On the anti-racism discussion

It seems to me that many LWPs when discussing AR with POCs and other LWPS (not to mention RSs) sound as they’ve gotten so LiA that they are CI.  Is it necessary to be OttPoA in order to discuss AR?  Does it really help to become LiA to the point where you sound like a TFI?.

Just wondering.

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0 thoughts on “On the anti-racism discussion”

  1. wow, dOOd, I have no 1dea wtf you are saying. Idk what all those letters mean.

    Tho I get TFI now that GS explained it 2 me.

  2. Well, if you were seriously engaged in that conversation, to the point of spending a significant portion of every day participating in it, would you really want to type those words again and again?

    That conversation has reached the point where very few outsiders are likely to enter it, so those abbreviations amount to jargon. It’s perfectly reasonable to speak jargon when your audience is mostly made up of people who understand that jargon. Would you expect a large group of IT folks to actually spell out Point-to-Point Protocol over Ethernet every time, when everyone engaged in the conversation knows what PPPoE means?

  3. @MadGastonomer: on the other hand, by speaking in jargon, does one not actually *ensure* that no one new *can* join the discussion?

    (ooh, devil’s advocate moment!)

  4. Liberal White People
    People Of Color
    Total F****** Idiot
    The others??

  5. Okay, I’ll have a go. AR is clearly “anti-racism”, and POC=”persons of color” and LWP=”liberal white person”. That’s the easy part.

    Next step is the curses. TFI is probably “Total F****** Idiot”, and RS may well be “Racist S***head”. Fits the context, at least.

    Step Three: assume that the decoded comment is extremely meta. That would give us CI as “Completely Impenetrable”, OttPoA as “Obscure to the point of …?” (Arcane? Abstruse?), and LiA as “Laden? in Acronyms” (although most of these are really just initialisms, I think. The distinction is minimal in an online discussion.)

    If that’s the question, then my answer would probably be “no”.

  6. Is the point that Steve is making here is that people are caught up in SFAs trying to impress and intimidate people with them that they are missing the orginal, big picture issue?

  7. I don’t know which conversations you’ve been hearing/reading, because other than “POC” those aren’t acronyms I’ve seen used in the many conversations I’ve read and participated in.

    It’s disappointing to me that the first post I’ve ever seen on Words Words Words that talks about racism is one in which you–if I interpret your acronyms correctly–insult and mock those of us who blog about racism.

    I really wish I hadn’t read this.

  8. I wish the folks involved would take a deep breath and count to 10,000. Things aren’t perfect but they are better than 30 years ago. Please put much of your passions into continuing to improve many of the racial and other issues by redirecting some, but not all, of the energy you put into this argument.

    And if you really want to go ballistic, I’m reading an ebook of “Tom Swift and His Motorcycle”. Written about 100 years ago. Badly written. Try comparing the stereotypes in that book to the issues that are being argued today.

  9. schmwarf: which, according to Wikipedia (which has a link to an interviewer making the claim), is the most popular Tintin volume in the Congo.

  10. Mary Dell @ 10:

    I don’t think it was mocking so much as wishing people would keep in mind the need to retain a low barrier to the entry of this discussion. The people the dialogue most needs to reach, to inspire thought on this issue in, have not likely had much exposure to the dialogue. Not to its acronyms, or its basic concepts. The acronyms are Googleable yes but that isn’t really the point. It depends who you are writing for or speaking to.

    (I just deleted a long comparison of this to tech stuff. It’s been said before, and I was belaboring it)

  11. What TechSlave Said.

    Racism is a difficult subject for many people who aren’t victims of it to comprehend at a gut level. To do so requires questioning unthought assumptions in a very uncomfortable way.

    If discussion of racism is then wrapped up in a bunch of unfamiliar jargon (specifically: words used with a very tightly defined meaning that is not in line with everyday usage) it makes it hard for folks to pick up the threads. Especially if, by the nature of the discussion, they risk causing offense by getting the jargon wrong.

