Person of color only thread #3 August 28, 2019 7:44 AM   Subscribe

Hello again! This is Mefi's third person of color thread (1, 2). As before, it's a space for discussion for Metafilter members of color, so before posting please take a look at the guidelines posted inside, thanks!

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posted by Brandon Blatcher to MetaFilter-Related at 7:44 AM (114 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

So I thought I was done with the PoC only threads, but there were a few things that I didn't get to in the last thread. Some time and thought have solidified a few things in my mind, so here goes.

Sometimes I care deeply about race issues on Mefi. Sometimes I don't, which usually means there are times I can't. Life gets busy and my energy is directed else. Sometimes, its been one of those days/weeks, etc where I just do not have the energy or desire to wade into race issues on Mefi. You gotta know your limits and when to stick to them, otherwise you wind up in the gutter of despair or negative thoughts.

In the previous thread there, someone mentioned an odd race-related comment that was made on Mefi. I'm not linking to it because the specifics aren't important. It just highlighted an issue I've personally noticed. A race issue comes up and it's doesn't seem large to me. Sure, in a perfect world it wouldn't exist, but this is the world we got, and weird, bad, and inane stuff pops up. So it becomes a question of
A. do you deal with it and if so,
B. how do you deal with.

It's a constant calculation, and obviously can be exhausting and frustrating to constantly deal with. Seems like it always comes down to how much energy and time do you have at that particular moment to deal with the issue. But it's always a singular issue, where it's one person trying to come usually.

How do y'all deal with this?

At least Mefi-wise I've realized that I given myself permission to just "nope" on out, when it's too much and just move on, with the understanding that I have dive in on something else, at some point. There was some guilt about that for a while, but really, it's the only practical way I can deal with this on Mefi and life in general, so, that's that.

Perhaps we need a community buddy system, where people can just comment that they're noping out and asking for someone else to tag in on a particular post or comment.

This has also made me realize that I need to set aside some specific times or activities to embrace my racial identity in a positive way. Doesn't have to be anything complex, just listening to some favorite blues artists, or admiring the achievements of some PoCs. Hell, part of my enjoyment of The Expanse is seeing various ethnic identities on display in such a large number and it not being a big deal.

Because there's so much fantastically good stuff about ethnic identities, which everyone has! That makes it a helluva lot easier to deal with the bad shit when it pops up!

Anyway! What's going on with y'all?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:20 AM on August 28 [13 favorites]


What's going on with y'all?

I've taken some big steps back from social media. I'm on two forums: MetaFilter and ResetEra which are both mostly positive and progressive places where I don't feel so stressed out. Removing any small thing or person from my life that causes me stress is basically how I cope with living in 2019. Trump, gamergate, MeToo, children in cages....

It just never ends and so taking a break, stepping back from things (and that includes certain posts or just avoiding the site altogether sometimes) and only doing good or happy things is how I battle against this seemingly never-ending tide of bullshit and hate.

Stay strong friends.
posted by Fizz at 9:01 AM on August 28 [7 favorites]


Thanks for posting this follow-up thread, Brandon!

How do y'all deal with this?

Selectivity is key, for sure. My thoughts when such issues come up are usually along the lines of: Is this the hill I want to die on, or even get mildly inconvenienced by? And do I have the time to deal with this right now?

Often I'll delete my comment draft altogether because I don't have the time to mindfully reply to the degree I want to reply at that very moment, or keep it in a separate offline text editor to ponder. (Sidenote, thank you to whoever's responsible for whatever in the MetaFilter comment box structure retains comment drafts when you've accidentally closed the tab!)

I want to respond more thoughtfully to the rest of your comment, but also I think you've said a lot of my thoughts really well, especially the part about it being a constant calculation, and I agree, that it always comes down to how much energy and time do you have at that particular moment to deal with the issue.

Will be thinking more about this, and looking forward to seeing other people's thoughts!
posted by rather be jorting at 11:34 AM on August 28 [5 favorites]


PSA: TIL

Skin cancer expression on our skin does not demonstrate the same kinds of signs and signals as it does on skin with less melanin. Get dermatologist checkup if you have any doubts. Reading this helped me. I had a biopsy today. More PoC and BIPOC die of advanced skin cancers because we imagine we're immune or its not caught early enough. We're not. Pass it on to a loved one.
posted by Mrs Potato at 11:39 AM on August 28 [7 favorites]


Thanks for the post Brandon. Rather like Fizz, I found that cutting out Twitter and not reading the headlines at all for just two weeks has done wonders for my mental wellbeing. Now I'm on for a day and then off for three or some proportion thereof.
posted by Mrs Potato at 11:41 AM on August 28 [5 favorites]


At least Mefi-wise I've realized that I given myself permission to just "nope" on out

Everyone has the ability to nope out or avoid commenting in any given situation. Anything else is simply not an option. That being said, part of the draw of metafilter is that it, hopefully, encourages people to comment more than on cat memes and other oddball stuff, even when it's hard. Any squandering of the emotional or intellectual capital that it takes for those comments to be submitted is a risky and dangerous move.

Outstanding comments are what makes the site good and great and not just mediocre in my book. But, it's not your job to make them happen, no way, too much labor if you think like that.
posted by RolandOfEld at 1:50 PM on August 28


Outstanding comments are what makes the site good and great and not just mediocre in my book.

Amplifying issues that are important to minority groups/voices/peoples is also something that gives me some sense of solace and a way to fight back against the river of shit we normally deal with in 2019. It is work, but it's work that I (and a few others I've noticed) actively do. It's worth acknowledging those people when they do that hard work, even if it's just a like or a "great job" or "this is a good post" kind of thing.
posted by Fizz at 2:02 PM on August 28 [3 favorites]


Ah, sure is fun to see your race mentioned in context of providing only 2 possible menu items of greasy unhealthy food, innit.

I won't link to the now-deleted Ask that brought it up, but 1) thanks to the other MeFites who were quick to matter-of-factly note the disdainful attitude going on before further nastiness came out and 2) thanks to the mods for intervening quickly there.
posted by rather be jorting at 4:28 PM on August 28 [6 favorites]


Thanks for this thread.

Came across this racially biased hate speech AI piece the other day. Thought it was wryly funny. Had to think about Mefi moderation & how it works to exclude all sorts of ways that people -- my friends -- tend to express themselves.

It's not even a criticism. I have no suggestions for how things should work otherwise. It's pretty obvious that to participate here you need to assimilate to White (preferably academic) culture. There's some space for a sort-of-friendly/sort-of-condescending/sort-of-irrelevant "diversity-of-the-gaps" around foodstuffs and folklore, but assimilation is how it really is. I don't see how that could be any different. Because assimilation is how it really is.

I carry around some ragged stories from a mottled past. Slavery, pride, cruelty, exile. Cling to them like bits of wreckage really. Because I recognize that's what they are; certainly to the folks that surround me. Bits of wreckage, perhaps holding some sentimental trinket value, but nothing substantial. Nothing substantial. Driftwood.

I've always been a drifter. Some places offer a sense of respite. But in the end they always end up reminding me that I'm well assimilated at best. Because assimilation is how it is. Over the years there have been people -- mean people, sometimes racist, sometimes just mean -- who felt good about telling me to "go home". I always laughed at them, at their blinkered outlook, at their failure to understand. Where should I go? My home is just the same as yours! I would say. Or something to that effect. But it's become a bit tiring. I'm tired, & well assimilated at best.

I wish I could go home.
posted by dmh at 5:53 PM on August 28 [12 favorites]


How do y'all deal with this?

My non-mefi work is heavily political, so I do what I want when I want to on here!

Might not work for everyone obviously; I'm lucky to feel like my day job (well, evenings and weekends job) is enough in that sense. But, you know, we should be happy when we can.

I do sometimes get a sense of fulfillment out of saying something on here or arguing with someone, but if it seems stressful I X out and I don't feel bad about it.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 8:20 AM on August 29 [7 favorites]


Thanks for making a new thread, Brandon Blatcher; ‘preciate it!

It's a constant calculation, and obviously can be exhausting and frustrating to constantly deal with.

This, 100%. There are days when I have the energy to engage, and days when I don’t. And thing is, I don’t think that most folks who aren’t marked realize: we don’t only encounter this crap online or on MeFi. We encounter it just by walking outside, turning on the TV/radio, logging into social media. If I get into RL kerfuffle over race or sexuality, then sometimes I’ve used up my fucks to give by the time I scroll through MeFi. Those days, it’s not even a Nope Out, I just close the tab/app and go do something else.

Perhaps we need a community buddy system, where people can just comment that they're noping out and asking for someone else to tag in on a particular post or comment.

