Monday, April 13, 2009

Pondering a conversation about race…

Let’s jump right on in, shall we?

A wee bit ago this bitch posted about the launch of the St. Louis Post Dispatch’s newish blog venture, A Conversation About Race. I took a wait and see approach…which is to say that I was waiting to see when that shit would blow the fuck up.

Background – St. Louis is a racially polarized city that carries the Missouri baggage of midwestern segregation barely dismantled and poorly addressed. Catch that knee…the truth is the truth and no one gets anywhere denying the fucking undeniable. We may have come a long way since the murderous race riots of the early 1900’s, but we’ve got a long way to go.

Some more background – a bitch is not a fan of the school of tolerance or the avoidance it teaches. In order to heal we must expose and treat the wound, so I support folks having difficult conversations about race…religion…immigration…the economy…and hockey fan-based adoration (wink). But I’ve learned that those conversations must be carefully monitored lest they be high-jacked by knavish trolls who take them off topic even as their threatening rhetoric discourages others from entering the conversation…which can basically turn a blog post conversation attempt into a Hitler youth rally.

Sadly, that last sentence brings me to the St. Louis Post Dispatch and their Conversation About Race blog.

Cough.

The Post ran a piece in their Go! Magazine about best places to get your kiss on. The cover featured a couple kissing…a local couple kissing…a local inter-racial couple kissing…A BLACK MAN KISSING A WHITE WOMAN!

Gasp.

Oh, the humanity.

Pause…check date to make sure my ass didn’t accidentally wake up in 1962…continue.

Mercy.

Certain readers felt that the picture was staged (it wasn’t – the couple ‘tis indeed a couple) to inflame their sensibilities. They wrote in the express their disgust over that public display of inter-racial affection.

The Conversation About Race blog decided that this dust up deserved some …umm…conversation, so they posted about it. And, keeping with their blog style, opened the comment section up for thoughts and opinions.

Sigh.

Well, I suppose a bitch should be grateful that the editor has deleted the overt violent racists comments…those being a violation of Post policy.

Since they left up the one comparing the kiss to a bloody deer carcass a bitch shudders to think of what the fuck they decided to delete.

Blink.

Lawd, give me strength.

Dear Post posters - If you intend to have a conversation about race then you need to appreciate the history of violence and intimidation that accompanies race in America…and moderate the comments in such a way that folks don’t feel assaulted just reading that shit.

'Tis a difficult task, I know...but one that comes along with having a motherfucking conversation about race!

Otherwise y'all might as well embrace your inner Town Hall and change the name of the blog to The Bigot’s Round Table About Race…

Shit.

Update - More on this topic over at Show Me Progress and Blog Saint Louis!

22 comments:

Boughetto said...

WOW!

Bette said...

Those comments were really something. I had to stop reading after the one defending slavery. "Assaulted" indeed.

Not that long ago, I'd been telling someone who asked that my sweetie and I had never had any trouble as an interracial couple. Either we haven't been hanging out in the right places, or we've been oblivious to what is going on in people's minds.

How disturbing. And not a constructive way to keep a conversation going.

Clark said...

Since they left up the one comparing the kiss to a bloody deer carcass a bitch shudders to think of what the fuck they decided to delete.

According to the moderator, we need to see comments like that in order to understand that racism still exists and have a healthy conversation about it. Unbelievable.

http://blog.showmeprogress.com/showComment.do?commentId=6855

rjjs8878 said...

I grew up in St. Louis so the comments don’t surprise me at all. However, I am disappointed. I was hoping that in the twenty-seven years I’ve been away that things would have improved. Why does a kiss between two people who love each other bother other people so much?

IseultTheIdle said...

Strange to say it, but some of us not-particularly-racist white folks do need to be reminded that we're not fully representative. There are an awful lot of people out there who cannot have a "conversation" about race because they are stridently defensive (as well as offensive, if that even needed to be said).

Then again it's the Internet, where every conversation seems to turn into a shouting match ASAP.

postpostracial said...

What, really, is a "conversation" about race? A "healthy," or "constructive," or "meaningful" conversation? No, I am not even going that far. What would constitute a conversation, using the barest minimal level of definitions?

I am almost to the point where I believe there is no such thing as conversations or "dialogs" about race-related topics. Maybe the best way to move forward is to just do. Do what, I have no idea. But it is becoming increasing clear to me that conversatin ain't doing much good.

Rileysdtr said...

Okay - I was hanging in there until Clark's comment and had to get up off the floor. "We need to see that.... to understand racism still exists?" They're joking, right?

It's called mob mentality for a reason; anonymity in bunches brings out the worst in people.

The Chicago Tribune tried this last year - some of the discussion was insightful, some funny, and some just downright nasty. Comments that should have been left on the 6th grade playground where they (not really but you know what I mean) belong. As a society, we have much more inportant issues to discuss. The economy... health care.... affortable housing.... playoff hockey.... (you knew I'd be able to work that in.)

Soulpower said...

Maybe I'm missing the point of the blog. It's supposed to be about dialogue right? Not seeing the dialogue so much. What I am seeing (though not surprisingly) is that racist underbelly that still exists in this country. In fact it's not so underbelly anymore, it appears to be more overt.

Anonymous said...

What would have been constructive would be to have taken those commments that were offensive and ask why to the people who wrote them. Ask theme where they got these ideas and how they have constructed them. And how they think their ideas helps the society(we know they don't and maybe they will see that as well). I think once people have to explain themselves sometimes they see they really are doing more harm than good with ideas that are not constructive. The problem with the discussion is in not taking it it far enough. Anyone can say anything but get them to try to explain themselves and sometimes they see that they are being insane. Race always creates a knee jerk response. There really has to be a moderator and a vision as to the point of putting these kinds of questions out there in the first place. What was the paper's point? Sell more papers? Keep people at their site? Really try to solve some problems? If they wanted to solve problems then they must be more attentive to how to properly achieve this goal. Just throwing the qwestion out there is lazy and shows ignorance on the newspaper's part.

Jeff said...

I'd like to have a dialogue with these fucked-up-from-the-floor-up racists. I've got my baseball bat right here....

IseultTheIdle said...

"The problem with the discussion is in not taking it it far enough. Anyone can say anything but get them to try to explain themselves and sometimes they see that they are being insane."

This would be true if you were talking about a medium in which people were visible and accountable. A face to face dialog can produce decent results.

An Internet forum or thread, however, is rarely the place for that. People can hide, prevaricate and simply refuse to answer.

There was a cartoon on the Web a few years ago that had a formula that went something like, "Normal person + anonymity + audience = complete jerkwad."

Now, take that formula and replace "normal person" with "more or less closet racist" and there's your fruitful discussion.

Nat said...

The whole thing is just sickening. I agree the internet is not the place to try and change people's minds or to try to educate, it quickly leads to name-calling and threats -- doesn't really matter what the topic is.

(Probably not the right place to say this but that couple on the cover are really very cute.)

Shark-fu said...

Nat - I certainly hope this is the right place to say that! They are cute, darn it!

baiskeli said...

Whoa!

And I thought Boston was bad!

My wife is white, I'm black and I've had quite a few things happen, including a bunch of 'townies' call me nigger and challenge me to a fight (on the night the Boston Red Sox won the Series and it was ironically my birthday) for the crime of walking hand in hand with my then fiancee (but of course, being cowards, it was 2 of them vs me and I declined).

But look at the Boston Craigslist rant and raves section and you will see much of the same stuff. And also this whole idea of 'equal time' is ridiculous. A post saying that nothing is wrong with interracial marriage and what is the big deal is NOT the equivalent of some racist asshole ranting and raving about miscegenation. The newspaper made a major mistake allowing comments of the latter nature without highlighting them and placing them in a larger context (i.e. to point out that we are not in a so called post-racial America).

bev said...

You know, just this Sunday at the Easter table, I had a great conversation about race. It was face to face with my brother and sister in law (an interracial couple) and my "mother in law once removed" - that would be my brother in law's mom who is near and dear to my heart.

That conversation about race covered everything from my son (one of the few white kids at his school,) to my brother in law (one of the few black kids when he went to school,) to his mom (who won an essay contest when she was in high school but didn't get to read it for the school like the *other* kids did) to modern um...naming conventions among some black families.

That my friends was a real conversation about race. Those are the kinds of conversations we all need to have. I'm fortunate that I live in a community of people who have those conversations often.

I think I'll steer clear of the shouting match on the Post's site. Makes me scared and I'm a white girl from the boondocks.

oleander. said...

"Black man kisses white woman!". Maybe it's just me but doesn't it look like the white woman is one doing the kissing? *wink-wink*

And I feel terrible for this couple, as if the daily treatment they recieve isn't bad enough, they now have to read those hateful comments from two hundred anonymous jerks who feel its their duty to judge their relationship...

suiteSTL said...

I am so not surprised at half the things that go on over at the post. They delete the comments they want but often leave up racist comments on stories across the website. The comments get so bad sometimes that it becomes hard for me to even read the post via the web (with the exception of Kevin Johnson's The Blender) because I get so outraged at the foolishness that follows.

Meyer_Lansky said...

I love how people talk about interracial couples like that's synonymous with the dreaded black man- white woman. The highest percentage of interracial couples in this country is white man- Asian woman.

adamson said...

The comments... they just reek of ignorance. I don't know what else to say about them.

Java Bean Rush said...

@postracial
I agree with you. A "conversation" about race is just people hurling their viewpoints at each other, and it's usually the same old stuff, nothing new is ever said.

Just do it.
If enough people would just go ahead and marry outside of their skin pigments, people would be desensitized to interracial relations and it won't be a big deal.

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Mrs. E said...

That's really sad... when is the US going to step out of the 50's?