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15 September 2010 @ 10:54 pm
I probably shouldn't have to say this...  
And surely it is not news to pretty much everyone here. But.

Multiple choice question. If you are in a privilege group, and someone else in your privilege group says something you find reasonable, but people not in that privilege group find it oozing offensive privilege, then, as an ally do you [ETA: ideally]:

(a) Tell the person who is offended/upset that they are overreacting and being mean to the person of privilege [possibly with use of a violent metaphor].
(b) Tell them that naming a form of privilege is bigoted because it singles out a group.
(c) Explain that you're confused, so the person who is offended/upset should drop everything to explain this to you.
(d) Try to figure out what you're missing. Possibly look some stuff up. Possibly ask the upset person what's going on, but in a way that doesn't presuppose that they are {"just angry"/hysterical/irrational}.


I'm getting rather more (a) (b) and (c) of late than I expect or wish to deal with. My resources are far too limited for me to spend time and energy on non-allies. I have immense admiration for the people who can manage it, but I am not currently one of them.

So let me just note that if your answer isn't (d), it is probably a waste of your time to talk to me at this point.

ETA: Just a note: I'm not saying anyone has to be perfect or anything, gods know I'm not; just -- if you think you are entirely entitled to (a), (b), or (c) and don't see why they'd bother me (aside from my obvious angry-brown-woman hysteria!) -- then just, please, don't. The internet is a big place. There are more welcoming spaces for that attitude than my lj.
 
 
Current Mood: stressedtired of this
 
 
( 65 comments — Leave a comment )
Alan Yeealan_yee on September 16th, 2010 06:22 am (UTC)
*raises hand cautiously* I believe the answer is (d).

Sorry to hear you've been dealing with so much Fail lately. *hugs*
shweta_narayan: aieeeeshweta_narayan on September 16th, 2010 06:39 am (UTC)
Thank you, dear.

It's less "lots" and more "hit me where I was extremely vulnerable". If it was "lots" of this, I'd have dropped off the internet entirely; I am really low-resource at this point :/
(no subject) - thewronghands on September 16th, 2010 07:12 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - shweta_narayan on September 16th, 2010 07:14 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - thewronghands on September 16th, 2010 07:23 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - shweta_narayan on September 16th, 2010 07:25 am (UTC) (Expand)
fjmfjm on September 16th, 2010 06:27 am (UTC)
I prefer d but c might well be my response if we are *in* the situation and I've clearly missed something. An example of this for me has been the issue of native American representation in children's books on a list I'm on. When the scholar Debbie Reese first brought it up much of her ire left me confused because I am used to a world in which 'exotic' = foreign. It took me a while to even get to the point where i had a clue which questions to ask.
shweta_narayan: authorpic1shweta_narayan on September 16th, 2010 06:33 am (UTC)
That's something I'd be able to deal with sometimes, and not at other times. But that's me; still there's a difference between that and believing that (c) is something one is entirely entitled to do at any point, in any kind of interactional situation, yes?

(The pattern, for me, is generally [person who does not normally talk to me at all, poss. who has dismissed me utterly in the past] chiming in just to say "I don't understand, explain." and others who share that privilege going "They just asked for an explanation, why the overreaction?".)
(no subject) - fjm on September 16th, 2010 10:56 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - redbird on September 16th, 2010 05:14 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - shweta_narayan on September 16th, 2010 08:52 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - shweta_narayan on September 16th, 2010 08:52 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Coraacoraa on September 16th, 2010 06:32 am (UTC)
I'm sorry you've been dealing with so much fail recently.

(I always aim for 'd', but in that 'I'm sure I fuck up sometimes anyway' way. I try to apologize when I fuck up, though, and I am blessed with friends who will cuff me about the ear and let me know if I really blow it.)
shweta_narayanshweta_narayan on September 16th, 2010 06:37 am (UTC)
I always aim for 'd', but in that 'I'm sure I fuck up sometimes anyway' way.

