15 January, 2008


Posted in Alas a Blog, Privilege at 7:13 am by Daran

In the following I use italics for pheeno’s words, and bold for Ampersand’s and joe’s. My words aren’t marked up.

The conversation started here:

I should clarify. I wouldn’t want [Condoleezza Rice] to win [a hypothetical run for Presidency], but it would be way cool if the final face-off were between two women or two blacks.

Two blacks??

Two black WHAT, if you don’t mind?

Her point was well made, and I conceded it immediately:

Two black people.

The matter could have ended there, but it didn’t:

Then try describing them with the fact they’re PEOPLE in mind and not a just a freakin color.

Now I was already a bit irritated, because I didn’t think that I did have this in mind. But I nevertheless Stayed calm and took the criticism seriously. To quote Amp:

…do not dismiss it without thinking about it. Especially if the criticism comes from a person of color – people of color in our society tend by necessity to be more aware of racism than most Whites are, and pick up on things most Whites

So I check my privilege:

OK. I checked my privilege. Now what?

Now stop acting like you don’t know better.

I’m not acting. If it looks like I don’t know better, then I either don’t know better, or I just don’t agree with you.

In this case, I do agree with you that it is better to say “black people” than “blacks”, which is why I responded as I did in #26.

I don’t agree with your #28 to the extent that it implies that I think of them as colours rather than people. I do not. I do agree with #28’s criticism of my language use, but I already conceded that. It was from laziness, not from thinking of them as colours, that I wrote “blacks” instead of “black people”, and I will try not to be so lazy in future.

Is there anything else that I should have understood from this conversation?

There was a brief digression, then the conversation continued:

The point Daran is that you did objectify. It doesnt matter that you did it because you were lazy, the affect is still the same. Your reasons or excuses for that language are irrelevant. They don’t change it, they don’t soften it, they don’t excuse it.

I understand that. But … [i]f my reasons are irrelevant, then why mention them in the first place? I stated the real reason, not as justification or excuse, but to correct your misstatement of my reasons. It is important to me that my reasons for saying the things I say are not misstated. If you wish to take me to task for my language without getting into an argument with me about my reasons, then do not misstate them. Either state them correctly, or do not state them at all.

To sum up:

I acknowledge that I used objectifying language to refer to Rice and Obama. My reasons for doing so are irrelevant. I have stated that in future, I intend to use non-objectifying language when referring to black people. That intent is also irrelevant except in so far as it leads to my actually using non-objectifying language in future.

Is there anything further we need to discuss?

Telling you to keep it in mind means

dont be fucking (lazy, ignorant, forgetful, priveleged, jackassy) from now on. It doesnt matter if it was lazy, ignorance, privelege or jackassery when you wrote it. Just fucking stop it.

Get the difference yet?

Now Amp intervenes, allowing pheeno the last word:

Since Daran has already said a couple of times that he does intend to keep it in mind, I think that should be an end to it.

Well thats nice. I dont.

Once again, inent was thrown out there as if it changes anything.

It doesnt.

Here’s joe:

Daren never said that his intent changed anything. He said that its only relevance was to correct your statement about his thought process.

Which I’ve explained doesnt matter. It’s merely another show of privelege to go onto to “correct” my statement about his thought process. That’s one of the affects of one’s words. That is part and parcel of the impact his words had. POC are no longer obligated to “understand” white people’s laziness, mistakes, ignorance or hate. We’ve been well aware of the myriad excuses for some time now. Trying to “correct”us or explain it to us just continues on with the insult. We aren’t the ones in need of racism education.

Finally Amp shuts it down again, having given pheeno three free shots at me.

Yes, but this isn’t your blog (and I note that you didn’t disagree with me that the argument had become circular).

I agree with you entirely, by the way, that intent in a case like this doesn’t matter. Which makes it even odder that you refuse to drop the subject.

The subject of Daran’s intent is closed on this thread. Next person to bring it up, either to defend Daran or to attack him, is banned from the thread.

I also agree with her entirely, so what exactly is pheeno’s problem?

The answer lies in the last thing pheeno says here. This has nothing to do with my entitlement, and is all about hers. She apparently feels entitled to comment on my thought processes, without me responding. Moreover, she seems to feel entitled to do so on someone else’s blog, even after the owner has told her to stop.

Who exactly is the privileged one here?

Discussion reopened.

Update: Contrast the following remark made by me in the comments:

More interesting to me is the entitlement she asserted to appropriate my authority to represent my thoughts.

which is a statement about what she did, with this remark from the post:

She apparently feels entitled to comment on my thought processes, without me responding. Moreover, she seems to feel entitled to do so on someone else’s blog, even after the owner has told her to stop.

In which I speculate about her thoughts.

Continuing with that speculating, its possible that she doesn’t feel safe enough to respond here. If so, then this post has had the practical effect of appropriating her authority to represent her own thoughts.