Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Ally Anxiety

So, Tuesday, I am did my usual thing… I listened to the Blacking It Up pod cast (and you should, too – it is amazing!). Apparently, bridges had been built over the weekend by Jack and Jill’s Cheryl Contee and Elon James White at RightOnline, because we had one of our first trolls. Ms. Contee’s and Mr. White’s adventure is documented here: “INCOGNEGRO:  UNDERCOVER AS A BLACK CONSERVATIVE AT RIGHT ONLINE DURING NETROOTS NATION PART 1." It is a must read! While I already read Jack and Jill Politics, I keep checking the site for the next part…

The pod cast was full of the anticipated and appreciated awesome. Then the troll showed up. What followed caused, for me, a severe case of ally anxiety.

During the pod cast, there is a chat window underneath where the listeners can chat amongst ourselves, respond to the show, ask questions, snark – whatever happens to be going on. Sometimes we wander way off topic, sometimes the show and the chat room work in beautiful harmony. When I started listening to @BlackingItUp and BCCO’s other shows, I just listened for a week or two, because I am a visitor, an ally – and I did not want to come on too strong, too fast, too pushy, too “white liberal on the internet.”

This day, a new person came into the chat. New people are fun and enthusiastically welcomed. This person was not fun. One by one, this person (I presumed he, there was the tell tale reek of mansplaining) started raising racial flags. Whites are racially oppressed, standardized testing is not racially biased, I am colorblind – why aren’t you, I should not get searched at the airport, racial minorities are racists because they complain about race relations, but everyone is racist like me. You know ‘em and hate ‘em: they are the classic tropes of the racist. He would raise one flag, wade into his rightly earned flak, wait for a few moments, and then raise another one. I would not be surprised to find that “oneshotoneki11” (my approximation) is at least a semi-pro troll.

Here is where the ally anxiety comes in: what do you do? I wanted to be out in front, and stomp this asshole into the ground; to stop the badness, to vent the frustration of not being able to confront so many people’s racism, and personally to show that I am not with him or his ilk. But I am working on being an ally; one of the first rules is DO NOT MAKE IT ABOUT YOU IF IT IS NOT ABOUT YOU. So I reeled myself in, spoke my peace once in a while but mostly either stayed out of the way while others let him have it, supported the excellent arguments being made against him and his toxic memetic stew, and expressed dismay that he would violate the hospitality offered him as a new guest.

I know that my case of ally anxiety was nothing, nothing compared to what the black listeners were going through while this was happening. I know that what was going on in my heart, my head, and my gut is miniscule in the grand scope of things. My feelings, my reactions – those are not a big deal to anyone but me. I write this to air it out, to solicit the opinions and experience of others, and to give anyone that wants it an insight into what went on in my head (or heads like mine?) during this. I was angry, I was sad, I was sick. We discovered that four (if I remember correctly) white members of the audience had stayed on this guy, which was also cool. I think that we, the audience, feel a little closer to one another, because of what this asshole brought out a united sense of solidarity in us.

Plucked popinjays like this troll make me ashamed of my skin. I wanted to apologize for his inanity, and I did – but that does not make any sense. No more sense than the bizarre “blaming” that minority groups sometimes face over one individual behaving badly. 

I found out that I was not obviously white, which is kind of neat.Often white racial justice allies are problematic in and of themselves. They refuse to recognize their own internal racism, how all the little assumptions, good, bad, and "neutral" add up to a racism that is insidious, because it can hide.

Racists often do not even know that they are racists, let alone doing evil. You cannot convince someone (though any means) to stop doing something they believe they are not doing in the first place. 

The top of the kyriarchy knows that their days are numbered and that their power is slipping – which, I think, is why they are always scrambling, always grabbing, and always further consolidating their power. With the election of a President that neither looks like them nor shares their history or values, they are now in a full on panic. “Take their country back,” indeed – just as the rest of us may start to think it may actually be our country, too.

Blog note: The various Pod Casts are archived and available on the Brooklyn Comedy Company’s web page. You can also find the shows on ITunes and YouTube – remember to take a moment to rate and comment, they deserve the love.

Shout out to the chat room – sorry about the trash.