Something *I* needed to understand

Y’know, housesitting here at ABW for a few days has really opened my eyes to how important it is to keep a “safety zone” around discussions of racism. I thought I understood this, intellectually, but the practical experience has been a whole other thing. One of the recent threads started off as a discussion about white privilege, and all it’s taken has been a couple of defensive, passive-aggressive headcases to shift the discussion to What’s Wrong With Black People.

There are a million and a half places in this world for discussions of What’s Wrong With Black People. But thanks to the miracle of modern racism, there are relatively few places where those who seek a better world can discuss What’s Wrong With White People — something that’s kind of important if we’re ever to understand and address things like white privilege. Frankly, there aren’t many places where we can discuss race in any fashion without having the conversation derailed by people who sandwich their vitriol and/or ignorance between the Wonder Bread slices of “free speech” and false openness.

So when I boot someone, it’s not about eliminating disagreeing opinions. Disagreement is useful in any discussion; as long as it’s done in a grown-up and intelligent manner, that’s welcome here. The problems crop up when people from W3BP places roll up with their W3BP rhetoric as if they don’t have plenty of other places to do that. I’ve observed that most of the commenters in this blog are actually OK with that; they’re openminded and kind enough to try, at least once, to point out the flaws in W3BP rhetoric. But when the W3BPers ignore this and demand that their rhetoric be allowed to dominate this space too… well, that’s a bigass problem.

So get the fuck out, W3BP folks. You own the entire conservative media machine, after all. You can go there and vent your spleen on TV, in newspapers, and on hundreds of other blogs whenever you want. This little space, however, is not yours. You don’t have to like that fact or even respect it. What you do have to do is leave it, and this site, the hell alone.

(ABW, girl, you get mad props from me now. In case I forget to say it when you get back… thank you.)

15 Responses

  1. This is all very interesting to me. I am very new to blogging, and in my short time on this site and others like it I have been quite astonished at how people behave quite differently here than they would in real life.

    I mean, in my entire life I have never seen anyone walk up to a group of people who are having a conversation and say, “OK, to hell with what you were just talking about. Here’s what I think, and if you don’t let me talk incoherently for ten minutes and then respond in detail to each of the ignorant, bigoted quasi-points that I’ve made, you’re infringing my First Amendment rights.” Not once in my life have I seen that. And yet in two weeks reading blogs I must have seen it dozens of times.

    In real life I tend to prefer that bigoted people say what they like – if they say it then others can correct them, but if they don’t then it stays inside them and they act on it anyway. But I’m not sure now that the same applies on sites where the cloak of anonymity can empower certain people to take over completely, stifling or derailing any real, useful debate.

    So I do now see the value of a moderator, not to erase any differences of opinion but to ensure that those differences are expressed usefully and constructively. Quite a realisation for me, actually. Another realisation is that I now have a use for the “Page Down” button on my keyboard.

  2. She was actually trying to understand your perspective, it seemed

    Yes, she came in asking what was white privilege. Several people told her, using different words.

    Then she tried to argue that it wasn’t really JUST white privilege or even REALLY white privilege, and that black people (oddly every other culture disappeared and it became just black; curious, that) were racist too, and that since sometimes people of color are wrong about whether something is racist or not that means parents shouldn’t teach their children about racism at all, should send them out into the world so they wouldn’t make that 1/100 error when it actually isn’t racism and give them no context with which to understand the 99/100 times it IS racism because that 1/100 time they were misjudging someone who was WHITE and Gods forbid that happen.

    And when people disagreed with her, she started claiming that this meant Jews should be afraid of all Iranians because of their Leader. Or something. And that people were being mean to her. And suddenly, instead of being about racism or identity or how whites get it wrong or even how non-whites get it wrong, it was about how we had all wronged poor BlueGirl who only wanted to understand but we were MEAN by not trying to understand her position.

    Look at that switch in priorities there – suddenly it wasn’t about her understanding the place she was visiting because she claimed to want to understand, it was about US understanding HER.

    White privilege.

    Apparently, when BlueGirl asks questions and people who have dwelt on the issue longer, sought out multiple people with multiple perspectives and read their writings, seriously thought about issues in their life where they experienced white privilege, and come to their own understanding of what things mean and why using the language as defined not BY the privileged but by the oppressed (people who, at least in my case, have been exactly where she was and experienced her perspective from the inside) we are supposed to try to UNDERSTAND why she won’t UNDERSTAND the answers to her own questions, and have compassion for her because she’s bothered to show up at one blog and ask questions then argue the answers are wrong.

    Um… no.

    Personally, I’m grateful ABW, and other people who blog on raciam issues, has an open blog. I’ve been reading here for months and I’ve learned a whole lot by keeping my mouth shut and thinking, and been linked to wonderful other places where I could also read, shut my mouth, and think. I’d be deeply saddened if the blogs I enjoy went invite only because one person complained about people being OMGMEAN to one other person where the most either did was say they want to understand (which isn’t the same as trying to understand).

    And Hel, if you thought I was mean? Shit, you’re standards are fucking LOW.

    Oh, and this blog has brought beauty in the world for this person Living While White. Thanks for your faux concern and emotional appeal, though! Logical fallacies brighten my morning.

  3. But when the W3BPers ignore this and demand that their rhetoric be allowed to dominate this space too… well, that’s a bigass problem.

    What it is, is an attack. Exclusively semantic, but an attack.

  4. Deoridhe,

    See, the thing is, in most forums I generally believe in fairness. Ordinarily I would try to fight fire with fire with the W3BPers, and try to “win” the argument — even though, quite frankly, those kinds of discussions are unwinnable. In order to reach the conclusion that black people are responsible for racism, or some other “fact” that’s equally questionable, these people have to perform the most convoluted, bass-ackward leaps of logic. They have to ignore the evidence of history, and the evidence of their eyes today. They have to subscribe to a concept of “fairness” which somehow considers blatantly imbalanced forums like Fox News unbiased, and which somehow considers frothing hatred like that of Imus and Limbaugh to be a sign of America’s greatness.

    So if the W3BPers have already performed this mental convolution, they’re not going to listen to a little straightforward logic. In psychology we call this cognitive dissonace; the logic doesn’t agree with what they want to believe, so rather than change their beliefs, they become really, really rabid about rejecting the logic. Which is why people like RabidDog go nucking futs for the chance to air their views here. This person used fake logins to appear to be multiple people. S/he kept posting after I asked him/her to leave, which is kind of the equivalent of coming back to bang on the door after being kicked out of a house party — would *you* want to listen to anything that person had to say, then? S/he pretended to agree on certain points in some posts, then completely contradicted those same points in other posts, which suggests to me that s/he only agreed in order to appear reasonable. From the beginning, it wasn’t about having a discussion. It was about finding a soapbox to vent all that cognitive dissonance pressure.

    You simply can’t argue with that kind of crazy. And it *is* crazy; I have a vague memory of someone even proposing that racism be put into the DSM, psychology’s “bible” of mental disorders, because the kinds of illogical connections needed to be a racist were very similar to those of schizophrenics. Ah, yes, here it is: it was proposed, but I can’t tell if it was approved. I don’t agree that racism should be classified as a mental disorder, because it’s a voluntary choice to be crazy, unlike most other kinds of crazy, and because if it gets classified as such then racists will be able to take the insanity plea when they commit crimes. But things like this have made it clear to me that you really can’t argue with people like this. They have to make the choice to listen and change on their own. It’s good that you were so patient with BlueGirl; I let her stay because she honestly seemed to be trying to listen, at least at certain points. Then the cognitive dissonance kicked in. But maybe, when she’s had some time to vent the pressure and digest some of the logic, she’ll come back. I can’t help but hope.

  5. P6,

    I agree with you that it’s an attack, but I don’t believe it’s exclusively semantic. They’re going for the hearts and minds of the American public. When these kinds of attacks are aired on national radio, or national TV, and given the gloss of legitimacy, accuracy, and balance, they become far more than just semantics. They become propaganda.

  6. I don’t agree that racism should be classified as a mental disorder, because it’s a voluntary choice to be crazy, unlike most other kinds of crazy, and because if it gets classified as such then racists will be able to take the insanity plea when they commit crimes. But things like this have made it clear to me that you really can’t argue with people like this.

    Actually, a DSM diagnosis isn’t sufficient for legal insanity; legal insanity is very specifically the person being incapable of realizing the act done was wrong.

    I agree racism doesn’t fit in the DSM, though it raises interesting questions that people suggested it. I’ll have to read up on that.

    In my experience with people who make racist comments knowing they are racist, and thus either feel the need to justify it or make it somehow “subtle”, the motivations for it seem to come either from an intense rage which has found a target, or it comes from a sort of voyeristic ignorance. While the former seems to carry a greater capacity for violence, the latter is much more insidious and bears a strong resemblance to the sort of “colorblind” mindset we discussed and observed in that previous thread. Given I grew up in an incredibly diverse area, I have often found the discomfort some of my peers have with being in the minority or hearing foreign languages spoken around them to be all but incomprehensible.

    This is different, of course, from people who think they are not racist but still are, but I’d say they’re resting on a continuum of sorts, rather than unrelated.

    As for Bluegirl… well, I WAS her. It makes it a bit easier, I think. Plus, I can make up – in a way – for all of the hair pulling I must have caused in my friends!

  7. White privilege exists so certain people who read this blog should get an insight as to how certain people feel when we have to deal with certain people’s attitudes 24/7.

    I thank GOD for this site and others because sometimes I want to EXPLODE in front of so many people but I have to do a step and fetch it show until I go home and scream.

    The other day I was at the bakery and this white woman busted in front of me in line to get her pastry first. The black worker saw this but served the white woman first. I told the woman excuse me but she looked back at me and rolled her eyes.

    I really wanted to trip her tired ass but no, I was civil but I looked at her and said you better recognize that you were totally out of line.

    She rolled her eyes at me again and walked off with her pastry.

    This is why we are so angry because he have to deal with this kinda crap all the time and many white people will never admit this.

    Further, the black girl saw all this go down and she did not even help a sister out. This enraged me even more!

    Thank goodness with the advent if security cameras because I hope they catch a lot of this mess.

    Thank you for your website and for you because it allows us folk who are at the bottom of the totem pole to be around people who can relate!

  8. Guest Blogger,
    I dont know what people said to get booted but Im sure you were justified. I am proof that differing opinions are tolerated if politely stated.
    The media is the worst thing in society. The Jews control it. To blame them is not racist.

    I can tell you, being a white clean cut guy with a nice car, I NEVER get asked for insurance when pulled over. I GUARANTEE blacks are treated differently.

    As I said before, the thing driving racism is EDUCATION, and the lack of it for blacks. We fix that, and everything else will fix itself.

    Lets not look at the specks when the dirt pile grows daily.

  9. Mike –

    The media is the worst thing in society. The Jews control it. To blame them is not racist.

    BZZT! Wrong! I will not tolerate this language. the Jews control all media? WTF kind of bullshit is that? No, just no. Stuff like that will get you banned. That’s warning 1.

  10. OK….You are correct, about the blame part…Anyone who watches trash is to blame… By the way, Im Jewish.

    Jewish people do hold many promininent positions in the Media, Im not trying to be racist (no they dont control it)….Im just digusted with the media, and I blame us all.

    Im sorry for the previous post.

  11. ABW,
    Do you ever get critisism for being ‘angry’? If I am upset about something, people tell me that it is not healthy to be angry blah blah…

    I think its great that you admit that you are angry and dont try and supress the emotion.

    I can tell you, my emotion about racism is FRUSTRATION. I might buy the URL http://www.thefrustratedwhiteguy.com

    It seems that we, as a society, are becoming more polarized concerning race and I see blame all around…..

  12. Mike S,

    Your privileges are showing. Put it away; we’ve seen it all before and yours is nothing special, but some of us just get tired of looking at it.

  13. Nora,
    I know that I am ‘privlidged’ or whatever you want to call it compared to some…Not Bill Gates, but certainly to people in some impoverished countries.

    Im am truly trying to have an intelligent diolauge. And, I truly HATE the fact that racism exists. I cant hide my ‘privildge’ but I am certainly not trying to flaunt it, but I shouldnt deny it either.

    ‘Privilige’ has much more to do with money than race.

    So, if this is just a board for women to vent, Ill leave….But if you are interested in my views, and my openess to be educated and change my views…Im in….

  14. “But if you are interested in my views, and my openess to be educated and change my views”

    Eh? Do you read what you write?

  15. Mike, go now and read the post on “White Privilege”. It’s in the “Things You Need To Understand” category. Don’t bother responding again until you do.

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