Me too. The fail I've been dealing with is people who don't even begin to understand why (a), (b), or (c) might just grate on the 1000th iteration.
(no subject) - shweta_narayan on September 16th, 2010 06:38 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - coraa on September 16th, 2010 07:08 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - coraa on September 16th, 2010 07:12 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - shweta_narayan on September 16th, 2010 07:16 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - dsmoen on September 16th, 2010 07:08 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - shweta_narayan on September 16th, 2010 07:16 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - dsmoen on September 16th, 2010 07:24 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - shweta_narayan on September 16th, 2010 07:27 am (UTC) (Expand)
beth_bernobich: balloon heartbeth_bernobich on September 16th, 2010 09:30 am (UTC)
*hugs*
shweta_narayanshweta_narayan on September 16th, 2010 09:55 am (UTC)
*hugs*
Thank you. I am... trying to deal. And to note that privilege is something we all lug around, and so I should be more patient. But, gods, my cognitive resources are so limited.
(no subject) - joycemocha on September 16th, 2010 03:10 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - shweta_narayan on September 16th, 2010 08:41 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - joycemocha on September 16th, 2010 11:43 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - shweta_narayan on September 16th, 2010 11:46 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Annetxanne on September 16th, 2010 11:48 am (UTC)
:-( That's adding insult to injury. I'm sorry you have to put up with it anywhere, but having it take up space in your very own LJ is even worse.

I like the formulation "person of privilege," and if you don't mind, I'll be using it from now on.
joycemochajoycemocha on September 16th, 2010 03:08 pm (UTC)
I am trying to think of a good formulation of "person-first" language to equally indicate that a person is of the Caucasian persuasion. "Person of privilege" is a handy and effective shorthand, but there needs to be an indicator for color.

Why?

Not all privilege is race-based (though one h*ll of a lot of it is), and the waters get muddied when we talk about gender or class privilege issues. I also am uncomfortable with using "person of color" and then turning around and saying "white person." It privileges the white person's color, and focuses on the skin color first. Yes, we want to highlight that for awareness, but on the other hand, I feel like saying "white person" unconsciously privileges the Whiteness of the person involved and gives them a higher status. Am I making sense here?

The idea behind person-first language (I've been through this discussion with regard to disabilities, because it is something that was thoroughly drummed into my head during the era I was training for special education teaching) is that you look at the person first, then the identifier. IOW, the person with ADHD is a person first, who has the disability ADHD. The disability is not the person. I'm afraid that by saying "white person" we're looking at the race and unconsciously affording extra privilege to that person because, after all, they're white, and then they're a person.

And maybe I'm overexplaining this, or not making myself clear. In any case, it's something which makes me thoroughly uncomfortable because I see a power dynamic lurking in that terminology. Maybe others don't see it. I'm honestly curious about that.

In any case, it's something which tweaks me.

"Person of whiteness?"
(no subject) - txanne on September 16th, 2010 03:33 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - joycemocha on September 16th, 2010 04:22 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - txanne on September 16th, 2010 04:31 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - joycemocha on September 16th, 2010 07:00 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - trinker on September 19th, 2010 08:32 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - txanne on September 19th, 2010 11:33 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - trinker on September 19th, 2010 05:19 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - redbird on September 16th, 2010 05:19 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - joycemocha on September 16th, 2010 06:58 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - phantom_wolfboy on September 16th, 2010 09:33 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - shveta_thakrar on September 17th, 2010 01:59 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - txanne on September 19th, 2010 11:38 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - marydell on September 17th, 2010 07:50 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Jhafantasyecho on September 16th, 2010 01:18 pm (UTC)
=( *hugs*
shweta_narayan: authorpic1shweta_narayan on September 16th, 2010 08:53 pm (UTC)
*sigh*

*hugs back*
Dr. Kvetchrose_lemberg on September 16th, 2010 01:33 pm (UTC)
*hugs*
shweta_narayan: authorpic1shweta_narayan on September 16th, 2010 08:54 pm (UTC)
*sigh some more*

*hugs back*
joycemochajoycemocha on September 16th, 2010 02:53 pm (UTC)
The whole incident has me slapping my head and going "Good grief. WTF? I can't believe how stupid that is."

