How to sit down, for those who need a little help

I have now been told I have no talent by somebody clearly FURIOUS about the Smartest Boy Urbanist send-up, which only kind of proves my point. Smartestest is the coin of the realm for the smartest of the smart; there’s no way to know anything about urbanism unless you smart; they soooo smartttttttt that they KNOW when they are confronted with a minor mind, such as mine because, as pointed out, I would haven’t to rely on mean meanypants stereotypes to make my points rather than REAL ARGUMENTS, like theirs.

Or they might be proving my point for me.

Because this isn’t about who is smart and who isn’t, who has talent and who does not. This is about your heart and how you conduct yourself.

The smartest boy urbanist in the room is VURRRRRRRRY SERIOUS and

The Smartest urbanists do not like being called out.

And that’s unfortunate, because I am not backing down. Because some of us need to learn to sit down more often, even if we have read all the pages from Jane Jacobs.

Sitting down and shutting up can be a radical action. Why? Because it’s hard for oppressed people to be heard as it is, without people who possess privilege hogging all the air time and oxygen in the room. Privilege gives one a platform that other people don’t have; it gives us a microphone and amplifiers that other people do not have.

So some radical humility is in order, and it’s pretty easy to practice. Here’s a guide:

1. When somebody who, unlike you, actually experiences injustice and oppression speaks about it, sit down and listen to them.

2. When somebody who experiences injustice and oppression speaks about how to change it, sit down and listen to them.

3. Believe people when they tell you that things that work for you do not necessarily work for them. Instead, sit down and listen to what they say might work for them.

Now, there are additional steps here, but those go beyond “sitting down” into “learn to ally with people seeking racial justice.”

Ultimately, whether I have any talent is, of course, probably not debatable. I can’t tap dance or sing worth a crap, which is a source of some sadness to me, as I always wanted to sing Wotan.

But if you really want to show me–I mean *really* make me feel like a fool for making you uncomfortable with my Smartest Boy Urbanist snark–then retweet and quote black urbanists just as often as you do Market Urbanism and Alon Levy. Don’t get me wrong. These are very bright people who have written and, I’m sure, will continue to write fine things. But they do not know everything. Robert Bullard (@DrBobBullard ) is on Twitter. That guy is important.Julian Agyeman (@julianagyeman). Kristen Jeffers (@blackurbanist). Manuel Pastor (@Prof_MPastor). Lots of people are out there generating important ideas about cities from perspectives other than your own. And trust me, these folks are smart, genuinely smart, real-deal smart, and worth more of your time than shaking your little fist at me through the computer screen.