***This is a repost of something that was originally written back in May of this year. For those of you not affiliated with fandom, it was inspired by a long string of incidents related to racism and anti-semitism within the fandom community here on LJ. Being that most of what it says is particularly appropriate to the current discussions within the political process here in the States, I decided to bring it back up as this week's therealljidol
post. I'll post the link to this week's poll when it goes up.***
I grew up in a small town in southern West Virginia. Back then, we were right on the borderline of being a rural community and a suburban one. There were around 100 people in my graduating class, and if any of them were Jewish, I never knew it. There was a very small temple in town. I remember being little and asking my mom about the "building with the neat star" on it. She told me that it was the Temple and explained that it was a Jewish church. My knowledge of Judaism was limited to what I read in "Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret", "The Diary of Anne Frank", and studies of The Holocaust in social studies and history classes. In general, religion wasn't really discussed, unless it was to bash Atheism or Satanism (which was meant to encompass both Satanism and all Pagan religions). I was lucky enough to have had a decent education about what exactly the Holocaust was, and how wrong it was to discriminate against anyone, let along to commit genocide against a group of people for any reason, yet I didn't know that being Jewish was as much about race as it was about religion. I had never seen an example of anti-semitism in my life. The racism that I was most familiar with was that which was aimed toward African-Americans.
I've always considered myself relatively well informed. After leaving home, I came into contact with a lot of things that I never saw in the small town where I grew up. I learned more about all sorts of "-isms", and just how prevalent they were. But I still thought that anti-semitism was somehow rare and uncommon. I don't know how I missed it. All I can say is that I was privileged enough to not have to notice. Even my multicultural counseling classes didn't address Jews.
As it turns out, my education on anti-semitism has come almost entirely from LiveJournal. I had never heard the word "kike" until the Yuletide debacle. I never knew about all the different ways that my Jewish friends were discriminated against every single day until the conversation came up on LJ. But, once I was made aware, I did a few things. First, I acknowledged my ignorance and asked for someone to rec me some books that would help me educate myself. Two, I acknowledged my own privilege and the ways that it could cause me to get in my own way. And most importantly, I listened. When people like chopchica
, and kita0610
, and ladycat777
, and jennem
and a host of others talked about these issues, I listened. And when hateful, awful, discriminatory things happened, I listened to the people who were racists too and I vowed to never be one of them. I also swore to never stand by and do nothing when faced with one of them. And I started paying attention to other discussions of race and discrimination on LJ and I listened to those too.
Listen long enough, and you will start hearing a lot of people talk about intent. Especially when they are called out on a racist statement or behavior. "Well, I didn't mean it that way." "You just took it wrong. I didn't intend to be offensive." Or how about, "Well my friend who is [FILL IN THE BLANK] didn't find it offensive so you shouldn't be offended either." This always makes me think of someone who hits a person with their car. "Well, I didn't mean to drive on the sidewalk." "I didn't drive on the sidewalk with the intent of hitting you. You just happened to be there and didn't move out of the way fast enough." "Well my friend got hit by a car and was just fine, so you shouldn't be lying on the ground screaming in pain just because I broke your leg." Except that people will say things to a person they have offended with their racism that they would never say to a person they had run over with their car. Well, guess what? When you say these things to a person you have just offended with your racism (even if you didn't mean to be racist or realize that you were being offensive), you really do sound just as stupid as if you had said the same things to a person you struck with your car. None of us has the right to tell someone else how they should feel. All people have a right to their emotions. You don't have to like them, but if you intend to make posts on a public forum like LJ, you have to deal with them.
And in the course of all this, I have learned to hate hate hate hate
the word "tone". If you listen to the racists, or the people who sympathize with them, you frequently hear about the tone of those "hostile Jew-types" or those POC. About how it's because of their tone that people won't listen to them or change racist behavior. Never mind that the tone argument generally only pops up when the person making it can find no defensible argument to make in response to the real issue at hand.
Well, FUCK THAT!
Racism makes me angry! It pisses me the hell off! It outrages me! It makes me want to scream and rant and pull my hair out! And I get to view it through the glass of my privilege. So if I feel this way, I can't even imagine how a person who it's aimed at must feel. But, the way I see it, we should all be angry, pissed off and outraged about racism. If we aren't, it isn't going to go away anytime soon. And I am sick to death of seeing the people who work so hard to point out and fight against this type of behavior on LJ get slammed repeatedly with the tone argument. It's stupid and silly and completely ridiculous.
So now, I am making two more vows. I vow to start taking part in the discussions instead of just listening and to never make any attempt whatsoever to "watch my tone" while doing it. And I also vow to come to the defense of anyone who is subjected to the intent or tone arguments, and to do so angrily and in a manner befitting my pissed off-ness. Because righteous anger is the best weapon we've got against racism and ignorance, and I will use it to the best of my ability.
***The polls are now open
! If you liked this entry, I can be found in Tribe 1, and you do NOT have to be a member of therealljidol
community to cast a vote.***