Tuesday, August 15th, 2017 02:58 pm
(this started out as a reply to this tumblr post)

When I first started posting about social justice online, on my fannish livejournal, I posted about racism a LOT, with lots of self righteous LET ME EXPLAIN A THING. And then two of my non-white(*) friends said it was ruining my blog for them: one because she felt like I was speaking over her experiences, which didn’t match the monolithic How POC Feel Narrative I was ‘explaining’, the other because it was causing my clueless white friends to say racist crap in the comments. I had to fight back a defensive “But DON’T YOU WANT ME TO FIGHT RACISM??” reaction.

Ten years later and I’m still trying to figure out how to discuss racism in ways that actually help fight racism, and make the spaces I control supportive of POC/non-white people, rather than simply making the loudest possible noise about how it’s REALLY BAD YOU GUYS.

It helps that social justice conversations have become much more common in fandom, and I’ve had my own run-ins with able bodied people making loud yet unhelpful noises about how ABLEISM IS REALLY BAD YOU GUYS etc.

One thing which has been important for me is accepting that even this social justice oriented dreamwidth account is not an Activist Blog. An Activist Blog is a resource for it's readers. It generally has to be somewhat professional and even handed and try to keep up with, and post about, everything relevant to it's topic. But my blogs are for me. I use them to express frustration, work through ideas, and ask for other people's opinions. I sometimes share stuff I think is cool/interesting, but not with much method to it. Sometimes I make individual activist posts to this blog, which I put more careful thought into, but those are the exception not the rule.

If other people don't feel the need to post as much about social justice as I do that doesn't mean they don't care. It probably just means they don't think through ideas by making blog posts the way I do. And there are a bunch of topics where I care greatly but don't have much blog relevant to say.

I feel like a lot of discussion of How People Should Post About Social Justice assumes every blog is an activist blog, and that how much someone cares about an issue is directly proportional to how much they post about it. That it's your responsibility to make sure your readers are informed about Important Things, and to offer hot takes on Every Important Issue. Many people have talked about how this is a cruel and unfair burden to put on bloggers, especially the disabled. But also: noone is informed or energetic enough to maintain a good Activist Blog on every topic. And trying to be An Activist Blog and doing a really bad job is generally worse for the world than if you'd just stuck to cat pictures.

The signal to noise ratio of social justice discussions these days is apalling. Having to scroll past a bunch of simplistic, ill informed, repeditive posts on a topic makes it much harder to find and absorb the information from the few posts that are actually worthwhile.

Like: I read the news (and if you have the energy to do one of reading professional news, or whatever shows up on tumblr or twitter, dear God choose the former) I know Ableism Is Bad. I assume all my followers, including the able bodied ones, are the same. Why are able bodied people peer pressured into reblogging links to the same CNN article about The Latest Terrible Ableist Murder Everyone Is Talking About etc? Who does it help for me to have to scroll past ten almost identical posts and become increasingly depressed?

I mean, a low signal to noise ratio isn't the same as no signal. Some posts really are worth sharing. But you have to actually think about it, not just reblog everything that says THIS IS IMPORTANT.

Mostly I just just try and keep antiracist principles in mind when I post about anything, and bring it up when it's relevant, eg if I'm reviewing something and it's especially diverse/stereotyped etc.

The two kinds of specifically race related post I feel pretty comfortable making are:
(a) helpful resources or insightful commentary that I can be confident are actually helpful/correct and some of my followers might plausibly find useful.
(b)Locked posts where I have encountered a complex race related thing and am trying to figure out how to conceptualise/deal with it.

I try and avoid "URGH THIS RACIST THING I ENOUNTERED IS SO BAD" and "Lol Those Dumbass Racists" unless it's a really good joke. (Do I avoid them enough? I'm not sure) I make more posts along those lines relating to disability/sexuality etc, but still try and focus on the productive and positive, if only for my own mental well being. Simple straightforward positivity like "Shoutout to all my nb pals, your gender is valid!" has its place but can get annoying when it drowns out everything else.

I assume my followers can figure out that I think racism is bad, and posting a bunch of simplistic, negative, and likely flawed posts to that effect will just make my blog less fun and useful for everyone. This is certainly the approach I would like my straight/able bodied/cis etc friends to take.

nb if anyone has issues with the stuff I post now I continue to be open to criticism. And yeah I realise this post is me Explaining A Racism Thing but hopefully...not too obnoxiously?? /o\

(*)that’s how they identified. Australian vs US race attitudes is a whole other thing but lets not get into that rn.


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