Yes! Oddly enough, I have participated in another online community where a group of us did exactly that. If one person was just fed up with engaging with a poster, or wanted some extra citations, links, etc. to back up a point, they would ping the group and those of us who were around could give them some back up.

Life was really busy for me during the last open thread, so I didn’t have a chance to make this comment there. But here goes: One thing I find very dismal is the fact not being racist is considered to be this huge hurdle for users of the site to avoid. In fact, I remember one user framing it as this lefty culture thing that would be difficult for newcomers to get used to, or adhere to, and I guess might chase people away. And…really? Sigh.

There is this related thing that happens to me in real life…not frequently, but at least 4-5 times per year…where I’m in a group, and one member of the group forgets that I’m black. They tell a story or a joke or recount an anecdote, etc. and suddenly it gets very awkward. (It’s kind of boggling because, I’m rather obviously black, no ambiguity here folks.) Usually there is a scramble of “oh, I didn’t mean you” or “oh, I don’t think of you as black”, etc. and depending upon the group I either let it pass or do some schoolin’. But the thing is, in a text format like MeFi, you have time to pause and think through your comment, think about all of the types of people who might be in the metaphorical room, rephrase, and ultimately, you can step away from the keyboard and then come back and apologize if you need to.

I’ve stuck my foot in my mouth on plenty of occasions throughout my life and I learned pretty quick that you can say, “sorry I was a douchebag and I hurt you. I promise I won’t do that again.” And moving forward, you won’t do that again, you’ll do better. I guess it is still dismal and disappointing that that is too far a step or too heavy a lift for many folks.

Maybe I shouldn’t even post this comment, but. I guess I’m gonna.
posted by skye.dancer at 6:33 PM on August 29 [13 favorites]


One thing I find very dismal is the fact not being racist is considered to be this huge hurdle for users of the site to avoid. In fact, I remember one user framing it as this lefty culture thing that would be difficult for newcomers to get used to, or adhere to, and I guess might chase people away. And…really? Sigh.

This could be just my perception, but I feel like this has gotten even worse with all of the state of the site/fundraising stuff too. There's always a bunch of posters who come around to a post about any concern about the site (not all race related) being like "BUT WE NEED NEW USERS TO SURVIVE AND THIS WILL DRIVE THEM AWAY" and honestly, I almost don't know how to interact here at this point. This isn't coming from the mods, but it's coming from users who are active and who I will likely interact with. Very little mention is made about how racist shit also drives new users away.
posted by primalux at 9:29 PM on August 29 [13 favorites]


Not to abuse the edit window: I mean, I know we had a whole thread about how racist shit keeps people from wanting to interact here, but the longer that it goes between that thread and now, I feel like it's less at the forefront of members' ideas of what keeps people from wanting to participate here. It almost seems like the opposite where people think norms like "not being racist" and "not assuming whiteness as default" are some odious hurdles to overcome. Again.
posted by primalux at 9:33 PM on August 29 [6 favorites]


Re deciding when to say something and when not: I'm inconsistent, honestly. Sometimes it just gets to me and then I take the 10 minutes to try to respond. Sometimes I don't feel like I have the ability at that moment to be nice about it, so I vent (whether publicly, semi-privately, privately) and hope someone else has more patience to say "That's not cool, here's why." (And yeah, I know, tone shouldn't be an issue that matters because we have to deal with these racial microaggressions already, they that dish it out should be able to take it back, but so many white people don't.) Sometimes I respond because I've seen somebody else get upset by the thing, so I've had a chance to brace myself before looking at the thing, and then I feel like I'm capable of raising the issue in the moment. Sometimes, I furiously fave people saying smart things countering the stupid thing. Sometimes, I just nope out, like you said.

On the "embracing my ethnicity positively" side, I'm hoping I have an excuse to be in proximity to Jollibee or FOB Kitchen this weekend because NOMs. :)
posted by Pandora Kouti at 8:56 AM on August 30 [5 favorites]


It almost seems like the opposite where people think norms like "not being racist" and "not assuming whiteness as default" are some odious hurdles to overcome. Again.

I wonder, also, if this affects some of our experiences of the space as either a community or just a place to visit to casually read cool links? dmh's lament above of just wanting to go home, of wishing there were a home to go to really resonated for me. Online spaces almost never give me a sense of comfort or relaxation because of pretty much all the reasons we've discussed in prior people of colour threads.

I am reminded of that post about the woman with the mushroom allergy whose in-laws refused to provide a mushroom-free dish for her at family dinners. It's boggling to believe that mushrooms are so essential to your identity that you can't make a single bowl of mashed potatos without adding mushroom powder, and yet.
posted by skye.dancer at 9:02 AM on August 30 [8 favorites]


Online spaces almost never give me a sense of comfort or relaxation because of pretty much all the reasons we've discussed in prior people of colour threads.

Same. Honestly, these threads are the only place where I truly feel a sense of community, goodwill, and feel comfortable not holding back in terms of this site specifically.
posted by primalux at 7:15 PM on August 30 [3 favorites]


Thanks for the thread, both to you, Brandon, and everyone still participating.

Perhaps we need a community buddy system, where people can just comment that they're noping out and asking for someone else to tag in on a particular post or comment.

I like this idea and would participate as best I am able.

It's not even a criticism. I have no suggestions for how things should work otherwise. It's pretty obvious that to participate here you need to assimilate to White (preferably academic) culture. There's some space for a sort-of-friendly/sort-of-condescending/sort-of-irrelevant "diversity-of-the-gaps" around foodstuffs and folklore, but assimilation is how it really is. I don't see how that could be any different.

I haven't been able to stop thinking about this since you said it, and it's part of why I've been quiet. I've looked the other way about a lot of things for a long time because you go along to get along, and more than anything else, I feel dirty for letting people off the hook. But at the same time, a certain amount of it is probably unavoidable, so I'm sort of stuck.

A similar feeling is a large part of why I'm not on other social media often. Still working through it about this place.

It almost seems like the opposite where people think norms like "not being racist" and "not assuming whiteness as default" are some odious hurdles to overcome. Again.

I noticed this too, and it's dismaying.
posted by mordax at 12:49 PM on August 31 [8 favorites]


> Perhaps we need a community buddy system, where people can just comment that they're noping out and asking for someone else to tag in on a particular post or comment.

> I like this idea and would participate as best I am able.


Same here! However I can help.

(flashes back to LOTR Fellowship scene)
posted by rather be jorting at 4:22 PM on August 31 [2 favorites]


Thank you for this thread, Brandon.

At least Mefi-wise I've realized that I given myself permission to just "nope" on out, when it's too much and just move on, with the understanding that I have dive in on something else, at some point. There was some guilt about that for a while, but really, it's the only practical way I can deal with this on Mefi and life in general, so, that's that.

Yup. This is how I am operating these days too. I do feel guilty about it but I also recognize it’s the best thing for my mental health.

Perhaps we need a community buddy system, where people can just comment that they're noping out and asking for someone else to tag in on a particular post or comment.

I think this is a great idea. I’m in.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 9:03 PM on August 31 [2 favorites]


I've got a bit of a family emergency happening at an already really stressful time of year, so I've been a bit less active on various internet venues of late. That said, chiming in random things my exhausted brain caught in skimming things today:

1). YES get your skin checked, friends! I had a basal cell carcinoma removed when I was a teen. Even the dermatologist thought it was nothing, because people like me "don't burn." They were floored and sheepish when they called back to schedule an operation, and after many years or wrestling with this I now think it's kind of cool to have a scar on my face. Also I stopped going to the beach or basically being in the sun at all and that gave me, like, a 20-year skincare head start on many of my peers and now I'm routinely estimated to be about 15 years younger than I actually am, which is ego-boosting.

2). I fucking loathed Friends and its toxic fantasy of an all-white New York City that passed on to shit like Sex and the City and Girls but decided it wasn't worth wading into the FPP with my haterade.

Love to y'all, and if anyone could spare some good luck I'd happily take it.
posted by TwoStride at 9:05 PM on August 31 [10 favorites]


Good luck, TwoStride. I’m sorry you’re dealing with tough times in your family!
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 1:10 AM on September 1 [3 favorites]


Regarding #2, I would have found your perspective to be an interesting and valuable contribution to the conversation even if it was perceived by some to be "haterade." I actually think that pointing out racism is positive. It's not as if the racism or the perception of racism didn't exist before you expressed it. This thread - which i see as a positive development - is the result of someone objecting to racism.

This is not to put any pressure on you to post it. I had similar feelings about Friends but also decided not to wade in, so i'm with you there.
posted by yaymukund at 7:04 AM on September 1 [6 favorites]


I was a little young for Friends when it aired, but my parents liked the earlier seasons and would usually watch the reruns, so it's in that weird space of something I look back on with nostalgia as a 90's kid and also something I view critically for the whiteness of it all. Out of the 90s shows I was old enough to watch back then, there were multiple Friends contemporaries with diverse and hilarious casts, so it's not like Friends "had" to be Like That. So I read the FPP link with interest but don't have strong enough personal opinions to weigh in in the FPP itself (though I did like the comment someone else brought up about how Coupling, the UK counterpart of sorts to Friends, wasn't that much better, and was significantly worse in its own sexist ways).

On a nicer tv casting note, I was pleasantly surprised to see some familiar BIPOC names while checking out the voice acting cast listing for the Dark Crystal prequel:

* Nathalie Emmanuel as Deet (a.k.a. Missandei from Game of Thrones - WAY more of a main speaking role here!)
* Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Seladon
* Benedict Wong as The General
* Keegan-Michael Key as The Ritual-Master
* Awkwafina as The Collector
* Shazad Latif as Kylan
posted by rather be jorting at 10:59 AM on September 1 [3 favorites]


The Friends thread has some people now explaining what was so problematic about the show, which is nice. I didn't have it in me either, even though I commented in the thread. The amount of "well this is all we had then, so it's fine to have liked it then *and* to continue to defend it now is also fine" comments are very aggravating.
posted by primalux at 3:45 PM on September 1 [6 favorites]


I'm also staying out of the Friends FPP due to how I would feel compelled to comment positively about Seinfeld, not for its intrinsic merits (that's not a hill I'm planning on getting moderately inconvenienced by, lol), but because it's one of the few comedy things my dad and I both found funny around the same time. There's no deep reason or significant justification for it or anything, Seinfeld was just funny to the both of us at the time it got syndicated a lot in the later 90s/early 00s. My dad couldn't keep up with my fluency in English when I started getting into British comedy or other shows reliant on more complex dialogue, but Seinfeld somehow worked out as a common denominator we could both lol at and reference later as a shared pop culture lexicon. Just a different angle than the stances being mentioned in the thread regarding the merit of watching various big name 90's sitcoms.

Sort of an odder (but maybe not that uncommon?) BIPOC experience I suppose: bonding over something that doesn't feature POC like you at all, but still bonding with other BIPOC over it, resulting in something positive out of the media experience when the media by itself isn't necessarily that positive or "good," haha.
posted by rather be jorting at 5:50 PM on September 1 [5 favorites]


Totally relate. My Mexican grandmother would show my sister and me her favorite movies when we would stay with her as kids, which included Glory, a movie about the Civil War starring Matthew Broderick as some sort of white savior/pariah. She also loved Vibes, which was about Cyndi Lauper and Jeff Goldblum playing psychics in South America (I think?). Fond memories of all of them, even if I wouldn't really watch any of them now.

Ok I might watch Vibes again, cause c'mon.
posted by primalux at 6:07 PM on September 1 [4 favorites]


Which, btw, also isn't to say that I don't cringe at Seinfeld being held up as "better" than Friends when it also suffers from similar 90s American tv writing flaws, but it does have something to it besides just being "mean" (I would argue it's more like, chaotically selfish absurdity) - but it's not really an angle that I feel like bringing into a fairly fast-moving thread where part of the discussion is now focused on "but where is the evidence that Friends is not mostly harmless like I personally remember it being?"
posted by rather be jorting at 6:13 PM on September 1 [5 favorites]


Totally relate. My Mexican grandmother would show my sister and me her favorite movies when we would stay with her as kids, which included Glory, a movie about the Civil War starring Matthew Broderick as some sort of white savior/pariah. She also loved Vibes, which was about Cyndi Lauper and Jeff Goldblum playing psychics in South America (I think?). Fond memories of all of them, even if I wouldn't really watch any of them now.

Can also relate! My Chinese granny loved afternoon reruns of action tv shows (I think because you didn’t need to know English very well to be able to follow them) and my brother and I would watch them with her after school. We would watch The A-Team, The Saint, and Kung Fu, starring David Carradine in yellow face. I mean really! But still, those shows evoke a warm nostalgia because I remember cuddling with Granny on the couch while we watched them.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 6:23 PM on September 1 [5 favorites]


Yes! Oddly enough, I have participated in another online community where a group of us did exactly that. If one person was just fed up with engaging with a poster, or wanted some extra citations, links, etc. to back up a point, they would ping the group and those of us who were around could give them some back up.

we used to do that, honestly, on the metapoc slack in a channel aptly called #batsignal, but, well. a lot of us there aren't here much anymore. the channel is still around, though.

as for myself, i came back to see how things are. and then the gendering ai thread and the friends thread... it's strange, when i was more of a regular here it felt like it was something i wanted to help change, and now it feels like the centering of the cis white dude is written into the site at such depth that it was folly for me to try. i know it seems like i'm really down about this place, but. i'd hoped, after seeing that another poc thread was live. i just left a conference in vegas that was just for queer/trans asians/asian diaspora and good lord it was amazing to just be around people and talk and not have to center anyone named chad or brad or thad or becky...

i never got friends. i liked fraiser because i was a pretentious shit as a kid, but i really loved mad about you simply because at the time i was deep in love with a high school sweetheart and thought it would really work out, y'know, regardless of the fact that i did not know who i was, and that none of the plots would work now with cell phones around, at least when they weren't on the mta. at least i figured out who i was later, paul reiser hasn't seemed to figure that one out with his career after...
posted by anem0ne at 7:07 PM on September 1 [6 favorites]


Interesting to hear about the Friends thread. I now feel somewhat vindicated in my decision to skip it.

I might be making this up after the fact. I suspect if you had asked me beforehand why I didn't read those, I would probably have said that I didn't particularly know or care much about Friends.

But, after the fact, yeah, I don't have to work particularly hard to rationalize the observation that MeFi didn't "do well" a discussion about a massively popular TV show being problematic.
posted by meaty shoe puppet at 11:14 PM on September 1 [3 favorites]


Part of what is so important about threads/spaces like this is how they decenter whiteness. My teaching and research in a nutshell is "this thing our profession does is actually exclusionary and not inclusionary (intent isn't magic) so how do we address racist and/or classist structures in the field" and it has been so amazing to do this at a university that is majority students of color (primarily Latinx) because it is a different ball game entirely when people get systemic racism.

I would be interested in helping pull together some more resources, for BIPOC and for white MeFi users. What are resources (like a buddy system) that can help MeFi-ites who might show up already exhausted from engaging with societal racism? I just took a workshop on Language Justice and it was fabulous.

I see a page for "systemic racism" on the MeFi wiki, but not any other racism/racialization resources. I'm also up for (not right this week but maybe over the end of year holidays?) working with others who want to improve and increase 101 and 201 resources for folks who are still struggling with what comes after "I don't think I'm racist, but I just was informed that a thing I wrote is racist" or "I acknowledge there is systemic racism but I am white and I don't know what to do" Too often I see people give up ("this is so hard to get right!") or get mired in self-centering guilt.
posted by spamandkimchi at 8:21 AM on September 2 [4 favorites]


I think Ijeoma Oluo's So You Want to Talk About Race would be a terrific book add to the wiki's list of resources people can refer to - I ended up reading it this year after seeing it referenced so often in past threads and would consider it a good introductory resource. (The Fanfare post for the book is pretty sparse at the moment, but it's there if anyone (BIPOC or not!) would like to weigh in with favorite passages or anything.) The book's not exactly a breezy read, but the clearness made it a quick read for me. It felt reassuring to see Oluo put into words a lot of thoughts I've had or wondered how to say, especially when I've felt too tired to write well or too slow to think about how to appropriately phrase things on my own.

White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo is also on my to-read list after seeing it mentioned a lot on the site, and probably should be listed as another resource as well.

Not sure how to characterize either book's 101 or 201 suitability, but having read Oluo's, I'd list her as a 101 resource because of how well she explains a ton of systemic racial issues. The immediate relevancy would be for people in the U.S., but I think the book would also be relevant to people who don't live in the U.S., especially if they're not used to being around people who aren't of their particular color, and thus mostly conceive of race relations in the abstract.

On a more general note, "get mired in self-centering guilt" is a great way to describe something that I've found hard to describe before. I just took an hour to write and delete further elaboration on how frustrating it is to see people immediately jump to the conclusion that they must be bad and awful if they've ever slipped up w/r/t race, because, for one thing, it skips a step of stopping to listen to others about how they can avoid such slip-ups in the future. But I'm not figuring out how to put the words together in a way that expresses the rest of what I want to say, so I'll just reiterate that "get mired in self-centering guilt" is a great description.
posted by rather be jorting at 4:47 PM on September 2 [5 favorites]


I've been following since Brandon Blatcher started up a new thread and was super excited to see the third one up, but I was just so exhausted from stuff that I couldn't finish making a comment. So happy to see a bunch of you discussing stuff.

