So, um, hi!  *waves*

The good news is that about 5 months ago, I started working at a new place.  I may post more details under f-lock later, but suffice to say that the money, coworkers, and overall environment are now significantly better than they were.  In fact, it's exact the sort of place at which I envisioned working as I was finishing school.  Career-wise, while I wouldn't call myself completely settled, I do feel that I'm finally starting to reap the rewards of all the dues I've paid since March of 2011, which was when I finally bit the bullet and went back to school.

Here's the thing... At first, I was very busy after I started at the new place - learning the ropes, getting used to the hours, and generally learning the culture as one does when one is just starting a new job, which was my excuse for setting my writing aside for a time.

I also made a number of resolutions when I left my former place for this one, but one of the biggest was to keep my head down, avoid drama as much as possible, and not get too involved with my coworkers' lives.  This has served me well.

Very well, actually.  So well that my overall stress level has decreased considerably, which is awesome.

Except that apparently, I can't write when I'm happy.  So once again, the sequel to "The Perfect Storm" has stalled, which is, naturally, the bad news.  Well, that and the bridging chapter, the one that is absolutely essential in order for anything I've written that takes place after it make sense, is nearly 20,000 words of utter dogshit.  Thanks to beta reading, it's getting better, but for some reason, the words simply aren't there, the story doesn't flow, and I feel as though I'm leading the characters instead of the other way around, something that I've sworn from the beginning that I wouldn't do.

Long story short - I haven't forgotten, I haven't given up, but I'm really hoping that something terrible doesn't have to happen in order for my muse to return from where it seems to have retreated.

Thank you to everyone who's been so encouraging and patient - it means more to me than I can say.
I'm posting this from school, so I'm uncertain as to whether my power at home is back on.  However, according to AEP, it could take 5-7 days for the power to be back on in my area.  I'll have only limited access to the internet if the outage continues until Monday, as I must save the charge on my phone for emergencies.

I apologize for any inconvenience this may cause to the communities I moderate.

Thank you for your time and attention.
So I had a dream last night (bear with me, because I know that studies have shown that nothing is more boring than listening to other people's dreams), I had a dream that we actually had to say in person everything we wrote online to the people we were saying it about/to. 

It was intense.  It was probably also prompted by this post by [livejournal.com profile] sparkindarkness, which features a video from Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters showcasing the homophobic tweets that people sent #tomyunbornchild.

In any case, I'd really like for all of you to take a moment and think about everything you've ever written about/to anyone on the internet.  Now imagine them standing in front of you.

How many of you would still call them the names you've called them online?  Some of you would, I know.  Some of you aren't cowards, hiding behind screen names or sometimes not even that.  Some of you would own what you say, think, and feel, by saying it to a person's face.

But many of you wouldn't.  Because to many of you, the people represented by every line of text one finds online (even the bots were programmed by someone), EVERYONE is a bot.  No one is real.  We're all just characters in a big game.  Some of it is human socialization.  When interacting with others I think it's 70% how you look, 20% how you say something, and 10% what you actually said (numbers pulled directly from my ass, but I think they're pretty close to reality). 

Online, it's 100% what you said.  Online, we are what we type.  Not only that, but unlike with most face-to-face interaction, there is no body language, no nuance of expression, nothing but words on a screen.  To many of you, that's all I am, for better or worse, I'm words on a screen. 

I've said and done hurtful things, both in person and online.  Online, it's forever.  There is no way to "make up" with someone online, not really, because the connection is at once tenuous and permanent.  If I misspeak offline, I still may make an enemy for life (or at least lose a chance at a friendship), but let's be honest here - human memory fades and it's much easier to make amends to a person than a screen name.

The internet doesn't fade.  The internet is forever.  Every poor choice of words, shitty opinion, sleepy tirade, or stupid comment is just there.  Even if someone deletes, there are screencaps and WayBack machines. 

Where am I going with this?  I'm not really sure, I just needed to articulate my unease with the idea that to many people with whom I interact online, I'm not a real person.  Why else would so many people call the world outside the internet "real life," when in fact it is "offline life?"  ([livejournal.com profile] rm did a good post about this a while back that I'm too lazy to go and look up.)

I remember once reading a fiction story that described a mental disorder in which a person didn't believe that every person around them was in fact "real."  They knew that they were "real," and felt that others could be "real" as well, but for them most people were simply two-dimensional characters, with no true thoughts, feelings, or lives of their own. 

I am not a character in Sim City.  Neither are you.  What we say and do here may be escapism from everyday pressures such as bills, work, homophobia, racism, sexism, or just the general pain of living, but everyone with whom we interact has problems, maybe not just like ours, but problems all the same.  Everyone has pain.  Everyone has tragedy.  Your pain does not make my pain less, nor does my pain make your pain less, nor should it.  We are all human beings. 

We all have privilege to one degree or another (simply the act of being able to get online to read this- Hell, simply the act of reading is a privilege), but there is no one can see this who has not suffered.  No one who has not felt pain or loss or alienation from others.

And the internet is the ultimate alienation.  We're all just words on a screen to one another, which means that far more than with face-to-face or even telephone interactions, we must choose our words with care, thoughtfulness, and patience.  We must not be rash, or hasty, or cruel if we can avoid it.

But we are.  Unless you're a total lurker (as I was for many years - ah, the salad days!), the odds are good that you've said or done something online that has hurt someone else.  That hurt has been real.  It was a real person you were calling horrible and while you may have felt they deserved it (and they certainly may have), I still have to ask - Would you have said it to their face?"  Or signed the name that people know you face-to-face to it?

Do you own what you say, think, and feel here where you don't have to?  Would you say everything you think of me if we met offline?

I hope you would.  I hope I would.  Actually, I know I would because I have.  I've told people that I just met that they had terrible opinions and I've called people out at work and school when they've said something nasty.  Not every time, but then, I don't engage every time online, either.  And just as with here, I don't win friends and influence people... but sometimes I do, :). 

Again, where am I going with this?  Nowhere, obviously.  I'm just a 35-year-old, white, US-born woman, sitting in my pajamas in an office chair with a tabby cat on my desk in my messy office, listening to my bed call my name because I can go back and sleep a little longer today before I go to work, writing about a dream I had last night. 

I have homework to do, bills to pay, and paperwork I need to file.  I have problems.  I have pain.  I broke down crying for a moment last night when I saw the same tabby cat that's sitting on my desk right now out of the corner of my eye and for a moment, my brain forgot Buttons was dead.  I have joy.  I cuddled up with my husband last night and I'm done with school for the week.  I also cooked myself chicken for breakfast.

I'm a boring, ordinary, living, breathing human being with an average number of problems that are almost certainly worse in my head than they are in reality. 

I'm real, though.  I'm a real person with real thoughts, real feelings, and real pain.  You can hurt me, if you have that desire. 

I am a living, breathing human being.  Nothing more, but certainly nothing less.

And so are all of you.  I'm going to try to do better about remembering that. 

I would sign my full name to this, but that's against LJ's TOS, so I'll just say - Eh, perhaps not.

With warmest regards,

Beverly J. Horsley
Inspired by more than one comment on the post that this post links to, I'm finally going to weigh in on the whole anti-PC, thought-police, this-word-has-another-meaning-and-no-one-can-own-a-word, I-don't have-to-change-simply-because-you're-offended school of thought.

I'm going to begin by saying that I'm guilty of using pretty much every word that is at issue at one point or another, some as recently as last year, so I'm not saying that I'm not in a glass house here. 

However.

For those who are against changing their language to remove certain words from their vocabularies because another person is offended by it, I ask the following question:

Who does it hurt? 

Seriously, who does it hurt to make the effort not to use words that others have found offensive?  I know that it's an effort to do so, so I guess someone could argue that it's hurting them by virtue of the fact that changing one's vocabulary and deleting certain words is hella difficult...  Well, I have to say that it's more difficult in the offline world, but online?  It's as easy as being careful of what one types.  I realize that for some, who type as quickly as they think, that could be a challenge, but seriously?  Who does it hurt?  Why is it such a big deal to just not be an asshat when someone asks you to do so?

Cut for possible triggers and an incomplete list of incredibly offensive slurs that everyone should know not to use. Ever.  )And because I've been educating myself a bunch lately, here are a bunch of links that all say all of this a lot better than I just did.

101 Primer

[livejournal.com profile] sparkindarkness' entire journal.

Read all of that and then come back to discuss, if you wish, :).

ETA: Proof that not being an asshat is an ongoing battle: Weak is ableist.  Thank you to [livejournal.com profile] 51stcenturyfox  for letting me know, :).

ETA 2: My comment thread on the post that started all of this is here

ETA 3: Drama communities are probably not the best place to start, lol, but if it were not for them I never would have found most of this stuff out, which is why I mentioned them.  The best place to start is with the 101 Primer and go from there, :).

This post has now been edited because my essential message was being lost and I was doing more harm than good by defending my position on one phrase.  Most of the comments regarding that phrase have now been screened.  I'm not a PoC, so my feelings on that phrase don't matter whatsoever and continuing to argue about it only detracts from the essential point of what I was trying to say. 

I apologize for the drama.

For the record I am US-born, white, queer though I easily pass for both female and straight, and able-bodied.  I have no personal experience with physical, racial or ethnic discrimination and I apologize for speaking for those groups as if I were personally invested in those particular slurs not being used.

The areas in which I have personal experience and/or a personal investment include: feminism/sexim, sex work, body image/food, sexual freedom, BGLTQP rights/homophobia, bullying, child abuse, the US foster care system, the US health care system, PTSD, anxiety, depression and mental health.  
Snagged from [livejournal.com profile] ravenja1170  who snagged it from [livejournal.com profile] jooles34 and [info]alt_universe_me* who snagged it from [info]_lullabelle_* :).

I know very little about some of the people on my friends list. Some people I know relatively well. But here's a thought: why not take this opportunity to tell me a little something about yourself. Any old thing at all. Just so the next time I see your name I can say: "Ah, there's so and so...she likes office supplies." I'd love it if every single person who's friended me would do this. Yes, even you people who I know really well. Then post this in your own journal. In return, ask me anything you'd like to know about me and I'll give you an answer.  (I was going to put a disclaimer here about not answering a question if I didn't want to, but I'm going to go out on a limb and say that I'll answer any question that anyone asks, I'll simply reserve the right to answer it privately, :)). 

Anything you've ever wanted to know about me, now's your chance to ask.  I'm not asking for the same in return, however, just tell me a tiny bit of trivia about you, :).

Thanks in advance, :).

I'm also not friends-locking this, so if you read my journal and you want to know something, go ahead and ask, :).  All I ask is that you tell me something about yourself in return, :).


There's a post about this at the Huffington Post as well.  This man deserves a medal. 

ETA: If you watch to the end, it gives his facebook ID.  I wrote him a note of support.
To all of you out there reading this, I'm not normal.  I'm not neurotypical and I'm on the autism spectrum.  I've always been this way - I just didn't have a name for it until very, very recently.

Before you ask, I'm self-diagnosed.  But if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it's fucking Aspergers, m'kay?

Am I bitter?  Little bit.  All my life I've been fucking weird, felt like an outsider and like there was a whole world that I just couldn't understand and I just got to find out that I probably never will.

There's no real treatment for what I have, no magic pill or therapy to make the walls come down and help me to actually understand what most of the population takes for granted.  

I never get to know...  So many fucking things.  I get to feel like I'm on the outside looking in and never really understand...  I'm repeating myself there, but I'm typing this while I'm crying and just...
Holy fuck this is long. Possibly the longest post I've ever put up here that wasn't a story. So long that I don't even know if LJ will take it. And I'm not reading over this before I post it, so there will be typos liekwhoa. Also, non-graphic trigger warning for those who have ever felt like outsiders or like the world could never understand them. Read at your own risk. But you should be doing that already if you're here, so I guess that read if you want to would be more appropriate. )



I have this odd urge to just write "The End," even though it would be abrupt and odd. 

The End.

...

PS I'm screening comments, 'cause that's just how I'm rolling on this one.

That's what we all want to tell everyone who's ever been bullied.  It gets better.  At some point in your life, you'll look back and realize that those who hurt you were small-minded, stupid asshats who are probably unhappy with their lives now and who will never feel as good about themselves as you do now.

It's a beautiful sentiment and I've really loved seeing the outpouring of similar messages all over the internet. 

That said, I'm sorry.  I'm sorry to be the cynical, depressed voice that cuts through all of the love and says, "Hey, wait a second..." 

To someone who is being bullied, no amount of 'It will get better' from random strangers will necessarily help.  To someone who's in that dark place, they feel as though their pain is unique and nothing and no one could ever understand it, even if the person telling them has been in the exact same situation before.

Because the pain of someone else isn't mine.  What I went through and got through doesn't mean dick to someone who's still going through it right now.  All the, 'there's light at the end of the tunnel's' in the world don't make a difference to someone who's being systematically tortured every moment of every day.  

Again, it's a beautiful idea for people who aren't in that place any longer to reach back and try to pull someone forward with them, but speaking as someone who's both been in that place and had people tell me that it'll get better....  I was going to say that I can say that it might not help but then I realized - I'm speaking for those who are in that dark place.

I'm saying that my pain was comparable to theirs and because all those 'it gets betters' didn't help me, it won't help them.

I'm wrong. 

I'm depressed right now and it's clouding how I'm looking at the world, but not so much that I don't realize how wrong I am.  

Just because 'it gets better' didn't work and doesn't work for me, as a rule, doesn't mean that it won't work for someone else.  So if you have a chance to tell someone it'll get better, take it.

They might be lucky enough to be nothing like me, :).
So I watched Family Guy tonight.  So Seth MacFarlane got Rush Limbaugh to be a part of the show and make fun of himself and everything he stands for.

Yeah, somehow I can't see Sean Penn showing up at a Sarah Palin rally, no matter how much money someone threw at him.

And those of you who know me, know that I don't use the word 'whore' lightly.  

To me, someone is a whore when they ignore their principles and accept a job that makes them look like a hypocritical tool just for the money. 

Someone is a whore when they don't respect themselves or those whom they ally with, in business or pleasure.

Someone is a whore when only the dollar signs motivate them, not any sense of morality or principle.

Rush Limbaugh is a whore.

On Bullying

Oct. 1st, 2010 06:26 pm
There have been a lot of posts on my friends' lists lately about bullying and a lot of stories in the news about it, which has forced me to go back to my own childhood and actually think about sharing what I went through.  This part of my youth is separate from every other part.  It's the icing on a very large cake filled with bullshit and it's something that I think about less than most of the other pains from that time. 

I'm going to start generally, because it's the only way I can even begin to find a place to start.

Cut for EPIC!Length.  )

This entry is long, rambling, repetitive, probably incoherent and I feel as though I've strayed from my essential point.  You be the judge.  

Valedictorian Speaks Out Against Schooling In Graduation Speech

This young woman gives me hope that the US, and indeed the world, may not be as bad off as we think it is.  She is a critical thinker and a true intellectual.  Someone close to me was surprised that they even let her finish the speech and I'm truly glad that they did.

She gives me hope for the future and this speech should be required reading for all students everywhere.
I spent most of this afternoon waiting for Sears to show up to fix our electric range (one of the burners doesn't heat well and I'm beginning to suspect that the oven doesn't get as hot as it's supposed to either).  They were supposed to come between 1PM and 5PM.  We got to 4:20 and they still hadn't shown up, so I called and was told that they were on their way.  

Cut for length. )
And the worst part?  I'm now feeling like a racist because when I call a customer service center and hear an accent I automatically want to hang up and call back until I can speak to someone without one.  It's something that I've felt for a while, simply because of numerous bad experiences, but now it's solidified even further.  Is it stereotyping to assume that if someone has an accent on the phone, I'm automatically going to get worse service?  Absolutely.  After having that stereotype proven in 99 out of 100 cases will it stop me from continuing to be that sort of racist?  Unfortunately not, sigh.  And yes, I know that I've had bad experiences with people who speak English as a first language, I'm not saying that I haven't, but never before today have I had someone essentially imply that I was lying about where I actually was geographically and never have I had to argue about where my house was.  

Racism is wrong.  Stereotyping is wrong.  And I've had good experiences with people with accents, I know that I have.  However, statistically, the bad experiences with those with accents outweighs the good, at least where phone customer service is concerned.  Sadly, there are communication problems when dealing with someone who is ESL over the phone.  They don't always understand me and I don't always understand them, which can escalate the situation when I'm upset.  

However.

The more I think about it, the more I realize that I have that issue with everyone who has an accent different from mine during phone (and to a lesser extent face-to-face) communication, not simply those who are ESL.  The Deep South here has an accent that I find nearly unintelligible in some places and when speaking to tourists from England, Ireland and Scotland I could sometimes barely understand them, so I feel a little better.  It's not racism to say that when a person speaks differently than I do, I find it difficult to understand them and when I'm already upset, I lack the patience to try to do so.  And I don't think that it's racist to want to keep jobs in the US, especially given that our unemployment rate is at an all-time high.  However, I am genuinely interested in what others have to say on this subject, so please give me your thoughts, :).

In any case, tomorrow we'll be spending some time trying to find someone local to help us.  And we're also never doing business with Sears again if we can help it, :(.
The Middle Class In America Is Radically Shrinking.  Here Are The Stats To Prove It.

This made me physically ill when I read it.  Literally, physically ill.  

We're boned.  Utterly and completely boned.  In the Great Depression, we had WWII to pull us out - 30 million people had to die for that one.  What the fuck would be needed to save us here?  

