Tag Archives: Culture Wars

if twitter is so toxic

The advent of social media comes with its ups and downs, just like with anything in life in general. I think that the idea that anywhere on the Internet is a safe space, let alone twitter, is an opinion born out of immense privilege. People are online for all kinds of reasons, and just a few years ago, as of August 2009, I refused to join Twitter.com. My microblogging (what are called Tweets) have remained fairly consistent. It’s always been about fandoms, politics, and theology. Essentially, what I write about here on PJ, except in 140 character blurbs.

Twitter has definitely changed things for me. It has made it easier for me to network with persons with my general interests, I have learned new ideas, such as with the emergence of Black Nerdity and Blerd Chats. I still feel that the religious meanings of things like Social Justice and Black Twiitter have yet to be explored. Sure, Twitter has its darkside, like the numbers of parody accounts and reactionary racist hashtags like #SpeakAmerican.

Yet, the overwhelming majority of Trends on Twitter are good, positive messages, support for fallen persons, or just plain ole snarky criticisms of liberals and conservatives. As I noted in a recent Tumblr post:

“As a black man who regularly uses Twitter for discussing theology, racial justice, and geeky fandom talk, I have found Twitter to be more or less pretty safe.  This is what it is to have male privilege online.  Men are allowed to have opinions, even men of colors sometimes.  There have been a few times, however, that I have been the victim of white supremacist trolls. When I wrote a blogpost on the New Apartheid and the Renisha McBride murder, immediately three or four white supremacists trolls jumped into my timeline. Total strangers who had never once glanced at my TL or Bio for that matter.

What I experienced is nothing compared to the harassment that renowned Women of Color on Twitter get on a daily basis.  When a racist hashtag trends on Twitter ( #TT ), it does matter because it means there are groups of people who are intending to make Twitter an unsafe space for People of Color.  As I have written before, white liberals for some reason refuse to take cyber-white supremacy seriously.”

Last week, Michelle Goldberg wrote a piece, Feminism’s Toxic Twitter Wars [linked is the Do Not Link Version] about the Toxic Twitter Wars perpetuated by savage Maoist Women of Color.  It was declared to be “fair and balanced,” sort of the way Fox News claims for itself.  In reality, it was very much lopsided in its criticism of women of color, but not only that, Goldberg relied on negative stereotypes of Black and Latin@ women to make her case.  My first question is, in what type of world are common tropes levied against WOC acceptable?  The suffering of WOC is deemed as something that is not worthy of empathy.  Is this not the very essence of White Supremacy?

“Going back to the Michelle Goldberg piece, her “Toxic Twitter Wars” post works in the exact same fashion, only with negative stereotypes of Women Of Color added in as well. The anti-racist response to #FemFuture was compared to, oh look another Communist China/tyrannical POC political figure reference as a “Maoist hazing.” As Goldberg reminisces about back in the day, “Just a few years ago, the feminist blogosphere seemed an insouciant, freewheeling place, revivifying women’s liberation for a new generation. “It felt like there was fun and possibility…a momentum or excitement that was building,” says Anna Holmes, who founded Jezebel, Gawker Media’s influential women’s website, in 2007. In 2011, critic Emily Nussbaum celebrated the feminist blogosphere in New York magazine: “Freed from the boundaries of print, writers could blur the lines between formal and casual writing; between a call to arms, a confession, and a stand-up routine—and this new looseness of form in turn emboldened readers to join in, to take risks in the safety of the shared spotlight.” ” Yes, it was a feminist blogopshere prior to the existence of Twitter, and therefore before Black Twitter, and before Social Justice Twitter. Goldberg problem is not with the Women of Color challenging Lean In/Respectability Politics feminism; its the nature of twitter itself she should be taking into consideration. But alas! Women of Color are the scapegoats, and mean ones at that!

Enter Goldberg, once more: “On the phone, Kendall isn’t mean. She seems warm and engaging, but also obsessed” Goldberg even took offense to HuffPo’s rare excellent piece “5 Ways White Feminists Can Address Our Own Racism. because Women of Color are the reason for “an environment of perpetual psychodrama.” In other words, Women of Color, besides the ones that agree with Massa Jezebel and Massa #FemFuture, are incapable of rationality. Of course, it was said in the most progressive, nicest way possible. After all, only whites are capable of being objective, right Dan Savage? The White Supremacist myth that People of Color are by nature intellectually inferior raises its ugly head once more. And once more, because the argument is an apology for the Politics of Respectability, Progressive Whites are okay with that.”

I think the real question about Twitter’s “toxicity” should be, if Twitter is sooooooo hostile a space, why do corporations use it to do product placement?  Why does the media use it as another outlet for news?  Why are so many celebrities willing to spend $11,000 to have verified accounts for a social media space you can have for free? The answer lies in a proper examination of the social location of those proclaiming the “dangers” of Twitter yet go without mentioning any other space online.

 

If you enjoyed this piece,

You may also like from around the web:

detox: {on twitter wars and who gets to write history]

White Supremacy’s Toxic Twitter Wars

In Defense Of Twitter Feminism

Breathe, Michelle Goldberg, It’ll Be Okay

 

 

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silence and listening

“The LORD is in his holy temple; let all the earth be silent before him.”- Habakkuk 2:20

Generally in Scripture, there are several types of silence. During the experience of exile, Israelites and Judeans felt as if God was no longer speaking to them. Perhaps God was speaking in different ways than in the past. Maybe God was speaking through action and through divinely commissioned prophets they refused to listen to.

Silencing can also come from humans as well, and sometimes this is a good thing, and sometimes it is bad. It really depends on what context it is used in. All the way from pre-kindegarten to seminary, I chose to sit quietly, and listen to my teachers, and trust them that they were giving me a fair rendering of human history. I made this choice because I wanted to get good grades, and I wanted to get ahead in life. I only remember getting maybe one referral for behavior problems, and that was like in the first or second grade. Being well-behaved, civilized, doing what I was told, believing what I was told/what I read: these were the ideals.

Yet, inside I knew that something was not right during history lessons. In the third grade, I made up for being indoctrinated with EuroCentric views of history by reading the stories of Native Americans and African Americans, people I did not hear about in class except for during Columbus Day, Thanksgiving, and Black History Month. The only way I knew from church and school was the way of monologue.

But along the way in my spiritual and intellectual journey, I believe I have found a better way than monologue, of talking past others, of dismissing others’ experiences. Dialogue has become important to me, not only just a simple dialogue for dialogues sake, but dialogue for the purpose of justice and reconciliation. In given exchanges, persons can point to what I have written here or there, and say, Rod, what you write is not balanced. The question is never is asked of me, who am I listening to? Maybe I am listening to persons who are committed to Christian teachings of inerrancy or to the voices of Persons With Disabilities or maybe people from other religions outside of my own Christian commitments (which I am). Fellow Christians are, as commanded by Jesus, owed my love, certainly. That love however does come in a variety of ways.

This love can come in the form of solidarity, assertive correction, or even shunning. As an example, one leader in mainstream evangelical Christianity I have criticized over and over, I do wish for this person’s neoconfederate views to be not just condemned, but ostracized. It’s very difficult for this to happen when megachurch pastors endorse this man, but I will keep working, speaking truth in love. Jesus taught us to love our enemies, and truth telling (preaching) is a nonviolent way of resisting evil systems, and the sinfulness within ourselves.

I struggle with all of this myself, since we are all broken. However, I do not consider of tone-policing, which is concern for how one reader believes another writer feels is a form of listening. The language of “tones” and “emotions” just means the reader is far more interested in derailing, and make everything personal (centering your experience instead of letting anOther’s experience speak for itself).

I think it’s in that moment when we are all facing the temptation to make a person’s words all about us, it’s at that time we should take a seat, and be quiet. Listen, be patient, and maybe perhaps choose to respond minutes or days later. Perhaps give ourselves time to re-read offending posts.

Not so much to ask is it?

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?