Ugh, the Friends thread. I couldn't even. I just glanced at it-- and walked away.

I actually came in here to tell y'all how CYNICAL all this B.S. has made me. By, B.S. I just mean all of it. All of it. All of the things B.S. that you all know what I'm talking about. "The System is designed to produce the results that it gets" -- read this quote in a book called Black Minds Matter by Dr. J. Luke Wood. (sorry too tired to quote it exactly). It's disheartening to just see in print the things that you thought you were crazy about are true.

I started ranting... and I just deleted it after I read it back. Not the space or time, people!

I think that I'm going through a steep learning curve right now. At least for me personally, I haven't ever really been around people who I could discuss these issues with. Now at my work, we discuss it all the time. Partly because it's the new buzzwords on community college campuses, but also because I have some awesome colleagues of color who just get it. I wasn't in the "right" spaces until now.

Reading through your posts made me less cynical, though. I loved hearing about some of you watching TV with your grannies. It reminds me of being with my mom when we found something funny on TV. Usually my dad would just be like what the hell are you laughing at? We just got it. Usually it was gestures or style (or lack of). He thought it was a gender thing, but maybe it was a cultural thing.

Hey, how do we get to be a part of the metapoc slack? That would be super awesome rather than always posting things here. If it's just a private group that's cool. Just curious...
posted by jj's.mama at 11:08 PM on September 2 [7 favorites]


I think the book would also be relevant to people who don't live in the U.S., especially if they're not used to being around people who aren't of their particular color, and thus mostly conceive of race relations in the abstract.

I agree, but maybe not quite for the same reasons you mean.

Oluo's book is written about race in the U.S. Racism in other places probably shares the underlying dynamic of a powerful in-group establishing norms that exclude or disadvantage others. But the details will be different.

For someone in, say, China, I suspect the sections on affirmative action*, the school-to-prison pipeline, touching people's hair, and saying "the N word" will not be directly relevant. They'll more be a primer on how to avoid accidentally participating in U.S.-style racism on the Metafilter.

* Now that I think about it, Oluo's book probably isn't even about race in America so much as anti-black racism in America. At least among many of the Chinese Americans I know in New York, affirmative action is a much more fraught topic, given the perennial hand-wringing about the Asian population in Stuyvesant.
posted by meaty shoe puppet at 6:32 AM on September 3 [3 favorites]


> For someone in, say, China, I suspect the sections on affirmative action*, the school-to-prison pipeline, touching people's hair, and saying "the N word" will not be directly relevant. They'll more be a primer on how to avoid accidentally participating in U.S.-style racism on the Metafilter.

Valid points to bring up regarding the utility of the book for someone in China, though I think the book overall is a good introductory work in the English language on understanding race relation concepts in general, and how anti-black racism underlies a lot of it. Re: the asterisk, imo the chapters on topics such as cultural appropriation, microaggressions, the model minority myth, and tone policing are written in a way that covers forms of racism in addition to anti-black racism (while also remaining inclusive of the ramifications of anti-blackness as applicable to other race relation dynamics as well) - I think there's some broadly applicable insight in Oluo's book about racism 101 and interacting with certain types of behavior that aren't necessarily only stemming from racism (such as how to talk with people who don't believe you about x topic), as well as specific insights on anti-black racism that she discusses.

So that's where I'm coming from re: thinking it's 101 - she's very patient about laying out the groundwork before getting into a deeper dive per chapter, which I think would be a useful explanation for people outside the U.S. as well who wonder what certain terms might mean, and also for developing awareness of power dynamics related to in-group treatment of minority groups.

(I want to write more but have to head out, agh!) At the very least, I'd think of it as more 101 than The Autobiography of Malcolm X, which was my personal introduction to a lot of race relation topics from a BIPOC perspective, but I wouldn't consider introductory.
posted by rather be jorting at 7:51 AM on September 3 [1 favorite]


On a different TV-related note, I was happy to see comments from porpoise in the Deadwood Fanfare threads while I was checking them during my season 1 rewatch. It's always nice to know you're not the only one who was thinking a little more critically about the BIPOC depictions in a historically-set TV show, and it's a little extra comforting when it's a fellow person of your color. Thanks, porpoise from a few years ago!
posted by rather be jorting at 2:21 PM on September 3 [3 favorites]


thank you for starting another one of these threads.

my kids started school today, and I had a meeting with my oldest's son school counselor about plan of action if he encountered racism from a teacher or fellow students, again. I want to cautiously say that things went well, but I am disheartened that we even have to have a "in case your teacher is racist, do this" plan in place. JFC, if you identified as a white person, never tell a POC how to feel about a racist term.

also, I also "nope" out of threads sometimes. There is one asking about Vietnamese/Indian/Thai cooking, and it just rubbed me the wrong way. Excuse me, they are three different regions of Asia with very different cuisines, there isn't some blanket spices to use for all of them. And also, the only "special" cooking tool I use is probably chopsticks.
posted by alathia at 2:02 PM on September 4 [11 favorites]


I came across this today and immediately thought about bringing it here rather than the blue: Writer Adele Lim leaves Crazy Rich Asians Sequal After Learning Her White Co-Author Made 10x Her Salary.
posted by TwoStride at 7:12 PM on September 4 [8 favorites]


Oof.

Emphasis mine in the bolded bit below:
A source told THR that “Warner Bros.’ starting offers were $800,000 to $1 million for Chiarelli and $110,000-plus for Lim,” and added that those numbers were “industry-standard established ranges based on experience and that making an exception would set a troubling precedent in the business.” Naturally, Lim walked away, and a few months later Chiarelli offered her half of his salary to reach some semblance of parity. She still said no, and now she’s my fucking hero.

“Being evaluated that way can’t help but make you feel that is how they view my contributions,” Lim told the Hollywood Reporter, “Pete has been nothing but incredibly gracious, but what I make shouldn’t be dependent on the generosity of the white-guy writer. If I couldn’t get pay equity after CRA, I can’t imagine what it would be like for anyone else, given that the standard for how much you’re worth is having established quotes from previous movies, which women of color would never have been [hired for]. There’s no realistic way to achieve true equity that way.”
posted by rather be jorting at 7:45 PM on September 4 [6 favorites]


Can I just say that Dakota Fanning as a white muslim Ethiopian refugee is beyond the beyond? WTF?
posted by Mrs Potato at 1:08 AM on September 6 [4 favorites]


Can I just say that Dakota Fanning as a white muslim Ethiopian refugee is beyond the beyond? WTF?

And it's so frustrating because the responses to the backlash about that are all "It's based on a true story and a real person, look it up!" as though the conversation just ends there, rather than with the obvious follow up question of "And then *why* are we prioritizing the story of this one white refugee?"

All I can think is "We still have so far to go."
posted by primalux at 9:37 AM on September 6 [5 favorites]


It's not even based on a true story! The movie is based on a novel by a white Canadian author, Camilla Gibb.
posted by rather be jorting at 9:57 AM on September 6 [7 favorites]


Oh wow, maybe that was just my poor reading comprehension thinking people were saying it was based on a true story when they were saying it was based on a "real character" or something. Gross. So we have a white woman writing a fictional account of a white Ethiopian refugee which then gets made into a movie centering a white Ethiopian refugee and it's supposed to be fine cause - she was white in the book?? Ugh.
posted by primalux at 11:01 AM on September 6 [4 favorites]


Ugh is right, lol. Even had the book been based on a true story of a white British woman raised as a Muslim in Africa after her hippie parents were killed, it's still a story focusing on a protagonist's white exceptionalism and her angst over being an outsider because of that whiteness.

VICE: Dakota Fanning's Defense of Her Role in a Film About Ethiopia Misses the Mark:
Real-life narratives along the lines of Sweetness In the Belly's cross-cultural tale of finding home and community surely exist, and plenty of white Muslims may in fact live in Ethiopia. But the movie frames a story of people in Africa—people whose presence isn't terribly common in Hollywood—as relevant only with a white female lead. Despite Fanning's acknowledgment of the movie's "many Ethiopian women," it must still be sold with Fanning as its leading face. The movie presents a high-profile opportunity for Ethiopian director Zeresenay Mehari, but it poses the question of the trade-offs creatives of color must weigh in order to break into Hollywood's mainstream.
posted by rather be jorting at 1:44 PM on September 6 [4 favorites]


Well I mean how else can people understand Africa unless we focus on white people? /s
posted by TwoStride at 2:27 PM on September 6 [6 favorites]


"What Caused The Mass Panic At Newark Airport? Racism."

