If someone here on FTB starts a very hypothetical, very academic, “Gosh, does white privilege really exist?” sort of conversation, it will get 200+ comments.
Actually there is a reason for that.
Academia is meant to create discussion. People discuss “Academia” all the time! This was a “What a tosser” post. What can you say here? I mean the discussion on this would boil down to “Yes Avicenna, this is Acceptable” and “No! You should join the Stormfront!”.
But a story like this that confronts a real, bona-fide example of racism in the atheist community? (Like Sally Strange suggests, I take the source at its word— it’s so not implausible for racist atheists to exist.) 28 lousy comments.
Oh we know there are “racist” atheists. See racism isn’t always the white guy in a pointy hood talking about racial superiority of the Aryan Peoples. It’s hard to hate these guys since they usually spell out their hate in crayon and mispel words. What you want to say to them is “Yes, yes you are! You are racially superior! Now off to your racist LARP meetings!” Because there is no punishment for these people greater than being themselves.
But the real problem is the subtle racism. The “Not Getting It” brigade exists on both sides. Well meaning people indulge in some pretty “racist” stuff. On one side you have people like JT Eberhard. JT did nothing spectacularly wrong. I disagree with Jen and Greta’s responses because what JT got wrong was something he would get wrong because he doesn’t understand how frustrating it is to be subject to that kind of question day in and day out.
Most of the racists are well meaning people who don’t realise they are being silly. And yes I even lump the “No Cultural Appropriation” lot in with them because they often tell me that my “culture is being destroyed” when my response is “no. My culture is changing. No one is killing Tamil Speakers, Tamil Speakers are not teaching their children to read and write it.”. I don’t read tamil because no one taught me to do so. We never thought it was important and now we are whinging about our own bad decisions.
A white lady wearing a sari isn’t a sign of the death of culture, it’s the sign that our culture is robust enough that other people can partake in it. This is obviously diffferent from Miley Cyrus Twerking (I had to google that BTW) or actually nicking stuff from Native Americans because of DIFFERENT reasons. (The hypersexualisation of black women and the usage of them as props is a long standing theme in music, and native americans have in general had a shitty deal in terms of culture since people were actually trying to stamp it out)
JT Eberhard is not a racist, he just said something racist without realising what he was doing was not helping but harming.
It’s almost like people at FTB (Pharyngula in particular) like to engage in a lot of academic, philosophical masturbation as they try to one-up each other playing “language gotcha” (all the while, constantly using ableist language— people are always whining [though they could have depression], or being blind to an argument [as though actual blind people make it a practice to be willfully ignorant] of which they’re not aware) rather than confront examples of real racism.
Well that’s because we have two very different ethos. My work has made me a lot more flexible and a lot more likely to let stuff slide because I have to do that. The people I would attract are those who understand that sometimes I will grumble about women having too many kids or parents who shouldn’t have kids or that vein of things because I actually have to deal with the horrible things people say and do to themselves.
I am less worried about language than intent because I do not live in a PC World (Politically Correct, not the massive Computer Sales Store) but one where you have to do stuff. You can call me sexist if you like but the fact of the matter is that for many women, I am the only person willing to actually help them with issues that other people would judge them for.
And people understand and realise that actions are important too. What’s there to confront here? “LAWL Black People are Chimps!” isn’t smart or clever or funny. It’s bad and we all know so.
So, what the fuck, FTB regulars? If this picture (and, despite the fact that the link no longer works, you can still find it via a google archive) were equally heinous from a misogynist standpoint, there would be 200+ posts, full of torches-and-pitchforks righteous anger, ready to doxx this idiot and send him/her packing from the internet for good and all.
But, yawn, this is racism. And racism isn’t really our issue here. Neither is ableism. Neither is group mental coercion. Sure, we pay lip service here at the FTB— we always throw “racism” on that list— it’s always #1, 2 or 3 along with misogyny and homophobia— and lord knows, we’re ready to engage with a fine philosophical discussion about hypothetical racism against hypothetical minority people, especially if it entails precious opportunities to advance in the neverending “FTB Gotcha Contest.” (Oooh, he said “don’t be a peckerhead”— RUSH RUSH RUSH to be the very, very first point out that “peckerhead” is gendered! Gotcha! Yawn.)
Faced with an ugly, actual example of real racism? FTB folds its tent. 28 miserable posts since July.
So where are the torches and pitchforks? Let’s doxx this idiot and send him/her packing from the internet for good and all. What do you say?
Actually the problem here is our front page.
The blogs are ordered on the Front Page according to who started what. So Ed and PZ Myers are always at the top. People rarely scroll down to see what’s happening in the depths of the “British Dungeon” (Because the majority of Brits are at the bottom). Our webmaster is a volunteer and so making this change to something better (I assume the new front page will look like Skepchic’s where the posts are lined up by date with the blog links down the side. Out of the hundreds of people who come to FTB I only get around 70 from the main page simply because of the design.
And the design was fine back when there were just a handful of blogs. It’s not now.
I personally wanted something like Patheos’s links at the bottom and perhaps a “Recent post slider at the top”. But we shall see how our new system works out on the front page.
I get that PZ’s horde is a nice, comfy place for a lot of people, but PZ isn’t the only blog on here. If the well-meaning (and remember, intentions are not magic) PZ horde is so committed to anti-racism, why does Siviku Hutchinson’s essay— the most recent essay on Black Skeptics— have at this writing a double-digit comment count? PZ’s cartoon on the theoretical existence of white privilege gets triple-digit posts in a day, but the most recent Black Skeptics article on FTB requires a week to get 68 whopping comments.
Because PZ Myers “horde” generally goes to PZ Myers blog and rarely pokes around other ones because they are “his” readers. They have his blog on bookmark and our blogging system doesn’t crosslink well. Seriously? Look at Patheos or Cracked to see how they do it. (If you liked this article then perhaps you would like these other articles too?) And sliders at the top that show other articles and stuff like that cause people to click on other stuff and catch their interest. Like “That Article by PZ was great! But at the bottom there is a link to Taslima’s work with a handy recognisable graphic representation of her blog. I should see what that is!”
To point out the difference in the size of hordes? PZ Myers gets a million or so hits a month. I get around 40,000 to 60,000.
And yes we are trying to get that to become cross blog traffic too. PZ Myers regularly links to other blogs and gets people to come here but we are working on a permanent solution. The issue is our internet wrangler (that’s the term right?) is a part timer and so these things take time. We also should have done stuff differently to start with.
It couldn’t have anything to do with PZ being a white man and Siviku Hutchinson being a black woman, could it? Gosh, could some of your reading and posting interests be formed by racism and sexism? The gotcha’s on the other foot now, isn’t it?
How about some of you well-meaning (but intentions aren’t magic) FTB regulars stop having hypothetical discussions about hypothetical black people, and start reading and responding to the black people that actually exist right here on FTB?
I am not black….
Indian though. Tamil/East Indian (Khmer) to be precise.
We need to get people to visit other parts of the site and the way this is going to happen is if we start putting up articles “by date” on the blog rather than by blog name and just have a list of blogs on FTB on the side so people can still go read and catch up their favourite authors. Also? A better cross linking system is needed than just a recent posts column on the side bar.
We are working towards a better front end to try and correct this, bear with us.