The worst part is that I can point a finger and see who's to blame - Washington DC, for not regulating businesses who sent jobs overseas out of existence.  And much as I'd love to blame Republicans more than Democrats, we the people are to blame for not stopping them from allowing big corporations to send their resources elsewhere.

An American worker can't compete with an overseas worker willing to work for less than a dollar per hour. 

So, um, yeah.  We're fucked.  Massage Therapy is looking better and better as a career, simply because someone has to massage the top 1% of the country that holds 83% of all US stocks. 

What I don't get is why individuals constantly vote against their own self-interest, and let's face it, if you vote for those who vote against more regulation of big corporations, that's exactly what you're doing.  

Once again, I blame religion and the religious right for using it against the ignorant, derailing rational discourse with topics like Gay Marriage and Don't Ask, Don't Tell.  "Family values" have distracted us from the real division of wealth in this country.  

People get very angry when the subject of the distribution of wealth comes up, but let's face it - class systems where a small percentage of the population hold a large percent of the wealth don't work out very well in the end.

Exhibit A: France.

Exhibit B: The Soviet Union.

Don't get me wrong - communism doesn't work.  In truth, I AM in favor of capitalism, but what we have in the US now isn't true capitalism, it's corporate parasitism.  Big corporations get tax breaks for not giving jobs to Americans and even though the Supreme Court recently said that they had the same rights as individuals, they pay far less, percentage-wise, than the average citizen in taxed.  How is that fair? 

The more I think about it, the more that I realize that 1% of the population controlling a majority of the wealth sounds an awful lot like...

A monarchy.

And didn't we fight a war 234 years ago to try and get away from that system? 
But it still sucks.  Grandmother is dying.  We're driving to TN momentarily to be with family.  

Bleh

Jul. 3rd, 2010 12:30 am
Well, I got one chapter up at least...  I'm still feeling yucky, though and can't stay on the computer very long at all.  My lower back's doing a lot better, but I've been working a TON this week and now the rest of my back's not happy with me, :(.  Long story short - it'll be a while before I get the other two chapters up or any other LJ cross-posting done.  

The really sucky thing is that there are a LOT of private posts that I'd like to make about various issues, not to mention responding to all of the nice comments and friends' list posts, but right now my back is telling me to get off the flippin' computer right now, so that's what I'm going to do.  

I hope that everyone is doing well, :).  Thanks for all of the kind thoughts, :).  
The post yesterday was all about me.  It should not have been, but it's so easy to make my feelings and my thoughts paramount.

They aren't and I apologize for making them so. 

Again looking at those who thought that the story looked good, I find myself wondering if I would have been one of them, if the racism would have been so obvious to me?  It's easy to say that something is awful when many other people have pointed out its flaws, but what about right at the beginning, when the majority still think that it's okay? 

Many have told me that Jeff Dunham is racist.  I've always thought that he was funny, but the more I think of it, the more I realize that he portrays only the worst stereotypes of PoC's.  Yes, he makes fun of everyone, but that doesn't mean that all of his shit isn't equally bad.  I wouldn't have thought of him, except that he came up on my facebook and I realized that I'm not as enlightened as I thought I was.  I unliked him and won't watch him anymore, but in truth, he was fairly obvious when one bothers to actually see - what about the ones that aren't?

So flist, what else have you seen that seems discriminatory to you, but you haven't said anything or wanted to admit it because you've laughed at the joke or enjoyed the show or had fun at the movie?  What have you watched that you knew was wrong to laugh at, but laughed at it anyway?  Where are the ones that aren't so obvious?  Rather, where are the ones that are perfectly obvious when one bothers to actually care?  

Our lines are open.  Please keep talking.

Thank you.
I actually have been wanting to post on this topic for several years, but recent events have caused me to really sit down and examine who I am as a person, as well as giving me the impetus to actually do it.

I'm incredibly white.  I was born and raised in the US, by parents who are both intensely racist homophobes.  Don't get me wrong - neither of them would ever burn a cross or stone a gay, but they both would like it if everyone who's not white would stay in their own little separate, but equal areas. 

I've tried to overcome it, but trying only goes so far.  

Looking at the shitstorm and how the person who caused it responded to it, all I could think was:

Would they have written the story set just after 9/11, with the characters sifting through that rubble? 

The response they gave to all of the wank had something to the effect of, "I didn't think about race at all when I was writing it."

Well, if you're white and of English descent, you don't have to think about race.  I, as part of that privileged class, have the choice not to think about it.  If I don't want to 'see race', I don't have to.  A PoC doesn't have that choice, which is the crux of the issue.  

Much as we might want the world to be as Dr. King dreamed it to be, right now it isn't.  And dismissing race as a non-issue is in some ways as racist as burning a cross. 

In Utopia, how much melanin someone has or where their parents happened to fuck wouldn't matter.

Here, now, on Earth, it does, no matter how inconvenient it is that that is the case.

Inconvenient if you're white.  Reality if you're a PoC. 

It's so difficult to have to consider the cultural and historical implications before writing something, so very unfair that in this year of 2010 such things still matter when we're all just human beings underneath.

See what I did there? 

It's easy to make it about me, about how silly I find judging skin color or ethnicity, but it's not about me.  It's about the lives of other human beings who are affected every day because there are a multitude of cultural backgrounds.

And in this future Utopia of which I and forward-thinking others like me dream, which culture would be respected?  Skin color would not matter, but what about the historical implications of that skin color?

I remember watching a Deep Space Nine episode some years back and now I'm ashamed of myself for my reaction to it.  Deep, welling shame that makes me feel like the scum you'd scrap off the floor of a taxicab.

In the episode, Sisko was speaking to his fiance about  a holodeck program that the senior officers were really enjoying.  It was a re-creation of a sixties casino, a la Rat Pack.  His fiance enjoyed going to it - Sisko didn't because in the actual 60's, he wouldn't have been allowed in.  His fiance explained that the way that it was programmed, it was the way that it should have been and that going to it didn't take away from the struggle of their people.

My reaction was to be disgusted that they were bringing this up on Star Trek, where the future had supposedly gotten past all of that.  But the history is still there, period.  Acknowledging the history is the way to keep from being doomed to repeat it and any future worth it's salt would have a conversation like that over a holodeck program like that.  

So yeah.  Shame.  Utter and complete for my ignorance and ARROGANCE at making someone else's historical and cultural perspective about me.   

Our experiences are what shape us as individuals. 

My experiences as a white woman are far different from those of any PoC.  Yes, I can speak to the struggle of women, but the struggle of a white American woman is far different from the struggle of a Middle Eastern, Asian, African or Latin woman or for a black woman in the US.  Hell, as someone of mostly English-speaking descent, my experience is far different from even a white woman in Eastern Europe. 

It's horrible to realize that I was incredibly lucky to be born white, simply because there are a thousand things that I don't have to worry about because of it.  The only time it's a disadvantage is when I realize that as a pale white woman I'm worth a lot of money to those who traffic in other human beings. 

Being white, I don't have to worry about someone thinking that I'm going to do bad things only based upon the color of my skin.  I'll never be pulled over for DWB ('driving while black').  Well, that's not entirely true.  Because of my slave-owning ancestors in the South, there is sometimes the presumption that I might burn a cross, but given that some of my relatives down there might have burned crosses, I can't blame anyone for making the presumption based upon historical precedent.  Another statement that's not entirely true.  If you think that because I'm white I'm automatically going to burn a cross on a PoC's lawn, then I'll blame you for making me guilty until proven innocent, but still...  Given the historical precedent (and some of my actual behavior), I can't fault anyone for being cautious of me.

Especially when it's so damn easy to be lulled by being white.  It's easy to forget about what other people go through simply because of skin color because 99% of the time, skin color is a non-issue if you're white, except as an advantage.  

I listen to a lot of black comedians because their observations on race are ones that I try to listen to in order to see where I'm going wrong.  My favorite movie of all time is "Blazing Saddles", but it's only as an adult that I can truly appreciate how brilliant that it really was.  

I don't like having to think about race or cultural backgrounds, but again, if I don't want to, I really don't have to.  Religion is a separate issue because I actually believe that it is harmful to humanity as a whole, but I feel that way about ALL religion, not one over the others, and I try to respect the cultures that have religion as their base, simply not what they do in the name of it.  Again, I believe that religion is detrimental to the progression of human society, so separating the religion from the religious is difficult, but I am trying.  

But I have a choice.  That's what the essential crux of this is.  I have a choice about whether or not I choose to be sensitive to other races and other cultures.  I have a choice about who I choose to be because being white gives me the freedom not to care.

A PoC can't choose not to be so.  They can't choose to not let skin color affect them because it does every day. 

I once had a black teacher in summer school who said that he hadn't had a day go by without someone making a racist comment or hearing something to do with race.  Really think about that for a second, white people. 

Not.  One.  Day.

I've been using 'black' instead of 'African American' because not all black people in America are of African descent and there are other countries besides the US were black people reside.  I'm not using PoC to describe him because he's black, not Latin and while the issues are similar, being black in the US has its own unique set of issues.  However, I realize that some might be offended by my using 'black' and all that I can say is that I apologize, but I simply wish to be as specific as possible with regards to this.   

I told a racist joke to other black students in that class, nearly 20 years ago now, all the while saying, "I'm not a racist."  Shame.  Such amazing, all-encompassing shame for having just enough information to know that I was wrong, but not really understanding why and doing it anyway.  I'm a racist.  My racism is not as obvious anymore, but it's there.  Ironically, I doubt that my black friends on my facebook page would call me a racist, but I am one.  I am one because I still don't always think about race and how it really affects PoC's.  The fact is, I don't have to.  

I can think about it today.  I can be outraged today.  I can try and do better, but in the end, my awareness of race doesn't have any affect on my life other than what I choose to give it.  I have a choice about how race affects me.  

Until my awareness of this issue becomes something that doesn't only hurt me when I happen to pay attention to it, I'm a racist.  

At the beginning of this, I said that in Utopia melanin and geography wouldn't matter.  But what sort of Utopia would that be?  What culture would be chosen to be valued?

I'll make it clear that if your culture practices female circumcision, forced marriage or stoning of unwed mothers, I'm going to be happy when it dies.  Some cultures are better than others, but so long as a culture respects both sexes equally, what cultural background is the one on which to build this Utopia? 

Personally, I like France.  They seem to have their shit together.  But they're white and European, so I'm biased.  They also have complete separation of church and state and banned burquas, so that also makes me biased.

Still.

Which culture is the one that we should be trying to emulate?  Or can we simply all respect each other's cultures and beliefs (so long as those beliefs don't advocate harm to other human beings)?  Is it possible to have a civilization where everyone respects everyone else's history and individuality? 

Questions too deep for me to answer.  And I don't have to.  Pay no attention to China or India - they're way over there and filled with people that we whites don't have to care about. 

I think that racists like me are in for a rude awakening.  I think that the world is going to stop telling us that they're sick of our backward shit and start showing us that the US doesn't live in a vacuum.  

I should note that the person who caused this took down the story and gave what sounded like a sincere apology, even if I still don't think that they truly understand exactly why everyone's so upset.  

However.

The reasons why this happened at all are still alive and well. 

To cut or not to cut, that is the question.  Fuck it.  999 out of 1000 times, I cut.  This one time, for this one issue, I'm not.  

I'm not going to screen the comments or lock them either.  Whatever you want to say.  Whatever you feel on this topic.  I want to hear it, especially if it's telling me other places where I've gone wrong and how I can improve going forward. 

I want to get better.  I want to care all the time, not just when it's convenient.  

To those black girls to whom I told that racist joke, I'm so sorry.  I wish I'd known better.  Rather, I wish I had listened to the little voice that told me that I knew better before telling the joke anyway.  

That's the worst part of that memory.  I knew better and I did it anyway.  Because it was a funny joke (or so I thought).  And I didn't have to care when I did it, because the meaning behind the joke didn't affect me at all.  

I don't want to be a racist anymore.  Please help me.  

Thank you. 

ETA 6/17 6:47AM:  If you are interested in continuing to follow this, [livejournal.com profile] amazonziti has an amazing post here that is following all of the various conversations that have come up and meta that have been written.  Particularly interesting is the thread that started it all.  What I find most damning is the number of people who thought that it sounded absolutely wonderful.  This is not a conversation that should end quickly.  The whole reason that shit like this continues to happen is that people get up in arms about it for a few days and then quietly forget.  I know that we all have our own problems and lives, but this is a conversation that shouldn't stop.  

Also, amozonziti made an excellent point about the author freezing the comments and/or deleting them, thereby ending the conversation as it had begun and rendering useless a lot of links in posts such as these. 

I've been trying to give the author the benefit of the doubt, I really have.  I even sent her a (fairly) polite PM regarding the situation.  I don't expect her to reply, as I'm certain that her in-box is overflowing, but I'm going to go ahead and put the text of it here:

Subject: Your Big Bang Fic

I hesitated about sending you this, because you've done the mature and responsible thing by taking it down, but I simply wanted to leave you with one last piece of food for thought:

Would you have written this set just after 9/11, with them sifting through the rubble of the Twin Towers?

