you know, when you use that tone I can't really hear you.
*shakes tire iron menacingly*
I posted it a while ago when I first ran across it. It never stops being true, unfortunately.
I like that. Nice work, Mr. Wise.
I saw that dude babbling in your journ last week, before you banned him, and I'm constantly amazed at all these white guys coming at it from their superior "unemotional" attitude - while in fact it's all an orgy in reversed white guilt, covert racism/sexism and taking their benefits for granted.
In the last few days, it's been several people, both online and off. And when I don't appreciate their tone (which is at turns condescending, adversarial, callous, flippant, and disrespectful), their fee-fees get hurt and they tell me I'm not being "nice" or "polite".
Edited at 2009-01-13 06:49 am (UTC)
2009-01-12 11:02 pm (UTC)
Indeed. I've been watching this happen in real-time with my grandmother. I luckily have enough time on my hands and am "angry" enough to make sure that my poor, black, 97-year-old grandmother gets better care than she would otherwise. Hell, better care than she got just a few months ago before I took over.
2009-01-12 11:08 pm (UTC)
I've been called bitter, instead of angry. I usually toss back how strong of a drug denial is, and how one shouldn't be injecting it intervenously. It really clouds the eyes over, and turns the soul into a bland fatty soup.
I haven't gotten bitter in a while, but I used to.
don't know if i've ever said this to you, but you are one of the most brilliant people i know and you are constantly inspiring me to become a better person.
What? You don't feel like you've benefited from racism? It's supposed to work to our advantage after all, because of course it's a fucking *game*. I know I sit around at night and think about how I can thwart everyone's logic by playing "The Race Card", "The Gender Card", "The Lesbian Card" (sic), "The Sexual Assault Card" and all the other things that have benefited me fantastically. I'm thinking of opening a Roth IRA. Hell, Aetna is giving me shares.
On a serious note, I'm sorry that was said to you. Grody. Now *I'm* angry.
I think it's busted_english
who actually HAS a Race Card now. It's true. She posted an image of it a while ago.
We don't get to have feelings, points, or facts. Because obviously we don't fit the mold, we must be angry or trying to "get over". After all, in the magical land of whitehistoria, racism was perpetrated by 5 families and everyone else danced in rainbow happiness! Kumbayah for everyone!http://yeloson.livejournal.com/528532.html
That's been in my memories since you posted it.
I think that people play the "you're angry" card because they think they would be angry at someone who had actually said something racist, and therefore can't imagine why you'd say something was racist if you weren't angry. Which, of course, itself relies on denial of the of racism: if something is racist, it must be angering; you can't get angry at something that was inadvertent or unintentional. The commenter didn't mean to be racist, therefore they must not be racist, and anyone calling them racist must be (inappropriately) angry.
Possibly also: If you're angry, you're being irrational, therefore these things you are saying are also irrational and not true?
Sometimes you can't win because to insist that you're not angry reinforces in some minds that you must be, otherwise why would you feel the need to say it?
It's completely a lose-lose situation. But I'm supposed to play along anyway, even though there's no opportunity to win. And by "win" I mean feel at all respected or validated.
I totally can see some white jerk locked up in his fancy university doing this.
I just don't see how people we are friends with would do this.
Isn't their space for questioning of the place/direction of tone without it being for the above reasons?
How do we have neutral brainstorms if the emotions are lashing out at one another, rather than lashing out in other directions?
Do all white folks have to experience the emotional response to what other white folks do?
How can I even ask that question without being attacked?
I don't even know how to frame it without it sounding like I'm blindly denying that I could have done anything racist in my life, (which I am not ignorant enough to do; I'm sure I've made ignorant mistakes).
2009-01-13 12:58 am (UTC)
How does this work with friends, though?
Here's my honest and humble question:
How is someone supposed to ask for a gentler form of communication without being boxed into "whitey in denial" status?
(Assuming that the subject matter is not an instance that occurred between the conversants, of course. If I have done something to you, I would expect to experience your emotional response.)
Why is the subject of "tone" being absolutely equated with invalidation of the speaker's subject matter in these cases?
(Yes, I read the whole article, and yes I understand that plenty of folks use it as a tool of denial. But when that equation doesn't fit the personality of your friend, why jump to the conclusion that your friend is a racist? Where is the room for a not racist/non-racist answer? And when the options are narrowed down to white/black, isn't that inherently a bad outcome?)
I was raised to train myself to argue my point in a respectful tone, and it gets me extremely far with all sorts of people. So if I were told to "lower my voice" or "not use that tone," I understand that I can still argue my point, and in fact be more easily understood. I believe this to be extremely valuable.
I admit that I am stumped as to why this is considered a "white" skill (and therefore insulting to request of someone who has been wronged because of their race), rather than a "skill."
Don't tell me that people of all races and nations haven't always responded best to folks who can speak clearly and passionately, and engage their audience's minds without engaging their defensiveness. Maya Angelou? ML King? Frederick Douglass? Gandhi? No one expects that much of a friendly conversation, of course, but I don't see why we jump to a negative connotation about "tone" when there are such inspiring examples.
I would ask for a calm tone with any friend, regardless of race or color or subject manner.
A POC's emotional response to racism is valid, but I don't want it pointed a *me,* particularly not in a conversation with a friend.
In conversations where I am already aware that I have to be responsible about my sensitivity and statements, I am particularly aware that I should maintain a thoughtful, peaceful approach. I think that is valid; two people helping one another to express themselves gracefully.
What is the format for a conversation between a POC and a white person where *both* feel safe and not under attack /from the person they are speaking with/?
How is someone supposed to ask for a gentler form of communication without being boxed into "whitey in denial" status?
Sorry. I will admit you may not like my "tone" here, but I'll try to be both honest and respectful, as much as I can be considering you are one of the people with whom I am currently angry, but here goes....
You and your best friend, who happens to be my roommate, are sharing your massive irritation not only with the riots happening at this very minute in the city in which you live, but with both the targets of the property destruction (largely cars and businesses owned by folks of color; squad cars belonging not to the transit police involved in the recent shooting but the city's police department--for which you have no love, but whatever) and the instigators of the property destruction (largely white "communists" who do not actually live in your city but who came to a peaceful demonstration against the institutional racism of law enforcement with the intent of wrecking shit). As we walk to a neighborhood bar to have a pint and shoot some darts, you make a comment--sarcastic, tongue-in-cheek--that the least they can do is pick better targets: BART cop cars and wealthy, white neighborhoods in their own cities that happen to also be serviced by BART.
I make some assumptions about you, but do not say what they are.
What I do say, over the course of the evening, makes it clear that on some fundamental level, I do not trust your feelings or your thought process on the shooting itself, though I've asked you neither what you feel nor what you think about that. My tone is one of condescension, and you notice that and do not respond to it well. You do, however, tell me you don't like my tone, that you are offended by what I am saying and how I am saying it, and that you feel hurt and disrespected. I keep going, ignoring all of that. After close to an hour of this quite obviously unproductive conversation, you blow up at me, in tears.
Two days later when we speak again, I tell you that my feelings are hurt; I don't like how you spoke to me. You ask me some very simple and straightforward questions, and eventually, angrily, I disclose the following:
- The "working hypotheses" (my words) with which I entered this conversation two days prior hinged upon two things: you being "overly angry" (my words) and having not "thought about" these things in an acceptable (to me) manner.
- I believe you need to "show your work" (my words) to prove your position--a position which I am assuming you to hold, since I haven't done that simple thing that is to ask you what it is.
- I acknowledge that I did not disclose my working assumptions to you, which you say is dishonest and I do not disagree.
- I describe the position I took in this conversation to be one of "holding the pitcher's mound" (my words), which you say is a method of maintaining an imbalance of power in the conversation--having the upper hand--and I do not disagree.
Even as I acknowledge the ways in which my behavior, my tone, was problematic in this conversation, I refuse to say that I did anything wrong. I get extremely defensive when you ask me simple questions, such as
* "What made you think I was so 'angry'?" (I respond in a sneering manner, "Your body language.")
* "Why do you think you're in a position to determine what is an appropriate level of 'anger' for me to have, particularly considering your assertion in past conversations about your own feelings and behavior, that anger and its wreckless expression, even when there are other more mature and productive ways to express it, is a 'good' thing?" (This one I refuse to answer at all--I shut down completely.)
* "Why do you think that I can't feel strongly about things and think critically about them at the same time?" (This one I refuse to answer at all--I shut down completely.)
Hey, I don't say enough how much I really, really appreciate having you on my internet.
thanks for posting this, with the second-person omniscience. i dig it all, agree, support.
I'm not exactly sure why, but changing up the narrative voice seemed like a pretty good idea here since respecting or denying POV seems to be at the root of the problem.
Wise article's 2nd-to-last paragraph: *KAPOW*!
And dude, I have said this before: at times you are not QUICK enough to anger, given the circumstances.
(At least, compared to MY face-punchy self, but I'm hardly the standard.)
2009-01-13 05:04 am (UTC)
I think the not being quick to anger, given the "structures of violence" which are pervasive but aren't in each moment actual violence, not being constantly angry is a good way to stay healthy much longer. Not non-responsive, but simply well.
If the byway of "If you're not outraged, you're not paying attention" was a must, we'd all be too quick to rise to the bait.
(I"m not presuming this was your premise, I'm reframing slightly.)
Anger burns me out, I have to be able to stay calm in the face of whatever it is, to be able to respond well, and not be made ill.
I don't even know what to say to all the fail in this situation. Mostly, though, I miss having you and Java around all the time.
Tea time! Hot tub! Running around with the Empress of Chicken! Soon!
I am very grateful to you for always making me think more. About tough things, hard things, sad things, tragic things, exciting things, heartwarming things.
You do so much work to help educate the people around you, and I just wanted to say that I really appreciate it. You're amazing and I am often super swoony about you.
I love it so much I peed.
And that you. Really.
Like when people automatically operate off the "angry black woman"
principle stereotype like it's some sort of universal math logic or something... if black and female, then angry. Ugh.
I also had something to say about how completely cowardly it is of people to label all anger as irrational (wait, feeling AND thinking at the same time? nofuckinwai!) as a way to avoid the real issues, but that was covered by you and others already.
Hey, just saw what a hot mess this post has turned into. After about a year of being really upset? I changed my policy. I started de-friending and banning people.
I consider my LJ like my living room - I come here not to deal with crazy.
And there's definitely something problematic when people roll up into your journal and write more words than you do, either hoping to beat you into submission, show e-dominance by taking space, or demanding education or cookies for taking the time.
Cause really. Fuck all that.
You may or may not take the same policy. Just, is it worth even 5 minutes of reading and typing to deal with some folks? If the answer is no, don't waste the energy.
I haven't brought down the ban hammer; just not engaged. In this case, which is a little different than a couple of days ago, and in which white folks are doing the work and I don't have to, the ban hammer may still come. But I've said my piece.
I just stumbled upon this lj and saw it for the immense mess it is.