Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Blogthropology, May 2006: Blac(k)ademic

This month, I did over at Nubian's blog, Blac(k)ademic: black lesbians say what? The title of the blog summarizes pretty well how Nubian's culture differs from mine. She's an African-American lesbian PhD. student and documentary filmmaker, currently studying and residing in the Midwest. Hers is an impressive blog; I've linked to it and I recommend it to everybody. Nubian's work is critical, intense, intelligent, and always thorough. Her focus is mainly on issues of race, gender and queerness, which reach every corner of the news, politics or consumerism.

Nubian has made a true online community and debate forum; the diversity of people who comment on her blog is really stunning to me. She's made a safe space (or so I perceive it) for people of color by the manner in which she asserts her own identity and accepts it/integrates it into all her work and her thoughts, but links to and reads blogs that might disagree with her and leaves room for colorless people (that's my current problem with the term, is that it seems in some ways to encourage the view of whiteness as neutral, but I'm interested in what people who do actually see themselves as people of color think of that) to comment, albeit at the risk of having any wisp of white privilege shot down. On Nubian's blog, the personal is political in a way that goes beyond consciousness-raising or what-have-you; it also demonstrates in a very specific and impressive fashion how the political is personal. Her post for Blog Against Disablism day was particularly moving on that front.

That said, I made a number of egregious mistakes in my blogthropology, and I've realized that while I will continue to read and hopefully engage in discussions there as at other blogs of people I've never met, I'm not well-suited to navigating the blogosphere and committing to it as Nubian and many of her readers do. In a tradition of anthropology grander than most anthropologists would care to admit, and in a grand blog tradition, this post is in large part about me and the journey I'm going on partially as a result of blogthroplogy. I've no other honest way to write it. However, let me say again that I hope *everybody* reading this reads Nubian's blog and reaches their own conclusions. The only conclusion I've really reached about Nubian's blog is that I really admire it, and I've reached no real conclusions about myself, though I may by the time I've finished writing.

I found the link to Blac(k)ademic through Arbusto de Mendacity, and when I posted my first thorough, debate-oriented comment about a month later, I immediately got into an altercation with a few other commenters on the subject of transracial adoption (or, as some people who commented there would have it, transracial abduction). I understand a number of arguments against it, including those made by the people I was speaking with, but personally (from my white and other things perspective) favor considering it part of contemporary society and holding it to rigorous standards rather than eliminating it. Several people posting in the comments section didn't agree with me, and interpreted things I said in a manner different from the way I intended; I tried to clarify, and it took a while before I got any points across, and though we still disagree I thought the altercation ended pretty respectfully. However, I was shaken, feeling shot down in an almost literal sense. I was also held completely in thrall to the blogopshere for a couple of days--when I was at work I checked every hour at least to see what people had said to me or about me, when I was away the discussion took up so much of me that I was unable to work effectively. While I eventually calmed down and was able to see some justice in the accusations, particularly the one where one person (I'm not using names without permission) accused me of entering into debate combatively before asking questions about perspectives I might not undersand, it wasn't a useful way for me to think or live, and I had a difficult time becoming productive again, either in those discussions or in my life.

I thought that might make me a shitty blogthropologist; what it means is that I made a couple of egregious mistakes in blogthropology, and the next questions, and what will determine my relative shittiness, are how I react to the situation and change in it. I'm still processing those things, and while I'll continue to read and discuss and debate, I'm going to suspend my official involvement in Blogthropology next month ('tleast). For myself as an individual--a white individual, yes, but the particular qualities that determine this in me are not, in my view, terribly racially based--my most productive, most soul-searching and, more importantly, soul-altering dialogues are not going to be had on the blogosphere. I get defensive when I'm attacked, and while it's useful to see my defenses in the open, attacks in the blogosphere are made with a virulence that few would have face-to-face. I wanted to write "few would dare to have," but I don't think that's what I mean. It could be that I'm just reluctant to become vulnerable to such accusations--I'll admit that I am terrified (in an oddly physical manner) of posting this and revealing anything else about myself or my thoughts in this context--but I think, as long as I limit that reluctance to the blogosphere, I may be okay with that. Whatever my faults, and they are myriad, I'm honest in assessing myself and endeavoring to change what I dislike about myself; it's difficult to do that when I have no useful way to consider the source. There were things in the life of the blog that led to others reacting to me as they did--the post prior to the one upon which I commented discussed the Duke rape scandal, and several difficult and often very nasty commenters had gotten involved--and things in my life that led to my reacting as I did--in an artisticopersonal interaction with a close friend, I'd done some reprehensible things, and was stressed about disliking myself and generally defensive as a result--but I don't know enough about the individuals who attacked my poorly-thought-out words to know exactly how to work their opinions of me into what I think of myself. In a face-to-face interaction, there's more room to ask questions of others and figuring out more about who they are, more to what's going on, always, than the particular words on the particular topic. So I don't mind that on the blogosphere, most of my readers are and will remain people I know, and that I've a reluctance to make myself anonymously vulnerable. If vulnerable, which I must be to change, I want to be known.

Though I certainly cannot say it wasn't beneficial, as a white relatively priveleged woman (I'm a Jew, but thus far have kept myself out of circles in which that's a liability, and it's possible for me to do that), to be in a space where I and my voice felt isolated, ridiculed, unsupported. As perverse as it may sound, for that alone I am grateful for blogthropology. It's easy for a white person who works with and respects and loves many people of many different races, like myself, to forget the racist bottom line of American society and that I'm connected to it and part of it, and to take that refresher course so viscerally hurt a lot but was useful.

I've been thinking about racism and how to assess it, and I think it does have to be in the eye of the beholder. As a speaker, one can't know how things are received without receiving them; if you don't set out to be racist, you still have to trust someone else to a certain degree. Which I recognize contradicts some of what I said above. I think it's my job to reconcile those two.

My sister and I recently had a conversation in which she said that, though she would never become un- or anti-intellectual, she's becoming less intellectual in certain ways, more something else. When I asked what else, she said, "More personal." That's a distinction I've rejected in the past, believing myself to be beyond it; several experiences in the past month, including that of blogthropology, have allowed me to see that I'm not. It remains, in my view, both a worthwhile distinction and a worthwhile combination, and I'll strive to have both in my life as a reader, a blogger, a friend and a human being.


At 7:09 AM, Blogger meridity said...

Which post contains the altercation? I'm curious to see what you said and how it was misinterpreted, and how you made yourself understood.

At 4:40 AM, Blogger Betty Friedan said...

With the taste of his own foot still lingering in his mouth, District Attorney Mike Nifong has another piece of evidence blow up in his face, I wonder how's his ulcer is doing?

So would it be his own aura or is it the universe's way of getting back at Nifong for destroying these young boys lives?

It would be funny if Nifong's ulcer leads to a colonoscopy, or would it be “ironic” or “poetic justice” that he screws 47 boys over a false rape claim and have to take a 36 inch colonoscopy tube up his @ss for his part in the fiasco he created.

They are innocent! The drunken black stripper with the long criminal record and history of making false accusations...lied.

• Stripper made a false claim of rape by three boys in 1996.
• Stripper made a false claim of kidnapping in 1998
• Stripper charged with larceny, auto theft, and trying to kill a police officer in 2002
• 1st round of DNA shows no link to the lacrosse team.
• 2nd round of DNA shows no link to the lacrosse team
• DNA proves stripper had sex with boyfriend/pimp which accounts for the “rape kit” evidence of recent sexual activity.
• Innocent boy who picked up finger nail and threw it in the trash left his DNA on the fake press-on nail and will be charged for rape.

The stripper’s account of the night has serious integrity issues:
1) First she claimed 20 boys raped her, then she narrowed it down to 3 in a bathroom

a. The bathroom is absolutely and completely devoid of any evidence of a rape. Where is her DNA? Urine, blood, vaginal fluid, saliva, or tears?
b. Many people’s DNA were found under her nails but none from the innocent lacrosse boys.
c. She lied about losing her fake finger nails in a desperate struggle in the small enclosed bathroom, but pictures show that she removed her nails before inadequately performing her routine. No scratches were found on any of the innocent lacrosse boys’ bodies.
d. The 2 innocent boys she “eeny meeny miney moed” to be her rapists weren’t even at the party the time she claimed the rape occurred. She claims that she’s 100% sure, but she told her father that she’s not sure.
e. She took drugs before coming to the house, something illegal.

The stripper obviously lied, and she’s putting these innocent boys and families through hell. She deserves to be in prison for the rest of her pathetic life. She is worthless as a person and human being. Her one lie destroyed innocent boys. I hope her and Nifong’s aura catches up to them and they both get what they deserve. I hope everyone wishing this rape claim to be true, in spite of all the evidence that it never occurred, gets what’s coming to them.


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