Sunday, December 6, 2009

generously provide examples of problematic white behavior

This is a guest post by RVCBard, a Black woman and HBCU graduate too close to thirtysomething for her own comfort. Playwright, web marketing strategist, and sometime film and theater reviewer, RVCBard identifies as a lot of things: queer, Black, Jewish, woman, and more. Born and raised in Richmond, Virginia, she now lives in Brooklyn.

A lot of times, when discussions of racism come up, it can seem as if the mission of People of Color is to make White people aware of how evil they are, so the White people can feel appropriately guilty. You know, so we POC can then go about our lives, blaming White people for everything.

But that's simply not true!

People of color are fully aware that there are Nice White People out there who earnestly want to help us out. From time to time, a White person might say "Excuse me" if they need to step by me. Every now and then, a White person will see me carrying something heavy or cumbersome and hold a door open for me. Many White people also say "Please," "May I?" and "Thank you" to me on a regular basis.

But some White people go even further, above and beyond the call of duty. They see that although the world has a lot of Nice White People these days, racism is still a problem. And so, to help increase everyone's awareness, these White people really go all out to show us how bad it is, by directly demonstrating racism themselves.

Take some of the interactions in the comment sections on this blog, for instance.

Sometimes, when a POC makes a point that seems a bit out there, maybe even a bit paranoid, some kindly White people will jump in and demonstrate for everyone exactly what that person was talking about. As a matter of fact, it happens all the time!

Look, for instance, at that post about White people refusing to see racism when non-White people point it out. What do a lot of White people do when they read that? Do they just sit back and say, "Hm. Never thought about it like that. I wonder why it took Tim Wise to say it before I believed it"? Do they go, "Holy shit! I see that all the time! I don't know how POCs deal with that without going completely fucking crazy"?

Hell no! That's too goddamn easy! These paragons of White racial awareness go the extra mile and demonstrate racism for you.

For A+ examples, veer on over to the post about questioning non-White knowledge and authority. Check out how some benevolent White people took the time and energy to illustrate the very behavior critiqued in the post:

1. Is this really a racial thing? Maybe they're just incurable know-it-alls, and wouldn't take advice regardless of who gives it. Or have you seen a pattern that they are more accepting of input from other white people?

2. Not that I doubt that this is something white people do to POC's, but these two anecdotes also sound a lot like stuff men do to women. I would be more convinced of racial as opposed to gender bias if both parties were male.

3. I'm certain that it happens, but I've seen plenty of POC do that to one another. I've seen it so often in many races that I never linked it to race. I've linked it to men.

4. the motivation of the actors (the white men) can be questioned as to whether they are reacting to the author's race or gender. Thus the qualifier, I am not suggesting that this never happens, but just that in these two specific instances cited by the author, its is not immediately apparent to me that racial animus is the primary factor.

5. You do harm to your cause by referring to us as "White Folks" instead of "White People."

6. Honestly I'm not sure this particular incident isn't more of a sexist thing. I am a white woman and a software engineer. I can't count the number of times when I've been around men (who did happen to be white... so there may be some correlation there) who were having computer problems and completely ignored anything I said. Needless to say these men were not software engineers or anything remotely related to that field. It is VERY frustrating that they refuse to listen to anything a woman has to say ... especially if it is about something they consider to be a male domain (like technology). Not sure if men of other races are similar or not, however, due to my limited experience.

7. This has to be one of the most racist and sexist posts on here. But, no, it can't be! It was written by a feminist POC. . . no way could they ever be racist or sexist!!!!

And it's not just there. Pour over the comments section on 10 random posts and you'll see great examples of White people listening poorly during discussions of racism, questioning non-White knowledge and authority, pointing out they've never owned slaves, taking racism more seriously when White people discuss it, and much, much more.

How about making a game of it! See how many White commenters on this blog illustrate ideas that the blog posts are about in a single post. Then create, say, a Bingo card, from comments about "Stuff White People Do."

See how generous White people can be? They're often -- all too often -- perfectly willing to demonstrate for everyone exactly what these blog posts are talking about!

Whoever said White people couldn't help raise awareness of racism?


  1. I hear you, RVC. That's the most ironic aspect found on a daily basis upon this blog! I'm glad you wrote this piece; however, you do realize that this will still go over commenters' heads, right?

    Some resigned themselves as constant wall-bangers.

  2. @honeybrown:

    Wouldn't be the first time. I'm more and more growing convinced that I should post here less because of it.

  3. *Lying on the hood of a car with honeybrown and RVC watching the clues fly over the White comments heads*

  4. Let's make a drinking game out of it. Every time a comment illustrates the point of the post, take a shot.

    Who needs a liver anyway, right?

  5. I'd say we should make it a drinking game, but then someone'd die of alcohol poisoning and we'd get the blame because Black women are to blame for, well, everything, dontcha know!

  6. RVC, for the sake of my hubby and two sons, I'll play the game only with ginger ale shots!

  7. Got nothing profound, just a "Yep!" from this pretty damn white sorta chicana type lady.

  8. @whatshername:

    So does that mean you'll be stocking up on booze too?

  9. Your question assumes the blogosphere hasn't driven me to drink already, lol.

  10. You do harm to your cause by referring to us as "White Folks" instead of "White People."


    The other comments highlighted in this post were more run-of-the-mill, "holding on to my privilege with all I got" type comments, but this one... like, it takes a serious leap -- out of the reality we are all currently existing in and into some bizarre Otherworld -- to think that calling people "folks" instead of "people" has anything to do with anything at all ever.

    I think a SWPD bingo card would be awesome. Even better, a drinking game. :P

  11. [Shannon, if you rephrase your comment and question more respectfully, and without name-calling, I'll be more likely to publish it. ~macon ]

  12. My favorite white excuse is, said of a white person who treats a POC poorly very obviously because they're a POC, "Maybe they're just having a bad day?"

    Damn, maybe we should go easy on whites, it seems like every day of their lives is worse than the day before :P

  13. Well, you'll probably get to take a shot or two after this, but here goes.

    This blog, written by a white guy, seems like a safe but challenging space for us privileged folks to try to figure out what's going on in our heads, and figure out what we want to do about it. Now, maybe it's only intended as a safe space for people who are already fully committed to anti-racism and know how to go about it, in which case I'll leave, but the rest of this particular comment will assume my first guess is right (because, you know, white people always assume our first guesses are right).