I didn't read the whole post when it first came out, so I was scratching my head and wondering if it had been deleted. Thankfully, I found a link elsewhere and read it, and realized I had skimmed the first part but hadn't clicked through the LJ cut.

Now I feel like I need to write about how my own first reaction to 9/11 was to go on Islamic newsgroups to find out what Muslims were saying about it. I engaged in some very thoughtful dialogues and learned a lot, and came to realize (as I had hoped) that there were moderate and kind Muslims who were appalled by what had happened. I was also on the groups long enough to observe and wince at the stupidity of the periodic arrival of fundamentalist Christians bound and determined to "convert" the Muslims. I did have one friendship where the person was determined to convert me to Islam, but it was one of those laid back conversion dialogues, and we had some productive talks about Islam and Catholicism. I gained some slight comprehension of the Islamic financial system processes (this person was a judge in an Islamic state) and found it quite edifying.

My approach was "I'm Catholic and I'm not changing; you're Muslim and you're not changing. Let's talk about what we have in common." It was quite rewarding and I learned a lot. I have a lot of respect for my Muslim counterparts because we have quite a bit in common (including having to deal with idiot fanatics who do stupid stuff).
shweta_narayanshweta_narayan on September 16th, 2010 08:54 pm (UTC)
Yeah.

Though, I'm responding more to certain responses to my lj post than to Moon in particular. I don't believe she'd ever choose to post here & claim to be an ally.
(Deleted comment)
Nathanielelsmi on September 16th, 2010 05:07 pm (UTC)
I'm afraid that when you walk into a conversation in progress, it's your responsibility to demonstrate that you have something to say that's worth their attention. Instead your post contains a long list of cliches that we've all seen many, many times; if you'd like to learn something about this topic, then there are lots of resources out there to help -- try googling "racism 101" for a start, or find a friend who has the resources to help you and reason to care. Once you understand what's actually being said here and understand the obvious problems with your claims, then you might still believe that all this racism stuff is overblown or whatever, but at least you'll have some knowledge to base that on and perhaps something new to say. Until then, Shweta has better things to do with her very limited energy (did you even read the post?).

Have a nice day. Goodbye.
(no subject) - rose_lemberg on September 16th, 2010 05:52 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - shweta_narayan on September 16th, 2010 08:43 pm (UTC) (Expand)
zwol: real face (outdoor)zwol on September 16th, 2010 05:08 pm (UTC)
Maybe you'll actually listen to this from another white guy, or at least you can argue with me about it instead of with Shweta.

You're wrong. I mean objectively wrong. Your definition of racism is so narrow as to be useless. I mean, yes, nobody within the Overton window believes white people are genetically superior to brown people anymore, or at least they're not willing to admit it in public anymore. Thing is, though? We go right on oppressing them anyway. We find other excuses to do it. We say their religion, or their dialect, or their inadequate level of "assimilation", it's getting in the way, but really what's going on is we're not going to let out-group play with in-group's toys without pitching a tantrum to shame your average four-year-old first.

What you are describing as a "postmodern definition of racism" is actually the only definition that works - because it won't take any of those excuses for an answer, because it won't give you a magic formula that makes the problem invisible again. You will never truly find redemption? Yes, if what you mean is you never get to pretend you're done dealing with this shit. Out-group folken don't get to be done dealing with this shit ever. It is, in fact, part of the problem that in-group can sometimes avoid dealing with this shit.

I think that's an unfair characterization of Charles Stross's position, by the way, but I don't have time just now to find evidence.
(no subject) - rose_lemberg on September 16th, 2010 05:53 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - shweta_narayan on September 16th, 2010 08:45 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - zwol on September 16th, 2010 09:23 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - shweta_narayan on September 16th, 2010 09:33 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - zwol on September 16th, 2010 09:39 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - shweta_narayan on September 16th, 2010 09:43 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Sherwood Smithsartorias on September 16th, 2010 04:27 pm (UTC)
Definitely D--it's unsettling to discover one's blindnesses, especially if one is not exactly a kid any more. But how else can we learn, except by correction? We certainly survived learning by correction as small fry.
shweta_narayan: authorpic1shweta_narayan on September 16th, 2010 08:46 pm (UTC)
*hugs*
morgandempseymorgandempsey on September 16th, 2010 08:28 pm (UTC)
There's some comfort in that major media outlets (TIME magazine) speak out against this kind of bullshit too.

http://tunedin.blogs.time.com/2010/09/14/paper-to-readers-sorry-for-portraying-muslims-as-human/

Quote:
This is a depressing statement about the state of dialogue in America. Nine years after 9/11, there is now a widespread belief that, for one religious group of law-abiding Americans, the boundaries of acceptable behavior are narrower than for everyone else. Yes, you have the right to worship. But it would be decent of you to do it somewhere else. Or on another day. Or in such a way that the rest of us don't have to know about it. So now we have a newspaper kowtowing to a national freakout, apologizing for the most innocuous kind of soft feature, because acknowledging that there are decent Muslims in America is offensive.

They're calling out a newspaper in Portland, and rightly so. The reason for the above-linked sucks, but I'm hoping the response makes you a bit happier :)
shweta_narayan: angryshweta_narayan on September 16th, 2010 08:50 pm (UTC)
Glad of the response, and I hope it'll make some people rethink.
Kenyessod on September 17th, 2010 06:52 pm (UTC)
This caused me to think a bit. I'd like to answer D but I don't honestly know that I can. I certainly have tendencies towards strong group identification and if I'm tired or distracted am likely to react defensively. So if someone I knew said something I felt was reasonable, and someone I didn't know or didn't like reacted strongly against it, I'd probably have a fairly negative reaction towards them. I'd like to think my reaction would not be colored by race or gender, but know that as a human I'm bound to have at least some group/other divide in my reactions, even if I try conciously to compensate for that.

As I've gotten older, I've tried to become more concious of what sorts of statements are "reasonable" to try to temper this reaction. I also try to be concious of my own biases so I can avoid having it color my reactions. As I've read up on racism I've seen that very reasonable, even "good" people can be biased, often without even realising what they're doing.

I'm curious how I did with this back when we knew each other - I feel like I wasn't very self-aware back then, so I suspect I wasn't able to self-correct as much as I perhaps should have.
shweta_narayanshweta_narayan on September 19th, 2010 10:11 pm (UTC)
Seems to me that "liking to answer D" means you get why it's a better option than the rest, which is all I'm really asking. We've all got the learned prejudices; I think being aware of their existence and trying to be conscious of them, as best possible, is all any of us can do.

I'm just... utterly tired of people who aren't willing to even think past a, b, and c, even in theory, but think I'm obliged to keep lines of communication open. We all fuck up, but there's that and there's refusing to ever engage on any terms I can accept, y'know?


I'm curious how I did with this back when we knew each other - I feel like I wasn't very self-aware back then, so I suspect I wasn't able to self-correct as much as I perhaps should have.


Honestly I think we both (all) fucked it up, on several axes, because neither (none) of us had a clue on the matter or any vocabulary with which to deal with it. We may have been better about homophobia than racism/sexism/ablism/transphobia/classism/etc, because at least we realized it existed?
But, yeah, I'm pretty certain it was behind some of my blow-ups at the time, which must have seemed entirely unfounded since I couldn't even begin to articulate them comprehensibly...
( 65 comments — Leave a comment )