Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Dear White People Stop Showing Your Ass to the World

To the best of my ability, I try to make sure that Womanist Musings is an intersectional space. I have labored to ensure that the contributors have vastly different life experiences to share with us.  Some are White and some of color, but all are marginalized in someway.  That being said, this no in way entitles you to spit your racial privilege all over my blog.

Recently, we have had a new influx of commenters to Womanist Musings, and while I appreciate new readership, I have very little tolerance for the idea that we should all return to the 101 level because some jackass has not bothered to educate themselves before interacting in this space.  We are all going to make mistakes, including myself, but 101 level mistakes are not tolerable because they are a reflection of the fact that the person has not even bothered to do the most basic work to challenge their privilege.  If you are commenting on this site, this means that you have access to the internet and therefore have the ability to educate yourself.  There are a multitude of resources online to help guide you.  It is unfair to those that have done the work, and to the people who negotiate the ism being discussed to have to educate you.

I find this particularly infuriating when the conversation is about Blackface or most recently yellowface and slurs.  If you are not of color, you don't get to have an opinion on Blackface/Yellowface or another racist appropriation other than it is bad.  People of color don't give a fuck what you think.  Your opinion is meaningless, because you benefit from the racism to begin with.  It stands to reason that you would argue that the portrayal in and of itself is not racist.  When you can benefit from arguing against something being labelled racist, the benefit in and of itself means that your point of view is anything but neutral.  Furthermore, you don't get to decide the appropriate response to a racist act, as long as it does not involve a violent response, or use another ism to attempt to address the problem.  This also means that if two people of color differ on the degree to which the portrayal is racist, that you don't belong in the conversation.  This is what we call a family conversation, and White people need to learn what is and isn't there business to comment on.

Here are two examples to further illustrate the point.  If the GLBT community is engaged in a conversation about which groups belong in the alphabet soup, as a straight, cisgender person, it is not my business to comment, because that is a family conversation.  If disabled people are discussing whether or not the word lame, crazy etc are indeed ableist, and the degree to which it offends us, that is not your opportunity to pull out a dictionary and interfere in the conversation. I trust from the two examples I have given that you get the point.

When you come to my site, and you puke your unacknowledged privilege all over my comment thread, not only do you infuriate me personally, you make this place unsafe for marginalized people to gather and discuss their issues.   So I am going to ask that these new commenters think about what they are saying, and to whom they are speaking before commenting.  In case you are wondering, this is me politely saying STFU and learn.

I have very patiently allowed these comments to be published on my space, but I will not continue to do so.  You may see this as an attack on free speech, but the truth of the matter is that you have no right to speech in my space.  I would not allow you to walk into my home with muddy shoes and place your feet on my furniture and therefore, I cannot allow you to show your ass to the world in my space as though it constitutes legitimate discourse. As a White person, you don't have the experience to decide what is and isn't racist.  I don't want to hear about context, because you have none.  The only thing that matters is that every day of your damn life you benefit from White supremacy, and people of color do not.  In every situation you will be offered benefits and perks, that people of color will not be offered.

I enjoy a good conversation very much, otherwise I would not be running this blog, but some things simply are not debatable by certain segments of the community. We have family conversations because no one gets what it is like to negotiate a marginalization, except for the people that share it with you. Ultimately, Womanist Musings is a space for marginalized people to discuss these issues, while giving people outside of the particular marginalization an opportunity to learn.  By interjecting your privilege into this area, you are actively oppressing us again and making yourself the center of the conversation.

I have written countless versions of the post in the three years since Womanist Musings started, and each time I am forced to do so, it gets more and more irritating.  If you simply must wallow in your privilege, there are plenty of spaces online that will accommodate you and so I see no need to once again allow dominant bodies to foul one of the few spaces that marginalized people have actively cultivated to discuss our issues.  This is my way of saying, get with the program or leave.  We don't need to learn a damn thin about your privilege, because we are assaulted with it on a daily basis. Don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.