    If I see a proposed example of racism here, and I agree that it's racism and bad, then I'm all clear to comment, but my comment is just a boring "me too!" (but maybe we need more of those from white folks?) On the other hand, if I see a proposed example, and I'm not sure it's racism, then any comment I can make would fall under the Derailing for Dummies list. I certainly agree that I should take POC's claims about racism more seriously than my own initial skepticism, and I do try to step back and see if I need to rethink my attitudes. But it does happen that sometimes I come to the conclusion that my initial impression was right. That this happens, of course, makes me indistinguishable from one of the "White people who "just want to learn" but don't really act like it."

    Now I have to worry that I'm just "assuming it's all about me." Maybe RVCBard is really talking about all those other white folks who are more racist than I am. Oh, well that'd be a relief, since it'd mean I'm done and don't need to analyze my own attitudes anymore; I can just criticize other white folks. But wait! Isn't half the point of anti-racism work to get us to analyze our own hidden racism? I have to assume anything written here about white folks being racist might be about me, and if I'm not sure, ask, like mthgk did on the Ryan/Gibbs thread. Of course, asking allows RVCBard and friends to take a shot, since I'm assuming it might be all about me.

    Of course, I'd be wrong in general to point out any of the derailment techniques when RVCBard uses them, for the same reasons Gibbs' sentence would have been much less problematic if he'd said it to a white male reporter: continuing a pattern of discrimination is worse than the same tactic applied outside a pattern.

    But what it adds up to is that I feel silenced when I don't already agree with what other people say. Quite possibly that's good practice in getting to identify with the experience of POC. Is that practice the goal? Is the goal to make this a safe space for POC to share their experiences (which I agree requires people like me to shut up, but I'm not sure that's what macon intended this space to be)? Is it something else?

    Maybe I'm just confused about the purpose of comments here. What do you and macon see as their purpose? What kinds of comments are appropriate?


  14. @RCVDBard who said I'm more and more growing convinced that I should post here less because of it.: I'll be sorry to see you go if you decide that's your course of action, because I've seen some great stuff from you, and you're a valuable addition to the blog. But I understand that feeling like one is banging one's head against the wall isn't something one wants to repeat endlessly*, and it's better to *not* be raising your blood pressure constantly if it's something avoidable**.

    All I can say is that you've reached me sometimes, and I doubt I'm the only one. So even though it's obviously (and understandably) a frustrating experience for you on an ongoing basis, maybe at least you can know that your efforts have reached a few people (or more). Whether that's enough to make it worthwhile is something only you can assess, but even if you do have to walk away to keep a slightly larger portion of sanity, I hope you can go with the knowledge that your efforts at educating the white folks (omg I said folks!) weren't completely wasted.

    (And on a totally off-topic note, Spirited Away love! No-Face was my favorite character, save for Kamajii, who I couldn't help loving because he was so spider-esque and I adore spiders. Well, and the little fuzzballs that work in the boiler room. They're the cutest animated things ever. Did you have that icon before and I just never noticed it, or is it new? And if it's old and I've commented on it previously then please forgive my forgetfulness, my brain seems made of Velveeta recently.)

    * Not that I'm saying I know what it's like to bang one's head against the wall is like with regards to racism, because I don't, not in that deeply visceral way; I know that I have the "out" of having the privilege to being able to walk away when I get too frustrated, and return to it later, which means that anything I experience regarding racism simply isn't anywhere near the same (or even in the same ballpark) as what you and other PoC experience.

    ** As versus the many instances in everyday life when it's unavoidable, and about which we can't do anything to prevent the raising of blood pressure. You can't escape racism in everyday life, but I get that you wouldn't want to add additional/unnecessary burden to what you already have to deal with.

  15. And yes it really sucks when people respond to a complaint by doing exactly what you're complaining about them doing.

  16. Oh my goodness, this is very funny and so on point. I've noticed this so many times, and don't understand how some of my fellow white folks can be so dense.

    Seriously, don't other white folks come to this blog to learn more about what they shouldn't be doing? That's why I'm here...

    Sigh. Embarrassing.

  17. Thank you for this post. I've kind of stopped reading most comment threads here because of this problem. I see the same bullshit at alot of feminist blogs I read too and it gets to the point where you're like "Why the hell are you here if you're just gonna talk talk talk and never listen and learn anything?" I guess they're trying to teach everyone else that racism/sexism doesn't exist? I dunno, but damned if it doesn't get hella annoying. Thank you again. :)

  18. I'm glad to see this post because this is excatly why I have stopped reading the comments here, let alone posting.

    This blog provides so much thought provoking information and perspective and it is frustrating to me as a POC to read the comments and get a concentrated dose of the opinions that I have to hear all day long.

  19. RVCBard,
    This is so witty and on-point, it would be funny, if it weren't so, well, sad. I guess that's where the drinks come in...

    The posts here as well as Witchsistah's on another recent thread make me think that a much tougher mod policy is in order.

    It seems like what is happening here is that we're just reinforcing the racist/sexist hierarchies in a space that is not supposed to do that. That seems truly cruel for POC and generally unproductive for everyone.

    I guess the question this raises for me, and I ask it with great respect for you and what it is I think you mean to do on this blog, is this: Is it possible for a white person to make a space like this safe for POC? Or, are you/we too limited by our white/privileged blind spots? Do you, perhaps, need a team--a mostly POC team--to do this work effectively? Again, I ask these questions with absolute respect for you and what you mean to do here.

  20. You know, as a POC, I find it...interesting to read the comments and be able to, with nearly 100% accuracy, pick out which commenters are POC and which are non-POC (ie, white). It's just that obvious who is getting it and who is completely clueless. And I mean, completely obvious and completely clueless.

    I guess people do come here to be educated, but, man, many of those uneducated minds seem particularly inflexible and closed to the world, so I don't have much hope at the end of the day.

    I know you're one man, macon d, but maybe you're at the point where you need some stringent comment modding.

  21. @all

    check out this post on the responsibility of anti-racist allies and some tips on how to be sensitive but also realize that you will fail sometimes...

    and this one on how POC and women can use allies and tips on how to interact with the "oppressor" turned ally -


  22. @ Jeffrey Yasskin

    I think your question strikes to the heart of the matter:

    This is supposed to be safe place ... but safe for who? And where is the line between keeping it safe and keeping it the same (meaning anyone with a different perspective or opinion is modded out)?

    I don't know the answers to these questions. I do know that if white people genuinely want to learn about the lives and experiences and perspectives of PoC, then they (the white people) need to make it safe for the PoC to share these things. It does not contribute to a sense of safety when white people offer anything-but-racism to explain fellow white person's inappropriate treatment of a PoC. It does not contribute to a feeling of safety when white people consistently defer to other white people as arbiters of what does and doesn't count as racism. It does not contribute to a sense of safety when white people insist that they Must Be Heard or They're Leaving and It's All Your Fault!

    So the question for you, Jeffrey Yasskin, is this: Can you, for yourself, frame your experience at SWPD as choosing to listen, rather than framing it as "being silenced"? And, while you're at it, can you think about how condescending it is to PoC to hear you compare your experience of being reprimanded on a blog to our experiences of being systematically excluded from the dominant society and culture at large?

    You probably won't get any cookies. But maybe you'll learn a new way of being in the world.

  23. Thank you for the suggestions, Julia, Rosa, elise, and others, and thanks also to others who've commented here so far. All of you have clarified a problem with comment sections on this blog (and biggest thanks of course to RVCBard for this post on the problem).

    Regarding particular ways to change my moderating practices so that this space feels more welcoming and productive to POC, I invite further suggestions. So far, in response to this post and to conversations elsewhere with RVCBard; and to Witchsista's comments here last night; and also to Julia's expressed concerns about comments here awhile back, I'm trying something new with comment moderation. That is, I'm declining publication of an even higher amount of obnoxious comments than I did before (it was about 20% of all comments), and, if it seems at all worth doing, explaining why I did so in my own comment, and welcoming an appropriately revised comment. (I'll indicate that I'm responding to rejected comments by writing about them in brackets.) I'm rethinking, also, my criteria for "obnoxious, rejection-worthy comment."

    I invite commentary on this moderating strategy, as in these recent examples, as well as suggestions for other methods:



    Re Julia's suggestion of a mostly POC moderating team (a Mod Squad?), I welcome that, along with suggestions for how it could work. I do think this blog could work better as a team blog, and I'm already starting to think of it that way, with more and more "guest" posts appearing by POC. I started the blog, but I have no interest in dominating the discussion, except when I should do so to make it go better. In general, POC are the experts on whiteness, not white people, so I'm well aware of the irony of a blog that points out common white tendencies being written by a white guy.

  24. I love how white people consider other white people acting poorly as "they're having a bad day." and POC acting poorly because of their race.

  25. [No Tiffany, this post does not ask that you merely "blindly agree," and the point of this blog more generally is not, as you wrote, "to ridicule the opinions of white people at every turn." Thank you for submitting your comment for publication, but I'm declining it. I'm doing so because, although you may not realize it, your comment is dismissive and trivializing of a POC point of view, and thus a subtly oppressive form of harassment.

    As I understand it, RVCBard and others here are asking that before white readers comment here, they think more carefully, respectfully, and introspectively about what in particular is being pointed out on this blog, including -- especially including -- what's being pointed out by non-white people. The point of the blog is to identify and explain common and racist white tendencies, and certainly not, again, "to ridicule the opinions of white people at every turn." Finally, I suggest that you think more carefully about the kind of white commenter satirized in RVCBard's post; if you do so, that kind of commenter may well no longer include yourself. Sincerely, macon]

  26. If Macon's moderation is going to include such beautiful pwnage as I've seen so far, I'm all for it.

  27. @Macon
    "In general, POC are the experts on whiteness, not white people, so I'm well aware of the irony of a blog that points out common white tendencies being written by a white guy."

    True, but it's also important for white folks to have examples like Macon of white folks who get it, who realize that it's in the interest of white folks to get it, and who can with some authority step up and give it to a fellow white person who doesn't get it. It is illustrative to have some postings from white folks who go into the "everything but racism" jag IF these are pointed out to be typical white learned responses to the testimony of POC about racism. White people need to learn that whether they think a particular incident is an example of racism or not doesn't really matter--that their gut reaction, which is usually to doubt first and ask questions later, is a part of what white culture conditions them to do--and that to question that response is far more productive than to question the testimony of POC about everyday racism.

  28. Jeffrey Yasskin:

    If anti-racism were safe or risk-free, more people of conscience would probably do it.

    But, yes, I get to take a couple of shots. Thanks for the reminder.

  29. @Sheila,
    What's "pwnage"?


  30. Umbrella, you blew me away with your second to last paragraph.

    "So the question for you, Jeffrey Yasskin, is this: Can you, for yourself, frame your experience at SWPD as choosing to listen, rather than framing it as "being silenced"? And, while you're at it, can you think about how condescending it is to PoC to hear you compare your experience of being reprimanded on a blog to our experiences of being systematically excluded from the dominant society and culture at large?"

    I suppose it's up to Macon or the potential "mod squad" to let through those comments that can be used as an illustration of faulty logic and how that logic minimizes the well being, the lived experiences, and psyche of the POC commenting.

    Those exchanges are especially helpful to me and I think great many others. Before entering the work world, I had little contact with white people as peers and supervisors (outside of teachers and professors) so I wasn't prepared for the onslaught of negative stereotypes and microaggressions that I faced. So it in fact helps me to see someone verbally destroy their opponent the way you did and some of the other commentators do. Well, it makes me happy inside but furthermore, it helps me to dismantle their argument that much better. Because I haven't been doing this all my life I need practice and reading this blog and others like help me. I can imagine that a great many POC remain silent and angry because they won't be able to get their point across in a way to help their listener to understand.

  31. Great post! I feel that many whites who make willfully clueless posts on anti-racist blogs do so for anti-racist/progressive cred though they have no real intention to grow or make things more just for POCs.

    Macon - One thing I love on this post (and perhaps others) is how you address why you're not allowing certain comments to be posted - that, in itself, is educational.

  32. Question: Are the comments from the other thread inappropriate because they're addressing gender on a post that is *specifically* about race? Because, honestly, ignoring other oppressions in this world and being totally single-issue when it comes to stuff like this is really unproductive and it's important to acknowledge how oppressions work together. The person in the story could very well have been being talked down to because of her race AND gender.

  33. This post was very much needed on this blog. I too have often found some of the comments just too full of trolling & blinding privilege that I almost can't tell the two apart.

  34. @Ergo

    "Because, honestly, ignoring other oppressions in this world and being totally single-issue when it comes to stuff like this is really unproductive and it's important to acknowledge how oppressions work together."

    Thanks for the example! How generous!

  35. Ergo,
    I don't think any one is opposed to acknowledging intersectionality. Posts on the other thread were not acknowledging intersectionality, just the opposite. Many were saying, essentially, "this is sexist, and therefore not racist." Thus, they seemed more like an attempt to derail the conversation from one about race.

  36. @elise: Those are helpful posts, thanks.

    @Umbrella Today: Thanks for your answer. You're right, my "in which case I'll leave" was stupid and much more of a threat than I meant it to be. I meant that I don't want to intrude on a space that isn't intended for people like me, but it came out wrong. My problem with framing it as listening is that when someone's listening to me, I generally want them to challenge what I'm saying. Oh! But it's really about what the speaker wants, not about the listener's right to say what they're thinking. And in this forum, it seems to be clear that challenge is not at all what the posters are after, unless they ask questions in their post. Is that right? I'll try to internalize that.

    Re condescension: My thought was, "this must be what it feels like, except all the time, and in real life, not on the internet. ... Maybe that's the point?" That doesn't seem condescending, even after giving it a second look. If I don't and can't have your experiences, I should still try to empathize with them, and it seemed like a good idea to pay attention to the most similar experiences I do have. Am I still just not getting it?

    @macon: Please do moderate more aggressively. I'd rather get moderated away than behave inappropriately for the forum.

    @Rosa: I wonder if it would be useful to have commenters identify their race&gender more often. I also have pretty strong guesses about which commenters are which races and genders, but I worry that it's just racism/sexism on my part that makes me guess that, for example, anyone denying that something's racism must be white. I guess more identification would be useful to the extent that it surprised us, and not useful to the extent that it confirmed our stereotypes.

  37. I'm extra-baffled by the folk/people thing--they're synonyms! One is Anglo-Saxon and the other is Latin! Sheesh.

    Yeah, I think it is pretty common for a lot of commenters on anti-oppression blogs to completely miss the point. I agree that different moderation might help, although I don't really know enough about moderation to suggest how to balance between making this a safe(r) space for POC and still allowing some of those fallacy-exposing exchanges (or should fallacies be addressed separately as posts? I don't know).

  38. @Julia, co-sign. And, also, Ergo, many people (not necessarily you) who say, "Why this focus on only the single issue of race?" really mean, "Race is the single issue we should never focus on." Such people are willing to suggest any other issue - classism, sexism, ableism, ageism - as being the reason for poor behavior or institutional injustice -- anything but racism.

  39. RVCBard -

    It must be extremely frustrating to have to repeat yourself so many times and feel that no white person is listening to you.

    I have been lurking here for a few months, and I confess I never really thought about race issues before stumbling on this blog (my own race being completely obvious at this point...) I have been trying to improve my behaviour, with, I think, some success. I think your posts have been some of the most helpful, along with LaSmartOne's post (which hit quite close to home, since I am in academia).

    Anyway, I'm not much for posting on blogs, but I wanted to thank you for sharing as you have done, and to let you know that I will keep reading your posts if you choose to keep on sharing them.

  40. @ Jeffrey Yaskin,
    "If I don't and can't have your experiences, I should still try to empathize with them, and it seemed like a good idea to pay attention to the most similar experiences I do have. Am I still just not getting it?"

    Finding opportunities to develop empathy is a good thing. What I think people are responding to is that you appeared to equate your experience of feeling silenced with the ENTIRE experience of being a POC. Can you see how that's absurd and presumptuous? (And offensive to POC who know from daily experience how different the two things are?)

  41. [Dear James,

    Thank you for the recent submission of a comment to "stuff white people do." Unfortunately, your comment's expression of "pity" for the author of this blog post is so snidely condescending that it outweighs any other merits your comment might have had toward furthering the discussion here. Were it not for your snide condescension, your other efforts in the comment might have merited publication. Thank you for playing. Sincerely, macon]

  42. Re: more aggressive moderating. Just a suggestion ... but maybe a link above (or somewhere around) the comment box that says 'Newbies Click Here' or something? Have it give a brief explanation of the purpose of this blog and link to 'Derailing for Dummies' and 'Racism 101'. ?Maybe? that would help. I don't know. In my case I ended up here through stumbleupon and didn't really know what the deal with this blog was until I posted something REALLY stupid. I made one of the infamous comments RVCBard used as an illustration in this post :-(

    For my purposes ...maybe I learned more by being embarrassed .... but it came at the cost of hurting RVCBard and making her feel like I was belittiling her experience ....obviously not a fair exchange there. Again I am truly sorry for that. So maybe a little up-front may help some of us clueless idiots refrain from making POCs feel belittled in what should be a safe space. I say 'maybe' because well, unfortunately some of us have been wrapped in our privilege for so long that it takes a bolt of lightening to wake us up. Plus, some people are just idiots or just trolling.

  43. I love this blog. I felt so relieved to find a place online to communicate with others who understood and saw the ubiquitous implicit racism in this country. Precious few are conscious of this very ugly subtext pervading our lives.

    I don't know everything about how everyone has experienced racism; just a little bit from the unique window I have viewed it from as an Asian woman. I learn a lot from reading people's comments here as well as the posts that inspire them.

    The thing is, after this post, I feel hesitant to comment here anymore. It seems like this blog is changing from a venue for lively, challenging discussion to a place where people are not supposed to comment unless they are incomplete agreement with any and every POC who thinks any situation is problematic.

    There is definitely a need for a venue in which POCs can speak and be heard without being "interrupted". More like a POC monologue. This could be very educational in its own right.

    I would just like to suggest that having venue for dialog involving an exchange of opinions and knowledge amongst POCs with different perspectives as well as between POCs and White people interested in learning can be very educational as well for everyone involved. I guess that is more of the type of blog I would feel comfortable being actively involved in.

    I will keep reading, but I don't think I am going to post anymore since my ideas and opinions are not exactly in sync with the most impassioned POCs commenting here.

  44. @Jeffrey Yasskin said. "I wonder if it would be useful to have commenters identify their race&gender more often."

    um, no
    it has been my personal experience that people interpret your comments based on your race, which is why I took my picture out of my profile, so that people don't look at me and assume I'm feisty or angry or submissive based on a photo, most commentators are not enlightened enough to handle it

  45. I just want to cosign with a heck yeah! on this post.

    Also, Macon, I love this new moderation policy where you give the declined comment a public dressing down.

  46. Mthgk,

    Please keep commenting. Your perspective is important. Just keep in mind that your perspective as an Asian woman will definitely differ than that of my experience as a black woman. Also, be mindful that this country has a more prolific and strange racially-dynamic history with blacks. Thus, some aspects are easily to spot than with other POC.

    So, please feel free to share. But, remember some of us are more keen to such behaviors that you'll pick up on.

  47. For my purposes ...maybe I learned more by being embarrassed ...

    See? See! This right here dispels all iterations of the tone argument.

  48. For what its worth, I'm a white ignorant asshole, who was raised in a strict white only environment and was taught to hate everyone who wasn't rich and affluent.

    I don't like my familial upbringing, and am trying to remove that hate from my life. I come here to learn from POC/White people who get it.

    I would hope that people like me are not a minority at this blog.

  49. To add to my last comment, that's why I shut up and read and generally don't comment. Perhaps that's the distinction there. I know I am working out my internal racism when I rebel against a post... I don't feel the need to take my confusion/anger out in the comments.

  50. I appreciate your comments, bgk, and I doubt that anyone who comes "here to learn from POC/White people who get it" could really be all that much of an asshole. I don't know if readers like you are a minority, but I do know that a lot of white folks lurk without commenting, more or less for the same reasons you're here.

    mthgk wrote,

    I will keep reading, but I don't think I am going to post anymore since my ideas and opinions are not exactly in sync with the most impassioned POCs commenting here.

    Like others, I hope you keep posting comments. Please note that the comments objected to are not considered objectionable merely because of a difference of opinion. I think it's more that they register a rejection of POC knowledge and points of view (often because they're POC), and a lack of sincere respect and openness. I don't recall seeing those problems in your comments.

  51. @Julia: Yes! It's absolutely absurd! Which ought to be a good clue that it's not what I meant, but then, white people have a history of actually believing really absurd things about PoC, and I'm no longer clueless enough to think you owe me a charitable reading.

    So I'm sorry for making that mistake, and I'll try to be more clear in the future. Getting poked at on anti-racism blogs can help me find some empathy, but it certainly doesn't let me claim to really understand your experience.

  52. I'm not here to police other PoC. If they have different experiences with White racism and White supremacy, so be it. I believe them. But they need to offer ME the same courtesy.

    It's one thing to say, "I've never experienced this, but I don't doubt that you have," vs. "I've never experienced that therefore you must be full of shit somehow (made it up/over-exaggerating/brought it on yourself)." If I can understand that Black America is not a monolith and therefore there are a variety of experiences amongst us, I certainly can understand that not all PoC experience American White racism they way I have.

    But don't go and try to tell me about MY experiences or belittle them or tell me they're just a figment of my fevered, Negro imagination because you have not gone through what I have. Just because White folk pat you on the head doesn't mean they don't hit me on mine.

    And don't pretend like me talking about MY experiences with racism is somehow silencing you. I run nothing here at this blog. I'm not a mod and this blog is not mine. Sorry, but that smacks too much of the evil, Black bitches bulldozing their rhino-hided, she-beast, behemoth way in and are aggressively taking over the joint.

  53. Sure are a lot of white people on this blog. Funny, that.

  54. Macon, I'd suggest just using a proforma censure response, otherwise you're just going to spend more time moderating if you have to come up with a unique response for each rejection.

    I'd also be cautious of who you would put into a mod squad. Like several other commentors here, I'm concerned by the shouting down of uncommon opinions without reference to their merit. I think you do a good job of letting a mix of comments through and I'd be sad to see the place become more homogenised - if that happens, it becomes being a venue less about discussion and more about complaining.

  55. Thanks EPT, but you know something? I had half a mind, at least, to block and comment on your comment.

    First, don't worry, I won't explain on comment threads why I'm rejecting every comment. Yes, that would take way too much time, and it'd be a waste of time for the worst ones, which come in daily (the ones that rant against "you librul fuckwads," etc.).

    As for this: Like several other commentors here, I'm concerned by the shouting down of uncommon opinions without reference to their merit.

    Who's doing that? Certainly not RVCBard, including in this post. You're not registering an understanding of a clearly legitimate concern being expressed by a lot of people here, people who are not "shouting down uncommon opinions without reference to their merit." You're both ignoring and trivializing said legitimate concerns, and I think you also do that, if I'm reading your comment right, when you characterize them as well as mere "complaining."

  56. Witchsista,

    Word to your entire post, especially this:

    I'm not here to police other PoC. If they have different experiences with White racism and White supremacy, so be it. I believe them. But they need to offer ME the same courtesy.

    I feel like people belittle race experiences in 2 ways: by implying that someone made it up, is oversensitive, etc. (that's the obvious way) or by magically determining someone's race or ethnicity just based on what they've written/said (a more subtle form of prejudice). I never really thought about the second form until I started doing some reading, but it's akin of schoolyard taunts of labelling someone as "acting White". That's why I too would disagree that requiring people to provide their race/gender would be helpful, because unfortunately I think it would provoke mud-slinging.

  57. I read this post last night and I was like, "Wow...I don't even know what to say." One of MY comments (the "I don't doubt it" comment) was given as an example so that was why I actually felt like ...maybe I should say something. But really, what is there for me to say? My comment does make for a great example of an ignorant and rude thing that white people say/do. I wanted to own up to it and put a face on it and let you know that I totally "got" the point of what everyone was saying after I made that comment and I mean that.

    I understood white privilege 20 times better after those exchanges that day (those days). I realized that while I might at times feel like my opinion isn't respected by men because I'm a woman, I never once have to question if my race is not also a factor in that. I never have to have the heavier burden of being ignored or unheard because it's already assumed I don't know what I'm talking about. At best I'll be assumed to be too emotional, but I'm never assumed to not know what I'm talking about before I even open my mouth.

    I don't expect you to remember me or everything I've ever said here, but I do want you to know that I understood it then and there - that day. And I made sure to walk away from that with a deeper understanding of what POC go through..what I've put them through. I've put it into practice in real life since then, and definitely on here. But like I said, I don't expect anyone else to pick up on that and notice it. It was meant for my own recognition.

    Yeah, it's really easy to assume that all white people who make comments like that are completely ignorant. But we're least I should speak for myself here. In my case, I was partially ignorant. I was then and still am actively anti-racist. But after that post, another veil was lifted for me. I just want you to know that what you say and do here does make a difference, though you may never get to see it on a grand scale. I'm not a complete dumbass, but I do have my moments.

