...my problem with the entire question of tone and courtesy is that it's typically only applied one way: people of color/non-white people who are angry about racism are told to watch their tone and be more polite.

It reminds me of how women angry about sexism are told that they're being shrill and strident, and men would listen to them if they were more polite and phrased it better. I say that not to compare oppressions, but to say that the mechanisms of socialization work in some eerily similar ways to maintain oppressive power structures: Speaking up for your rights is rude. Telling people who are being kicked from corner to post that it's their own fault nobody's listening, because they're not saying it right, is normal and polite.

The question of "personal attacks" is also applied and seen in a similarly skewed manner. When a person of color says, "Hey, so-and-so said a racist thing," they're seen as making a personal attack. When a white person says, "You're not smart enough for your opinion to count," they're seen as arguing the issues.

The burden of being polite and impersonal - in a matter that affects people's everyday lives on a profoundly personal level - is placed on the backs of the people who have to cope with the oppression in real life. And the people who are at the top of the power structure are the ones who get to be perceived as being polite and nice, when the substance of what they're actually saying - your opinions don't count, you're not educated enough to have a valid opinion, you're too educated to have a valid opinion, we don't want you - is neither nice nor polite.

These are not my original ideas, just my phrasing. I have seen this argument made many, many times by people of color. And also by white women. And also by GLBT people. A much more detailed explanation here, including the point that no tone is ever good enough.

From: [identity profile] sorceressakemi.livejournal.com


I am reminded very strongly of this post (http://naamah-darling.livejournal.com/350743.html). Quote:

Statements like "No wonder everyone hates you feminist bitches! You're so nasty and mean and foulmouthed and immature and bitter and so on that nobody wants to deal with you! People might give you what you want if you learned to ask for it politely!" are a patronizing pile of shit.

Fair and equal treatment, socially and legally, is not a "reward" for good behavior, or something we have to earn by being polite or pleasant or easy to deal with. It is something to which we are entitled by being born human.

Period.

From: [identity profile] fmanalyst.livejournal.com


I'm reminded of the conflict between Elaine Showalter and the chronic fatigue syndrome activists. PWCFS were fighting the idea, promoted by Showalter, that CFS was a form of hysteria, and the activists' anger was taken as proof that they were in fact hysterical.

From: [identity profile] sartorias.livejournal.com


The worst name-calling and personal attacking I've seen is whites against other whites, which (I think) polarizes people so much that the original problem (and need) gets buried.

The last day or so has brought about some heroic attempts to get the real work back on track, but wow.

From: [identity profile] madam-silvertip.livejournal.com


That's been my impression here and on other occasions. Which is not to say that the resulting furor doesn't seriously hurt people of color, not least by derailing the conversation about the original problem.
ext_12411: (banderas)

From: [identity profile] theodosia.livejournal.com


Seriously, I'm seeing this too -- it may be a function of where I'm reading or my not realizing some of the participants are considered PoC, but I know enough of who's publically known as white to find it.
brownbetty: (Default)

From: [personal profile] brownbetty


I think this is partly because PoC know they can't ever, ever, ever call white people names without a ten page bibliography citing their sources. White people, on the other hand, know that their race will never be judged by their actions, they will never get called on their tone (or at least, it will not be done systemically, and used as a reason to dismiss their concerns entirely) and that no one will dogpile themn for daring to critique a white person.

From: [identity profile] madam-silvertip.livejournal.com


This is true, but there's also the aspect that for us (white people) this is an internecine, family dispute, often literally (the same people in a family and/or group of friends having violently differing views) and those are always especially vicious. We see other people acting in ways that scare us and about which we want to say, "Not us! Not me!" And we tend to project that fear and viciousness onto nonwhite people as well, whose internecine battles exist but are different.

I can see this aspect of it in the reaction of many white women to being accused of racism. So many of us have had to get over huge amounts of false guilt imposed by society and family for things we were supposed to have done, not to have done, did to other people without knowing it, etc., that if we can get over any of it and speak freely, it's very destabilizing to hear "that hurt me" or "that was wrong." It's not immediately obvious that this is not coming from someone within the same family/kinship group and the guilt/shame issues are different.

And for some of us the false guilt issues have to do with white perceptions of nonwhite people, and how we were educated to relate to nonwhite people, which often turned out to have little to do with reality (the reality of nonwhite people). It's easy then to resist taking the next step into realizing that liberating oneself from this kind of false guilt doesn't mean there isn't still white privilege.

From: [identity profile] green-knight.livejournal.com


I have no problems with anybody's right to be angry. Or even bloody furious. But I do find that there is a point in any communication where it slips onto an emotional level, and I react on an emotional level, and when I feel attacked, ignored, belittled, etc etc, I don't react rationally but get defensive.

I don't think the onus is one one side only, although sometimes one side is acting vastly more honourably/sensibly than the other and it would take a saint to not react; and sometimes how something is meant and how it is received bears little relation to the text. It's not an easy minefield to traverse, although sometimes it *is.*


From: [identity profile] daedala.livejournal.com


My very favorite example of this today is this thread, (http://rozk.livejournal.com/247442.html?thread=2342290#t2342290) where [personal profile] autopope objects to the tone of [personal profile] rydra_wong, who was merely echoing his own words.

From: [identity profile] lenora-rose.livejournal.com


Reads link (A thread I hadn't followed before.)

GAPE.

He whaa?
ext_6382: Blue-toned picture of cow with inquisitive expression (Default)

From: [identity profile] bravecows.livejournal.com


I hadn't seen that!

I'm impressed that he steps down (impressed, isn't that sad, how my standards are lowered), but lololol oh loser.

From: [identity profile] rachelmanija.livejournal.com


I had the exact same thought. And then I thought, "My bars have gotten very low lately!"
rydra_wong: Chiana from Farscape in a silly hat, captioned "really white girls against racism" (Chi - *really* white girls)

From: [personal profile] rydra_wong


*snerks* I was quite entertained by that, as it's actually the first time I've been on the receiving end of the "tone" argument.

Usually, once people have realized I'm white, I can be as snarky as I want and I'll still get patted on the head and told how polite and rational I am and how they can have a reasonable conversation with me, unlike Those Scary Angry Hostile People over there.

(This has even happened when I've simply re-iterated or expressed my agreement with something that a POC just said.)

So it was a new and exciting experience!

From: [identity profile] daedala.livejournal.com


Haha. I almost posted that I was pretty sure he didn't realize you were white. But I decided maybe I shouldn't try to make that call.

From: [identity profile] lenora-rose.livejournal.com


Huh. The people on this discussion who struck me as having the "wrong tone", barring the actual trolls?

TNH. Kathryn Cramer. Avalon's Willow when condescending (Which was about 1 comment in every 6 or so), rather than when angry or critical. Bear in a foul mood as opposed to Bear after being hit with a clue-by-four. Medievalist. PNH. Abydos_Angel. autopope's female friend who used the C-word.

(WS's problems weren't in his tone. They were worse and different.)

Maybe I'm the exception, but that was what I saw.

From: [identity profile] juliansinger.livejournal.com


Feorag, who is in fact autopope's wife.

(Also, I would count Shetterly in this, but his TONE is never bad, just every third sentence he says. Oh, wait, I say, on editing, you said that.)

From: [identity profile] lenora-rose.livejournal.com


Feorag. Thanks. I didn't exactly feel like wading back through that post.

Yeah, Will Shetterly is... an exception to a lot of things. I can't quite bring myself not to read his fiction though, which is easier and more thoughtful than his fact...

... I also feel a little irked at people who slag his wife for his actions. They struck me as simultaneously a deeply affectionate couple and very strongly marked individuals.

From: [identity profile] sparkymonster.livejournal.com


I also feel a little irked at people who slag his wife for his actions. They struck me as simultaneously a deeply affectionate couple and very strongly marked individuals.


The reason people some times slag his wife, is that Will uses her work/life to prop up his own awesomeness on a regular basis. Also, he runs around defending her in ways where he ends up insults the crap out of people.

I agree it's problematic.

From: [identity profile] daedala.livejournal.com


Also.... She appears to be enabling him. So while it is not fair, and it's very problematic, it's hard to avoid.

From: (Anonymous)


I understand how the link works, really. It's human nature to link people who care and support each other in general and assume they share ideas even more than they do. I've been on the receiving end.

I also admit, I still want to read some of Shetterly's books, too, and not just because he can't be easily separated out from the rest of Shadow Unit. HIs fiction is a lot saner. But then, I've read Harlan Ellison's fiction after I knew his other reputations, too.
ext_6191: (Default)

From: [identity profile] abydosangel.livejournal.com


Yes, as a PoC I have misstepped and allowed white people to see my contempt for them.

I'll try to muster up some "Give A Damn" for that later.

From: [identity profile] lenora-rose.livejournal.com


That wasn't what I said. A number of people in this discussion deserve contempt, and ALL of them are white. Expressing that contempt, and anger at their shameful behaviour, is to be expected, and to be honest, while others gripe about tone, I've been impressed with the eloquence of almost everyone. And you don't know me from Adam (Adam's cuter - at least the one I know is), and I'm a nobody from the middle of nowhere, so I'm not someone you need to or should want to give a damn about.

(I am not one of those who feel there was nothing wrong done on the anti-racism side - obviously - but, as has often been stated, there is a significant difference between the two, and the wrong of being too contemptuous to get your point across, versus the wrong of tarring reputations, threatening people, and outing someone? NOt even comparable.)

From: [identity profile] ide-cyan.livejournal.com


Politeness (under which requests for the "right" "tone" seems to fall: it's not specifically a soft tone or a pleading tone or whatever that's requested, but something more abstract, especially in written discourse) is a product of cultural conventions that grow out of historical and political dynamics. It's a product of society: it reflects the order established in that society. Discourse that upsets the dynamics of society fails to comform to that order. (Sometimes it's on a micro scale, sometimes it's on a macro scale.) There is no way that anti-oppression talk can come off as polite, because it upsets the established order of a society based on oppression. And the rudeness of the oppressors toward the oppressed is invisible as such because it doesn't upset that order (as well as because the people at the top have the material means of getting away with it).

From: [identity profile] faithhopetricks.livejournal.com


There is no way that anti-oppression talk can come off as polite, because it upsets the established order of a society based on oppression. And the rudeness of the oppressors toward the oppressed is invisible as such because it doesn't upset that order

That's a really excellent point.

From: [identity profile] deepad.livejournal.com


The burden of being polite and impersonal - in a matter that affects people's everyday lives on a profoundly personal level - is placed on the backs of the people who have to cope with the oppression in real life. And the people who are at the top of the power structure are the ones who get to be perceived as being polite and nice, when the substance of what they're actually saying - your opinions don't count, you're not educated enough to have a valid opinion, you're too educated to have a valid opinion, we don't want you - is neither nice nor polite.

Snagging this for, er, THIS. :)
eredien: Dancing Dragon (Default)

From: [personal profile] eredien


I had to think about this topic for a month solid earlier this year and when I did it started to revised my opinions of activism in general, about any issue. I used to see activists as people who were so angry about something they didn't think they needed to be polite. Now I am starting to see activists as people who aren't afraid to show other people that they are angry about something that's usually worth being pretty angry about.

This was really hard for me personally to realize because I grew up in a household where anger was a discussion-ender instead of a discussion starter, wherein anger was used to bury other feelings (guilt, fear, shame, other anger) instead of talk about them, and where you could never be angry, because if you were angry something was wrong, and there couldn't be anything wrong (repeat cycle).

It took me a really long time to realize that many people didn't think like that, and it's taking me a really long time to realize (daily) that I don't have to think like that. It took me applying those principles that I'd learned about personal interaction to see how I could reframe my mental understanding of activism so that instead of me seeing activism as a bunch of angry people, that sometimes when activists were angry it was because it was ok and even necessary to express anger. That was a big shift for me. It's helped me understand, at least a little, discussions like this one.

I don't know how many people might find that useful for them as a way of thinking about it, but that is the path I'm currently thinking about it on so I thought I would share.
ext_3548: (Default)

From: [identity profile] shayheyred.livejournal.com


I wish people would tell the Cramers and Bears and Shetterlys of this world to watch their tone: arrogant, condescending and thoroughly reprehensible.

From: [identity profile] mariallegra.livejournal.com


Here via rydra_wong: thank you.

I say this as someone with rampant Pollyanna tendencies and issues with conflict who reads an etiquette board daily: I am sick of seeing people who have had to take bullshit their entire lives have their perspectives dismissed because they got angry enough to tell someone to go fuck themselves, and it is absolutely sick that all manner of hostility is taken as polite discourse because someone uses the "right" words. As a queer person, I've had to leave the room instead of confront homophobia a lot of timesbecause I am so angry that I know my words would just be dismissed as hysterical and not worth considering, and it is JUST SO WRONG that the perspectives of people who don't care much are privileged. I have no more patience for people who think the most important part of contentious discourse is for oppressed people to stand there and take it.
keilexandra: Adorable panda with various Chinese overlays. (Default)

From: [personal profile] keilexandra


When a person of color says, "Hey, so-and-so said a racist thing," they're seen as making a personal attack. When a white person says, "You're not smart enough for your opinion to count," they're seen as arguing the issues.

I would say that the former is not a personal attack but the latter is. Accusing someone of racism is different from calling someone [insert expletive here] for being racist. And saying that "you're not smart enough" places similar emphasis on the you, personally, rather than your actions.
.

Most Popular Tags

Powered by Dreamwidth Studios

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags