Hearing from our members of color June 6, 2019 11:39 AM   Subscribe

In this recent MeTa, the community discussed the ways in which Metafilter does not serve people of color well. So this post is a space for discussion, dedicated for people of color. If you identify as a person of color, and you have suggestions, complaints, or just thoughts about the site, please share them here!

If you do NOT identify as a person of color, you are welcome and encouraged to read this thread, but please skip posting in it. If you'd like to send your thoughts to us, you're certainly welcome to use the contact form. Likewise, if you are a PoC and are not comfortable talking about this stuff in public, we would also love to hear from you via the contact form.

The mods are going to be reading attentively but we're going to try not to comment at length except to answer concrete questions, so that we don't inadvertently re-center the thread in a way we're not intending.

Thank you all for your time and participation - we really, really appreciate it.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) to MetaFilter-Related at 11:39 AM (351 comments total) 158 users marked this as a favorite

As a POC who is Not based nor From the United States, I definitely feel like how safe and welcoming a space you find MeFi as a whole definitely depends on where in the world you are from.

As a member since 2010, I personally feel like a lot of threads have turned into Explain Racisim 101 since 2017 when the current President of USA was elected, and unfortunately that also seems to have been when POC universally ran out of good faith cookies for those sort of 'teachable moments'.

I'm not trying to be all 'wasn't it better in the olden days nostalgia' hype here, but site norms that felt established about certain -isims' and how we interact as a community felt like they had to be retaught to an influx of newcomers who acted like Mefi is just Reddit without pictures.

I've stayed out of Political mega-threads mostly for my own sanity since 2017. I never assumed MeFi was a Safe Space online, I know that is way beyond the remit of the community - and even with the best will in the world - the capabilities of the mod team, but I did think it was a Saf-er space, and in the last two years I've had to question that assumption pretty regularly.
posted by Faintdreams at 12:09 PM on June 6, 2019 [29 favorites]

I started this comment in the earlier thread, but it seems to be more appropriate to this one...

That said, demanding the mod team be more diverse always smacks of tokenism, especially given the small size of it. I am much more concerned about editorial choices than exact composition, even as more diversity in hiring is desirable and should be striven for.

I don't mean this as an attack on the commenter, but this is a common anti-diversity argument that unfortunately epitomizes white privilege. It assumes that the perspectives and attitudes of white people are a universal norm and that POC have nothing more to offer than non-Caucasian skin tone.

One important reason that the lack of diversity among the mods is a problem is that even the best intentioned members of a privileged group are still prisoners of their biases and perspectives. What POC can bring to the table isn't just a nonwhite face, but a host of experiences and viewpoints that may not even occur to an all white group. This really matters when moderators are taking an active role in determining what content is permitted to exist on the site, and guiding the tone and content of discussions.

If it's not feasible to hire more moderators, I think a reasonable solution would be for the mods to take a more cautious approach when it comes to topics outside their perspective. Especially when it comes to nebulous concepts like "outragefilter" where mods aren't just policing discussions to keep the peace, but actively deciding what topics users may or may not discuss.

I also believe that the profoundly conservative attitude at Metafilter of "we've always done it this way and it works" is at the core of why many people of color feel unwelcome here. This kind of traditionalist mentality, as appealing as it is for long-timers (and I have been on this site under one username or another since 2000), is what reinforces the perception of the site as primarily serving the interests and sensibilities of white people, and prevents anything from changing in any substantive way. If you want a site that has from the beginning been operated by whites and has a mostly white membership (I don't know this for a fact - it's just my impression) to be more welcoming of POC, you really cannot cling too tightly to tradition or kowtow to the will of the majority.
posted by Enemy of Joy at 12:25 PM on June 6, 2019 [116 favorites]

I think you should officially get in contact with jj'smama telling her about the Metatalk and indicating your reaction as mods to it. Obviously it's ongoing, there's no consensus and there's no resolution at this stage. But I hope she knows the discussion is happening and some mefites absolutely support her. If she wants to dialogue with you guys I think you should be open to that and to its influencing future outcomes. See what comes. Dialogue without change is nothing.

I absolutely don't believe in being prescriptive towards adults and adult choices but if she does get an apology that would be no more than is fair and fitting. And that, an apology, is the very least I personally hope might happen.
posted by glasseyes at 12:29 PM on June 6, 2019 [51 favorites]

A List of Thoughts from a POC:
• Believe us.
• Not every thread is for you or about you.
• Give us space.
• Favoriting/Liking a thing is a perfectly acceptable way to engage and yet not engage.
• Read more, comment less.
• We are not a monolith, we contain multitudes.
• Be kind.
• We can all do better.
posted by Fizz at 12:52 PM on June 6, 2019 [253 favorites]

One thing that I've seen a lot in various threads that bothers me - it doesn't rise to the level of Uncomfortable With The Site, but it's still frustrating - is a lot of well-meaning white people go into a topic that intersects with race, and they're bringing their viewpoint, and it feels people sometimes tend to keep pushing that even when POC in the thread are saying it's more complicated. Like, it's even generally a "good " viewpoint, it's the "correct thing", but sometimes they are saying it so loudly and simplistically that it drowns all other conversation out.

I remember very vividly the thread about Cosiang/Lola, which was a story of domestic servitude in the Phillipines/America that a lot of folks were grappling with, and people from Filipino/immigrant backgrounds were talking about how this related to their own families or experiences or cultural understandings and how difficult and systemic it was, and a lot of white Americans kind of came in oblivious, talking about the family involved as 'monsters'. One person talked about how they were revolted by people they had encountered like this, how they were no better than pedophiles and then said how their statement totally wasn't a "crypto racist diatribe" but like...whenever you have to make that disclaimer it's not great. Posters asked non-Filipinos/developing world folks to sit the topic out and multiple individuals were kind of terrible back in response. A lot of people started talking noisily about "well they should have just", and then tried to explain to the immigrants in the thread how many resources immigrants had and how they were treated in America. And that's just the responses that weren't deleted.

And I guess my deeper frustration was that is that it really feels sometimes like the commitment to letting POC/affected people speak is only when they're saying the 'right' thing, the thing everyone else agrees with. Then they'll get lifted up- but not otherwise.
posted by corb at 1:59 PM on June 6, 2019 [103 favorites]

My number one complaint is users who seem to believe that poc are a monolith who all share the same opinions. We don't.

Second complaint: using "poc" when it would be more appropriate to refer to specific communities.

It is also annoying when a non-US issue is being discussed and people jump in with their US-centric hot takes.

Oh, and then there's white people using "we" and "MetaFilter" when they really mean "white people". That's irritating.

Personally, I don't come to MetaFilter to talk about race--that's part of my actual job. I have to swim with so much shit on a daily basis that if I didn't get a break I would drown. As it is, I'm tired.
posted by betweenthebars at 3:24 PM on June 6, 2019 [73 favorites]

I really don't want to muddy the waters, but feedback was asked for and I'd always regret it if I didn't say this now.

I don't know how to fix this, but matters relating to Intersectionality is something that Mefi Does. Not. Do. Well.

I'm a Queer POC, but the LGTBQI+ threads and subjects feel overwhelmingly White centric, and the one time I pointed out that the article posted discussed modern homophobia/bigotry and completely ignored Race as a factor.. it did not go well (from my perspective).

It does feel like it's acceptable to state that White Feminism and Feminism for everyone else is.. different, but when it comes to other things +Race - it feels like I can't comment because I have to 'pick a most important thing' which isn't how identity works.

I might be way off base with this and if so I apologise.

[Edited a typo]
posted by Faintdreams at 3:30 PM on June 6, 2019 [71 favorites]

We've had this discussion before. A billion times. But when I couldn't even trust my own post about allowing links from acquaintances to get posted in a timely matter, when it got pushed back months and months because the mods "forgot", how am I supposed to trust that you'll take this thread seriously? How can I trust that you won't just do the bare minimum - or assume that this thread is the bare minimum? Free (or rather, WE paid YOU) consultancy yay!

(Honestly I feel like every PoC contributing to this thread or the other one should get their $5 refunded.)

People keep talking about how we can't afford a PoC mod coz we're full up on mods. Well, one of you step down. (Or fire someone, maybe someone with the habit of leaving pithy and unhelpful deletion comments, but given that cortex is one of those mods I'm not sure that's necessarily going to be an option.) I get that jobs are hard, but they're especially hard when you're PoC, and if someone in the mod team can survive without the mod job then that's an opportunity to step down.

Of course, there's always the danger of burnout, of this PoC mod being expected, implicitly or not, to carry Metafilter's problems and pick up the slack. I experienced this being a mod for a Slack chat - I wasn't the only PoC mod then, but I did end up working alone a lot especially when it came to dealing with racial conflicts because the other mods were so conflict-averse for some damn reason and I quit out of frustration. Things only changed AFTER I left, because they finally saw the impact, but it took me leaving for them to get that.

Will this happen with your PoC mod? That change only happens once they burn out?

Also, I've said it's before, but "outragefilter"/"this will not go down well"/"this is not the Best of the Web"/"this is too thin" have all been used primarily to shut down PoC. And that's been that 6 case for the 15 or so years I've been here. White bias decides what is interesting, what is Best of the Web, and anything that challenges Whiteness or just doesn't centre it doesn't count, evidently. Given how much power and influence Metafilter has over much of the Internet, this probably has gone a long way into contributing to the Whiteness of what gets popular online.

People keep talking about how Metafilter has the best comment culture or whatever. Please. The first time something I wrote got to the front page here, out of all the places it got posted, only Metafilter had mean close-to-death-threat comments. I've buttoned before over hitting a wall with racism. I've had people message me complaining that I don't recognise their allyship enough. And that was worse than Reddit, worse than YouTube.

That's just the Blue. I remember not too long ago how people on Ask Metafilter were NOT GOOD at recognising other cultural norms - good Lord, the amount of outrage at the idea that other weddings may prefer cash gifts to things!! Things maybe have gotten better? I don't know, I haven't checked.

A lot of what I want to say has already been expressed well by the above, so I'm just going to second them.
posted by divabat at 4:38 PM on June 6, 2019 [113 favorites]

One thing that I've seen a lot in various threads that bothers me - it doesn't rise to the level of Uncomfortable With The Site, but it's still frustrating - is a lot of well-meaning white people go into a topic that intersects with race, and they're bringing their viewpoint, and it feels people sometimes tend to keep pushing that even when POC in the thread are saying it's more complicated. Like, it's even generally a "good " viewpoint, it's the "correct thing", but sometimes they are saying it so loudly and simplistically that it drowns all other conversation out.
After reading Corb's comment (which I fully agree with), I'd liked to share some additional thoughts on how I've actively avoided posting about India & Indian politics. (I was born in India, raised in Texas, and am now a Canadian citizen by the way.)

I've noticed a trend where anytime the subject of Indian politics/Hindu Nationalism, India v Pakistan, etc pops up on the blue, there's a certain segment of the MetaFilter community that is ready to comment on this subject without realizing that there's more nuance and context to consider. I'm not at all claiming that I have some keen insight or authority on the subject but I've had to self-censor myself from making comments/posts because I'm always worried about someone else trying to India-splain to me my own culture.

The subject of India & Indian politics is complicated to be sure, but I've felt uncomfortable making comments because I've had this sense that my views don't matter as much or that I don't understand a certain thing because someone else who is white has read some hot take on twitter or a NYT op-ed piece.

I wish that people would be a bit more considerate and understand that within the Asian/Indian/Desi community, things are not so black and white. That there's nuance and a multiplicity of political ideas and viewpoints to listen and recognize.

I hope what I've said isn't too unclear or muddled. Thank you for reading/listening.
posted by Fizz at 4:40 PM on June 6, 2019 [63 favorites]

I’m here too. Just reading for now.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 6:46 PM on June 6, 2019 [10 favorites]

What even IS Metafilter's governance structure? Just cortex and the other mods?

I've been at a lot of events lately where there's been talk of succession plans and how leaders of arts organisations that are from a dominant demographic (White able-bodied people, largely) should seriously consider stepping down and handing the reigns to marginalised people. I know Metafilter isn't an arts organisation, but if we're being free to be more radical in this thread, then I'm going to put out there the suggestion that a PoC run this place.
posted by divabat at 7:12 PM on June 6, 2019 [20 favorites]

I feel that white fragility (particularly when demonstrated by well-recognized user names or even mods) gets a huge pass and that POC critiques are often tone-policed, particularly when it's just one or two POC users who are stuck trying to clarify/educate and are told they should step back because they're posting too much in a thread. Never a good look.

Also, I'd absolutely love it if white users stopped fetishizing their whiteness in threads (all of the "I'm the whitest white person who ever out-whited Caspar the Ghost!" type of self-description in everything from cosmetics Asks to politics threads).

Like, you don't see a lot of the melanated users being all, "I am the cafe au lait of an indie barista's finest pour, not burned like Starbucks."

Nthing that POC users aren't a monolith (lord knows I disagree with many of 'em!) and it's equally exhausting to see either complete erasure or a "well [POC user X] is with me so I can say this!"
posted by TwoStride at 7:15 PM on June 6, 2019 [74 favorites]

Oh hey, I actually hadn't gone to the fucking fuck thread before posting above (it generally stresses me out too much) but I see that white fragility was raissed there, too. So, mods: it seems clear that it's really a thing that's felt here, given that it's being mentioned by multiple users with multiple contexts.
posted by TwoStride at 7:20 PM on June 6, 2019 [5 favorites]

a lot of well-meaning white people go into a topic that intersects with race, and they're bringing their viewpoint, and it feels people sometimes tend to keep pushing that even when POC in the thread are saying it's more complicated

A good example was that ask me question from last year where the OP asking for resources to help teach a loved one about a basic aspect of being an immigrant in North America was immediately given the ol' 1-2 jab/straight combo of being told racism was fixed in the 80's before being straight-up accused of child abuse.
posted by Freelance Demiurge at 7:26 PM on June 6, 2019 [48 favorites]

I so very often get the feeling of being the only one who is expected to have done the reading for a topic. It's the single-link thing, the USian white, middle-class centric view of...everything. I have to be versed in all of that culture and then be able to TA Racism 101 or Queer Theory 101 or Sexism 101 at the drop of a hat every single day whenever someone asks. Because if I expect them to have gone and "done the reading", well...that's not how it's supposed to go.

I've never posted an FPP. I honestly don't want to because it's exhausting and I know the amount of work I would have to do in order to clear the bar to get it to stay up for something I actually cared that deeply about (this would be a post I have often thought about doing on the inherent intersectionality of growing up mixed race and hah hah haaaaah. Some days, though...I think I'd still really like to try.)

On a slightly different note, good lord was it weird to watch my Twitter timeline full of Indigenous commentary on Canada having a full-on meltdown over the word "genocide" in the MMIWG report and the other post full of people discussing "civility" and "substance" in a post about institutional racism at a museum.

And by "weird", I mean "profoundly depressing yet completely unsurprising".
posted by ultranos at 7:48 PM on June 6, 2019 [31 favorites]

.. Metafilter does not serve people of color as well as we would like. So we really want to listen to those members in a space dedicated to them.

The wording of this thread weirds me out. Seconding betweenthebars - Who is “we”? Who is “those members”? Who is “them”? (Answer: white people / poc / poc)

For the white people reading this, if you don’t get this, imagine reading something like:

“We want to listen to those members who are women in a space dedicated to them.”
“We want to listen to those members who are LGBTQ+ in a space dedicated to them”

I’m sure the intentions of this post were good, but.. basically what 23skidoo said above. The wording of this post alone is a good indicator for the ways in which Metafilter operates with whiteness as a default.
posted by suedehead at 7:49 PM on June 6, 2019 [54 favorites]

Seconding betweenthebars - Who is “we”? Who is “those members”? Who is “them”? (Answer: white people / poc / poc)

This seems pretty clear: the ‘we’ are the mods. This post was made by a mod, speaking for the mods. If I understand correctly, the mods - as a group - are not POC. I don’t see this as an assumption of whiteness as a default. It’s recognition that the mods are a white group.

‘Those members’ are members that are also POC. The mods specifically asked non-POC members to skip posting in this thread.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 8:01 PM on June 6, 2019 [30 favorites]

I don't mind the caucasus-y nature of this thread. I can see why it'd be othering, but it's also a bit refreshing to not have to be drowned out by white fragility (or white shenanigans). I did a quick tag search on Metatalk and women/trans folk and there weren't demographic-specific posts, though I feel like that might have been beneficial when talking about things like the boyzone or trans 101.

Whether these discussions get transferred over to actual change in policy is to be seen, of course.
posted by divabat at 8:12 PM on June 6, 2019 [5 favorites]

Mod note: Brief administrative note: I'm totally fine with tweaking the language of the post if folks feel it'd make it read better or more welcoming, just lemme know how and where.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:16 PM on June 6, 2019

Edit suggestion: “In this recent MeTa, the community discussed the ways in which Metafilter does not serve people of color well. If you identify as a person of color, and you have suggestions, complaints, or just thoughts about the site, please share them here!”
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:24 PM on June 6, 2019 [5 favorites]

And change title to “listening to people of color”
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:25 PM on June 6, 2019 [5 favorites]

My language edit suggestion would be:

So we really want to listen to those members in a space dedicated to them.
So this post is a space for discussion, dedicated for people of color.

(On preview, gentle disagreement that I wouldn’t use “listening”, since that’s from the perspective of members who are white)
posted by suedehead at 8:31 PM on June 6, 2019 [1 favorite]

Mod note: Alright, merged a couple of those suggestions into a change to the above-the-fold text. And I think I get both takes on it but my gut feeling right now is agreement with suedehead on hearing vs. listening; white MeFites definitely ought to listen but I don't want to center them in the title text.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:43 PM on June 6, 2019

Oh my god I just looked back at one of my old Metatalk posts about boyzone-ing and SO MUCH MALE FRAGILITY over the fact that I used the word 'mansplaining'. That discussion would have SO benefited from a women/non-binary-only thread.
posted by divabat at 8:56 PM on June 6, 2019 [28 favorites]

Random thoughts:

- The mods could acknowledge that there's a problem, not just in a it-appears-that-some-people-seem-to-think- way.

- Yes definitely, discussing intersectionality sucks. I was actually going to post that before you brought it up, FaintDreams. I find that queerness is by default white queerness, womanhood is by default white womanhood. You can push against it but then you're swimming upstream.

- I would love if white mefites could post less in popular threads about race, especially at the start of a discussion. By this, I mean both fewer and shorter posts. I wish when they did post, they'd center the perspectives of the people being discussed.

- White people, you don't have to come out as white.
posted by yaymukund at 9:10 PM on June 6, 2019 [38 favorites]

Here are some thoughts. I want to preface by saying that overall I think the mods here do a difficult job pretty well, so thank you!

When I posted an early news article about the police killing of Charleena Lyles in 2017, my post was deleted. (NB: the article linked in the previous sentence isn't the one I posted, it's just to provide context. I don't have a link to the specific article I posted anymore. It was your standard news article from a conventional news source.)

I don't have the deletion message anymore, but it was something to the effect of "this kind of incident may stoke controversy so we gotta delete it" (paraphrasing). I understand there are well-meaning reasons behind this, but why deletion? Why not freeze comments or something less drastic? Or why not hold in a temporary queue until the incident is no longer breaking news and all the facts are known? The mods considered that there may be negative consequences to publishing the article, but did you consider that there are also negative consequences to *not* publishing articles like this?

On another topic, another thing I've encountered on the site is people default-assuming I'm white (which isn't the mods' fault obviously).

Also it might be nice to get a demographic survey of users of the site.
posted by splitpeasoup at 9:45 PM on June 6, 2019 [22 favorites]

Metafilter is one of my favorite places on the Web, but it has also always pretty much struck me as being kind of a 'white' place, a bit like walking into one of those hip cafes in a 'vibrant' neighborhood that is full of white faces. I think I always accepted it subconsciously, and as a result often worked (subconsciously again I guess) on self-policing and passing. Should I? Probably not, but it's often damn hard work to anything else.

I followed the links back to the post by jj's.mama. 'Outragefilter'? - well, it's a fucking outrageous story, both as an incident, and also as a thread in a broader tapestry of oppression and violence. PoC 100% have a right to be outraged by this. They don't have to justify their outrage. They don't have to explain anything about their responses to it, for that matter. Structural/institutional issues of racism/poverty/etc. are never just 'single link' issues, even though they might appear to be so to some. They're a web of oppression and violence that pops into and out of focus for people all the time, more for some than others. We need to talk about this, because for some people, it's not an incident or a story, it's our lives.

FWIW I share the queasiness of several folks above, about the use of PoC as a monolithic term. Although, I have recently started thinking about referring to white people as 'People Without Color' (PWCs) as a kind of counterbalance.

{big group hug} for everybody here. Thank you all for all your time and energy.
posted by carter at 9:50 PM on June 6, 2019 [50 favorites]

Thank you to everyone who mentioned the "We White People" construction as it is used around here. "We White People of Metafilter" has been a pet peeve of mine for years, so much so that I almost made a MeTa about it at least 5 years ago. Not everyone here is white. Where does "we white people" leave me, am I still in the conversation? I brought this up in a thread a year or so ago and a white mod came out of the woodwork to condescend to me along the lines of, 'that's not what white people mean when they use exclusionary language like that.' I disagreed and was told that it was a derail. So I guess it is site policy.

In an apparent excess of irony, POC comments were deleted last year from a thread titled White Fragility. I memailed back and forth with a user who also had comments deleted in the White Fragility thread because of white fragility. They seem to have buttoned a couple of weeks later. I certainly disengaged with the site for a while and largely stopped commenting in threads about race.

A white member said that a link from The Root isn't an appropriate post because this is a "white audience."

On FanFare the only cast member of Saturday Night Live who is regularly excoriated is the African American Michael Che, usually when he makes a joke specifically about white women.

I stayed out of the Outragefilter thread that spawned this one because Metafilter doesn't really have a problem with outragefilter as long as it prioritizes the outrage of white women. Minority anger, irritation or just snippiness gets deleted or mod noted.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 9:54 PM on June 6, 2019 [64 favorites]

I stayed out of the Outragefilter thread that spawned this one because Metafilter doesn't really have a problem with outragefilter as long as it prioritizes the outrage of white women. Minority anger, irritation or just snippiness gets deleted or mod noted.

THIS SO HARRRRRRRD. And given this tendency by white women (and white people who are minorities in other ways) to go "BUT I'M OPPRESSED TOO SO I CAN'T POSSIBLY BE RACIST HOW DARE YOU", it just feels like they get prioritized over anyone else in the name of "supporting underrepresented voices". I mean hell the infamous Emotional Labour thread was pretty much a White Women zone, with not a ton of race reflection.

I mentioned this in the other thread, but I've been rather bothered with this approach to managing crappy comments where the mods delete not just the crappy comment (which is justified) but also all the other comments that are responding to it, often with additional context or information that can stand well alone even without the inclusion of the comment that sparked it. I've had comments deleted that way and it's taken conversations with a mod to learn that they weren't deleted because I had said something wrong but because it was in response to someone whose comments got deleted. But all that labour is gone, all that perspective is gone, and there's very little opportunity to bring that point back again because it now seems like a non-sequitor.
posted by divabat at 10:27 PM on June 6, 2019 [60 favorites]

As a cis-het female PoC who has been told occasionally that she "presents as white"...

Please believe my intentions are good. I want to be fair. Please give me a chance to react to your concerns and change my ways if they hurt you. I promise to try to do the same for you. I promise to stand up for you when I see your struggle due to someone else's words and actions, and to stay attentive to your signals. I promise you my attention, my respect, and my good faith.
posted by ipsative at 10:31 PM on June 6, 2019 [9 favorites]

Something else:

I do appreciate the rule change to allow for sharing of links made by acquaintances. I'm seeing a lot of comments on the discussion thread about this about how it'd lead to low-quality links because people are being biased and that it doesn't motivate people to go seek out work from strangers and blah de blah.

As has been demonstrated in all the other Metatalk threads about low engagement of content relating to anything beyond the White Western dominant sphere, White Western Mefites can't really be trusted to seek out content from outside their spheres of reference. (To be fair, this applies across the board, but in this case it particularly happens to the White Western demographic.) You don't know what you don't know and I'm not sure there's plenty of motivation for most people to go outside their own worlds and seek out something new. I enjoy doing this, but I'm rare.

Metafilter has a ton of influence in what work gets to be shared to the wider Internet, being a common source for mainstream(ish) publications and having readership/membership from notable Internet people, and I feel like the lack of diversity in what gets shared on the Blue has contributed, in some way, to the lack of diversity in content and representation elsewhere online. Minorities are left to support their own; getting "outsiders" to care is like pulling teeth.

That one rule change, I feel, will make a big difference. For me personally, I will finally get to share the work of activists and artists I admire who are making important changes in our communities, but because we're in the same communities we of course know each other already, deeply or very surface level. And just being able to share that kind of work in a more general space like Metafilter can make a big difference. People who wouldn't come across that work in other spaces will be able to find it on Metafilter and find a way to connect to it. And that can motivate them to share it to their own circles, which then leads on to more diversity across more circles overall. People aren't stuck in silos. The Best of the Web isn't solely represented by a very narrow demographic. Indeed, the Web becomes BETTER, because content that had previously been limited to smaller spheres (but are welcome to being shared openly) now get more opportunities to reach a wider range of people.

I know people are going to quibble about "would you REALLY share this if you didn't know this person". They're going to quibble about whether or not we only think it's worth sharing because it's from "our people". I've gotten that criticism myself in other spaces, even when the evidence shows a wider engagement - "oh it's just YOUR PEOPLE that care". So in this particular space, especially when it comes to PoC and other minorities, mods probably needs to be just a little bit more forgiving about which links stay up, to trust us when we say this is quality content, regardless of whether or not we know the people involved.
posted by divabat at 10:43 PM on June 6, 2019 [40 favorites]

I'm reminded that metafilter is basically middleclass -whitepeoplefilter every time there's an ask about racism and a bunch of middleclasswhitepeople jump in to decide for the rest of us what does or doesn't constitute racism- racism in the abstract is Bad, but in the concrete actions that a whitemefite might find themselves or a loved one doing, there's a chorus of racism denial.

As in much of middleclasswhitelib-land, I often feel like our visible inclusion as part of the community here is theoretical or begrudging rather than genuinely integrated and that our demographic is utilised to win (internet) arguments or bolster moral grandstanding but our realities aren't actually welcome. My blackness is only valuable here when it's useful to a particular agenda, that may or may not have anything to do with me as a human.

I also agree with so many of the posters above that I can't possibly quote them all.
posted by windykites at 10:53 PM on June 6, 2019 [50 favorites]

Additionally, there have been times when other Mefites of Colour have made posts or comments about their experiences of racism out in the wider world, and I just related to them so much, and have often thought how it might be cool to have a support group/thread/subsite of sorts. I grew up in a complex situation and don't have any community of colour around me that I can discuss my experiences with, and that seems to be true of others here as well.
posted by windykites at 11:01 PM on June 6, 2019 [20 favorites]

windykites: there's a MetaPoC Slack, though I don't know if it's still active.

Idea: get a PoC member to co-host and co curate the next podcast.

Also, I get the contradictions inherent in mods taking up space here as they're White, but I also would like some reassurance that we're not yelling into the void. What would be a good way for mods to communicate what they've heard from this discussion down the track?
posted by divabat at 11:16 PM on June 6, 2019 [9 favorites]

Minority anger, irritation or just snippiness gets deleted or mod noted.

The trick seems to be to wrap your anger or sadness in a clever joke.

Just want to add I'm listening to this thread as a person of mixed Filipino / Mexican descent mainly to hear how other PoC experience MeFi. It's good to read about similar experiences, even though we may come from different communities. It does feel a bit like being put under the lens.
posted by Mister Cheese at 11:32 PM on June 6, 2019 [21 favorites]

"I am the cafe au lait of an indie barista's finest pour, not burned like Starbucks." AMAZING imma steal that if you don't mind
posted by divabat at 11:36 PM on June 6, 2019 [6 favorites]

Metafilter has a ton of influence

....Does it? Maybe 15 years ago when people said 'Blogosphere' or in 2011, when site was at its peak (meta who?), but in the world of social media it feels (to me, at least) like a small-ish American college town. That's part* of why I don't post or write anything of substance here. When people spout ignorant shit I choose to roll my eyes and keep scrolling rather than confront it because the effort in doing so seems disproportionate to whatever effect it might have. I often feel like I'll do more good being my best, most giving self offline than on.

I feel like the lack of diversity in what gets shared on the Blue has contributed, in some way, to the lack of diversity in content and representation elsewhere online

I'm happy to be corrected on this, but my impression is that this is a symptom of what a wasteland Five Eyes/Anglophone popular culture was for diversity until very recently. Some days it feels like even the most cosmopolitan artists and writers among us momentarily forget there are other countries.

*Though mostly because I'm an uneducated fuckwit and I don't know anything
posted by Freelance Demiurge at 11:49 PM on June 6, 2019 [16 favorites]

Maybe 15 years ago when people said 'Blogosphere' or in 2011, when site was at its peak (meta who?), but in the world of social media it feels (to me, at least) like a small-ish American college town.

That's fair. I still see the site being cited across the place, though perhaps it's not the influential powerhouse it once was. And oh man I hear you about forgetting other countries exist, that's just about as big a bugbear I have with this site as its approach to race.
posted by divabat at 1:10 AM on June 7, 2019 [8 favorites]

I've been a member of Metafilter (under 2 accounts) for 10 years. In that time, Metafilter has become my favourite place to go to on the web. I've learned so much, grown to respect individual commenters as people, had fascinating conversations, etc.

But being brown on Metafilter is no easier than being brown in real life (I'm an immigrant to the UK). I think the worst example was the rage yoga thread from a couple of years ago - I was astounded at the levels of white fragility I saw nakedly on display. It was similar to many conversations I've had with IRL white friends, but I always think of Mefites as a more thoughtful, almost cerebral, and 'woke' collective than the people I know IRL, so it was an unpleasant surprise. I mostly hang around AskMe these days, which has its blind spots around cultural norms, but it's better than Mefi, I think.

In general, I agree with reasons for thread deletions. I like this place, like the modding, etc. But. jjs.mama's post was, yes, a single link, but I have seen plenty of single link posts stand on Metafilter. I think it could have led to some really good discussions about inclusivity in the arts and I don't think it was pure and simple 'grar'. I don't think it was a good deletion.

On a personal note, and apols if this isn't the space for it (but I don't know where is the space for it), I'm having one of my occasional bouts of exhaustion from navigating my predominantly white social and work space as a brown person (constantly watching your 'code', making it clear that you may look different but you're not a threat to anybody). Most of the time I'm so used to doing it I don't really think about it but every so often I'll have one too many conversations about how I "take things so personally" and I just get tired. So this thread has come at an... emotionally interesting time for me.
posted by unicorn chaser at 3:47 AM on June 7, 2019 [41 favorites]

On FanFare the only cast member of Saturday Night Live who is regularly excoriated is the African American Michael Che, usually when he makes a joke specifically about white women.

I stayed out of the Outragefilter thread that spawned this one because Metafilter doesn't really have a problem with outragefilter as long as it prioritizes the outrage of white women. Minority anger, irritation or just snippiness gets deleted or mod noted.

OMG yes to both of these observations. The SNL thing in particular seems so minor, yet so emblematic.

I've definitely had my feelings hurt by what I feel is other users being snippy, but I accept that as part of the cost as interacting with a bunch of strangers on teh internets. What is frustrating is when it feels like the definition of "snippy" varies greatly from mod to mod, or instances when mods don't seem to really appreciate the context for why POC are getting "snippy" (or, generally, demonstrate an awareness of the civility/white supremacy link). The answer should rarely be, "take a walk" or "share the air," when mods don't seem to really understand what the underlying issues may be, or have been slow to react. For example, one of the very few times I've ever contacted the mods was about a Rachel Dolezal/"transracial" comment that was super problematic, and the mods were super responsive! But: I kind of feel like it shouldn't have required contacting the mods in the first place, you know?

I guess ultimately I'd rather the mods err on telling white users to stop being fragile or stop sealioning rather than telll POC users that they're getting too upset in discussions that are going south.
posted by TwoStride at 3:51 AM on June 7, 2019 [41 favorites]

I want to say thank you to mods actually. They do a hard job in a difficult context (online space) and I know quite well I couldn't do it - I havnt got the objectivity, or the restraint, or the consideration, or the deciseness required.

It's not as if Metafilter is a funded government programme with a legal obligation to demonstrate inclusivity and have an explicit anti-racist policy. Part of the community is asking the community at large to pay attention to an issue, with some emphasis on admin procedures. Can we ask for more than goodwill from all concerned? Genuine question. I can demand respect and equality from my government and all its institutions, from my family and the network of people I'm in an obligatory relationship with. Beyond that, I can walk away from friends and acquaintances with attitudes that undermine my personhood.

I'm finding metafilter a more congenial place than ANY OTHER MEDIUM I consume at the moment, so there's that. We are swimming in racism, which is having a resurgence into fascism all over the world at the moment. How could that not affect almost every forum and communication within it? I'm happy to see an effort being made here to confront this and I commend mefi for it.

On the subject of complexity, let's say perhaps two culture people are more likely to accept an argument with nuance and complications and one culture people need a bit of awareness about this. Not a very coherent comment, I'm on my phone and on the road, apologies.
posted by glasseyes at 6:29 AM on June 7, 2019 [17 favorites]

I'm Indian-American.

suggestions, complaints, or just thoughts about the site

MetaFilter is a pretty good experience for me. I recognize that many other people of color are having a different experience. I'm grateful for everyone who works to respond to and prevent racist speech and racist dynamics on the site, and for all the people who contributed to that work over the years.

I am approximately always happy with the modding decisions I see/notice, or if an initial decision makes me raise my eyebrow, then there's a followup explanation/discussion that I find satisfying.

Sort of a separate note: I recall that we talked about making it so that the the Popular Favorites (posts and comments) page would not include comments from the potus45 threads (either for everybody or as a user preference/choice), and I think that indeed that got implemented? but I can't find the MetaTalk or FAQ where that was announced. So am I wrong about remembering that MeFi implemented this? Or if it did get implemented, could it get added to the FAQ? (or you could point me to where it is already documented and I will be chagrined at missing it. that is also fine.)
posted by brainwane at 6:38 AM on June 7, 2019 [10 favorites]

(I ask partly to just make sure I understand what filtering/curation decisions have already been made and are in effect there. And partly because a generalized version of that feature would probably be helpful to me as I choose when I want and when I don't want to browse comments on posts that will probably bring me pleasure, versus comments on posts that will probably challenge me emotionally.)
posted by brainwane at 6:42 AM on June 7, 2019 [1 favorite]

Am a PoC; reading this with interest.
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:11 AM on June 7, 2019 [7 favorites]

It’s weird...I really do think of Metafilter as the most socially conscious, enlightened corner of the Internet that I frequent, and one of the few places where I don’t expect to encounter overt racism.

And yet, reading this thread knowing (as much as is possible, anyway) that only people of color are being asked to participate, feels really good. Like, something in my mind sort of unclenches and makes me realize that I feel this low level anxiety when I read discussions of race online, which it turns out is entirely a sort of dread of white people coming in and dominating the conversation.

Anyway - I’m glad this discussion is happening and I wish I had more faves to give some of these comments.
posted by Enemy of Joy at 7:17 AM on June 7, 2019 [56 favorites]

I find that queerness is by default white queerness, womanhood is by default white womanhood.

I think it’s broader than that, actually. Like I think that most of the time, whenever people think of thing X, it’s by default white thing X.

I notice this especially honestly in how white middle/upper class people talk about religion. When they talk about it, they’re mostly talking about the variant of it they’re most exposed to. When they are talking about Catholics, they’re talking about white Catholics, even though globally white Catholics are a minority. When they talk about Protestants, they’re always talking about white evangelicals rather than black Baptists. And the only time it seems non-white churches, synagogues, or mosques get mentioned is when something fucked up happens to them and then everyone can say “oh how sad”, or when they are protesting for something white middle class people care about or endorsing a white candidate.

And also - I haven’t really mentioned this but I feel like extreme snide anti-religious sentiment (lol sky gods stuff) is mostly a white thing, whereas people from various communities of color may or may not like religion, it depends because we aren’t a monolith, but they usually know some people who are religious and good and generous people, or who’ve been helped by that community, and so they aren’t jerks about it in the aggressive way white Dawkins adherents are.
posted by corb at 7:56 AM on June 7, 2019 [75 favorites]

Just popping back in to co-sign the above:

people from various communities of color may or may not like religion, it depends because we aren’t a monolith, but they usually know some people who are religious and good and generous people, or who’ve been helped by that community, and so they aren’t jerks about it in the aggressive way white Dawkins adherents are.
posted by corb

it's always been clear to me that religion is often very important to people of color, and I can attest that it's very possible to have a complicated, sometimes painful and traumatic relationship with religion and still avoid being a gigantic asshole about other people's engagement with and choices with respect to religion.
posted by kalessin

Reading this hit me very hard. I had a very emotional reaction to these two posts. It's absolutely, absolutely true. One of the key and most emotionally laborious aspects of being a (somewhat lapsed, but still self-identified) Muslim and a POC in the West for me is trying to show how harmless, sensible, liberal, progressive and relatable I am despite being a member of that "scary" and "dangerous" religion. Thanks so much for putting those feelings into words much better than I could.
posted by unicorn chaser at 8:07 AM on June 7, 2019 [53 favorites]

I completely agree, corb, kalessin, unicorn chaser. My description was not meant to be exhaustive.
posted by yaymukund at 8:14 AM on June 7, 2019 [2 favorites]

I tend to read and use MeFilter these days for enjoyment, so I hang out or make TV/Move threads. The world is generally fighty these days, with good reason, and I'd rather not fight and argue on here.

I loathe the term PoC because it's stunningly artificial, but there really isn't much better is there? As an older, black, and male American, what the hell do I know about being Asian, Indian or African, other than "jesus, white people sometimes, amiright?"

This site, and the internet in general, is a poor way to try and work out complex issues, due to being text only, yet being seemingly immediate and other reasons. I doubt there's any magic cure or permanent fix to that. It's always going to be matter of pointing out problematic things, doing a little explaining and then moving on to the next thing.

Change takes time and nuance usually and trying to do that on a global website that anyone can comment on is always going to be problematic, due to human nature. Doesn't mean people shouldn't try or not talk about complex issues of identity/race/gender whatever, just that it is always going to be difficult , for the foreseeable feature. Yes, there have been other discussions like this before and yes, there will be more in the future. It's the only way forward, frustratingly slow that it may be.

So, onwards.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:19 AM on June 7, 2019 [69 favorites]

US female POC here. I would definitely like to nth the call to "listen to us and believe us", also that intersectionality matters. Particularly when it comes to matters of health care, when I share my experience is when I am most likely to get people telling me that the way things are is best and I need to accept that. Otherwise I largely feel like I'm on the outside looking in here, both on the site and the one time I attended a MeFi gathering. But I generally feel that way IRL too, so.
posted by koucha at 8:46 AM on June 7, 2019 [13 favorites]


And part of what I remember was that a lot of white people showed their asses in very disappointing ways, and the all-white mods were Definitely Not Great. In particular, the mods' structural power to shape discussion/cut people off/delete comments amplifies their blind spots. I'm stunned that the mods don't already have a "think twice before deleting threads seeking to discuss racial discrimination" note. Or that posts on race and trans issues don't get more of a pass on outrage filter than other things (and also heavier modding to squash nonsense).

So put me down on thinking that Metafilter's modding needs some structural changes.

But I also remember that some of the ugliest comments in the Rage Yoga thread were by a Black woman who Just Did Not Accept that cultural appropriation of yoga could be an issue, and spent a lot of time explaining to Indian and Hindu folks why white appropriation of Black culture was not OK, but yoga didn't count as appropriation of Indian and Hindu culture. And I remember the vitriol in the Cosiang/Lola thread, where there was significant amounts of POC-on-POC verbal flame throwing.

So "listen to us and believe us" applies inside the circle, too, I think, especially when the line for the circle is getting set as broadly as "white by US Standards" and "not-that." It's something I've tried to keep actively in mind generally, but particularly when participating in race-related topics on Metafilter, when it's hard(er) to assess the race/ethnic background of the person making a comment.
posted by joyceanmachine at 8:58 AM on June 7, 2019 [32 favorites]

I also think that it's a frustratingly slow process to work this stuff out for the nature of the internet and the wider culture. New users will join MetaFilter and have to work out this stuff. Users that are PoC might get burned out and leave. It's not a problem that can be solved so much as managed... unless the wider white culture learns and teachers their own kids about all this stuff. There is no enduring, perfect MeFi we are trying to achieve. Just one that is changing and processing itself continually. I do think MetaFilter moderation and users can work on thinking of ways to change structural issues that might arise. How to address when moderation can inadvertently be silencing or the pace of commenting can drown out voices of PoC.

It takes practice and research to learn how to be considerate during discussion. I often find myself wanting to make comments in threads of other communities of color or cultures, but do not because I don't have enough context or time to read more deeply about the issues. Can't help but think my own biases as a Texan would come through... I think the complexity and history of different communities here in the US is one that requires a lot of thought. It's true of any place really. Just thinking of my own immediate context.

I think some PoC mods would be good... just one I think would risk the possibility of Obama-izing them in the sense that a bunch of expectations would be placed on their shoulders and the greater user-base might be tempted to declare things all post-racial. I don't think it's realistic to get a good variety of mods without lots more money, though. I like divabat's idea about some PoC oriented podcasts.
posted by Mister Cheese at 9:27 AM on June 7, 2019 [15 favorites]

I spend most of my time here on AskMe. I can only speak for myself and I don't want want to discount the experience of others. As one brown person, I feel that AskMe is loads more welcoming than many other places online. There are so many intelligent, kind people on this site. Are there some duds? Yes. Is there room for improvement? Sure. I probably have low expectations. It's hard for me to have high hopes when I see countries around the world electing Authoritarian leaders.
posted by mundo at 10:42 AM on June 7, 2019 [15 favorites]

There was a thread about authenticity that specifically discussed the Mexican-American experience and I tried like six times to write a cogent comment for it and kept deleting them because I couldn't figure out how talking about my intense relationship with those same things would fit into a thread where people were talking about the kind of tacos they like and discussing restaurants. Part of me wishes that threads like that could better stay on topic re: the actual experiences of Mexican-Americans or whatever specific group is referenced, but then I'm like... how many of us are there here? If you start breaking us down into more specific subsets, then it feels even more isolated. Ultimately, I'm happier to see discussion from non-Mexican POC talking about their "authentic" experience of their identities than talk about what restaurants (non-Latinx) white people go to, in that context.

Clearly there are some issues which don't have that sort of cross-group applicability, though.
posted by Sequence at 11:12 AM on June 7, 2019 [27 favorites]

I just tire of white fragility. It's exhausting. I'm not, like, upset by it, or by much of the site culture at large. I think I accept that Metafilter is what it is, and that as a whole the site and its moderators are doing their best. But Mefites are majority white, the mods are all white, and that sets certain tones and expectations. Certainly I'd say and post different things if those two facts weren't true. But they are, and barring enormous and unlikely changes to the site and its userbase, they are likely to continue to be true. On balance, that's not an enormous problem for me, it's just a thing I accept as part of participating here.

The caveat to all of the above is that, as POC go, I'm pretty damned privileged: I'm in that nebulous Middle Eastern/Central Asian ethnicity zone of being considered white in some ways and not white in others. My voice in this discussion shouldn't necessarily be weighted the same as everyone else's, maybe.
posted by yasaman at 11:12 AM on June 7, 2019 [16 favorites]

I am also one of the POCs who spends a lot of time on AskMe and FanFare because the blue can be toxic as fuck (and also the things that bring me joy are pop culture and advice type things). I was on the site for years, took a break for a very long time, and only recently came back and the blue is same as it ever was. I pop in there sometimes to read interesting stuff, but mostly it's incredibly depressing.

I didn't read the deleted "outragefilter" post. I'm an African American woman who was born and raised in Boston and spent their life trying to get out (and did so) because of things like that. Sometimes the blue makes me feel that same sort of despair and rage and so I don't even bother to engage. But mostly I feel amused because there can never be a discussion about privilege without the privileged coming in and saying "we're privileged" (great, now go do something with that) or without the marginalized having in some way to do all the heavy lifting for others and I am just not the one. Also, my professional life has involved online moderation for the last 5 years and I don't want to do it on my down time. Every killing, every hatecrime, every trampling of other people's feelings takes a specific toll on me and I'm tired.
posted by loriginedumonde at 11:34 AM on June 7, 2019 [32 favorites]

This POC debate - does it concern us who don't live in the US too? Sure doesn't feel like it because mostly it seems to involve people living in the US. Not that it really bothers me (not even when people seem to think of Europe as a fairy homogeneous region). I'm just glad that Mefi exists and I accept that it can't be all the things I want it to be and that's ok.

I loathe the term PoC because it's stunningly artificial, but there really isn't much better is there? As an older, black, and male American, what the hell do I know about being Asian, Indian or African, other than "jesus, white people sometimes, amiright?"

This. Do I really have anything more in common with other minorities just because they aren't white? What would that be?
posted by Foci for Analysis at 12:18 PM on June 7, 2019 [10 favorites]

Filipina here: i’ve been struggling to write. But so much of what I feel and think has been already brought up and done much more lucidly than I am capable of expressing. thanks.
posted by lemon_icing at 12:50 PM on June 7, 2019 [6 favorites]

Random, this-just-popped-into-my-head-suggestions:

I made and use the "postsbyblackmefites" tag a lot, simple as a way letting others know who and what am i and quietly presenting that to Mefites. Other groups may want to do something similar for their own sanity and/or community uses.

Mefi folks of color may want to consider organizing for support of each other. I think female mefites created an off site group called "crone island" for just that purpose? Might assist with helping new folks of color to Metafilter or something.

Just throwing ideas out there.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:04 PM on June 7, 2019 [19 favorites]

We're all tired. I came out out of retirement for this specific thread.

I personally feel like a lot of threads have turned into Explain Racisim 101 since 2017 when the current President of USA was elected, and unfortunately that also seems to have been when POC universally ran out of good faith cookies for those sort of 'teachable moments'.


But more than this. Hence the coming out of retirement. I wanted to talk in my voice, not the sockpuppet I'm using right now to keep a toehold on the site. I want to look back at the last 15 years.

1. First, this is an American site. And its already been said above that we cannot expect it change overnight. Given the current state of the internet and the funded exportation of hate, racism, misogyny, and demonization of Islam (which bugged me from the first, even though I'm not muslim) from America, this is one of the tiny corners of the web where its still reasonably safe/r . And, yes, this thread exists. Its been a long time coming but I'm glad its here.

2. On one hand the site was demonstrably improving in its inclusivity over the years but the Trumpian era has sent us all back 50 years and its obvious even here on Metafilter. What the mods will decide to do about it I don't know. Are we a global site or an American one? Its a strategic decision to take and one that can be rightly taken by the ownership - if so, it should then be announced, and the rest of us must live with each and every thread becoming Americanized to the point where most of us walk away from it. OR, if the site decides, that no, they're putting their foot down against the tide of the English language internet, the anglosphere, the 5 eyes, and choosing to be more inclusive and welcoming of peoples from all over the world, then let that also be announced so that expectations are set upfront.

3. Some pet peeves because here is a venting thread:

I remember speaking up in the grey more than 7 years ago on the mods allowing anti muslim rhetoric and comments - blithe anti muslim comments, not deliberate attacks - go unchallenged without a peep from a mod that it was not done.

I remember being told to improve my use of english until someone helpfully told the banded gang of attackers led by the late gman that I was a furriner. The irony of having an A in O Level English from London University to be lectured by a "world traveling' mzungu.

I hate the word POC. I hate being called a person of colour. Fuck you. I'm an Indian/Finn, I'm a Finndian, I'm brown, but I am not your person of colour. with a U. that's an Americanism that grates.

America's issues with race are NOT the world's issues with race - and this is what irks me about metafilters American exceptionalism filter. Finland's addressing of their increasing multicultural citizenry is NOT the American method or approach. This aspect is also a decision that metafilter ownership must take - are we an International website or an American one?

I hate indiasplaining. Nickyskye was among the worst offenders. it silenced me in my first few years here before I learnt my voice here and in other forums. But I am just recognizing the place I learnt my voice and how to use it was in African twitter not Black twitter or american twitter or american internet. Please, hurry up and make us choose between Silicon Valley or Shenzhen, at least we can all then stop being hyper normalized americans online if we're communicating in english.

cortex has improved - I don't know whether its due to time, age, and his new role, or whether its because in other places he saw more of a different side of me than this place.

We can't get snippy it gets deleted to protect white fragility. I once said oh yes massa bwana once to one of the most egregious racist comments ever but it was deleted and the egregious white comment was left standing. It was soon after that we got one of our 3000 comment race threads on the grey.

So, metafilter mods cannot teach their user base how to be less american racist (which is a particular exceptional flavour of its own, steeped in its blindly filtered superiour ignorance) and cannot start policing the threads for us either. Not until they take a strategic decision on metafilter's orientation - America first? Global and international site? multicultural multiracial multireligious site? Decide, then your path will be clear. And so will our expectations.

I'm tired. I'm tired as fuck having to deal with American bullshit in Finland because the internet has been hijacked by the very worst - youtube pushing altright, facebook pushing genocide, google pushing whatever the fuck, et cetera et cetera

I think this thread is the outcome of Metafilter not having decided consciously where they stand among the cesspool that is Silicon Valley's creation as of date.

but it's always been clear to me that religion is often very important to people of color, and I can attest that it's very possible to have a complicated, sometimes painful and traumatic relationship with religion and still avoid being a gigantic asshole about other people's engagement with and choices with respect to religion.

this is part of the constant ongoing silencing of the majority viewpoint. I don't own this place however and as I'm realizing, the internet is discovering their true ownership. That's why everyone who can is building their own internets.

Where does Metafilter choose to stand among all of this?
posted by infini at 1:47 PM on June 7, 2019 [97 favorites]

A lot of stuff on MeFi doesn't just assume you're a middle class white person, but a middle class white person living in a rich English speaking country. I get that people exist in their own context and sometimes need to discuss first-world problems, and that's OK I guess, as long as it leaves space for people with third-world problems and interests.
If the site is to be truly global, and I'd like it to be, it would be nice to actively encourage signups from people standing on the upside-down part of the world. I'm not saying we should have less gringos, just more non-gringos would be a good.
posted by signal at 1:52 PM on June 7, 2019 [19 favorites]

We're all angrier now when we arrive here because of Trump and his band of white nationalists/misogynists making the entire internet a toxic hellhole from Podunk to Turku.

Have you ever considered what the daily cost of accessing the internet is to "peoples of colour" - the fucking overwhelming majority all over the planet - is these days? We're being attacked, abused, and traumatized by every tweet and headline. Brown babies are held in cages and dying ... will anyone stop them? Or does the tariff have to rise to 50% before you stop your king moron and his faithful bannonites waking up in the heart of technology offices from every site, letting their neo Nazi genocidal fantasies run riot. The temerity to ask us to choose between that crap and Huawei is galling.
posted by infini at 1:54 PM on June 7, 2019 [30 favorites]

I'm an Indian, and I live in India. I really, really enjoy MeFi, but like someone else said upthread, I tend to hang out in AskMe and FanFare and very rarely do I even comment on the Blue (I use AskMe a fair bit. I quickly learnt to specify in the question that I'm not American, and even figured out that posting a question during my day would have low responses, since it would be the middle of the night on the other side of the globe. Heh)
I really, really wanted to make a post about the Indian elections, which felt like an important topic to discuss, but I was too afraid of being told that whatever I wrote about my own country's politics and culture would not be good enough, or important enough, or properly framed. And I would not know how to respond to that, y'know. In a previous, rather contentious metatalk, someone had commented that the learning curve for user participation has become essentially vertical. It rang uncomfortably true, as a new-ish member still finding her way around the site culture.
Make what you will of that.
posted by Nieshka at 1:59 PM on June 7, 2019 [50 favorites]

This account can be easily linked to my true nym. But what I'm saying is nothing less than what I put out on African twitter daily due to the headlines I curate. And, the outcome can't possibly be worse than the concentrated troll attacks and abuse I live with daily. The sockpuppet doesn't have the history and experience that infini does, so this historic thread had to be attended by her.

We're being silenced online. Non stop since 2017. We're being singled out and silenced.
posted by infini at 2:00 PM on June 7, 2019 [14 favorites]

I'm Poarch Creek though you might not know it by sight or without reading the comments on the same when it came up in the past.

I don't have much to say about this stuff besides to commend the mods for bringing it to the forefront.

The only other thing I have to add is that I want to both thank the folks that stood up for me when my, innocuous/agnostic though they were on the race front, words were recently taken / twisted to mean something that wasn't at all the case. The whole assuming someone is being racist on the slightest, nay non-existent, excuse isn't welcome. I hope folks would ask and give more benefit of the doubt than that rather than rely on folks to come in after the fact and defend or correct.
posted by RolandOfEld at 2:16 PM on June 7, 2019 [9 favorites]

As an Indian-American who now lives in the UK but has been on the internet longer than any country, I think national identity is as artificial as any other kind. It's all about what you find useful to describe yourself and find community, and for me that includes "poc." I have often found more in common with a (self-identified) person of color on the other side of the world than my neighbor.
posted by yaymukund at 2:26 PM on June 7, 2019 [6 favorites]

(That said, I would never tell someone who identified as poc to stop talking about their other identities. I know I've learned a lot from being in specifically south asian spaces.)
posted by yaymukund at 2:33 PM on June 7, 2019 [4 favorites]


1) Any longtime PoC member had divabat's history in their heads, too. I thank her for taking the time to put that history in one undeniable place.

2) This thread is conspicuously missing many former posters who are simply no longer on the site.

3) Systematically unequitable institutions like the Oscars (the Oscars!) are outpacing MeFi's progress with regard to race.

4) MeFi is actually among the leaders in centering other marginalized groups, however. This is actually the worst part. We'll be the change we want to see in the world for others - but not you.

That's a lot.

For me personally, I buttoned months ago because I was specifically told - paraphrased only a little - "I deeply resent having had to engage with you on this, and have zero interest in getting into this further." That's exactly when I decided to spend my time with people who spent effort to value and engage with me. As opposed to those who - both implicitly and very much explicitly - convey that engaging with me was, like, too much of a hassle or too much work, man.

That's not a PoC problem. That's a site philosophy problem. Engaging to work stuff out is inconvenient and work intensive. So we'll delete thread or comments to shape discussions to avoid things not going well. All PoC have to do is play by the unspoken rules, read the room, absorb the current site culture, etc. and I'm sure everything will be just fine. The resemblance of this dynamic to the "poor cultural fit" playbook elite schools use to keep qualified minority applicants out is, I'm sure, totally accidental.
posted by NoRelationToLea at 2:33 PM on June 7, 2019 [112 favorites]

I really, really wanted to make a post about the Indian elections, which felt like an important topic to discuss, but I was too afraid of being told that whatever I wrote about my own country's politics and culture would not be good enough, or important enough, or properly framed.

Isn't part of the problem that the mods and the vast majority of users wouldn't know what the proper framing is? Like, what if a hypothetical post about the Indian elections had some wildly offensive framing that was only wildly offensive to someone with significant knowledge of Indian politics? Obviously, to an extent, the mods are relying on users who do know to flag it. But then they're still relying on Mefites whose own level knowledge the mods can't fully evaluate to make that call, maybe supplemented the mods' own hasty research. Is it fair to expect the moderators to moderate such topics?

I think it's obvious that Metafilter simply does not have the resources to hire more mods. Obviously that's the ideal solution, but like, the money's not there. That's a simple fact. Even if Metafilter does find the money, even if a current mod does step down in favor of a new hire, then there's still the issue of it being a big world out there, so does Metafilter prioritize adding an American POC mod, or a non-American one, and how one or even two or even three people can't represent all the non-American voices.

Is there a viable solution to this problem, given Metafilter's current resources? I think the answer to that question can just be an honest "No," and that "no" does not necessarily have to mean that the mods are racist and the worst or whatever. It can just mean, "hey, Metafilter would like to do better at this, but at this time, we do not have the resources for it." That, at least, is more honest than the vague "metafilter doesn't do [topic] well." So then the issue becomes whether we as a community can come up with those resources, whether they be time, money, or staff.
posted by yasaman at 2:39 PM on June 7, 2019 [21 favorites]

I think this thread is the outcome of Metafilter not having decided consciously where they stand among the cesspool that is Silicon Valley's creation as of date.

I think this is very important ... When I joined Mefi, I honestly thought (at that point) that there was something inherent about the Internet and the Web as technologies, that could, in the right circumstances/configurations, help to transcend the general shit quality of many day-to-day/face-to-face interactions based on race/color/{other inequalities}... This included thinking that here I was somehow free of the burden of having to explain and that I could somehow come in through the door and hang up (for a short while) the exhausting shell I have to carry around IRL.

But I think that has been over for a while. The question is, assuming that what I saw years ago was actually a thing, can we get it back? Or build a new thing?
posted by carter at 2:42 PM on June 7, 2019 [8 favorites]

My background is Asian (way back, so I look Asian but don't speak or understand my great-grandparents' language). I use "POC" because 99% of my friends and acquaintances who ID as not-white, who grew up in Canada or the US or the UK or lived here for any length of time, have in common that they're sick and exhausted by being Othered by White Canadians, Americans, etc. And also by having to decide alla time, "Is it worth it to bring their White Fragile words/actions to their attention, this time?" And if they speak up, having to soothe White Fragility down, or if they don't speak up, having to just swallow it, again, and carry on like it doesn't feel like a cage. Actually it's 100% of those friends and acquaintances, but my academic training went "Careful with absolutes." Obviously, I don't claim to speak for others, we are not a monolith, etc.

Reading this thread, wow, what a novelty, reading a race-related thread on this site where I don't have to steel myself to read inevitable White Fragility reactions from some White Mefites who prioritize their need to proactively defend themselves over everybody else's voices.

In my experience, Metafilter is light years better than when I joined in 2005. And, there are actions that leadership and White Mefites could do to keep improving, if the will and humility is there. #1 would be to keep practicing self-de-centering skills with POC, online and IRL, until it's second nature.

I have more to say about actions but I have to get IRL things done now. I might not be able to come back until Monday. Thank you, cortex, and mods, for this thread.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 2:52 PM on June 7, 2019 [32 favorites]

Isn't part of the problem that the mods and the vast majority of users wouldn't know what the proper framing is? Like, what if a hypothetical post about the Indian elections had some wildly offensive framing that was only wildly offensive to someone with significant knowledge of Indian politics?
I don't disagree - I don't know the solution to this. I also don't want to serve as a token Indian, or be here as a sole representative to explain the intricacies of a big, complicated democracy. My own knowledge is far, far from perfect. I was just highlighting that the idea of making an FPP makes me nervous, because of how I've seen other FPPs with similar topics go down.
posted by Nieshka at 2:56 PM on June 7, 2019 [7 favorites]

Relatively new-ish member of MeFi and PoC [African American], here.

I don't know, but instead of over-intellectualizing this entire thread and/or response, why couldn't a mod simply ask the poster the relevancy of the article in a DM after its posting? Moderating is kinda in the job description.

As far as MeFi goes...look, I work/have worked/will probably work forever in academia, one of the whitest of white employers in America. When you get a bunch of well-meaning, hyper-intelligent and passionate individuals together, you're simply not going to be everything for everyone. Most responses I read are totally tone-deaf to PoC, to LGBTQ, to almost everyone marginalized by the dominant social paradigm. The thing is, it's better than most sites on the Internet in that regard.

What's a PoC to do? Engage en masse - risk a flame war or worse (doxxing) - or selectively engage with people who are on the same wavelength or are sympathetic? Let's just say after 2016 I have chosen the latter. One of the few things I'm grateful for 45's stint as President is now I know who to avoid and whom to trust.

As far as the deleted post, has anyone asked the poster what they thought? This thread has become ridiculously long and some haven't followed the guidelines stated above (see my second paragraph). I'd really enjoy reading his/her/their thoughts on this.
posted by theseventhstranger at 3:04 PM on June 7, 2019 [12 favorites]

Yeah, I didn't mean to call you out specifically or anything, Nieshka. I don't think any of us want to be the "token" minority, but the make up of the site means that sometimes we are, and we have to think about what we want out of our fellow Mefites when that's the case.

Personally, I just accept that there are certain topics I don't bring to Metafilter, or that I'm not interested in discussing here with other Mefites, no offense intended. And I don't mean to give the impression that it's solely race-related topics that fall under that heading; there are plenty of totally frivolous or ludicrously niche topics that I'd never bring to Metafilter for no reason other than that Mefites aren't the core demographic I want to show or talk about the thing with. I don't have a problem with that per se. Other Mefites very clearly do, and it's very clearly a problem when/if a bunch of us are feeling ambivalent or unwilling to make posts or comments specifically about race-related topics, and on that score, I agree with cybercoitus interruptus that I just want Mefites "to keep practicing self-de-centering skills with POC, online and IRL, until it's second nature."
posted by yasaman at 3:14 PM on June 7, 2019 [8 favorites]

WoC (mixed-race FilAm) reading with interest; mostly participate on the green, occasional reader of the blue and the grey when specific pointers show up on the green. Agree with the idea that I just kind of take this space for what it is, occasionally engage, but don't feel deeply committed nor empowered towards making things better here when there are spaces I do have more impact in, especially because while I have been here awhile, and I read MeFi for a long time before I signed up for an account, I still don't entirely feel like I'm not perceived as a newbie here anyway. I had to remind myself or seek out what "buttoned" meant, what some of these acronyms mean; I don't necessarily think that's bad per se, but I do recall conversations where that same logic was used to derail discussions because the vocabulary used to describe complex concepts about inequity required more than a 101 level understanding of the topic, and became a subject of complaint, and then the focus.
posted by Pandora Kouti at 3:21 PM on June 7, 2019 [9 favorites]

I'd really enjoy reading his/her/their thoughts on this.

She wrote a few comments about the deletion starting with this one.
posted by Mister Cheese at 3:22 PM on June 7, 2019 [9 favorites]

On a microscopic level, I love the interaction I have with this site. Askme is where I go first when I am thinking of buying a car or trying to keep my child alive after she ingests hand sanitizer or looking for the latest recommendations about Brit crime shows. I read the politics megathreads every so often, when I want to understand the implications of anything the orange twat has done lately.
However like I said in the other thread, I have learned to keep my interactions here very very light. My first ever FPP was deleted (gosh, back in 2004 or so) and it took me 10!!! years before I tried again, because I saw how posts that dealt with "sensitive" subjects were handled.
(I have written, deleted and rewritten at least 6 times what I want to say next, because I worry about how it will come across so i'll just not say it).
But, I appreciate the work the mods do. It's not easy. I understand that their moderation is influenced by their world view and I don't fault them for that. I also have my own unconscious biases.
My concern about this specific post is that people of color are being lumped together as a monolith - my experiences and perspectives as a person of color is different from the next PoC, and also that its a token post for people of color to get their vent on...oh look, PoC's are expecting preferential treatment when it comes to FPPS etc...which is why I initially decided not to post here, but gosh darn it...(self censoring again) I read MF every day, and I have opinions too...
So yeah, i'm here, i'm reading and hoping that something good will come out of this, and then maybe i'll find the courage to post links that I find interesting, and not just links about goats singing let it go.
posted by ramix at 3:25 PM on June 7, 2019 [21 favorites]

I agree with so much of this thread, and I'm glad to hear about varying experiences, as well. I don't seek out discussion on nuanced topics involving race and ethnicity from Metafilter, but the reason is not because of a lack of thoughtful members who are POC. It's the seeming inevitability of conversations started by nonwhite people--that I can participate in elsewhere in ways less exhausting and more valuable to me--being dominated by white voices and white concerns (even well-intentioned), and moderated by white concerns (also even well-intentioned).

Thanks to the mods for this post. I know I barely wrote anything, and nothing that hasn't been already mentioned, but I wouldn't have participated even this much if I had to wade through white fragility vortexing up the thread's energy, or if I'd have to prepare to defend myself against a potential backlash in response.
posted by mixedmetaphors at 4:12 PM on June 7, 2019 [10 favorites]

Agree about the white atheism bent, and how that's almost always given a free pass (lol sky gods/flying spaghetti monster/jedi).

I see this and I'm so relieved and validated to hear other people see it and care about it that I'm near tears. In my recollection, the few times when I have pushed back against these comments via flagging or arguing, even egregiously hateful comments have been left to stand and my dispute deleted.

And I really do see this current of cruel/disrespectful athiest behaviour as having some deep recent-historical roots in racism (and sexism, and elitism). I can't speak for other religions, but in my faith, most of the world's faithful are not white, are not men, and are not moneyed. And the vital role that religion has played and still plays in sustaining oppressed communities is disregarded at best.

Big talk of tolerence and inclusion doesn't mean a lot to me when the faith and the histories of other people like me sustained by that same faith is a) something I'm erased from and b)reviled. I would never even consider talking about anyone's deeply held spiritual beliefs the way metafilter has decided it's okay to talk about mine.

I personally appreciate the term "PoC". I never had a definitive identifier for what I was until that term became common, and it was such a relief to finally be something. Like many people of colour, my history was stolen from me. I can't really identify with a particular nation or culture, and wasn't raised in a culture that matches my appearance (nor by people that respected it). I was never anything but other. Literally the only racial identity I had as a young person was as "the coloured girl". It's all I got, man. It's a relief to be something other than other, and I have been able to find some shared experience and identity that way. I try to claim blackness now, as I believe it's part of my heritage, but I don't kmow for sure and I don't know how entitled I am to it.

Finally- I'm glad that this thread is here but like also heartbroken that I've, I guess, been waiting eagerly for the white folks to give me permission to speak. Like it's less worse but it's not exactly better. And pretty cynical re what's the point, and what's the motivation.
posted by windykites at 4:43 PM on June 7, 2019 [41 favorites]

I appreciate the voices in this thread and love, love hearing everyone articulate the feeling of being able to relax a bit, knowing that a defense from white fragility won’t be necessary.

I think there should be a similar Meta thread for white people, also.

While it may sound strange, I think it’s important and helpful to frame a space where it’s white Mefites talking to each other and recognizing each other as white. A place to talk about what it’s like to be white on Metafilter would help everyone, including poc folks here, since it would highlight whiteness as a Thing rather than accept it as a default.

I’m speaking because, as a community organizing event I was at, I have personally seen poc organizers explicitly request a “white people’s caucus” (in addition to a poc caucus). And I heard that discussions within the group, as well as discomfort about the group itself, were all productive and important.

Or in other words - white people should be talking to other white people about whiteness. If it’s uncomfortable for white people to think of a white people only space, I think it comes from a denial of whiteness because, well, most white people already exist in mostly-white spaces.
posted by suedehead at 5:05 PM on June 7, 2019 [26 favorites]

but I want to emphasize that a white people thread will likely need active moderation both by official moderators and by woke white people, to avoid making such a thread into a trash fire.

Yes. I do think it would be a good learning moment for everyone no matter how it goes, and I want to trust the white people at metafilter.

It will definitely make certain things clear - who does the moderation? Who is doing the emotional labor? And if a thread about whiteness goes wrong, well, maybe it would be a helpful reflection moment for white Mefites why and how it was.

In good faith, I would appreciate it. I want my white friends to talk about whiteness with each other, and the same goes on this site.
posted by suedehead at 5:27 PM on June 7, 2019 [4 favorites]

I've spent part of the day turning this over in my head. Specifically, the question of how to talk about topics that are hard or require context outside the dominant culture. Because it's not only white people vs everyone else, but also attempting to kick people out of a US-centric mental space.

It's not an answer with a technical solution. And it's also why I found myself dissatisfied with answers like "posts should have context included" because that's asking so much and I'm so damn tired.

But...maybe I've been thinking about it the wrong way. And yeah, instead of asking us what they might be doing wrong, it'd be so much more useful and meaningful if white people would take a moment and thoughtfully challenge their own assumptions.

(also, from yesterday, 23skidoo, you are seriously tempting me to write it up. If only because of how much I haaaate being stuck in the middle all the damn time and alternately held up as a "post-racism" model or an abomination depending on the phase of the moon or whatever.)
posted by ultranos at 5:36 PM on June 7, 2019 [5 favorites]

I am all for a white-people-feelings thread!! And honestly, if people want to take this model for other axes of marginalisation (gender, sexuality, etc) I am all for that too. It's not like Metafilter has completely solved its boyzone problem, the thread I was referring to earlier was from 2014, that wasn't too long ago.

I would like to encourage y'all to take advantage of the fact that friends-linking is now OK and use that to share the work of people you care about that is definitely Best of the Web but which you couldn't share before because of this rule. I know the risk of White people going "but why should I caaaaaare" is going to be high, but at least we can support each other in the threads. Let me know when you've posted something and I'll check it out.
posted by divabat at 6:11 PM on June 7, 2019 [6 favorites]

I'd like to add that it's ok to disengage or walk away from this site when you feel like it's too much or like maybe you need some space or breathing room. I know I've had that feeling wash over me where I just feel consumed by a heaviness and coming back after a little while feels healthier and keeps me more sane.

Just my own two cents.
posted by Fizz at 6:18 PM on June 7, 2019 [5 favorites]

I'm the outlier on this, but the last thing I want is FPPs that Mefites of group [X] are encouraged to not participate in. I think it's dope if people of group [X] want to caucus and create new/adjacent/meta spaces to have whatever conversations make sense to have in their own space, but the way I see it, we're all members here, and if a conversation isn't appropriate for a large proportion of members to post in, it doesn't belong on the front page.
posted by Jairus at 6:27 PM on June 7, 2019 [2 favorites]

Oh yeah, posts on The Blue I feel like should be open to everybody, but with the awareness that if it's not about an experience you relate to, be mindful about what you say and spend more time listening to those that can relate.

MetaTalk is where I'd suggest the White People Feelings thread, but I appreciate 23skidoo's suggestion that we wait till next month for this.
posted by divabat at 6:34 PM on June 7, 2019 [6 favorites]

On the topic of the thread deletion for being a single link post with no context included, I recently posted a single link post with no context - What happened after my 13 year old son joined the alt-right and I figure that was acceptable because it's something that a majority white, majority American audience could immediately grasp and click through. Whereas a single link post with no context about, say, the struggles of a South Sudanese parent living in a foreign country and trying to raise their kid right would be even more compelling (to me at least) but would require me to write a paragraph of historical and cultural context to it to draw people in, which then feels a bit like editorializing. Perhaps if the rule about editorializing could be relaxed? Anyway, this is how the site ends up with majority white centered content - it's not just that it's more convenient, but the rules also make things trend that way.

I think dividing users into "default white oppressors" vs "POC oppressed" is problematic itself. I don't think I, nor many other users fall into either category. The dynamics of "White vs POC of some nebulous but specific definition" and "you're either for us or against us" has taken up increasing bandwidth and is something we simply can't identify with, and I know it's turned off some users from using this site. I'm not saying it's not an important and worthwhile topic but just making the comment that this is happening, and may be a necessary sacrifice - the community can't be all things for everyone.
posted by xdvesper at 6:58 PM on June 7, 2019 [12 favorites]

I don't think that I've been unapologetic about who I am here. I'm Sicangu Lakota. I've seen the tone patrolling and, honestly, it's gross. I don't comment too much because, frankly, I'm afraid.
posted by blessedlyndie at 9:48 PM on June 7, 2019 [17 favorites]

I'm a member of the MeFi Card club and Iiterally the first card I got said:"You should post more." Why should I post more? What should I do? Who would listen???
posted by blessedlyndie at 9:56 PM on June 7, 2019 [6 favorites]

P fucking S: jjsmama's post shouldn't have been fucking deleted.
posted by blessedlyndie at 10:07 PM on June 7, 2019 [17 favorites]

Mostly what you mods see as #outragefilter is just another goddamn day for us.
posted by blessedlyndie at 10:12 PM on June 7, 2019 [43 favorites]

Yeah I don't know. When I write a comment that's a short paragraph, it's something spent some effort on in that I don't just jot down a stream of consciousness. I try to take pains to be concise because of the format. Given that, when my comment is reacted to negatively or more extremely, deleted, I have trouble sorting out if it's something I should work on changing, or if it's a dominant-group person who has projected their implicit values and interpretation on what I wrote. And usually it's focusing on one line rather than its context, or rather than being more open and sensitive to my background and everything I had to leave unsaid. If their subsequent response is to reframe reality, holding their interpretation of what I said to be the true one over mine (often this shows up in their wording), then I struggle with that. I don't know, are people who are bi/multi-cultural more experienced at noticing this dynamic? Or not?

In the end, my enjoyment on sites like metafilter is to have a conversation with someone and felt heard. For Asian American conversations I go to a sub on reddit and I cannot imagine my comments being deleted by the mods on there. So conversation has not super easy to attain on this site, for reasons I haven't fully explored.
posted by polymodus at 10:25 PM on June 7, 2019 [7 favorites]

Having slept on this thread, i'm back with another screed.

Metafilter has been an important anchor in my life, particularly the period 2007 to 2014 when I was moving continents every second year, and traveling for work to remote parts of the world. Metafilter was often the only site that would load with 2G speeds on prepaid data plans, and it was a constant companion as my operating environment kept changing and all I had were fleeting acquaintances and coworkers IRL.

Metafilter's American community gave me the skills and language to recognize Othering and race based issues, which I had not been much much exposed to in my privileged upbringing. It helped me see gaslighting for what it was - in fact, just a couple of days ago, Katullus and I were having a beer in the rare sunshine experienced up here in the Arctic, and he came up with the concept of metagaslighting. I'd trust a mefite "stranger" a wee bit more than any random stranger or meetup from any other site. I still think of this place as family - there's racist cousin Tom and crazy uncle Sam but there's also all the warmth and care and concern and welcoming that has us out in hordes when a baby is born to us or two of us get married.

I don't want to lose this part of my life when the internets go down, and going down they are, in one form or another - the headlines alone are a clear signal of some major changes down the road. Those of us in Europe already see numerous American websites inform us that due to GDPR rules we can't be allowed to peruse the content.

The idea of a White only grey thread sounds interesting, even though the third culture kid in me who grew up embracing everyone as unique individuals and the multiplicity of the world's cultures and creeds and ways of being as all each right in their own way. So the idea of pulling out any particular side or random genetic feature as a means to exclude or include is fundamentally against the grain of who I am.

However, and this is important in 2019, the world today, and hte internet today, has been tainted and made toxic by all kinds of misinformation, fake news, hate, Othering, and deeper darker agendas of world domination based on identity. Politics has come to permeate every aspect of our life, simply because those of us who frequent this community are actively engaged users of the internet and its communication tools and feeds.

Therefore, in order to preserve Metafilter's existence, we need to work together to find a way out of the quicksand that is sucking us in, (how dare we remain the last bastion of inclusive welcoming multicultural multiplistic thought? how dare we embrace pride and lives matter? etc) - we're definitely under attack. If not directly, then indirectly, as we walk in here carrying the toxic burden of the daily digital micro and macro aggressions against people who look like us, around the world.

We cannot afford to drown in the Trumpian era's toxic social network side effects.

In that light, this thread is an immensely powerful step forward and both metafilter and its ownership and organization must be commended for that. Thank you, cortex and the mod team.

And, in that light, perhaps that "white" thread might well be the next step as part of this healing knitting stitching together process to find an integrated strong way forward for us as a community striving to survive and not lose members to the immense negative forces buffeting us from every direction, deliberately designed to tear us apart into hateful little identity groups and cliques as is happening in the real world across the globe.
posted by infini at 2:22 AM on June 8, 2019 [40 favorites]

There is something about this thread that is not sitting right with me (Indian-American, with a classic ABCD upbringing). It feels a little like "Here, PoC, take your own venting thread so that you can share your stories with each other in a sanctioned way and get it out of your system without disrupting the larger culture of Metafilter."

And the idea of a whites-only parallel thread, when this place is already such a white, American, college-educated space? Jesus.
posted by basalganglia at 6:05 AM on June 8, 2019 [29 favorites]

Pony time

So it's okay for this space not to be about that anger, because I get the validation that people care at home. For someone who is surrounded by people who don't care, it might be really empowering to talk about this on Metafilter and have a bunch of people say 'fuck yeah that's wrong'. I don't really have a good or easy answer for this.

Can we have a Fuckety Fuck thread of mefites who are not members of the mainstream, particularly americans of european heritage?

For the past couple of months I've been increasingly feeling the personal cost and psychic impact of traversing the webs - politics, particularly American politics have sucked the oxygen out of the entire english language internet. And, those politics, are undeniably filled with evidence of the diminishing and undermining of people who are not white. Policies are filled with hate against women. Against brown peoples everywhere. Against the Chinese. Against the russians. Against the muslims (monolitic as the PoC). Against the Africans. Against the Central Americans. Against the Venezuelans. Against the Mexicans. Against, even, the EU.

So, where do we, who may fall into any one of the broad sweeping swathes of the Againsts, go to hide from the onslaught in the guise of policies, headlines, and tweets? Do we all leave the internet if we're trapped in the language of our colonizers? Do I learn French or Finnish to access content without being inundated with the constant nonstop attacks? Or, are we meant to be silenced and chased of the internet that belongs to you?

What I longed to do, and hesitated, was to open an AskMe about dealing with the emotional cost and the psychic pain of the digital aggression being shoved in my face from the moment I go online, restricted as I am to the Anglospheric web.

I find myself getting angrier day by day, trapped like a rat in the maze, the places where I can go online becoming fewer and fewer, until there's just two or three places left. I don't like the cost and I don't like who and what I am becoming. Is my only choice to leave the internet? And to go offgrid forever or until some alternate parallel digital space can emerge?

Can such spaces even emerge with the squeezing out of the oxygen by the American tech giants in the first place?

Places that offered a respite from the news are becoming filled with the newly found political awareness that has been raised among Americans. Technological history means that the majority of the digital world has had first mover advantage amongst the peoples where the digital world was born.

The cybersphere has turned against us. I never felt marginalized until the last 3 years when everything seems to send me the message that I must shut up or speak only what is appropriate and crafted for me to speak. Otherwise I must go offline.

A fuckety fuck thread to come and talk about the cost of being not american in today's digitized world - digitized by America and owned by America - would be a bucket of cold water to wash off the daily shit storm and soothe the buckshot of digital aggressions.

The propaganda machine is aimed against everyone, MAGA to the max. Not being able to read and write either Mandarin or Cyrillic mean I'm stuck here or I "button" from the digital world - and, is that something we can even afford to do, professionally speaking?

*TIL button has emerged as new slang on metafilter. I have been avoiding it too much, haven't I?
posted by infini at 6:30 AM on June 8, 2019 [23 favorites]

- I haven’t really mentioned this but I feel like extreme snide anti-religious sentiment (lol sky gods stuff)

Agree about the white atheism bent, and how that's almost always given a free pass (lol sky gods/flying spaghetti monster/jedi).

As an older African American woman, I fucking love this about Metafilter because I feel the same way. It's hard living in a culture (both American and black American) as an atheist when religion is taken for granted and is the background for everything. Metafilter's default attitude toward religion is one of the things that drew me to site (I've been a member or lurking since the $5 signups started, whenever that was).

As black atheist who has no respect for religion or spirituality, I end up in white guy atheist communities often. It's a problem because they tend toward sexism and racism, but since I'm not the kind of asshole who would say in irl, "Thanks for praying for me, but your god didn't have shit to do with my cancer remission, since you know, he's not real, so I'd appreciate it if you stopped saying he did" to my mom, it's nice to have any kind of space to talk about that, without having to deal with someone's religious feelings.
posted by brandnewday989 at 6:49 AM on June 8, 2019 [46 favorites]

I think the mods and most of the members are trying to do the right thing, but I think it is pretty much impossible to do when there isn't diversity in the organization/mgmt/mods. Moderation is subjective and biased, even when people are trying to do it with an even hand. Trying to avoid difficult or "unproductive" topics, which I could see as a pretty practical desire for a mod, reinforces that they will remain difficult.

Metafilter is structurally similar to all the digital bathroom wall kind of sites (Facebook, Reddit, 4chan, etc.). I feel like it is pretty much the most progressive of all digital bathroom wall sites, but I hope people can see how much it can still improve and head in that direction.
posted by snofoam at 8:26 AM on June 8, 2019 [2 favorites]

As someone of mixed ethnicity who is also an atheist, it's hard enough to express one's atheism irl. Lets not start making it difficult here too.
posted by dazed_one at 8:32 AM on June 8, 2019 [9 favorites]

And the idea of a whites-only parallel thread, when this place is already such a white, American, college-educated space? Jesus.

Yeah, what the fuck was up with that shit, in supposedly PoC only thread. Let's give it a few weeks before we start worrying about the care and feeding of others.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:49 AM on June 8, 2019 [11 favorites]

I’m a proponent of a white people thread and agree with others that it should happen after this Meta is over.

I do want to clarify that it’s not simply about caring for white people but asking them to solve their own problems. How come white people don’t talk about whiteness? They invented & perpetuate whiteness and don’t talk about whiteness to each other? What’s up with that?

I get that not everyone will agree, and that’s fine, and again, definitely agree with at least giving it a few weeks.
posted by suedehead at 9:41 AM on June 8, 2019 [11 favorites]

I do want to clarify that it’s not simply about caring for white people but asking them to solve their own problems. How come white people don’t talk about whiteness?

I firmly believe in your good intentions, and I don't want to argue. However, I would basically never trust any group with power to solve their own problems without marginalized participation simply due to the connection between privilege and fragility. I don't think white people even can improve much without us, any more than men can effectively solve the patriarchy without women or that straight people can help LGBTQA people without including their perspectives in every step of the process.

I also think that sucks and I don't particularly care to do it. I am tired of every fucking thing in my life involving coddling everybody so they don't shoot me 'cause I'm a 'scary' brown guy with a big beard.

But at the same time, systemic power issues are hard to solve and feel bad to examine in depth, and so people who are safely able to disengage with problems of this scale and pretend nothing is wrong will generally tend to do so. I don't expect much to come out of privileged people commiserating with each other, except to complain that we're being unfair to them for wanting them to do uncomfortable things.

So that would be why I am personally against this, despite - again - believing you mean well, and wishing no protracted argument.
posted by mordax at 10:26 AM on June 8, 2019 [22 favorites]

It sounds to me like you're saying that you like the protection and privileging that the site's atheists seem to get for being openly critical (and perhaps a little insulting) about religion and spirituality?

I'm saying this site protects everyone including atheists. The mods do the best they can to protect marginalized identities including atheists. If I never see another kid who got disowned or kicked out of their parents house for being atheist, it will be too soon.

Atheists and the religious are on even ground here. And to religious people who are used to having any criticism wrapped in cotton, it guess it feels like privilege when people are allowed to be blunt and aggressive about their lack of belief and negative feelings about religion.

of how racist (or at the very least white supremacist) the bias toward allowing and sometimes even fostering anti-religious critique is on this site.

Are you saying that anti-religious critique here is racist in and of itself? I don't believe that. I understand that some religious people's feelings are hurt when people are anti-religion. But criticisms of the religious beliefs and practices of people of color can be racist, but it's not necessarily the case.
posted by brandnewday989 at 1:28 PM on June 8, 2019 [15 favorites]

PSA: Kindly do not cut and paste extracts from comments made in here into your thread to feel all over them. Oh noes, should I apologize again, oh noes look at me apologizing profusely once I claim my whitehood. Oh noes.
posted by infini at 1:39 PM on June 8, 2019 [7 favorites]

Reading this thread, wow, what a novelty, reading a race-related thread on this site where I don't have to steel myself to read inevitable White Fragility reactions from some White Mefites who prioritize their need to proactively defend themselves over everybody else's voices.

Goodness, yes. It’s depressingly refreshing.

Another thought. I think part of why I have so little faith is that this stuff keeps coming up and yet. And yet.

And now we have this. A thread where they've separated us out to gripe, to vent, to provide constructive criticism, and somehow this is the turning point. A thread that's easy to close and ignore, to walk away from, to bleed off the frustration from the other threads.

I mean, I know that's probably not how it was meant. I'm sure the intentions were noble. But every time I think about how this place interacts with race, there's so much bitterness.

I feel this so much. And I’m not confident that any significant portion of Metafilter’s white readership will take the time to click through, read, and deeply reflect upon the ways they may, intentionally or not, contribute to the frustrating experiences shared by POC here and throughout the site and then do the work to be better.

From this queer mixed FilAm who has spent most of their time here as a quiet lurker, my thanks to everyone in this thread for saying so many of the things I’ve struggled to put into words.
posted by vespertine at 1:41 PM on June 8, 2019 [14 favorites]

In my view, this is not a thread where we are performing for a white audience and I would really prefer that we not start speculating about what the white mefites think about any of our comments or what they prefer because it puts the focus - again- on the white mefites and their thoughts and feelings, rather than the people who are actually here in this thread.
posted by corb at 2:31 PM on June 8, 2019 [27 favorites]

you seeming to coopt my comment (the one with the flying spaghetti monster and the jedi) to say the exact opposite to what I was trying to say.

I quoted your comment and corbs because I was disagreeing with them. I didn't mean to imply that you (or corb) shared my opinion, and I want to correct that to anyone else I gave that impression to.

In my experience, on this site, judgy, insulting atheist sentiment against (people of color) religion by, largely, white commenters, on this site, is allowed to stand without mod interference, whereas the reverse isn't encouraged or allowed. I think that's racist or at the very least white-supremacy-supporting.

Well, we have a fundamental disagreement, kalessin. Because that is not my experience of metafilter at all. Over the years, the mods have really cracked down on content free "lol sky god" type comments while still allowing criticism of religion. And, well, I genuinely believe that believing in anyone's god is the same as believing in the force and that pastafarians are hilarious. I'm not trying to hurt religious people's feelings when I say that, even though I know some find it hurtful and disrespectful, and I think it's good that I can say express my truth here without getting push back from the mods about offending religious sensibilities.

allowed to stand without mod interference, whereas the reverse isn't encouraged or allowed.

I'm not sure what content of these types of comments would be, but I haven't seen the mods discouraging religious people from mixing it up with atheists. Not saying it hasn't happened but I haven't seen it.

I'm saying that the mod bias I'm seeing on this site is toward allowing and/or encouraging anti-religious critique in a racist pattern, where white commenters' anti-religious critique against religious people of color is allowed to stand, and the reverse is not regularly tolerated or encouraged, and I think that that dynamic supports the white supremacy.

I'm not seeing any racist pattern in mods allowing anti-religious critique. Like if there was a thread about say, why black women are more religious than other demographics, I would expect the mods to be watching that thread like a hawk for the racist and sexist anti-religious critique that would be sure to crop up. But there would also be non-racist anti-religious critique and I would expect the mods to let that stand.
posted by brandnewday989 at 3:33 PM on June 8, 2019 [9 favorites]

I’m Asian American and have been involved at least peripherally in multiracial/crossracial organizing since my college days (starting with the fight for ethnic studies and faculty diversity).

I teach now at a school that is over 50% Latinx. It’s been an amazing experience to teach in a place where whiteness is not the standard experience, even if American society remains structured by whiteness and white supremacy.

In all honesty, I’ve been only somewhat riled up by how pervasive whiteness is in many Metafilter discussions because I am so goddamn used to it in my field/the world at large. It doesn’t mean that I don’t think Metafilter can do better (and that the mods can do better too). I’m also excited by the change in friend-linking policy and agree that this will make it easier to diversify the blue.

P.S. I echo the comments that people of color is an awkward umbrella term that flattens difference, but then again so is the term Asian American. I use both anyways because I find them useful as political categories and conceptual shortcuts.
posted by spamandkimchi at 4:46 PM on June 8, 2019 [15 favorites]

The way some elements of discussions about Marie Kondo have gone on here recently should clue you in on how non-White notions of spirituality get shat on.
posted by divabat at 7:20 PM on June 8, 2019 [21 favorites]

Since this got mentioned a few times here:

Tell me about a FPP post you wanted to make, but didn't because you didn't think Metafilter would "do it well".
posted by divabat at 7:51 PM on June 8, 2019 [15 favorites]

I would like to appreciate everyone for talking here - feeling not alone made me actually make a comment expressing some actual concerns as a comment in an FPP. I don't know how it will go, but I feel really good having made it rather than just sitting on my hands and feeling upset.

In terms of posts I would like to make but just don't, honestly, I'd like to make a roundup post not focusing on Trump - we know he's bad - but on some really interesting articles about how unlikely communities are joining together to fight ICE and detention centers, especially the ones who are taking risks to do so.
posted by corb at 8:26 PM on June 8, 2019 [25 favorites]

I mentioned earlier the mixed-race post, but kind of tangential to that would be a required "history of European and American Imperialism, The Unsantized Version" because my family's history is tied deeply into that violence in Latin America and the scars of that are written into my bones. And that experience is different for every mixed-race person and yet so often heartbreakingly similar.

On a lighter note, it'd be cool to see popular culture from elsewhere show up in posts. Not just film or literary traditions from outside the US. Like honest-to-god kDramas or Indian movies given equal treatment on FanFare.
posted by ultranos at 8:49 PM on June 8, 2019 [10 favorites]

Tell me about a FPP post you wanted to make, but didn't because you didn't think Metafilter would "do it well".

The title would probably be: The white side of the family tell him race doesn’t matter, with a link to: 'Mom, is it bad to be brown and Jewish?': how to talk to your children about race (Guardian), with maybe this added after the fold: Judaism is not a race. But Jewish people can be targeted for racism. (NBC News). The pull quotes from the Guardian article would probably include:
Do people ever tell Z race doesn’t matter? “Of course. Yeah, the entire white side of the family would say that to him. It’s always interesting when people who never experience something say it doesn’t matter. It’s sort of like saying: ‘Your experience, whatever you might be feeling, just doesn’t matter.’ The line that I’ve kind of stuck to with him is: all of your white family, even when they say these baffling things, they do love you. They might not always know the right thing to say, and they might say things that upset you sometimes, and you should tell them.”

[...] People sometimes tell Jacob that her in-laws wouldn’t vote for Trump if they really loved her; she finds that idea deeply frustrating. “It’s an oversimplification. They are oversimplifying my life to console themselves – to give themselves the idea that people who love each other don’t hurt each other. That is a ridiculous lie. People who love each other hurt each other all the time. Now what?”

Jacob’s answer to that question is to talk. To try to have an honest and open conversation with her whole family, no matter how hard it may be. “For me – and I wouldn’t prescribe this for anyone else – having a conversation, despite this enormous hurt, feels like the single biggest act of resistance I can perform.”
I'd want to do more research, and collect more links, so I could feel like the discussion could have a better chance of going well. I appreciate the opportunity to talk about it here, because I've been thinking about it since I read the Guardian article, especially in the context of the discussions we're having. I have not sorted my thoughts out on all this, and I am still hurting and not ready to personally talk, but I am thankful for everyone who is speaking. I do often speak through the articles I post, but it's never complete, but it's what I have to offer for now.

And why do I think jj.mama's post could have been successful when a post like this might not go as well? Maybe because it feels easier to talk about institutions and institutionalized racism, and it feels harder to talk about something more personal, if we're talking directly about personal relationships, and the conversations that might happen about the entrenched defense mechanisms that can perpetuate racism, especially in the context of trying to maintain and strengthen relationships, like we want to do here. I'm just not sure if an FPP like this would be the way to do it, but I'd be happy to be wrong about that.
posted by Little Dawn at 9:48 PM on June 8, 2019 [25 favorites]

Like honest-to-god kDramas or Indian movies given equal treatment on FanFare.

Not sure what you mean by "equal treatment," but we do talk about Indian movies on FanFare. If you mean there's relatively low engagement on those posts, well, that's not really out of the norm on FanFare, especially for media that's not as broadly accessible to everybody. (And by accessible I don't just mean available to watch in theaters or on streaming services, but language wise. Not everyone's into or able to watch subtitled media.)
posted by yasaman at 10:20 PM on June 8, 2019 [5 favorites]

Tell me about a FPP post you wanted to make, but didn't because you didn't think Metafilter would "do it well".

Thank you for this prompt!

- A post about East Asians, East Asians in the US, (East) Asian-Americans, multi-generational East Asian Americans, and the conflicts between all of these groups and how one group inadvertently creates the condition for racism for others, and vice versa

- A history of socialist protest in Korea

- Camping/hiking, race, and whiteness

- architecture and racism (How spaces can actively reinforce racism)
posted by suedehead at 10:25 PM on June 8, 2019 [33 favorites]

MeFi has been a white space since day one I've entered it and is full of well-meaning white liberals. This thread has been overdue for nearly a decade at least. Also, y'all seriously need to change the culture and community of the site to be a lot more into reaching out intentionally to POC, and not just for a one time thing whenever a thread dissolves into another mess (like this post!)

I don't bother posting or participating in this site anymore besides the occasional interpersonal self-help question, because the level of conversations that I'd like to have is not here. Read through every single other comment that people are putting in a great deal of time and labor in posting. Also stop calling every single vaguely spiritual thing 'woo' because you are asshole white skeptics and don't have a connection to your spiritual culture, goodness.

Also, mods are probably going to delete this comment because it's not polite enough. That's a whole other issue - y'all don't listen to us when we were polite, based on whatever standard that is, so I'm tired and just going to tell y'all the truth this truth because I'm very, very tired. Metafilter makes me feel like I'm back on 2012 tumblr all over again, we could do so much better than that.
posted by yueliang at 10:29 PM on June 8, 2019 [32 favorites]

You know, I was just in the MeTa that spawned this thread and a few comments in someone's fucking complaining about "race-baiting". No deletion, no pushback, one solitary poster legitimizing this bullshit by trying to assert that the post in question wasn't "race-baiting". This is fucking pointless. I think I'm going to put my race bait in a box with my race card and go home.
posted by windykites at 11:11 PM on June 8, 2019 [5 favorites]

Hi, I'm the poster who was, I guess, at the center of the brief dust-up about how Kamala Harris pronounces her name in the MegaThread. This has turned out to be a long post, so be forewarned.

I was about to go to bed when I saw the link to this thread from the top of that one, thinking "hmm, this could be a place to talk about that nagging feeling I've had for the last few days that the mods and the other participants in that brief derail were kind of shitty to me." And not four comments into this thread, that very incident comes up! So thank you very much, anem0ne, for speaking up and saying so much of what I would've said had I not felt "whitesplained" to and seen the mods delete half of my follow-up posts offering context and explanation, all the while leaving intact the dumbass, yes-but-that's-besides-the-point posts from those attacking me. Because—honestly—this hasn't quite left my mind since it happened last week. It still bugs me.

Before I proceed, for background: I'm Indian-American, of the ABCD variety. (Another ABCD linked to an explainer up above; I'm too lazy right now to link also, but just do a search for "ABCD" on this page.)

I think my experience in that derail—because yes, I admit it was a bit of a derail from the main thread, but the points it raises about well-meaning white folks who still can kind of say and do dickish things stands—serves as a perfect example of why I find myself self-censoring quite a bit, even here, on what I honestly consider one of the most progressive, open-minded, and enlightened spaces online. (Holy run-on sentence there, by the way.)

If I may, here's what I was trying to do there, and the ways in which it went wrong that a) pissed me off, b) made me feel so damn exasperated that I gave up on trying to explain myself, and c) served to be emblematic of the many, many times I censor myself to avoid rocking the boat—and I would imagine that many of us PoCs in white spaces often do this as well.

1. After the 9,476,496th time I've seen someone refer to Kamala Harris as black (full stop), I make an offhand remark that she's Indian, too. (In what you'll soon see was a relevant irony, the person doing so was commenting about how tone-deaf and inappropriate it was that a white protestor grabbed the microphone from Harris at a MoveOn forum to start rambling about his own agenda. So basically, some random guy jumping up and whitesplaining, right? Stick a pin in that; it's about to be relevant.) Now, I'm happy to have a discussion about whether it was really relevant to go into "the She's Also Indian derail," but we have these minor subject changes within the MegaThreads all the time. I didn't foresee it going off the rails or anything.

2. A reply along the lines of race being a complex social construction, etc. Sure, fine.

3. I reply, already sensing myself being overly accommodating and biting my lips and choosing my words carefully so as not to offend. But I'm more or less responding in such a way as to try and sweep up the small mess that I created, dismiss it, and move on. I even apologize for the derail. What I didn't realize was that my throwaway aside about how nobody ever says "Kamala" correctly would get a couple of folk a trifle riled up. It's insanely late at this point, so I go to bed. Besides, I was quite sure that was the end of this distraction, and the thread would move on to the next outrageous tweet or newly published WaPo editorial or whatever.

4. Well, no. Someone asks if there's guidance on pronunciation; someone else slides right in with the answer almost too damn quickly, a little more, then it fades out and the conversation moves on.

5. It isn't until the following evening that I get back around to the thread, and I see that all of the replies people offered (none of which are from Indian folks, I'm going to assume) are . . . flawed. I won't quite say wrong, but they only spoke to how Harris herself says it when asked how she wants it pronounced—which, granted, is valid, but incomplete. Incomplete because the larger context of how this very common Indian name is nearly universally pronounced was left unaddressed. This is where diversity in mods would come in handy, and here's why: Someone like anem0ne was able to automatically understand where I was coming from—i.e., that this wasn't about "well, hey, how does Kamala say her name?" but rather, "well, how is the name Kamala typically pronounced, and what are the larger implications behind the fact that Kamala Harris chooses not to use this pronunciation? And to what extent is she making that choice freely, versus to accommodate a larger society that has historically shown itself not to care how people who are different say their 'different' names?"

Yeah, that whole last part got snipped off.

6. So, in saying that all replies to that point were wrong, I added the caveat, "at least in the context of the typical Indian pronunciation." Then I proceed to give the non-celebrity-politician-from-California conventional pronunciation of the name Kamala. And because I already know I'm going to get the snippy, "well, why don't we just let the woman pronounce her own name the way she wants to?" response that completely ignores the context I was providing, I then go into an anecdote about my youth. About how I, as an Indian person in America with a far more offbeat, hard-to-pronounce name than Kamala, allowed people to pronounce it incorrectly for much of my life, because it avoided dragging out brief introductions into me having to go back and forth several times until the other person sort of gets it right. And then how later in my life, I said "you know what? Screw it, make people say it correctly." But I ended it all by saying that in the end, the choice was mine to make—first, to let people say it wrong, and later, to make them say it right—it was always my choice. And I tied it all up in a nice bow by very clearly implying that as it was my choice to tell people how to say my name, so too should it be Kamala Harris's choice. Metafilter's full of bright people, so I felt the implication was enough; no need to explicitly state the moral of the story, right? Well, obviously not, because this is where the whitesplaning really began.

7. A dude replying that the typical Indian pronunciation is irrelevant to how "his" senator says her name. He even goes so far as to presume she wholeheartedly, and of her own accord, chose that pronunciation, dismissing the very idea that she might've wrestled with allowing people to say it wrong because it's just easier that way. Because somehow he knows this. And the weird gymnastics involved in making sure he says Harris is his senator was just . . . vaguely creepy. Like his being a constituent makes his opinion more important, to say nothing of the way that word choice implies a sort of ownership.

8. I try and clarify briefly and it goes nowhere; he's still stuck on the basic "yeah but that's how she tells people to pronounce it, why don't you get that?" auto-reply without any deeper consideration of context and of, you know, why Harris might've made that decision in the first place.

9. Annnnnnnnnd none of my further replies are in the thread anymore, because the mods deleted them, and yet didn't delete any of the others, so I look like a petty, whiny little ass as a result of those surgical deletions. (They didn't even post one of the usual "a few deleted; everybody calm down" types of mod notes. Nope, just quietly deleted.)

And that, in nine acts, is a small example of what happens when PoC do try to be heard, or do try to explain some of the more nuanced parts of our experience in white spaces.

I wrote all this, and I spent the last week never totally letting go of my offense at how this was handled, mainly because I value MetaFilter and see it as being so much better than damn near every other online community I'm aware of. That's why it stings more when stuff like this happens. It just seems so not like you, MetaFilter. Like you're so much better than this.

posted by CommonSense at 11:53 PM on June 8, 2019 [122 favorites]

It really feels like part of me is dribbling out bit by bit as I remember stuff I’ve not consciously been thinking about.

The way people come with relationship questions where they say “I can’t leave this relationship” and no one ever thinks there may be cultural or economic reasons why they can’t leave the relationship that are totally valid. The way people tell women - speaking of intersectionality - to leave, and it might be hard but they’ll totally get right back on their feet, because white women sometimes can, and no one ever thinks of including that leaving a shitty or abusive relationship is one of the top reasons women of color start on a path to homelessness and stuff isn’t that simple, especially if they have kids.
posted by corb at 12:47 AM on June 9, 2019 [30 favorites]

A good example was that ask me question from last year where the OP asking for resources to help teach a loved one about a basic aspect of being an immigrant in North America was immediately given the ol' 1-2 jab/straight combo of being told racism was fixed in the 80's before being straight-up accused of child abuse.

That user did take me up on the offer to continue over MeMail, and has since sent me multiple messages continuing to argue that I'm a bad person who is, if not directly abusing my children, at least grooming them for others to abuse. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
posted by meaty shoe puppet at 12:55 AM on June 9, 2019 [25 favorites]

I wrote all this, and I spent the last week never totally letting go of my offense at how this was handled, mainly because I value MetaFilter and see it as being so much better than damn near every other online community I'm aware of. That's why it stings more when stuff like this happens. It just seems so not like you, MetaFilter. Like you're so much better than this.

I remember seeing that whole exchange... and walking around my living room trying to remember how to pronounce Kamla again (Gandhi's wife's name; my maternal grandmother's name), and remembering how I'd often forget how my own name was pronounced when I was living in Umrika. And, being confused why the other guy was insisting on that other pronounciation.

You know what's missing in this thread? A screed on respect. Excuse me while I get another cup of coffee on Sunday morning before I sit down to type.
posted by infini at 1:05 AM on June 9, 2019 [14 favorites]

I'm also curious to hear what this specifically non-white population thinks of the mods' responsiveness.

I'm often surprised to hear people praise the responsiveness of the mods. My experience with them over the last decade-plus here has been that they're quite responsive to formulaic, mechanical requests like, "Could you fix this link?" or "Could you append this exact text to my post?" but it's very hard to get a response on anything that questions the status quo.

I very much have the feeling that they are triaging such questions with a first-pass filter of, "Maybe if we ignore him long enough he'll give up and stop bothering us." And then if I force their hand by taking it to MeTa, they fob me off with sympathetic noises and promises to review things someday, etc.

(I want to be careful to point out that this doesn't have to be racist in intention. An entirely unintentional model would be that they're overworked and going for the low-hanging fruit, with the resulting disparate impact of systematically underserving the requests that fit less well into their existing systems.)
posted by meaty shoe puppet at 1:22 AM on June 9, 2019 [15 favorites]

Corb's already said what I really wanted to say but better, so I really have just quibbles and details below.

I am a mixed race guy in the UK with ancestry in India and the Caribbean. I was somewhat active in antifa: I've been pelted with beer bottles by the BNP, been dragged by police away from the EDL, been listed on Redwatch (the right-wing revenge list ).

First annoyance: white people judging which mixed race people get to count. In particular the movie threads where they apparently get to decide which mixed-race actors are dark enough to play ethnic characters authentically.

Second: Fascism is an actual thing with actual followers who actually want to do actual harm to people like me in general, and also me in particular. It's not just a vague boo word to apply to anyone you don't like including me if I don't agree with the exact preferred goals and tactics of white liberals on every occasion.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 2:27 AM on June 9, 2019 [34 favorites]

Respect for the Other is a concept missing from this entire conversation. Respect for other beliefs, other ways of being, that there might more than just one right way of doing things, all that that entails is missing.

Perhaps this is the natural side effect of deep social conditioning of the exceptionalism of one culture and country and its customs and mores, that makes it difficult to take any other belief system seriously.

But perhaps, that is why, that offers us a systemic approach to evaluating and considering our knee jerk responses (for eg. "better dead than red") to any thing other than what we've been taught is the greatest and bestest (for eg. health care). To perhaps open our minds to the fact that whilst we ourselves may not have experienced a different culture or continent, or been exposed to multiple ways of thinking and being, that does not imply that they are not worthy of existing in and of themselves.

Start from the premise of respect, and I don't think you can go wrong.
posted by infini at 4:08 AM on June 9, 2019 [20 favorites]

Reading through this thread helped me see how pervasive the problem is, both in things that were mod deleted and just random stuff all over the site like this recent FanFare comment that blew my mind:

I kind of like the Asian representation, but to use the two most recognized Asian-American actors (Yuen, Cho) kind of feels cowardly or cynical.

Extras/ background actor representation would have been more sincere. But whatevs.

posted by snofoam at 5:22 AM on June 9, 2019 [1 favorite]

It really feels like part of me is dribbling out bit by bit as I remember stuff I’ve not consciously been thinking about.

Oh yeah. It infuriates me when an AskMe post about dating and family across racial/cultural differences usually has white posters being like “oh, they can’t tell their family everything about you immediately? They’re hiding you from their family! DMTFA”

I wonder if those posters understand that asking two people in a relationship to have the same expectations about families and familial communication is essentially enforcing & normalizing mono racial or monocultural relationships.

I also remember an AskMe where a white person, living in the US with their poc partner, was talking about how they didn’t like going to their partner’s occasional community gatherings in part because they felt they were sexist, but then whining that it’s “uncomfortable for me to be the only person not of their cultural background at the event” (LOLWTF, a white person complaining about this in the US?) but grateful that their partner was “100% liberated” from their culture’s sexism.

Like: patriarchy, sexism, and misogyny is soo real everywhere, including in other cultures and amongst poc, but one of the worst ways to deal with it is with veiled racism masquerading as feminism, rather than by feminists who are from and within the race or culture that’s dealing with it.

On Metafilter I feel like basic cultural stuff like this is a “nuance”.
posted by suedehead at 5:38 AM on June 9, 2019 [24 favorites]

Is it so terrible? Why are there any POCs here at all then? Imagine if mefi closed tomorrow, the mods all having given up in shame. I wonder what I would do with my time online then.

What I would ask for in the future isn't perfection - I think any of us would be found wanting if such an expectation was directed at ourselves - but a more finely tuned awareness of cultural difference. An awareness that attitudes and assumptions are contingent, not absolute. I mean, up to a point; murder is bad, fascists need punching...but there is always a shifting argument about where the boundaries are and that is often culturally determined. As a minor example, Ask Mefi has a whole thing about cutting off parents that give you stress. From an African point of view that's unconscionable, monstrous. If the advice to cut off the parent is given on behalf of say a spouse facing prejudice due to being from Africa or Asia, I can't help feeling, as an African, that the white questioner could do with a whole lot more dialogue with their partner over what to do about the situation rather than the type of answers they are likely to get on Mefi. (This is based roughly but not exactly on an actual ask.)

Every community has its orthodoxies. They are difficult to challenge from within the community. But in the adult world orthodoxy and received opinions, in others or indeed within oneself, are extremely difficult to unearth, examine, and revise. I'd say this difficulty, this need for nuance, is a defining characteristic of adult life but I know I'd be wrong - plenty of adults get by without any reflection or self-reflection or second-guessing in their lives at all. And those people are pains in the arse! but often annoyingly successful and happy. But my point is, this stuff isn't easy (changing mindsets), it can't and shouldn't be forced on anybody, and in an informal forum there is always the option to walk away.

What we can ask for is dialogue; what we can be open to is dialogue. With respect going both ways.
posted by glasseyes at 6:58 AM on June 9, 2019 [14 favorites]

Sure kalessin, appreciated. I don't find what you posted hyperbolic, and over the years you have sometimes been the only person in a thread talking valuable truth. I was reacting to what sounded like a personal call out. If this thread turns into a bunch of personal call-outs of mods by name I probably will stop finding value in it.
posted by glasseyes at 9:06 AM on June 9, 2019 [1 favorite]

I only check metatalk sporadically, so I'm glad the banner was up directing me to this thread. Not much to add (mainly just another listener, like my usual engagement with this site), but seeing the latest Metatalktail thread set for Euro time - is there any desire to - well, first, to open up the framing so it's Euro/Africa time zone? And second, to push for a monthly Asia (or Asia/Australia) time zone Metatalktail thread as well? I know folks exist on Metafilter (you're in this thread!), and even though it's not your job to teach me either, I've appreciated and benefitted, as an Asian American, from hearing and learning from your voices - cendawanita's perspective on Crazy Rich Asians being an example that immediately comes to mind. And so I'd like your perspective and existence to be recognized more completely, even through such a seemingly minor thing.

I feel presumptuous even bringing it up - I'm not the target time zoneist - and probably wouldn't have, if it weren't for and weren't in this thread (for many reasons) - but seeing that reminder of colonialists, "Euro," struck me as an opportunity to maybe think about the framing and whether there could be more inclusiveness.

But I also don't mean to diminish the voices or existence of non-white Europeans (including many folks in this thread) - and I realize the suggestion is likely tainted by my US-raised biases about "Europe," my complicated feelings about the dominance of western European culture, my continuous exposure to an environment where race is generally still inextricably linked to continent of origin, etc.

Just ramblings on a Sunday morning, I guess. (I can't not try to qualify my comment defensively, even in this thread.)
posted by cdefgfeadgagfe at 9:37 AM on June 9, 2019 [10 favorites]

I'm thinking of making a post about the current state of Chilean pop.
Proposal: It would be cool to declare a month-long Other-Viewpoints event, to encourage people to post things they usually wouldn't, FPPs about non-middle-class-white-US-topics, politics, culture, whatever, just to improve the site's ratios and get the ball rolling. That might be a concrete result of this thread.
posted by signal at 9:40 AM on June 9, 2019 [15 favorites]

I've been on MetaFilter for a long time now, and have seen how the site has changed over the years. I'm Indian living in Mexico, and I reject the POC label since by definition it only applies to White majority countries. I've accepted that the feel of the site is determined by the majority of its members, and you can tell just by the kinds of things that are posted. Minutiae about american politics and culture are fine, and anything similar from other countries are usually met with a few comments or worse, -an americanization of the theme. Even this I can understand; since everyone has a tendency to approach new topics through the lens of their own experience. The problem is that the opinions of people who have direct experience is then drowned out. (To reuse an analogy: If there's a spider post, and everybody is saying -Kill it with fire-, no way am I going to be interested in pointing out what I know about this particular spider)

With respect to the name discussion, Kamala (as an Indian name) is pronounced differently to how the senator herself pronounces it. I rarely comment in the megathreads, but follow the discussion, but held off from saying anything since it was going to derail pretty fast (on preview, what CommonSense said). The point is, the combative tone of the name pronunciation discussion dissuaded me from contributing.

I give a lot of leeway to the mods since they are operating at different levels of patience and urgency. Of course their decisions are informed by their experience with the site, and seeing the familiar patterns, and perhaps they can pigeonhole a situation as X before considering the non-white angle. But in my opinion, these missteps are merely missteps and I'm sure that discussions like these will help in making MeFi a more welcoming place for the minority. I agree that more mods would be welcome, if possible, especially given the strain the megathreads are putting on the site.
posted by dhruva at 10:01 AM on June 9, 2019 [14 favorites]

kalessin: I'm on team Make- them- learn- my- name, and insist on repeating it as long as it takes (patiently) till they get it right. And I try to practice this with names of people from cultures/languages that have sounds that I don't use. But it's tricky.
posted by dhruva at 10:06 AM on June 9, 2019 [11 favorites]

I got lucky. For some reason, my first name, which is the sanskrit word for policy, seamlessly fits in with the pattern of Finnish names. Every single Finn I've met thus pronounces my given name correctly on the first try, down to the soft 't' sound.
posted by infini at 11:00 AM on June 9, 2019 [7 favorites]

I've had an account since 2007, and have been lurking since 2005 or so (in my early twenties). There have been years where I spent several hours per day here. If you'd asked me, I would've said that this is the most engaging, thoughtful, tolerant, and funny discussion site on the internet, and that I was always learning something new from it and considering perspectives I'd never thought of before. I was often one of the most vocal people in threads about race, and (from my perspective) usually willing to both do the patient 101 explanation stuff and push back when something egregious is said. It's always more effective and liked if there's some aspect of humor or irony to hook into, so that's where I usually ended up even if I didn't feel like laughing (the favorites usually convinced me that people had my back and understood me, probably wrong in retrospect).

It was clear to me early on that the site had problems with race - from my first FPP, about OKCupid's quite large dataset demonstrating that there's a racial hierarchy in online dating with whites being well at the top in receiving replies from whites and non-whites, and black women and asian men having drastically lower response rates than anyone else from all races across the board. I was perhaps naively hoping for a wide-ranging discussion with experiences, stories, and direct engagement with the data. Instead, the discussion ended up being commenter after commenter saying that they're just more attracted to other white people, and that they can't help who they're attracted to, and there's no changing that or point in reflecting on it, it's just what it is, biological and unconscious. And that the data/results were flawed in some handwavey dismissive way (correlation is not causation, iirc, that old MeFi standby) so no one has to grapple with its implications. No amount of explaining or pushing against that could break through the wall of white defensiveness, so it was one of my first clues that white liberal tolerant allies are invested in non-self-reflection about race and will put up a distortion field around anything that forces them to examine how their own behavior is implicated. This was proven time and again in just about every thread about race I've ever come across here. Even as the boyzone threads forced a reckoning around sexism and the culture changed to make this a relatively friendlier place for women, the same level of wilful obtuseness continued around race and only became more entrenched, despite frequent metaTalk threads discussing how bad the site culture is around it. (Often it was the same names popping up doing the same stuff like clockwork and being given the benefit of the doubt each time, which contributes to a Groundhog Day feeling for me, at least.)

I was in my 20s and early 30s for a good part of that time I spent frequenting the site. My participation dropped off drastically around 2015 and 2016, and now I spend very little time here (it's usually last on my list of 'sites I can use to procrastinate' rather than first, and even then I usually just skim the front page, avoid comments, and stick to innocuous video game posts from Fizz - which is the sort of thing people here usually recommend in regard to Reddit, typically seen as the antithesis of this site, funny enough). I think younger me was more willing to 'get into it', so to speak - and I thought that my perspective could be valuable in explaining (to quiet onlookers moreso than thread participants, at least) how something people consider innocuous is actually harmful in ways that are invisible to white people, etc. Many paragraphs and lots of time spent on this over a decade. Pointing out things that are readily apparent to most of the commenters in this thread, but which seem to be overlooked time and again by the white majority. I don't get upset when something is simply overlooked or not considered, because people are human and we all have blind spots, and god knows I do too, but when the follow-ups to patient explanations are always kneejerk defensiveness or the aforementioned distortion field at all costs, I get increasingly fed up the older I get and the less I discount the same paper-thin justifications that keep popping up around why white people don't need to think about whether they're causing harm or change their behavior to avoid doing so. I channeled that frustration into energy and conversation, and at least managed to convince myself I was getting something out of it too. But in the lead-up and then aftermath of the 2016 election, I burned out hard by what felt like the entire site culture going downhill, walls being thrown up everywhere, and the place no longer feeling like a friendly or open-minded one in any sense. I realized - you can be patient, you can be willing to engage and explain things you've explained before, you can channel anger into little cathartic jokes or pithy comments that get favorites that give you little serotonin hits throughout the day, or whatever it is that's working for you - but when it eventually stops working (and it'll eventually stop working for everyone doing that stuff, given enough time), then what do you still get out of it and why are you still here? are you enjoying yourself? is your time better spent in other places and focused on other things? how's your blood pressure?

Concurrent with that was a growing realization that being a 'denizen of the internet' innoculates you into thinking that other people who spend a lot of time on the internet encapsulate, in the aggregate, all the perspectives that are out there - when they're actually, as a group, probably incredibly blinkered in perspective in a lot of the ways that are very common among that certain category of people. I didn't really find a lot of places online outside of MetaFilter that I felt were still giving me something instead of taking things out of me slowly (and my other favorite haunt Twitter was also developing cracks in the site culture/discourse the size of continents), and I'm also not that interested in talking about and thinking about race ALL the time in PoC-exclusive spaces designed for those purposes (I still feel a little guilty for bailing out of the MetaPoC slack after a few days checking it out, and I almost didn't have the energy for this thread), so I stopped spending time in internet places as much across the board and spent more time engaging with non-internet stuff and cultivating conversational practice and edification outside of internet discourse, trending news topics, and the like. I get upset way less, I don't have racist ignorance and white fragility/defensiveness from my supposed friends/allies irradiating my face away for hours every day, my blood pressure's gone down, I can engage with people in good faith more often, I'm becoming less bitter and sarcastic and bleak in mindset, etc (maybe this is a small glimpse into what most white people feel by default in spaces such as this?). It's not that any of the racism's gone away or that it doesn't affect me - it does as much as ever - but stepping away from Metafilter and all the other 'smart' 'thoughtful' 'witty' 'left-leaning' places I've been online has at least removed me from the heartbreak that the sort of people I most identified with were the ones most unwilling to accept me and my perspectives when given the opportunity to hear about them.

I guess as a full picture I'm so tired by the same old paralyzed discourse at this point that my exhaustion is having tiny exhaustion babies that are running around tapping my forehead with little hammers all the time, and the simple calculus of cost-benefit no longer works out great at this particular site as well as others.

Someone in the outragefilter thread said something (very popular) about how an FPP shouldn't just upset you, it should offer a solution. I disagree with that, but anyway: well, I don't have a solution. How do you change an entire site culture? Slowly, aggravatingly, little by little, over and over, until something clicks in each person's mind consistently over the course of years. No one needs or deserves to martyr themselves on that front, believe me. I think every regular white MeFite at this point has had many, many opportunities to learn and grow. If you haven't yet, it's not on us to (in some cases literally, I suspect) ruin ourselves for your benefit.
posted by naju at 1:08 PM on June 9, 2019 [74 favorites]

I'm Chinese-American and live in Taipei, though I only just got a Metafilter account last year. Mostly I don't even initiate engagement with race on MeFi because like.... why would I come here for that? It seems like a lot of effort for very little reward. I'm more likely to post LGBT-related things, though that comes with its own "hey I have gay friends" set of issues.

The instance of racial conflict that I remember most vividly was mostly an intra-Asian discussion where we all came in with our different biases, different background and different definitions of what being Asian meant. I feel like a white mod specifically would not have the ability to handle the nuances of that discussion, but an Asian mod of my heritage might not be able to understand the stance of another Asian person with a different experience, etc. Maybe it would be better to have blanket rules (like if enough people call for a specific thread to be POC-only or specific ethnicity-only then that could be enforced, or maybe saying that racism is over could be against the rules as well).

I do think we should have a thread about whiteness. You know what would be great? If all the white people who are "just sooooo confused about race and they mean well so why can't a poc just spend a few hours explaining race to them already" asked their stupid questions to other white people, and then they could do the work of finding articles from poc voices and patiently talking through Feelings. That would make my life a lot more restful. It would also be great if people whose comments were flagged for racism had to read this thread or an article specific to their infraction and pass a quiz about it before they were allowed to post again.

A FPP that I've always wanted to post but never have: something about the million-member subtle asian traits Facebook meme group and its offshoots. The community and joy and connection there is very much the Best of the Web to me, and I think its mix of specificity (ubiquitous among people who are Asian diaspora and 18-25, go a little older and very few have heard of it) and diversity (so many different countries and ethnicities) is super interesting.
posted by storytam at 1:33 PM on June 9, 2019 [30 favorites]

There are many times I have tried to help people interested in learning the bits of the language that comes so easily to me, with its 'chhs' and 'tzs,' but it doesn't always come so easily to them. I grew up with it, similar to my parents, fighting the post-Holocaust assimilation that explicitly or implicitly discouraged teaching Yiddish to children. The attempt to assimilate is so sad to me, especially these days. I'm reminded every day about how white I am not, but at least I got to start celebrating it during college. There was something so glorious about sitting around with my many roommates, marvelling at our diversity, and feeling so optimistic as the century turned, like we were leading the way into a bold and beautiful new era.

After law school, I legally changed my name because of frequent mispronunciations and a generalized fear related to the high-conflict nature of my work and the region I was practicing in - it seemed wise to be less identifiably Jewish, because I didn't want to give people any additional reasons to hate or distrust me. All of a sudden, I had a common name in the region, and I did the very thing I found so sad, because I had clients and their children to protect. It didn't mean that I didn't get asked if I was Jewish, because according to some, I 'look Jewish.'

There are also many times when people ask me the meaning of various Yiddish words that weave their way into our conversations when I'm not working or writing on Metafilter, but I've stopped being surprised when their response to my question, 'can't you tell by the context and my emotional expression?' is often no. That invariably makes me laugh, because I'm interacting with someone who is interested in learning more about my history.

> Someone in the outragefilter thread said something (very popular) about how an FPP shouldn't just upset you, it should offer a solution. I disagree with that, but anyway: well, I don't have a solution.

That was me. And my blood pressure actually can get pretty terrible, which is probably why I get defensive in my thinking about how to approach topics seen as unlikely to go well, but I do think you are correct, and similar to the conclusion I get to in this comment - people have to be interested in learning before there is anything we can do. We can't open those doors, no matter how hard we try. I just wish people could see that recognizing their implicit biases doesn't make them bad people - we all have them, and it's the denial and doubling down when they're pointed out that continues the conflict and alienation.
posted by Little Dawn at 1:46 PM on June 9, 2019 [12 favorites]

As I read this thread, I just realized that the biggest difference the current political era has made for me is that I don't care to fit in anymore. I guess in your language that would be called code switching.
posted by infini at 2:07 PM on June 9, 2019 [11 favorites]

The mega threads really are sucking life force out of this wonderful beautiful community weblog.
posted by infini at 2:11 PM on June 9, 2019 [20 favorites]

The mega threads really are sucking life force out of this wonderful beautiful community weblog.

If there is going to be a new mod, maybe it would work better to have them only monitor the megathreads, while another mod monitors the rest of the site. Regardless, I think there is a need for some training or some hiring that emphasizes training or demonstrated experience.
posted by Little Dawn at 2:28 PM on June 9, 2019 [4 favorites]

Would some kind of a survey help do you think? What is the active monthly userbase? How many are from outside of the US? And, if willing, how many identify as PoC?
posted by infini at 2:34 PM on June 9, 2019 [2 favorites]

Would some kind of a survey help do you think?

I actually have been thinking about a Metafilter Census - and wondering if a critical mass would participate, and hoping, especially after this MeTa, that there could be more willingness to participate. I think we would need another MeTa to hash out the details, because it seems like the kind of project where many MeFites would have expertise to share, including with survey design, the technological logistics, and the statistics we'd need to interpret.

On the flip side, I'm not so sure it would help, because one of the issues we're talking about is the white and eurocentric presumptions of the site culture. Data is not necessarily going to change that. We've always been here, and that hasn't stopped much of anything. I think I'd rather everyone just be aware of the profound and vibrant diversity that exists in the world generally and Metafilter in particular, and for all of us to be thinking critically about what that means. People should realize that the person they're conversing with may not have a similar background or identity - we don't need survey data to make that point, we need people with a monoculture viewpoint to be willing to open their eyes to what already exists.

I am really with naju on the point that it is not on us to fix this. I think a survey with the purpose of trying to change site culture would fit in with the sense of futility related to how maybe if we undertook some kind of gargantuan effort to prove the obvious, maybe that could finally make a difference, and maybe then we would be seen, even though we've been here this whole time. I do like the survey idea, because I like data and I'd like to know more about site demographics, but I don't think it would help with a task that is not ours to undertake.
posted by Little Dawn at 3:43 PM on June 9, 2019 [10 favorites]

Hey - just in case it helps others, and also so I can get this off my mind - perhaps, mods, if you're not PoC and not posting in this thread, please also refrain from sending private MeFiMail responding to suggestions (and defending site decisions)? Maybe wait until the thread is closed?

I know you mean well. But it startled me, especially because I posted here assuming it meant I wouldn't have to deal with a defensive response rooted in white fragility. An explanation requiring me to reassure you I know there was no malice in Metafilter's intent, no secret racist behavior. A request asking me to represent All PoC Literally Everywhere in giving guidance on a decision.

My initial reaction was to reply privately, make it a teachable moment, frame the lesson with assurances of my knowledge of their good faith etc. And then that felt too much like, well, ... kowtowing, I guess. I hope my use of that word, in that connotation, doesn't offend anyone here. And I didn't want to feel that. So I'm posting this, in thread, instead.
posted by cdefgfeadgagfe at 3:47 PM on June 9, 2019 [74 favorites]

What is the active monthly userbase?
Fresh from the Infodump: there are currently about 2700 active users per month (active = posting 1 comment or more during one month in the Blue). MeFi has been losing 22 active users per month since 2011. Note that it depends on the timeframe (not everyone comments every month): on a yearly basis there were 6600 active users in 2018, vs 7100 in 2017 and 10300 in 2011. Some brave soul could extend the notion of "active user" to anyone who gives favorites, or study the Askme Infodump but those are other big files to process.
How many are from outside of the US?
In 2012 iamkimiam did a survey on 1957 users and found that 27% of Mefites were from outside the US and 8% from outside the native anglosphere. I doubt that these figures are higher now.
posted by elgilito at 5:38 PM on June 9, 2019 [18 favorites]

Wow, those numbers are shocking.

However, I don’t know if you can accurately measure active users by only considering the blue. Eve heard just in this thread that some users only use AskMe or Fanfare.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 5:51 PM on June 9, 2019 [5 favorites]

I was sort of playing with the idea of having some sort of voluntary cultural consultant mod-squad (yes, I went there), that could be goto people for issues the current ones don't have the background to deal with. Don't know what the logistics of this would look like, though, or if it wouldn't create a whole new set of problems.
posted by signal at 6:43 PM on June 9, 2019 [2 favorites]

I didn’t find this thread until just now, but I did want to say thank you to all the folks still trying to make this a worthwhile place to visit. I barely have enough time for cat gifs these days, so I am deeply grateful and indebted to my fellow PoC willing and able to stay active and engaged with all of these tremendously thorny issues. You make the internet better for at least one exhausted semi-lurker.
posted by Diagonalize at 8:46 PM on June 9, 2019 [8 favorites]

I think of Mefi as my internet home. I’ve been a member here for a long, long time, since before there was a sign up fee (although that hasn’t stopped me from donating over the years). This community has shaped me in ways big and small, and I know that I’m a better man today because of it. In short, I love this place and cherish the community we have built here.

That said, most of Metafilter is made up of the type of well-meaning white folk who LOVE the movie Get Out while completely missing the fact that the villains in the movie were them.
posted by joedan at 1:01 AM on June 10, 2019 [28 favorites]

mods, if you're not PoC and not posting in this thread, please also refrain from sending private MeFiMail responding to suggestions (and defending site decisions)?...An explanation requiring me to reassure you I know there was no malice in Metafilter's intent, no secret racist behavior. A request asking me to represent All PoC Literally Everywhere in giving guidance on a decision.

Good grief. Whichever mod it was, would you permit this MeMail to be published?

It just beggars belief that in this thread of all threads a mod would be quite so miscalibrated, and I can't help but hold out some hope that this is all some bizarre miscommunication.
posted by meaty shoe puppet at 1:16 AM on June 10, 2019 [8 favorites]

I'm not going to out the mod, and I'm not going to create the opportunity to litigate my reaction to it. I know the message wasn't sent with any ill intent. Roughly (I'm not going to pull it up again): (1) This is why that thing you pointed out happens to be the way it is. (No recognition, that I recall, of any site dynamics that may have contributed to that. I am not saying there are any, but just that the question didn't seem to be asked.) (2) We can totally change it, here are some suggestions, what do you think???

The tone felt a bit defensive, but not overly so. That it was sent at all struck me as white fragility as it sometimes manifests as an overeagerness to correct possible past sins by seizing on an opportunity to prove virtue, without really hearing the speaker.
posted by cdefgfeadgagfe at 3:28 AM on June 10, 2019 [10 favorites]

I've wanted a place where I could discuss books by Asian and Asian American authors with other Asians and Asian Americans, and it's crossed my mind to set up a club in FanFare, but I'm not sure there would be enough participation to justify the effort. If anyone in this thread knows of any online spaces that already exist for that, please do share.
posted by cdefgfeadgagfe at 3:48 AM on June 10, 2019 [13 favorites]

I'm a POC currently living in an anglosphere country.

I wish the moderators did more of an active policing on threads were there is a specific cultural nuance. For example, this thread: https://ask.metafilter.com/321700/Payback-time, where there were a few clueless, thoughtless comments with White Middle Class Outrage that anyone should give their parents an allowance. The horror. I posted a public-service announcement, and these thoughtless comments were deleted.

I shudder to think what would have happened if I did not comment or did not see that thread. How many threads gone wayyy off-rail because people are not familiar with the specific cultural context? Also, I'm not the mod and should not be first-line of defense.
posted by moiraine at 3:54 AM on June 10, 2019 [27 favorites]

Thank you for sharing that thread, moiraine, I can come out of the closet to confess that I gave my entire first paycheck because I was still living at home but as a girl wasn't expected to do so, and in my culture the appreciative token is the first paycheck rather than the allowance. How nice to a) be reminded of that proud moment, and b) to see how the filial piety plays out in the OP's culture.

I should add that I have been the first line of defence in a similar cross cultural context but this was around 10 or even more years ago, when we got one of the first arrange marriage askmes and the commentary was ridiculous.
posted by infini at 7:17 AM on June 10, 2019 [12 favorites]

My dad never did cash that check ;p
posted by infini at 7:18 AM on June 10, 2019 [12 favorites]

Just to add to my previous comment above, I actually disagree with most aspects of the allowance thing as it's based on an outdated concept and not applicable to today's scenarios (specifically in my family's situation anyway) ...

...BUT the point is that not whether I agree or disagree, the point is that I am able to consider the specific cultural context, and give comments based on my knowledge of that context.

An equivalent would be if someone posted: "Can I give Christmas gifts late?"
And I, with zero knowledge of The Cultural Meaning of Western Christmas, breezily responds, "Why are you even giving gifts, you should be giving cash allowances to your parents to show your token of appreciation!" and everyone else piles in / derails about how people giving gifts to parents are unloving, unfilial children who would dump their parents in old people homes in a heartbeat because they have a transactional relationship and what is Christmas anyway?

POCs here have to do an uphill battle in explaining themselves in Ask Mefi questions, much more so than the average Anglo-American user, hence why it can sometimes seem like a lot of work.

I actually have seen some of the arranged marriages askmes, and since I don't know much about the context of arranged marriages, I chose to listen to other people's more informed opinions and not unnecessarily insert my own uninformed opinion. You would think people with no knowledge of a particular subject should keep their opinions to themselves more often....
posted by moiraine at 7:52 AM on June 10, 2019 [31 favorites]

TIL 'wypipo' as the preferred response to POC, per my African tweeps
posted by infini at 9:07 AM on June 10, 2019 [7 favorites]

Another thing I’m thinking of is not just what FPPs people don’t post, but what AskMes? For me, at least, there are two Asks I have in my head and desperately want to ask but don’t - one a relationship question where I feel like people will be missing context, and the other a question about un-assimilation when your family made every effort to assimilate and now you feel adrift.

I feel like the second question would get a lot of breezy “just do it, whatever you choose to do is great!” rather than actual advice on how to piece together your own identity when your family has fought against it.
posted by corb at 9:16 AM on June 10, 2019 [13 favorites]

However, I don’t know if you can accurately measure active users by only considering the blue. Eve heard just in this thread that some users only use AskMe or Fanfare.
OK, I've looked. Numbers of monthly Green commenters and Blue commenters are roughly the same today (2600-2700). If we change the definition of "active user" to include activity on the Green and Blue, for posting and commenting, there are currently about 4200-4300 active monthly users. The B and G populations overlap but are not identical. Looking at annual figures: in 2018, there were 10000 active users, 25% Blue only, 34% Green only, and 41% active on B&G. In 2011, there were 16600 active users, 19% Blue only, 37% Green only, 44% active on B&G. Green activity has declined faster than the Blue one: in 2011 there were 20% more monthly Ask commenters than Mefi ones. Likewise, green posters are about 2.5-3 times more numerous than Blue posters, but they used to be 4 times more numerous. So the narrative that people fed up with the toxic Blue are staying in the friendlier Green instead is not supported at global level, even when it's true for individuals and (possibly) subgroups. No stats are available for Fanfare, but it's much smaller than the other two (about 200 posts/2000 comments per month, notwithstanding rare longboats like GoT or MCU movies) so I'm not sure how significant it is.
posted by elgilito at 11:53 AM on June 10, 2019 [21 favorites]

If I had the chops, I'd love to map that decline against the rise of social media.
posted by infini at 2:00 PM on June 10, 2019 [1 favorite]

Well, hello. I know I basically stopped paying attention to MeFi after the Rage Yoga thread, but I was curious about how much. I joined in 2005, but I didn't really start participating actively until 2009. Between October 2009 and April 2016 (67 months), I made 1529 comments to the blue (roughly 23 comments a month) and 554 comments to the grey (roughly 8 comments a month). From May 2016 to now (~38 months), I've made 72 to the blue (roughly 2 comments a month) and 18 to the grey (about 1 comment every 2 months). This will be my first comment to either the blue or the grey in 2019. So that seems to me like a pretty significant shift with a clear moment of causation.

I truly didn't expect that thread to burn me out. I knew it was horrible and soul-destroying, of course, because I was there. But I didn't really think that it would make me not want to participate here anymore. I guess it's not really surprising that it did, yet I was surprised. But the sheer sneering malevolence of the people here, nominally members of a chosen community together, about things they knew less than nothing about, towards me and others like me who had something actual at stake, was overwhelming. Of course, because of moderation (which I am not broadly faulting, except that perhaps certain people should have been barred from the conversation or given timeouts much earlier than they were, if indeed they even were), you can't see the especially vicious things which were thrown at me (such as how I wasn't really Indian anyway because I didn't live in a hut and I had wifi, just for example). You can still see comments describing me as neither Indian nor American but at least not having to be poor because of my proximity to Americanness, so, you know, the abject and blatant racism is not wholly trimmed.

But, yes, it caused me to reevaluate how much time I wanted to spend here and whether it was worth it. Even then, I think I probably might have rallied after a little while and returned to some form of participation, were it not for the political megathreads. They are intensely disruptive to my experience of the site. I say "my experience", because I know that many or even most people love them and I'm not trying to discount or dismiss that. I like talking about politics and race and social things of that nature. For the last few years, the vast majority of those topics have been funneled into completely unwieldy discussions with no branching or alternate discussion opportunities, the kinds of discussions that, due to their formatting, it would take me most of my spare time to follow and to engage with.

Again, the question of how much time I wanted to spend here and whether it was worth it came to the fore. So when my predominant recent experience is one of truly intense racism directed at me by people who would claim to be members of my own community, and then the ability to continue and re-engage against those kinds of things is wholly dependent on my participation in fast-moving chatfilter with no clear topic and precisely the kind of noise-to-signal ratio that MetaFilter has otherwise always attempted to reverse -- well, it's not hard to see how this place might feel unwelcoming.

At the risk of being immodest, I think that in general I've been a good community member here and that I've contributed value more often than I haven't. When people like me don't want to participate anymore because of the way the site has changed its values and because of the ignorances and outright hostilities that people are allowed to perpetrate, I think that's a loss, and I think it should bear reflecting on in ways that go much deeper than they usually do.
posted by Errant at 2:11 PM on June 10, 2019 [53 favorites]

I haven't had time to read through everything here, and this is probably trivial in a sea of POC issues we're addressing here, but I'd like to point out this comment in the Always Be My Maybe thread in FanFare that made me roll my eyes super hard. After noting that as a white man he's not the movie's target audience, the commenter went on to praise the only significant actor who, despite being of Asian descent, is usually treated as white-presenting in Hollywood (despite his insistence that he's part Asian).

From what I've read so far here I agree with so much of what many have said. I've definitely posted one-link FPPs that wouldn't stir up controversy (we all share in our fear of robots and our love of cute animals, right?), but I think I'm more encouraged now to post links that would encourage more discussions about non-white perspectives.

Thank you everyone!
posted by numaner at 2:23 PM on June 10, 2019 [12 favorites]

If I had the chops, I'd love to map that decline against the rise of social media.
Using the Metafilter $5 signups as an indicator of attractiveness: Facebook users vs Metafilter signups, 2006-2018. Smartphones sales vs Metafilter signups, 2006-2018. Correlation isn't causation etc. but I didn't expect this to be so... linear. Mefi signups were the lowest last May (55) since November 2004. This is getting too far from the PoC issues discussed here, but it shows how difficult it's been for the last decade to 1) attract new users and 2) keep the current ones engaged here rather than on Facebook/Twitter/Reddit.
posted by elgilito at 3:42 PM on June 10, 2019 [19 favorites]

I signed up for an account here after lurking for a long time because an Asker was thinking of going to Mecca during the Hajj and wanted to know if the officials would be able to tell that they weren't Muslim, and I thought it was worth it for me to ask them not to do it. Strictly speaking my answer broke the guidelines because it didn't answer the question asked but it wasn't deleted and I have no idea if it was flagged or not. But under the guidelines the best I'd be able to do is convey that it would be difficult to pass as Muslim and that if you were caught there could be some severe repercussions, making the whole thing some kind of cost-benefit analysis. I know Islam isn't a religion exclusively for POC but I'm a POC, it's my religion, and more Muslims are POC than not.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 5:10 PM on June 10, 2019 [19 favorites]

"wypipo" is also used to get part social media filters (Facebook often takes down posts talking about white people; this is also why you see "yt" used a lot).

I know the historical context of "people of colour" as a counter to "non-white" and "minority" and as a term for political solidarity made/popularized by Black people. (the Wikipedia page has cites to academic sources) I agree that it can cause a flattening and that it kinda gets muddy when you get to non-White-dominant countries that have their own systems of racial oppression (e.g. Malaysia's Malay Supremacy, which has been more impactful on my life as a Bangladeshi/'other'). But I don't want that historical context to get forgotten or lost.

I'm a bit eh about the book club only because I know there's a lot of wilful misunderstanding about Asia by Asian Americans (or Asian diaspora in the West); the whole "Asians in Asia don't understand cultural appropriation/racism/etc because everyone there is the same!!!" drives me up the wall. (I wrote an essay about it!) I've also felt alienated in Asian American/Asian Australian spaces because so much of it is "growing up Asian in America/Australia" and there's not a lot of recognition of younger adult migrants like myself (who may be more Westernized than the people they assume as migrants) or even that an Eastern/non-Western diaspora exists (like my family).
posted by divabat at 5:37 PM on June 10, 2019 [13 favorites]

The only book I've ever seen that touched on the international student/young adult migrant contemporary experience in a nuanced, relatable way was Americanah. It's Nigerian diaspora but I really connected to these two segments:
Alexa and the other guests, and perhaps even Georgina, all understood the fleeing from war, from the kind of poverty that crushed human souls, but they would not understand the need to escape from the oppressive lethargy of choicelessness. They would not understand why people like him who were raised well fed and watered but mired in dissatisfaction, conditioned from birth to look towards somewhere else, eternally convinced that real lives happened in that somewhere else, were now resolved to do dangerous things, illegal things, so as to leave, none of them starving, or raped, or from burned villages, but merely hungry for for choice and certainty.
[...] you might make friends more easily with other internationals, Koreans, Indians, Brazilians, whatever, than with Americans both black and white. Many of the internationals understand the trauma of trying to get an American visa, and that is a good place to start a friendship.
I've been searching for things along those lines for ages!!
posted by divabat at 6:34 PM on June 10, 2019 [17 favorites]

I just want to thank everyone for sharing their hopes, worries, frustration, kindness, and themselves here in this thread with the rest of us.

I see you. I hear you. You are visible and have value. 💛
posted by Fizz at 6:59 PM on June 10, 2019 [25 favorites]

divabat, thank you for writing & linking that essay.
posted by cdefgfeadgagfe at 7:28 PM on June 10, 2019

I was commenting more from the angle of being interested in seeing any book suggestions about works written from anyone of any Asian descent, really, since my usual pop culture circles are still predominantly white and it feels like spotting a unicorn whenever I see any Asian face or name in... anything English-language I consume

Hello my childhood. I remember writing an essay about this 9 years ago! And this is kind of more what I was getting at earlier with my comment about television and film from non-US origins. I'm just tired of all the white faces in everything.

(I'm really trying not to go into how media originally for a non-white audience gets "re-interpreted" (i.e. rewritten to put in a white lead) if it gets brought to mainstream white attention and is praised but if it is imported faithfully or unaltered, it's so much more likely to be dismissed.

If you think I'm still pissed off about Edge of Tomorrow, you would be correct.)

I agree that it can cause a flattening and that it kinda gets muddy when you get to non-White-dominant countries that have their own systems of racial oppression (e.g. Malaysia's Malay Supremacy, which has been more impactful on my life as a Bangladeshi/'other').

I've been trying to figure out how to bring that point up. Thank you, divabat, for finding the words. It's a topic I've been afraid to ever bring up here because in the context I know it in, it will very much make white liberals' heads explode.
posted by ultranos at 7:33 PM on June 10, 2019 [9 favorites]

I was commenting more from the angle of being interested in seeing any book suggestions about works written from anyone of any Asian descent, really, since my usual pop culture circles are still predominantly white and it feels like spotting a unicorn whenever I see any Asian face or name in... anything English-language I consume

I'd also be interested in seeing any recommendations for books about younger adult migrants but don't really have a basis for where to start

On both fronts, you might be interested in Why Karen Carpenter Matters by Karen Tongson.
posted by naju at 9:27 PM on June 10, 2019 [5 favorites]

Came late to this discussion (only just realized it exists because of the stickied link on top of the front page). Have skimmed half of the comments here - but tbh we've had this discussion SO MANY TIMES across SO MANY YEARS.

And you can look at my MeTa comment history for some of those times. When I used to care more about these issues and thought that if only I made the effort to explain, to gently remind, to rally, to appeal, to painstakingly elaborate in those comments - maybe the Metafilter admin/mods + Metafilter white community would care and take action.
I spent so much time and effort trying to make the mods and community confront the issue of diversity (the lack of it) on this site - in particular, I commented many times asking about a PoC mod.

Do you remember when Metafilter had the opportunity to hire a PoC mod, but didn't? This was RIGHT after a series of MeTa threads (much like this one) that engaged with the Metafilter site admin asking them to hire a PoC mod. The admin said they would try and gave the appearance of taking the PoC community's pleas seriously. An opportunity then came up to hire a mod, some months later. A white mod was hired.

Even after that happened, the mods/admin were making excuses for their actions and trying to justify their hiring decision. Gave excuses along the lines of not being able to find any qualified PoC candidates, or not having sufficient PoC applicants etc. The typical excuses you find in institutions and companies that do not view diversity as a priority and entrench themselves in whiteness through their recruitment and hiring process.
The sad thing was, we (the PoC Mefites) protested but then eventually accepted it and let it slide. (But then, after all, what could we do? We don't own the site, we aren't mods - there are no PoCs in any position to make these decisions at Metafilter. We're on a (basically) white site that is run by white people, and the white people make the decisions.)
I accepted the mods/admins excuses then too, even though I was really disappointed. I still wanted to believe that Metafilter was better than this - I still wanted to believe they were not merely paying lip service to this issue.

At one point, I think the PoC + white allies community here even OFFERED to donate towards a fund that would go specifically towards paying the salary for a PoC mod, so that a PoC mod could be hired.
The white mods/admin declined and said it was not possible.

After everything that has happened, I just stopped visiting Metafilter as often. It pretends to care about PoC, about diversity, about the voices of the marginalized - but in practice, it has demonstrated that it does not.

I'm just really, really tired of commenting in threads about this issue because it seems these threads exist to put on a show/facade of caring about hearing PoC voices, yet doing nothing afterwards in terms of concrete action.

And mods - at this point I agree with what divabat said:

People keep talking about how we can't afford a PoC mod coz we're full up on mods. Well, one of you step down. (Or fire someone, maybe someone with the habit of leaving pithy and unhelpful deletion comments, but given that cortex is one of those mods I'm not sure that's necessarily going to be an option.) I get that jobs are hard, but they're especially hard when you're PoC, and if someone in the mod team can survive without the mod job then that's an opportunity to step down.

So you don't want the PoC + white allies community to donate towards a PoC mod's salary, while saying you are not financially able to hire an additional mod. You only want the salary to come out of Metafilter's current finances. Then, if you really value diversity, show us. How about one of the mods step down? How about you purposefully begin a recruitment process to hire a PoC mod?

You basically do not consider this (i.e. having a PoC mod) important enough to the health of the website and the community, do you? It took me so many years to realize this, because I have been trying to engage in polite, good-faith discussion regarding this issue on MetaTalk for years.
You once let us believe you would hire a PoC mod and then - instead - proceeded to hire a white mod. Many MeFites - I think Miko in particular - pointed out the fallacies in your excuses after you did that. You still retained that white mod even after we brought that problematic hiring decision to your attention in MetaTalk, and gave us the impression that since the position was now filled, our community could not hope to fill that position with a PoC mod.

There's been so much...lip service, and hypocrisy, and broken promises. This is probably the most upset I've sounded, outright, on Metafilter. But it has come after years of trying to trust and believe the best of Metafilter's mods/admin, again and again, even after their actions (and inaction) contradicted their words.

I'm very tired.
posted by aielen at 9:29 PM on June 10, 2019 [55 favorites]

Let me tell you a story.

A couple of years ago, I got invited to participate in a show produced by a local queer disability arts collective. They've been around for a decade and are pretty well-known and well-respected (even given how scrappy they are), but they've also been very very White. There have been PoC participants, but not that many.

In fact, before I said Yes to participating, another PoC reached out to me warning me about the group. They'd participated in another project by them years ago and found the experience alienating and racist. After hearing this, I confronted the group about it, and they admitted that race was not something they did well, but they were willing to accept and work with criticism. I decided this was worth the risk and joined in.

I ended up having a good time - it wasn't perfect but they were willing to work on mishaps and overall it was a positive experience. I brought another PoC friend in and helped out where I can. The leader of the group, one of the founders who is well-known in the arts space, was so impressed with me that at one point she decided that if anything happened to her I'd be her understudy producer - and she only just met me.

I've since co-produced 2 more shows with this collective, both for major festivals (one was by invitation of that festival) and I'm in the middle of co-producing another one with State funding based on an idea I came up with. As co-producer I brought more PoC on board, recognising my responsibility both in making the space more inclusive and in being accountable for the organisation's history even if I had nothing to do with their past. I've been recognised by the founder in her writings as being super important in bringing a racial consciousness to the group (granted, I wasn't the first, but I appreciate the recognition).

The show I first co-produced, the one after I participated as a performer, was going to be this collective's last; the founders wanted to move on. I brought a new perspective, new energy, the ability to capitalise on growing interest. In fact, I'm pretty damn sure the founders want to pass on the collective's leadership to me - making me one of the very few queer PoC running a known arts organisation in Australia, especially one that isn't about race.

This is what a PoC mod can bring to Metafilter.
posted by divabat at 11:01 PM on June 10, 2019 [58 favorites]

aielen, your comment helps me recognize that for those of us who are not a minority in America, but PoC (a majority around the rest of the world, almost 3 billion Indians + Chinese eh?) from the rest of the world, entering Metafilter, especially back when we did, was the equivalent of choosing to enter the American space.

We accepted that aspect of Metafilter 15 years ago, and conformed and/or adjusted ourselves to that reality. And discovered, through words and thinking, the mindset and values of the dominant majority on this website, one of the many that we frequent throughout the day.

I am now recognizing, in particular after 2016, that the political climate permeating the world the wide web, means that the compromises and adjustments made for the dominant culture is a choice that I can make, since its not a part of my IRL unlike PoC in America.

I suspect that is what I'm hearing when many of us say in here, hey, I don't come here much any more or I gave up or I left etc.

I guess this puts the onus back on Metafilter to choose their strategic positioning and value system in the context of the world wide web and the world IRL today.

btw, didn't you once pick me up for a meetup in S'pore?
posted by infini at 5:03 AM on June 11, 2019 [9 favorites]

cdefgfeadgagfe, yeah, that was really ill-considered on the mod's part.

I'm not excited about the idea of hiring a PoC mod. "PoC" encompasses everyone from American blacks to British blacks to Chinese Singaporeans to Chinese Americans to Chinese Jews. Talking about hiring one PoC mod just raises the question, which color? I have no interest in that conversation.
posted by meaty shoe puppet at 6:45 AM on June 11, 2019 [6 favorites]

I'm more hopeful about the idea of an advisory group, legitimized as kalessin says by wages.

The mods are actually pretty good at the mechanics of modding. There are cultural factors in communication, but by and large I would expect PoC participating in a forum like MeFi to be acculturated to white and mostly American norms.

Where I tend to disagree with the mods is what they have chosen to do with the skills and tools they have, and that's a problem I hope can be solved merely by authorizing someone who knows better to tell the existing mods, "This is a sensitive situation because you're missing X, Y, or Z."

This is all predicated on the assumption that we're never going to get to real representation among the mods. Given their track record so far, I think that's justified.
posted by meaty shoe puppet at 6:51 AM on June 11, 2019 [6 favorites]

I do wonder if there should be some separation here, with the current mods perhaps taking on an administrative role but leave the actual moderating to others. I realize there are implications regarding volunteering and emotional labor, but perhaps it would leave the current mods time to focus on fixing what I personally feel has been an issue with the site, the stagnation.
posted by girlmightlive at 7:32 AM on June 11, 2019 [3 favorites]

Please don't hijack this thread with a surreptitious link to your own patreon.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 8:50 AM on June 11, 2019 [12 favorites]

How do other systems do it? Analogy always suffers from translation losses, but consider:

1) Mods are effectively a community's police force.

When the majority flags minority opinions or members? Really not that different from some entitled Karen calling the cops on some black or brown folks inconveniently in her way. Not that different in intent or effect either. In both cases, authorities are being summoning to make inconvenient people disappear (also really doesn't have to be racial - try confronting a popular MeFi idea or position here and your comments will either quickly disappear or you've got to take on a lot more labor to explain yourself before you're branded as disturbing the peace and literally hit with the same social control tactics you'd get from real cops where you're told to step away or go do something else or given a timeout, etc. Whatever it is - you and your ideas are not something we want to engage with, anymore).

That said, just cause cops gotta deal with the fact that Karen called them out there doesn't mean they need to do anything. Maybe two flags on a post or comment doesn't have to mean that mods have to be this place's instruments or oppression, either.

(Also - consider how minority groups function and self-police, in-general - especially when the relevant authorities are majority not them. Spoiler: they tend not to call the cops. What do the flagging metrics look like for PoC members vs. rest of the community?)

2) So mods as law enforcement - who makes the laws (site policy)? In this case, also the mods.

3) Ok, who provides oversight of law enforcement here? Nobody? Frequent MetaTalk threads? Also the mods?

4) What's the mechanism to change the law here? Right now that seems to be:
Step 1: giant MetaTalk thread
Step 2: I don't know - mods talking it over amongst themselves?
Step 3: site policy change? Maybe?

The mods could literally be Bill & Ted's collection of history's best benevolent philosopher kings - I couldn't engineer a more sketchy governance structure if I tried. This is like an all-white police force backed by an all-white policy making body. Only they're literally all the same people, wearing ALL the hats.

(Trevor Noah generic white guy voice) "Gee whiz guys, it sure is confusing how we wound up here, isn't it?"

Lastly: mods have a tough job, therefore we should be understanding when mistakes are sometimes made, things sometimes get missed, policy is sometimes inconsistently enforced, etc. Cops have a tough job, therefore - same, same?
posted by NoRelationToLea at 10:49 AM on June 11, 2019 [10 favorites]

I have a question. Have other people on this site found that the responses they received on the blue were different in threads where they identified themselves as PoC (for lack of a better term) than not?

There is a certain assumption of whiteness that I really didn't appreciate until the Bernie 2020 thread, in which several users charged in with accusations of white-dude Brocialism, only to find out most of the posters they were arguing with were PoC. And in that thread when I stated I was not white, I got what I felt was a stronger pushback on other comments in that thread than I thought I would have gotten if I hadn't "outed" myself. Maybe it was just my perception, but I felt like I'd seen plenty of threads where people talked about what are treated as fringe-y ideas like Modern Monetary Policy and breaking up monopolies, but hadn't gotten that level of "OMG that is TERRIFYING and you are shockingly ignorant" in the responses, and I can't prove that saying I'm not a white person lead in a straight line to that response, but I questioned whether I would have gotten those responses if the assumption of whiteness had held.

Honestly, I don't know what I would have wanted to see the mods do in that case. Maybe nothing. That kind of thing tends to happen on such an unconscious level I'm not sure how helpful it would have been to report it. I generally appreciate that I can come to FanFare to get salty about Game of Thrones without encountering too much noise of the "How was killing Missandei racist? She was a prisoner!" variety, but there still is a little of that. As anem0ne mentioned above, there are a lot of white guys who are self-appointed experts on all things Asian , and not a whole lot of general consciousness of how racial/ethnic issues work outside of North America. I kind of feel that the "no I/P posts" policy is an extension of centering a more Western point-of-view in general. I actually do really appreciate that the mods are proactive in making space for PoC users in specific threads, but some of the "no outrage filter" moderation decisions seem to be predicated on making the site comfortable for white North Americans more than anything else.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 11:17 AM on June 11, 2019 [15 favorites]

I've been kind of startled to see so much push back in the Outragefilter thread, not seeking to learn why I'm here, but instead repeatedly calling out some aspects of my participation and seeming to suggest that I'm doing harm by not describing my own physical features in detail so that I can be examined like a lab animal to determine whether I pass the Outragefilter thread's standards of qualification as a PoC. Because according to some commenters in the Outragefilter thread, antisemitism shouldn't be included here, because it would be a 'distraction' or worse, and they don't want us to talk about it, even though it was included towards the beginning of this discussion.

Bobby Seale once said, "our greatest weapon is all of us," and I think about that line when I participate in this thread. I have been talking about the intersectional experience of having 'nonwhite' features that read to some as 'Jewish,' so I've felt like it's okay for me to talk about that here, and there's a background issue I haven't talked about that has everything to do with a MeMail from a mod in response to a flag that I don't want to talk about publicly. Regardless, Jews are a diaspora people, and people can convert to Judaism, so we vary widely in appearance, and that should be obvious. To me, that some don't see it as obvious doesn't seem like a reasonable justification to exclude antisemitism from this discussion, and that Metafilter may be that bad at recognizing it seems like an even worse reason.

I am also very tired of the monolithic tropes that seem to often pervade discussions on Metafilter (and mods, if it sometimes seems unclear what I'm flagging as 'offensive/sexism/racism,' it's probably when someone is making a monolithic "'all X group' is like this" comment), because I don't think it's a helpful way to make progress in a discussion.

But I digress. I am not particularly interested in what spectators in the Outragefilter thread think about whether antisemitism and its intersection with racism and the experience of people who 'look Jewish' and may sometimes 'pass' for white but often may not, and get to experience open discrimination at their jobs, on the street, etc., and grow up with a family history filled with stories of experiences that include far worse than discrimination and intimidation, and then get to deal with weirdness about it on Metafilter that can be stressful and awful.

I am pretty sure I'm done participating in this thread at this point, because it's become too typical "what Metafilter does not do well" after what's emerged in the Outragefilter thread, and I'm sorry that what was an empowering experience for me became another example of how Metafilter can be a hostile environment for people who identify as Jewish and/or PoC. I think Metafilter really does have some serious issues that need to be addressed, and the extent that people felt entitled to police this thread from the outside is one of them. I experience it as demeaning and belittling, and I'm not sure why people who already have so much power feel the need to exert even more of it over people trying to share their experiences here. So I'm sorry-not-sorry that my attempt to exert a small amount of empowerment threatens you so much, but I'm not going anywhere, even if I'm done with this thread.
posted by Little Dawn at 11:32 AM on June 11, 2019 [15 favorites]

One of the main reasons I avoid political discussions during primary season is the grotesque spectacle of white progressives arguing over which candidate is "better on PoC," treating people of color like some kind of policy problem to be solved, like pollution. It goes without saying that they are always startled and dismayed when it's pointed out that there are actual nonwhite people present!

As for the mods...I was shocked to learn that jj's mama's post was deleted after two measly flags, but I find it more disturbing that this was previously described as "multiple" flags. Which I guess is technically true, but come on. At best, it was disingenuous, if not outright dishonest, to suggest that there was some sort of firestorm of protest that required immediate and drastic mod intervention, when there evidently was not.

To me, this is a clear indication that the mods' judgment, intentions, and good faith simply can't be trusted. They make questionable editorial choices, which, OK, is human and inevitable, but when challenged they reflexively circle the wagons and go into defensive mode rather than engaging in honest self-reflection. The cop analogy is a good one because this is a group that is apparently more concerned with protecting their own than serving their constituency.

If there isn't to be any oversight, then I'd at least ask for greater transparency. Deletion reasons should be clear, and no hiding behind vague bullshit like "outragefilter." Let's have the # of flags and flag reasons stated up front and not hidden behind weasel words like "multiple." More specific reasons given when comments are deleted. Some way for users to access their own deleted comments so they don't just vanish into the ether, and so there is some record.

I do appreciate the fact that this is one of the few online communities where administrators actually try to address members' concerns, but clearly there are issues here. If the mods truly have their hands tied in some areas, then it seems reasonable to empower users to a greater degree in those areas.
posted by Enemy of Joy at 12:00 PM on June 11, 2019 [18 favorites]

If there isn't to be any oversight, then I'd at least ask for greater transparency. Deletion reasons should be clear, and no hiding behind vague bullshit like "outragefilter." Let's have the # of flags and flag reasons stated up front and not hidden behind weasel words like "multiple." More specific reasons given when comments are deleted. Some way for users to access their own deleted comments so they don't just vanish into the ether, and so there is some record.

Yes, this. We definitely need more accountability and visibility when it comes to how things are being moderated because its' not working and it hasn't been for some time now. This and the other "outragefilter" thread both prove that.
posted by Fizz at 12:15 PM on June 11, 2019 [11 favorites]

Regardless, Jews are a diaspora people

Oh for crying out loud on the glaring ignorance that is always constantly displayed with exceptional pride and thus projects itself as arrogance, whether intentional or not.
posted by infini at 12:52 PM on June 11, 2019 [3 favorites]

hey infini -
btw, didn't you once pick me up for a meetup in S'pore?
I can't remember if I ever made it to an official meetup actually... I think I signed up for one or two many years ago but had things crop up on the meetup days. I know I've met some individual Mefites and texted with some about meetup plans. heh my memory is so bad that I actually can't remember if I've met you in person o.O . do you remember what car it was that picked you up (if it was a car)?
posted by aielen at 1:07 PM on June 11, 2019 [1 favorite]

Jumping in late: I have been on Metafilter for what appears to be a really long time. I think it's gotten better, on the whole, slowly: looking at that list of previous race related conversations just makes me sad. At least people have stopped immediately racing into any discussion involving Asian people to post something with 'l' and 'r' interchanged. And I actually do remember a discussion involving Asian people where the mods removed a comment from some fellow who wanted to change the topic to how horrible it was that people were stereotyping white dudes who dated Asian ladies. I think that's an improvement, but then again, I'm a guy who's carrying some bitterness from a discussion long ago which went: "Asian American dudes are all mysoginists who are waiting for their arranged marriage" "Wait, not a single Asian American I know has an arranged marriage" "NICE ANECDATA, here's an article from the San Jose Mercury News from 1982 which obviously trumps your lived experience."

Still, I find myself hesitating to participate in Asian-related discussions because, well, I don't know if I have the energy to fight a bunch of people who want to be experts on people who look like me, and want to tell me about me. Sometimes I feel like it's my duty, if nobody else is pushing back on something, though. (Like the one guy who wanted to talk about how unlike Western culture, Chinese culture doesn't value compassion, because he'd apparently never heard of Buddhism.)
posted by Comrade_robot at 1:25 PM on June 11, 2019 [13 favorites]

One thing that the 'who is POC enough' brings up for me is the memory of a bunch of times where white mefites thought it would be cool to argue with Latinx folks about whether or not Latinx folks were white or not and who got to decide that. Like, I'm not bothered if people argue amongst themselves, but I really hate white 'allies' deciding that they're going to be the ones to decide whether people are POC enough to listen to.

And like - there's a lot of racism/colorism in Latin America, I can go on that forever, but like...it is different than US racism and you can't just superimpose one thing on another and say it's exactly the same.
posted by corb at 3:12 PM on June 11, 2019 [24 favorites]

aielen - it was indeed a car and I can't remember the car either ;p This must be 5 years or so ago, and we were supposed to meet The Cydonian plus others at the pineapple but we two didn't end up connecting with them so we hung out together - I wore my metafilter "everyone needs a hug" t-shirt
posted by infini at 3:39 PM on June 11, 2019

does anyone think Metafilter will hire a PoC mod or consultant after this thread (and the other "outrage filter" thread on MeTa)?
or do you think the Metafilter admin will continue to do what they've done for years - say nice things to placate us, give all kinds of excuses if questioned, and make no tangible/concrete changes to their staff/hiring?

I predict the latter. We've had this same conversation with the same points raised, over and over again, for years. People are raising points/ideas/suggestions in these threads now and others are chiming in etc as if they're new ideas/suggestions when in fact they've been raised and expounded on again and again in many MeTa threads before. (It's like the community and mods/admin have some kind of amnesia... or like some sort of groundhog day.)

maybe we should just try to predict what sort of excuse the mods/admin will have this time around. *will it be...

"not in our budget to hire a PoC mod"
"sorry even if you all fundraise or donate towards a PoC mod's salary we do not allow special pony requests from select groups that attempt to influence the site through donations"
"it will take a long time to train a PoC mod on Metafilter site culture"
"what do you guys need anyway, that you don't already have with the current moderators?"
"you PoC can just flag and contact our current mods when you have issues with the posts/comments here; we don't need a PoC mod for that"

"we legally cannot hire based on race. we cannot, by law, make hiring decisions based on a person's race. even asking about it during the application process is tricky, because it opens us up to potential lawsuits."

"hiring a new mod is something we say will not be happening now and may not happen for a while into the future. this is a business with six decently-paid employees. the process needs to move forward with that as a given."

"we didn't need a PoC mod; what we specifically needed was a mod to do standard mod work on weekends and oddball fill-in shifts."

"we're not so much with the big sweeping changes. not because we don't want to, but because, in our at this point 17-year collective experience, they don't work all that well."

"The thing is, it was a priority but it couldn't be a guarantee. There's a huge element of chance involved in the process."

"Unless the argument is that hiring a person of color was the only acceptable outcome—and I don't think that's what anybody's been saying—then ending up hiring someone who wasn't is one of the likely outcomes of the process. Even if it's understandably disappointing compared to someone's ideal outcome. "

"We totally want to hear from people, especially on issues that we have blind spots on. People already contact us about stuff, and we already take action on things they point out. And people make Metatalks where they make the case about why something's a problem, and thereby change other members' minds and change the actual case-by-case moderation practices we apply. The site is (already) improving by these means."

"This last hiring situation was not favorable for the things it turns out we may need to hire a PoC mod -- a longer hiring window, being able to offer better hours to attract a larger pool, and being able to take the time to train someone who isn't ready to jump in as-is (being up to date on the last couple of years of Metatalks on this kind of issue was one of our criteria, because we needed someone who could start more or less immediately). As we said in the original hiring Metatalk, we did talk with candidates in the interview stage about their their experience supporting diverse communities. [White Mod] had the best answer and the most experience on that criterion."

"I get the idea of trying to create a position more specifically tailored to e.g. diversity awareness and outreach and how that could affect who was a good fit and who might apply, but that doesn't change the fact that we'd been scraping by on too little staff for a couple of years and needed to get a body in a seat to take the pressure off, and that we were hiring part time specifically because that's all we could afford. Expanding the scope of that position to e.g. part-time modding + some additional compensated diversity-centric responsibilities wasn't doable."

"We can talk a bunch on MetaTalk about how we'd really like to hire a more diverse staff, and put it in the job post to encourage more people of color to apply, but we can't actually base decisions on that, and we didn't."

*(some paraphrased, some quoted, all of which have been previously used as excuses about not having a PoC on staff)

you know what, if someone made a T-shirt out of quotes from the mods/admin who have made all these excuses over the years I would totally buy it and wear it.
(and in that case, I would even hope that the $ from the Tshirts could go to funding a salary for a PoC mod but... ooops. guess I should just read the Tshirt at that point.)
I would buy that Tshirt over recent MeFi merch like that tote bag.
posted by aielen at 3:52 PM on June 11, 2019 [20 favorites]

infini i still can't remember / figure out if the person you're referring to was me. i do remember there being a meetup with you and the cydonian supposed to be there (that i couldn't attend in the end) but i think that was like... 11 years ago. err if it was me ~5 years ago, where did we hang out? i also have these vague memories of maybe meeting with someone wearing the shirt you mention but i can't place them.
aaahh my memory is so bad. and i'm not sure if you filling in more details is creating false memories or actually reminding me of real ones :S although it does sound increasingly familiar (but what if it was someone else, not me?). if it was 5 years ago the car would've been a honda suv thing i think.
posted by aielen at 4:03 PM on June 11, 2019 [1 favorite]

Silver grey?
posted by infini at 4:34 PM on June 11, 2019

And like - there's a lot of racism/colorism in Latin America, I can go on that forever, but like...it is different than US racism and you can't just superimpose one thing on another and say it's exactly the same.

What acts as a barrier to cross cultural understanding - particularly across geographies - is the American assumption that PoC in the Rest of the World think like their homegrown PoCs, and thus the interactions between PoC (a "minority" like "women") and the mainstream dominant culture occur in the exact same way.

Huge chunks of the rest of the world are
a) not minority PoC (see divabat's comments on Malaysia, as in minority perhaps but in a majority non white culture);
b) first class citizens in their own countries (this is easy to spot with Africa born first generation immigrants in the United States, they carry themselves differently having grown up differently), and
c) do not carry the baggage of the same heritage/culture/history of race relations that are still highly charged domestically in the United States.

This basic yet addressed assumption causes problems in all interactions.

I discovered this the last time I was being trolled/harassed online because they were trying to oppress me using techniques developed from longstanding heritage of racial oppression, which frankly took me ages to recognize and figure out because (i am not proud to say) I'm a member of the oppressing castes of India rather than the oppressed, and have never been taught how to grovel. the last time I was in Delhi, 6 months ago, it was a shock to realize I was taller and fairer than 90% of the women I saw around me in the markets and apartment complexes cos I'd gotten used to being the shorter darker one etc in the Nordics, but my dad's DNA is pure Aryan - if you want to talk colourism, just look at India's messy bullshit - and then, there's India's caste based apartheid, a horror in itself

Plus, it took ages to figure out that what was going on was that due to one of the business websites and accompanying social media accounts had been created by my Nigerian American intern and "I" had been tagged as an uppity African American woman. I haven't bothered correcting that fallacy - instead I created a twitter thread on discovering this aspect to discuss whether it was fair of me to bypass the harassment and the abuse that my tweeps would face just because I might have a wee bit less melanin than they. Instead, I choose to continue being called teh 'n' word on a regular basis.

After all, none of the above changes the fact that I am, still, a third world brown woman. And, few, if any, race filtering people that I have come across, ever come close enough to discover that I'm not quite the poor, starving Indian that they choose to see.

My experiences with an abusive arranged marriage that took me to America as a dependent spouse of an H1B techie and other facets of dehumanisation are littered across the green and the grey and the blue over the past 15 years.

Why should I claim privilege just because I choose to work with my African colleagues, in Africa?

Yeah, she said, laughing at her self right now, if you cut me, do I not bleed?
posted by infini at 4:34 PM on June 11, 2019 [26 favorites]

Silver grey?
oh my yes! so we probably did meet!! my memory is so bad... i am so sorry i can't remember this properly.
did we meet around the esplanade or bugis or something. i feel like it was around there but i can't even remember...
was there really no one else there? i bet i parked badly, didn't i. that car was very unwieldy.
posted by aielen at 4:55 PM on June 11, 2019 [2 favorites]

Maybe it's my background as someone of mixed race being told over and over to bury half of me, to conform, to cut off the parts that didn't fit with what white people thought of me. (I remember 8 years old at school and my teacher telling me that she knew who my younger brother was because "no one else in the school had eyes like ours". I remember being 12 years old and a boy in the same school screaming in my face "Don't lie! You're white!". I remember at age 17 my mother looking at me with grief as I was filling out college applications and asking if I was ashamed of my father's race, because I could only pick one box and I chose hers.)

I can't gatekeep. I just fucking can't. And I'm sitting here trying to type this comment and trying not to cry, feeling the glass in my throat because I keep swallowing down, I've always swallowed it down, and I just can't do it this time. Not here. Not now. I can't fight labels anymore. I'm just too fucking tired.

Because it's something I've been wrestling with for a long time and literally not until five minutes ago when I got to the current end of this thread did I think I finally, finally might have a safe space to admit:

I don't know what I am.

By the American definitions, I don't know what I am. The US ones that dominate everything are so rigid and specific and none of them fit and I can't even fucking claim a simple fucking identifier. They're so fucking intent on labels and I don't even have one.

Because my mother's family came from India, and my mother was born in the only British fucking colony in South America, meaning it became the only country on the continent with English as a national language. Culturally, I have more in common with people from other South and Latin American countries, but you should see the absolute mental segfaults that occur when people realize I know nothing of Spanish or Portuguese. And I know nothing of India or what it means to be Indian and the identifier feels like a lie and a costume.

And I know I never will get to know. Because knowing means people will have to confront the history of US and British Imperialism over the globe and its lasting effects and can't racism just be "solved" already? Look, here's a mixed race kid!

Some days, it feels like I don't even have a name.
posted by ultranos at 7:47 PM on June 11, 2019 [61 favorites]

ultranos, not sure if you take internet hugs, but they're here if you want them.
posted by cdefgfeadgagfe at 7:58 PM on June 11, 2019 [11 favorites]

Some users in the past have been upset by The Root's content, particularly the write-ups by Michael Harriot.
posted by TwoStride at 10:04 PM on June 11, 2019 [2 favorites]

For me, both moral and practical reasons call for shifting Metafilter towards broader awarenesses and leadership than it has embraced in the past. Those stagnation numbers posted by elgilito, and infini's "Are we a global site or an American one?" have, for me, crystallized a practical reason:

I think that choosing to expand beyond White-centrism and United States-centrism would help grow Metafilter's numbers, influence, revenue.

Is choosing to stay as United States- and White-centric as we have been in the past, in alignment with a goal of growing Metafilter's numbers, revenue, etc.? I don't think so.

Actions that could be taken (beyond the 1. self-de-centering skills I mentioned earlier. This includes making apologies, especially to jj'smama):
2. Agreed about re-evaluating flagging, and moderation notes.
jj'smama's post got 2 flags, therefore insta-deletion? (I wasn't in the Outragerfilter thread so I didn't know.) I hope leadership now recognizes how easily White Fragile, or explicitly White Supremacist, people can game "OutrageFilter" against topics that concretely impact PoC lives more than White lives.
3. Seek out perspectives that help to re-evaluate status quo assumptions and actions.
Eg, here's Chelsea Troy on how potential hirees evaluate whether orgs walk their "inclusion" talk: "The individuals you’re looking for are screening you. And the more senior they are, the more they are screening you. They want to know if you have queer people, trans people, black people, latinx people, women in leadership. . . . they’re sick of showing up to a place that’s ‘trying to be more diverse’ and getting slapped with the term ‘aggressive’ the first time they call out these problematic dynamics. . . . At your company, she would be surrounded and superiored by people who have no lived experience of marginalization. This means that your company displays a risk factor for placing people in situations like that. So you’re getting screened out. . . .
"There is a critical weakness in the collective perspective of a homogeneous leadership, and it’s your responsibility to hire team members who supplement the team’s weaknesses. If you hire more team members who also lack the perspective that your leadership team already lacks, you’re indicating that that weakness is not critical to you."

(Hat tip to kalessin, who shared this link with me when we were discussing a different All-White-led org I'm involved with that keeps losing PoC, much to the leaders' bafflement. When they asked me to join the leadership team, I told them why most of their PoC talent kept leaving. I also said, "No thanks" to their offer.)
3. A White Mefite-only thread... in my opinion, could only work if moderated by White Mefites who were super literate about their own Whiteness, super humble about how much they can learn from PoC, and committed to walking their talk. I know who I'd trust to do this, because they earned my trust in conversations about race where I observed how they handled themselves with me when I disagreed with them. Otherwise, I'm concerned that such a thread would devolve into fractal White Fragility, with White Fragile members aggressively reassuring each other that they're one of the Good (Not Fragile) Ones, and a bunch of people being shitty about this PoC thread. I'd be happy to be wrong.
4. A voluntary PoC Mod Squad with an honorarium, or other formal indication that Metafilter The Institution takes their labor seriously: sure.
5. If White Mefites (leadership and ordinary members in general) want Metafilter to become multicultural and antiracist, with all the moral and practical benefits that brings... then you may find it helpful to look at the organizational self-evaluation tool on pp. 57-67 of this Dismantling Racism pdf. On pp. 60-63 is a table with high-level descriptions regarding decision-making, budget, how power flows and in which directions, etc. It doesn't map precisely onto Metafilter but I have found it useful in considering this and other orgs with White leaders who say they value inclusion. What stage is Metafilter at now? What direction, ideally, do we want to grow towards?
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 12:30 AM on June 12, 2019 [19 favorites]

ultranos, a big squeezy hug. my first boyfriend when I was in college in bangalore (having arrived there at 18 after graduating from an american high school in kuala lumpur) was half Italian, half British Guyanan of Indian diasporic heritage, born in Luton, UK. Whoever you discover yourself to be, know that you're hot.
posted by infini at 1:46 AM on June 12, 2019 [3 favorites]

Within my US context, racism is built on a fulcrum of anti blackness, so I try to shut up and listen to black people on how to be anti racist in the US. This might be a bit 202 level for where Metafilter is currently at, but it should be baked into whatever actions are taken.

I began my learning journey in the South Side of Chicago, deep into the heart of the red line/soul train.
posted by infini at 1:49 AM on June 12, 2019 [3 favorites]

I'm scared that if we do get something like a PoC mod, or even START to, there's going to be a good number of people blocking out because "well what about a DISABLED mod??? Or a QUEER mod??? This is NOT FAIR!!!"

and yeah, the mod team could stand to be more diverse overall, but I keep seeing these responses coming up whenever PoC do something (eg the Pride flag with the extra brown & black stripes) as a way of saying "urgh those PoC complain too much you don't see us complaining how dare they".
posted by divabat at 3:01 AM on June 12, 2019 [3 favorites]

5. POC can be racist and silencing too.

Hi yes thank you, that's basically all I want to add, especially the US background of anti blackness and all that. I'm a black person in the US that's contributing to the Metafilter is too US centric problem I'm sure, but when you literally have no fucking identity otherwise since most of your ancestors were slaves, slave owners or indigenous here, ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

But I've had many pretty shitty experiences with nonblack POC engaging in antiblackness, which has contributed to me being hesitant about using it as a blanket term and wary of POC solidarity. The US brand of racism has its own nuances too.

Anyway, this thread is great. Bye.
posted by Freeze Peach at 3:43 AM on June 12, 2019 [33 favorites]

And I know nothing of India or what it means to be Indian and the identifier feels like a lie and a costume.

ultranos, my heart breaks for you. And for me, because I’m in a similar position, even though I arrived by a different route.

Both my parents are Goan. A Portuguese colony for nearly 400 years. I was born and raised in HK. A British colony. My parents speak 5 languages. But I only speak English. Like many third culture kids of the 80s, they were afraid to give me their languages, lest it compromise my English.

We moved to Australia in my late teens. Another former colony and a country so uncomfortable in its own racist history that it routinely refuses to even acknowledge it, even as it perpetuates and intensifies it.

I am separated from my heritage by a gulf as vast as the actual ocean that lies between me and India. I know I will never bridge that gap, and it doesn’t matter what books I read or how much I try. I am Indian and I have never lived in India and I don’t speak the native languages of my parents and aunts and uncles and my cousins. I’m a Portuguese citizen who can’t speak Portuguese. I’m an Australian citizen who is frequently told I don’t look or sound Australian.

I, a child of three colonies, have spent a long time hungry for identity. And perhaps I’m still hungry for it. But to a certain extent I’ve found my own peace - I’m old enough and grizzled enough now to weather the storms of existential self doubt. I’m just me - an inimitable, an original. There’s no one way to be Indian. There’s no one way to be Australian, or South American. There’s no one way to be a person, and fuck anyone who tells you otherwise, or tries to tell you who you are. You’re the only person who decides that, and if the answer is ‘I don’t know’, well, that’s OK.

All of which is to say - you are not alone. But you are you.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 4:29 AM on June 12, 2019 [95 favorites]

*sniffle* I'm not crying, you're crying
posted by infini at 5:54 AM on June 12, 2019 [5 favorites]

Like many third culture kids of the 80s, they were afraid to give me their languages, lest it compromise my English.

I am separated from my heritage by a gulf as vast as the actual ocean that lies between me and India.

Thank you for sharing this.
posted by moiraine at 6:07 AM on June 12, 2019 [1 favorite]

Because it's something I've been wrestling with for a long time and literally not until five minutes ago when I got to the current end of this thread did I think I finally, finally might have a safe space to admit:

I don't know what I am.
I know this feeling. I know it intensely. My experience is not your own, but I feel like we are kindred in the fact that we are both cut from a fabric that is made up of many threads. And this is an overwhelming feeling. I hope you find a way to make peace with who you are.

It took me a long while to realize that I am all of the different places I have lived (and all of the people who have shaped me). Sometimes I'm only one of those threads that made me who I am and sometimes I'm all of them. I've learned that I decide when and who I am based on what is before me.

Maybe this is a coping mechanism, but I choose to see it as a kind of power over others who would seek to define me and put me in a box. I defy that.

If you feel like you want to talk more about this, hit me up in my DM and we'll chat. I would be happy to listen. Sometimes just getting it out there helps.

I wrote it up above but I'll share it again because I mean it: I see you. I hear you. You are visible and have value.
posted by Fizz at 6:08 AM on June 12, 2019 [21 favorites]

Yeah, the current FPP on Africa is an eyerollworthy example of how POC are not monolithic in how we see things.

*Hugs* to everyone who's struggled or felt uncomfortable or betrayed or just plain exhausted by constantly negotiating multiple cultures, heritages, languages.
posted by TwoStride at 6:15 AM on June 12, 2019 [4 favorites]

Ijeoma's poem comes to mind

Maybe this is a coping mechanism

Reframe it as an empowering mechanism, that offers you the nimbleness to turn on a dime, and to embrace the positive benefits of living in liminality.

I don't know if this will help anyone - we're definitely not a monolith and bring our own histories and heritages to our interactions, but these helped me as a third culture kid discovering I'm not white when I first moved to America at age 32.

Who is a global nomad? A global nomad is an individual who, spending a significant part of their developmental years in another culture, develops some sense of belonging to both the host culture and the home culture, while not having a sense of total ownership in either. Elements from both (or multiple) cultures are blended, resulting in the third culture.

Global nomads don't all have the same experiences in the same countries. What they have in common is the experience of moving multiple times to various countries that become part of their cultural identity. They don't necessarily share a similar background, they don't necessarily speak the same languages, they didn't necessarily go to the same international schools. But they share the experience of growing up in culture(s) not their own.

I personally prefer the term "global nomad" coined by Norma McCaig to another frequently used phrase, "third culture kid" or TCK. Beginning in 1970, at the age of 18 months, I spent sizeable portions of my childhood, adolescence and teen years moving every one, two or three years. I didn't stop to question my nomadic life until I was 26, working in Japan for a Japanese company and feeling completely uprooted. The comments that follow relate mostly to my experiences of being a US passport holder, but a mix of Japanese and American cultures with a dash of European for spice.

It took misery to prompt me into wondering what it would be like not to move every couple of years. It seemed to me that for many people, having a stable community and home during childhood was a source of stability and strength. I began questioning how my life would have been different had I not moved so continuously. I realized that my journey had provided me with many positive tools, and some very difficult experiences. I needed to sort them out, so I made a list and pondered it. The following is a result of my thoughts.

Liminality is the byword of a self-reflexive human being. We all contain within ourselves multiple intersecting identities— example, nationality, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity and race, physicality, native tongue, profession. In any given moment, one of those identities may be more relevant to us than others. At the same time, the identities in our backgrounds continue to make up the whole of who we are. Liminality reminds us to stand tall at the intersection of our multiple identities, aware of our contradictions, and proud nonetheless to acknowledge all the facets of who we are. reference

Cultural marginality describes an experience; one typical of global nomads and others who have been molded by exposure to two or more cultural traditions. Such people don't tend to fit perfectly into any one of the cultures to which they have been exposed but may fit comfortably on the edge, in the margins, of each.

Cultural marginality is in and of itself neither bad nor good although the experience has the potential to be both. It is characterized by the potential for, on the one-hand, feeling at home nowhere and, on the other hand, feeling at home everywhere. Whether our cultural marginality hinders us or helps us depends on what we do with it. We can allow ourselves to become "encapsulated," trapped by it, or can learn to use it "constructively," as a strategic advantage.
Entire article
posted by infini at 6:54 AM on June 12, 2019 [26 favorites]

Oh, hello to my fellow ethnocultural puzzles. *waves*

The mod team need to ask themselves what they wanted from this thread. There was already plenty of feedback available on this issue.

Most of the time it comes down to the same core problem: you have blind spots because you need more diverse points of view involved in questions of community administration.

There are many ways to diversify. You could hire people. You could have someone periodically review mod decisions. You could interview site members. You could make a "diversity considerations" checklist. You could have an intern collate and compile all the MeTas on this subject. You could make a feedback tool for members to give you ratings. You could ask an expert consultant.... There is a whole suite of ways to build this into your business system, some of which don't cost much or put the burden on very tired members of the userbase.

We cannot discuss our way out of this. You have to take an action that will correct the underlying problem.
posted by zennie at 10:11 AM on June 12, 2019 [78 favorites]

Now as a more aware POC, I still feel a bit hurt and salty at all the comments on my Ask about a friend who made ignorant and racist comments that said I needed to or should educate them as the POC in their life. Otherwise, I’m a relatively new Mefite and can’t speak to the past of the site, but currently I don’t feel disincluded from the site, but I don’t also think there’s anything that necessarily promotes and encourages POC to have more conversation. I appreciate this MeTa thread being up.
posted by buttonedup at 2:53 PM on June 12, 2019 [8 favorites]

There is a whole suite of ways to build this into your business system, some of which don't cost much or put the burden on very tired members of the userbase.

Thing is, I've come to see that the mods do prefer to put the (unpaid) burden of this labor on members. They don't want to pay to hire a PoC mod. They don't even want members to donate/fundraise specifically towards this. There have been long MeTas about hiring PoC diversity consultants, starting from years ago. The mods have been aware of these options and suggestions for YEARS. They just don't consider this a priority to act on. (Of course, they'll SAY it's a priority, but we've seen their actions over the years.)

Has the Metafilter admin put any $ towards actually paying for PoC consults and the essential PoC perspectives required for running this website? No. Instead, they've been coasting on PoC members like us doing a TON of unpaid labor for years.

Flagging, MeMail discussions, starting threads like this, having to explain (at length) and educate (in detail) the mods and community over and over. For years. Spending huge amounts of time and emotional energy writing and collating - some even freely donating manuals and resources on diversity and racial sensitivity that they wrote and put together themselves. The list goes on. There have been certain PoC members especially who went above and beyond any obligations to this site they might have as mere members, doing the kind of labor that white members and white mods don't have to do here (white mods, do you know how emotionally and mentally exhausting it can be?) There have been many PoC members who have burnt out and left / buttoned over the years because they spent so much of their own time and energy doing this kind of labor here, with no compensation for their efforts, only to see nothing really change here.
Conspire and Errant are two - they aren't here in this discussion but I want to mention and remember them here. I believe kalessin even put together or donated a guide that he had written when a well-meaning white member asked for the community to share resources "for white people to learn more about anti-racism outside of Metafilter" some years ago.

The white mods have told us to cope with the status quo, to just flag or bring issues to their attention as and when they crop up (while failing to realize how PERVASIVE the inequalities and lack of diversity are here). We've had to pick and choose our battles in raising these points to the mods/admin (I think we all know that), to couch our words carefully, to codeswitch. We know that everytime something like this (in this case, jj's mama's post) becomes a MeTa-worthy issue, it's really just the tip of the iceberg in terms of all the microaggressions and smaller injustices/inequalities that go on here daily.

The white mods have put this unpaid burden on their PoC community members - to signal, to educate, to explain/appeal the more egregious stuff that goes on here. The white mods are drawing actual salaries and being paid, but they can't actually do 100% of what is required in terms of their jobs, on Metafilter. Because they lack that cultural sensitivity and that perspective that non-white staff would have. They are depending on PoC members to fill in the blanks (and the PoC members are limited in what they can do, so - like I said, there's been picking and choosing of battles and a lot of proposals/efforts that have been dismissed or come to naught) - and these PoC members are: 1) members (meaning they do not hold any ultimate admin/mod power), 2) unpaid.

And they DON'T want to pay these PoC members. Not from official Metafilter coffers. (hey, now they're allowing Patreon links and donations for individual PoC members apparently - but these are adhoc member-to-member donations.) But of course I suppose their argument would be that the official Metafilter budget can only be used to pay actual Metafilter staff, and they don't have (and don't want, really*) a PoC mod/staff.

*yes, they don't want a PoC mod / staff. They will tell us otherwise, of course - but look at their actions over the years. (And I hope they are examining their own actions and decisions over the years too, and doing some actual self-reflection, instead of just telling themselves "Nooo, we really did want one! We just [insert excuse].") I think divabat really brought this point to bear when she said that if they really wanted a PoC mod but were cash-strapped (oh, while not allowing the community to donate towards this), they would have phased out a white mod to then hire a PoC mod.
posted by aielen at 3:07 PM on June 12, 2019 [23 favorites]

Ok, now going through the other MeTa thread that spurred this thread, boy am I depressed at some of the comments in there. Twitter is definitely my safe space for POC and queer talk that’s a lot more representative and surprisingly welcome. I use Ask the most but have never brought up directly race related questions since my previous Ask. I am definitely not as active of a user on other parts of the site, but I am reconsidering keeping my account open after hearing other POCs stories here and the very good point of no POC mods. In the long history of this site?! Not one? Yikes.
posted by buttonedup at 4:52 PM on June 12, 2019 [3 favorites]

From the other thread, from cortex, on the financial viability of a PoC mod:

I'll have to go back and look over that conversation; I mostly remember worrying that the amount of additional fundraising needed on top of covering basic operating expenses would have been prohibitive to the point that it wasn't something we could commit to, but I should go look over what exactly we were saying at the time.

Ballpark, paying an additional person to do moderation or some equivalent role would mean a few thousand dollars a month in additional revenue. I don't have any legal or tax concerns about using community contributions to fund an extra position, no.

We'll do a financial update soon; any specific new-spending ideas are gonna have to be taken in the context of that so I think it'd make the most sense to plan to talk money stuff at that point. But I don't have any objection in principle to the idea of bringing an additional person on if it turns out to be financially possible.

posted by divabat at 8:40 PM on June 12, 2019 [2 favorites]

A few thousand a month - I mean, we can say we can fundraise that or commit to that, but in my experience very few people follow up on their fundraising promises (and I see this a lot with PoC for intra-PoC things and it frustrates me as all hell. "Support our own!" except where it really counts). So I'll admit to some skepticism over the suggestion to fundraise for a PoC mod only because I don't trust people, even the rest of y'all, to put your money where your mouth is.
posted by divabat at 8:43 PM on June 12, 2019 [8 favorites]

If we start from the position that having a PoC mod is essential and non-negotiable, I think things become a lot clearer as to how Metafilter should proceed.

The question then becomes:
Do we acquire a PoC mod by phasing out an existing mod, or do we fundraise for an additional mod who would be PoC?
(Or - third option: We could phase out an existing mod, acquire a PoC mod, and then fundraise to reinstate the phased-out mod.)

All along, the mods have basically demonstrated that having a PoC mod is not essential or urgent to them. A "nice-to-have but not 100% necessary" pony.

We are saying that having at least one PoC on Metafilter's staff is important, urgent, essential and necessary. Let's start from this point and then plan to proceed.
posted by aielen at 9:03 PM on June 12, 2019 [9 favorites]

It is legally impossible to use race as a factor in recruitment, but there likely are ways to look for training and demonstrated experience that could serve the needs of the site. IAAL, but I'm not giving anyone legal advice, and this could be explored with an employment law attorney in Metafilter's jurisdiction.

Similarly, with the same caveat, it is possible to use instances of discriminatory conduct as a basis for progressive discipline and potential firing, which could free up resources for a new mod. It may help to develop an anti-discrimination policy or code of conduct, similar to many organizations, as a way to hold mods accountable. I'm spitballing here, and still thinking on the implications, but I've been thinking about my own interactions with a mod and how it might have played out if it happened at an organization with a formal complaint process, and a publicly expressed intent similar to EEOC notices posted in many US workplaces.

Basically, maybe it would help to give us a formal way to file complaints about mods if we feel like they are acting in a discriminatory manner, in accordance with a site policy or code of conduct. Then there could be data available to help guide employer decisions about who may need training or coaching, on what kinds of issues, and after ongoing and unremediated issues, who may not be a good fit for the site.

Right now, processes to address these types of concerns seem haphazard at best, and standards seem vaguely, if at all, defined, but there is a lot of discussion happening about how this lack of transparency maintains imbalances of power and fosters the type of alienation that drives people from the site. Maybe a more formal process and transparent standards could help rebalance some of the power and demonstrate Metafilter's commitment to making real changes.
posted by Little Dawn at 9:42 PM on June 12, 2019 [9 favorites]

Like many third culture kids of the 80s, they were afraid to give me their languages, lest it compromise my English.

I am separated from my heritage by a gulf as vast as the actual ocean that lies between me and India.

My history, and geography is very different but I feel the same. Thanks for writing this. And thank you Fizz and infini for you words and links. Reading them is helping me reframe some thoughts and questions about identity, and, well, feeling less alone.

Big hugs.
posted by motdiem2 at 12:01 AM on June 13, 2019 [8 favorites]

Another mixed race person here. I feel for you, and I understand all too well what it's like to exist outside of everybody's little boxes.
posted by mordax at 12:47 AM on June 13, 2019 [7 favorites]

Do we acquire a PoC mod by phasing out an existing mod


RIP, the vestiges of my nostalgia for being a community moderator
posted by zennie at 2:46 AM on June 13, 2019 [2 favorites]

kalessin said, "I've decided To try to move on from 101-level comments to 201-level or higher, both assuming basic literacy in SJ MeFites and mods claim to have and trying my best not to get embroiled in reasoning, arguing, explaining, or convincing folks of basic concepts. Instead I'm going to try to assume folks can use google and self educate.

I'm not going to try to be an asshole about it and I may link to basic concept explainers if need be. But I think the expectation to be nice, endlessly patient, and to educate other folks here without any kind of acknowledgement or compensation/thanks is seriously burning me out."

You may not have meant otherwise, but I feel words like "asshole" are powerful so it's worth being explicit:

You're not an asshole if you respond to racism with impatience, irritation, or outrage. You're not an asshole for refusing to educate with the infinite patience, wisdom, and persuasion to which white liberals feel entitled. The premise that we must be calm and conciliatory rather than emotional and disruptive is itself a manifestation of racism.
posted by yaymukund at 3:01 AM on June 13, 2019 [30 favorites]

mon cher motdiem, I remember you everyday thanks to the gorgeous poster on my wall. I'm glad those links helped. I know how much discovering them meant to me.
posted by infini at 3:08 AM on June 13, 2019 [1 favorite]

I wasn't going to come in here, I've been following this thread but I was going to stay away.

0. I resent the "if you identify as a person of color" invitation heading this post. I get that this is how everyone is talking now, but I don't identify as anything: I am identifiable--not as a person of color--but as a Black of Blackness. I understand the spirit of PoC solidarity but I don't want our stuff rolled up in some blanket issue so it can be ignored, considered covered when the deal is cut, and then we are excluded. It seems like everything that's supposed to be for us always ends up going mostly to anyone else. I'm sure that people from other groups that have a similar history would have similar feelings but I'm only speaking for me.

0a. I also have to echo what Freeze Peach said about anti-Blackness from other PoC. Sometimes I feel like people come to the US from all over the world to hate black people.

1. jj'smama's post being deleted was racism in action. A white institution discriminates against Black children. A white mod here deletes a post on it as being too 'OutrageFilter'. It was a reiteration of a classic pattern of American racism. As much grar as I've read here I didn't even know outragefilter wasn't allowed. No, I don't think the mod read the post and was all 'No black outrage today!' but the way it works is that our stuff is always scrutinized a little harder, a little quicker to be disregarded. It also doesn't seem like much thought went into what the deletion would mean.

2. On the one hand it's illegal to hire on the basis of race while on the other it's not a mysterious coincidence how businesses end up with all white staffs. Why do I only hear about the former when it's a threat to the latter? If they can always find a hundred minute legal reasons to disregard every nonwhite candidate they can certainly do the same to every white candidate.

3. I don't really understand why people talk about MetaFilter in a self-congratulatory way as if it were an enlightened bastion of social justice. I've read MetaFilter since what.. 2001 and it was white then and it's white now. With signups never being open in the past and lately the $5 barrier sure there's less drive-by shitposting than you'd get elsewhere, but that's down to it being exclusive and the content carefully curated for the comfort of the majority members. MetaFilter is closer to a white liberal country club with some color among the membership than any kind of diverse progressive community.

4. I don't like this 'American homegrown PoC' (wtf?) talk or this comparing African immigrants to Black Americans, infini. It veers way too close to "Americans trying to treat us like they treat their negros". I also feel like you're bragging about "[choosing] to continue being called teh 'n' word on a regular basis" because it doesn't degrade or damage you. I can't claim to know what the outcome will be of you choosing to let racists believe you're an 'uppity' Black woman are so I'm not commenting on your actions but the story makes me uncomfortable.

5. MetaFilter is in the uncanny valley of racism. (Probably in some other uncanny valleys as well, depending on what you're aware of.) It's progressive enough that you might take your coat off but ignorant enough that you still might have to leave suddenly.

I was going to stay out because I've stopped reading MetaFilter as much. I always read Fizz's gaming posts and go to FanFare to read people saying bad things about things that I enjoy but I scan the front page far less often than I used to. I don't mind that the place is kind of negative (life is kind of negative) but the whole "seemingly civil but completely toxic" thing that is enforced here is alien to me and I don't think I'll ever be comfortable with it or able to express myself that way. I only mention that here because I feel like that's a big thing in white American culture (particularly among middle class liberals) that I've never been able to adapt to. I also see that some here are allowed to be as rude and vulgar as they want in certain situations but I don't feel like that would be permitted from me.
posted by yonega at 3:49 AM on June 13, 2019 [72 favorites]

I don't like this 'American homegrown PoC' (wtf?) talk or this comparing African immigrants to Black Americans, infini. It veers way too close to "Americans trying to treat us like they treat their negros". I also feel like you're bragging about "[choosing] to continue being called teh 'n' word on a regular basis" because it doesn't degrade or damage you. I can't claim to know what the outcome will be of you choosing to let racists believe you're an 'uppity' Black woman are so I'm not commenting on your actions but the story makes me uncomfortable.

Message acknowledged and received, yonega. My familiarity is with Kenya, and east Africa in general, rather than the experiences you and yours have faced for centuries. Please do reach out to me in memail, and I am ready to listen and learn more so as not to inadvertently do or say something offensive. I'd rather not flesh out our exchange here further in a performative way for the American white audience.

I'm glad you decided to come in and write.
posted by infini at 5:04 AM on June 13, 2019 [10 favorites]

((((((((((((big hugs to all))))))))))))

I'm outta here now. If you want to reach me via memail, pls contact mods or kattullus for my new memail handle
posted by infini at 10:40 AM on June 13, 2019 [13 favorites]

Some users in the past have been upset by The Root's content, particularly the write-ups by Michael Harriot.

Some users in the past have been upset by [insert a website name here]'s content, particularly the write-ups by [insert a website writer's name here].

That complaint can probably be made about many sites referenced on MetaFilter.

Some users have been/are fine with The Root's content, including write-ups by the person mentioned. Does that mean FPPs linking to The Root should automatically be allowed? No, I'm not going to say that. But I don't see why such content would be automatically deleted either just because some users don't like it or see it as being intended for non-White readers. This user sees plenty of links to sites I don't like or don't read or don't feel are intended for me. Some how I manage to move on to other posts and comments.
posted by fuse theorem at 8:43 AM on June 14, 2019 [7 favorites]

My comment was more indirect complaining that a)mods here let a lot of anti-black complaining/white fragility stand; b)that such complaining seems to perhaps influence decisions that a single noteworthy link on The Root is "outragefilter).
posted by TwoStride at 11:31 AM on June 14, 2019 [8 favorites]

I mostly use AskMeFi. I've been a member for 13 years, years under 3 different usernames, and I find it exhausting and a lot of the conversation and moderation actually overtly racist. My posts get deleted about 50% of the time when I mention race, and whitesplained another 30% of the time or so, which is absolutely infuriating.

The mod team absolutely needs IBPOC members- not just one, never just one- at least two- and it's absolutely indicative of MeFi's super white stance on race that this hasn't happened despite many many many many threads and comments from IBPOC members stating that that's needed.

Here's a thread from just 33 months ago where multiple posters denied and downplayed an obvious racist incident and told the OP to ignore it. I mean that's the stance here: "this is uncomfortable, don't address it."

I've said this before but the idea of white "fragility" isn't respected in Black activist circles because it confers innocence and delicateness onto aggressive white people who are ruining IBPOC's lives. It's like saying sexist, abusive men are just "clueless"- no they're not, they're harmful. Only a white person would call that behaviour "fragile". I've been on the receiving end of it and it's durable as shit.

Sorry these thoughts are grumpy and unrelated and I'm yelling in the segregated room. Do I sound like an angry racialized person? I am one. Just exhausted. Too sick of this stuff to be nice any more.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 2:03 PM on June 14, 2019 [39 favorites]

I've said this before but the idea of white "fragility" isn't respected in Black activist circles because it confers innocence and delicateness onto aggressive white people who are ruining IBPOC's lives. It's like saying sexist, abusive men are just "clueless"- no they're not, they're harmful. Only a white person would call that behaviour "fragile". I've been on the receiving end of it and it's durable as shit.

Wow, yes, thank you.

Do I sound like an angry racialized person?

You sound on point AND your anger feels really good.

I'm only speaking for myself about myself here (aka this is not a comment about you)

Last year, in a super vulnerable heart-to-heart, I had an dear friend who has been through more racism than I have (they're an older generation, and asian, and gay), get angry at me because, "I won't truly trust you until you mobilize your anger as an Asian person."

It struck me hard in a good way. It's been really eye-opening for me to look back on threads/emails/comments that I've made pushing back on race.. and to realize how the comments I made that I thought were firm were actually too thin, and to realize that the comments that are "angry" are actually really good and healthy in their anger. Since then, I have been trying to be more angry, in a healthy, fiery way. So... here's to anger.
posted by suedehead at 2:30 PM on June 14, 2019 [23 favorites]

We've somehow whitewashed vacapinta. We've had a PoC mod. They said they weren't necessarily involved in the editorial side of things and are semi -retired now but still have access to the back end. So if we're going to continue the PoC mod discussion, we should keep them in mind.
posted by divabat at 3:04 PM on June 14, 2019 [14 favorites]

Regarding the question of mod-hiring, I will also say, as a multi-racial person... I think the ideal IBPOC mod would probably be pretty political... and a Black person would be great.

Anti-Black racism is extremely pervasive, and also extremely subtle, and it's all over the US, and all over the world.... so I observe that thoughtful Black people's responses to racism tend to translate well and hold a lot of space for other races' different experiences of racism. Anti-Blackness is so virulent that it creates a very well-formulated understanding and a keen eye for racism in general.

But I don't necessarily find that nonBlack POC, who haven't experienced specifically anti-Black racism, are always able to understand it well, or have interrogated their own anti-Black inculcation from our society, so sometimes that becomes a missed area.

I guess that's controversial, but it is what I've observed from mods in the 20 other online communities I participate in.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 3:09 PM on June 14, 2019 [18 favorites]

I'm totally going to write a comment with some info about the indigenous fashion appropriated by Mr. Gordon later tonight... It sucks it got a bit derailed onto the tourism thing.
posted by Mister Cheese at 5:01 PM on June 14, 2019 [1 favorite]

I'm going to tag my posts as postedbypoc thank you! I do try and tag PoC when posts are about them but that's a good addition.
posted by divabat at 6:16 PM on June 14, 2019 [4 favorites]

It's very unfortunate that vacapinta's identity was erased... but his "semi retired" state as mod is a problem. For example, I didn't even realize that he was (is?) a mod. I think we need more active, extremely visible modding from more than one mod who is alert to/trained in issues of race.
posted by TwoStride at 6:23 PM on June 14, 2019 [3 favorites]

I had almost decided to sit this thread out. Due to time constraints, lately I’ve mostly lurked on the site, mostly AskMe and FanFare, where I tended to be more active anyway. But I got to thinking about the reason why I hesitated for so long to plunk down my $5, which is relevant to this thread.

I think long ago I followed a link from kottke.org to MetaFilter and thought, oh great, a site with good links and good conversation! I lurked for a very long time, and was just about to pay my $5 when I watched a drama unfold that hit me like a punch in the face. In a MetaFilter thread about online dating or relationships or something, a poster (who no longer posts here) bluntly stated that he would never fuck (let alone date) black women because he was revolted by their disgusting vaginas (he used the vulgar term “gash”). People in the thread objected, but the comment was allowed to stand by the mods (at least for as long as I could stomach following the thread) because it was ‘just his opinion’ and users could ‘express their opinions’ on the site (paraphrased). Like, okay, wow.

That event left a really bad taste in my mouth and made me wonder if I—as a queer, black person--wanted to put even a small amount of money towards the site. After all, as someone said up-thread, I can get all the anti-black hate I want for free on reddit. I can hear variations on that same theme for free on any street or place of business in the US.

It’s been probably 7+ years since I encountered that vile comment but it still lingers with me. I remember it whenever I see “This is outrage filter” style deletions of content about people like me; when the mods let vile comments about people of color stand, but quickly tell us to take a time out. I am reminded of it when white liberals on the site praise/thank black women for turning out in droves for mediocre white men Democrats running against despicable white men Republicans (who white women enthusiastically vote for), but then tell us to get to the back of the line when it comes to prioritizing our rights/needs in real world politics. I think about it every time I see the 'MetaFilter needs your help, please donate’ banners—and when I decide not to donate.

And I can see from this thread that the constant centering of white America gets tedious for people of color around the world, too.

As with most things, people of color on the site have been doing the heavy lifting in these discussions. As have queer people, and people who are disabled, and people from other countries besides the US. Other places on the internet do manage to do better, MetaFilter can, too.

In order to grow membership, to get more revenue, MetaFilter has stop “Not doing race well” or “Not doing trans issues well” or “Not doing Israel/Palestine conversations well”, and so on. MetaFilter should get beyond 050 level awareness—with delusions of 101 level wokeness—and do the work to step the fuck up to level 201 already. That means that the mods have to enforce 201 level discourse, not give mealy mouth lip service to it when it’s easy. Also? The white membership of MetaFilter has to step up and not just pat themselves on the back for being Instagram Woke, but actively commit to doing better. Not just on the Blue, but in AskMe, too.

posted by skye.dancer at 6:33 PM on June 14, 2019 [64 favorites]

I made that comment because I was uneasy at the blanket "other sites do better!", having been part of multiple sites and communities (not just Metafilter) that claim to be "doing it better" but actually aren't. I'm not even sure who I could think of as "doing it better" anywhere really. But since that comment has been brought here and called out as disrespectful, and I bowed out of that thread for this reason, I'm bowing out of this thread too. Good luck.
posted by divabat at 6:31 AM on June 15, 2019

I bowed out of that thread for this reason, I'm bowing out of this thread too. Good luck.

Come baaaaaaaaaaaaack. I mean, if you want to! But you are incredibly welcome here and I at least personally really value your experiences and thoughts.
posted by corb at 9:13 AM on June 15, 2019 [11 favorites]

I appreciate this thread and everyone in it. I've been in/around MF for a long time now, but have never commented very often. I find myself visiting less and less these days, not particularly sure why.

MeFi's about page says "This website exists to break down the barriers between people, to extend a weblog beyond just one person, and to foster discussion among its members." You will never live up to this if your SOPs are systematically excluding certain groups of people. I am a monthly supporter of this place but this shit like this is making me reconsider.
posted by emeiji at 11:13 AM on June 15, 2019 [4 favorites]

I terms of concrete recommendations, I would suggest that a Code of Conduct is a very good start (someone mentioned the idea in the other MetaTalk thread). Followed by topic-specific resources and guidance linked from the site.

FPP posters could, if they wanted, link to the relevant resources from their post to help participants in the discussion avoid common topic-related pitfalls.

Mods could refer to specific site resources when addressing in-thread behavior. E.g. "User X, you keep violating the Code of Conduct by doing Y behavior. Sit this thread out and review section Z of the Code of Conduct." Or "User A, the word you used is a slur. Stop using it on this site. See the List of Derogatory Words to Avoid for details." Or even "User Q, you are asking a question that has been answered comprehensively in the site FAQ. See link here for details."

I have seen these two types of tools used to great success in both online and in-person discussions. I have seen them used well in higher ed classrooms, too. It doesn't cure all ills, but it helps to tamp down on some microaggressions, and the "Well, actually", "Whatabout", and "But I learned differently in 8th grade history" derails.
posted by skye.dancer at 2:36 PM on June 15, 2019 [14 favorites]

Apologies if those two ideas were thoroughly discussed in this thread or elsewhere. I haven't had time to catch up on all the relevant reading!
posted by skye.dancer at 2:38 PM on June 15, 2019

I used to be more active but a huge part (or maybe the entire part?) of why I basically no longer read or post on metafilter (which is why I am seeing this conversation about 10 days late) is because of how generally uncomfortably white it is. I remember that a while ago I wrote a difficult-to-write askme about my discomfort with all the white men with Asian wives and it wasn't posted because... I guess it just wasn't really a politically acceptable question? But I think that sends the message that this is a site that will curate its content in a way to protect the white psyche, and doesn't have space for the gut-wrenching discussions of the generally-invisible experiences of the minority individuals (in this case Asian womens' qualms). Things that are not politically acceptable and maybe at first unpalatable, are probably the some of most important discussions to be having. Instead I have generally found metafilter to generally be a space where well-intended white liberals celebrate their own open-mindedness, dabbling in various aspects of other cultures, without actually dealing with much substance.
posted by gemutlichkeit at 6:00 PM on June 15, 2019 [23 favorites]

A few years ago there was a thread on race that went badly and was moderated poorly and some Mefites called it out.

And a mod (I feel like it was cortex) said something like "Well I've been sick and had a headache so I missed seeing how the thing I supported was racist and the person I silenced was a PoC so you're saying my moderation was racist but it's because I was sick."

And a Mefite (I'm thinking Brandon Blatcher?) was like "the whole point is that if you hire a more diverse mod team they don't need to be on their perfect A-game to spot this obvious shit. Even when they, like, have a headache, they'll still understand it and respond properly, because their understanding is deeper than yours."

Does anyone remember that exchange? I'd like to re-read it.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 9:10 PM on June 15, 2019 [9 favorites]

Yes! Thank you, anem0ne.

And that thread... makes me want to leave, actually.Three years ago. How depressing.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 10:15 PM on June 15, 2019 [2 favorites]

Y'all know I've been on this site for a minute. Sentimental me wants to make a comment that's thoughtful and heartfelt but in actuality I was surprised to find myself even on here today, because I have been here only a handful of times all year, when for years even when I didn't comment I'd look at the front page every day, and then every week. Then I only came to check for IRL events (TINCC). And then, after 16? 17? years I didn't even do that. Then I happened to see the green bar at the top.

Ok shit, I'm getting heartfelt anyway.

I'm sad that I'm never here anymore. I've made many friends here that I consider ride-or-die, and MeFites are a big portion of my social media circles. Metafilter was a part of my life. MeFites still are.

At some point seeing the same dumb hostility and white-centrism erupt time after time with no new solutions from the leadership (mods) here got old. How did it never get fixed? Christ, even the Dios flamewar era eventually ended and that was way fucking entertaining. Knowing I'll get thread-jumped if I offer my perspective as a non-white is way fucking not entertaining. And it doesn't happen at the Root or on the subreddits I frequent. Those are my daily go-tos now and I'm just sad that I haven't felt good visiting Metafilter in a long time. I have seen the site go around this particular circle one too many times. Too much accumulated disappointment. Insufficient reward. I get my weird internet links and current events reacts elsewhere.

The great MeFi tradition of beanplating was charming for a long time. But it happened too too many times in a way that silenced anyone non-white, non-Christian, non-American or -Western, non-cis, non-male and thus it soured. It's too bad.

Ah that's right, I thought this seemed familiar.
posted by halonine at 10:42 PM on June 15, 2019 [12 favorites]

halonine, I too made the mistake of going to the October 2015 thread anem0ne pasted and was both horrified and sad to note that my original avatar not only said almost the exact same things, but even posted links to the exact same articles...

how depressing, indeed
posted by hugbucket at 11:13 PM on June 15, 2019 [6 favorites]

Just chiming in as another disenchanted user. As cathartic as it's been to follow this thread, the end result for me has been the realization that it's probably best for my own emotional well being to say farewell to Metafilter once and for all. While I appreciate the good intentions of Cortex and the mod staff, nothing I've seen this past week leads me to believe that anything here is going to improve to the point where I feel good about being here anymore.

There are fundamental issues with Metafilter that have been in place since day one, that have led directly to the way it is now, and I think the core membership that the site caters to is content with the status quo. I was frustrated and disappointed by this until I realized that none of this is really Metafilter's fault. The site is what it's always been and what the majority of its users want it to be. It's the rest of the world that's evolving and moving on.

It makes me think about how, back in the day, I was a huge fan of A Prairie Home Companion and the "News from Lake Wobegon." And how that show kind of soured for me when I realized that I would never actually feel at home in this idealized community. Not because there's anything overtly bigoted about Lake Wobegon -- I'm sure they'd be perfectly welcoming of nonwhites, if any existed in that world. It's simply that the nostalgic fantasy of Lake Wobegon is a white fantasy. It's created by and for white people. If you're not white, you're still welcome to tune in, but on some level you're always aware that you're not the target demographic.

Metafilter is a community of white people that welcomes nonwhites. That's the basic reality of the site. We can push the community to be more welcoming of nonwhites, but we can't change the basic foundation. For it to change would require the site owner to be willing to tear down and rebuild the place, and there is absolutely no sign of that happening, ever. More accommodation, sure. Improved rules and policies, absolutely. But at the end of the day, it is what it is, a white community that makes room for people of color.

Which, hey, there are worse places out there on the Internet, no question. But there are also better places. I'm realizing that Metafilter has been my Lake Wobegon for many many years now, and it's probably way past time that I gave up that particular fantasy and moved on.
posted by Enemy of Joy at 12:53 AM on June 16, 2019 [36 favorites]

It's the rest of the world that's evolving and moving on.

You can see this clearly in global headlines vs where America is stuck or regressing:

Education: debates on Darwin, flat earth, vaccines, and lack of historical and geographical knowledge

TransGender rights: Not even sharia law, by muslims, who follow Islam considers human beings as lesser the way America does

Women's autonomy over their body: I mean really? Which century are your lawmakers from? Do you need links to understand what I'm talking about here? Even Ireland.

Child marriage: Not much different from the most backward, poverty stricken corners of the developing world and less developed countries, given that it took the USA until 2018 to begin with the first state to ban it.

Maternal mortality, especially African-american mothers: Frankly, vast swathes of the African continent are doing far better than the United States

Climate change, environmental conservation, sustainability, recycling, renewable energy, etc At least 30 years behind Europe, and now, 15 to 20 behind China and even India or Africa, these days. One word: Ten years on: Rwanda's plastic ban

And, of course, racism, and white supremacy, which is regressing all the way back to the Third Reich of almost a century ago in the Olde Worlde

Yet technology and weapons for warfighting are the only places where the investments are going. Come, let us put all our brilliant PhDs on the task of how to make you consume more scarce resources.

Wading through all of this is part of what hanging out in Metafilter implies. Conversations have changed almost everywhere else (not other to Metafilter, but other to American dominant websites) but here.
posted by hugbucket at 1:36 AM on June 16, 2019 [5 favorites]

ok I said I'd bow out of this thread but as someone who holds citizenship of a country that still has child marriage, oppresses trans people and women, and has its own issues with racism, I'm really not comfortable with the whole "compared to the rest of the world the US is so backwards" thing. especially since other white-dominant countries also have racism, white supremacy, climate change denial, etc etc (hello australia).

and comments like "vast swathes of the African continent are doing far better than the US" comes off as weirdly exoticizing, like it's based on the assumption that Africa is so backwards that them succeeding in some way is somehow notable.

This just makes me feel like even if we did get a permanent PoC mod, they're still going to hold very US-centric values and then we're back to here.
posted by divabat at 2:08 AM on June 16, 2019 [21 favorites]

hugbucket said, "TransGender rights: Not even sharia law, by muslims, who follow Islam considers human beings as lesser the way America does"

Sharia law is not as simple as many people think. Please don't bring up trans stuff as one item in a list like this to make a greater point.
posted by yaymukund at 4:33 AM on June 16, 2019 [12 favorites]

I think someone mentioned it being unavoidable to dig through people's posts to figure out their PoC status. I'm on a closed subreddit where people voluntarily identify key info (in this case, location & job specialty) in a tag, and I find it helpful for having that context, on the spot, reading their questions and comments. Even here in this thread (and following the original outragefilter meta), I've found it helpful to have some sense of who is speaking and where they may be coming from.

Would nationality/race tags be useful on this site? I don't mean outing anyone who doesn't want to be outed, and I really don't mean to contribute to people's angst about US (for instance) norms focusing on labels. But it seems a comment like, "(quoting upthread comment) This is racist." coming from a user tagged "US White" (or "US Caucasian"?) would have different impact than the same comment from a user tagged "US Asian-Am" etc. Perhaps it could put race on users' minds more emphatically, have white users forced to continuously confront that they are white, that they are interacting with other white people, that most people here are white - you know, that whole thing about how (in the US) non-white folks don't ever get to not think about race, but white folks do. I bet it would be uncomfortable, and I wonder if that would be valuable, too, as part of moving from 101 to 201.

It also seems that to be effective, it would need to be in something like a tag, seen constantly and read on the spot, rather than buried on profile pages.
posted by cdefgfeadgagfe at 9:30 AM on June 16, 2019 [2 favorites]

I very much agree with stoneweaver on this.
posted by TwoStride at 4:31 PM on June 16, 2019 [4 favorites]

Thanks everyone for taking the time to share your perspectives - greatly appreciate it.
posted by cdefgfeadgagfe at 8:20 PM on June 16, 2019 [4 favorites]

I think it's worth thinking about how the deletion that sparked this was specifically about anti blackness in the context of an american institution.

yonega's entire comment upthread is worth reading, but as a non-black poc this definitely rings true and I hope it doesn't get lost in this discussion:

"0. I resent the "if you identify as a person of color" invitation heading this post. I get that this is how everyone is talking now, but I don't identify as anything: I am identifiable--not as a person of color--but as a Black of Blackness. I understand the spirit of PoC solidarity but I don't want our stuff rolled up in some blanket issue so it can be ignored, considered covered when the deal is cut, and then we are excluded. It seems like everything that's supposed to be for us always ends up going mostly to anyone else. I'm sure that people from other groups that have a similar history would have similar feelings but I'm only speaking for me.

0a. I also have to echo what Freeze Peach said about anti-Blackness from other PoC. Sometimes I feel like people come to the US from all over the world to hate black people.

1. jj'smama's post being deleted was racism in action. A white institution discriminates against Black children. A white mod here deletes a post on it as being too 'OutrageFilter'. It was a reiteration of a classic pattern of American racism. As much grar as I've read here I didn't even know outragefilter wasn't allowed. No, I don't think the mod read the post and was all 'No black outrage today!' but the way it works is that our stuff is always scrutinized a little harder, a little quicker to be disregarded. It also doesn't seem like much thought went into what the deletion would mean."

posted by yaymukund at 3:36 AM on June 17, 2019 [12 favorites]

Lovely, a whole thread.
posted by Verba Volant at 6:08 AM on June 17, 2019 [1 favorite]

I really want to add that after all these years, I'm still annoyed at Cortex for deleting the post about the Stuff White People Like blog because he was all "white people don't all like this so it's inaccurate." Mathowie was fine with it, cortex.
posted by brandnewday989 at 10:34 AM on June 21, 2019 [12 favorites]

that it was clearly pretty tongue-in-cheek, so I'm surprised it got taken seriouslyish to that extent.

Yeah, I know! But I think cortex was on some, "I am an individual. White people are all individuals and should be treated as such and not lumped into the group known as 'white people'", that a lot of white people get into.
posted by brandnewday989 at 12:20 PM on June 21, 2019 [4 favorites]

I remember reading that years ago from the link on Metafilter before it was deleted, and being annoyed about the blog being so gentle about mocking white people.

Like, the blog was so affectionate! It was so cutesy! It could have been so much funnier if it actually sounded like how non-white people in America actually talk about white people in private in my experience! It did not sound like me and my sister the afternoon we found "fruit and vegetable detergent" in our newly fancified neighborhood grocery store, or me sitting with an Indian-American classmate from New York City, eating shitty professional school food and trying to make sense of what the fuck was up with Midwestern Nice.

I was not surprised when it turned out to be written by a white person. And it still got deleted from Metafilter for being too mean.

I'd like to think that it would stand a little longer today, and that cortex has come some way from that, but I don't know.
posted by joyceanmachine at 12:43 PM on June 21, 2019 [14 favorites]

If the plan was coming from other PoC I wouldn't have minded so much, but gah
posted by divabat at 5:22 PM on June 21, 2019 [2 favorites]

Thank you to those who joined the slack and who participated in that other thread. I am on over 30 slack channels for work and to be honest, I just do not have the mental space to join yet another channel unless I am outright being paid to do so.

Anyway. Maybe it’s just me. But my read of the not-really-a-plan-just-a-discussion-anyone-can-join-and-folks-of-color-can-just-add-in-their-bits-whatevs derail in that thread is that it was coming from exactly the same worldview as it’s-all-about-class/money-not-race arguments.

Which is to say, racism is positioned as a subset of a larger set of generic societal ills that would conveniently just evaporate if we were to just redistribute resources more fairly. Oh, and look, here’s a conveniently prepackaged plan that we wrote that cribs from the prior art of those who created and implemented the oppressive systems, and that uses societal tools that have been demonstrated to be hostile to folks of color and other underrepresented groups. But don’t you all worry, if you just have patience (presumably more than 30 days worth), you’ll get your pie in the sky, bye and bye.

Dayum, y’all.
posted by skye.dancer at 12:06 PM on June 22, 2019 [8 favorites]

i just wanted to check in, because somehow, even tho i'm on the blue daily, i only just noticed the banner text this evening (well, morning now). i'm the opposite of those who've stated where they're most involved - i'm mostly on the blue, which has its moments, shall we say, but i'd rather deal with that energy most days then having to wade into the backend conversations and see the white fragility so directly.

i have noticed that in recent months/years (?) i'm one of the few self-professed muslims left posting on the blue. oh well.
posted by cendawanita at 2:00 PM on June 22, 2019 [11 favorites]

Random thoughts while waiting for this chicken to cook:

1. Mefites of color organize themselves into a small board/group/whatever and present a bi-monthly/quarterly report to the mods via MeTa on how PoC issues on the site are going. Start it as Google doc with only PoC Mefi members having the ability to write, but everyone can read.

2. Start a race-related Cooter clock to point out how often the bad shit is done and not noticed by certain segments of the community.

3. Find out how much a race consultant costs. Do Go Fund Me (or similar) to cover said cost, so the mods don't have to worry about paying for it, it'll be covered.

4. Have a monthly/bimonthly/whatever told with the mods in a semi-private online channel to discuss how mod things are going, let the public know the results

Yep, this requires volunteers to organize stuff. So be it.

Not numbered, but other random thought: If a PoC mod is hired at some point, they should be do something like Eyebrow's McGee's weekly MeTa thread about life stuff i.e. usually about anything but race. For instance, if I was mod, I'd be hosting something in Fanfare about movies/tv/books, just to make the site fun for me personally and not make it all about race.

Shoot the ideas down, praise them as a genius, whatever, just off the top of the head ideas.

Now, about this chicken....
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:45 PM on June 22, 2019 [22 favorites]

I really like everything Brandon Blatcher has suggested. In particular, the idea of having a group where we can continue to discuss and present this stuff.

Same. I would like to participate in something that keeps us more in touch and backing each other up, and I think regular discussions (postmortems of problems, maybe), are probably required to move the needle here.

So yeah. I'm also liking the list there.
posted by mordax at 9:52 PM on June 22, 2019 [5 favorites]

I didn't want to say it in the other thread, but the fact that Eyebrows is the mod that deleted stoneweaver's comment (which seems to have now been restored) and didn't make any mention or even a mod comment about it makes me wonder.

I've had comments deleted by Eyebrows before because it was in response to someone else being shitty, and it took a private convo with her to figure out why my comment got caught up in it, when it did involve a significant expense of emotional labour.

Eyebrows is also the mod that got hired in lieu of a PoC mod. (And frankly I don't think "was part of a school board" really counts as enough experience to be good about diversity and inclusion, but ¯\_(ツ)_/¯) And a lot of attention has been put on her as a result.

There were a lot of really dodgy comments on that other thread, but stoneweaver's seems to be the first deletion, if I'm correct.

Maybe I'm reading too much into it, but there does seem to be something fishy here.
posted by divabat at 3:19 AM on June 23, 2019 [10 favorites]

We deserve a space without white fragility filter. *and* white fragile moderation
posted by hugbucket at 6:46 AM on June 23, 2019 [2 favorites]

jj's.mama, I'm glad to see you back. (For as long as any of us are here, I guess).

Eyebrows was already getting major side-eye from me from the debacle about killing children jokes thread a few months back, mostly for it demonstrating how the mods close rank and issue apolgies that always come across as fairly insincere, to me.
posted by TwoStride at 7:56 AM on June 23, 2019 [9 favorites]

Less-than-currently-active POC/multiracial user here (perhaps without my realizing due to the reasons other folks listed for staying away), renewing her lurking lately. This banner was a surprise and it it feels really nice to hear from other non-white voices on MeFi, even if I’ve been out of the MeFi cultural loop for some time. I am always surprised how safe a designated non-white space feels, as if some invisible atmospheric pressure that I didn’t know I was bearing just... drops.

I had a momentary wish for a MeFi for The Rest of Us full of the people in this thread!! But redirecting my worser separatist impulses :), I’d be really interested in regular and more spaces to discuss, hold accountable, and exchange ideas outside of this 1 thread.

I’d also maybe be curious if the MeFi mgmt & mods team would be willing to look at their own implicit biases through the sort of work that Layla Saad and other black thought leaders offer, on investigating internalized white supremacy (her Me & White Supremacy workbook is coming out as a published book soon & is super interesting work). As an aside, I’d love to see *that* kind of work discussed & uplifted on the blue. I’ve never made an FPP post but I really like the idea of de-centering the perceived and actual whiteness on the blue by seeing more of the posts talked about earlier upthread. But I’d personally only feel safe enough to do that if the culture there shifted, and there was an open (weekly, as someone suggested above) POC-only accountability MetaTalk thread to watch the moderation on such threads.

And hearing from other multiracial/third culture/global nomads upthread made my heart sing.
posted by inkytea at 11:08 AM on June 23, 2019 [19 favorites]

I used it as a jumping off point to talk about how mods not wanting to delete things if it’s not in the moment means that POC members either have to read obsessively so we catch things before they are more than a few minutes old or just accept that gross comments will stand. It’s something I’ve talked about in previous race related metas. In these very threads we’ve talked about how often comments by POC get deleted, along with all the hard work, because of how mods deal with problem comments. This isn’t even old news! Are the mods even listening at all??

So, story time. I was away from Metafilter for several years. The reason I hadn't come back was because of I disliked the modding philosophy of "we're a community. Everybody's feelings are important". When one, lbr, that wasn't really the case and two, I didn't really come to Metafilter for a community. I came for cool links and interesting discussion. And also, I disagreed with the prevailing approach to social justice issues by the most outspoken comments, and kind of still do actually.

But the thing is, none of that is why I left. I rage buttoned because, several years ago, there was a post about how the right was using the term 'social justice warrior/sjw' as an insult to liberals. And there was some disagreement in the thread about how the term originated (it originated in progressive spaces to talk about other liberals and was co-opted by the right). And this user named Pope Guilty said that the social justice warrior meant and had always meant the same as "nigger lover."

And I got so angry. Not even because he used that word or phrase, but because he was comparing himself to white people who had been called that. White people who had actually fought irl for civil rights and had experienced serious social consequences, gotten beaten, and sometimes murdered for it. And here is some white boy who mostly complains about religion comparing himself to those people? Hell, naw.

And I was also angry because I, a black woman, had used that phrase when it was confined to liberal internet wankery and he was saying I called people that? So, I left a comment calling him out. And I buttoned with reason something like "Pope Guilty is racist as hell." I checked the thread after I buttoned and both comments had been deleted with a comment about "don't use inflammatory language or language like PGs" or something like that.

And stoneweavers comment, quoted above, just reminded me of all that. And now, I'm just sitting here rethinking that incident and my entire history with Metafilter.

I've always just accepted Metafilter as being white and liberal racist. And now, I realizing I shouldn't have. Idk. I have a couple of Metafilter tshirts I bought back when Matt was selling tshirts. I don't think I even want them now.
posted by brandnewday989 at 11:22 AM on June 23, 2019 [21 favorites]

I really appreciate all the thoughtful and illuminating commenting here. It has helped me tune into things I was missing and also connected to some of the general feelings I was having about the site but hadn't fully put together.

I like metafilter and I think it is special, but I also think, as an organization, it has a lack of self-awareness. It is basically a website to find interesting links and discuss them in relative civility. That alone is pretty good.

On the other hand...I have increasingly found it hard to think of metafilter as a community when it is a for profit company. To some degree, it can be both I suppose, but the dynamic between owner/staff and members is often strained by the conflict between being a community and being a company. There's a lot of space between "pretty transparent for a privately owned company" and "pretty opaque for a 'community' funded in large part by donations."

The idea that metafilter offers civil discussion is fine and a great selling point for the site, but I feel like these discussions have shown just how problematic it is to do. Frequently minorities are silenced in the interest of maintaining civility. I get the feeling that metafilter prides itself on being an enlightened oasis on the internet when it is more of a gated community.

I don't know anything of substance about any of the mods past or present, but I do feel like jessamyn somehow was able to turn the tide on rampant sexism on the site. I don't know if she has training/experience with this kind of thing or just managed to pull off a miracle through sheer awesomeness. Either way, I wouldn't assume that any of the current mods have the skills to do the same with race or other issues, even if they wanted, even with training, even with the help of POC advisors, even with one or more POC mods. (I don't assume they couldn't, but I don't assume they could.)

I don't know if I have a point. Kudos to those who want to make the site better and are willing to put in the effort. I feel like there are lots of reasons not to volunteer for this effort, and I feel like a lot of this begins with a lack of honesty about what metafilter actually is. (I don't mean deliberate lying, but just misjudging itself.)
posted by snofoam at 12:59 PM on June 23, 2019 [13 favorites]

Those megapolitics threads, even if confined to one thread, are toxic to metafilter
posted by hugbucket at 1:57 PM on June 23, 2019 [24 favorites]

bucket of hugs to you jj's mama, I'm glad to see you here
posted by hugbucket at 3:11 PM on June 23, 2019

...people with actual ties to the culture in question getting deleted for trying to comment about why said answers are stupid and irrelevant. I know that part of this is a problem with Ask Metafilter specifically because you can't "argue" with other users...

That's a great point, and one I hadn't understood in quite those terms before:

The "flag it and move on" rule doesn't work as well for minorities. First, there are fewer of us to flag things. Next, the mods are not as sensitive to the stuff we want to flag, so they're probably more likely to take a wait-and-see approach even after something's been flagged once. Meanwhile, we're not permitted to respond directly, even though we know very well what the problem is.

In contrast, the majority doesn't have to deal with this. Most answers will come from people who are on their wavelength. The rest of us have acquired the cultural competence to behave appropriately around them (as they have not for us). If someone does say something inappropriate, a ton of people will recognize the problem and flag it, and then the mods will also recognize the problem and step in.
posted by meaty shoe puppet at 3:19 PM on June 23, 2019 [30 favorites]

I've proposed the idea of ending the no-threadsitting rule on AskMefi before (on a completely unrelated thread) precisely because unhelpful advice is all too common and clarification is useful, and I wonder if that would be handy here. I know askers do chime in with answers to other people's questions, but personally I know the pressure of that rule has hindered me from speaking up saying "hey so that's not gonna work for me for XYZ complicated reason" and so I end up with useless advice and a question wasted.