    Reasonable people may then be deterred from trying to understand discussions of racism. This is not, in my opinion, a desirable outcome …

  12. Racism is easy. We are all human. If you are a racist, you are basically hating yourself.

    After that, it comes down to a matter of culture. What makes some PoC in this country speak in a bellicose manner when those in say, England, have a clear English accent indistinguishable from those with less color?

  13. TechSlave & Charlie Stross: I agree that using jargon is offputting and unwelcoming, and it’s unfortunate that the word “racism” has multiple definitions, that make it hard for people to start from a common reference point in discussing it. But other than “POC,” (“People/Person of Color”) I haven’t seen this particular jargon being used anywhere. And I follow, and participate in, a great many discussions about racism. From this I conclude that Steve is exaggerating for effect.

  14. seanp – racism is not necessarily hating, but yes, in many people it hurts themselves as much as any others. (see studies that demonstrate that is you remind someone in the demographic whose racist stereotype is stupid what their race is right before they take a test, you lower their grade on the test. opposite effect if you remind someone of their race right before the test when the dominant stereotype of their race is smart (read: Asian). The effects of racism are pernicious, not simple.

  15. Charlie, not only is “Racism … a difficult subject for many people who aren’t victims of it to comprehend at a gut level,” it’s a difficult subject for the people who are victims of it. Look, for example, at the disagreements among people of color regarding the fundamental assumptions of Critical Race Theory.

    And the people who appear to benefit from racism are often its victims, sometimes in very unsubtle ways. As Sharon Smith points out in here, “When the racist poll tax was passed in the South, imposing property and other requirements designed to shut out Black voters, many poor whites also lost the right to vote. After Mississippi passed its poll tax law, the number of qualified white voters fell from 130,000 to 68,000.”

    Mary, when people want to discuss something using words that they have given meanings which are not found in dictionaries, communication becomes especially challenging. At the very least, they have a social obligation to say they’re using their own terminology when new people join the conversation. That’s simple courtesy.

  16. I suspect Steve is responding mostly (if not completely) to my post here: http://netmouse.livejournal.com/606639.html in which I got tired of typing the term ‘liberal white people’ and introduced the acronym LWP (unlike Steve, I defined it when I used it. I did use the term POC – People of Color- without defining it first in that post but I have been blogging on race for weeks and defined it elsewhere). LWP is not in common use anywhere else – I used the term because it was used in a comment I was responding to.

    Techslave, do you really think it’s possible to say someone sounds like a TFI (Total Fucking Idiot) without mocking them? I agree that there appears to be an angle of correction intended by the author of the OP (original post), and it may be the one you describe, but there is also mocking. That’s why people are laughing. Because mocking is funny.

    schmwarf, almost no-one uses acronyms in order to impress or intimidate people (well, Steve may be trying to impress people with the obtuseness of his acronyms here, but that’s tangential to how people usually use them). See what MadGastronomer said.

    There is a need for discussions at different levels on this topic – there are graduate level discussions where people prefer not to define terms in a conversation they’ve been having for years. There are racism 101 discussions like on Scalzi’s blog, http://whatever.scalzi.com/2009/03/12/mary-ann-mohanraj-gets-you-up-to-speed-part-i/ and at http://community.livejournal.com/racism_101/
    All conversations do not need to have low barriers to entry, just some of them.

    I did not intend for my post to have a high barrier-to-entry and it’s definitely something to think about, but I also think it is something people *do* think about. It is also rather high-handed, however, to suggest that every time anyone makes a post about these issues it must be accessable to a general audience. There are intended entry points, and then there are posts that serve other purposes.

    There are signposts to several intended entry points. Look and I think you will find many of them.

  17. Will, you miss the point as usual. This is not me telling people how to discuss racism. I’m expressing disappointment that Steve’s very first post on a topic that’s close to my heart is an exaggerated and mocking one.

  18. Anne: No, after reading your post I followed some links. And no, I’m telling you which links I followed.

  19. Mary, going elsewhere with your point is not necessarily the same as missing it. You subscribe to an ideology that comes with unique terminology. That, of course, is in the nature of ideologies. It’s a danger I try to be aware of when I use the terms of Marx or Jesus.

    Terminology is wonderfully useful for discussing the things we want to discuss. The palmed card is that it can be very useful for hiding the things we wish to ignore. We get to admire our spherical cows and be furious with anyone who suggests they aren’t perfectly round.

