If You Want To Be An Ally, Stop Tone Policing

At times, I know my writing style can come off as abrasive, as angry, even according to a close friend, close to oppressive.  I’ve been called “more Malcolm X than MLK Jr,” “a social justice blogger (as if that’s really an insult) with a “social justice meter,” and someone who has an “axe to grind to prove his pet theories.”  There has not been a week that’s gone by that my faith has been called into question because I write about white supremacy, sexism, and poverty as systemic oppressions.  I could be writing with absolutely no emotion but because of the color of my skin and the nature of the content I write, I am labelled as the angry black.  I have been writing on gender and class issues for years, but noooooo I’m just the race guy! (Let’s set aside the fact that I also write on church history as well as pop culture from time to time).

Indeed, Dianna Anderson is right, that doing the work of CONTINUE critical engagement is unpopular work. Lately, what I have noticed is this, when well known writers and bloggers talk about social justice issues, they keep trying to advice persons under distress to “be patient” and “play nice” with their oppressors. This is perhaps more widespread in Christianity and Christian blogging circles.  If you take a dissenting opinion on this matter (which I definitely do), you are (I am) demonized as “unforgiving” “less than Christian,” falling short for white moderates and their standards for civility.  Take for example my post to Dave Ramsey; while a few more civil bloggers responded to him, acknowledging his positive influence on people’s lives and then calling for everyone to celebrate the fact that we are all “spiritually rich,” I took the exact opposite approach and praised the poor for their willingingness not to pay $400 to become wealthy.

It is this form of civility that caused me to leave such blogging network groups such as The Despised Ones.  It was supposed to be a closed group, but since it’s been decided that laundry could be aired, I will go ahead anyhow. One the reasons that I left TDO, which was originally supposed to be about social justice oriented Christians having work centered on the marginalized (I was lead to presume), was because whenever the discussion came to racism, I was always alone.  My position as the token black lead to some frustrating conversations. One blogger even claimed that John Piper

charity jill piper1

charity jill piper2was good for racial reconciliation (this was after the fact that Piper had endorsed PaleoConfederate Doug Wilson). Throughout my time as a member of The Despised Ones, I was villified as the guy who was too angry about racism.  Every conversation would get derailed because the derailers wanted to make everything personal (that’s what they do, duh!!!).  I would be tone-policed, right and left, in the name of UNITY cuz that’s whats sooo important.  Earlier this week, I saw one of my friends, Dianna, ask a simple question to one of the groups members, Micah Murray, and there was a short back and forth, and apologies issued after.  Mr. Murray was one of the several members who worked to tone-police what I said regarding white supremacy, so I completely disagree with Grace that Mr. Murray could be my N*gga. In fact, I don’t want anyone being my N-word for that matter.  And I definitely do not want anyone who has tried to govern how I feel or how I express myself to call themselves being an ally in any way, shape or form.

So word to the wise, start listening, and stop silencing the silenced, capiche?

0 thoughts on “If You Want To Be An Ally, Stop Tone Policing

  1. Grace Biskie

    Hey Rod, Micah is MY nigga. He doesn’t have to be yours. (Also, I’m a fan of the “n” word when it comes to my homies…though I know not all African-Americans choose to go there). Anyway, yeah, he’s mine dude though, in part because we’ve built a friendship IRL (albeit via text/phone/vox). He has my trust. If you feel like he tone policed you why don’t you initiate a phone convo? He’s a cool cat, for reals. And because Micah has become an ally for me, I have enough trust to recommend pursuing reconciliation with him if you feel you need it. Anyway, I think this post is helpful. I also think tone could/should be considered by the author (in whatever format) as well as original intent. And yeah, my post today? I was not doing very well on considering my tone as angry as I was….but I’m working on it. Not so folks don’t/won’t police me, but b/c i don’t want to burn bridges and alienate…at the end of the day, I’m really hoping for dialogue and engaged, healthy discussion that leads to better relationships. That’s not too much to ask for right? Well, maybe.

    Thanks for the insights here.

    1. h00die_R Post author

      Hey Grace,

      Thanks for commenting.

      A couple of loose ends:

      On N*gga: I realize we come from different political contexts location wise so I understand the n*word is a word for solidarity for you, and that’s cool. For me at my job I witness brilliant students use the n*word everyday, and its this hurtful language that takes away them seeing themselves as being in the Imago Dei.

      On IRL contact/phone calls/text: i do have blogging friends who i have met IRL who have my phone number. Generally, Im a distrusting man, to the py where I take steps when I dont trust myself (reminders for errands, etc). My suspicion grows when a person works to further marginalize my person/voice. If Mr Murray needs to contact me, this blog has a contact page, and I have a wide open Twitter account.

      RE: tone: I actually enjoyed the tone of your post. I cant really judge that (no one really can,actually), but I think a part of the content I disagree with. But other than that, thank you for responding.

      God bless.

    1. h00die_R Post author

      Well, Bram’s comments were way too long.

      And is that sorta like how you made TC, a church planter, the voice of Neo-Anabaptist leadership?

  2. Charity Jill Erickson

    I will make clear the edit which the above pic tries to show: My claim is, Piper’s teachings are often closer to that which is taught in multicultural/ethnic minority churches than that which is taught in progressive/anabaptist communities. Progressive Christian communities do not know what to do with conservative moralities of non-white Christian communities. This is the convo that led to my “In defense of the neo-reformed” post: http://charityjilldenmark.wordpress.com/2013/09/02/in-defense-of-the-neo-reformed/
    I do and will continue to enjoy the posts on this blog, but I am not convinced that my FB comments evidence the claims of this particular post. (Or that my ambiguous & anonymous mentions of TDO in other blog forma rival the breach-of-trust displayed here…which I don’t really care about, but since it was brought up in the post, I will mention it.)

    1. h00die_R Post author

      It’s not an edit, it’s a screen shot.

      Piper’s teachings doesn’t include endorsing a man who fantasizes over African Americans being in chains. Read Black And Tan by Wilson, and try again.

  3. Micah J. Murray


    I apologize for policing you with my words. I’m sorry. And I’m grateful for the challenge to stop silencing and start listening. It’s a challenge I needed to hear. Thank you.

  4. Charles

    “And I definitely do not want anyone who has tried to govern how I feel or how I express myself to call themselves being an ally in any way, shape or form.”

    I’m sorry to hear that, but as you wish. I will delete this blog from my feedly account and stop any attempts to interact with you, as I am not interested in listening to those who would classify me as an enemy due to prior instances of “policing” the tone of your posts through my comments in this blog. I will not listen to those who do not want to listen back, and who would rather post a gif of an angry hammering thunder god than speak respectfully to fellow Christians.

  5. Rodrigo Fernandez

    If you want people to listen to you at least have the common decency to black out the names/picture of the people you are quoting. It’s okay to call out people, but this appears to be an attempt to just cherry-pick a quote or two from someone you dislike and are trying to bash.

    You ask people to listen when you are using fear and shame-based tactics in your callout. How is that not hypocritical?

  6. Pingback: silence and listening | Political Jesus

  7. zachhoag

    Hey Rod, I’m obviously way late to this party, but I wanted to point out one inappropriate comparison. You link Charity’s post on my blog as the “decision” to air TDO’s closed group laundry, but nothing could be further from the truth. Charity only briefly and very generally (in narrative fashion) referenced her conversation within TDO. Then she quoted public tweets. You, on the other hand, posted screencaps of Charity’s part of a conversation in a closed group, which is not cool. Further, while Charity was making a much larger and compelling point about humility in new anabaptist leadership and only briefly mentioned (and without naming names) the leader in question, you have posted a conspiratorial personal missive at her, as if she is Douglas Wilson’s co-pastor or something. This post is a perfect example of the parody of itself that the current progressive Christian internet is becoming. It’s a perpetually-fragmenting (schisming?) ideological experiment that’s losing touch with the real (ecclesial) world. (Which, btw, was pretty much Charity’s point in that thread.)

    1. h00die_R (Rod) Post author


      That would be incorrect. Charity did go on to mention, and others in the comment section below in the original post in question the drama that unfolded in TDO. So, it’s fair.

      You’re several weeks late, so I’m gonna go head back and play Injustice. Thanks for stopping by.

  8. zachhoag

    @h00die_R Rod, it’s an edit unless you screencap the entire conversation and show the context – and the aggression aimed at Charity. Care to air some more laundry?

  9. zachhoag

    @h00die_R TC is a committed neo-anabaptist. Charity was present at a meeting to plan a neo-anabaptist network and has attended what is likely the only neo-anabaptist megachurch in the US (where that meeting took place) led by the most influential neo-anabaptist pastor and author in the US. Her critique was firm but not ungenerous as it represented hopes for leaders within the movement to model humility. Your attack here is unfounded and inappropriate.

  10. Political Jesus

    zachhoag TC wasn’t at the meeting, and I have heard & read other interpretations of what happened at said meeting from other sources. Didn’t bring it up here though. I don’t work to dismiss other people’s experiences.

  11. Political Jesus

    “Care to air some more laundry?
    No, I am actually quite done talking about TDO, a group that hasn’t even got off the ground yet, and was in denial about our theological differences to begin with.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *