Why Do People Keep Calling Me A Racist? An Explanation For (Some) White People

why-do-people-keep-calling-me-a-racist-an-explanation-for-some-white-people

I’m posting this here on ABW even though the conversation originated on Tumblr and most of the context is there because I think some might find it illuminating. I often come across white people who are convinced they are not racist and warriors for social justice but, by their actions and words, reveal themselves to be… not that.

This type of person can usually be found railing against angry blogs like mine and the one under discussion below because in said blogs we say bad things about white people. And it’s just not fair, you know? Not right. Not all white people are racists, and I’m a racist for even suggesting such a thing!

You know the type.

Thing is, people like are using the tools of racism and oppression (sometimes without knowing it) to bolster their claims of being against racism and oppression. All white totally assured, in their own minds, of being the true good person in the scenario.

One such person goes by ReasonableBro on Tumblr. He first came to my attention because someone reblogged this post from the Tumblr Dumb Things White People Say. The original post discusses harassment the blogger’s mother (who is of black Caribbean descent) has had to deal with for two years. ReasonableBro responded by saying that racism was not a factor and also DTWPS is a terrible, racist blog.

I sent him a message filled with my usual snark, and at the end of a long, nonsensical chain of craziness, he asked me to explain exactly why people keep calling him a racist. I decided to oblige and this is the result.

ETA: After my response to him went live on Tumblr Mr. Reasonable went back and deleted all of the posts in relation to my conversation with him and his original reply to DTWPS. I don’t know if maybe he doesn’t understand how Tumblr works, but his deleting his posts does not delete the reblogs of his posts, which quote him. At any rate, I have updated this post to point to said reblogs but not one word of his posts have been changed, just so you know.


It’s taken me a few days to get to this because of work. But your repeated reblogging in my direction has not allowed me to forget that I promised you answer to the question of why I and others have called you a racist. The answer is long. If you choose not to read it all the way through I can’t force you. But I suggest that you do.

To begin, I’m quoting you from here.

That isn’t a racism thing, it’s a sexism thing.

Most of the beginning of your rant is a further expanding on this thesis, but I don’t need to quote any more of it in order to say: you’re wrong.

The first assumption you made is that the post in question was attempting to say that the kind of harassment the OP’s mom faced was due only to race. The OP did not say that. The OP did say “This is the upper level workforce for black women” but just because she said Black doesn’t mean that it somehow erases Women.

Yes, sexism is definitely at play here. Your assertion that race has nothing to do with it because this kind of thing happens to women of all races betrays your ignorance. You can’t erase the fact that this happened to a black woman. And you can’t erase that the motivators for the harasser acting the way he did are likely rooted in race.

If you understood any kind of sociology about how black women are seen by white men due to both historical bullshit baggage carried in multiple cultures and present societal climates then you would know that part of the reason this harasser thought he could lay claim to the OP’s mom is that he didn’t see her as a full person, and that’s more than likely to do with a combination of her race and gender, not just one or the other.

It doesn’t matter that this kind of thing happens to white women as well. That still does not erase race from this equation. It does not even mean that if we were to somehow “solve” sexism that same woman would not have that same problem with that same man.

Beyond all that, by attempting to dismiss the OP’s lived experience, not to mention the lived experience of her mother and millions of other women of color by claiming that race really has no role in this particular issue you’re being ignorant and an asshole. You, a white man, do not get to decide for women or people of color where sexism and racism happen or where they happen together. Not your experience and not your call.

I have feels for your mum, you on the other hand are a cunt.

Earlier in your screed you called America the most sexist country and seemed to feel that sexism is wrong. So what’s up with throwing this gendered insult around? It’s just another way I can tell you’re not as enlightened as you pretend. If you’re really interested in promoting harmony and not prejudice you wouldn’t go calling someone a cunt.

Stop spreading hate and furthering racial isolationism with your shitty blog.

The irony is that people like you make people like the OP want to isolate themselves from white people because this is the level of discourse that comes from a person supposedly committed to racial harmony. Friends like you we don’t need.

Based on something you said in one of your other responses to me I am coming to understand that you have some kind of specific beef with this blog and get mad when people come out and defend it. So I’m going to explain to you where I’m coming from on this issue.

I don’t follow dumbthingswhitepplsay but I see a lot of the posts because several of my friends do. I don’t think that I know the person who runs it. In general, I find myself in agreement with the posts I see. I have no vested interest in the blog itself except that it’s always good to have more voices of color in the conversation.

So, having said all that, here’s what I think of your opinion of this blog: you’re butthurt because it doesn’t cater to your delicate fee fees. You think that because you are no fan of racism that you can’t fall prey to racist thinking, unconscious or otherwise. You want cookies for not liking racism and this blog doesn’t give them. This blog doesn’t reward you in any for being what you consider a good person and that pisses you off so much that you engage in hate speech in order to rail against this blog’s supposed prejudice and hate.

Do you see where you went wrong in there?

Whenever I see white people getting angry about the tone of a POC’s blog or stance on the issue of race, especially when that white person is supposedly an ally, it’s a huge clue that said white person is not actually an ally. I believe that you’re against racism on some level, but you’re not willing to take yourself out of the center of your feelings about it. Your fight against racism is all about you and how it makes you feel, it’s not about the people who actually experience racism.

Your anger at this blog stems from the fact that it explicitly takes you our of the center and says that it actively does not need you. Why do you need to be needed by this blog or by any anti-racist entity or person? Why must you be the center?

And how do I know you think of yourself as the center? Because you keep talking about you you you.

It’s very existence offends me, not as a white person but as a human being in support of multiculturalism and racial assimilation. I actually haven’t been as disgusted at self-righteousness since one of my dumbass facebook friends said “Victoria is becoming one of the shittiest places in the world to live” because “whites are becoming a minority”.

…Your idea of engaging in “nice dialogue with every white person who does something even mildly racist” has not made me appreciate what you do here. Australia [where I live] is arguably the most racist country in the western world, I have to argue with racist white idiots once a week at the very least. I am one of only people I know in my generation who will defend the native aboriginal populace in an argument.

It goes on. And while it’s a positive that you recognize the issues faced by people of color in your country, what’s not positive is how you seem to feel that your struggle on their behalf is just as harmful and emotionally draining as actually being one of those people. You are also desperate to receive props for it. You may not think you think this way, but that is how it comes off.

Especially when you get into “racism against whites” because, yeah: no. If you understood racism at all other than in a surface way that’s centered on you, then you would understand that prejudice against white people for being white is just prejudice. Race-based, yes, but not racism. Because racism requires a structure of societal power to back it.

Race-based prejudice isn’t good, but it’s still not racism. Any white person claiming that others are being racist toward them is trying to center the dialogue on themselves.

It’s not about you, son. It’s never about you.

Your citing of Will Shetterly1 also marks you as being a clueless douchecanoe, because he is the King of the Clueless Douchecanoes.

My dream is to live in a world where total multiculturalism is so abundant that no country has any racial majority.

Of course you do, because you’re white.

You’re hoping for a world where the differences between peoples will be erased and we’ll all just be a cultreless, raceless blob of sameness. Making everyone the same does not equate to racial harmony.

Not least because you cannot make everyone the same. It will never work out. And even when people are the “same” in terms of the created construct of “race”, folks will still find ways to separate out others for bullshit reasons.

I hope for a world where people recognize and celebrate differences instead of being afraid or wary of them.

Living in a country where one “race” is in the majority and another in the minority isn’t the basic problem, the basic problem arises when either of those groups shapes culture in order to further the myth that the group is superior in some way. That can happen even if the jerk race in question is in the minority. See South Africa and Apartheid for more information.

In that world, the white systematic oppression machine you supremacists describe will no longer exist, and the power to promote prejudices will be ranked for individuals, not entire races.

ahahahahaaaaaaaa no. Any decent understanding of history would tell you that this just wouldn’t happen. At least, not simply because no particular “race” would be in the majority. It doesn’t always take a majority of people in order to create a supremacy, just enough power.

That you don’t get this is so very white of you. You have no idea of the real roots of racism, supremacy, prejudice, and culture. In fact, you don’t have to. You don’t deeply examine these issues because you don’t have to. You know how I know? Because of the fantasy story you just spun out right there. Clear indicator.

You have a problem with the way the american mainstream media portrays black people, take it up with Rupert Murdoch, not his entire race.

As to why DTWPS or any other anti-racist blog or person doesn’t just focus on specific media moguls or other individuals instead of just focusing on the “race” of white people, my guess would be because Rupert Murdoch isn’t the only problem.

The reason one talks about “white people” is because white people (as a group) are a problem. Unless you, as a white person, are actively fighting against racism not only by yelling at your friends for saying stupid things but by also examining your own self for the cobwebs of ingrained prejudice and stereotypical or wrong thinking, then you’re contributing to the problem. Hell yeah the media is part of it, but so are consumers of media who don’t even spend 5 minutes in a day thinking about the messages being fed to them.

When you, as a white person, begin to actually analyze the externals AND the internals and start to get it, you will cease to be offended by blogs that are like “Ahhhh white people omg!” because 1) you’ll also be saying AHHH WHITE PEOPLE and 2) you’ll know you’re not the white people in question.

You seem to be under the impression that the poster behind DTWPS and I want you to hate your whiteness and piss on your ancestors2 and have white guilt. This is a vastly ignorant understanding of what’s going on here. Let me explain what I do want.

I want you and other white people to understand what racism really is, how it really harms, and how it is actually active in our world, in our culture, and in our lives. I want white people to be angry that it happens, ashamed that such a thing could happen and that they could be unconsciously part of perpetuating it, then turn that feeling into positive action. There’s no purpose for me or any other person for y’all to sit around feeling guilty and beating yourselves about the head over it. Acknowledge it, understand it, then do something about it. That’s what I want.

Part of understanding racism is to know that, as a white person, your knowledge does not trump my experience. Part of being an anti-racist ally is to know when to let voices of color speak first and loudest and when it’s appropriate for your voice to lead. It’s about understanding how to fight against racism without centering the conversation around yourself. It’s about knowing that it isn’t about you, no matter how many feelings you have on the subject.

You mentioned something about “colored superiors” here too. That made me laugh. The way in which I am superior to you based solely on my color is that I have a superior understanding of what it means to be the target of racism. That’s not a superiority anyone would voluntarily seek.

And finally, you asked:

I’m just curious as to why everyone who disagrees with dumbthingswhitepeoplesay are racist. This is never really explained. We have all been saying basically the same thing, which is that the blog does nothing but make PoC angry at white people for no reason, rather than actually fighting racism by targeting actual racists.

For No Reason. Really? There’s no reason for people of color to be angry at white people? When we have you, who is supposedly fighting racism by telling people of color how they’re allowed to express their anger and lived experiences, by dictating to us how we’re allowed to relate to white people such as yourself, by claiming that racism doesn’t affect a situation that you yourself have never been in? I think that’s plenty of reason to be angry at white people, if we are angry.

Your feelings are hurt by her blog? Got three words for that: BOO FUCKING HOO. A blog that spells out actual things going down in the world that hurt people of color both physically and emotionally and YOUR feelings are hurt? GOSH.

My feelings are hurt on a daily basis by racism, usually by people who don’t even think they’re being racist. And on a rare day when I’m not being hurt by racism I get to contend with sexism, or maybe some homophobia for extra fun. That is the reality of many people’s lives, not just mine. So don’t fucking talk to me about feelings, son.

You want to know why you’re labeled a racist? For me, it’s not even because you disagreed with DTWPS, it’s because of the way you disagreed, the words you used in disagreement, and the attitude you’ve displayed throughout the entire arm of the interaction I’ve seen. It’s not about that blog or my need to defend it — I don’t have one — it’s about your stupid ass somehow thinking that you’re really against racism when all you are is against that which makes you feel uncomfortable. You don’t care what makes those affected by racism uncomfortable at all.

And that’s the last thing I have to say to you ever.

Why Do People Keep Calling Me A Racist? An Explanation For (Some) White People — Originally posted at The Angry Black Woman

Footnotes

  1. Do Not Engage! ::throws salt and sage at her digital borders to ward him off::
  2. I had to change this link to point to my Tumblr blog because this is one of the posts Mr. Reasonable deleted.

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53 Responses to Why Do People Keep Calling Me A Racist? An Explanation For (Some) White People

  1. 1
    AMM says:

    Very well written.

    As for “I’m not racist”: I seem to recall, from decades ago when I had more contact with social action types, a saying that went something like this:

    Of course you’re racist. We’re all racist. [Not sure if this referred just to us white people or to everybody.] If you grow up in a racist society, racist perspectives and tropes get incorporated into your very bone marrow, and you’ll never get rid of them, no matter what you do. The best you can do is to learn to be aware of that racism in your bones, and recognize it and deal with it each time it comes up in each new situation. And be aware that sometimes you won’t recognize it, and will (if you’re lucky) have it pointed out to you. And that process will never end as long as you are alive.

  2. 2
    mythago says:

    I love ‘makes PoC angry at white people for no reason’. Yeah, because people of color were flitting along in happy contentment until the blog brought to their attention that racism exists.

  3. 3
    ax says:

    Good post. There’s much in this post that already I know and agree with. And quite a bit more that I didn’t know, and was glad to learn and think about. Some of it I struggle to accept, and have a gut-level instinct to argue against, but that may be my own internalized racism so I’m not going to get into that here. But there is one statement that I definitely disagree with:

    If you understood racism at all other than in a surface way that’s centered on you, then you would understand that prejudice against white people for being white is just prejudice. Race-based, yes, but not racism. Because racism requires a structure of societal power to back it.

    Race-based prejudice IS racism, in fact it’s pretty much the textbook definition of racism. Prejudice against white people simply because they are white may not be anywhere close to as bad as the prejudice that POC experience, and it may not have a structure of societal power backing it, but I still consider it as racism. To believe that all white people everywhere are (for example) dishonest, or willfully prejudiced, or are conspiring to keep black people down, is racist. White people aren’t all like that, and to espouse such falsehoods would be a disservice to white people, and to POC, and to the cause of racial equality generally.

    I say this because I think that a capacity for racism is an unfortunate part of being human. Or as AMM above quoted, we’re all racist. And to combat racism, we have to recognize it and speak out against it in ALL its forms, regardless of where, or from whom, it comes from. It’s not something restricted only to white people, or majorities, or structurally powerful people, or people with privilege. Saying that only some groups are capable of racism and others aren’t is a way of saying that one group is superior to another. And we don’t want THAT, do we?

  4. 4
    machina says:

    ax,

    I generally agree with you that racism is prejudice based on race, however what you say here:

    Saying that only some groups are capable of racism and others aren’t is a way of saying that one group is superior to another. And we don’t want THAT, do we?

    is wrong. The argument that only some groups are capable of racism isn’t based on a claimed superiority of those groups. The argument as I understand it is that racism is part of systemic oppression so that only members of oppressed races can be subject to racism. I think this is flawed because racism exists outside of a systemic context (and it assumes that systems aren’t heterogeneous enough to permit systemic racism against a member of any race at some local scale, which I think is questionable for a large enough system).

  5. 5
    KellyK says:

    The argument as I understand it is that racism is part of systemic oppression so that only members of oppressed races can be subject to racism. I think this is flawed because racism exists outside of a systemic context (and it assumes that systems aren’t heterogeneous enough to permit systemic racism against a member of any race at some local scale, which I think is questionable for a large enough system).

    I think the problem with defining racism only as race-based prejudice is that it makes it look like an individual thing rather than a systemic thing. It also tends to equalize situations that aren’t equal. Like, if someone discriminates against me because I’m white, that would be an isolated and somewhat unusual incident. But if we call it “racism” I get thinking that I understand what it’s like to be on the receiving end of racism because someone called me a nasty name that one time.

    The other thing is that if you’re in the oppressed group, prejudice isn’t always you being a jerk–it can be a survival strategy. If you’ve been treated badly, on a personal and systemic level, by people in the oppressing group, *of course* you’re going to have an inherent distrust toward people in that group.

  6. 6
    AMM says:

    @3

    Race-based prejudice IS racism, in fact it’s pretty much the textbook definition of racism

    In other words, the perpetrators get to define the word, and define it in a way that neutralizes the oppressed peoples’ experience. With your blessing.

  7. 7
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    AMM says:
    February 13, 2012 at 6:49 am
    In other words, the perpetrators get to define the word, and define it in a way that neutralizes the oppressed peoples’ experience. With your blessing.

    [scratches head] You don’t think there’s any sort of objective “right” here, do you? It sounds like you do…

    There’s nothing inherently wrong with using “racism” to mean “prejudice based on race” as opposed to “prejudice based on race which also contains a systematic power imbalance” or, perhaps, “any activity which perpetuates a racially imbalanced society.”

    Both POC and whites do bad shit in life. Both POC and whites do some of that bad shit in response to the race of their victims.

    It should be pretty obvious that the use of the “structural power” definition serves to increase the number of whites’ activities which are defined as racist, and also to decrease the number of POC’s activities which are defined as racist. That is true even if the activities are, on an individual basis, essentially identical.

    Moreover, the “structural power” definition is usually applied even when the individual facts don’t match the structural power model. In other words, the model functionally provides extra harm to relatively disadvantaged whites and extra benefit to relatively advantaged POC.

    There’s nothing inherently right or wrong about either definition. You can still talk about race-based prejudice even if you use the “structural power” version. And you can still talk about structural power even if you use the “race based prejudice” version.

    So nobody’s perspective is being erased, whichever you choose.

    That said, there are some fairly obvious communication issues with the “structural power” model. One obvious problem is that it’s pretty much the opposite of the way that the U.S. has traditionally viewed the justice/fairness model; it’s also the opposite of the way that the U.S. has traditionally viewed the individual/collective question.

    The U.S. leans heavily towards a “justice” ideal: identical treatment for people who commit similar acts.** And we lean heavily towards an “individual” model, in which personal and individual culpability is the basis for the application of justice.

    The “structural power” version of racism turns both of those on their head. First of all, it applies group culpability. It acts against people irrespective of their individual acts, and assists people irrespective of their individual need.

    Second, as a part of (and in addition to) that, it moves away from “justice” towards “fairness.”** People are judged differently for otherwise-identical acts, depending on their status w/r/t race.

    I don’t especially like those process changes in ANY context, so I don’t agree that we should apply the structural power model. It isn’t related to racism per se; it’s just an application of general principles to a specific political issue.

    I have no problem with folks who have different opinions of general processes. But it seems intellectually problematic to make a special exception for racism (in either direction), unless you can come up with a good reason for it.

    ** for a great example of “justice” versus “fairness:” In the U.S., all speeding tickets cost the same. That’s just (everyone’s treated equally) but not fair (the cost of a $100 ticket hurts me more than it hurts Bill Gates.) In Finland the reverse is true; the president of Nokia once ended up with a six figure speeding ticket. That’s unjust (why should I be able to speed for $100, when it costs him $100,000?) but it’s fair (we both pay the same %age of our yearly income.)

  8. 8
    AMM says:

    @7

    [scratches head] You don’t think there’s any sort of objective “right” here, do you? It sounds like you do…

    Of course there is. The experiences of black people in the USA — slavery, Jim Crow, police harrassment, employment and housing discrimination, and race-based murder — have been so well documented as to be objective truth by any mainstream standard of objectivity.

    However, when people like you use the word “objective,” it really means that when somebody brings up aspects of objective reality that make you uncomfortable, your discomfort with them should be given equal weight with those aspects. It means that those experiences that other people have which don’t fit in with your idea of how the world is aren’t admissible to the discussion.

    Any debater knows that if you control the definitions of words, and what is allowed to be considered a fact, and what are acceptable arguments, you can win any debate. You and ax (#3), having realized that don’t have a chance of disputing what ABW said on any reasonable terms, are resorting to redefining words and standards of admissible argument in order to deny its validity. The old “it doesn’t meet my definition of ‘killed’, and I didn’t agree with the coroner’s report, so she isn’t really dead” line.

    The rest of comment #7 is standard boilerplate derailing with a large side order of irrelevancies, so I won’t bother to respond to it.

  9. 9
    KellyK says:

    The U.S. leans heavily towards a “justice” ideal: identical treatment for people who commit similar acts.** And we lean heavily towards an “individual” model, in which personal and individual culpability is the basis for the application of justice.

    The “structural power” version of racism turns both of those on their head. First of all, it applies group culpability. It acts against people irrespective of their individual acts, and assists people irrespective of their individual need.

    I think we try to lean more toward justice than fairness, but we don’t actually. If a black guy and a white guy have identical qualifications, the white guy is more likely to get hired. If a black person and a white person commit the same crime, the black person is likely to be more harshly sentenced. But in each of those cases, the person making the decisions feels like they’re treating the situation individually. That’s why structural things have to actually be looked at.

    The problem with “identical treatment for similar acts” is that nothing happens in a vacuum.

    To give a fairly random example, if I walk up to a friend (a white guy) who has long hair, and play with his hair, that carries a whole different connotation than if I walked up to a black woman or a black guy and played with their hair. The act is the same, but the context is totally different. Part of the context is a friendship in which random physical contact is acceptable–I wouldn’t play with a stranger’s hair *ever* because that’s a major violation of personal boundaries. But the other part of the context is the idea of some people’s bodies as public property while others are not (since plenty of people feel free to touch black women’s hair randomly) and some people’s hair as exotic and unusual.

    There’s also a difference between something happening once and something happening a thousand times. The action might be the same, but the consequences are different. If I trip and fall and one person steps on me as they go by, it hurts and pisses me off, but I’m probably okay. If 100 people do it all at once, I’m trampled to death. Racism (and every other ism) works the same way–the effect is cumulative.

  10. 10
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    AMM says:
    February 14, 2012 at 4:31 am
    However, when people like you use the word “objective,” it really means that when somebody brings up aspects of objective reality that make you uncomfortable, your discomfort with them should be given equal weight with those aspects.

    “People like me?”

    The combination of insults and dismissal is pretty blatant, here.

  11. 11
    La Lubu says:

    The combination of insults and dismissal is pretty blatant, here.

    Funny, that’s exactly what I thought of your comment with its dismissal of the objective reality that racism is systemic and institutional. Racism requires a power differential. Bigotry does not.

    The “structural power” version of racism turns both of those on their head. First of all, it applies group culpability. It acts against people irrespective of their individual acts, and assists people irrespective of their individual need.

    Sigh. Racism isn’t something that happens on the individual level. It happens to individuals because they are part of a group. The structural power model admits that the harassment experienced by the woman in the example in the post isn’t a one-off instance, suffered solely by this woman; rather, it is an event experienced simultaneously by thousands of women similarly situated, and that the reason this keeps happening is because of the power differential between the perpetrator and the victim.

    This man did what he did in front of all kinds of witnesses. He was quite comfortable in doing so. Are you seriously suggesting that his actions have nothing to do with the real power differential between him and the original poster’s mother? At the societal level? Do you deny that there are real differences between a black woman’s word on what happened, and that of a white man? Especially when it’s mostly white men that are going to be doing the judging on “what really happened”?

    (it’ll be awhile before I can come back to the thread; this site won’t show up on my phone—only my home computer. so bear with me—I’m not purposely ignoring anyone; there’s just too much going on with this site for it to load on my cellphone!)

  12. 12
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    KellyK says:
    February 14, 2012 at 4:40 am
    I think we try to lean more toward justice than fairness, but we don’t actually. If a black guy and a white guy have identical qualifications, the white guy is more likely to get hired. If a black person and a white person commit the same crime, the black person is likely to be more harshly sentenced. But in each of those cases, the person making the decisions feels like they’re treating the situation individually. That’s why structural things have to actually be looked at.

    I agree.
    But the question is what you do with the data. The structural model is inherently a “group average” thing. And large group models can produce some extremely helpful or relevant data when when you’re talking about large groups. To stick with law for a minute, the structural issues are what help people to evaluate the fairness of crack sentencing, or to evaluate the need for reducing judicial discretion.

    But when you break them down to the individual level, they lose accuracy. You can look at a model which says “Joe White Defendant has ___% chance of being under-punished” but the model won’t actually tell you what to do with Joe. And you can look at a model which warns you that Jill Black Defendant has a ___% chance of being over-punished” but it won’t tell you what to do with Jill.

    This has nothing to do with race work per se–as I’ve said before. It is just a general quality of large group models in general across the political spectrum.

    People seem to apply the model on an individual level. That is OK so long as we keep track of the fact that sometimes it’ll go wrong. No matter what the stats say, the individual issues remain.

    So when La Lubu says

    Racism isn’t something that happens on the individual level. It happens to individuals because they are part of a group. The structural power model admits that the harassment experienced by the woman in the example in the post isn’t a one-off instance, suffered solely by this woman; rather, it is an event experienced simultaneously by thousands of women similarly situated,

    that is, of course correct. On average.

    But you don’t get to apply group statistics to individuals. Right? Everyone seems to be in pretty good agreement about that.

    This woman may have been harassed because she was black. Or she may have been harassed because the perp was on drugs, or had a back injury, or found out that his wife just left him, or was walking down the hall fated to lash out at the first office he got to.

    While the average serves to promote probabilities of certain circumstances, it just works to talk about likelihoods. It doesn’t talk about reality.

    So take this instance. Is the probability of racism quite high; is it likely that there was some ? Yup. Denying that would be bizarre. But is the group experience of another black woman who experienced racism from another white guy probative that this entirely unrelated white guy was racist to this entirely unrelated black woman? Well… would you apply the process to things other than racism? Would you think that way in both the conservative and liberal contexts?

    I don’t. But I can fully understand if you adopt that view generally. Plenty of people do. If you make a special exception for racism, though, or for your own side–as some people tend to do–then you and I will have to argue a lot more.

    and that the reason this keeps happening is because of the power differential between the perpetrator and the victim.

    I agree that almost all victimizations result from a power differential.
    I agree that most POC women are, due to a combination of various factors including but not limited to racism, relatively disempowered.
    But I don’t agree that every interaction involving a POC woman victim and a white perp necessarily is based on, or materially involves, racism–any more than it would necessarily be based on or materially involve any of the other things which contribute to power differentials between parties. Every issue in my head doesn’t affect every one of my actions at all times.

    However, this:

    Do you deny that there are real differences between a black woman’s word on what happened, and that of a white man?

    I don’t think you mean this like you wrote it…? I certainly hope not.

    There may be some identifiable groups of people who are less likely to report inaccurately and less likely to be biased. But those groups aren’t race-based. “victims” would be a potential category, depending on the circumstances.

    She might be less likely to deliberately lie because she’s a victim. I’m guessing that is what you meant; it’s a common argument albeit one which is often taken too far in application (plenty of victims are inaccurate, for all sorts of reasons; being a victim is far from a guarantee of truthfulness, accuracy, objectivity, or non-bias.)

    But she sure as hell isn’t any less likely to lie because she’s a black woman, and if that is what you meant, hell yeah I disagree. It’s frankly shocking to propose. Everyone speaks from a subjective place and everyone carries internal bias. Everyone is inaccurate. Everyone lies; everyone tries to support their own position. Black women included. Denying that effect is a horrible trend in some circles, by no means limited to racism.

    I saw it in play in a debate once. A made a statement that supported A’s side, and opposed B’s side. B called the statement racist.

    It seemed pretty damn obvious that A’s protestations of “not racist!” and “false accusation of racism!” were probably biased. A was in an argument with B; A’s would gain an advantage by winning the racism fight.

    It ALSO seemed pretty damn obvious that B’s accusations of “racism!” and “retaliation!” were ALSO probably biased. B was ALSO in an argument with A; B would ALSO gain an advantage by winning the racism fight.

    Without even telling you what A said in the first place, I’m willing to bet that a lot of readers would instantly identify A’s potential bias, and not B’s potential bias. That’s a problem.

  13. 13
    La Lubu says:

    Hey, whaddya know! I can access this site by phone if I avoid the Home page! (I followed a link from elsewhere, and that got me here. Wonder why the Home page won’t load? Something about too many server redirects….)

    Anyway, about the “word”—I phrased that inartfully ‘cuz I was trying to be quick. What I meant to imply was that in a racist society (such as the one I am currently typing in), the word of a black woman is *less likely to be believed* than the word of a white man. Particularly if her testimony *is against a white man*. The deck is stacked against her already, even when there is no objective reason for it (see also: racial profiling).

    And this isn’t a “special exception” for racism. The same dynamics are in play for sexism, classism, homophobia, xenophobia. When you say that “well, there could be other possibilities; maybe the guy was on drugs, etc.”, you’re engaging in a form of gaslighting. Encouraging the victim of this guy’s behavior to second-guess herself, to see the situation from his point of view, to downplay the danger she was in…..and for what? To minimize the most likely scenario: how dare she turn him down, who does she think she is, (insert racial, ethnic, and sexual slurs here)”? Who does that serve? Does the man have a history of doing this to white women he works with? No? Then gee….looks like racism played a part (and not just sexism and male entitlement).

    Here’s the thing: a lot of racist incidents are invisible to white people. Sometimes because they happen in “invisible” scenarios (like job applications. Any given white person may not be aware that names coded as black or latin@ are less likely to be called for an interview; this seemingly invisible scenario becomes visible only under examination). Sometimes because they happen interpersonally, without witnesses (see also: he said/she said, along with the common devaluation of a person of color’s word by white people).

    But sometimes? These supposedly invisible instances happen right in full view of white people. They just don’t register. Things like: why does the store security pay extra-special attention to people of color? Why are people of color more likely to be pulled over by the police, when statistically it’s the white folks who are more likely to have drugs or drive under the influence? Ever been standing in line and seen a person of color get passed over for a white person further back in line?

    The fact is, white people *have witnessed* and *do witness* racism on a regular basis. Not as regular as people of color do, because they aren’t *experiencing it*, themselves…but still. But….white people are trained out of seeing it. Trained to first look for evidence that said incident had “nothing to do with race”. Just coincidence. Oh, that guy was just kidding. Oh, that guy’s an asshole to *everyone*. Oh, he was just having a bad day. Oh, this. Oh, that.

    Think about that.

  14. 14
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    La Lubu says:
    February 14, 2012 at 9:59 am
    Anyway, about the “word”—I phrased that inartfully ‘cuz I was trying to be quick.

    That’s what I thought. Glad to clear that up.

    What I meant to imply was that in a racist society (such as the one I am currently typing in), the word of a black woman is *less likely to be believed* than the word of a white man. Particularly if her testimony *is against a white man*.

    Sure, overall I agree. It varies by listener, of course–there are folks for whom the reverse is true.

    You’re typing as part of a racist society overall (under either definition). But you may or may not be part of a racist readership.

    I’m certainly a fan of trying to identify any unwarranted effect for or against a speaker’s credibility. I’m not a fan of adjusting the credibility of any speaker up or down, based on group characteristics. In other words, I will do my damnedest to try to evaluate people’s credibility honestly, and will happily agree to examine any bad assumptions you think I’m making. And in this case I have no particular reason to think she’s not telling the truth.

    But if I did, that’d be OK. I’m not going to give the speaker an automatic credibility boost in this case simply because she is a member of a group with unfair credibility problems, or because she has suffered unfair credibility problems somewhere else. It doesn’t make sense to me on an individual level to replace problem A with problem B.

    And this isn’t a “special exception” for racism. The same dynamics are in play for sexism, classism, homophobia, xenophobia. When you say that “well, there could be other possibilities; maybe the guy was on drugs, etc.”, you’re engaging in a form of gaslighting. Encouraging the victim of this guy’s behavior to second-guess herself

    What are you talking about? I’m not encouraging the victim to do ANYTHING. Nor am I gaslighting her, unless you’re her.

    We’re discussing
    -one side of an encounter
    -reported later, presumably from memory
    -to a third person
    -who then presumably relied on her own memory to write a post
    -which was, in the vein of these things, quite possibly edited
    -and which went up a while back.

    We’re already very far away from the occurrence. Nothing I say here to you will bother the victim in the slightest. Gaslighting simply isn’t an issue.

    And also , to see the situation from his point of view, to downplay the danger she was in…..and for what?

    For what? For intelligent discourse.

    As I said, even if you *do* try to see the situation from his point of view, he was clearly an asshole, and very probably a racist one. And I admit that this isn’t a great hypothetical to use as an example!

    But if you generally refuse to understand the opponent’s position at all: not to accept or agree with it, but to put it on for a minute and see if you missed something–then you’re giving up potential valuable information. Although you are, sadly, mimicking standard dogmatics on both sides.

    To minimize the most likely scenario: how dare she turn him down, who does she think she is, (insert racial, ethnic, and sexual slurs here)”? Who does that serve? Does the man have a history of doing this to white women he works with? No? Then gee….looks like racism played a part (and not just sexism and male entitlement).

    Do you want to understand reality, or live in your own, created, reality?

    The reality you’ve created is one in which this was a racist act. Or, perhaps, solely motivated by racism. It is very likely that this matches ACTUAL reality. And it’s perfectly reasonable to work with “this was about racism!” as an initial assumption, since it’s so probable.

    But it’s an assumption, not real. If you fight against discussing what actual reality was, then you’re living in a self-constructed world. And if it turns out that reality makes you wrong, or the victim upset, that is life. It’s not my fault or anyone else’s fault but Joe. It’s just reality.

    Is “Hey, I know Joe, he’s not actually racist as far as I know” gaslighting? Racist? Offensive? How about “Joe just found out a minute earlier that his wife has cancer; you were the first person he saw next and I think he was just really upset and took it out on you through bad luck?” How about “She was the third person to experience that precise thing, all in a row on that hall: John & Fred were first?”

    We’ve reached a situation where merely questioning whether an alternate explanation exists is “too much challenge,” so you can’t really ask the question and be an ally. Seriously? That’s bloody ridiculous.

    But….white people are trained out of seeing it. Trained to first look for evidence that said incident had “nothing to do with race”. Just coincidence. Oh, that guy was just kidding. Oh, that guy’s an asshole to *everyone*. Oh, he was just having a bad day. Oh, this. Oh, that.
    Think about that.

    Sure. I am 100% certain that I have, in many instances across my entire life, dismissed something as “not racist” when it was experienced as subjective racism by the recipient.

    I think about that sort of thing pretty often, as it happens–both because I put strong personal stake in adjusting my subjective experience to match reality, and because dealing with people’s subjective experiences is part of what I do for work. But also because of what I do, I have developed a healthy skepticism of almost everyone’s statements, in many cases. And as a result, applying the “racist” or “gaslighting” claim to questions about a third party write-up of a long-past encounter, seems unwarranted.

  15. 15
    Sebastian H says:

    Let’s look at it from a different angle.

    Andecdote:

    I’m gay. Like 100% not attracted to women and don’t find them sexually interesting gay.

    While at college, I was REALLY tired after studying for finals and I was craving a sugary snack. I went to the school snack shop and was standing in front of the Hostess display. I was zoning out trying to decide what I wanted when a young woman said to me: “I see you just staring at my breasts, and it isn’t cool for you to be such a pig.” I was surprised by this, as I hadn’t noticed her at all, though she was standing near the display. Not just surprised that she was talking to me, but surprised that there was someone standing there that I hadn’t even registered at all. I replied: “I wasn’t staring at your breasts, I was just trying to decide between the Ho-Ho’s and the Ding Dong’s”. Which if you are trying to convince someone that you aren’t looking at their breasts is probably not the right thing to say *even though it was completely the case*. She said I was an ass and stormed out.

    Now, I’m sure the story as told from her point of view would look different, but in this case it was totally wrong. I have honestly never looked at a woman’s breasts with lust, or interest, or even lingering.

    Now, am I saying that there is no sexism? Of course not. She almost certainly had all sorts of valid experiences which made her cautious/suspicious. But in this case her sexual stereotyping probably caused her to feel put upon when she didn’t have to. And that is one of the things that sucks about sexism, the times when it actually is a nasty problem can make you hyper-vigilant causing you to feel slighted/hurt/attacked when you aren’t.

    But on the other hand, wouldn’t it help to realize that some of the things really weren’t sexist? I think it is too bad that the woman in my anecdote never found out that I was so gay as to make staring at her breasts a very unlikely thing.

    Maybe it wouldn’t be important. Maybe the world is a dangerous enough place that being hyper-vigilant is worth it. But it is a thought.

  16. 16
    KellyK says:

    Sebastian, you have a good point. There certainly are times when something looks like sexism or racism but isn’t. However, I think there’s a huge difference between someone who was there saying “No, really, here’s what happened,” and people armchair quarterbacking later.

    Like, if a female friend of yours complained about a guy staring, I don’t think you’d automatically jump to his defense and say, “You don’t know he was staring! What if he was just lost in thought? What if he was gay and didn’t even notice your breasts?” Now, if it happens that the guy was someone you know is gay, it would be totally reasonable to say, “What, Joe? Joe’s as gay as the day is long–I don’t think he’d notice your chest if you were in a wet t-shirt!”

    If I were the woman who felt creeped out and stared at, I’d feel better with that information. But it has to be actual information, not just the assumption that because misunderstandings happen, what I experienced can’t have been sexism.

    You can acknowledge that things aren’t always as they appear without denying racism or sexism. But the original post is about two years of pretty scary harassment–there was no simple misunderstanding there, and the mental gymnastics “ReasonableBro” goes to to try to make it not racist is pretty deep denial.

  17. 17
    La Lubu says:

    I’m not a fan of adjusting the credibility of any speaker up or down, based on group characteristics.

    Good thing no one was recommending that. The kickoff discussion in the post was that a white man was dismissing the assessment of black women, that an incidence of on-the-job harassment involved race (well, actually a dramatic escalation in the level of harassment that has been ongoing for two and a half years). Apropos of nothing, he determined that the described incident was not racist, but sexist. He was very insistent on this, and took offense to being told by black women that he was wrong. Enough to call one of them a “cunt”, set himself up as a White Savior, and engage in a little of what is known colloquially as “white whine” (wahh! a person of color called me racist! waahh!).

    Do you want to understand reality, or live in your own, created, reality?

    Wow, how egotistical of you. But nevermind…let’s use that with the scenario described in the OP. How, exactly, would you go about determining the relative levels of racism and sexism in the incident (remember—this incident was an escalation of ongoing on the job harassment for two and a half years)? How, exactly, would you parse that out? Do you think your method(s) would be different from, or superior to, that of the black women who readily call this incident as racist (and dismissal of the idea that the incident was racist, as racist also?). Do you think that your conclusion would be different?

    Show your work.

  18. 18
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    I’m skipping around a bit. THis first:

    Do you want to understand reality, or live in your own, created, reality?
    Wow, how egotistical of you.

    You’re right; that was extraordinarily obnoxious of me. Sorry.

    no time to post more now, though.

  19. 19
    aestas says:

    gin-and-whiskey:

    Nobody’s arguing that the forest isn’t made up of individual trees. But the trees exist within the forest, and it’s disingenuous to try to divorce them from their context on any basis; that’s not intellectual discourse, that’s apologia and/or the defense of privilege.

    We live in a racist culture, within a racist world. No one can reasonably deny that that’s so. And as such, no one has to work very hard to come up with reasons other than racism why x might have occurred. It’s completely ingrained in us, whether we like it or not, whether we think of ourselves as racist or not, to ignore the presence of racism (or possible racism) in favor of other possible factors. So thinking through every imaginable factor that could possibly have played into a person’s decision to engage in apparently racist behavior (especially when we have a PoC, who is, not incidentally, an expert in detecting racism, having lived through an entire lifetime of experiencing it, saying that she felt the person’s actions were racist) is neither fair nor just. It’s the damn status quo.

    It’s perfectly reasonable to apply group statistics to individuals when we live in a context where no one escapes the cultural brainwashing. I’m racist. So are you (because so is everybody). I try very hard not to be racist, to continually examine my perceptions and beliefs and reactions to things, to question their origins, to be aware of the stuff I’ve internalized against my own will. Because it’s there, and the sooner we all admit it’s there, the sooner we can start to hope that maybe someday it won’t have to be.

    Your examples of “other reasons” don’t make sense, anyway. Say the guy just found out his wife has cancer. Interestingly, that’s not actually an acceptable reason to lash out at anyone, but if he did choose to lash out, the fact that he’s upset in no way precludes the possibility that he’ll choose to lash out in a racist manner. Racists are racist, even when they’re upset about unrelated issues. If he also lashed out at John and Fred on his way down the hallway, he may well have been racist toward them as well (if they’re PoC). If they’re white, it still doesn’t mean he wasn’t racist when he lashed out for the third time (at the WoC).

    The point is, when a WoC tells me she was attacked in a racist way, I believe her. Why? Because she’s the authority on her own experience, and because I have white privilege that’s allowed me to go through life blissfully ignorant of a hell of a lot of her experience, which puts me at a real disadvantage when it comes to “objectively” assessing whether a thing is, in fact, racist or not. If I were to say to her, “Well, hold on now, is it possible you misunderstood his intentions and he really wasn’t being racist at all?” it would be incredibly condescending. Her experience is valid. Her perceptions are valid. To pretend otherwise is to engage in apologia and to uphold the shitty status quo.

    If we want to live in a world that’s both fair and just, I think we’ll get a lot farther by simply believing members of oppressed groups when they say they feel oppressed than by arguing over the exact accuracy of every little perception and detail at the expense of people who are actually being oppressed.

  20. 20
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    aestas says:
    February 15, 2012 at 3:00 pm

    gin-and-whiskey:

    Nobody’s arguing that the forest isn’t made up of individual trees. But the trees exist within the forest, and it’s disingenuous to try to divorce them from their context on any basis; that’s not intellectual discourse, that’s apologia and/or the defense of privilege.

    This is facially ridiculous.

    As a society and as intellectuals, we separate the trees from the forest all the time. Because while examining groups is important, examining individuals is also important.

    Some folks don’t like to look at individual stuff because it’s inconvenient for their argument or their perspective. Or the reverse. So what? Convenience is secondary to reality.

    There are issues for which context is very important. “Societal racism” is a context which has a hell of a lot to do with how we evaluate someone’s perceived response to an act. But societal racism as a context is not accurate or necessarily relevant when it comes to the actual question of why someone did the act in the first place. In THAT case (which gets pretty important when you’re judging an actor) the most relevant information is almost all individual: what the actor was actually thinking and what the actor actually intended.

    If you have a goal of enhancing the #age of activities which are defined and viewed as racist–which I’m beginning to think that many folks do, based on their actions–then sure, it’s convenient to ignore what actually was intended. Voila! Then you can make a rule that intent is irrelevant, combine it with a rule that the definition is solely controlled by the perceiver, and it’s like magic. To use Sebastian’s example, you end up classifying his behavior as sexist and inappropriate and a horrible example of the “male gaze” while entirely ignoring the fact that irrespective of the subjective experience of the perceiver it was none of those things. It’s a logical foundation based on a ridiculous premise: by ignoring relevant information you then claim that there isn’t anything to contradict your position.

    It’s perfectly reasonable to apply group statistics to individuals when we live in a context where no one escapes the cultural brainwashing.

    No, that’s ridiculous.
    It’s either reasonable to apply group statistics to individuals, or it’s not . That’s not a statement which is racist, apologist, or anything else.

    Cultural brainwashing has shit-all to do with it.

    If you think it’s generally accurate to apply group rules backwards–which I think you probably realize doesn’t work–then i’d love to hear it. If you make an exception to the rule based on the CONTENT of the statistics then you’re gaming the system. You’re just fudging your logic to get the outcome you want.

    If we want to live in a world that’s both fair and just, I think we’ll get a lot farther by simply believing members of oppressed groups when they say they feel oppressed

    I tend to generally sort of believe ALL people when they speak about their own subjective experiences. I’m a bit of a skeptic in most cases.

    I don’t selectively believe oppressed groups, and I also don’t selectively DISbelieve oppressed groups. Or to be more accurate I’m doing my best not to do either, though I’m certain that I, like almost everyone, am imperfect.

    Do you think that is a mistake? Do you think that I should give more credence to members of oppressed groups?

    I am not sure if I would agree anyway, but I could understand the perspective that such extra credence might make sense in some sort of limited circumstance. But that’s not the case here, right? Racism is, as per your earlier comment, basically omnipresent. Every interaction between a white person and a POC is, by many theories, affected by racism to at least some degree. It seems like you’re proposing some sort of universal

    As for fairness and justice: I’m not sure you’re using those words like I’m using them, so I’ll ask what you mean before I reply.

  21. 21
    Ampersand says:

    If you have a goal of enhancing the #age of activities which are defined and viewed as racist–which I’m beginning to think that many folks do, based on their actions–then sure, it’s convenient to ignore what actually was intended. Voila!

    One could easily reverse this:

    If you have a goal of reducing the #age of activities which are defined and viewed as racist–which I’m beginning to think that many folks do, based on their actions–then sure, it’s convenient to focus only on what white people say they intended. Voila!

  22. 22
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    Amp,

    When I talk about general “people”–making the precise point of generality–and you replace it with “white people.” you’re entirely changing what I said. That comes across as pretty dishonest.

    I would never suggest that we pay attention to the intent of white people and ignore the intent of other people.

    Neither would I suggest that intent isn’t a double-edged sword. If I call you a “Californian” intending to insult you by it, the fact that you might not care doesn’t make me less obnoxious.

    I’m saying that viewing it as a one-way street (as generally is proposed in discussions w/r/t racism) is ridiculous. I don’t think that anyone would claim that intending to be racist wasn’t relevant evidence of being a racist. How could you hold that view and then suggest that intending not to be racist isn’t relevant evidence; i.e. that “intent doesn’t matter” as I’ve heard many times?

    And finally, I do not suggest that we focus solely on intent. What you intend to do; what you do; and how you are perceived by others are all relevant. I reject the concept that only the latter two are important or worthy of discussion.

  23. 23
    aestas says:

    gin:

    I think it’s perfectly reasonable to argue that racism plays a role, small or large, conscious or not, in every single interaction between a white person and a PoC. How could it not? You don’t have to like it, but the context of history and oppression, past and present, is always there, affecting every single of us in overt and covert ways.

    Could there be an outlier? For the sake of argument, I’ll say: sure. Maybe. But to focus on the possible outliers at the expense of the overall system is, again, disingenuous. We’re talking about real people’s daily lived experiences here, so going off into the land of abstractions and esoteric what-ifs feels disrespectful and like a derail, frankly.

    It comes down to this: if I’m going to be wrong about something, I’d rather err on the side of what you’d call “fairness.” If a PoC accuses me of racist behavior at some point when I know my intent was good and I don’t honestly feel like I’ve objectively done what they say, I hope I’ll have the character to shut my mouth, go home, and think hard about it, rather than get defensive and start whitesplaining. Because I know that regardless of my intentions or beliefs, chances are very, very good that that person will be right and I will be wrong, and I can learn something by listening and doing my best to absorb what that person has to say.

    You seem to think the U.S. justice system is a good model, at least in theory. Am I misunderstanding something there? Because you seem to also at least tangentially acknowledge the staggering inequality that exists in terms of who gets incarcerated, for what, and for how long. Maybe individual police officers, judges, etc. don’t think they’re being racist, but lo and behold: the statistics tell us something racist is happening, yes? Hence the term “structural inequality.” You’d like, it seems, to back off of the big picture and evaluate situations and people solely on their own (immediately obvious) merits, but that just doesn’t work in an oppressive system; it simply ends up supporting the structures of oppression.

    Look, I’ll give you another example, not altogether unlike Sebastian’s. A long time ago on a message board far away, there was a white mom who was very upset at a conversation she’d just had with a black mom on the playground while their kids were playing together. The black mom’s kid was swinging around on the monkey bars, and the white mom chuckled and commented, “Your kid’s so cute, just like a little monkey.” The black mom got upset and told the white mom she did not appreciate that comment. The white mom, genuinely confused, asked why not. She apparently had no idea that “monkey” can be a racial slur. When the black mom explained, the white mom got defensive and insisted she’d had no idea and therefore, it was not okay for the black mom to be upset with her. She then stormed off in a huff.

    You could say that racism played no part in this exchange, because really and truly, the white mom had not been aware that her statement could cause offense, and she certainly meant none. And had she taken the opportunity to learn something rather than getting defensive and angry, it probably would have been the end of the story. But racism did play a part in that exchange, because it was only due to the white mom’s white privilege that she was unaware of the slur and its context. When she was totally unwilling to acknowledge that and apologize for her unintended offense and instead got defensive and angry, the racism became more apparent. When she got on a message board to complain about how the black mom had gone all divisive and reverse-racism on her for no reason, it became even more apparent.

    Unexamined privilege is still privilege, and if you’re white, you have it, and it affects your interactions with other people, whether you mean for it to or not. Same for structural inequality, whether you are directly responsible for any of it or not. Someone, at some point, has got to be accountable if we ever want anything to change, and it seems to me that the easiest thing for us white people is just to start with ourselves. And maybe not to go for looking for any and every reason why something is maybe not racism when it appears pretty obvious that it is. I mean, aside from trying to have decent values: Occam’s Razor, you know?

    The point I’m trying to make is that applying principles of justice (using your definition) to a system that’s inherently not just (because racism, including structural inequality, is a real thing that continues to affect the system and the individuals in it) does not work. And the results are neither fair nor just. Individuals don’t float around in a vacuum, however much they might like to think they do.

  24. 24
    aestas says:

    Or, just read this, where Amp already said everything I’m trying to say in a much more clear and concise manner.

    Or better yet, read blogs like The Angry Black Woman, La Lubu, Angry Black Bitch, Colorlines, Resist Racism, and tons of others regularly. I have learned a lot from all of them.

  25. 25
    Ampersand says:

    When I talk about general “people”–making the precise point of generality–and you replace it with “white people.” you’re entirely changing what I said. That comes across as pretty dishonest.