Speaking of which: any of you familiar with a quote (From 2013 or older) where the gist was "because we're minorities no one cares what we make, but because no one cares we can make anything we want"? I made an Ask about it but no takers. I feel like this crowd would know.
posted by divabat at 5:37 PM on June 23, 2019 [4 favorites]

jj’smama, I’m very glad you are back. I thought the deletion of your post was wrong and understood completely why you left.

I have been reading this thread but have not commented so far because others have made the points I wanted to make, and sometimes as a mixed race person (Chinese and white) who is a POC but not a BIPOC, I struggle with when to put my voice in. Am I of enough colour? Is it the right kind?

(I should add, it’s not POC who have insinuated I am not “enough” of anything. It’s the occasional white person or societal messaging or my own internalized issues.)

But even just rereading that, I think: God, all these things I have to think about that someone who is completely white doesn’t have to think about. It’s exhausting. I’m exhausted and have been conserving my energy till now. So, thank you to everyone who has posted here and expended the emotional energy it takes to really engage with topics of race.

But now is the time for me to speak up too, I think.

I like Metafilter a lot, check it daily, and think it’s better than lots of places on the internet. That said, I think a lot of the white moderators and users don’t know what they don’t know about subtle and systemic racism (are unselfaware, as others have said).

I’d like to put my vote in for at least one moderator who is a POC. As far as I’m concerned, representation and lived experience are important.

In addition, I think any of the Metafilter team who have not read Robin DiAngelo’s White Fragility need to do so.

Also, cortex and the mod team need to read the new Ravelry policy about banning speech that supports Trump (based on RPG.net’s policy) and consider how to implement something similar. This isn’t about Metafilter needing to ban pro-Trump speech specifically, but rather, it is an excellent example of how it is okay and even necessary to draw a very bright line and say “You will be banned for X speech or behaviour” when it’s been repeatedly demonstrated that certain kinds of speech or behaviour harm users and the wider community of marginalized groups, and drives away diverse voices.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 10:13 PM on June 23, 2019 [31 favorites]

Aaaand now we have one person involved saying "it's just a discussion anyone can join" and another person involved essentially saying "we're trying to find a solution and be "solution oriented" because the POC thread is going nowhere" and it just seems pretty defensive and is pissing me off and making me question whether this can actually be a community that I really feel a part of or if I want to.

This makes me soooo fucking angry. Like, guess what else was “just a discussion”? The Emotional Labor thread. You know, just that little landmark-thread-that-was-a-lifechanger-for-many-people-that-grew-the-community-in-a-really-positive-way-while-bringing-in-a-lot-of-positive-coverage-for-the-site-and-thereby-a-lot-of-great-new-people-too.

Muthafuckas a bunch of Brittas man I swear.
posted by joedan at 11:31 PM on June 23, 2019 [9 favorites]

I don't think the Wiki has been in active development for AGES.

posted by divabat at 2:36 AM on June 24, 2019 [12 favorites]

I’m not at all surprised about the whole stupid Slack/Planning derail

So, disclosure: when I heard about it, I figured I must have missed something and this whole conversation was taking place somewhere I wasn't, so I headed over and was like 'uh sorry I missed whatever we are doing, what's the plan who in the what now?' and folks were like 'oh we're just discussing'. But I thought it was fellow POC making this plan or ask or whatever, and then I kind of didn't know what to say or do when I found out that was not the case.
posted by corb at 8:32 AM on June 24, 2019 [3 favorites]

This thread has made me extremely sad; I had no idea about deleting posts/comments, bc I don't come to MeTa at all.

I did notice that the site skews very white, but I had no idea to what extent that the mods actively contributed to it.

From a strictly longterm survival/growth point of view, Metafilter needs to be more inclusive to PoC.

Millennials are the largest demographic in the US currently (and yes, I think it needs to be hashed out whether or not Metafilter has American/Anglophone-centrism, or to open it up). Apparently ~40% of Millennials are PoC, and I understand that the next generation has an even higher percentage (sorry, no citations).

As an aside, I agree that the term "PoC" encompasses a lot of cultures & religions & experiences, but I also do feel close to all other PoC (in the US) because I think our experiences are similar in that we are the Other. (Of course, I'm not discounting the varying degrees of privilege that exist).
posted by honey badger at 11:21 AM on June 24, 2019 [10 favorites]

Yeah, PoC is a pretty reductive term that flattens a lot of important cultural distinctions and differing degrees/experiences of opression, but dealing with that requires the community be able to hold a 201 level discussion and, as we can all see, MeFi is still struggling at the 101 level.
posted by joedan at 11:33 AM on June 24, 2019 [7 favorites]

Ditto about “PoC” being a 101-level term.. which is why I think talking about whiteness makes more sense, since that’s the major issue that prevents more nuanced issues from being discussed here.

Also because I looove talking about whiteness lately.. I can see unthoughtful white people literally flinch inside when I talk about whiteness or white people, as if I’m reminding them that they’re white, when they had tried so hard to forget..

It’s been personally helpful; as I talk more about race and whiteness, I’ve also noticed that my friends who are white have slowly shifted to those who are more comfortable talking and thinking about race. Either that, or we’re less close because they’re not comfortable talking about race, which is as comfortable to me as NOT talking about race, so...
posted by suedehead at 4:07 PM on June 24, 2019 [21 favorites]

I've been seeing a lot more non-white-US posts lately, not sure if its people here putting their posts where their mouth is or just observer bias.
posted by signal at 3:26 PM on June 25, 2019 [2 favorites]

I'm gonna chime back here and say that this seems like an exhausting amount of labor, all solutions involved. The least the mods can do is give actual power to folks here who are willing to put in the time, money, and solutions to do it. Because I sure as hell don't, I have a career I have to build and other really urgent social justice actions I have to do, and I personally don't really have time for this. Those who do want to commit time, should not be taken for granted and should not be hampered in their ability to make change, by the gatekeepers. The mods have already proven they've been gatekeepers on the well-intentioned side over and over and over again here with all of these receipts.

I'm looking for more spaces to just be myself, I can't go in and make every single space I be in be safe for me. White people take so much shit for granted on a level that I'm not sure they can ever comprehend. It's very easy to make MeFi better - don't just give lipservice to people already willing to put in the time to make solutions happen. Unless you are willing to disrupt the institutional whiteness and relinquish the power that is here, all of this shit and suggestions and this thread is for nothing.
posted by yueliang at 4:23 PM on June 25, 2019 [10 favorites]

Not sure if the appropriate takeaway from a comment detailing reluctance to make a FPP due to wanting to thoughtfully frame the links therein, is to make a FPP right away

So much of this thread is about making people feel more comfortable posting and being welcome in other parts of this community. It feels a bit tone-deaf and slightly like a kind of appropriation.

I understand that anyone can make a post over on the blue and that mefi projects are often given a bit more exposure by being shared, but that anem0ne was not given the space or the opportunity to make that post themselves or even asked if they wanted help, it just feels kind of shitty, it feels like taking a thought or an idea. And this is something that happens quite a bit with PoC, visible minorities, & disenfranchised communities.

I mean, the poster was obviously aware that someone in this thread had thoughts and wanted to make a post to amplify Chinese/Jamaican culture. anem0ne & The Contender were both credited, but the opportunity to express themselves about a subject they felt passionate about was taken away from them. They were not given space to provide their own personal insight.


As I wrote up above, sometimes it's ok to just listen and not say or do something when someone from our community expresses an idea or a concern. Not everything has to be acted on, and sometimes people just need to read the room.
posted by Fizz at 5:47 PM on June 25, 2019 [18 favorites]

To me it's very similar to the Slack derail, in that it's white people getting tired of waiting and thinking that they (always, always) need to be heard or to just take charge.
posted by TwoStride at 6:16 PM on June 25, 2019 [3 favorites]

I can DM the poster personally about this if it's ok? Letting them know that it's not as helpful as they thought it might be? Or I can leave it alone.
posted by divabat at 6:20 PM on June 25, 2019 [1 favorite]

I DMed them, let's see how it goes.
posted by divabat at 8:16 PM on June 25, 2019 [1 favorite]

anem0ne, glad you feel okayish about it. For me, it's a jarring unpleasant reminder that this thread is being read in real time by an unknown white audience, and it's hard to feel like we aren't performing. ... (she says, performing, I guess)
posted by cdefgfeadgagfe at 8:18 PM on June 25, 2019 [6 favorites]

apparently my mood today about that post is #yolo.
posted by cendawanita at 8:44 PM on June 25, 2019 [4 favorites]

I mean it seems just like another case of a well-meaning, most likely white? person trying to do things without asking POC. Like what this entire thread has been about. Metafilter is no different.
posted by yueliang at 9:20 PM on June 25, 2019 [9 favorites]

Like. East Asia has borrowed a lot of musical forms from the West as a form of rebellion, which, in a lot of ways, was how much of it arose here; but like, there's a lot of cultural back-and-forth that goes on, and the era that each one sorta really opened up, and the influence of the diaspora, makes a big difference--it's why a lot of the Japanese pop that shook things up tended to sound more like rock, whereas for Korea it was hip-hop. I know far less about China, but there's something to be said about why a lot of Cui Jian's work sounds a lot like Springsteen, especially since one of his biggest songs is "A Piece of Red Cloth", which was performed around the time of the Tiananmen incident (you did not see protesters because they were not there*)...

There's a great documentary film, "Don't Think I've Forgotten: Cambodia's Lost Rock and Roll" about the music scene in the 60s and early 70s with a ton of beautiful shots of Phnom Penh before it all ended in Year Zero. I would definitely recommend. Trailer
posted by ActingTheGoat at 10:09 PM on June 25, 2019 [7 favorites]

I just flagged something on the music post with a note that I don't think will be effective, but y'know, what else is there to do.
posted by TwoStride at 10:15 PM on June 25, 2019

Oh look, deletions. Let's just go ahead with the "It's been ___ hours since we JUST WENT OVER THIS" signs.
posted by TwoStride at 10:20 PM on June 25, 2019 [4 favorites]

Bella Donna apologises for the post and thanked me for bringing it to their attention.
posted by divabat at 12:11 AM on June 26, 2019 [4 favorites]

I typed, and rephrased, and deleted this comment about 10x since yesterday when I watched this weirdness unfold, but I keep coming back to: what even the hell. It feels as if all the work we’re doing in here means nothing.
posted by skye.dancer at 6:15 AM on June 26, 2019 [5 favorites]

Yeah, no. 1 doesn't workable and I can't see it leading anywhere good.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:08 PM on June 26, 2019 [1 favorite]

As to No. 2, I've tossed my PayPal.me link in my profile with a note.

*Flips switch on experiment*
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:16 PM on June 26, 2019 [1 favorite]

kalessin, I really like the idea of #2 a lot!
posted by skye.dancer at 1:21 PM on June 26, 2019

I'm very late to this thread, but just wanted to chime in to say thank you to everyone for the discussion around the reggae comic FPP.

I drew that, and I absolutely love the way you thought about the overlapping complexities @anem0ne - part of the reason this comic took almost 6 months to draw, edit and sharpen. Ive struggled a lot with trying to pitch stories of alternative music in Asia that are not presented as "partial, belated or emerging" and it's so valuable to speak to others who can see the many strands and issues that complicate these stories.

Can't wait to see a BTS post, or (speculating here) some through line from Seo Taiji to the utterly singular work of a band like Jambinai.
posted by beijingbrown at 5:41 PM on June 26, 2019 [31 favorites]

I've been a lurker here for years and, like most other sites I frequent online, I rarely participate. My overall online participation is low for two primary reasons:

1) "There are so many voices already so why say anything?". I think this is relevant as I suspect even feeling this way is more likely to be experienced by minorities compared to, say, caucasian cis men. Being able to start from a standpoint that your thoughts or opinion matter is a bit of a privilege by itself.

2) "People are crappy to each other online. So why bother?" This includes not just trolls or Those Who Must be Angry Online but also those who pile-on folks who may have just been clueless.

These are issues are not unique to Metafilter and therefore not necessarily able to be addressed by the mods. Nor do I think there are any easy answers and, as far as sites go, Metafilter is one of the best sites out there by a long shot and the work done here around controlling #2 is pretty good by comparison to most. But I don't know how it's possible to affect #1: it's not just about being welcoming or open but about making folks feel that their voices matter in the first place.
posted by Imhotep is Invisible at 9:16 AM on June 27, 2019 [16 favorites]

Imhotep, from one mostly-lurker (at least until this thread) to another, thank you for posting that, and I agree. Hoping by speaking up and acknowledging, I can do my little part to address #1 with respect to you. It can be easy for voices to get lost in these long threads.

(And apologies if there are other folks who have posted here and felt like they're not being acknowledged or heard - I just happened to check the thread and see this most recent comment hadn't received a response. And, myself, am feeling awkward about overposting.)
posted by cdefgfeadgagfe at 11:37 AM on June 27, 2019 [1 favorite]

I'm a lurker and as i understand it, reading this threas is essentially what i do instead of watching pimple-popping videos.
posted by QDeesp at 4:29 PM on June 27, 2019 [1 favorite]

Isn't there a general ban against posting links to anything like Kickstarters or fundraisers? #2 isn't going to be workable for that reason.
posted by divabat at 4:34 PM on June 27, 2019

Let me first just say that I am amused by the fact that MetaTalk, origin (?) of the old "There Is No Cabal™" joke, has been hosting this thread full of people

---casually presenting years of Deep History,
---trading insights about the types of posts and comments that moderators tend not to let stand (and the average user will never see), and
---leaving breadcrumb trails to underrated projects and works by other overlooked members that then get promptly snapped up and delivered to the MetaFilter front page like PROMETHEAN FIRE

So this post incidentally sketches out a formula showing how and why there COULD be a cabal, a shadow organization built up out of MetaFilter members who found themselves disaffected for reasons that they may have thought were idiosyncratic, but once they saw the pattern...

But of course THERE IS NO CABAL™

Secondly, changing your behavior and/or outlook about something you'd taken for granted for years can be hard. I recognize that because MetaFilter-- specifically the people posting on this website-- wrought a similar uncomfortable but necessary change in my own outlook. "Necessary" and "comfortable" don't always overlap!

For those of you reading this while you're personally feeling that whole Venn diagram distinction: I know that having your default self-assessment as a "good person" fundamentally challenged stings, because this website made me feel it too. (It probably will again, sooner or later.) All I can say, from experience, is that people going through that as a result of this thread will probably end up revealing which they prioritize more: an ongoing injustice or their own ego and image. When you find yourself standing on someone else's foot, even inadvertently, you shouldn't opt to tell that person a self-involved story of how and why you got there: you get off their foot, let them do damage assessment in peace, and, if you're lucky (because who on Earth owes you a second chance?), explain yourself later, MAYBE, after you apologize, DEFINITELY. (Also, they don't owe you forgiveness, so really just ask what you can do to minimize the ongoing damages without expecting any sort of reward, and now I'm mostly just talking into a mirror, so...)

Thirdly, I just noticed through that link that a lot of the people who pushed me onto the course of being hopefully-slightly-less-of-a-jerk are here in this thread too. I post an average of ten times a year, and I don't use favorites (and I'm not gonna start; don't judge me, MetaFilter members of color contain multitudes, dammit) so I don't get many chances for any positive reinforcement, but I just want to thank you all for patiently putting in the work that I've been coasting on all too often. That post I linked up there references divabat by name, for example, and I'm pretty sure I downloaded at least one .pdf from kalessin, and there have been multiple times when I got worked up by reading a thread full of ignorance only to see anem0ne jumped into it first and said what I was going to... plus, I also want to apologize to all of the people who've bailed out or faded away over the years when they may not have, had I been paying more attention/throwing in more vocal support.

Fourthly, look how long this comment is!! I purposely throttle my own posting on MetaFilter because I recognized from the start that I have a very poor temper and Opinions About Everything. I want to try commenting more to help recalibrate Metafilter's pervasive-- uh-- scarabic identified it as "unmarkedness"-- but I feel like that would just cause more friction and heat (and maybe flameouts) than light.

There are at least a dozen currently open threads that I'm considering lobbing comments into, but I have no idea if I can do so tactfully enough to, er, not get banned. For example, there's a thread about American/Canadian "meritocracy" that I've wanted to just steamroll by going over all of the reasons that I can think of to dismiss that premise that I didn't see mentioned in that thread:

(Georgia started out as a prison colony! Let's review the history of slavery in the United States! The most selfless people in North American history were the natives, who gave aid to those first inept stragglers who came over as European exiles instead of pushing them into the icy Atlantic Ocean--- how have they been rewarded for their meritorious behavior? ("Thanksgiving" is not an acceptable answer.) The whole question leaves Mexico out, but not the parts of the United States that we stole from Mexico! Who wants to review the Chinese Exclusion Act? Let's talk about Japanese internment!)

I can't tell when and where I cross over from legitimate beef into pointless sarcastic overkill. (Or "if," actually). I try to attack ideas, not people, but MetaFilter posts can be SO inept about racial issues, SO immune to logic, and SO beyond help, that the great majority of the time I just end up either giving up entirely or, if I do convince myself to post something, adding some last-second post to the long tail of a moribund thread more as a counterweight to the insufficiently challenged assumptions that I see everywhere on this site.

So what should I do here? Even if I limit myself to threads that are open to new comments right now, I'd flood the site with copious links and poorly masked hostility. If I don't do this, then the site will keep chugging along with the same blithe ignorance that, as this thread shows, lots of us are aware of. What do you all think would be a good balance in this case?

(On preview, apparently this is a question that we do need to hash out, because people are still walking away.)
posted by tyro urge at 5:08 PM on June 27, 2019 [9 favorites]

Hello everyone.

Just spent the better part of a day reading the whole thread (with breaks for decompression), and just wanted to thank everyone here for being here, and for being themselves in a space that normally doesn't lend itself well to that kind of thing. Also: glad the thread didn't turn into an extended paper bag test, not that it would, but siloing a conversation of non-white users...if this had happened at any of the other places on the web where the commentariat were a large part of the actual drawing power of the site, I would have noped out immediately, without hesitation.

Additionally: I'm a Black cis/het guy-person who has lived in "America" since the late 80s, but since I was born in Britain to a Botswanan ex-pat and a Air Force Serviceman who met in Brixton, and we moved house a lot as one does when one is part of a military family, I'm really feeling the other posters who can't/don't/won't cop to a singular "identity" for the purposes of having to cop one. I also don't know what I am, but I know I am, and sometimes that's almost enough, but only for me.

"This might be long." That's how it begins, you know. The agreement to quell one's voice, the deadly qualifier.

Started lurking in 2001, and really fell in love with the place during the Katrina megathread. Ironic perhaps. Got an account in 07, $5 signup, five digit user number. Made a few posts, made a few comments, suffered a few deletions. I think I joined when cortex was still just a very avid user and not a mod yet.

I'm having so many different feelings right now its hard to keep them all straight. Because everything I've read in this thread is exactly why I only come here to look things up, and never to post, never really physically interact with any of the other users. The extra special twist is that I lived Portland OR between the soft-launch of WW4 (9/11) and the ramp up to this Age of Unreason, so 2001-2010, before and while it upscaled its native gentrification project. So I realized pretty early on, but only after getting an account, what lay in the shadows here. Like, really. That exchange, or really series of exchanges, was the first clue. Or photos of the meet-ups, which were predominately in bars or brewpubs - I walked by a bar-centric meet-up once, and saw no brown faces in the place at all, and kept walking. (I don't have a drinking problem, by body has a problem with me drinking and punishes me with the quickness, so I avoid drinking and bars and therefore opt-out of what looks like from the outside 90% of what people do with their time off in public.) And just...something was gnawing at me, about MetaFilter, about "America", about whiteness in all its relations to power and powerlessness, about Portland, about me.

But then the Lotion thread happened. And that's when I officially started coming here as an afterthought. The fucking Lotion thread.

I'm not even sure if I should be here. Not here the thread here, this is beautiful and horrifying and long overdue. MetaFilter here. Because I've gotten to the point where maintaining relationships in any kind of faith augurs ill. (I am a Black Atheist, but of the never-believed kind, as opposed to the used-to-believe kind, and yeah, I've definitely seen some embarrassing anti-religion comments here. Like, jeez people, knife-fight outside.) Not that I need material proof of progress - what I need, what it seems as though a lot of people inthread need, are white progressives and liberals to be commensurate with their word as regards not-othering, and de-centering conversations, and, I dunno, being listened to - and all that those things require are demonstrations of support and civility and appropriate silences. I guess there's an embargo against generally being decent? Especially online?

I have no real suggestions as to how things can be fixed, but all of the very good suggestions upthread suggest that things can be better here which is hopeful.

Additionally, in order to assist in representation across the sites, all eleven of my past posts have had the postedbypoc, postsbypoc, and postsbyblackmefites tags appended. I don't even know if that helps anything at this point, but I did it anyway.

Christ I'm depressed.
posted by Minus215Cee at 5:36 PM on June 27, 2019 [27 favorites]

Addendum: If the above reads as a little disjointed, blame it on this incoherent rage I'm fighting off like a flu with sheer willpower.
posted by Minus215Cee at 6:18 PM on June 27, 2019 [3 favorites]

I'm not going to pretend the NYT is especially out in front with regard to racial issues (101 vs. 201. vs. graduate level), but I also don't think I'm going out on a limb to claim there's a high intersection between the NYT and the demographics here (in all senses - racially, economically, geographically, etc.). It's also worth thinking about where the NYT and MeFi sit vs. other major newspapers or sites in the US in this regard (probably better-ish than most, still not great).

Anyway. They published this today: Want to Be Less Racist? Move to Hawaii

Fine print and disclaimers: I've brought up Hawaii several times here on MeFi with regard to race, but the one I remember most was back in 2016 when white posters took issue with my complicating the discussion by gatekeeping the idea of how white racism (and specifically white American racism) was really exceptional and fundamentally both different and more worthy of discussion vs. racism from other people or in other parts of the world. Then I had white mods come in and tell me I was behaving badly and needed to stop disagreeing with the person who was insisting that white Americans really truly are the very best racists in the world (this despite people from, like, Australia being all "hold up...").

I won't link to that discussion because that'd be bad MeFi manners, and I've internalized not hurting white people's feelings, and because many of the bad actors in that thread are part of the MeFi cool crowd and/or still on the payroll. But I will say that re-reading it made me think I should have buttoned not 10 months ago, but well before that. And we didn't even get into how Hawaii is, you know, actually part of the US (and all that entails).

And no, doing a FPP on the NYT story I just linked to here would definitely not go well.

While I'm here: there've been a bunch of people mentioning how freeing it feels to be in non-white spaces in America. I'll say that for me I get that sensation even when I'm a minority among other minorities. As in, other members of racial minorities in the US all have been forced to learn how to move through the world in a certain way. More warily. And how that wariness and tension just sort of magically falls away when you're in a majority black/brown space. A recent-ish example for me was seeing Ta-Nehisi Coates (yeah, yeah I know - NYT *and* TNC in the same comment - know your audience, yeah?) at the Honolulu Museum of Art. He was supposed to come speak earlier last fall in collaboration with The Pōpolo Project, but hurricane threats had him cancel. He continued on with his Oceania tour and spoke in Hawaii on his way back. Which was good because that trip forced him to consider how this stuff works in places like Fiji or Australia. And his takeaway was he really needed to learn more. Best part? Even when asked direct questions, he would often step back and defer to the other experts on the panel to let them cook. You can read about/listen to that conversation here: Honolulu Museum of Art Blog - Ta-Nehisi Coates in Conversation recap

(FWIW, I was buttoned out at the time this event happened. But even if I wasn't, there's no fucking way I would have posted about it here)
posted by NoRelationToLea at 9:06 AM on June 28, 2019 [19 favorites]

This is the far end of this thread, but I wanted to note something that troubled me today. I flagged it this morning but the comment is still up. Perhaps the mods haven't got to it yet, but it appears to me an example of how Muslim countries and societies can be acceptably used, unchallenged, as a shorthand for the heart of darkness. Of course I recognise the issues such places have - I grew up there - and I should be grateful the comment wasn't something about Shariah law or something, but I do find such casual statements troubling, as though my side of the world has a monopoly on state-sponsored barbarity, even against women. For those still reading this thread, whether or not you are eligible to post in it, I do ask that you be mindful of such casual statements.
posted by tavegyl at 1:21 PM on June 28, 2019 [13 favorites]

I was thinking of just replying, 'thanks' when I saw it, but that's probably too sarcastic.
posted by cendawanita at 1:26 PM on June 28, 2019

I see that the comment has now been deleted; thanks, mods. For information, the bit I objected to was the following, referring to a horrific case in Alabama where a black woman was indicted for manslaughter when she miscarried after being shot in the stomach:
I mean, not even in the most conservative theocratic Muslim country could I imagine....

I put this here, intentionally not identifying the commenter, as I only want to flag it to fellow Mefites as an example of poor framing, even if the overall expression of horror at the case is valid.
posted by tavegyl at 5:43 PM on June 28, 2019 [27 favorites]

I myself fell into the rabbit hole of sad short movie commercials after that Brazilian Subway commercial got posted on the blue. But at least now I know this is an uncommon advertising genre in the US, if I could figure out an angle maybe I'll try to figure out a post. Or not, judging from the comments of that FPP.
posted by cendawanita at 2:19 AM on June 29, 2019

I feel so fractured by these discussions, like part of me is welcome, and part of me is cast out and shouted down. But I went looking for divabat's lost quote, and found this imperfect 101 collection that includes this quote, which nearly perfectly captures some of my frustration:
In this country American means white. Everybody else has to hyphenate. - Toni Morrison
and I also found this:
White Privilege is [...] finding amusement in ridiculing people of colour
One of my points is that when Jews are racialized as they have been on Metafilter, it could be talked about here. I tried to give voice to the wide diversity of Jewish people, by arguing against the toxic stereotype of a Jewish racial identity that both erases IBPOC Jews and sets up people like me as targets. My own liminal status and the refugee family history that created it makes my interactions with a mod and other members of the site feel personal and painful, and that static makes it feel harder to articulate my points in a detached, academic manner.

Anyway, as an academic point that relates to the quotes above: I think usernames percieved by mods as making jokes about any racial or other personal identity should be banned. We've recently been talking about disinformation again in the US Politics megathread, and specifically about how race can get leveraged in discussion forums (most recently against Kamala Harris), and I think it is well past time to start paying attention to how divisive even 'jokes' can be in public forums, and how it's a white privilege to say that it's funny and okay, and to not see how that stance can be deeply alienating and hurtful.
posted by Little Dawn at 9:48 AM on June 29, 2019 [9 favorites]

Watching "The West Wing" over dinner these days, I'm sometimes jarred by how accidentally relevant that show is to me decades after it aired.

Yesterday was season 7 episode 8, "The Undecideds." The Democrats have nominated their first Latino candidate for president. The crisis of the day is in L.A., where a 12 year old black boy went for a ride in a stolen car, got flagged down by a Latino LEO, and apparently stepped out of the car raising his hands in surrender while also holding a toy plastic M-16. The LEO shot him.

Here's a snippet of Santos's speech to the kid's church:
I remember as a young man listening on the radio to Dr. King in 1968.

He asked of us compassion and we responded, not necessarily because we felt it but because he convinced us that if we could find compassion, if we could express compassion, that if we could just pretend compassion it would heal us so much more than vengeance could.

And he was right: it did but not enough. What we've learned this week is that more compassion is required of us and an even greater effort is required of us.

And we are all, I think everyone of us, are tired.

We're tired of understanding, we're tired of waiting, we're tired of trying to figure out why our children are not safe and why our efforts to try to make them safe seem to fail.

We're tired.
This being "The West Wing", he then continues on to a more hopeful note and rallies the church to his message, but you can look that up yourself if that's your mood.
posted by meaty shoe puppet at 9:52 AM on June 29, 2019 [8 favorites]

As a person of color and an immigrant, my five years on Metafilter have definitely been a mixed experience. When things are good, they're great: lots of interesting content and wonderful comments from a caring community. The bright spots are some of the best parts of the web.

But when things aren't good, it really gets me down. The worst experiences involve talking about oppression affecting people of color outside of the US; if this oppression was caused by a politician or administration that is generally liked by Metafilter users, that white supremacy suddenly doesn't matter or I am transformed into a Russian bot.

I imagine part of the issue is that people who like to see the world as one full of good and bad people/sides definitely don't want to be seen as supporting someone who has done very bad things. But the centrist/liberal/American defensiveness just really bums me out.

In short, why is it so hard to accept your faves are problematic (and in a just world, would be hauled in front of the International Criminal Court for war crimes)?
posted by Ouverture at 8:34 PM on June 29, 2019 [19 favorites]

Do people of color self identify as such on Metafilter? Unless they were asking about something directly related to their own ethnic identity, why would that be necessary? And if they do and there afterwards, they notice shaming, microaggressions, insults, flaming, trolling, etc., then I don't see how the MeFi community could be any different than any other community in the United States. And it likewise makes me wonder what if anything Metafilter could do about it. Other organizations that have tried to police such behavior like Twitter and FB have had a terrible time of it. If people want to be bigoted after they learn that someone is a person of color, they're going to be.
It reminds me of a story I heard on public radio of a music school in Europe that discriminated against women because when they performed to gain admittance, they were denied at a much higher rate than men. That is, until all prospective students auditions behind a curtain and they had to be judged on their playing, not their gender. The number of women admitted shot up. If Metafilter can come up with something like that, that would be doing something.
posted by CollectiveMind at 11:28 PM on June 30, 2019

I see that the comment has now been deleted; thanks, mods. For information, the bit I objected to was the following, referring to a horrific case in Alabama where a black woman was indicted for manslaughter when she miscarried after being shot in the stomach:
I mean, not even in the most conservative theocratic Muslim country could I imagine....
I put this here, intentionally not identifying the commenter, as I only want to flag it to fellow Mefites as an example of poor framing, even if the overall expression of horror at the case is valid

A while ago, there was a question about Youtube videos suitable for children (I think, it was a while ago). Anyway, while the question had nothing to do with race or ethnicity or whatever, one of the comments was something along the lines of (paraphrased and from memory, so may not be 100% accurate): Youtube is great, this Children Video A is great, but there are a lot of random stuff out there, including once I stumbled on a random video from Malaysia of children blowing bubbles.

This comment just goes to show how alienating and Othering the environment can be. How are children from Malaysia blowing bubbles random, other than the fact that the commentator has probably never encountered anyone from Malaysia? I mean, the word "Malaysia" doesn't need to be in the comment in the first place. Just substitute "Malaysia" with any word like "Bronx" or "Flushing" or "the ghetto" and you can see how problematic this comment can be.

I flagged it right away and to their credit, a mod deleted the comment.
posted by moiraine at 3:10 AM on July 1, 2019 [6 favorites]

Still checking in to the thread, still reading and absorbing; two things:
1. Thanks, jj's mama. I'm surprised you came back, but I'm also glad you did. I hope this place makes it worth your while (for everyone, though I mean specifically for the people in this thread acting in good conscience, and especially for you).

2. CollectiveMind: I originally wrote much longer response to your comment, but I rethought that, because for all intents and purposes....If I was feeling more patient, I'd have an appropriate 101-150 level response, but I don't have time and don't make time for anything that even resembles fuckery (huge red flags in that last paragraph, but smaller than the red flags in the previous paragraph, my dude). I'm not calling you a troll per se, I'm just very intrigued by the silhouette of that bridge above you.
posted by Minus215Cee at 3:08 PM on July 1, 2019 [4 favorites]

Complaint: in threads about societal effects of high tech (e.g. inadequate/biased moderation on Twitter&Facebook, gentrification), tech workers are often characterized as overwhelmingly white & male (& sometimes young) in a way that isn't just reporting demographics & how that affects decision making, but in a way that feels silencing of the ones that don't fit the mold.

There aren't a lot of us, but assuming that single-mindedness and engineer's disease are permanent conditions of high tech is discouraging.
posted by ASCII Costanza head at 3:25 PM on July 1, 2019 [7 favorites]

CollectiveMind, here’s a long, patient, entry level response to your question:

It doesn’t matter whether people in a MetaFilter thread explicitly identify as members of a marginalized group: we should work to create an inclusive environment regardless of whether marginalized folks appear to be present or not.

In addition to sharing our othering experiences with the site, people in this thread and the other thread have been discussing strategies for reducing bias and othering behaviors in discussions and increasing inclusivity in behavior (e.g. changes to how modding is performed, how participants engage with one another), content (e.g. more content that centers non-majority voices and experiences), and resources (e.g. updated faqs, wikis, and code of conduct).

Despite your assertion about Facebook and Twitter, other platforms and venues around the Web have managed to do this. Two examples: 1) the AskHistorians Reddit channel will not allow Holocaust deniers; and 2) knitting community Ravelry has recently banned support for Trump. There have been MetaFilter FPPs about both these topics.

In terms of moderating practices, there are numerous well-modded spaces, including subreddits that have clear codes of conduct and active, engaged moderators who maintain community standards. We want MetaFilter to do collectively better, just like these communities and their members have.

Regarding community standards, that is a lot of what is being discussed in these two threads. To date, the MetaFilter Community default has been white and US-centric. Modding practices and participant behavior have reinforced that status quo leaving others in the cold. Many folks speaking in both of these threads want the MetaFilter Community to deliberately expand to include those of us who have long felt excluded here.

You say: "If people want to be bigoted after they learn that someone is a person of color, they're going to be.” And I say: "I don’t give a damn if they are, deep down, in their heart-of-hearts, really and truly bigots. I want them to treat me with respect in MetaFilter’s discussion threads.” I think that some of the remedies that have been floated in these 1000+ comments might help.
posted by skye.dancer at 7:39 PM on July 1, 2019 [23 favorites]

There's a video clip that's older than I am that I still hate to watch. It's easy to find online, though, because it's Major League Baseball history. It's Hank Aaron's 715th home run, the one he hit to surpass Babe Ruth's career record. If you watch that four-minute clip you can get some of the backstory leading up to that one at-bat. Aaron talks a little about how no one asked for his input about several crucial things, but what Aaron does NOT talk about in the clip is the death threats he got through the whole ordeal. (Er, and beyond.) White fans were gently guided away from this steady stream of terrorism, of course-- the truth would be bad for baseball PR. Basically they got to act like racism was not a thing, and blithely ignore anything about their interactions with other people that they didn't want to consider.

Anyway, yeah, I don't like watching that 715th home run video because of those two white randos who rushed him from behind even as he ran the bases-- imagine getting repeated death threats for EVER doing what you are currently in the very act of doing, and then having two strangers jump from the stands and run directly at you, while security does nothing. Everything about that clip just oozes "white privilege" to me: two random "fans" who I'm sure would swear that they meant well and wished Aaron nothing but the best! still managed to jump into the spotlight from out of nowhere for no real reason other than the baseline selfishness of "I can't think of a reason not to, and NO ONE ELSE'S comfort matters." Privilege is just double-wrapped ignorance: a privileged person doesn't know something, and furthermore, society works to shelter that ignorance, keeping it cosseted and protected above all else. That video moment is supposed to be joyous, but whenever I see it I just get mad. Who on Earth do those two they think they are?

Well, they think they're white. Or they would, if anything in their lives actually forced them to acknowledge it.


CollectiveMind are you seriously asking why I couldn't just play along and hide within the assumed white American "default"? That's such a beyond-basic question that its poster comes across to me as some combination of "probably trolling," "probably white," "probably male," and "probably American." (Seriously, I'm pretty sure the "blind audition" thing you mention like it's an obscure insight has its own MetaFilter thread from years ago.)

(For those of you who actually think becoming a POC mod here on MetaFilter would be a good career move for you, well, first of all good luck, and secondly get ready for an immediate and perpetual wave of ^^this^^ because five dollars is not a huge hurdle for a troll with a sense of purpose, and also because "affirmative action" is one of those topics that MetaFilter still does not do well, so even if they're NOT trolling MetaFilter members tend to say some jaw-droppingly stupid things and then get offended when YOU get offended, and so this new mod would become a lightning rod for unimaginable assholery above and beyond the default POC-MetaFilter-user standard that, if you're posting in this thread, you probably already know. There's also the Tom Sawyer thing: no salary in the world would make me happy to be obligated to work here while entitled strangers criticize me. I mean, that's EVERY public service job, but... just don't go into this blind, okay?)

Well, I planned to mention this here sooner or later anyway, so CollectiveMind: one of the things that pushed me out of just lurking on MetaFilter was a post where people began making increasingly... questionable statements about my hometown. I guess I could've just held back and hoped they would curb their own stupid "jokey" bloodlust directed toward my friends and family. Do you think that silently watching strangers fantasize about doing away with their blood relatives, or use a thread to casually dunk on their whole race, is just the price nonwhite MetaFilter members should accept for... links to Game of Thrones reenacted with pugs and kittens, or whatever? It's not like any city in the United States has actually suffered a race-based scourging when white people convince themselves that black people are unworthy, or anything. (Huh, that post by The Whelk was one of the many I was considering going back to: there's this persistent blindness/farsightedness in the United States where white people will sometimes grudgingly acknowledge what happened in Oklahoma, that one time, while race-based murder sprees are a lot more common and prevalent everywhere. Hey, remember when MetaFilter offered up a link and we all sat and watched Ferguson, Missouri get swept by police in real time? Ah yeah, good times. Hey, if you live in a U.S. city that has had a non-white community for more than three generations, search for "[your city] race riot" and see where it takes you!) "Security through obscurity" doesn't work, and why in the world should I ever have to pretend to be a white person? (I'll save that whole train of thought for a later comment.)

Little Dawn: 1) You never responded to arabidopsis' claim that racism and anti-semitism are not always equivalent. If she has personal knowledge of both, and she says that focusing on the latter will crowd out the former, why would you come into the thread regardless?

2) No, really: I'm not trying to diminish your problems at all, or deny that they are there and are problems, but you've casually moved the topic from "Addressing bias on MetaFilter" to the much broader "Addressing bias, on MetaFilter" (commas mean a lot if you're a lawyer, or just an English major). I can link to a post on this site where people are casually talking up the murder of my family or of people who look like me; I can reach back and pull up a thread, from this very site, where I have to calmly make the case that no, I am not genetically inferior to white people. (I just looked through my posting history, and it turns out I could do that for multiple threads, on just that topic! MetaFilter keeps circling that idea like a dog does its own sick, for SOME REASON.) Your first post in this thread makes an oblique reference to a flagging issue, and it indirectly... kinda calls the rest of us "lab animals" for mentioning our racial status in this thread, and then... are you badmouthing THIS thread with your smalltext? I mean, "it's become too typical 'what Metafilter does not do well' after what's emerged in the Outragefilter thread"... it looks like it. And then you posted like three more times!

Well anyway, you went to great lengths to NOT answer the one bar for entry in the thread: "DO YOU identify as a person of color?" It's not an irrelevant question here. Multiple people posted about how nice it felt to not have to consciously or unconsciously account for white people's feelings in here, and then...

Who do they think they are?
posted by tyro urge at 8:07 PM on July 1, 2019 [14 favorites]

Holy fuck that IQ thread.
posted by TwoStride at 8:40 PM on July 1, 2019 [7 favorites]

I didn't see that IQ thread when it was originally posted and that's jaw droppingly, universally, terrible.
posted by Faintdreams at 12:12 AM on July 2, 2019 [5 favorites]

Little Dawn: 1) You never responded to arabidopsis' claim that racism and anti-semitism are not always equivalent. If she has personal knowledge of both, and she says that focusing on the latter will crowd out the former, why would you come into the thread regardless?

I never tried to deny that racism and antisemitism aren't always equivalent, and I also tried to directly reaffirm the distinction in my recent comment. I favorited arabidopsis' followup, but didn't reply earlier because the discussion had moved on, and I both wanted to think about what and whether to say anything more and I didn't want to disrupt the flow of the discussion. But I do know that Jews can be racist, and it was scandalous in my own family for my grandmother to marry my grandfather due to his ethnicity.

I'm in this thread because of how I look, which means I get warned about towns to avoid due to active Klan, and I sometimes get asked if I'm Jewish by people who think Jews are part of an identifiable race, and not always in a nice way. It is a form of racism that both erases IBPOC Jews and speaks to a kind of racism that Jews who 'look Jewish' experience. I'm liminal in the sense that there are places where I will be read as white, and there are places where I will not be, and when people decide I'm not white, 'Jew' is how they tend to describe it.

I'm also here because I flagged a post and a username a couple months ago, and got a response that I felt that was a deeply troubling intersection of smiling racism and antisemitism, and I am continuing to try to explain privately to Metafilter HQ why I think it is so problematic. This thread has been an opportunity for me to develop a sense of solidarity and support to keep trying to point out the operation of white privilege, and I really appreciate it.

2) No, really: I'm not trying to diminish your problems at all, or deny that they are there and are problems, but you've casually moved the topic from "Addressing bias on MetaFilter" to the much broader "Addressing bias, on MetaFilter" (commas mean a lot if you're a lawyer, or just an English major). I can link to a post on this site where people are casually talking up the murder of my family or of people who look like me; I can reach back and pull up a thread, from this very site, where I have to calmly make the case that no, I am not genetically inferior to white people. (I just looked through my posting history, and it turns out I could do that for multiple threads, on just that topic! MetaFilter keeps circling that idea like a dog does its own sick, for SOME REASON.) Your first post in this thread makes an oblique reference to a flagging issue, and it indirectly... kinda calls the rest of us "lab animals" for mentioning our racial status in this thread, and then... are you badmouthing THIS thread with your smalltext? I mean, "it's become too typical 'what Metafilter does not do well' after what's emerged in the Outragefilter thread"... it looks like it. And then you posted like three more times!

I'm trying to address bias on Metafilter, by sharing my experiences and participating in the discussion, and reflecting on changes that might benefit the community. I'm both a lawyer and an English major, but also now have a frontal lobe injury, so I will do the best I can to try to communicate as carefully as I can, but I surely fuck up complicated points more than I used to, so I will do the best I can to clarify if you have additional questions or concerns.

My first post in this thread was actually in response to the Tell me about a FPP post you wanted to make, but didn't because you didn't think Metafilter would "do it well" prompt. My next comment was talking about language, college, law school, assimilation, and clarifying something I said in the Outragefilter thread. Then I had a suggestion about how to protect the megathreads that are kind of beloved to me. Then I had thoughts about a survey.

And then I got really defensive about how people could not possibly see IBPOC Jews, and why people in the Outragefilter thread were telling us how to have our discussion. This is the comment you identify as my first here, but it isn't. I did feel attacked, and called out like no one else, and asked to be examined in a way that felt very violating (my 'lab animal' reference refers to how I felt) to see if I could be welcome here. My small text was pointed at the Outragefilter thread, although I can see how it could be read otherwise. I was really sad to feel marginalized from this thread, even though I also felt like the chorus of 'white' Jews in the Outragefilter thread supported my participation here by insisting that they don't look like Jewish stereotypes, and they don't experience that type of racism.

Maybe when I say 'Jewish stereotype' or 'looking Jewish,' it sounds like I'm saying 'white,' but it does not mean 'white' in my experience, nor to white supremacists, and to some people on Metafilter. Maybe it's a different conception of the stereotype that makes me seem like some kind of interloper. I'm actually mixed race, which accounts for my physical features more than anything else, but I've been wanting to kvetch about the 'looking Jewish' part because that's been more relevant to addressing my experience with bias on Metafilter, and my lived experience. It's like I said, I feel so fractured by these discussions, feeling invited by my ethnic heritage, while the way that I experience racism feels cast out and shouted down.

And I did comment again, with an admonition for Metafilter to get a lawyer. And in my most recent comment, I tried to address arabidopsis' point again, just to acknowledge that I fully agreed with them. It's not an argument, and the only misunderstanding would be is if anyone thought I was arguing.

It has been very hard for me to talk publicly about the experience I had with a mod, and it has taken me awhile to say as much as I did in the comment above by actually making a request for a policy that reflects basically everything I found problematic with their response to me. I wouldn't have been able to do that without this thread, and I am grateful for the support.

Well anyway, you went to great lengths to NOT answer the one bar for entry in the thread: "DO YOU identify as a person of color?" It's not an irrelevant question here.

I think I did, if you look back on my previous comments, and I think my participation should be answer enough, just like other commenters who didn't specifically identify themselves. I think what stoneweaver said is a nice way to put it: "I don’t want to open myself up to having my personhood litigated."
posted by Little Dawn at 1:22 AM on July 2, 2019 [12 favorites]

I was a lurker on the site in 2007 and remember the MetaFilter IQ post that tyro urge linked to. I was appalled, as were some posters who called for it to be deleted. And yet, as we see, it stayed. That post is a perfect example of how MetaFilter community norms create a hostile climate for people of color. No black MeFites needed to declare themselves for the post to have long-lasting, toxic effects.

Taking a cue from the AskHistorian example, I will be bold and call for MetaFilter to outright disallow FPPs and thread comments that "just ask questions” about race (e.g race and IQ or race and violence).

To quote from the article: "This position fundamentally fails to grasp how Holocaust deniers spread anti-Semitic propaganda, underscoring a flaw in how the purportedly neutral platform thinks it ought to handle particularly odious ideas.” Similarly, “just asking questions” about race allows people to exploit the platform (and presumed good will of MetaFilter members) to spread vile racist ideology.

To be clear, I’m emphatically not saying, “MetaFilter can’t do X well therefore we should ban X.” I am saying that “just asking questions” is a known bad faith platform exploit that attacks the fundamental humanity of marginalized people, promulgates hateful propaganda, and should therefore not be allowed on MetaFilter.

I have heard other users say (paraphrasing) that despite the existence of well-modded subreddits, they won’t visit Reddit in general because toxic content and behavior is tolerated elsewhere on the site. Well. Smug is not a good look on MetaFilter: threads like that race/IQ FPP poison the site as effectively as any hate-themed subreddit pollutes Reddit.

sorry for the length.
posted by skye.dancer at 8:27 AM on July 2, 2019 [26 favorites]

I believe CollectiveMind is a PoC (not going to elaborate more on his background because that feels invasive of his privacy) - and perhaps people here should think twice about suggesting someone is not PoC when their comments/opinions/attitudes do not align with yours. It's good to address and engage with the content of comments here, but questioning/challenging the identities of fellow commenters here feels pretty low. Different people have different responses/attitudes shaped by their experiences of marginalization, and - look, we as PoC already know what it's like to be othered and discriminated against; surely we can have some grace and patience in holding a space for other PoCs to vent/express their feelings and opinions, even if we don't share the same beliefs/attitudes.
posted by aielen at 9:27 AM on July 2, 2019 [4 favorites]




posted by Minus215Cee at 11:15 AM on July 2, 2019 [6 favorites]

In case folks didn't see the note in the other thread, this thread is closing in a bit over 3.5 days. I'm going to miss this space.
posted by cdefgfeadgagfe at 6:43 PM on July 2, 2019 [3 favorites]

jj's mama, (I feel a bit uncomfortable having to explain - to this extent - how I personally read/interpreted CollectiveMind's comment, because it feels like it's getting close to speaking for him - which I really don't want to do. to reply to your points, though - )

1. I didn't interpret his comment as referring to PoC as "they poc" - and he did not use those words adjacently. His use of "they" is a type of phrasing I have seen others use and have used myself occasionally (referring to the subject/subjects of the sentence in a more abstract way, even if the speaker/poster is the subject or belongs to the group of subjects). (fwiw - I also use "one's" in sentences where "you/your" would be a substitute, and I rarely see Americans use that - so I've mostly stopped using this phrasing on Metafilter where the site culture/communication is very US-centric). In a nutshell, his phrasing did not read weirdly to me like I think it did to you and others here. I am not sure if it's a regional/American/class/age thing, but I personally did not read/interpret it the way you did.

(English is my first language, too - so this is not a case of misinterpretation by a non-native speaker, either. And I feel weird having to pre-emptively clarify this in a thread that's meant to be PoC-friendly, but... oh well.)

2. I read his comment (and if CollectiveMind is still reading this thread, I hope he can comment and clarify what he actually meant to say) and to me it read as him asking what the point of explicitly identifying as PoC on Metafilter was, and saying that racism on Metafilter was much like racism in other US communities. And that "if people want to be bigoted after they learn that someone is a person of color, they're going to be."

It read to me as a cynical worldview, but one that I've also seen other PoC (including myself) have to varying degrees at different points in time. Sometimes - even after a long MeTa thread - people still feel weary and cynical; people still come to the conclusion that significant change is not going to happen. That despite everyone's* efforts, there will still be people around that are going to discriminate against you and hurt you; there will still be systemic oppression.
And I think most of us here know one or some PoC Mefites that have buttoned or become less active here (even after previously participating in threads like these and optimistically trying to effect change here), that came to similar conclusions about this place.** I'm not saying this view/attitude is right/wrong, but I'm saying that we could have some empathy and understanding for other PoC who are, in short, weary and disillusioned. Especially for the sub-groups of PoC who experience deeper or more extensive levels of discrimination (as mentioned by rather be jorting) - I think it is understandable that some PoC have more cynicism and resignation than other more-privileged PoC. And I think it is emotionally understandable for a PoC to vent/express a longing for being considered on their own merits apart from their racial identity (which is what I interpreted CollectiveMind as feeling when he mentioned the music school audition example). Not saying that that sort of approach (i.e. the "blindness" of the music school audition) would be advisable or completely prescriptive for Metafilter, but I can understand the sentiment behind saying something like that.

*I typed "their", then remembered the phrasing/interpretation issue here and typed "our". Then wondered why I was languageswitching for Metafilter when I'm trying not to racially-codeswitch as much nowadays. Then thought of changing it back to "their" but didn't want to be misinterpreted or use "distancing" language. So... settled on "everyone's".

**(I mean - my own takeaway re the PoC mod issue is, at the moment - if the Metafilter admin don't want a PoC mod that much, it's just not going to happen - and they hold the power, and not much we can do about it. We have tried collective appeals to them over many years, but there's been repeated sidestepping of the issue. And this MeTa feels like the MeTas that came before it - in that yes, it's been a nice space for PoCs to vent, but after the thread closes, the admin will still carry on as before, they will not offer/propose any firm plan/deadline for hiring PoC staff/consultants, and we will pass Metafilter's 20th anniversary without any active PoC mod on staff. Every time this type of MeTa comes up, it's very heartening to see PoC come together to vent and attempt to take collective action - but in the end the outcome on the part of the site admin does not budge in terms of concrete action. I'd be happy to be proven wrong this particular time - maybe this time will be the time the admin have a firm deadline/plan in place - but previous threads have had similar content/opinions expressed / plans proposed, with similar optimism, and the status quo did not ultimately change.)
posted by aielen at 9:42 PM on July 2, 2019 [1 favorite]



posted by Faintdreams at 2:38 AM on July 3, 2019 [4 favorites]

Yeah, it's been nice in this thread. I'll miss it.
posted by TwoStride at 6:11 AM on July 3, 2019 [3 favorites]

I mean, that is totally bonkers and yet the subsequent doctors who wrote in with their fake complaints about MSG totally unfolded like so many metafilter threads do...
posted by TwoStride at 8:52 AM on July 3, 2019 [2 favorites]

At a grocery store near Seattle the other day, I happened to overhear some folks having a conversation in Taiwanese Hokkien, and it made my heart sing. I don't understand it that well, but it's a language I associate positively with family because that's where I heard it, growing up, and it will always be tied to family and familiarity for me. Something was too salty, and maybe there was a bit about kids, and clothes.

I felt a little bit of that running into HAW FLAKES (and subsequent HAW FLAKES EXCITEMENT) in the wild on metafilter, so (1) storytam, thank you for deciding to post that FPP after all and (2) rather be jorting, thanks for bringing up haw flakes. Hope we can keep making connections like that on this site.
posted by cdefgfeadgagfe at 9:29 AM on July 3, 2019 [4 favorites]

Damn, I'm gonna miss this thread, too. Thanks for a great conversation y'all. Been good to connect with you.
posted by joedan at 11:12 AM on July 3, 2019 [4 favorites]

1) Little Dawn, I regret both the tone and the content of my previous post. I should have realized from the start that there are a wide variety of reasons that you might have for sharing or withholding personal information as you please, NONE OF WHICH are mine to freely interrogate. I really do appreciate the extent to which you came back and patiently, thoroughly explained your perspective in response to my obvious anger. It was wrong of me to forget that race can be self-perception in the abstract, BUT in real life it is all too often something that is projected upon you from without, regardless of your own beliefs anyway. Protecting your own personal privacy is important for any number of reasons (avoiding stereotype threat, doxxing, stalking, harrassment, firing), OR for no motivation beyond "mind your own business."

I sincerely apologize for my comment, appreciate your response, and hope that my rudeness does you no further harm.

2) CollectiveMind, I'm sorry for taking your post and just plain running with it. I had no right to start making guesses about another poster here, no matter how many "probablys" I salted my comment with! My response to you crowds out the likelihood of any further explanation or clarification by dint of being unrelentingly abrasive. I can fully understand why you might not even care to return to this thread, especially so close to its closing, but please recognize that my response to you was entirely unwarranted and completely unfair, and I hope it doesn't sour you on the thread as a whole.

3) Here I want to throw out a general apology to everyone else posting in this thread (or reading along). I regret making a comment that, after all the commiseration and positive discussion, has the potential to throw everyone into a (completely justified by my rashness) more guarded stance that walks back all of the benefits of this post.

Communication is a two-way street; context and audience matter at least as much as intent in terms of MetaFilter comments. I in no way believe that my saying "what I meant was--" here is in any way an exculpatory statement, but for the sake of not causing further harm, let me just say here that I was NOT setting myself up as a thread gatekeeper here and do not endorse the idea; I foolishly did not even consider that as a possible interpretation, and I seriously hope that my comment does not discourage anyone else from adding to this thread, or others like it in the future.

4) Last one: I want to throw out a general apology to those of you who may have felt blindsided by the links in my last comment. I've been here for the majority of MetaFilter's existence, now that I think about it, and some of the threads, comments and events that are lost to the mists of time-- well, I still remember them, and sometimes will link to something offhandedly that in retrospect I really should not have. (The one MetaFilter comment of mine that I know for a fact a mod deleted happened basically in real time before my eyes because of this, and after maybe three minutes of huffiness I totally understood why the comment got wiped-- but that was four minutes too late.) I seriously apologize for throwing you all into the deep end of Ancient MetaFilter. "The past is a different country," as they say, and sometimes I forget and let slip some link that ends up traumatizing others. I'm REALLY sorry, and very much regret dredging up an antique thread and having people go through all that frustration and trauma anew.

So, following my own script, I will withdraw for at least a few hours. You certainly don't owe me any kind of followup, but if there's anything else anyone thinks I have failed to account for here, I would greatly appreciate hearing about it.
posted by tyro urge at 12:23 PM on July 3, 2019 [7 favorites]

4) Last one: I want to throw out a general apology to those of you who may have felt blindsided by the links in my last comment.

I actually appreciate your inclusion of those links. I've been reading MetaFilter since about 2003, so it's useful to remember how shitty it could get here, and examine my own reaction to those sorts of threads in the past... and it was mainly to shrug and go, "that's what the internet is like." It definitely pains me to read that sort of thing, and accept that my reaction at the time was a mixture of anger followed by detachment. I think this sort of detachment carries though even to the better place that MetaFilter is today. I feel ashamed of that detachment... I'm still weighing Enemy of Joy's perspective of the nature of MeFi. Is it okay to tune in, look at cat posts, and implicitly reinforce the structural problems here? Button and move on to other things? Or burn up emotional energy pushing back in comments and flags? I think I don't want to keep shrugging, though... MeFi may be better than the early 2000's, but that doesn't mean we can't aim for better... or neglect to guard against the backslide that may leak in because of what's happening in the US.

Anyways, I'm glad there are people talking here. I've written some many comments into this box and deleted them because I don't feel eloquent or educated enough on the issues.
posted by Mister Cheese at 2:14 PM on July 3, 2019 [11 favorites]

With this thread disappearing, I was wondering what the thought would be for putting in an AskMe (because that’s what I primarily use, which is why I’m curious) “Seeking answers from BIPOC and NBPOC” in the question? I have been really tempted to use this in questions I wanted to ask in the past, like around diversity in a place or dealing with a specific non-white-understood issue. But I also feared it would be shut down by mods or would be complained about from other members so I don’t add that in, but sometimes it’s really a crapshoot as far as how people will answer a culture and race sensitive question.
posted by buttonedup at 2:34 PM on July 3, 2019 [5 favorites]

Cortex is interested in our feedback in the other thread, fyi.
posted by joedan at 3:03 PM on July 3, 2019

hi jj's mama, I appreciate your efforts to discuss this. I was not trying to change your mind or invalidate your feelings. You started by addressing and querying me directly, and I was responding to your points as honestly as I could, describing to the best of my ability how I understood the comment in question when I first read it.
I hope that my answer and expression of how I understood CollectiveMind's comment can be read as just that - an explanation in response to your initiation and direct address.

"you are assuming where CollectiveMind is coming from, and I try my best not to go on guesswork and assumptions"
I was trying to explain how I read and understood his comment, in response to your points talking about how you and others have read and understood his comment. I hope we can agree that both readings (yours and mine) are founded on assumptions - not just mine. (It is not an assumption that CollectiveMind is a PoC, though. He is.)

They (CollectiveMind) are not using "they" the way that I'm using "they" here right now to refer to CollectiveMind. So I'm confused by your explanation of that.
re the use of "they": Some people use more distant/abstract pronouns in their speech to convey the same idea. For example, "one's" instead of "your", "they" instead of "we". (Like I mentioned, I do that myself too - but I tone down that type of phrasing for Metafilter, because of the (US-centric) site culture and language conventions, where pronouns are used in a more inherently inclusive/personal way. If I didn't tone down that type of phrasing here, I would probably come across as more distant and would be more frequently misunderstood.) I think all PoC have some experience of knowing what it's like to codeswitch and language-switch (the inner conflict, the self-erasure) to make ourselves more understandable to the majority group, so I hope you can understand and empathize. Not everyone uses (or understands) pronouns that way, and those other ways (of usage and understanding) are also valid.

I agree that we especially as PoC should not invalidate each other's feelings and identities - which is precisely what I was speaking up for when I tried to explain how I (and I believe some others) read CollectiveMind's comment in a more neutral way, and how his comment did not lead me to question his identity as a PoC like it may have for some. If you would like to discuss this further I think we should take it to memail.
posted by aielen at 6:58 AM on July 4, 2019 [5 favorites]

i think divabat would be a good mod.
if we were to vote or decide otherwise, my choice for a new mod would be divabat.
posted by beshtya at 8:31 AM on July 4, 2019 [3 favorites]

I just want to put an example on the record that literally just happened. It was in this thread about infrastructure.

This comment was posted:
Bourgeois culture, any culture, can only stand if it is rewarded. In prior times bourgeois culture was fundamentally supported by the upper classes, who invested in America, creating vast wealth. They modeled sobriety, hard-work, risk and reward. The working classes modeled the behavior through church and labor unions, standing together for each other and nation.
The wealthy have abandoned America, and the working classes have abandoned religion, unions, and each other. Into that void steps cultural anarchy.
Bourgeois culture requires hard-work, and discipline. It requires accountability, primarily of the wealthy. I tire of articles that lament the loss of culture without holding those accountable who have abandoned their responsibilities.
posted by robbyrobs at 3:26 PM on July 4 [1 favorite +]
This response was posted (I redacted the poster's name):
The wealthy have abandoned America, and the working classes have abandoned religion, unions, and each other. Into that void steps cultural anarchy.

The wealthy haven't abandoned America because they never worked for America in the first place. America didn't build its infrastructure with their genorosity; America built its infrastructure with policy.

The working classes are less divided by gender, race, and religion than they once were. We have a long way to go, but we have not devolved from some idyllic, past unity. Unions are weaker, yes, but that's not because the working classes have abandoned each other. It's because of a systematic, decades-long right-wing attack on unions.

Also, how strange that you throw religion in there, as if the insufficiently religious are a problem. That's kind of offensive! It's a kind of intolerance that makes us less united. It's also pretty irrelevant, given that the US remains one the most religious developed nations - clearly, that is not our problem.

I wonder what you mean by "cultural anarchy," tbh.
posted by REDACTED at 6:25 PM on July 4 [2 favorites +]
And I posted a response:
I wonder what you mean by "cultural anarchy," tbh.

Pretty sure it is rap music. The ideas in that post seem to come largely from this op-ed. This is a relevant excerpt:

All cultures are not equal. Or at least they are not equal in preparing people to be productive in an advanced economy. The culture of the Plains Indians was designed for nomadic hunters, but is not suited to a First World, 21st-century environment. Nor are the single-parent, antisocial habits, prevalent among some working-class whites; the anti-"acting white" rap culture of inner-city blacks; the anti-assimilation ideas gaining ground among some Hispanic immigrants. These cultural orientations are not only incompatible with what an advanced free-market economy and a viable democracy require, they are also destructive of a sense of solidarity and reciprocity among Americans. If the bourgeois cultural script — which the upper-middle class still largely observes but now hesitates to preach — cannot be widely reinstated, things are likely to get worse for us all.
posted by snofoam at 7:43 PM on July 4
These comments, plus one more were deleted with this note:
[Comment and a few replies removed. I don't know what would possess someone to copy-paste a comment from a random four-month-old article on another site about another topic into a MeFi thread without somehow clearly disclosing and explaining that decision, but that's not great to start with and even less great as a way to inject a similarly unexplained argument about "bourgeois culture" and "cultural anarchy" into the discussion. Cut whatever that was out.]
I just wanted to make a note of this interaction because it doesn't really make sense to me. If someone is going to post totally inappropriate stuff, then sure, delete it and delete their account. But if all you are going to do is cover up the racist dogwhistling post, then what is the point? Is the goal to hide the fact that Metafilter is racist and hide the racism of its users, while still allowing them to be users? How are underlying issues addressed by this?

You know what I would like to cut out? Harboring and covering for racists. Why is this not the obvious solution? And how is this not in the best interest of the site? When this person posts the next asshole thing, no one is going to know about the last time they did it. (Except, I suppose the person who owns this site but somehow feels like this is the way to moderate it.)
posted by snofoam at 6:12 PM on July 4, 2019 [15 favorites]

Of the current mods, do we have a sense that any of them are better at handling the discussions about race than the others? Like, if we don't get a POC mod (which I doubt is happening, given the foot-dragging and sense of impossibility from the other thread) who'll be the go-to person among the current set?
posted by TwoStride at 6:22 AM on July 5, 2019

1. I'm not convinced a PoC mod would handle things much better, unless it's under their particular PoCness (aka an American born and raised black person wouldn't know about about Asian issues) and they're not swamped with other mod duties
2. All the remaining mods seem willing to learn
3. Eyebrows McGee, Taz and LobsterMutton seem the most "woke" at this point, to various degrees about PoC issues.
4. I know it's LobsterMitten, I just liked the typo
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:48 AM on July 5, 2019 [6 favorites]

These are obviously just my observations, I'm not following the site or its race discussions like a hawk, take it with a grain of salt. Or pepper, not condiment judgement here!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:09 AM on July 5, 2019

[Comment and a few replies removed. I don't know what would possess someone to copy-paste a comment from a random four-month-old article on another site about another topic into a MeFi thread without somehow clearly disclosing and explaining that decision, but that's not great to start with and even less great as a way to inject a similarly unexplained argument about "bourgeois culture" and "cultural anarchy" into the discussion. Cut whatever that was out.]

perplexing! if only we had words to describe such behavior
posted by yaymukund at 10:27 AM on July 5, 2019 [5 favorites]

Oh, it's still open! Here's my last post then!

A close relative of mine went and bit the bullet cotton swab and sent a DNA sample to one of those private gene-analysis companies. We'd been trying on and off to work on our family tree for many years, and like many African-American families, we kept losing the trail around the beginning of the twentieth century. The U.S. antebellum period is like the Planck barrier for a lot of black families: you just can't get past it without leads that may not have ever existed.

The results came back, and they were about as vague and unhelpful as we were expecting. One piece of information that stood out to us as especially ridiculous was in the genetic breakdown section: the test results insisted that 6% of my family's genes derived from somewhere in Asia.

This was the final straw for our suspension of disbelief. Asia? We could securely trace our family tree's roots south and east as the generations wound back: they were in various places in the Deep South of the U.S. as the nineteenth century ended and the twentieth began. 6% is one-sixteenth, which most simply (but not necessarily) means that one great-great grandparent would have been an Asian somehow? We straight-up laughed at the idea. Somewhere in the late 1800s, somewhere in the barely-antebellum south, how and why would anyone in my family possibly come into contact with an Asian?

What I'm trying to say here, of course, is that I'm still processing the links and information that derive from the casual reference anem0ne made in this thread. If Chinese migrants had been passing through the Carribean since the 1850s, suddenly all of my certainty about what definitely couldn't be is just completely swept away.

Look, before this thread closes I just wanted to say that this is EXACTLY the kind of thing that keeps me coming to MetaFilter despite the persistent assininery. No other website that I've seen has had this ability to casually take what I thought I knew for sure and throw it into an entirely different frame of reference. A diversity of opinions, perspectives and knowledge is precisely what makes this space worthwhile-- and a diverse range of users sharing their personal experiences here is exactly what makes the site valuable. I just wanted to say that I really appreciate how you have expanded my awareness in ways both seismic and mundane. It's for my own selfish ends, but I would really like you all to stay put long enough for me to find out what else I have utterly failed to see. If this thread closes down, I'm going to going to think of it like the MetaFilter version of a sand mandala: I'll be grateful for its appearance, appreciate the fleeting time I had in its presence, and try to carry its lessons and messages forward into the site's future.

...and I'm not really good with any of those things, so, as always, I'll absolutely be relying on other users' support here. My thanks to everyone who has been willing to share and listen up to this point. There are too many ideas that resonate with me to address here and now, but I'll try and support you all more when and wherever I see you pushing for change on the site.

(buttonedup, I totally wanted to ask a question about Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale as compared to Octavia Butler's Parable of the Sower that I decided to just give up on because I figured it'd be received poorly outside of restricted circles.

Nyrha, I appreciate your efforts in that thread about Marshae Jones: a black woman being shot brought out all sorts of free-fire, intersectionality-blind comments ("This is about women!" "No, it's about gun control") who casually dice up a black woman's life and try to hitch it to their personal agenda, and I couldn't think of a single way to jump in and help bail out the tide.

Mister Cheese I've spent about two-thirds of my life in school and I'm still obviously a fumbling idiot. All any of us can do is try to improve! I'd definitely appreciate any insights you'd be willing to share!

kalessin, there was something you said in the outragefilter thread that I'd love to talk to you about. It's like a bastardized Arthur C. Clarke quote: white supremacy has left modern-day white people stranded: they either are or are not alone in their collective cruelty, and cannot really face either option. Speaking of things that I'd never post to MetaFilter, did you know that there's a whole cottage industry of African-American authors who have been writing about white supremacy from just about every angle: its causes, its manifestations, and ways to combat it? It always amuses me when posters here write in oblique terms about "the 14 words" when Dr. Frances Cress Welsing wrote a book in which she boiled it down to three.

Listen, white supremacy is a system that afflicts us all to various degrees. I sincerely believe that your continued contributions to this site are out best option here. I feel that the people who feel ignored, isolated, and cut off from their identities are our best hope, not just for MetaFilter but for the world as a whole: what good would it do to fit comfortably into a twisted system? Please do us all a favor and continue pressing on even during ridiculous times.

There's a positive post from the olden days of MetaFilter that has more influence on me than all of the negative ones combined. Back in 2003, there was a post about Sudanese immigrants in which MetaFilter users fell into some predictably terrible patterns, until a user named Dunvegan casually removed herself from the online vitriol and converted it into real-life good so effortlessly that it remains my favorite MetaFilter comment ever. (I still won't favorite it, though: I just... remember it?)

Don't let anyone or anything on this website let you forget about your own power to do good in the world. Whether this thread ends up enacting positive change among the mods and the general users or not, please remember that their attitudes have no bearing on the skills and values that each of you possess.

There! I'm done! Thank you all again for putting so much value into this thread!
posted by tyro urge at 11:09 AM on July 5, 2019 [18 favorites]

Metafilter: “Don't let anyone or anything on this website let you forget about your own power to do good in the world. Whether this thread ends up enacting positive change among the mods and the general users or not, please remember that their attitudes have no bearing on the skills and values that each of you possess.”

posted by Faintdreams at 12:55 PM on July 5, 2019 [3 favorites]

There moments where I walked away from this thread because it was too much — like the referenced IQ thread — and others where I couldn’t stay away because so many were expressing my thoughts and partially subconscious ideas into something far more cogent than I’m capable of.

Thank you all. I feel safe here. I’m going to miss this thread.
posted by lemon_icing at 1:06 PM on July 5, 2019 [4 favorites]

I’ll miss this thread - I’ve been checking it multiple times a day for the last month. I really appreciate everyone who has commented, shared, expressed anything. I have really enjoyed the sense of solidarity and openness, and it’s been so helpful for me to be reassured by other people’s comments in fully validating racism, whiteness, and other aspects l I had felt here but had only been obliquely addressed in threads here and there. It’s like a collective form of de-gaslighting.

I’m looking forward to more POC-only threads like this.Thank you all.
posted by suedehead at 1:36 PM on July 5, 2019 [3 favorites]

Another thing re: some things referenced above about trolls on the site in general. Are there known trolls here?

Some would say yes. I phrase it that way, 'cause i'm not totally sure it's trolling instead of certain people just always coming down on certain side of certain issues.

Have people been banned for trolling?
I want to say "yes," but am unsure of who exactly. Others can probably PM you details.

Do people pay attention to a pattern of derailing specifc women and BIPoc centric threads?

Oh hell yeah, there's no doubt about that. It's the sort of thing that if you notice it, you're encouraged to report it to the mods when they do it, 'cause they can't see all.

Are there bots or Russian influence (I can't even believe I am going there but with the state of things today we never know).

I personally don't think so, as MeFi is relatively small, so there would be no point to a Russian Bot or even a troll.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:50 PM on July 5, 2019 [2 favorites]

Just wanted to chime in again that I've appreciated this thread so much. I especially appreciate the highlighting of the default deletion policies (or practices, really) and how it impacts our experiences.

The other thing I'm taking away is just how essential it is, when there is a POC moderator again, that they do have the support of colleagues who have undergone official Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion training (or a similar type of thing) as Metafilter moderators. I really believe an outside consultant/advocate is worth it; it'll be helpful for the entire mod team to have a shared language and an explicit toolbox of strategies & priorities to make Metafilter's default practices more inclusive.
posted by mixedmetaphors at 3:21 PM on July 5, 2019 [9 favorites]

Two thoughts:

1. Any plans for a new POC thread? I would love if this were a rolling thing.

2. Have the mods deleted any comments in this thread?
posted by meaty shoe puppet at 4:28 PM on July 5, 2019

(Regarding #2, they have at least deleted one comment by me. I specifically requested they delete it. In that comment, i shared a poem i'd written inspired by a post in this thread. I regretted it about 5m after clicking "post" because it felt self-indulgent. I asked them to delete it. They did. I know it's probably not what you're looking for, but i'm just sharing for the sake of transparency.)
posted by yaymukund at 5:14 PM on July 5, 2019 [1 favorite]

Just a random thought in the waning time left on this thread: I think that the various funeral threads where there is tension between those who want to laud the deceased and those who have a more critical voice (and often this seems to set up opposing views along race/class privilege lines) might be good case studies for further mod training. Like, whose comfort is being privileged? What patterns emerge in terms of what we think of as "respectful" or "polite"? Who are threads for?
posted by TwoStride at 6:21 PM on July 5, 2019 [3 favorites]

Oh for the privilege of race being something that doesn't interest someone and it's never something they notice/read about.
posted by TwoStride at 10:01 PM on July 5, 2019 [4 favorites]

tyro urge, I sincerely accept your apology, and I also deeply appreciate your engagement and giving me an opportunity to offer more context. I feel that it is a testament to the sense of safety in this thread that I am able to say this, so thank you for that as well.
posted by Little Dawn at 11:03 PM on July 5, 2019 [4 favorites]

coming to this late, but just wanted to say: hi. i'm here.

like many of you, i'm ambivalent about "POC" as a term. it's useful, sometimes, is how i feel. i suspect my reaction to being called "Asian"--which is basically kneejerk fuck you I'm not Asian I'm Korean--is closer to what "POC" feels like to a lot of people, though.
posted by what does it eat, light? at 6:08 AM on July 6, 2019 [4 favorites]

I'm writing an article about race right now and the white, lefty woman editor is making my life and work difficult. For instance, she has:

Inserted the word "unintentional" when I discuss racism and microaggressions, so we have "acts of unintentional racism", and "unintentional microaggressions". We'd never say "unintentional sexual assault" though. Her focus on the intent and the inherent goodness of the perpetrator is actually itself a tool of racism: by focussing on how "unintentional" their racism is, she's suggesting that white people are rarely bad, they're just oblivious, and that they deserve the benefit of the doubt and to be considered good, no matter the impact of their behaviour.

Removed the name of one Black scholar so that her theory is mentioned without being attributed to her.
Cut a quote from another Black scholar, which is foundational research to this topic. He studied harmful things white people do to Black people.
Questioned that the third Black scholar is a scholar at all ("he's not a major professor, why are we mentioning him?")
These cuts scrub the Black academia from the piece = Erasure of Black intellectual work.

Removed my assertion that microaggressions are serious.

Added the term "off-colour language" to an article about racism. I know the origins of the phrase have nothing to do with race, but perhaps when discussing racism we could just... avoid language that casually mentions colour as a metaphor?

Softened several statements I've made with "maybe words" like "can lead to" and "may experience" and "sometimes".

Removed references to race when I've mentioned white people being aggressive to Black people , even when those references are 100% specific to the research I'm quoting.

Asked me repeatedly to start the article with an example of racism I've personally experienced, even though I said I preferred not to. I don't feel like opening that tender wound for scrutiny. All that does is allow people to say "That anecdote isn't racism for xyz reasons, this writer is too sensitive, that person probably meant abc, etc." We can accept the ideas around racism without making racialized people re-enact their trauma as proof. Would we demand that a female writer open a story about rape by telling a story about a sexual assault she's experienced?

It also flips my article into the realm of a personal / editorial / debatable / soft opinion piece, when actually the work I'm doing is quite factual and backed up by decades of research. My background and writing style definitely aren't overly academic, either- I'm pretty confident that no IBPOC would ask for these changes, just an uncomfortable white person.

This editor is an educated straight white woman who heads up a very lefty publication. She "means" well. But she's also white, and my writing about racism makes her uncomfortable, so she's doing a bunch of things to make the piece more "relatable" to white people (which simultaneously makes it LESS relatable to readers from marginalized identities).

This is an example of why you can't just have diversity in the bottom ranks (racialized freelance writer with a white editorial ladder). If the power structure is white, it reverberates into every nook and cranny. I believe that a racialized editor, or a disabled editor, or a queer editor, would be more likely to "get" this issue and quit making me rewrite and soften and tone police myself to soothe an uncomfortable white gaze.

I've also had to do an extra editorial pass (meaning more childcare costs!) and I've taken the time to add (carefully worded, gentle kid-glove) comments to softly explain why I'm not taking her suggestions. This is more work for me; and it probably makes her dislike me, even though in the long run my comments actually benefit her professional development .... but I'm not being paid more to compensate for my extra labour in any of this.

There is a strong correlation between my experience with this article being butchered for white comfort, and my experience with white mods on MetaFilter repeatedly deleting any comments I've made that reference race, call out racism in MeFi interactions, or generally express an emotion around racism.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 8:56 AM on July 6, 2019 [58 favorites]

Slipping in quickly, TwoStride, *yes*. It makes me think of the related threads where someone died from something like a car crash or gun violence, and it's deemed more important to focus on the dead person - either to blame them for their own death, or to shut down any discussion over stopping similar deaths during "a suitable mourning period" that overlaps with similar deaths and their "suitable mourning periods" so it's deemed "never the right time" to discuss the systemic root causes of all these deaths to figure out what to do about them, so guess what, the status quo retrenches itself ever further and we get more of these preventable deaths.

To everyone else, thank you for keeping this thread a place where I felt like there are other MeFites who get it. ♥
posted by Pandora Kouti at 10:00 AM on July 6, 2019 [8 favorites]

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