  20. Will, the ideology I subscribe to is Christianity. You claim to be familiar with some of its terminology already.

    There is really no point in you and I talking, EVER, so I’ll stop now. I and my family are members of groups that you openly or covertly despise. Let’s not speak again.

  21. Mary, your attitude and my understanding of Jesus’s message are at odds. Which I respect. And I also respect your desire not to talk with me, but I must ask one question: what groups do I openly or covertly despise? I don’t despise any.

    Hmm. I can see how you might think I despise capitalists. But I actually pity them. In terms you should recognize, I forgive them, because they do not know what they do.

  22. Mary, an afterthought. I have said unkind things about Mormons and Scientologists, which I regret, so if you and your family are members of either group, I’m sorry for anything that made you think I do not respect sincere efforts to build a world where all things are shared. I do not respect the founders of those religions, it’s true, but I realize many followers take comfort from their tradition and do good work.

    Hmm. I’ve also criticized the Pope and the Dalai Lama, but I tried harder in those cases to separate Catholics and Tibetan Buddhists from the flawed examples of the heads of their faith. Still, if I said anything you interpreted as despising your religious group, whatever it might be, I’m sorry for that.

  23. Mary: that’s a bit of a flounce, there. Although I suspect Will’s point was really more relevant to when people use terms for which there *are* dictionary definitions which are not the definitions they are using in the conversations than for when they use acronyms. I think redefining words causes much more confusion and friction than using a few acronyms but he was sliding the topic in a way that meant he wasn’t directly/just responding to something you said, in case you didn’t notice. The mingling of CRT (critical race theory) and specifically AR (anti-racist) academics with us regular folks in the discussion has caused more than one hystrionic moment that simply boils down to ‘what do you mean I can’t use that term to mean what it means over here and has meant all my life everywhere I’ve seen it?’ where ‘over here’ is referring to the dictionary. Clarifications of meaning in recent race discussions have varied from polite to impatient to out-and-out rude, it is true.

    (I personally have to ignore it and move past whenever anyone interprets racism=prejudice+power to mean only white people are racists, which to me is not only very US-centric but also simply not true. I find it’s not necessary to agree on that point to have functional discussions about others, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a hard point to leave be.)

    That said, I’m not sure there’s an acronym glossary for this particular discussion area of jargon. One might be helpful.

    Steve: I think you mean no you’re *not* telling me which links you followed. Which is of course fine.

  24. Will: capitalists, people with money, people with ivy-league educations (my parents), opponents of the PRC, middle-class people of color (my son), doctrinal catholics (my parents), anyone who identifies him or herself as “anti-racist,” etc.

  25. Mary:

    Frederick Engels owned a factory; I can’t despise all capitalists or people with money.

    Howard Zinn is an Ivy Leaguer; I can’t despise all Ivy Leaguers.

    I am an opponent of the PRC: I believe in democracy and free speech, and I don’t think socialism should be so broad that it includes impoverished people and billionaires. I’ll happily second every harsh thing that people like Michael Parenti have said about the PRC.

    As for the subset of the US middle-class that consists of people of color, I oppose them if they’re classist or racist.

    My favorite Catholics are liberation theologists. Whether I’m opposed to a doctrinal catholic would depend on what you mean by “doctrinal” and small-c “catholic.” If that’s a euphemism for fascist christians, then I’m opposed. If it’s not, then I’m not.

    As for the final category, it depends on what you mean by “anti-racist”. I’ve opposed racism all my life. I’ve been beaten and spat on by racists. In the obvious sense of the word, I’m an anti-racist whose creds are at least as good as those of many who claim the word in order to denounce their opponents as racists. It’s only in the ideological sense used by capitalist anti-racists who refuse to address class issues that I’m not one. On the other hand, those people aren’t really anti-racists–as Malcolm X noted, you can’t have capitalism without racism. They’re simply beneficiaries of capitalism who are not willing to examine the privilege of wealth.

    Anyway, I understand why you don’t want to talk to the Will Shetterly you think I am. You may not want to talk to the Will Shetterly that I actually am, but in that case, it would be a different discussion that you would be refusing to have.