This was the first I heard about any of this, so apologies for the Buzzfeed link if there's a better source.
posted by primalux at 4:25 PM on September 6 [6 favorites]


Well, blerg. I used to fly on that particular airline for PNW trips - shame to read about how they didn't reach out to the racially profiled customers until Buzzfeed News contacted the airline first.

Also concerned about the possibility that being off one's meds will be used as a convenient excuse to avoid or diminish accountability. I liked Xue's response:
Xue said any health problems do not excuse the racism he experienced. "If she does have issues, it's on Alaska to make sure she's not placed in a position where she is responsible for the safety of others," he said.
posted by rather be jorting at 5:36 PM on September 6 [6 favorites]


Hello! I took a month off Mefi and am slowly coming back. Haven't read through the whole thread yet but I figured I'd pop in and say hi :)
posted by divabat at 7:56 PM on September 6 [7 favorites]


- Hi! It's been good seeing familiar names pop back in :D

- A Black Lady Sketch Show's finale aired tonight and I'm already feeling healed as I watch it. The "black lady courtroom" sketch is so heartening!
posted by rather be jorting at 8:37 PM on September 6 [2 favorites]


Well I mean how else can people understand Africa unless we focus on white people? /s

Even this centering is now only an American only thing tbh as every other country recognizes the centrality of the African and her experience as the driving core of the understanding of the contemporary African continent.
posted by Mrs Potato at 6:11 AM on September 7 [2 favorites]


Hi divabat! Glad to see you back here. :)

How's everyone doing? I'm alright. Enjoying the last part of the weekend.

I love A Black Lady Sketch Show. Am I getting the entire skit just watching off YouTube? I don't have HBO.

I read a WaPo article about Thomas Jefferson's plantation and how they've started also discussing the lives of his slaves, including the enslaved Sally Hemings who he fathered six children with. Of course White ppl are leaving angry reviews and pushing back during the tours. It's crazy how ignorant these people are. So, they don't want a complete history of the place. They just want to feel good. It's fucking disgusting and sad. But really, what's new?
posted by jj's.mama at 12:43 PM on September 8 [4 favorites]


jj's.mama, are you familiar with Azie Dungey of the (amazing!) "Ask a Slave" YouTube series? She has a really moving This American Life segment about her time working as an interpreter at Mount Vernon.
posted by TwoStride at 6:58 PM on September 8 [3 favorites]


TwoStride, I wasn't familiar with any of her work! I just listened to the segment, and it's really good the way she relates her life and the current context with re-enacting one of Washington's slaves. Thanks for suggesting it.
posted by jj's.mama at 8:50 PM on September 8 [2 favorites]


OMG "Ask A Slave" is THE BEST. So satisfying.
posted by TwoStride at 5:13 AM on September 9 [2 favorites]


So the Current 'Weird' Foods MeFi thread is...

I mean it's from a Buzzfeed Listicle that originated in a Reddit thread so "Fruit of The Poisoned Tree" and all that but sheesh...

MeFiite 1: Hahahahahaha !! Listen this food combination is SO GROSS!?!?!

MeFite 2: Actually it's a fairly common combination in Country X and the dish is called Y ..

MeFite 1: SOOOO GROSS AND WHO WOULD EVEN EAT THAT AMITIRE?? LOL !!


*Beyond Frustrating* I just gah!
posted by Faintdreams at 7:50 AM on September 9 [6 favorites]


(I'm amused by how so many people are defensive of mayo in that thread)
posted by rather be jorting at 9:09 AM on September 9 [3 favorites]


Joke's on me, for I am now mildly invested in pushing back on classist assumptions about the use of ranch dressing as a pizza dip. Ranch goes great with bougie sweet potato fries too, imo!

I really liked cendawanita's explanation of why and how peanut butter isn't actually integral to (authentic) peanut sauce in the food thread, btw. Though I wouldn't want any BIPOC MeFites to feel like it's their duty to have to do so, I thought it was a good example of how to elaborate and educate after noting a cultural misconception.
posted by rather be jorting at 12:54 PM on September 9 [2 favorites]


Sweet potato fries are evil.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:59 PM on September 9 [2 favorites]


aww I like sweet potato fries
posted by divabat at 4:38 PM on September 9 [5 favorites]


Team sweet potato fries here, too.
posted by TwoStride at 5:05 PM on September 9 [2 favorites]


I am not a fan of sweet potato fries and have had a visceral hatred of ranch dressing for 30 years but even I have a hard time pinning those strictly on white people.

Tex Mex on the other hand...
posted by ActingTheGoat at 6:53 PM on September 9 [3 favorites]


Yep. I tried to point this out early in the thread, but to approximately no avail.
posted by meaty shoe puppet at 7:48 PM on September 9 [3 favorites]


So I was looking forward to reading an in-depth interview with Constance Wu in The Guardian, and the second photo in the article is a photo of Sonoya Mizuno (in the wedding dress), with the caption, "Wu as Rachel Chu in Crazy Rich Asians. Photograph: Warner Bros" and I'm just too furious to finish it.
posted by creepygirl at 10:17 PM on September 9 [4 favorites]


Ouch. Graun, no!

FWIW they've since corrected the error (after multiple comments from other readers who also noticed the photo mix-up), but yikes @ all that, including how the acknowledgement of the error is relegated to just the comments, rather than the body of the article. Had I not seen your comment, creepygirl, or glanced below the end of the interview to check the comments section to see if anyone else did notice the photo error, I wouldn't have known. Relegating corrections to just the comments feels like... a cop-out. Typically I'm clicking away as soon as I reach the end of an article, so I'm guessing it's likely to escape other readers' attention as well.
posted by rather be jorting at 10:40 PM on September 9 [3 favorites]


In my attempt to curb further durian discourse over in the food crimes thread, I think I ended up sparking a subthread about the history, legacy, and persistence of pineapple cottage cheese 🍍
posted by rather be jorting at 9:39 PM on September 10 [2 favorites]


Now i’m afraid
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:45 PM on September 11 [2 favorites]


I genuinely do think this comment in storytam's recent Ask about learning Chinese characters (when you're already proficient in speaking/understanding Mandarin) has a lot of helpful information for answering the question at hand, but there's also some parts of the comment I find weirdly patronizing in the assumptions it makes about really basic stuff, such as the contrast between written and spoken Chinese and the need to be emotionally prepared for hitting the eventual vocab barrier. Is it just me?
posted by rather be jorting at 2:07 PM on September 11 [5 favorites]


Perhaps this is just me (given that I grew up with parents whose education was permanently interrupted by the Cultural Revolution), but I'm also annoyed with how Mao's writings were recommended in a subsequent comment to the Chinese literacy Ask.

(Also: "These people write." Yes, they sure do...)
posted by rather be jorting at 2:08 PM on September 12 [3 favorites]


Rather be jorting, I don't have the bandwidth to read the first comment in full. The person who is patronizing. I get why it'd rub you the wrong way, tho.

I've been following but things IRL have been stressful. There's just been several incidents of white men's rage this week at work that just feels draining and sad. I'm starting to feel more unsafe just being.

How are y'all holding up? Hope you all are doing well.
posted by jj's.mama at 6:45 PM on September 12 [1 favorite]


FWIW, a lot of that comment was consistent with my own experience as a "heritage" Chinese language learner. Especially if all your older relatives are fluent and literate in at least two mutually unintelligible dialects of Chinese and, after arriving here, learned English, it can be hard to understand or accept how hard logograms can be.
posted by meaty shoe puppet at 8:38 PM on September 12 [2 favorites]


Somehow, though, I don't think I'd find a similar comment from you, meaty shoe puppet, to read as quite so patronizing. However, if you gratuitously threw in a mention of having a Chinese gf who isn't much of a reader, for example, that would probably still irk me by bringing up a whole host of other issues that aren't directly related to improving one's logogram literacy.

(Btw, I'm not discounting the authenticity of the language acquisition challenges brought up in the comment, and have also heard similar experiences from heritage Chinese learners I know irl. Some of the comment is also consistent with my experiences learning Mandarin, albeit not as a heritage learner. While all my older relatives are also fluent and literate in at least two mutually unintelligible dialects of Chinese, my parents didn't speak Mandarin at home when I was growing up, so I basically had a baby's knowledge of Mandarin when I started classes. Admittedly, a slightly advanced baby who watched a lot of Journey to the West and thus had a leg up on Buddhist-related vocabulary, but I still wouldn't have been able to put together even the most basic sentence about telling the time in Mandarin before learning time vocab in class.)
posted by rather be jorting at 10:31 PM on September 12 [4 favorites]


jj's.mama, I'm sorry to hear about your irl stress! The onset of a new school year is exhausting enough without having to deal with incidents of white men's rage at work on top of that. :/

Things are good on my end, occasional online irritations aside. The other day I had a nice little conversation with a bunch of other Chinese diaspora colleagues about mooncake opinions. For example, I'm not a fan of the dry yet oily egg yolks found in my favorite lotus seed paste mooncakes - yet those qualities are exactly why the egg yolks are another person's favorite thing, haha. Tonight's moon was very full and I thought about those round yolks some more. 🌝
posted by rather be jorting at 11:59 PM on September 12 [2 favorites]


Have y'all seen the article in the New Yorker by Corey Robin about Clarence Thomas? (excerpt from his new book)
posted by skye.dancer at 11:34 AM on September 14 [2 favorites]


Link doesn’t go anywhere (article).
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:47 AM on September 14 [1 favorite]


Link to the New Yorker article, "Clarence Thomas’s Radical Vision of Race."

I'm in the middle of reading it now - I haven't read much about Thomas outside of the Anita Hill hearings and more general books about SCOTUS history, so it's somewhat jarring to read about his younger self and the sharp contrast that makes with his current self on the Court. The profile takes care to be nuanced and specific in discussing how Thomas' experiences shaped him, but it's still hard to read something like:
In his first decade on the Court, Thomas often met with high-achieving black students from Washington’s poorer neighborhoods. One meeting—with a high-school student named Cedric Jennings—was immortalized in a 1998 Esquire piece. After several hours of warm conversation, Thomas asked Jennings what his plans were for college. “I’m off to Brown,” Jennings replied. Thomas frowned. Finally, he said, “Well, that’s fine, but I’m not sure I would have selected an Ivy League school. You’re going to be up there with lots of very smart white kids, and if you’re not sure about who you are, you could get eaten alive. . . . It can happen at any of the good colleges where a young black man who hasn’t spent much time with whites suddenly finds himself among almost all whites.”
I'm sympathetic to wanting to caution the student about the culture shock of attending an Ivy, especially given Thomas's experiences with YLS, but: ouch.
posted by rather be jorting at 1:06 PM on September 14 [4 favorites]


Oh, wow, skye.dancer. Thanks for sharing that profile. I truly never understood or tried to understand what Clarence Thomas was about (using the broad strokes of his conservative views and Anita Hill as my only understanding). I have much more empathy now for his views. I even get what he means about affirmative action being a program for whites by whites to keep in place white supremacy. Through A.A. , he believes it relieves whites of their guilt while at the same time keeping blacks as a second class still. This blew my mind! I've always been on the side of pro A.A., but I do get what he means.

Also, his qualification that the problem with segregation wasn't that blacks and whites were separated but that the black schools didn't have the same good resources was the problem. Yes! This is still a problem today. Now, most black kids don't get the privilege of being taught by black educators. Most teachers are white women. I think that's a shame.

Integration is good for whites. Not for blacks considering the above points. White ppl learn from diversity. Black people don't need whites. I'm cynical as you can see.
posted by jj's.mama at 2:55 PM on September 14 [1 favorite]


Rather be jorting, yeah that comment was harsh, but I appreciate his frankness. As was alluded to in the essay, he'd rather know about KKK's views outright than a hyprocrite who smiles at you with internal racist views. Seems Thomas is all for keeping it real, and I respect that.
posted by jj's.mama at 2:59 PM on September 14 [1 favorite]


Sorry for the borked link, folks. Thanks for correcting it, rather be jorting!
posted by skye.dancer at 5:11 PM on September 14 [2 favorites]


I think I just had a comment deleted from the "weird American practices" AskMe. Is there a more perfect sketch of race relations on Metafilter in 2019 than the mods deleting Asian American answers from an AskMe about what American practices would be interesting and valuable to tell a Korean?

Granted, I can't tell for sure because, of course, no mod note. I guess it could just have been another one I drafted on the subway and forgot to actually post after I got internet. :-/

Anyway, retyped it and included a link to the Atlantic for evidence. The mods like the Atlantic, right?

Not sure if the cost/benefit ratio of this place is going up, or just my cutoff.
posted by meaty shoe puppet at 10:44 AM on September 15 [8 favorites]


skye.dancer, no prob!

It's a thought-provoking article. I can't figure out how to write out more thoughts on it without getting into a derail (within just my own train of thoughts) on Justice Thomas's judicial philosophy, so I'll leave it at that.

meaty shoe puppet, that's so frustrating! The activity on that entire Ask has been an exercise in frustration, though I did enjoy many more sunsets' comments and thought this one in particular was worded very well.
posted by rather be jorting at 10:34 PM on September 15 [3 favorites]


Does anyone want to make a post on Packer's new article in the Atlantic "When the Culture War Comes for the Kids"?

I am enormously unqualified to contextualize it, and I suspect there's a lot of context that should be given.

I guess I want to hear that article discussed, but I don't feel qualified to start that discussion.
posted by meaty shoe puppet at 11:20 PM on September 17 [2 favorites]


meaty shoe puppet - as a parent, I couldn't finish the article because I actually blacked out with rage. OMG the privilege dripping from the words.
posted by alathia at 8:12 AM on September 18 [1 favorite]


I find it difficult to get past the introductory paragraph's pomposity:
To be a parent is to be compromised. You pledge allegiance to justice for all, you swear that private attachments can rhyme with the public good, but when the choice comes down to your child or an abstraction—even the well-being of children you don’t know—you’ll betray your principles to the fierce unfairness of love. Then life takes revenge on the conceit that your child’s fate lies in your hands at all. The organized pathologies of adults, including yours—sometimes known as politics—find a way to infect the world of children. Only they can save themselves.
Like, I don't doubt he feels that way, but this sounds like the opening narration of an HBO miniseries adapted from a bestselling page-turner about the (murderous) darkness at the heart of a suburban small town.
posted by rather be jorting at 10:35 AM on September 18 [5 favorites]


I started to read that new SNL threat and placed a bet with myself about when/who would show up to complain about Michael Che, and I won!
posted by TwoStride at 7:54 PM on September 18 [5 favorites]


That Shane Gillis stuff made me so mad. Not the thread, I mean Shane Gillis himself. I swear for an hour I went down a rabbit hole of reading articles about him. I cannot fathom all the people rushing to defend him. GAH.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 12:20 AM on September 19 [3 favorites]


someone in the latest food opinions thread: papaya tastes like vomit
me and other people: eh, we don't think papaya tastes that way, also it's something our chinese parents made for us
same someone: cannot conceive of human beings liking papaya at all
posted by rather be jorting at 11:04 AM on September 19 [5 favorites]


Hey all! I'm so grateful for all of you. The existence of these three threads has been really important for me... it helps me not feel as alone as I sometimes do on this site.

Yesterday I was disappointed to read the rage fantasy of Michael Vick's death I found posted in the thread about the dogs rescued from his property. I'm so glad that his operation was stopped and that the dogs went on to safer and happier lives, but it sucks to be reminded that white people often appear to care more for their pets than they do about the rest of us.
posted by el gran combo at 11:35 AM on September 19 [8 favorites]


Oh boy is that Trudeau thread a hot mess of just real blatant racism. Shouldn’t have read it. Did. And now I’m just a seething mess. I know I shouldn’t be surprised about the apologia for Trudeau but hot damn, I was not prepared.
posted by stoneweaver at 4:39 PM on September 19 [7 favorites]


To follow up, the mods did kindly delete the Michael Vick comment I'd mentioned :D
posted by el gran combo at 2:27 PM on September 21 [5 favorites]


I didn't want to ask this in the singular they thread, because there's enough in there about various logistical difficulties with adopting singular they in an environment where that's not the norm. But I am curious:

For those of you who don't "look like native English speakers", how often do people interpret your use of singular they as a sign that you don't understand how to decline for number?

I haven't been explicitly corrected all that many times, but it has happened, and I assume that for every person who actually tells me I'm doing it wrong, there will be several more who just silently mark me off a few points in their heads.
posted by meaty shoe puppet at 8:54 PM on September 21 [2 favorites]


Rarely, if ever?

Back when I was a student, I think I only remember one instance of a professor correcting my use of the singular they in a research paper, and the same professor later asked me to be her research assistant. In speaking situations, I'm generally around people who also use the singular they in reference to individuals, so I can't recall ever being corrected in person, and it never would have occurred to me to assume people are silently lowering their estimations of me for seemingly not following appropriate-to-their-ears declension. (Despite what is probably a chaotic sense of grammatical intuition, writing in English is the thing I have repeatedly received academic and professional praise for, so I tend to be more worried about people judging me for other things - such as taking a picture of anything in public, or walking face-first into a tree branch because I was reading something on my phone...)

Also, my current environments consist of spaces that tend to be more aware of the singular they, in addition to being spaces with a relatively (for the U.S.) high population of non-immigrant POC of my color. Being surrounded by people who also don't necessarily look like native English speakers at first glance probably also makes it less likely that the people around me would assume someone using a singular they is doing so out of grammatical ignorance, imo? But I'm hard-pressed to recall using a singular they in other environments, either because it hasn't come up (not a whole lot of opportunity to get into referring to someone as a singular they when you're a solo traveller?) or because it has come up but I didn't have any negative of note result from the usage.

Pretty much the only time I remember someone assuming I might not be a native English speaker based on my appearance (that I can remember...) was when I went to vote in my state's most recent general election. One of the poll workers (super old white dude) started speaking in kind of an obviously slower and simpler pace to recite the typical greeting spiel (friendly, but patronizing!), so I just replied with my usual chipper Gilmore Girls -esque talking speed and he immediately shifted to a "normal" speaking speed after that.
posted by rather be jorting at 12:54 AM on September 22 [3 favorites]


I used to get the occasional compliment on how well I spoke English (my native tongue), but that's died out in the last 15 years or so. Progress? Or maybe it's just because I've stepped up, to borrow rather be jorting's delightfully accurate description, my Gilmore Girls-esque talking speed.
posted by TwoStride at 8:13 AM on September 22 [5 favorites]


Hehe, thanks TwoStride!

If anything, I'm probably much harsher on myself when it comes to slip-ups in English than any external person would be, which has a way of manifesting into various levels of anxiety that I rarely verbalize, but they're definitely there! I'll overthink and write too much and then go back and edit it all into something more stilted and artificial than I had intended, which then results in the odd dropped word and probably a bunch of other grammatical mistakes. Reviewing some of my past comments on MeFi reminds me that I should refrain from starting comments before I go to sleep - lower energy for concentrating on one thing at a time, but still enough energy to want to respond to all the things! - when, really, I should be winding down with a playlist of rain sounds or something...
posted by rather be jorting at 2:09 PM on September 22 [3 favorites]


btw, hi el gran combo! It's good to hear that these threads have been helpful, and I hope they continue to be so. The sense of not being alone is something I've also found very reassuring about these POC-only threads, and it's awesome seeing more usernames drop in to comment.

Something I keep thinking about: comments in past MetaTalks disagreeing with the assessment that the first POC-only thread was fine or went well or provided an open, vulnerable space to share personal experiences. I started participating more frequently because of the first POC-only thread, but have also blundered more than once while commenting, so FWIW - hey, my bad for that. Moving forward, I'd like to help contribute to the kind of space on MeFi that does feel more amenable for participation by other MeFites of color, however I can.
posted by rather be jorting at 4:41 PM on September 22 [4 favorites]


I also started participating more frequently because of the first POC-only thread. I feel like it helped me find my voice and knowing that there are people here who have my back on certain issues made me far more likely to voice my thoughts or displeasure with things. There are still a lot of issues with this site when it comes to race/culture/class/U.S-centrism and I still walk away from participation pretty often, but my participation is WAY higher than it was before.
posted by primalux at 5:03 PM on September 22 [7 favorites]


i don't think it was the first poc-only thread that was behind why a lot of others left and why some of us dialed down our participation to cosmic background radiation levels--it was the state of the site thread that immediately followed that irradiated the ground for some of us.

i'm glad you're participating though! somebody has to. it's been nice to see some of the threads that have been appearing, even if for many of them i am not really reading the comments anymore.
posted by anem0ne at 8:16 AM on September 23 [8 favorites]


Yeah, your comment definitely reflects how I feel about recent events, anem0ne.
posted by mordax at 9:52 AM on September 23 [2 favorites]


Okay, fam, y'all have to hold me back from commenting in the IBM software engineering thread. Seriously. I saw how it went for me in that RMS thread, and yeah. Somebody hide my phone, okay?
posted by skye.dancer at 10:17 AM on September 23 [4 favorites]


Re: IBM - I hear ya. :(

Also, hooboy, that environmentalism thread. I went ahead and called someone out in it, but I think I'm done with the Blue for awhile.

And if the next State of the Site update doesn't include plausible baby steps for addressing race issues, I'm probably going to need a new hangout.
posted by mordax at 4:13 PM on September 23 [8 favorites]


I was way too tired to try to even follow what was going on in the environmentalism thread. I'm likewise too tired, I think, for the Black classical music post.
posted by TwoStride at 6:26 PM on September 23 [4 favorites]


That environmentalism thread had me so pissed that I actually posted in it. Now I'm posting here as a POC about how pissed I am! No greater insight here except that I am pissed off.
posted by Mister Cheese at 10:17 PM on September 23 [7 favorites]


it never would have occurred to me to assume people are silently lowering their estimations of me for seemingly not following appropriate-to-their-ears declension.

Wow, really? This is a constant thing for me. Maybe I'm just surrounded by prescriptivists? I get my grammar and pronunciation corrected a fair amount. I also get people trying to switch to Mandarin, which I barely speak and they speak even more poorly, or starting conversations by asking if I speak English (this has happened while I was writing a big label in English).

Anyway, +1 for how much this thread has improved my MeFi experience. Besides just knowing that I am not alone here, this has also been a good forum for the kind of check above, which I don't otherwise have many opportunities to get.
posted by meaty shoe puppet at 6:00 AM on September 24 [6 favorites]


> Wow, really? This is a constant thing for me. Maybe I'm just surrounded by prescriptivists? I get my grammar and pronunciation corrected a fair amount. I also get people trying to switch to Mandarin, which I barely speak and they speak even more poorly, or starting conversations by asking if I speak English (this has happened while I was writing a big label in English).

Ok, whoa! Even if I weren't Chinese American myself, I'd still think it's weird (and rude) for people to provide unsolicited grammar and pronunciation corrections to you, or to ask if you speak English while you're... writing a big label in English. (wtf???) Sure, they might be prescriptivists, but they're also being unnecessarily pedantic for making sure to inform you that you have done something they feel warrants correcting.

Occasionally I'll run into Mandarin-speaking tourists who see that I'm Chinese and then ask me in Mandarin to take their picture, but I haven't ever experienced anyone trying to switch to Mandarin after already speaking to me in English, which also strikes me as a weirdly illogical thing to do (though more bizarre than rude, and annoyingly more labor intensive for you both!).
posted by rather be jorting at 7:00 PM on September 24 [1 favorite]


Yeah, it's pretty much racism all the way down. The pedantry just happens to be the vehicle.

Although I guess I should be glad this isn't a universal experience? So there's hope...somewhere.
posted by meaty shoe puppet at 8:39 PM on September 24 [1 favorite]


Ugh someone posted a FPP on the Clarence Thomas article that skye.dancer discussed upthread. Look at the second comment in there. Smh. Like, I don't like him because of Anita Hill but c'mon.... I will refrain from responding in there.
posted by jj's.mama at 7:34 AM on September 25 [2 favorites]


A common pattern I'm noticing amongst FPPs where the posts themselves are interesting, nuanced, and usually directly addressing aspects of systemic racism, is that the comments themselves will often feature sort of an acknowledgement of all that - and then proceed to express sentiments where all I can think is, "ah. a swing and a miss"
posted by rather be jorting at 8:02 AM on September 25 [6 favorites]


Oh, the comment in question is now deleted. So you might not have seen it.
posted by jj's.mama at 9:42 AM on September 25 [1 favorite]


Oh good! Bummer that it got posted in the first place, but at least the deletion seemed quick - I think it was probably deleted before I viewed the thread.

--

One of the comments in the Thomas thread reminded me that NPR's Code Switch podcast might be a good resource to link, even if it's not necessarily at the basic 101-introductory level that might be helpful for a white person totally new to understanding what's up with systemic racism (in the U.S.). Not all the episodes are permanently/currently available, and the podcast is still U.S.-centric, but the show digs into the history of contemporary issues from BIPOC perspectives in a way that combines conversational banter that's easy to listen to, while also getting into direct, detailed, nuanced discussion that gets into a fairly deep dive per episode topic (as much as can be reasonably covered within approx. half an hour or an hour).

