Wrestling with Racists and White Fragility
June 8, 2020 9:58 AM   Subscribe

I know we have talked about this before in AskMeFi, but I think I need some current help. Like quite a few of us, I belong to NextDoor, because they're my neighbors, and there's tons of discussion of the protests. And the racists are out, barely in disguise or not at all. I actually think some of them are persuadable people and I believe in dropping good seeds even in barren ground, but I could use some more handy cites.

Some of the tropes being trotted out are from hopeless right wing trolls and they are also well defended with resistance to all data and fact checking sources. So forget them. But people of (slightly) better will are arguing that we need to support police, about the numbers on which races commit more violent crime, and other stuff about African American culture that is even more overtly racist. I mean, it's ALL racist and my instinct is to tell them what they are and leave, but you know, I feel like sweet reason and data are worth a shot. Help me, hive mind. If I am being an idiot to talk to these people, good to know.
posted by bearwife to Society & Culture (10 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: This Twitter thread lays out the "violent crime" statistics pretty well. I can't say whether trying to talk to people with data is a good idea or not. I've not really seen it work. But if you think it's worth a shot, that's a pretty clear breakdown of the arguments I think you're referencing.
posted by brook horse at 10:08 AM on June 8, 2020 [11 favorites]

Best answer: The people on the threads might be un-persuadable, but lurkers and bystanders are a different matter. In terms of tactics, don't get into a 'last word' battle as it's rarely worth the time.
posted by plonkee at 10:29 AM on June 8, 2020 [20 favorites]

Captain Awkard would like a word: White Family Facebook Drama Over Police Racism

"But I am going to tell my fellow white people that if Black people say that starving their neighborhoods of city services while spending half (and sometimes more than half) of the city budget on violent policing isn’t working for them and here’s what would work better instead, we don’t actually need to do 400 years of reading catch-up to know that that’s the right thing to do before we do something about it. They are experts on shit that we just admitted we don’t really understand! We just showed up yesterday! Let’s do it their way! That is our urgent project, right now. Lives depend on it. We have power to help and a duty to fight in solidarity.

So yes, do your homework, and yes, don’t let your racist relatives say racist things unchallenged in your homes and your online spaces and your workplace, but also, do not fall into the trap of treating this as a project in building and perfecting better white people who know more stuff about racism.

If you’ve got one hour today, do one hour of something that accomplishes the goals of Black activists and protesters who are fighting for their lives and communities."
posted by jointhedance at 10:41 AM on June 8, 2020 [25 favorites]

What plonkee said. Drop some science so they know that what they're saying is both wrong and unacceptable, but you're not going to exhaust the loud people. You're putting down a marker for other people to see.
posted by praemunire at 10:58 AM on June 8, 2020 [3 favorites]

Best answer: The recent uprising has shown something really powerful that we need to remember in our society's most horrible political conversation sites, online forums: just show up and say your piece. Push back b/c its really others watching who need to see curious, informed, justice-oriented voices expressed in the face of fear and hatefulness.

We don't win (exclusively) by having the best data points; we win because our side is more ethically attuned to the needs and desires of society, and when we courageously share that, people respond.
posted by RajahKing at 12:18 PM on June 8, 2020 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: I have thought about that, primalux. I share your views of NextDoor: their moderating makes their own biases very apparent. But to the extent they depend on revenue, moving the needle away from right wing also means they need to move their positioning. I think that very pragmatic reason is why so many companies, regardless of who they have been supporting politically, are trying to brand in a BLM friendly way, and why so many are now vulnerable to pressure to cut their ties with right wing folks. On the other hand, if participating in NextDoor does no good in terms of helping to change the attitudes of their users, then yes, probably better to delete my account. Kinda back to my initial question -- is the effort worth it?
posted by bearwife at 1:12 PM on June 8, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Fyi the NextDoor CEO was charged with a felony hit-and-run: link.

He had some excuses about how his car didn't actually make contact, but a normal person would stop and try to help after causing another car to swerve and crash badly.

The NextDoor CEO was previously sued for fraud, which he settled for millions. He also committed resume fraud. Link.

So it doesn't seem like a coincidence how NextDoor became the way it is. I don't have a lot of hope for NextDoor becoming an ethical, caring platform.

I agree with the advice to put in some data and rebuttals for the sake of bystanders that are watching, but don't invest your time into making NextDoor more valuable.
posted by cheesecake at 1:51 PM on June 8, 2020 [6 favorites]

Best answer: When I don't have time to engage, I just reply "what is wrong with you" and move on. It lets everyone watching know that not everyone agrees with the racism, and sometimes that's enough impetus for a third party to step in and argue with the racist.
posted by Jacqueline at 9:36 PM on June 8, 2020 [3 favorites]

Best answer: I tend to agree with primalux on this: NextDoor is a platform by racists for racists which at this point basically functions as an extension of the police. Rather than staying on to try to convert racist white people, I'd stop helping ND's numbers by deleting my account, and as Capt. Awkward suggests devote that energy to actions that actively contribute to helping Black people fighting for their lives.

Stats, well-reasoned arguments about murder cops and African-American culture...just, no. I'm very guilty of this too, throughout my life, and I'm still fucking it up, but no. Something people, and especially white people, need to understand is that this stuff is not the point, doesn't help, and in fact contributes to racism.

The only thing I'd bother dropping into these conversations is: Black people are people who ought to be treated as such, and currently are not. There is no discussion. The statement does not require proof or qualification. The conversation between white people, as the poet Sonya Renee Taylor recently put it, needs to stop being about Black folks' behavior, choices, whathaveyou--because those things are completely irrelevant to whether they deserve to be treated like people, just like they're not taken into account in our society's overall treatment of white people--and start being about why we feel the need, and that we have the right, to sit around arguing about whether other people are people, whether it's wrong to abuse them. The whole angle and scope of the conversation needs to change, and I seriously doubt that'll happen on NextDoor.
posted by peakes at 2:09 AM on June 9, 2020 [5 favorites]

Response by poster: The Fourth Circuit decision in Estate of Wayne A. Jones v. City of Martinsburg, West Virgina, reinstating a lawsuit by the family of a black, mentally ill man who was shot 22 times by the police officer defendants, just echoed you, peakes. The court said among other things, "This has to stop," and "Although we recognize that our police officers are often asked to make split second decisions, we expect them to do so with respect for the dignity and worth of black lives." If I don't quit ND, I think I'll just limit myself to borrowing your statement and those two quotes from the decision.

Many thanks to all of you.
posted by bearwife at 3:16 PM on June 9, 2020 [2 favorites]

« Older Help choosing and buying a compact family car in...   |   Here's some photos of my loft. Plant advice? Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments