to educate you shouldn’t be something they have to deal with. So make an effort to do your own research. Become an ally to marginalized communities and make the world a little better for everyone.
2 thoughts on “Google Is Your Friend”
I couldn’t agree more. I find myself with dozens of questions every single day, especially with the LGBTQ+ community and the nuances that I am unfamiliar with. I have individuals I can ask, but before I do, I want to be educated enough to ask intelligent questions that do not come across as insensitive or completely uninformed. You are giving great advice.
That’s a great practice. If you ever want tips for sources let me know. As someone who’s a part of multiple marginalized communities I’ve had my fair share of uncomfortable interactions with people, some of whom I’m sure meant perfectly well. So if I can mitigate it at all for anyone else, I’d like to.