Monday, November 24, 2014

The Narrative of the Oppressed White Man

My last post was about how I've embraced Twitter as a fairly late adopter as is typical for me when it comes to tech, but whole-heartedly nonetheless.

There is a light side to Twitter, but as with all things in life, "Without the darkness, there would be no light."

Twitter's dark side for me is a direct but more aggressive and vocal form of the racism I experience in real life. We all know that people feel more comfortable saying things in the relative anonymity of the Internet than they would saying things to someone's face. Nowhere is this more apparent than with white people on Twitter addressing racism.

There's a disturbing narrative among some very unenlightened white people online and off. It goes like this.

Racism is over and done with.
Only a very few white people are racist and they are either very old or very crazy. If elderly white people are racist it's forgivable because they are just a product of the era when they grew up.

White People are Discriminated Against More Than Black People
In an effort to make things "equal" the government is actually discriminating against white people now. Affirmative Action takes jobs away from white people who deserve them and gives them to less qualified black people who have not earned them.

Slavery doesn't matter any more.
Slavery was a long time ago and has nothing to do with the present. Black people are ungrateful for white people ending slavery. Jim Crow, The Era of Lynching and Segregation were also a long time ago and have nothing to do with the present.

Black People are Criminals
Broken Windows Policy, School to Prison Pipeline and Stop and Frisk Policy are not evidence of white racism but evidence that black people need to be policed more harshly than white people. If it weren't for white people, the black community would fall apart.

Republicans Really Like Black People
The Republican party is, and always has been the true party of Liberty. Black people should vote for Republicans because Lincoln freed the slaves and Lincoln was a Republican. Democrats keep black people enslaved on a "political plantation" promising them welfare and other handouts to trick black people into voting for them.

Black people "play the race card" all the time
Black people claim racism all the time and claims of racism should not be taken seriously. Black people can claim an unfair advantage just by calling a white person a racist.

Respectability Politics
Black people don't want to work hard "anymore" (as opposed to how hard we used to be forced to work). If black people would go to school, get jobs and take an active part in the communities they live in, then white people would have no problem with black people.

I have had people argue these points with me for hours, days on end. I had a Twitter conversation with one white man that went on for four days. Any time I posted anything about Ferguson, he was back on the attack.

A lot of the white people who post things like this do so in very polite tones. They believe that because they couch their rhetoric in polite terms that there is no way anyone could or should be angry about what they're actually saying. They place a lot of weight on how "calm" someone is discussing their insulting bigotry, which mainly gives them a way to lob more insults.

The only way to get rid of these people is finally to call them out for the racist bigots they are. I've found that to be more effective than blocking them because white people do not like to be told that they are 1) white, 2) a bigot, or 3) an outright racist.

I have also found it effective to explain that I will never agree with their views that the present history of Ferguson, Missouri has nothing to do with racism.

This narrative explains a lot. It explains why Ferguson is surrounded by tanks instead of the mayor, governor, state or federal legislators or the President simply talking to and assuring the protestors that Darren Wilson will be prosecuted and making sure that happens.

This narrative explains why the the former mayor of one of the largest cities on the planet, Rudy Guiliani, feels perfectly comfortable going a national Sunday morning show like Meet the Press and telling two prominent black men, to their faces, that the policing in black neighborhoods is necessary because black people and their communities don't deserve respect.

This explains why every 28 hours a black male is killed by police or white vigilantes in America. It's why black people run out of breath and memory before detailing a list of black men and women who have been slaughtered by racist American law enforcement or just white people who considered themselves offended.

Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, John Crawford, Aiyanna Jones, Oscar Grant, Sean Bell, Timothy Thomas, Nathaniel Jones, Roger Owensby, Mike Brown....12 year old kid shot in Cleveland this past weekend...elderly black man shot by cops for calling 911...kid shot for having his music turned up and white guy didn't like it....kid shot because white guy accused him of stealing a gun from his house....

Oh and Renisha McBride. And the other black man shot trying to get help from the cops after an accident. And the naked man....

Without resorting to Google searches, this is all my brain can handle right now. It's overwhelming as the faces, the stories, the heartbreak, the grief go through my mind.

The pain is unbearable and far too much of this destruction hinges on the false narrative that black people deserve to die if white people are afraid of us and white people are the new oppressed minority.

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Falling in Love with Twitter

For the longest time I would not have a Facebook account. Not 'didn't have," I mean 'wouldn't have." I had heard a lot about it and it just seemed stupid. But in true DebLite fashion, I always make the opposite argument with myself: Why should I have a Facebook account?

I did a Google search for that very thing and came across an article where a  young woman made what I felt was a very compelling argument that reached me. That people who failed to embrace Facebook were much like people who once scoffed at the notion of having a telephone, radio or later television. At each stage of our technological development there are those who deliberately leave themselves out based on reasons from superior morality to simply seeing "no need" for such an item.

The idea of myself as a moribund scoffer of progress just sounded too Republican for me. So I joined Facebook that very day. You could say that maybe I was just looking for any reason to join Facebook, but I think the closer truth is that I was afraid that I wouldn't be able to learn how to use it, so I just took the fake moral high ground of not needing it or seeing a use for it.

And so it was with Twitter. Well not quite. I understood what Facebook what was for. Twitter, I simply did not get. What was the point of Tweeting what you're doing? All day, every day? I could barely keep up with what I was doing all day. Now I was supposed to write about it? All the time? While it was happening? Absurd.

Twitter was the one thing I didn't understand but always wanted to get. So I joined and sent out  a few tentative tweets. I had a few followers, mostly friends I'd asked to join me on Twitter. Things stayed that way for pretty much a year.

I knew there was something more to Twitter when more and more news broke on Twitter than on any news station, any other social media. Twitter is the now of the planet. If it's happening right now, it's on Twitter. Twitter is immediate and I had to get more involved but I had no idea how. And moreover, it seemed I had no time.

My life slowed down a bit when a friend of mine went to jail and rehab and I agreed to take care of her baby when she got out. Suddenly I went from roaming the world at my sweet will to being in the house with a 7 month old baby. My own daughter nearly a college graduate it had been a long time since I'd taken care of any child who could not already read. This was back to square one with a vengeance.

While the kid napped, I explored more and more of Twitter. And slowly I became more and more engaged, read up on how to properly use a hashtag, retweet, message, communicate with others, it became a lot more fun.

Discovering Black Twitter was a mind-blowing revelation. The depth, breadth, wit, candor and sheer beauty of Black Twitter has expanded my mind and my heart in ways I can't begin to describe.

However I tend to pay less attention to what's trending on Twitter than what's trending for me. Mainly because  I'm still playing catchup but also because it's impossible to be aware of every trend, every news item at once. What's new for me may be a year old. That's ok. I'm learning.

But I've learned one thing - if it exists, there's a hashtag for it. If there's not a hashtag for it, create one.

I have serious things I do on twitter, usually a continuation of the political things I write about here and on Facebook.. And there are fun things I do on Twitter. I stumbled on Tweeting While Watching TV by accident, but it's an awesomely fun thing to do. I made a decision to focus more on my own writing and less on watching TV. To that end, there are only about three prime time TV shows that I watch anymore. Watching them is way more fun when I'm watching them with a few hundred thousand of my closest friends on Twitter.

So I think I'm going to do a thing here at DebLite called "Trending." On what issues or topics have caught my attention on Twitter. In the meantime, of course, follow me on Twitter: DebLite (@ThatDeborahGirl).