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the shakes

My sister’s afraid her worrying about the polling today is going to give her an ulcer. I am concerned – but nowhere near the intensity she is.

Over the last week, white people have been coming out for Obama in droves. To me this is disturbing, if for no other reason than the fact that I know America has not changed that much, that quickly. It seems to me to shore up support for the idea that antagonism toward Hillary is unparalleled: because she’s a woman, because she’s Hillary, because she’s a Clinton. [people who hate her usually claim one of these reasons] It scares the bejesus outta me that people can be [what to me is] so obviously sexist, and yet it flies. In fact, I feel like a lone voice in the wilderness pointing out inequalities in treatment.

No one is perfect, and I’m not suggesting Hillary is – she’s got her issues, and who can find a presidential candidate that you agree 100% with? But I can’t shake my feelings about Obama. In the meantime, if he wins – I wish him good luck and Godspeed. But I’ll be watching whoever takes the nomination.

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I’ve recently learned a lesson about the value of ‘safe spaces’. And have further affirmed my lack of desire when it comes to confrontation. I will only discuss something so much – I like writing and discussing and sharing and reading and learning: but if I hafta keep saying the same thing over and over again and you don’t get it – and you in turn misinterpret my arguments for your own ends [perhaps turning a substantive discussion into a nice-nasty* flaming on semantics] – well, I’m over it. I’m not in the business of educating the world. If I find someone to be stubbornly unteachable [i.e. unwilling to listen to or appreciate any of my arguments simply because they disagree with my overall premise], then I am happy to leave them so.

I’ll stop talking in hypotheticals now: I’m sure there are others who have duplicated this experience many different places on the web. I recently made myself part of the lurking community on a blog that seemed to foster diverse opinions and cater to a specific interest of mine – so we’ve got folks rallying around their common cause/interest from various backgrounds.

As time went by, I began to get a sense of the regular posters/commenters – the active folks in the community. They seemed to present as mostly white/hetero/male, with a few white females. And this is cool – I grew up mostly white, I spend most of my life in multi-cultural or majority white environments – that’s ok. I am still black, too, though.

Being black, sometimes I find it slightly hilarious to observe a group of white people discussing black ideologies – or at least those that they have assumed/assigned as black ideologies. As a lurker, it’s something you can do whenever you want to, and just get a kick out of it. Until the inevitable happens [wel, maybe it’s not inevitable, but it certainly seems as though it’s true: the longer white people are allowed to discuss any issues touching race, in what they feel is a community of like [read: white] people, there will come a time when some racist crap comes bubbling to the surface.

This particular blog [which I will not name, here, because in truth – it really is a good place in so many ways] has been touching on some issues about Obama’s run for office – criticizing his affiliation with his church, in particular it’s pro-Black agenda. So, naturally, after discussion progressed long enough to seem like a safe ‘white’ space, someone posed the age-old: “How come it’s not racist if they say they’re pro-Black, but it is if I say I’m pro-White??” [and all the obligatory families and renditions of this one that you can think of.] There was also the suggestion that Black people should relinquish their Black identity [which is, in the minds of some, synonymous with oppression] in favor of the melting pot/new creature Christian identity.

This got me fired up enough to hop into the convo. Not entirely intrepid, I commented that I was unsure of breaking my silence due to the fact that by now, I know how often people cannot understand minorities when they try to explain “what’s racist” [or wev] about what the member of the majority is saying/doing. And wouldn’t you know it, I didn’t have far to get into the fray before I was now defining race issues, racism, etc.

As I get tired of teaching people about all of this, and I try to convey that I can’t speak for all Black people, anyway, the entire process just gets more taxing for me. I struggle to be informative and inoffensive at the same time – couching words and phrases the best I can – to encourage learning and decrease the likelihood of defensive posturing. It really took a lot out of me – and at the end of the day, there was nothing different than what had been before.

I had thought that I’d been in a safe space – a place where progressives were comfortable, ideas flowed, and diversity was appreciated. But instead, it was a liberal haven for white people. A closed community where they could pat each other on the back and congratulate one another on how ‘open-minded’ they are. Though there may be both liberals and conservatives in the community – they all have the benefit of privilege [not just racial majority, but an apparent financial privilege that allows some to be esoteric.]

So I ended up backing out of the conversation, frustrated and a little hurt. People I had thought would accept me – because I thought I was a part of their group, had communicated to me in no uncertain terms – that I was in fact NOT part of the group. I am Other – and will remain such.

Well, a couple days later, they’re on to something else – discussing the minute details of something else – and I’m content to be a lurker again. I don’t see myself continuing to participate; and more than likely, I’ll be gone soon. I have a tiny bit of a life in the real world.

*nice-nasty: [old Southern phrase] 1. may be applied to someone who’s got sugar dropping fom their lips but is busy stabbing you in the back. 2. Also may be used to describe someone who is incongruent in their housekeeping – fastidious about little things, and a slob about others.

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One thought on “the shakes

  1. Pingback: getting there from here « Molecular Shyness

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