    I didn’t attribute the fake quote to you, and I don’t think anyone would have understood it as being attributed to you. So I don’t buy your accusation of dishonesty.

    I don’t think intent is always meaningless and should never be considered; but I do think that intent tends to get far more attention in these discussions than it should.

  26. 26
    La Lubu says:

    lemme try this again. I lost a longer comment last night.)

    In THAT case (which gets pretty important when you’re judging an actor) the most relevant information is almost all individual: what the actor was actually thinking and what the actor actually intended.

    No. I’m not a mindreader. You’re not a mindreader. None of us are. You are suggesting that the testimony of the actor (yeah, that’s an unbiased source!)should hold equal weight to the interpretations of the actor’s actions by witnesses.

    You don’t seem to believe that there is such a thing as a prima facie racist act, or at least one that doesn’t involve overt racist slurs or organized white supremacist groups. I think you’re wrong; that there are easily recognized racist acts that never involve racial name-calling or even cursing or any other display of anger.

    You seem to think that any negative disparate treatment of POC vis-a-vis white people needs to first go through an elaborate flow chart of possible other explanations before taking the ground-level view that such incidents are racism. In the example above, you think that first we should examine the motives of the perpetrator; that perhaps he “just found out his wife had cancer”, and that was responsible for his physical threatening of DTWPS’ mother (a married black woman) for refusing to sleep with him. Or maybe he had just threatened John and Fred (presumably for also turning down his sexual advances) on his way down the hallway, and he was just on a roll. Maybe he’s threatening and sexually inappropriate with everyone he meets, and it has nothing to do with race or sex (and that somehow, his race and sex has nothing to do with his ability to keep a job with such behavior). I think that isn’t just stretching the limits of credulity, but shredding them to pieces.

    Here’s another thing:

    Both POC and whites do some of that bad shit in response to the race of their victims.

    This strikes me as false equivalency. The way you phrase this seems to suggest that you believe that these bad acts are equal in number and in degree. Is this the case—that you believe people of color are committing an equivalent number of acts of bigotry and hatred, against whites as the converse? With the same degree of severity and impact?

    Also: do you believe there is objective (independent of any one individual’s assessment) evidence of structural, systemic racism?

  27. 27
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    It comes down to this: if I’m going to be wrong about something, I’d rather err on the side of what you’d call “fairness.”

    And I’d rather err on the side of what I call “justice.”

    If a PoC accuses me of racist behavior at some point when I know my intent was good and I don’t honestly feel like I’ve objectively done what they say,

    Let me get this straight: as I read this, I’m understanding that we’re talking about the racism equivalent of Sebastian’s “I have no interest in your breasts because I’m 100% gay; you were just in front of the snack section” story. I.e. you’ve been accused of racism and you didn’t actually do what you’re accused of doing, at all. (If that assumption is wrong, then obviously the analysis won’t work either.)

    I hope I’ll have the character to shut my mouth, go home, and think hard about it, rather than get defensive and start whitesplaining.

    What? Why on earth would YOU have a character issue in that example? How could it be a character flaw for you to assert the truth of things that are actually true? Why would you use a derogatory term for it?

    And why would you assume that the POC in question would want you to go along with an accusation you know is false? Do you expect that people in general (much less POC specifically) would prefer never to have any of their assumptions challenged? And would you think that preference to be reasonable?

    And if the POC does have that preference–which I have no reason to believe is the case in your example–why would you ever buy in, much less take the blame? If a POC expects people to accede to accusations of racism and “shut up and think” irrespective of the truth behind the accusations, then it’s THEM who has a character flaw, isn’t it? Because normally, we’d refer to that as “bullying” and I don’t think there’s an exception for POC.

    and I can learn something by listening and doing my best to absorb what that person has to say.

    Sure, if it’s right. In this example, it’s not right. So I suppose you could learn something about perception, just as the POC in your example could learn something about perception.

    You seem to think the U.S. justice system is a good model, at least in theory. Am I misunderstanding something there? Because you seem to also at least tangentially acknowledge the staggering inequality that exists in terms of who gets incarcerated, for what, and for how long. Maybe individual police officers, judges, etc. don’t think they’re being racist, but lo and behold: the statistics tell us something racist is happening, yes? Hence the term “structural inequality.” You’d like, it seems, to back off of the big picture and evaluate situations and people solely on their own (immediately obvious) merits, but that just doesn’t work in an oppressive system; it simply ends up supporting the structures of oppression.

    I acknowledge the considerable systemic inequality of the U.S.

    I also am well aware of the catch-22 of fixing it. Because of course, you usually need to promote and engage in racial preferences to fix a systemic equality that originates from racial preferences and which exists as racial differences. You can’t treat everyone the same and simultaneously achieve the goal of selectively improving the lot of a particular racial group. You need to treat groups differently (preferring one race over the other) if the goal is to selectively improve one racial group.

    But of course that’s a delicate line to walk. And since I don’t generally trust people discretion (especially when it aligns with their self-interest) I’m much more in favor of systemic solutions to systemic problems, than I am of individual solutions to systemic problems. Systemic solutions tend to average outliers and end up being a bit more moderate, and because they often involve larger groups are less susceptible to being corrupted.

    Would you trust my opinion regarding this issue?
    Would you expect ABW or any of the other blog authors you reference to trust my opinion regarding this issue?
    Would you expect that I may be biased, because I have an interest in a certain outcome?

    There are rhetorical questions. Of course I’m biased! Even though I’m doing my best to avoid bias–a statement which you may or may not believe–I’m biased anyway.

    But we all are. Why would you assume I’m any different from anyone else? Why would you promote a system of interaction which relies on the individual discretionary judgment of any normally-biased group of people?

  28. 28
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    La Lubu says:
    February 16, 2012 at 5:27 am
    No. I’m not a mindreader. You’re not a mindreader. None of us are. You are suggesting that the testimony of the actor (yeah, that’s an unbiased source!)should hold equal weight to the interpretations of the actor’s actions by witnesses.

    No, that’s not what I’m saying.

    Of course the actor is biased. That’s a simple one.
    And of course the victim is also biased. That’s a simple one too, albeit a bit less politically acceptable.

    The witnesses are biased, too–everyone is–but less so than either of the parties.

    You don’t seem to believe that there is such a thing as a prima facie racist act, or at least one that doesn’t involve overt racist slurs or organized white supremacist groups. I think you’re wrong; that there are easily recognized racist acts that never involve racial name-calling or even cursing or any other display of anger.

    Why would you assign that belief to me? Of course there are all sorts of non-angry racism acts, and effects. The one I work with most is racial discrimination in employment, but that’s a single example. When a big employer does layoff and drops 50% of the POC employees and 5% of the identically-qualified white employees, it’s plenty of evidence of racism.

    You seem to think that any negative disparate treatment of POC vis-a-vis white people needs to first go through an elaborate flow chart of possible other explanations before taking the ground-level view that such incidents are racism.

    Well, that’s a pretty crucial goalpost move, here. It’s not one I object to at all, but important enough to flag it:

    Look at those words “vis-a-vis white people.” Those are the magic “racism!” words in my book, and for many other folks.

    Treating POC badly isn’t necessarily racist (though of course it can be racist.)
    Treating POC badly isn’t necessarily racist whether or not the actor is white (though of course it can be racist.)
    Treating POC relatively worse vis-a-vis white people is presumably racist, even if the overall treatment isn’t bad (though of course it can end up being NOT racist.)

    (there are other racial issues which don’t involve white people at all. I’m ignoring them for simplicity.)

    In the example above, you think that first we should examine the motives of the perpetrator; that perhaps he “just found out his wife had cancer”, and that was responsible for his physical threatening of DTWPS’ mother (a married black woman) for refusing to sleep with him. Or maybe he had just threatened John and Fred (presumably for also turning down his sexual advances) on his way down the hallway, and he was just on a roll. Maybe he’s threatening and sexually inappropriate with everyone he meets, and it has nothing to do with race or sex (and that somehow, his race and sex has nothing to do with his ability to keep a job with such behavior). I think that isn’t just stretching the limits of credulity, but shredding them to pieces.

    This is a miscommunication.
    I don’t think ANY of those apply. i have no reason–credible or otherwise–to think that they do. And I didn’t say I did. (If you reread the post, you should see that, I think.)

    I was only using those as example. I’m making the point that a wholesale rejection of white folks’ comments regarding intent or circumstances, as was implicitly or explicitly suggested in various threads, would end up rejecting a lot of theoretically-important data.

    When you use a rule that “white folks’ objections to racism generally aren’t credible or appropriate” or, worse, “all objections to racism generally aren’t credible or appropriate” then you end up deliberately ignoring information which is relevant. That’s a bad rule.

    Here’s another thing:

    Both POC and whites do some of that bad shit in response to the race of their victims.

    This strikes me as false equivalency. The way you phrase this seems to suggest that you believe that these bad acts are equal in number and in degree. Is this the case—that you believe people of color are committing an equivalent number of acts of bigotry and hatred, against whites as the converse?

    First: the question needs to be one of rates, not numbers.
    I.e. if you have 70% white and 30% POC, you’d expect that 70% of crimes would be committed by whites. That wouldn’t mean that whites were more likely to commit crimes.

    And the answer is… I don’t know. Certainly I’m more familiar with whites’ bigotry and dislike than I am with that of POC. That’s partly because I’m white and partly because whites have the ability, generally speaking, to do worse things.

    But I’m not convinced it stands alone. Based on the current and historic actions of the world population, racial dislike and hatred seem to be pretty universal, and I don’t see any evidence to suggest that any particular racial group is immune from those thoughts. The effects mainly seem to be an issue of which group has power.

    With the same degree of severity and impact?

    Not at the moment, in the U.S., since whites have the benefit of a biased system. See above.

    Also: do you believe there is objective (independent of any one individual’s assessment) evidence of structural, systemic racism?

    Yes, no matter which definition you use–though specific examples of it, and the degree of it, would strongly depend on the definition you choose.

    For example, I don’t agree that it’s appropriate to define a process as structurally or systemically racist only because the outcome is racially imbalanced. The process may be neutral, and the inputs may not be correct. not every process can be (or should be) tweaked to get magically neutral outputs.

    For example, the U.S. is racist (and classist) in terms of how it distributes access to elementary and secondary education. And you surely know that the SAT scores are very correlated race and class. But that doesn’t, as some folks suggest, necessarily mean that the SAT itself is racist: the outputs can be predicted with relative ease based on the inputs. The racial effects are essentially predetermined before the test; they’re not really the result of the test.

  29. 29
    Grace Annam says:

    gin & whiskey:

    What? Why on earth would YOU have a character issue in that example? How could it be a character flaw for you to assert the truth of things that are actually true? Why would you use a derogatory term for it?

    I can’t answer for aestas, but I can answer as though you had asked the question of me:

    First, because I might not be right, and if I assert myself when I’m wrong, I’m behaving like an ass. So until I’m sure that I’m right, I’m going to be careful about asserting it. Second, because earlier in my life I did not know what privilege was, and did not see any but the most glaringly obvious ways in which I benefited from playing on a surface slanted in my favor. Now I have learned a lot more about it, and I suspect strongly that I’m not yet perfect, so I’m probably still not seeing some of my privilege. Because of that, it behooves me to listen carefully when someone tells me to check it. Third, because I’m an adult, and usually have the resources to take a minor personal hit for the greater good (it’s a lot of what I do professionally, actually). So, if by shutting up and thinking I can help redress a tiny, tiny amount of systemic wrong, if I can make the life of the person I’m talking to … someone who has to deal with being discounted routinely every day … if I can make that person’s life just that much easier by showing them the respect and courtesy of not immediately discounting what they just said … then often I’ll do it.

    Example: awhile back, I was speaking before a large group of people. The group was debating the rights of LGBT people, and one side wanted to take a step toward rolling back some progress which we had made toward more equal rights. They were representing their side as objecting to the process, to how it happened rather than what it was. It wasn’t that they were necessarily against equal rights for LGBT people, oh no! It was just that we thought that LGBT people should have those rights taken away again so that we could then go through a long and involved process of, apparently, re-recognizing those rights in a better way. When my came turn to speak, others had made most of the good points better than I could, so I simply pointed out that, regardless of how it had happened up until now, if we voted to start over, we were in fact taking equal rights away. During my speech, I pointed to the smoke and mirrors and said, “Let’s be straight about this. This is what will happen.” By “straight”, I intended to convey “straightforward, open, honest, direct, frank”.

    When I returned to my seat, my wife mentioned to me that the gay couple seated in front of us had winced visibly at the phrase, “Let’s be straight about this.” Suddenly I realized that what I intended to mean was not the entire meaning I had managed to convey. It was plainly obvious that I was arguing for LGBT rights, so they knew what I meant. But they had still winced, because however their brains interpreted my intended meaning, their guts reacted to how what I said was associated with past lived trauma.

    I could have said nothing. I could have said to them, “I didn’t mean straight like straight/queer, I meant straight like straightforward, so that makes it okay, and by the way, I just want to say from the comfortable position of someone whose rights aren’t on the chopping block, I just love all you LGBT people, you’re the cutest ever.” Instead, I chose to say to them, “I am so sorry. That was really clumsy of me. I’m going to remember it and do my best not to do it again.”

    When a big employer does layoff and drops 50% of the POC employees and 5% of the identically-qualified white employees, it’s plenty of evidence of racism.

    Well, not necessarily. What if the POC employees were all more recent hires? Maybe it’s just evidence of seniority. And what if the POC employees were, in fact, less competent? Hey, it could happen, statistically, you can’t rule it out!

    See what I did there?

    How does that feel? Is it frustrating at all? What if there were people who did it to you every time you were trying to make a heartfelt point in good faith?

    Grace

    [edited to add a quote attribution]

  30. 30
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    Grace Annam says:
    February 16, 2012 at 10:06 am

    I can’t answer for aestas, but I can answer as though you had asked the question of me:

    First, because I might not be right, and if I assert myself when I’m wrong, I’m behaving like an ass. So until I’m sure that I’m right, I’m going to be careful about asserting it.

    (I think we’re working off a hypothetical example here, where you know you were right)

    But say you’re not certain you’re right, but you think so. Would you say something, or nothing? And since I don’t have a stake in whatever choice you make on such a personal issue, let me restate that a bit: do you believe it is generally preferable to take a particular course of action, and/or would you find it appropriate to condemn one choice or another? Would you apply the same standard to the person you’re talking to?

    …if I can make that person’s life just that much easier by showing them the respect and courtesy of not immediately discounting what they just said … then often I’ll do it.

    Sometimes I will choose to do that as well. Everyone goes through life ignoring all sorts of stuff.

    But saying that you choose to do it is a far cry from suggesting that it’s a requirement, or even that it’s something which is generally advisable.

    At heart, if I’m having a shitty day and am (as a result) rude to you, it’s my own problem, not yours. And if you’re having a shitty day and (as a result) you take offense to me wishing you “good morning,” then it’s your problem, not mine.

    I could have said nothing. I could have said to them, “I didn’t mean straight like straight/queer, I meant straight like straightforward, so that makes it okay, and by the way, I just want to say from the comfortable position of someone whose rights aren’t on the chopping block, I just love all you LGBT people, you’re the cutest ever.”

    Let’s eliminate the deliberately ridiculous stuff here.

    Imagine that you had just said “I didn’t mean straight like straight/queer, I meant straight like straightforward. Sorry if I wasn’t clear.”

    Would that be defensive? Inappropriate? Would it be anti-gay? Because I’m advocating against the concept by which (to continue with your example” you’d have said “I didn’t mean straight like straight/queer, I meant straight like straightforward. Sorry if I wasn’t clear.” and then have your response judged as offensive and insufficiently considerate, even though what you did is not, by most measures, “really clumsy” at all.

    When a big employer does layoff and drops 50% of the POC employees and 5% of the identically-qualified white employees, it’s plenty of evidence of racism.

    Well, not necessarily. What if the POC employees were all more recent hires? Maybe it’s just evidence of seniority. And what if the POC employees were, in fact, less competent? Hey, it could happen, statistically, you can’t rule it out!
    See what I did there?
    How does that feel? Is it frustrating at all? What if there were people who did it to you every time you were trying to make a heartfelt point in good faith?

    There are such people, a/k/a “opposing parties,” which I deal with all the time and IIRC you have to deal with as well. But in any case, those seem like perfectly reasonable questions to me. I wouldn’t expect anyone to rely on my own “what it looks like at first glance” assessment. Nor would I expect anyone to ignore an important-to-them question merely because it didn’t seem relevant to me. After all, I wouldn’t accept that in reverse.

    This is what comes of being an advocate on both sides. All my contract clients expect to settle their bills with other folks for 80% on the dollar, yet always expect their own bills to be paid in full. And I am almost being literal when I say “all” of them. It makes one a bit cynical at times.

    If a protest is irrelevant and has little effect, then that can usually be dealt with swiftly: there’s not a whole lot of reason to ignore it entirely. If it is a big deal enough that it requires real thought and work to explain or work around, then the extra work is usually sensible.

    As for the “heartfelt” part: Well, I’ll try to modify the tone of what I say to accommodate someone else’s emotions. But the fact that someone else is invested (or less invested) in a point seems usually less relevant than whether that point is actually correct.

  31. 31
    dragon_snap says:

    I agree with you, Grace (that is, I agree with your conclusions wholeheartedly; I don’t want to assume that we’re using the same premises, though that may indeed be the case.) Also, sorry everyone that this comment is so long.

    I think it’s possible that the major difference between your POV and mine, G&S, is that one of my top priorities, as someone who is committed to dismantling the kyriarchy, is not perpetuating it. For me, that includes trying to avoid adding bs/oppression to the lives of people who experience marginalization. Good or neutral intent on my or any other white person’s part doesn’t protect POC from the very real harm the actions of white people can result in, whether it’s because of ignorance, or because of the racist societal and cultural context we all inhabit. (That is, intent isn’t magic.)

    So, on the one hand, it is most important to you that things are just, as you define it. For me, however, it is most important that I try to have as little negative impact on the subjective experiences of the people I interact with. Because I am privileged in many respects (though not all), when I am interacting with people who experience marginalization in ways I do not (it’s a whole other kettle of fish when we both experience the same/similar oppressions), I have to be extra careful, because not only do my actions have greater potential to cause harm, I am less aware of the ways in which it may do so.

    Imagine that you had just said “I didn’t mean straight like straight/queer, I meant straight like straightforward. Sorry if I wasn’t clear.”

    Would that be defensive? Inappropriate? Would it be anti-gay? Because I’m advocating against the concept by which (to continue with your example” you’d have said “I didn’t mean straight like straight/queer, I meant straight like straightforward. Sorry if I wasn’t clear.” and then have your response judged as offensive and insufficiently considerate, even though what you did is not, by most measures, “really clumsy” at all.

    I would argue that yes, saying so would be inappropriate, because it places more importance on the intent of the actor than on the consequences of the action. It suggests that whether the couple hearing it were painfully reminded by that statement of all the other times they’d been made to feel less than straight people or heteronormative couples is irrelevent. You may agree that that is so, but I vehemently do not. And although that may be far from just, recognizing that my intent may have little impact on the consequences of my actions and deferring to the subjective experience of those who experience oppression is something that has a much smaller toll on me, mentally and emotionally, than experiencing that oppression in the first place. And thus to me, it’s worth it.

    Straight (vanilla, monogamous) people live on, for the most part, planet “my-sexual-and-romantic-preferences-and-relationhships-are-valourized.” LGBQ people, like Sebastian and myself, live on planet “my-sexual-and-romantic-preferences-are-demonized-or-ignored”. Those are two significantly different places, and if you live on the former planet, it’s very difficult (maybe impossible) to imagine what it’s like to live on the latter one, which is a more difficult place to live, though the landscapes may be equally stunning (sorry, the metaphor ran away from me a bit there). Actions and words which would be neutral or good on the first planet might be hurtful or upsetting on the second, and as a person living on the first planet, privy to all the benefits it entails, it’s important to realize this and try not to make living on the second planet any more difficult than it already is.

    As Brittani on Autostraddle said about the sitcom 2 Broke Girls (emphasis by author):

    Critics seem genuinely surprised the show is popular despite its racist elements. I can think of a shit ton of things that are popular despite their racist elements: the justice system, the public school system, the cool kids at your high school, etc. I feel like racism is pretty popular in the same way this show is. If people don’t feel personally responsible, they figure it’s okay to sit around and silently reap its benefits.

    I attempt to challenge myself and others to accept my personal responsibility in supporting the various aspects of the kyriarchy. I feel that only once that is accomplished can the concept of justice be useful on an interpersonal scale; I feel that to act otherwise is to contribute to the continued oppression of most people in our society and culture.

  32. 32
    Sebastian H says:

    “I think it’s possible that the major difference between your POV and mine, G&S, is that one of my top priorities, as someone who is committed to dismantling the kyriarchy, is not perpetuating it. For me, that includes trying to avoid adding bs/oppression to the lives of people who experience marginalization.”

    But there are two sides to that and I think they [might] go along as you progress in your comfort of the issue/your own person/your interactions with other people.

    Before you’re aware of it, you just feel oppressed and you don’t know why.

    Then you reach the point where you recognize it, or start to think about it. At that stage it can be very important to have people properly validate your experience: i.e. Yes, you really did just hear that guy say @#$@#%, and spit in your direction because he thought you were X.

    And once you’re open to the fact of it, you start to see it a lot. Which sucks, and can add to a huge feeling of oppression in your life.

    But like almost all human discoveries, you can take it too far, and you might start to classify even innocent things as hurtful. That can lead to an oppositional stance which might work well for some people, but it can also lead to a feeling of constant oppression that might not work well for others.

    If it truly is the case that some of the interactions which you are going through aren’t oppressive, but are being processed by you as oppressive, it is a good thing to figure/find that out.

    It is a balance about how we process information.

    Let me take it a slightly different direction to illustrate my point.

    I had a roommate for about 8 years who had been through some VERY serious shit as a child. We’re talking about horrible sexual abuse and vicious beatings by multiple different people who should have been taking care of him instead of abusing him. Part of how he survived was by developing a hair trigger sensitivity to people’s moods and their interactions with him. I truly don’t believe he would have made it to adulthood without that.

    BUT, these perfectly understandable survival instincts were screwing up his ability to have friends and relationships in his 40s.

    I NEVER told him that he didn’t have a right to have those survival instincts or that he was wrong to have developed them. He literally would not have lived without them.

    What I told him was that the reflexive tools he had developed to survive at one point in his life, were causing him to misinterpret things in ways that hurt him later in his life. At this later point in his life, he needed to find a different balance.

    Now I’m not going to try to decide for the world what balance everyone needs right now. I’m pretty sure it is different for different people.

    But when they need a different balance, they probably will be relieved to find out that not ALL of those things were horrible interactions.

  33. 33
    Elusis says:

    You know what’s really helpful for hurt people?

    Explaining to them why they’re over-reactive and really needn’t be hurt at all.

  34. 34
    Robert says:

    I think it would depend on the person, Elusis, and where they were in life, and their personality, etc.

    Sometimes it is very helpful to have an outside party tell us that our interpretations are incorrect. Obviously it is going to depend on the people, and obviously there are going to be many times when the outside party is acting in their own interest or in the interest of a racist or Xist society and trying to minimize a real harm.

    But if I sincerely think that everyone who cuts me off in traffic is doing it because they hate blonde men, it might be – again, might be – helpful to have my brunette roommate tell me “dude, I think they just wanted to get ahead of you, I don’t think it had anything to do with you personally”.

    In this conversation’s context, should white people be extremely reticent about volunteering that sort of feedback to POC? Heck yes. Not only are we likely to be clueless about the perceptions of the person of color, we are likely to be trying to soothe our own emotional state rather than providing helpful information to a friend. It’s uncomfortable to know that the world is racist; finding counterexamples (even if we have to stretch to justify it as a counterexample) is a temptation that’s hard to resist. Far better to simply be supportive of the friend who is feeling pain, and save the avuncular wisdom for when it’s asked for.

    At the same time, I have had friends who were POC ask me whether they thought such-and-such event or statement was racist, or personal, or just contingent on other factors, or what, and in that specific circumstance I think that a reasoned and self-examining reply might be helpful. Even counsel that is ultimately rejected as unsound can be helpful in presenting a devil’s advocate point of view. The error many people make is assuming that devil’s advocate POV is a precious and rare commodity, and that NATURALLY everyone wants to hear it.

    I think Sebastian’s friend likely found it helpful to his overall social success, if not to his immediate comfort, to hear that his algorithms needed a tuneup to deal with changed life circumstances. I can easily see how Sebastian could have delivered that information sensitively and in a way likely to be heard, or aggressively and jerkishly and counterproductively, but the statement in and of itself could be helpful or unhelpful.

    People are complicated.

  35. 35
    KellyK says:

    Good or neutral intent on my or any other white person’s part doesn’t protect POC from the very real harm the actions of white people can result in, whether it’s because of ignorance, or because of the racist societal and cultural context we all inhabit. (That is, intent isn’t magic.)

    Absolutely. You can do racist things without racist intent. Whether something is racist is about its effects on people of color, not only about your intent. The bully who targets black women because he feels superior to them is being racist, but so is the bully who would be an equal opportunity jerk–except that he’s found he can get away with much worse behavior by targeting black women.

    From people you have a personal relationship with, sure, intent matters. If someone says something that hurts you, it’s much better to know that they misspoke or were clueless than to think that they were deliberately throwing you under the bus. From random strangers, not so much.

  36. 36
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    dragon_snap said
    It suggests that whether the couple hearing it were painfully reminded by that statement of all the other times they’d been made to feel less than straight people or heteronormative couples is irrelevant. You may agree that that is so, but I vehemently do not.

    It’s obviously not irrelevant to the couple that was offended. No disagreement there.

    But you’re correct about the second part: I disagree that the behavior of other random people is an appropriate reason to more harshly judge, or more strictly demand action from, Hypothetical Grace.

    I don’t think there’s anything wrong if you or Hypothetical Grace want to go the extra mile, or if you want to do anything. I am simply arguing against the concept that you should be, under any reasonable measure, judged for failing to do so.

    I admit that’s self-serving, to a degree. It’s hard enough to try to be a decent person in life IMO without also taking up the burdens of compensating for unknown indecencies committed by other people who aren’t under your control, who you don’t know, and who–depending on the issue you decide you’re compensating for–may not even be alive.

    And just to be clear by repeating myself, I am ENTIRELY in support of you, Hypothetical Grace, or anyone else deciding to do it on your own. It’s a bit monkish, which I mean in this context as a high compliment.

    But it’s not, as far as I know, practiced especially much. By anyone, POC and white alike. Most people don’t take on the perceived sins of their racial group. If there’s a room full of various people hearing a bunch of crime reports, it’s not as if an Asian is responsible for apologizing for crimes committed by Asians, or that a White person is responsible for apologizing for crimes committed by whites, or a Black person responsible for crimes…

    And I’m not really convinced that it’s a workable philosophy, though I don’t find it objectionable.

  37. 37
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    Elusis says:
    February 16, 2012 at 11:35 pm
    You know what’s really helpful for hurt people?
    Explaining to them why they’re over-reactive and really needn’t be hurt at all.

    No, of course not.

    But that’s not what I’m advocating, at all. You can be as hurt or upset as you want; it’s not my business to change that. Your internal issues are private.

    It’s when you bring your internal issues public–by describing a situation inaccurately, or by classifying someone else inaccurately–that you lose that ability to claim it’s all about you. If my past makes me feel assaulted when you tap me on the shoulder and say “excuse me, can I get past?” that’s horrible for me and it’s not your right to tell me to suck it up. But if I start saying that you assaulted me, then it’s entirely your right to protest.

    (the global you, not you, Elusis, in particular.)

  38. 38
    Robert Berger says:

    America is the most sexist nation in the world ? Unbelievable that any one could make such a ludicrous claim. If you think so, why not move to Saudi Arabia, where women are not allowed do drive cars, or to the numerous Muslim countries where little girls are subject to genital mutilation. Or Afghanistan, where the Taliban pours acid on the faces of girls for going to school.
    Or to Iran, where a woman has been sentenced to be executed by stoning for adultery, something she may not even be guilty of.
    Racism and sexism exist everywhere on earth . How about the brutal
    racism of Beijing toward the Muslim Uigur Turks, a racially Caucasian people in its westermost provice Xinjiang ? To say that America is a “racist” country is like saying that the Pacific is a salty ocean. Of course it is. All the oceans are salty.

  39. 39
    biyuti says:

    A quick note, since no one else has mentioned it. The blogger at DTWPS’s preferred pronouns are ‘they, them, their,’ and not her. I kept getting confused reading the post, not knowing when their mom was being discussed or DTWPS themselves.

  40. 40
    Angel H. says:

    Y’know, I was going to get involved in this conversation. But trying to convince White people, for the umpteenth time, that POC know what we’re talking when we claim something is racist is exhausting at best, triggering at worst.

    I mean, what would *we* know about it?

  41. 41
    KellyK says:

    It’s obviously not irrelevant to the couple that was offended. No disagreement there.

    But you’re correct about the second part: I disagree that the behavior of other random people is an appropriate reason to more harshly judge, or more strictly demand action from, Hypothetical Grace.

    I don’t think there’s anything wrong if you or Hypothetical Grace want to go the extra mile, or if you want to do anything. I am simply arguing against the concept that you should be, under any reasonable measure, judged for failing to do so.

    I admit that’s self-serving, to a degree. It’s hard enough to try to be a decent person in life IMO without also taking up the burdens of compensating for unknown indecencies committed by other people who aren’t under your control, who you don’t know, and who–depending on the issue you decide you’re compensating for–may not even be alive.

    I really disagree with this. If your actions hurt someone, and it’s apparent to you that you hurt them, the decent thing to do is to apologize and try to make things right. Not being responsible for harm other random people have done doesn’t excuse you from ignoring harm that you cause, even if what you caused was worse because of, or only happened because of, other people’s actions.

    And if you’re in a privileged position, you have the opportunity to pile harm on people in less privileged positions, often unknowingly. It’s not that you’re supposed to be a mind reader or do everything perfectly, but when you slip up or something comes across in a way you totally didn’t intend, it’s kind of a jerk move to say, “Well, that’s not how I meant it, so too bad for you if it bothered you.”

  42. 42
    CS Hearns says:

    ABW,

    While I agree with your post, could you please refrain from using the term butthurt. It feels to me like yet another hip anti-gay slang word.

  43. 43
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    KellyK says:
    February 19, 2012 at 4:42 am
    If your actions hurt someone, and it’s apparent to you that you hurt them, the decent thing to do is to apologize and try to make things right. Not being responsible for harm other random people have done doesn’t excuse you from ignoring harm that you cause, even if what you caused was worse because of, or only happened because of, other people’s actions.

    It seems like you’re saying that pretty much anyone has the right to demand an apology from you for doing something that hurt them, even if you don’t think it’s justified–and that the decent thing is to give the apology.

    But I doubt that’s what you’re really saying as a general rule: surely you can’t do that for every person in every situation, right? (otherwise it would open you up to constant attacks based on tone and content, which I doubt you intend. “That’s horrible!” >> “That accusation is offensive!” >>”Oh, sorry.”)

    Can you explain a bit, please?

    And if you’re in a privileged position, you have the opportunity to pile harm on people in less privileged positions, often unknowingly. It’s not that you’re supposed to be a mind reader or do everything perfectly, but when you slip up or something comes across in a way you totally didn’t intend, it’s kind of a jerk move to say, “Well, that’s not how I meant it, so too bad for you if it bothered you.”

    What I say is up to me. Whether it was reasonable is up to society. Whether it bothers the listener is up to them.

    And again, do you actually mean this? If someone gets upset when you mention blastulas in the context of a contraception debate, you probably don’t fold, right? Because there are a lot of people who would get upset a lot of the time, about things that you probably feel are pretty damn important, and reasonable, to say.

    Would you grant me that sort of control over your speech? Presumably not. Should I, then, grant it to you? Should either of us give it to anyone else? Why?

    There’s a lot of room for systemic social change: you can feed poor people, admit underrepresented people, etc. But doing so requires a certain level of communication between groups. What you’re advocating seems to be a one-way interference with communication, based on your relative position in the kyriarchy. It doesn’t make sense to me at all.

    And also: It’s hard to write this without getting called a concern troll, but how isn’t your strategy incredibly paternalistic? The beauty of a systemic solution is that you get to maintain equal treatment of people in an individual interaction. That’s why I like them so much.

    I may pay much higher taxes to help those who have less money, which is great–but I don’t have to try to figure out who is poor, and whether (or how much) I should give them extra conversational deference, in every situation. It’s hard to treat someone with kid gloves while maintaining respect for them as complete equals: it’s far better to separate the assistance so that doesn’t become an issue. Do all the posts mocking people who get their “fee-fees” hurt by something, all of a sudden become moot when it’s in reverse? Of course not.

  44. 44
    dragon_snap says:

    KellyK, I’m with you all the way :) I’d just like to add one more reason that “going the extra mile”, or what I view as being the change I want to see in the world, aka a necessary part of my commitment to ending oppression, is important.

    Most people don’t take on the perceived sins of their racial group. If there’s a room full of various people hearing a bunch of crime reports, it’s not as if an Asian is responsible for apologizing for crimes committed by Asians, or that a White person is responsible for apologizing for crimes committed by whites, or a Black person responsible for crimes…

    The thing is, regardless of my personal intentions and actions, because I am white, and because I/we live in a culture and society which is systemically racist, I have benefited from white privilege, every day of my life (as have my parents and their parents and grandparents before them). Thus, it is never just between any particular POC and my ancestors, or the other white people in positions of power today (never mind that if I’m interacting with a POC, especially if they, like me, don’t have gender or sexuality privilege, I would be in a position of social power over them). I, personally, have benefited from racism, just by being white. Therefore, given that racism is neither fair nor just nor good, I, personally, have a responsibility to not add to the giant pile of Racist Things and Structures That Have Happened and Exist, and to try to effect change such that eventually the pile never grows any larger at all.

  45. 45
    KellyK says:

    It seems like you’re saying that pretty much anyone has the right to demand an apology from you for doing something that hurt them, even if you don’t think it’s justified–and that the decent thing is to give the apology.

    No, that’s not what I’m saying. I’m saying that the actual fact of causing hurt isn’t magically erased by good intentions, and that if you want to be a decent person, you need to consider the actual effects of what you say, not just your intent, or just how it would be taken in a perfect world, by someone who’s having a good day. And you can apologize for your choice of words while standing by your opinions.

    Also, saying “whether something bothers someone is up to them” is really only partly true. Sure, they have control over the conscious reaction, over whether they decide to give you the benefit of the doubt or not, and over whether they decide to dwell on something that bothers them. But I don’t think most people have perfect control over their emotions to the extent that they can just make something not bother them through sheer force of will.

    And again, do you actually mean this? If someone gets upset when you mention blastulas in the context of a contraception debate, you probably don’t fold, right? Because there are a lot of people who would get upset a lot of the time, about things that you probably feel are pretty damn important, and reasonable, to say.

    Would you grant me that sort of control over your speech? Presumably not. Should I, then, grant it to you? Should either of us give it to anyone else? Why?

    Again, it’s not about granting someone else control over what you say, or not talking about topics that bother people. It’s about accepting responsibility for what you say and the fact that words actually have consequences. There’s a huge difference between, “I see that when I said X, it bothered you. I meant Y but phrased it poorly, and I’m sorry it upset you,” and “I’m sorry that my talking about Y at all bothers you, so I will just stop talking completely.”

    It’s funny that you mention contraception, because I recently posted something on Facebook about Virginia’s bill requiring trans-vaginal ultrasounds prior to an abortion. One of my friends, who’s currently pregnant and has had a miscarriage, was really upset by the direction the conversation took, so I told her I was sorry for her loss and sorry that it had brought up painful memories for her. That doesn’t mean I’m never allowed to talk about that topic; I continued the conversation. But I randomly smacked her upside the head with deeply painful memories–of course that merits an apology.

    Similarly, when people post really disturbing pictures of abused animals on Facebook, it bothers me. And by “bothers me,” I mean “triggers a minor panic attack.” I’m sure their intent is nothing but good. But that good intent doesn’t somehow negate the real effects of what they said.

    That’s not to say that they’re responsible for my mental health, or that they should never say anything ever for fear of harming someone, but if I were to go to them and say, you know, that really bothered me, can you please not do that anymore, I’d be more than a little irritated if they said, “Hey, it’s a free country, I can post whatever I want, and if you don’t like it, that’s too freaking bad.” Sure, they’re within their rights to say that, but they’re being a jerk.

    Once you know that something you say is causing actual harm, not annoyance or mild frustration but real emotional harm, if you continue to say those things to that person (or similar things in similar situations) and tell yourself that it’s their problem, not yours, you’re being a jerk. In some situations you might decide that being a jerk is the only way you can get your point across, so that’s what you do, but it doesn’t mean you’re somehow blameless and they’re overreacting.

  46. 46
    KellyK says:

    There’s a lot of room for systemic social change: you can feed poor people, admit underrepresented people, etc. But doing so requires a certain level of communication between groups. What you’re advocating seems to be a one-way interference with communication, based on your relative position in the kyriarchy. It doesn’t make sense to me at all.

    Um, no. I’m not suggesting limiting conversation between groups, just actually paying attention to how you come across to people in different groups, especially if you’re in a position of privilege relative to them. Not “don’t talk,” just “think before you talk; apologize if you screw up.”

    I also think it’s unreasonable to argue that any suggestion of taking responsibility for your own words is silencing people and giving other people control over what you say.

  47. 47
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    There’s a huge difference between, “I see that when I said X, it bothered you. I meant Y but phrased it poorly, and I’m sorry it upset you,” and “I’m sorry that my talking about Y at all bothers you, so I will just stop talking completely.”

    Sure! that wasn’t what I thought you meant.
    [scratches head]
    Er…can you explain how we’re disagreeing here?

    Grace and dragon_snap appear to have suggested an almost entirely listener-focused approach, at least if the listener is relatively disempowered.

    I argued against that, and for an approach which tried to be more objective but still polite, and gave an example of

    “I didn’t mean straight like straight/queer, I meant straight like straightforward. Sorry if I wasn’t clear.”

    You appear to be intending to disagree with me. But your proposal is within the bounds of what I’m imagining, so either I’m misreading it or we don’t actually disagree. I can’t tell which.

    Once you know that something you say is causing actual harm, not annoyance or mild frustration but real emotional harm, if you continue to say those things to that person (or similar things in similar situations) and tell yourself that it’s their problem, not yours, you’re being a jerk. In some situations you might decide that being a jerk is the only way you can get your point across, so that’s what you do, but it doesn’t mean you’re somehow blameless and they’re overreacting.

    That’s a dangerous line.

    Deliberately seeking out someone and trying to upset them for no reason is, of course, a problem. But there are some things which people need to be able to say. And generally speaking the truth is one of those things.

    I’m not talking about selectively presenting issues for the sheer purpose of making someone upset; that’s obnoxious. If you can get the point across without upsetting people, obviously that’s preferable. But I’m extremely suspicious of a concept that emotional feedback should take precedence over accuracy if that choice needs to be made.

    To use an example: as a parent, one has to occasionally upset one’s children. Although I (like most parents, I assume) occasionally act like a jerk to my kids, I certainly think that most of the time that I upset them, there’s a good reason behind it.

    I’m not suggesting limiting conversation between groups, just actually paying attention to how you come across to people in different groups, especially if you’re in a position of privilege relative to them. Not “don’t talk,” just “think before you talk; apologize if you screw up.”

    This is one of those tricky phrases which means more than it seems.

    How would you imagine that ‘paying attention to how you come across to less privileged groups’ would be enacted? Because I can’t help but feel that the means by which folks would judge whether or not someone’s “paying attention,” would be by what they said. Just like the proper social response to “check your privilege” isn’t “it looks fine, thanks.”

    I don’t know if you intend this, but there are a variety of well- or-slightly-coded means of limiting someone’s ability to converse and present their viewpoint. Asking someone to pay special attention to the feelings of their conversational partner (without doing the same in reverse) is one of those ways.

    And mutuality has a lot to do with it. I can have a VERY polite and formal conversation, even about extremely delicate things. It’s what I do for a living: we can talk open war over china tea cups, so to speak. But unless I have some particular reason to take it on the cheek–maybe it’s for my long term benefit; maybe I’m being paid, maybe I just feel charitable–I don’t usually give other folks a level of consideration that isn’t returned.

  48. 48
    KellyK says:

    I argued against that, and for an approach which tried to be more objective but still polite, and gave an example of

    “I didn’t mean straight like straight/queer, I meant straight like straightforward. Sorry if I wasn’t clear.”

    You appear to be intending to disagree with me. But your proposal is within the bounds of what I’m imagining, so either I’m misreading it or we don’t actually disagree. I can’t tell which.

    Okay, I think I see what we’re disagreeing on. You think that the “Sorry if I wasn’t clear” is an appropriate apology for a really poor choice of words in the context, which caused someone to visibly wince. To me, it sounds like a fake apology that totally misses the point. The problem isn’t the clarity–people knew what was meant. It was that the word choice was unintentionally heterosexist. “That didn’t come out the way I intended. I’m sorry I upset you,” would be an actual apology.

    I think you’re assuming when I say “pay attention to other people’s reactions” that I mean (or am implying) “and give those reactions total control over what you say and how you say it.”

    How would you imagine that ‘paying attention to how you come across to less privileged groups’ would be enacted? Because I can’t help but feel that the means by which folks would judge whether or not someone’s “paying attention,” would be by what they said. Just like the proper social response to “check your privilege” isn’t “it looks fine, thanks.”

    How about, if your comments cause them to visibly wince, consider whether what you said was hurtful, and potentially apologize. You’ll notice with words like “consider” and “potentially” I’m not suggesting that you always must come to the conclusion that you said something wrong.

    That seems to be the biggest issue you’re taking with what I’m saying, right?

    I don’t know if you intend this, but there are a variety of well- or-slightly-coded means of limiting someone’s ability to converse and present their viewpoint. Asking someone to pay special attention to the feelings of their conversational partner (without doing the same in reverse) is one of those ways.

    Why are you assuming that the conversational partner isn’t doing the same? I don’t think I said it had to all go one way. In any conversation, it should be mutual. One of the things about privilege, though, is that people see things that are unequal as equal because they’re normal. Like, if there’s a mixed-sex group and someone ensures that the women get to talk *the same amount* as the men, people tend to perceive that as the women talking A LOT, and the men hardly getting a word in.

    So if you [the generic and hypothetical you] think the other person in the conversation isn’t showing appropriate consideration for your feelings, and you’re in a position of privilege with respect to them, it’s possible that they’re being a jerk, but it’s also possible that you’re subconsciously expecting *deference* rather than *mutual respect.*

    Also, as far as ability to present a viewpoint, the more privileged someone is, the more ways and places they’re going to be able to do that, with a zillion people happy to agree with them. Nobody necessarily needs the ability to express any viewpoint at all, in any context, with no consequences. Before you argue that someone’s ability to speak is limited, what other contexts do they get to speak in? And how do they usually get received?

  49. 49
    Sebastian H says:

    “While I agree with your post, could you please refrain from using the term butthurt. It feels to me like yet another hip anti-gay slang word.”

    This would probably be the perfect case to show by example.

  50. 50
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    KellyK says:
    February 20, 2012 at 5:15 am
    Okay, I think I see what we’re disagreeing on. You think that the “Sorry if I wasn’t clear” is an appropriate apology for a really poor choice of words in the context, which caused someone to visibly wince. To me, it sounds like a fake apology that totally misses the point.

    It’s more accurate to say that I didn’t think it was a “really poor choice of words in the context” at all. (this is a bit tricky seeing as neither of us were there, so of course I may be wrong.) If you’re speaking to a large group and the group seems fine with what you say, the fact that a single couple gets offended doesn’t make it a “really poor choice of words.”

    So it’s not a fake apology, it’s just a different one. You’re apologizing for their upset–and that’s not fake; I would regret having upset them–but you’re not apologizing for having done anything wrong. To use a completely different example: when you get on the bus and you’re dripping wet because it’s raining: you say “sorry” to people you touch, because you get them wet. You try to avoid dripping on dry people. But you’re not doing anything wrong by being wet, even if some folks find your proximity to be unpleasant.

    The problem isn’t the clarity–people knew what was meant. It was that the word choice was unintentionally heterosexist.

    Seriously? That doesn’t seem heterosexist, unintentionally or otherwise. Just because it upset some homosexual folks doesn’t make it heterosexist. The use of “straight” is widely accepted by pretty much every community including LGBT (“hay-straight alliance” comes to mind.)
    How are you concluding it was heterosexist?

    “That didn’t come out the way I intended. I’m sorry I upset you,” would be an actual apology.

    Sure. I might say that instead.

    I think you’re assuming when I say “pay attention to other people’s reactions” that I mean (or am implying) “and give those reactions total control over what you say and how you say it.”

    I’m not any more; thanks for clarifying.

    How about, if your comments cause them to visibly wince, consider whether what you said was hurtful, and potentially apologize. You’ll notice with words like “consider” and “potentially” I’m not suggesting that you always must come to the conclusion that you said something wrong.

    That seems to be the biggest issue you’re taking with what I’m saying, right?

    Yes. It would be bizarre to deliberately hurt someone’s feelings unintentionally.

    Why are you assuming that the conversational partner isn’t doing the same?

    because of the posts here. If you expect everyone to be polite and thoughtful, then you don’t need to continually reference relative privilege. You (and others) have been continually talking about relative privilege. The only reasonable conclusion is that 1) you’re expecting privileged folks to act differently; 2) in a way that minimizes their privilege. That pretty much means that it’s not equal, though it may not be entirely one-way.

    One of the things about privilege, though, is that people see things that are unequal as equal because they’re normal. Like, if there’s a mixed-sex group and someone ensures that the women get to talk *the same amount* as the men, people tend to perceive that as the women talking A LOT, and the men hardly getting a word in.

    Ooooooh, fascinating example.

    Let me ask a rhetorical question: What does “get to talk the same amount as the men” actually mean in practice, and how do you reach it?

    1) Get the same opportunity? I.e. any person can take a ticket and get in line to speak before the panel. That’s “process equality.”

    2) Get the same representation? I.e. you reserve half the tickets for women (or some other percentage depending on goals.) This is “input equality.”

    3) Speak for the same length of time? I.e. there’s a moderator who cuts off male speakers, and who selectively encourages women to speak. The moderator determines “equal time.” This is “outcome equality.”

    You’ll notice something interesting about #1 and #2: they’re systemic solutions. You can set them up (and apply them) without actually thinking about it in the thick of things. You can take the biggest MRA on the planet and, so long as he can follow directions, you can say “give every woman a 90 second ticket and every man a 60 second ticket.” Or “give everyone the same ticket.” Of course, you have to come up with a reason for the bias. But that’s a lot easier to do (or reject) ahead of time. You start being forced to consider the tricky questions as you make the rule: how much extra time do women get on their ticket? What’s fair? Why?

    The third option is a discretionary, individual, non-systemic “fix.” It’s open to a lot of bias (you can get widely different results depending on what the moderator thinks is “fair.”) Even more to the point, it lets people duck a lot of the harder questions. If you get to just say “oh, that’s what Bob thinks, he may be wrong” then you don’t have to consider the real issues.

    It probably doesn’t surprise you that I vastly prefer the systemic fixes. They force people to quantify the issues and push the debate to the forefront, where it belongs.

    And finally, you’ll notice something ELSE: not a single one of those things actually is “equal,” by at least one measure.

    This gets even more apparent when you start looking at the handling of small minority groups.

    Say you want “equal representation” on a weekday talk show that runs 200 days per year. based on US population, you’d actually have mostly white folks (140 days.) Native American and Native Alaskan women (combined) would only get on the show for one day per year. Is that equal? Or unequal?

    So if you [the generic and hypothetical you] think the other person in the conversation isn’t showing appropriate consideration for your feelings, and you’re in a position of privilege with respect to them, it’s possible that they’re being a jerk, but it’s also possible that you’re subconsciously expecting *deference* rather than *mutual respect.*

    That is certainly possible, both generically and specifically.

    Also, as far as ability to present a viewpoint, the more privileged someone is, the more ways and places they’re going to be able to do that, with a zillion people happy to agree with them. Nobody necessarily needs the ability to express any viewpoint at all, in any context, with no consequences. Before you argue that someone’s ability to speak is limited, what other contexts do they get to speak in? And how do they usually get received?

    In this context, I entirely reject the sort of “group classification” argument you’re implicitly making here.

    At heart, this implies that people’s thoughts and positions match their situation. And to some degree that approach has a bit of validity for large groups. But of course that’s utter BS on an individual level: there are white conservatives and white liberals; poor POC and rich POC; women for and against abortion; and so on.

  51. 51
    Casey says:

    Oh lord, Gin-And-Whiskey is being annoying.
    And painfully obtuse/navel-gazing.
    And an apologist for all kinds of privilege.
    Ugh.

  52. 52
    Sebastian H says:

    So i take it we won’t be seeing an illustration of the proper way to deal with the interaction of privilege and insult over “butthurt”?

    In that case maybe we could talk about how the difficulty of apologizing even when you can personally identify a reason to apologize is a human trait that transcends race, color, privilege and knowledge about hierarchy.

  53. 53
    Robert says:

    “Butthurt” was used by ABW, who may well not have seen C. Hearns’ comment, Sebastian. ABW cross-posts here but I don’t see her in the comments very often.