  58. Thanks to Cogito and Julia for helping answer my question!

    Also, @RVCBard: hell yeah to your last post, the tone argument is probably the most annoying, passive-aggressive spoiled white hippie thing I personally have to deal with when trying to engage with people about different oppression issues and I'm sure it carries an extra sting for black women and other people who are widely stereotyped as angry/bitchy.

  59. Macon,

    Basically EPT doesn't want you to put any of us loudmouth, rhino-hided, she-beasts of Black women on a mod team because we'd Sapphire posters to death.

    I just LOVE how deeply the racio-misogyny against BW runs in American society and on this blog. All these dog whistles and people thinking BW are so damn stupid that if they don't actually call us by name, we can't suss out who they're talking about.

  60. Does this mean I take another shot?

  61. I'm not so sure whether a POC mod-squad would work, but I think it should contain certain people with more lenient tendencies than new-and-improved Macon. This is simply because I think Macon has done a great job until now and I think he should be the "strict parent." My main issue is that the strictest mod inevitably controls the flow of the discussion.

    I do think "dissent" is less important than "discussion." Disagreement should be -and I find, is- tolerated on this blog. Simply not disagreement that belittles, denies, and derails in the process.

    A long list of criteria posted as the commenting policy will make it clear where the line sits, and keeps people from crossing it. It should include things like oppression olympics and dismissal of experiences.

  62. Macon - I'm not talking about this post, but what I've seen here in general. While yes, there were others, the poster that was foremost in my mind when I wrote that was AE, who as I understand it is a white male. AE has made a habit of strawmanning my arguments and abusing me for his fabrications. I won't lie though, after reading the recent conversation between RVCBard and Jillian, I do indeed think that RVCBard would probably make a poor moderater as well.

    Though I've got to admit to the curious irony that when mthgk says she feels uncomfortable posting here because she doesn't hold the stock opinions, she's heartily encouraged to post more, but when I say it, I'm apparently skirting close to the line of being blocked.

    Have a look also at the responses to my comment from Witchsistah and RVCBard, neither of which I have directly engaged before on this blog, so there's no real prior history between us. Will you also filter out purely snide, unconstructive comments like those as well?

    Regarding categorising concerns as complaining, that's a misread. What I said was if you run a mod system where dissenting opinions are not heard, you won't have a discussion. Instead you'll have a form of ritualised complaining, what I meant being a listing of wrongs with less emphasis on examining the why. There'll be less real exchange or examination of ideas, nor learning - it'll just be preaching to the choir. I came from a forum where literally everything was up for grabs, no taboo topics (though trolling and flamebaiting is still frowned on), and it can be quite illuminating talking when nothing is forbidden.

    Witchsistah - funnily enough, I thought you might be a good modder when I read your post saying that you're not here to police others but to present your own viewpoint. Then you went and put words in my mouth. While I can understand taking affront to my previous comment on racist grounds (due to the nature of the blog, not specifically because of what I said) I'm still scratching my head as to how you could take any part of it to be misogynistic. Why did you assume I was attacking you?

  63. Hey, interesting post! And hey, we're actually having a discussion now. Awesome. I just felt like commenting coz I got excited.

    >What I said was if you run a mod system where dissenting opinions are not heard, you won't have a discussion.

    I think disagreements are fine. But it gets tiring when different dissenters (sometimes/often? new ones) make the same point over and over and over again on one post after another. So instead of the discussion reaching a deeper level, other commenters have to waste time and energy going over and over again.

    A page with moderation policy like this would be helpful (it was for me). Macon, you might want to include: Please refrain from putting yourself down or calling yourself an 'asshole' for having prejudices. @bgk ;)

    >evil, Black bitches bulldozing their rhino-hided, she-beast, behemoth way in and are aggressively taking over the joint.

    Lol. Oftentimes it's because of comments by RVCBard and others, that I can sit back and relax. I don't have to be the one jumping in to do the same because someone else has said it already in a much more to-the-point way than I usually do.

    @mthgk - I think as Asian women we need to understand that there are things that Black women (& men) experience which we've never had to deal with (i.e. (equal but) different). Or that they may experience it to a greater degree. Or that they may experience it not just from white people but from Asians too (our (subconscious) selves included). Reading this blog has been an eye-opener for me in gaining some understanding of the experiences of other POCs, particularly black people. Sometimes when the post is specifically about Black ppl, I find that I too, like the white readers, have to shut up, listen, and be introspective for a bit till I get what's being said. (Sometimes I don't get it at first coz it's so new to me.)

  64. You know, honestly, I'm not in favor of any moderation beyond blantanly trolling posts. People say stupid things on the internet, and I made peace with that back when AOL came on 5 1/2 floppy A's.

    This blog is supposed to be about enlightening white people to their own privilege and racism, rather than just complaing about all the messed up things they do. We are not the target audience. I'm not sure why so many are shocked that people make excuses or outright deny the topics; of course most aren't going to get it right away. If we filter out any time someone says something ignorant, we've missed an opportunity to educate. If you feel it's not your "job", ignore the comments and just read the articles. I often find the stupid comments to be helpful in that the replies tend to be well-worded and thought out and give me a good idea of what to say to someone in real life who acts in such a way.

    Also, with this blog being written by a white male, I do sometimes feel like he doesn't fully get it and I will always post when I disagree or feel like the subject was not assessed correctly. I like this blog, but I'm not going to pretend that macon understands everything.

    But I'm also not going to contribute to all the unhelpful snark in this thread. And that's what it is, completely unproductive.

  65. @Cloudy:

    That's skirting dangerously close to a tone argument.

  66. @EPT:

    I won't lie though, after reading the recent conversation between RVCBard and Jillian, I do indeed think that RVCBard would probably make a poor moderater as well.

    Since when were my credentials as a potential moderator an appropriate avenue of discussion, particularly since I never expressed interest in playing that role in the first fucking place?

  67. It seems to me that macon must decide whether these comment threads are for POC to discuss what they know of the issues he mentions or for white people to discuss what (little) they know of the issues he mentions. Which is it? And who will be allowed to control the discourse?

  68. Any comments on who should or should not be on potential "mod squad" seem very 7th grade to me. If (anonymous/hypothetical) you want to talk about whether you would like there to be a mod squad or not--a purely hypothetical, at this time anonymous, mod squad--then fine. But let's cut it out with comments on the moderation that approach ad-hominem attacks.

    I would hope that it could be both--that is, a conversation for POC AND white people. But white people do not get to be the experts, and they must be willing to take risks (i.e., this cannot be a "safe space" for white people, whatever that would mean, if we want the ongoing engagement of POC). Frankly, I don't see how white people can talk about much effectively WITHOUT POC (see

    And I agree with fromthetropics that a clearly stated moderation policy would go a long way toward creating the conditions for that sort of conversation.

    As for snark, it may or may not be productive, but I see it being used here by POC as (a) a way of making this space safe(r) [because it's clearly not safe] and (b) to express how painful it is that this is NOT a safe space. That seems entirely reasonable to me, even if it's not the method everyone would choose. When the space gets safe, the snark will disappear.So, if you don't want snark, I say, make a contribution in the direction of safe.

  69. Julia,

    I'm afraid this blog has made it more than obvious that a safe space cannot simultaneously exist for affected POC and ignorant, questioning whites. A choice must be made.

  70. @RVCBard

    Is it? I'm referring to all the 'take a shot!" posts; they're passive-aggressive snark without anything really helpful behind them.

  71. @cloudy, "take a shot!" posts are quite helpful in blowing off steam and having a laugh, both of which are totally necessary for sanity. I can't agree that humor has no place in serious discourse, sorry.

    @persimmon + Julia, I don't know that this particular blog can be a "safe space" for any of us but I think Julia is on point when she says: "white people do not get to be the experts". POC are experts on whiteness. That's a fact. I am all for more aggressive moderating of people who refuse to get that point. And in working harder in general for this to be a place where a) white folks work out their issues and b) POC can know that if they speak up but white posters don't want to hear what they have to say that they (POC) will not be silenced or ignored by...well hopefully by most of the rest of us who make up the core readers of this blog.

  72. persimmon,
    Rather than limiting the conversation to one race or racial category, I am hopeful that moderation can address the problematic kinds of white not-wanting-to-get-it/not-listening/making-same-missteps- over-and-over-again/not-acknowledging-and-apologizing.

    Ignorance and questioning are something else entirely, in my view, and I can't imagine this blog will get far without either.

    I don't know that a "separatist" approach gets us much of anywhere.

  73. Interesting post. It illustrates very well just how strained and stale the communication between WP and POC can be. RVCBard obviously does not feel that her points are understood and taken to heart, and white people feel frustratingly blind - if they can be convinced to understand that they are blind in the first place.

    Perhaps we need to find better ways to communicate. I wonder if conflict resolution techniques might be applicable here. I once participated in a dialogue development group, wherein the idea was to try a new way of communicating (namely, dialogue).

    Discussion and debate were both considered flawed ways to communicate. Discussion can devolve into serial monologuing (strongest voice wins), and debate is about listening to gain advantage. In dialogue, participants express their points of view but do not try to convince others of their point of view. They listen to understand.

    I invite Macon and anyone else who is interested to check out this website, which is about a Dialogue Development group. I also googled around and found this site, which includes a short article about dialogue, and an associated glossary of conflict resolution terms. Just a suggestion, but I hope it's useful.

  74. Some popular blogs that focus on racial topics do not have reader commentary. Perhaps for good reason. Pointing out racial injustice will attract plenty of knuckleheads who post the same defensive responses over and over. The moderator(s) get fed up with reviewing and deleting...reviewing and deleting..and onward.

    As a white person, there's not much I can contribute to this discussion. My typical reaction is "Wow, that really sucks...I feel bad for that person". That's it. My only point of contention has been that gender and socio-economic class need to be seriously considered with some of Macon's posts.

    I just wish there were more posts from Macon and people of color about a "Call to Action". How do we address injustice head-on? I am reading about these downright demeaning experiences suffered by people of color. This makes me more motivated to do something constructive for a change.

  75. How do we address injustice head-on? I am reading about these downright demeaning experiences suffered by people of color. This makes me more motivated to do something constructive for a change.

    I honestly think that's pretty complicated and possibly beyond the scope of this blog UNLESS people take it there. My focus is on undoing microaggressions that affect people of color on a daily basis by pointing out and questioning the assumptions and habits they bring to various specific behaviors. I can point out how they affect me, and I can suggest certain underlying things going on, but as far as tangible solutions, you have to go on a case-by-case basis. Rather than provide a list of exhaustive yet incomplete Do's and Don'ts, I'm more interested in empowering people to apply general principles to a wide variety of situations. For instance, instead of patronizing Black people, you could instead [insert behavior here].

    Hope that makes sense.

  76. bluey,

    I think dialogue can be a wonderful way of changing typically White habits when it comes to talking about racism with people of color. However, that would require actually shifting the nature of discourse from one that enables White privilege to one that undermines it. Otherwise, it's almost like treating the lives of people of color as a public service for White people rather than a genuine attempt by White people to unlearn their own racist habits and assumptions.

  77. @RVCBard Since when were my credentials as a potential moderator an appropriate avenue of discussion, particularly since I never expressed interest in playing that role in the first fucking place?

    Since Macon specifically brought you up, not me - I was responding to his statement. Yell at him for it.

    @fromthetropics - I think disagreements are fine. But it gets tiring when different dissenters (sometimes/often? new ones) make the same point over and over and over again on one post after another.

    I absolutely agree. I'm fine with disagreement, my problem is when people abuse without really reading what is being said. Like when we had our earlier discussion and you finished with saying that you now better understood what I was saying, but still disagreed with it. I was happy with that. It's when people say you've said something else that I have a problem.

    And sure, pure trolls and flamebait can be recognised as such and modded out, no problem there.

  78. EPT,

    Like RVCBard, THIS evil, Black bitch also had no intention of EVER being a mod here, so you can unclutch your pearls. I get enough racio-misogynistic bullshit thrown at me simply being Black, female and alive. I don't need to read kilobyte after kilobyte of it in comments.

  79. Cloudy,

    No one's asking you to partake in snark, comments or anything. In fact, if you don't want to snark then just don't. No need to make a general announcement. I didn't need to make one in order TO snark.

  80. One thing I can't stand is people who tell PoC how to behave and react to racism. ANY type of people, White AND PoC. I don't believe in policing PoC. Each of us needs to figure out how to navigate in a racist society. And it's not a one size fits all deal. What works for me may not work for another PoC and vice versa. If you don't like my methods, fine. Don't do them. But don't waggle your finger in my face about my actions.

  81. [Dear Ben,

    Thank you for your submission to swpd. Unfortunately, I have decided to decline publication of your severely abbreviated rant at this time. "White people suck" simply isn't true, for one thing, and for another, it's basically content free. Should you feel an urge to craft another contribution, rant-like or otherwise, please put some thought into directly addressing the original post at hand, and into offering a contribution that actually, like, makes a contribution.

    Thanking you for your interest in swpd, I remain sincerely yours, macon]

  82. Macon,

    You do good work here, work that is really valuable. For my two cents, don't start over-policing the comments (trolls and thread jackers from stormfront and others of that ilk aside of course). We folk of color won't break, and we are pretty tough as history has demonstrated. To boot, I think that seeing all the bad behavior, ugliness, and willful ignorance that comprises how whiteness is lived does more for awakening white folks to white privilege than anything else.

    Don't cheat your white readers by being too careful and pc.

    As always it is your house and your rules.


    chauncey devega

  83. Witchsistah - Okay, I get that you think I'm being racist in what I say, which seems to be because of the nature of the blog. I disagree with you over my motivations there. But you again throw out the misogynistic accusation - where the hell have I been misogynistic? Stop projecting on me.

  84. EPT,

    Stop being the poster child of this post.

    I said "racio-misogynistic" which means enacting racialized sexism or sexist racism. Basically you are reacting to me as BOTH a Black person AND a woman. I am not behaving in a way perceived as "ladylike" in Western society nor am I ever treated in a ladylike manner no matter HOW I behave because being Black renders the "lady" category permanently out of my reach.

    Basically no matter what I say or do or how I say or do it, I'll always be an evil, (and many times a crazy one to impune my psychological makeup to dismiss me as well) Black bitch. My actions will always be interpreted in the framework of race and gender. It's not 85% my race and 15% my gender or 67.38% my gender and the rest my race. It's always both/and. It's called intersectionality.

    Oh and when I wrote about not wanting to deal with reading racio-misogynistic comments here, I meant having to read the stuff that macon, and I presume other mods, do not let on the comment boards. I wasn't talking about you.

    See, it's not ALWAYS about you. One day *snerk* you and White people might understand that.

  85. RVCBard,

    Do you mean that meaningful dialogue can't happen without a strong moderating policy? If that's what you mean, then I completely agree - if not, I'd love to know what you do think would help shift the nature of the discourse so as to make it undermine white privilege rather than enable it.

    To Macon I would say that strict moderation is probably the best way to help white people learn. It is great to have white people engaging with the ideas presented, and disagreement should absolutely be allowed. However, there is a huge difference between substantive and respectfully expressed disagreement and disrespectful, utterly illogical spam. A blog with quality comments attracts quality commenters, and a blog with too many spammy comments repels them. If you censor spammy comments, it doesn't mean no one learns - it means the quality of your blog and therefore its popularity increases, giving you a larger population of lurkers who will learn without being disrespectful. That's my theory, anyway.

    I think some (mostly white) commenters are concerned that what they think is a substantive, respectful comment may be rejected if its point of view is out of line with the currently accepted thinking.

    To some extent that is going to have to be true, and defining that line is up to you. But you have to be incredibly strict to really drive people away. Look at Shakesville, for example - they have such stringent standards of behavior there that even I don't comment, even though I agree with a large portion of the content. But Shakesville doesn't lack for attention or participation.

    I wouldn't like to see this blog become quite that strict - I hate being shouted down when I really sincerely believe what I'm saying, and I put a lot of thought into it, and said it politely and everything. But I agree with other posters that moderation on this blog could stand to be tightened up, and I'm happy to see that you're working on it. I also think POC should have the greatest input into what kinds of comments should be allowed, because they're obviously much more aware of what kinds of comments are psychologically hurtful to them than white commenters do.

  86. Do you mean that meaningful dialogue can't happen without a strong moderating policy?

    Yes and no.

    Strong moderation at this point is definitely necessary, but that in itself is insufficient without a clearly stated vision of what processes this blog wants to encourage.

    There has to be a very strongly stated and practiced emphasis on the process of White introspection and challenging typical White attitudes, habits, and assumptions. I had to be very blunt about the conversations I want to have about "Anne & Me" on my Livejournal - not because I want to squelch dialogue (as you can see, that is clearly what didn't happen), but because you can't come to these interactions with the assumption that everyone's POV is equally valid because, well, I guess that's because it's what you're supposed to say regardless of the evidence.

    There, I said it. Everyone's POV is not equally valid when it comes to racism. White people tend to recognize that everyone's POV is not equally valid when it comes to math, science, history, psychology, law, medicine, education, or what have you. But when it comes to race, the typical assumption is that a random White person's knowledge and experience of racism is worth just as much as a random POC's. But that's simply not the case. I know it goes against typical White individualism to suggest that just being plucky and clever is not the same as having great insight into an insidious and pervasive experience, but there you have it.

  87. I agree with the folks who've suggested a clear purpose & commenting policy. Maybe rather than a Mod Squad you could seek out some folks to help you work out the purpose and/or policy (a less intensive proposition for them than continuous modding). The Racialicious policy looks like a good resource, and might have something useful or inspiring (the mods there wield an iron fist & seem to me to do a good job of balancing safety and discussion).

  88. @bgk

    ...that's why I shut up and read and generally don't comment. Perhaps that's the distinction there. I know I am working out my internal racism when I rebel against a post.

    It's awesome that you're willing to grow and learn new perspectives, and, above all, to listen, even if it's sometimes difficult to do so.

    Truth be told, I usually only comment if I have had a personal experience that pertains to the discussion, and there are a few posts I've read here that have left me red-faced, because I have been guilty of doing just what's pointed out and I'm supposedly one who kind of gets it.

    It takes time to make such a big shift in your awareness and understanding, and it takes engaging in discussions like the ones here to keep the awareness in place. It's all too easy to slip back into a white-washed world.

  89. @macond @fromthetropics @ano-no-miss

    Thank you for the kind words.

  90. I'd like to, belatedly, clarify what I meant by "a safe but challenging space" for white folks. I'm (consciously anyway) scared of two things when commenting about race:

    1) That I'll hurt someone by saying something racist and feeding into the pattern of oppression.

    2) That I'll say something racist and not get called on it, reinforcing my own and other people's semiconscious racism.

    The stronger moderation policy I think macon's been adopting helps with both of those; it makes my privilege less of a danger to myself and others and so makes it safer for me to ask possibly-racist questions. Paradoxically, the chance of being literally silenced reduces the feeling of being silenced.


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