  26. Native Americans and Jews are some of the most “racist” people I’ve met.

  27. Mary, a final P.S.: If my tone sounds harsh above, I also apologize. I hold no ill will for you. I’ve been working through some hard things the last few months. One of the exacerbating factors has been the frequent misconstruction of my beliefs by your side. In some ways, being charged with your long list of things I don’t believe was freeing. I don’t think I’ll need to clarify my beliefs for anyone again.

    Steve and everyone, apologies for interrupting the regularly scheduled show. More analysis of Adam Smith, please!

  28. What is PRC? Google brought up the following:

    PRC LLC – doubtful
    People’s Republic of China – also doubtful, but possible in some ways I suppose
    PA Resources Council – they promote conservation
    Postal Regulatory Commisision
    Photographic Resource council?
    Pike River Coal?

    Bob, I’m going to pick China for $500. Wonderful place to visit and live as long as you aren’t a citizen.

    I have to say I find the posts on here to be darkly humorous. So I suppose that lumps me in with the “people who aren’t doing anything to help” category…

  29. Seth, you get your $500. Because I don’t take the CIA’s side on Tibet, some capitalists say I’m a Chinese stooge.

    Which reminds me of the group I will always work against: binarians.

  30. Sorry Will I’m confused again. Binarians – google has failed me as I find it hard to believe that you care that other people think it’s only jesus and the father that occupy the godhead and does not include the holy spirit.


    Is there some other binarians that I’m missing here?

    And to be honest with you, why would capitalists care about whether China holds on (grips in an iron fist) Tibet? I thought it was the prius crowd with the tibet flags that cared… ;)

  31. Seth: I’m pretty sure Will uses “binarian” to mean people who think that “yes/no” “either/or” answers are valid in certain issues Will doesn’t think they are valid in.

  32. Steve, yeah, more or less. I’m sure there must be some issues where I’m comfortable with a black or white worldview, but I can’t think of any offhand. Also, apologies for taking over this thread. I’m trying to release!

    Seth, the Tibet issue is one of the CIA’s biggest successes–a lot of people who think the US stance on Cuba is simplistic support the stance on Tibet. Capitalists would love to have Tibet because it’s a big market. The Dalai Lama is calling for a quarter of China, even though no Dalai Lama ever ruled that much territory.

  33. No apology necessary, Will. Topic Drift is our life. At the moment, I am fighting with Adam Smith about money, and he’s winning. In the meantime, maybe I should start a thread about Binarians. Binarism? Whatever.

  34. Aren’t Binarians those guys that made Riker fall in love with a hologram? Yeah, they were creepy.

  35. TexAnne: Or else people who believe in apples. (And that one is so obscure I defy ANYONE to get it).

  36. Actually never seen that written, so I don’t know if it is an “i” or a “y,” but “i” seems right somehow. Um…you aren’t telling me you know what I’m talking about, are you? If so, I’m going to be very impressed.

  37. Will, according to Memory Alpha, they were from Cheron, so they’re probably Cheronians.

    GailMom: As Mary (I think) pointed out, there are appropriate places for new people to enter the conversation. Not everybody wants to teach Racism 101 all over again, and that discussion doesn’t belong in every higher-level discussion. A discussion of quantum mechanics should not have to be made accessible to anyone with a high school diploma. If a HS graduate would like to join that discussion, perhaps she ought to go and learn quantum mechanics first.

  38. Speaking of definitions, does Religious Person (fill in your own dogma) equal Amway salesman? (Umm, person, don’t want to sexist in a racist discussion.)
    I ask because that the feel I get on a general basis. Or, if this is opening up a new can of worms, then move along, nothing to see here.

  39. Some religious people do indeed act like Amway reps, but there are at least as many of us who are just as happy to let you live your life the way you see fit.

  40. Many provocations stilling dangling…is that anything like a dangling participle? In this case, nowhere near so dramatic as the writer(s) may think! Mostly annoying.

    Anyhoo, re:#43. If you google apple + binary, you get lots of commentary about the Macs with Intel inside. Interesting…

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