Mar. 9th, 2009

sab: (un >> go team foreign policy!)
On the ongoing discussion of race:

I read [livejournal.com profile] fiercelydreamed's post and firstly want to say that a lot of what's in that post has been on my mind, and that I really agree with where she's coming from.

I mean, in fandom, we're pretty much all queer and Jewish. (ETA: This actually might have been truer when the post was flocked, but still, I have never felt alone on LJ because of my queerness or Jewishness or whatever) We all have mental or physical health issues, and fandom is nothing if not a safe space for people like us. And for a lot of us, even outside fandom we've been in supportive communities for queer or Jewish or disabled people. Even if that's not true, we're still here arguing in an arena that's been nothing but inclusive and full of people like us, and when the subject at hand is about asking the general populus to shut up for a second and listen to somebody else for a change, I am really really on board with listening to somebody else for a change.

On the other hand, it's a little frustrating that the suggestion is now circling that people who haven't engaged in RaceFail '09 are exercising privilege by doing so. Even if it's true, I'm willing to exercise my own privilege not to start talking when I lack the vocabulary to navigate the conversation, or when I don't have anything to add. I'm also not wild about participating in anything dubbed "Fail," because, seriously, diving into a debate that's already been written off as an insulting and vitriolic mess on all sides is not my idea of a wise choice. By which I mean, I'd only bungle it up.

Even now, as I go to post this, I stopped to do a little tally of the people of color on my friends list. There are certainly many of you whose race and background I have no clue about, but I did stop and think about my friends of color specifically reading this. I don't really have any particular thoughts about it beyond the fact that I did the mental census, but I am aware that it's a product of my privileged experience growing up in incredibly inclusive, multiethnic, liberal, supportive communities. Which is to say, everyone's a little bit racist, definitely including me.

ETA: I'm unlocking this post because there have been good challenges to it and discussion in the comments.

And while I'm here, let me just get it out of my system. One of the main reasons it's hard for me to find ways to involve myself in the ongoing conversation is because nobody wants to hear a white girl explain her experiences with racism, even though sometimes, awkwardly, that's an instinctive way to feel included in the conversation. So, here goes: as many know, my sister's girlfriend is black and my family all adore her and we hope they stay together forever (no pressure, Lizzie). When I introduced my 88 year old grandfather to my girlfriend he kissed her and said "welcome to the family." Once in high school I won a game of Monopoly and my friend Andy said: "Isn't it appropriate? The Jew gets all the money!" I made fun of him and explained to him why that was not cool. On the other hand, on the recent episode of House, Taub, the Jewish doctor, got made fun of for his large nose. House himself teased him by calling him "Berkowitz." And while that is broad stereotype and quite indicative of the way TV deals with race, in this case I actually liked it. I felt included and I felt like House was thinking about and speaking to Jewish people like me. I felt happy to be called Berkowitz at any time. And several months ago I kicked a guy out of my house for using the n-word. Similarly, one of my favorite songs, De La Soul's "I Am, I Be," uses the n-word, and even when I'm singing along alone in my house I either close my mouth or sing "people" instead -- it has the same two syllables. And, the kicker; some of my best friends are black.

Honestly, that's what I know how to say in a conversation about race and there are so, so many of you who have written and expressed things that have educated and inspired me. Please continue to link me to the very best stuff you come across; I basically read what [livejournal.com profile] ciderpress, [livejournal.com profile] rachelmanija and [livejournal.com profile] telesilla link to.

Now to have some food and then go to bed, dreading waking up tomorrow to find out who I may have offended. I truly am sorry in advance if I bungled it all up again.

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