I know some of you have been following the discussion of race, writing and othering, and privilege, probably more closely than I have. For those who might have missed it:
I've been reading some of the links from rydra_wong
's many recent lists; I won't give links to each post because a) it would take a while and b) it might be out of date by the time I post. Rydra has been amazing in linking to so many good and important discussions. Some of my other friends have also done good posts and replies to other people. If you only read one thing, I think this post
gives a good summary of some of the outstanding issues--and outstanding hurts. A lot of harm has been done. If you have more time, the LiveJournals of shewhohashope
and the blog Seeking Avalon
have been especially well-written--and they have persevered despite some horrifying abuse.
I've mostly not said anything, or I've just thanked people for posting. I have only given substantive comments on two posts, I think, where I hoped I could help more than I hurt. I have learned some things. I'm not going to list them, because I don't think they're reducible to a list, and, as I've been reminded repeatedly, this really isn't about me.
I do have a few things to say, though:
• I've seen accusations that the People of Color who started talking about cultural appropriation and misrepresentation are racist. Some of the posters have been blunter and angrier than others, but honestly, none of the racism I've seen has come from the posters I've listed or the People of Color on Rydra's list that I've read. I wasn't silly enough to think racism was anywhere near dead, but I apparently was pretty silly to think that fen were more open-minded than other people. Many are, but some aren't, and fen can be as hateful as anybody.
• I'm an academic myself. Academic credentials and discourse should not be wielded as a weapon, and if I ever do it myself, someone please point it out to me (gently would be nice). I'm disappointed and embarrassed to see a kind of discourse that should be used to expose and dismantle prejudice and foster understanding instead used to reassert privilege.
• A lot more listening is needed. That's part why I haven't posted before, but I worry that after a point, silence does look a lot like assent. My silence hasn't been assent to hurtful things that have been said; it has been a desire not to throw fuel on a fire, an uncertainty about the best response to people I don't know, and more than a little cowardice. I still mean to do a lot more listening than I do writing, and I'm listening in Real Life as well as LiveJournal.
• Apparently there really are
people who think the inauguration of President Obama means the end of racism. No, clearly not. Would that it were true! May I live to see it! (That's a prayer, not an expectation.)
I'm a teacher, so I tend to repeat myself. My points here are really simple:
Read some of the thoughtful posts; maybe give some support to the people who have really put themselves on the line and been attacked for saying what they've experienced and giving perspectives on books and fanfic. I'm not endorsing everything by the posters I mention or to whom Rydra links; I do think that many of these posts deserve thoughtful consideration.
Please don't respond in anger or from defensiveness. In fact, if in doubt, don't respond--I've had trouble with this in the past myself. The last few days, I've seen people make complete idiots of themselves with too quick a response. A few have apologized; I respect that. Some just dig deeper, and maybe I can learn from their mistakes without making them myself.
I'll make some
mistakes, though: hence the title of this post. I wish I could remember who said it; I'm not sure if I should be crediting one individual, or if it has become a more widespread saying. If I should credit someone, please let me know whom.