In the comments of yesterday’s post, Kelly Barnhnhill crystallized something that come across all the time but don’t always remember how to explain to people:
…is it the veracity of the arguments themselves that you find â€œannoyingâ€, or, perhaps, is it just that you disagree with the politics? I think it happens a lot that when an expressed point of view makes us uncomfortable we will often simply discount it as â€œannoyingâ€ as a way to alleviate the stress of actually confronting and questioning the source of our discomfort.
Several months ago during the William Sanders Helix wank, Tobias Buckell pointed out that I was taking a lot of heat from the opposition even though I was hardly the only voice raising a stink about the issue of Sanders’ bigotry. One of the reasons I am an easy target for the ire of just about anyone is that I am female and I am black.
In the minds of more people than you probably care to admit, that means I have less of a right to state my opinion decidedly, stridently, and as if I know what I’m talking about. This issue affects women and ethnic minorities, often under the guise of â€œI would listen to you except I don’t like your tone.â€
This issue has been written about extensively elsewhere, so I won’t bother repeating it since you’ve got the Internet and the ability to click links.
Discourse on the Internet will always be fraught and imperfect and maddening. But we continue to engage in it because it can be enlightening, invigorating, and a spur to growth and better understanding. Perhaps not from my posts or blogs â€“- perhaps it’ll be a combination of many. And no matter how often I complain about the number of times I and others have to educate people on the web to bring them to a base understanding of how -isms affect the lives of minorities, a lot of good has come from those discussions, even if a large chunk of people just walk away muttering.
The next time you read some rant on the Internet about anything you know even a smidge about, I want you to try and examine your reaction to what was said and determine if you had that reaction because of who said it. It might reveal more about you than makes you comfortable. But in the end, you might end up being a more mindful person because of it.
And I think that will do for this week. Jeff, thank you so much for allowing me to squat here for a bit. Readers, thanks for your thoughtful commentary and willingness to have a discourse with me. I enjoyed every minute of it.
I hope some of you will drop by my writing blog (where I sometimes rant, but mostly don’t), my ABW blog (where I always rant), and read my story at Strange Horizons… because I’m a writer and I’m vain.