This blog post is definitely one of the things that I have thought about the most over FWT, but it is also the one I want to write least. It’s been a draft since early February, but it has taken me this long to finally piece it together because I find the idea–Stagnation, on a personal and political level–to be challenging in many ways.
One thing this fwt has made me question most is our ability as human beings to care enough to do anything about–no more than that, overcome our own ego, weakness, and self-consciousness long enough to do anything about–serious problems of bigotry and major flaws in way of thought in our society. Our treatment, as a society, collectively and entirely, of young black men is absolutely unacceptable. But how the hell is that related to my FWT?
Right before I started, IFD ran a story from a young black man named Nelson Moses Lassiter. Nelson used the interview to talk about a person experience that he felt represented a larger unaddressed problem within the LGBT community: A white man had said to him, “You’re really sweet, I’m just not into black guys.” And the internet had a huge problem with that. Sure, many comments were positive, supporting Nelson or talking about how that guy had thrown away a great opportunity over something stupid like racism or at least racial bias. But over and over over, in an endless stream of comments, people were personally offended. “How dare you accuse me of being racist for not dating black people,” “It’s my preference, like its your preference to only date men,” “On my grindr it says no blacks or latinos because I’m just not interested in that”
These comments are paraphrased, but they are not invented. This is genuinely how about 50 percent of the viewers felt, and from what I saw that number only skyrocketed after the video was shared to upworthy (a generally white medium? who knows…)
Managing twitter means connecting with people, and sometimes seeing it’s darkest parts. People are selfishly self-preserving above all else. Anything that challenges their own conceptions, that threatens the established values with which they are living their lives, that even suggests, “Hey you might want to rethink this” is an attack. People immediately feel personally challenged and threatened and they become truly ugly. I wrote before about weeding through the youtube comments for the “Mean Tweets” video. Reading through the comments for Nelson’s story broke my heart. These people weren’t funny, they weren’t mean, they were completely serious. They genuinely wanted to believe so dearly that there was nothing wrong with them or their choices that they were willing to say whatever it took to shift the blame away. And this is how we as Americans live. This is why we have these weirdly backwards policies on strangely specific things. This is our stagnation. This is why the governor of New York cannot even admit to being afraid for his own black son’s life without a full-out media assault. We literally can’t even get over our own convictions long enough to agree on the color of a freaking dress. How the hell are we supposed to handle real serious issues like race and sexism?
But you know….Driftwood does pretty good for itself.
Beyond the occasional hiccup in comments when it comes to race and trans* people, and the fact that women are horribly underrepresented and so as a result almost never watch the videos. Seriously, just a decade ago even the stories of white gay men would have been met with way more resistance than they are today. So that’s something, that’s progress…
For now, I do the only thing I can, addressing my own knee-jerk reactions, continuously assessing my own assumptions. Leaving room to question everything..Of course, this probably just makes me a person without conviction, but what can you do.