I'm not asking this because I'm judging you. I'm not actually in the SPN fandom, didn't read your story (except for passages quoted out of context) and have been guilty myself of the past of hurting others unintentionally through thoughtless words and actions.

I know that you're in a bad place right now and you didn't deserve the name-calling at all, but you did deserve the outrage and the offense and saying, "I didn't mean to", isn't the same as saying, "I'll never do it again."

In reading your post where you talk about taking it down, you address everything quite well, but coming into this with no knowledge lets me see it slightly more objectively (I think).

You're still coming across as someone who is apologizing not for the mistake, but because everyone is saying that you should. In other words, apologizing because you got caught, not because you truly feel that what you did was wrong.

If that is not how you feel, then I sincerely apologize and believe me, I do understand about how difficult it is to come back from something like this. I understand the need to try and tell your side of the story, but saying, "I tried not to while I was writing," doesn't help the situation.

You messed up. You don't deserve to be vilified forever for it, but you do for a while.

I'm sorry to put it like that, but the level of fail in your story will be something that will take a while for you to get past. You need to do some serious self-examination and decide who you are as a person.

Are you someone who's aware of every person and their cultural backgrounds, regardless of what those backgrounds are? Or are you someone quite similar to myself, who simply doesn't understand why race is such an issue?

In a perfect world, we would all be judged not by the color of our skins or where our parents happened to breed, but by who we are as individuals. If your fail came because you feel (as I do) that that's the world we should all live in, then I can understand how it happened.

However.

In the world that we live in, there is a race divide and PoC's have no choice but to be aware of it. Being as white as white can be, I have a choice as to whether or not I let the question of race affect me. A PoC doesn't have that choice.

"In fact, I never thought about it in terms of race at all, really. Yes, Jensen and Jared are white. Yes, the majority of Haitian people are of color. Those are just facts and, in my head, had no bearing on the dynamic of the story. I had hoped to convey the sincerity of Jensen and Jared's intentions without regards to race."

The fact that you never thought about it in terms of race at all is why everyone is so upset with you.

Whether we like it or not, race matters. It does. In Utopia, it wouldn't, but we don't live there.

Anyway, I'm sorry for adding to the dogpile, but having been through something similar (though not on this scale), I wanted to add my perspective.

I hope that this has opened your eyes to the reality of the rest of the world. If it has, then at least something good has come out of it.

I also think that you are very wise to stop posting on it. However, unless you want to delete your journal, it will come up again. The internet is fickle, but some people on it have long memories. Unless you find some way of addressing it going forward, coming back from this is going to be very difficult.

You're going to need to do some deep soul-searching and perhaps actually read some of the history of Haiti to better understand exactly what you've done.

Something to consider, depending upon how much effort you are truly willing to go through to fix this:

Read the history, then critique your own fic and show your understanding of where you failed and how. If you can show that you've actually given some thought and care to really understanding where you went wrong, it might go a long way towards showing people that you are actually sorry, as opposed to sorry for getting caught.

Just a thought, :).

Take care of yourself.

[My real first name] aka Teleen

End PM.

I don't know what else to say or think or feel.  There are so many interesting and nuanced perspectives on this and I've found reading them quite enlightening.  It seems that with every new one that I read, I learn something new or see yet another way of looking at this.  Unfortunately, the more that I read, the more staggering the depth of the fail here becomes, because as several people have pointed out, this didn't happen in a vacuum.  More people than just the author saw this before it was posted and not only that, still more of them saw it and thought that it sounded good. 

Just... Keep talking people, please.  Thanks.

ETA: 6/17/10 3:39PM [livejournal.com profile] eviinsanemonkey  linked this to a post here.  I highly recommend taking a look at what they wrote here as well.  Particularly of interest is a thread that was started by a PoC. 

Going back over what I wrote, I realize that I still made this all about me.  [livejournal.com profile] maygra  wrote a wonderful post about this topic yesterday and I realized that some of what I wrote is quite similar to what she wrote.  I sincerely apologize for the unintended plagiarism.  She said it all better than I could, anyway.  

This is not about me or my experiences with being a racist.  This is about how this could have happened and I think that I've made how it could have happened blindingly obvious.  White people are not the center of the Universe, but boy do we like to think that we are. 

I apologize again for being completely unaware and would like to thank [livejournal.com profile] amazonziti for helping me to realize it.

I posted this on facebook yesterday and only one of my friends responded.  It shocked me.  Now I understand it better and realize that I'm still an entitled jackass. 

Please keep signal boosting.  Please keep talking.  Thank you.



 

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