OMG Am I The tone police?
Have you heard of tone policing? Tone policing is a personal attack and anti-debate tactic based on criticizing a person for expressing emotion (that was a mouthful). You already see where I am going with this don’t you? Well, tone policing is supposed to detract from the validity of a statement by attacking the tone rather than the message, basically the Truth.
Did that just hit you like a ton of bricks? Well, when I first heard of the concept I knew that I was the police, a fed, I was 5-0. I can recall several times when Big has said things to me and I have immediately got on the defense. It may be something as little as; it’s time to wake up or him disagreeing with me, when he is right. I even find times when I have policed my own tone.
While providing professional development around equity with staff, I begin with explaining that I will smile throughout the training, so they do not think of me as, “The Angry Black Women.” I go over group norms; that lead with, sharing your experiences not someone else’s, utilize I statements, no personal attacks, and then end with leaning into discomfort. I think about the tone in which I say every norm, the movements I make, my posture, how I shrink, how I am making them feel, and how to speak out of a place of love. When in all actuality, I should be speaking from a place of truth, sharing experiences of the oppressed, and speaking from a place of societal transformation. My tone should not have to be policed, my tone should be that of a defender.
However, as women and men of color we continue to be silenced, we are silenced when we are told, “we are too loud” or how Aaron burr tells Alexander Hamilton, “smile more and talk less.” We are seen as, unworthy of leadership positions and told that we should speak the truth in love, in all actuality we should just be speaking truth.
The fact that we as people of color, must monitor our tones when we are passionate, is Tone policing. When have you ever felt tone policed? What might you do to ensure you are not a tone police. Leave a comment and let’s chat about your thoughts.