The site design is oddly resistant to linking individual episodes in an easily-referenced way - I can't figure out how to do this without linking to the embedded NPR web players, sorry - but here are the episodes I've recently listened to that I thought were especially relevant for considering a whole bunch of issues related to community dynamics (online and offline) where the demographics are continually shifting:

* The Black Table In The Big Tent (transcript): Black Republicans are basically unicorns — they might just be the biggest outliers in American two-party politics. So who are these folks who've found a home in the GOP's lily-white big tent? And what can they teach us about the ways we all cast our ballots? - A must-listen, imo. The Mia Love segment in particular was incredibly interesting, especially when it gets to an interview with her and you can hear the shift in her voice when she's asked about how Trump referred to her parents' home country (Haiti), and the silence she received when she emailed everyone she knew regarding those remarks.

There's a lot of broader issues the Mia Love segment brings to mind regarding assimilation and exceptionalism that I don't feel qualified to speak upon in more general terms. But like, just speaking for me, it's a stark reminder of how assimilating into, idk, a particular subset of white U.S.-centric preferably academic culture just means you're good at assimilating - it doesn't reflect anything about the nature of the community or how welcoming they are, other than that they are welcoming to someone good at assimilating. And once something else comes up marking a fundamental difference between the in-group (and what they consider to qualify for the in-group) vs the out-group, assimilation in other respects can only go so far.

* The Original Blexit (transcript): How is it that the party of Lincoln became anathema to black voters? It's a messy story, exemplified in the doomed friendship between Richard Nixon and his fellow Republican, Jackie Robinson. - This episode really took me aback. Jackie Robinson and Nixon... friends? Their friendship didn't last, but the fact that they became friends in the first place, and the history of that friendship (and its eventual disintegration) was a really thought-provoking listen.

* A Tale Of Two School Districts (transcript): In many parts of the U.S., public school districts are just minutes apart, but have vastly different racial demographics — and receive vastly different funding. That's in part due to Milliken v. Bradley, a 1974 Supreme Court case that limited a powerful tool for school integration. - The segment with the student who didn't realize, until she was already attending an admitted students day at Yale, that other students came from much more affluent high schools - even though she was only 15 minutes away from a much richer school in a different district? Wow. Long Island alone having 125 school districts while all of Los Angeles has just the one? This episode was exceptionally enlightening on the effects of keeping U.S. school districts segregated, and the power dynamics reflected in the interest in using borders as a means of defining where resources should go.

And that's just the few I was able to listen to this morning! There's a ton more episodes that I think would be of interest to BIPOC here, with the caveat that it does focus specifically on various aspects of U.S. race relations and dynamics due to being part of a U.S. radio network. Since the hosts and interviewees themselves are BIPOC, even when they discuss fraught topics, I'm a lot more relaxed listening to their discussions - it's like when you're chatting with another BIPOC friend and you know you don't have to pause to explain a bunch of things or go through various preliminary conversational hoops first - you can just get right to it.
posted by rather be jorting at 12:22 PM on September 26 [10 favorites]


Just wanted to speak up before this thread closes to say hi, I’m listening. I’ve spoken up in a bunch of previous racism-related MeTas, including the companion to the original POC-only thread, but I’ve been pretty burned out + dealing with some mental health stuff which has killed my ability to do more than lurk. But I wanted to say thanks to everyone who’s been keeping these threads running, whether by posting or commenting. Hopefully I’ll see you in thread #4?
posted by bettafish at 3:37 PM on September 27 [6 favorites]


Hello! I also just wanted to say hi before this POC thread closes. I've been occasionally checking Metafilter and thinking about what happened at the State of the Site thread, etc. I'm really heartened by the presence of the thread itself, and so grateful that it exists and will continue on (thanks, brandon blatcher!)

In the SoTS thread, I wrote a few comments arguing about white supremacy that created heated conversation, to put it neutrally. I feel a mix of strong guilt and apologeticness about my words and comments in the past thread -- not because I think I was wrong, but because I felt like an instigator through the messenger of bad news, revealing issues that were latent, and stirring shit up (even if the racist shit had always been there, created by others). I definitely didn't want people to button, and felt so sad when that happened! I also feel a sense of relief and clarity and solidarity that I said something that I rang true to me, and rang true with some people.

So to fellow POC mefites: I'm sorry, and thank you.

==

A few things that happened to me over the past month or two:

- I visited a high school friend who's white-moderate-liberal-racist, and had some difficult heated conversations, while also realizing that they're still a friend that I care for, and they're a friend that cares about me

- I visited family/friends in Korea for a few weeks, where I partially grew up, and re-experienced what it's like to be in a country where I wasn't perceived as a racial Other. This was actually so surprising and amazing and deeply emotional for me .. especially when I came back to the US/NYC and was shocked to look at the US and it's racism with a deep clarity that I rarely get when I live here.

- I watched Slave Play on Broadway in NYC, which...... if you can see it, you should go (it's not what you think it's about). It was incredible and cathartic and (I think) ultimately empowering. There's a single line in it that changed my mind about dealing with whiteness.

As a result, over the past few months, I've been having so many more good conversations with white friends about race than I've ever had.

==

All in all I think I've decided to stay here at Metafilter, at least for a bit. I'm determined to treat this place as a version or microcosm of the world. I'll have conversations here that push back against whiteness and racism with firm clarity and generous compassion. Sometimes I might be snarky and angry. Hopefully I can work through this with grace.

I care about Metafilter and other Mefites here, and I also care about fully revealing & dealing with the white supremacy and racism that I've internalized. I think the only way out is through.

Thanks for listening to some of my thoughts. Looking forward to the next POC thread and wishing everyone a restful weekend. <3
posted by suedehead at 5:15 PM on September 27 [11 favorites]


I feel a mix of strong guilt and apologeticness about my words and comments in the past thread -- not because I think I was wrong, but because I felt like an instigator through the messenger of bad news, revealing issues that were latent, and stirring shit up (even if the racist shit had always been there, created by others).

For what it's worth, telling the truth about what's going on was the right thing to do, and the resulting shitstorm was not your fault. ('Pretend the low grade shit we're pulling is okay or we'll turn on you completely' is a classic toxic dynamic between people with privilege and people without, and a number of posters here definitely subscribe to that worldview.)

You were right to point stuff out. I'm unhappy I have neither the time nor energy to raise more of a fuss than I do, frankly.
posted by mordax at 5:48 PM on September 27 [8 favorites]


I just started a new job and have far less "sitting around on the internet" time as I did at my last position, but I hope to see you all in the next thread. Even if I get burnt out on this place, I do still try to keep up with the current POC thread. Sometimes it's all that keeps me here.
posted by primalux at 9:04 PM on September 27 [6 favorites]


suedehead, I'd love to hear more of your thoughts about Slave Play, which I've heard very mixed things about and amy dying to see (but am too far from NYC to make it easy).
posted by TwoStride at 9:46 PM on September 27 [2 favorites]


Ugh. suedehead, those issues were in no way your fault-- and they weren't exactly latent either, for that matter. Thomas Paine's Crisis called out the whole "Well! give me peace in my day" attitude centuries ago, but that same sentiment was on full display in the reactions to your comment.

Later, the Trudeau blackface/brownface thread had a comment or two about the dangers of "accidentally" seeming racist (by, say, singing a Harry Belafonte song) that I felt were comically missing the point-- and then I remembered that there was a similar sort of pushback during the boyzone era. ("What, I can't say 'hi' to any woman ever again?")

MetaFilter got some productive results from its "Shroedinger's rapist" threads, but I don't think it's anywhere near ready for a similar "Shroedinger's racist" conversation.

Uh, anyway I've been bogged down by work. Even before that I'd gone into yet another MetaFilter thread about North American "meritocracy" and came away with the distinct feeling that it was a waste of my time. (The post title is taken from a book that the linked article never mentioned, you see. Also, my pointing out that the idea of meritocracy is factually wrong/easily refutable will not overcome other people's beliefs and faith, so why try? By the time I got back to that thread and saw that I'd have to unpack a whole different layer of context, I just realized that I'd done this before, and why in the world was I expecting anything to change in the first place?

(Even before THAT I had said that I'd stay out of these threads from now on-- not because the threads are a bad thing, but because I thought that just speaking my piece in MetaFilter proper would work out, right? Ha ha ha.)

Only later did I actually watch the video of Robin DiAngelo summing up concepts from her own book White Fragility, and oh look, meritocracy is a sore point (~minute 56, but the whole video is worth watching)!

Sorry. I'm not trying to be pessimistic! I'm not leaving, I'm not giving up. This summer has given me a renewed sense of how... inertial this site is about racial issues. I still wouldn't recommend this place to my friends and family, and I still think that's a shame (and the comically obvious flipside to the "why can't we get more new members?" issue).
posted by tyro urge at 11:45 PM on September 27 [9 favorites]


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