Archive for December, 2011

December 24, 2011

Say what you want, but no guarantees I’ll listen

You’ll often see people loose their shit over their right to say whatever they want. They’ll see a post like this, and go, “I have the right to free speech.”

Which, of course, is true. You, and everyone else, has the right to free speech (this is excepting the cases of hate speech). What is not true, is that you have the right to be listened to. So, when a PoC (or otherwise marginalized person) tells you that they don’t require your opinion, they aren’t saying that you can’t have an opinion or that you can’t express that opinion. They are simply saying that they don’t want to hear you damn opinion, so kindly keep it to yourself. Or express it somewhere else.

This is one of the main reasons why we at the Biyuti Collective don’t do comments. Because we don’t want to hear the opinions of trolls or whomever. We just don’t want to hear it. You can say it all you want, just say it to someone else. Say it somewhere else.

Privileged people like to scream about how they are being silenced by things like hate speech laws or whatever. They want to ensure that their rights trample all over everyone else. The problem is, is that they don’t want the right to free speech but the right to be hateful and to shit that hate all over the place (especially in the faces of the people they hate).

It is the height of privilege to think that everyone must listen to what you say. Not so. I don’t have to listen to racists. I don’t. I don’t have to listen to homo-haters. I don’t have to listen to trans-haters. I don’t have to listen to their hateful speech, their bigoted comments, or their dumb as fuck opinions (about anything). Y’all can say whatever you want. But I don’t have to fucking listen. At all. Or ever. And I’ll be damned if anyone can compel me to do otherwise.

If you knew what real silencing was, you’d have a real different opinion about free speech. If you knew that people listen to your hateful words far more than they listen to anything I say, you’d get the hell out of my face about your right to free speech.

December 19, 2011

Conversations about Race or other -isms

So, I’ve watched more than one video by Jay Smooth and, for the most part, enjoy his commentary. His TED Talk has been making the rounds and while it does (if I squint at it) make some sense for trying to have productive talks about racism. Except that I disagree with this approach, which is also discussed in this video (although he admits in his TED talk that 90% of the time his strategy may not work).

Now, he tells us to focus on what people did and not what they are. Growing up with a Stern Asian Dadâ„¢ means that I was taught from the cradle to believe that actions are an expression of character. That what you do stems from who you are. That what you believe will provide the motivation and frame your actions and activities. The result? If you do something racist, you be racist. Now, this is a matter of opinion and I’m willing to agree to disagree with Jay Smooth about this.

The main problem I have with his approach is how it frames calling someone racist as equivalent to doing something racist. That is is somehow just as bad to be called a racist as to have something racist  happen to you. The framing of this discussion runs that if you call someone a racist, it’ll shut down the dialogue you could have or the teachable moment that this could be.

Except that 1) I don’t think I need to be educating racists and 2) doing something racist, as far as I’m concerned, basically shuts down any viable ability to have a constructive conversation. As far as I’ve been able to tell, there isn’t anyway to have productive conversations with racists. It doesn’t matter how gentle the tone, whether or not you stick to ‘I’ statements, if you present rational arguments, if you talk about your feelings, or any other method for trying to have a constructive conversation. The only people I’ve had constructive conversations about racism with are other PoC or white people committed to being anti-racist. Conversations with anyone else have been a shit show.

Why? Because if you cared about being anti-racist: you wouldn’t do racist shit (i.e., in my view you wouldn’t be a racist). You would spend some damn time educating yourself about the issues. You’d be the kind of person that a PoC would know, without having to walk on eggshells to protect your delicate feelings, could take criticism without being defensive or engaging in a shit-ton of whitesplaining.

For PoC who engage in horizontal hostility, I will always have more time and patience for y’all. But that is mainly cause most of you who’ve I’ve discussed racism (shockingly) get it. And you can get why horizontal hostility is a problem. These conversations have almost always been productive and worth having.

Weird how that goes, huh?

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