Guest Post: “I Am Tired of Being Treated as a Subhuman When I Get Angry Over Racism”

By now, those of you not spending your summer hiding under rocks will have heard about JT’s extraordinary arrogance. And his quadrupling down on that arrogance. And maybe it wouldn’t matter so much, except this shit is done by people who refuse to listen to the voices of the people this shit is done to all the damn time.

I’m going to say a few words to my fellow white people before turning the floor over to the person you should really be listening to. I’m saying these few introductory words so that you can take a moment to prepare yourself. If you do not need this lecture, skip to dezn_98’s words, where your focus should be. If you find yourself getting defensive, and wanting to lecture rather than shut the fuck up and keep listening, return back here and read from the beginning.

One of the hardest lessons I learned as I became interested in social justice issues was this: don’t speak, listen. Don’t lead, follow. We white middle class liberal sorts want to change the world for the better, and oh, do we have ideas. Problem was, many of my ideas were based in abject ignorance. I was hurting more than helping. I knew it all, but didn’t know a damned thing. That’s privilege. Makes you think you’re qualified to pontificate on any problem, despite the fact you haven’t a clue as to what the problem actually is, much less how to solve it.

And it’s hard to face that, hard to admit that you don’t know it all and can’t solve all the problems facing those who don’t share your advantages. Hard to admit you’re wrong.

Suck it up.

If you truly want to help, you must be strong enough to admit that you don’t have all the answers. Brave enough to admit when you’re wrong, when you’ve made a mistake, when you hurt someone. Wise enough to keep your mouth closed and your ears open. Strong enough to handle the rage and pain you’re going to hear. Have the integrity and humility to step back and let others lead.

If you can’t do that, walk the fuck away. You’re of no help. People need an ally, not a self-appointed savior. They need a genuine ally, not a self-declared ally who refuses to act as one.

Now. If you’re ready to become part of the solution rather than the problem, put your tongue in neutral, turn your defensiveness off and yours ears on, and just listen.

Listen. Image courtesy Ky via Flickr.
Listen. Image courtesy Ky via Flickr.

I cede the floor to Dezn_98.

I want to tell people something. The reason people of color are not into this brand of atheism right now is because of people like JT. It is not because there is this KKK element to it.. it is because of deniers and ignorant people like JT. I would never feel comfortable in a room filled with people like him. My views on social justice are my priority, not my atheism… and I won’t be a part of any crowd that lets people like JT fester and not have the ability to call him on on BS. The only reason, I have come out of lurking is because of people like crommunist and like yourself [Greta], because you guys really do get it… and I am so tired of making people understand that our plight is real.

I am tired of being treated as a subhuman when I get angry over racism. I am tired of society telling me that “this tone of voice” is the only acceptable form of expression for minorities talking about their pain… and anything short of that – you are not worth listening to. They really treat us like trash, and people do not know how incredibly traumatizing and devastating that sort of constant cultural racism can be.

It is so tiring… I saw JT’s treatise of racist white garbage tone policing…. and I can’t ignore it. I actually have to waste my day writing a reply to his garbage. Do people not get how exhausting this sht is? How likely it is that, because of people like JT, most minorities run out of steam on these issues? That most give up? That most just walk away? The only reason I am not ignoring it is because I am as stubborn and silly as PZ.. not matter how much personal pain JT’s ideas give me.. I still gatta say something.


Lots of people in this culture just do not get how utterly dehumanizing and traumatizing it is to talk to people like JT when you are a person of color.. it is indescribable. Yet I have to put my humanity on the line everyFCKINGtime when I talk about racism… and everytime, I feel like a piece of my empathy is being taken away, being chipped at, making me “apathetic” to my own oppression… this type of sht drains people of color.. so they stay away from it as much as they can. Yet no matter how much they run away, now matter how much we already dictate our tone everyday to avoid conversation with white people like JT… it JT’s racist micro-aggression and HIS ILK always find us and smack us in the fcking mouth.


As a person of color who has to constantly deal with this type of rhetoric from well meaning white liberal allies… I am always shocked, even though I know it is terribly predictable, by the amount of ignorance coming from privileged people who seek to “instruct” minorities on proper ways to behave. It really is disturbing, this sht is not even about JT.. it is about white privilege in general. His response is sooooooooooo cliche to every fcking person of color, in that it functions in a racist way. His response is not unique, it is the same racist rhetoric we are constantly barraged with everyday. In fact, he ain’t even the only one.. if you follow crommunist on twitter, you can see how even Matt Dillihunty felt obligated to share his “enlightened” opinion on how to proceed. The conversation that I saw was not only condescending, passive aggressive, and stupid, but also reveal that yes, even people on FTB like matt dillihunty should STFU once in a while and understand that if your ignorant about a subject – do not argue your fcking case like you understand it. Fck Matt, Fck JT, and fck any white privileged dck who want to come and tell me or anyone how to act. (I recall that other arse from “cammels with hammers” doing something similar – oh and his ignorant arse is now at patheos too… good riddance. He had nothing of substance to say when he tone policed either.. jerk)

Man, I live through this sht… and I will tell any white person right up front any time we begin a conversation about race, that they can never say anything, anything that I have not heard before . Therefore their advice is not only unwarranted but useless. Not only that, I then have to explain to ignorant white folk how an amalgamation of these “bits of casual advice” over a lifetime of dealing with racism… is actually just a racist microagression. So when I reject that advice based on their ignorance, most then write entire treatise trying to defend themselves… and as “white allies” they somehow think I am obligated to go over ignorant BS everyday to “teach the white man how to be not racist.” When they are too lazy to pick up a fcking book and read for themselves about racism – which in about 5 fcking minutes would demolish any god damn “argument” they put up. What a waste of fcking space. Ignorant white folk, always stuck in racism 101…

Probably the only reason I stick around on FTB is because I found a few white folk here… who actually fcking get it – well not all of it, but get it to a degree where I do not feel the need to have to educate anyone on any racism 101 BS.

I just want to say this is just a trend to a larger problem, and it is tiring… How many hours do I have to spend educating some white privileged buffoon, only to have another one come in 5 minutes later and almost demand I educate him as well on the same exact sht? I mean, the responses are always the same cliche BS… and even if by some luck I manage to get someone to turn around… that don’t mean sht to a lot of white folk. All they seem to care about is making themselves be less racist… not actually concerned about ending racism by actually doing something about it. Most white folk only enter the issue when tone policing… then they leave, no matter if they were finally convinced that they are wrong, or ignorantly insisted they are right till the end… they always leave and then never actually do anything about it. So crommunist was right… man don’t give me that BS that you care.. cause a lot of you don’t and that shows through actions.

Let me explain this one, cause this is a stumbling block for a lot of white folk. Most white folk “care” as much about racism as I, and most of us “care about starving children in Africa.” This is a normal everyday human flaw. We care about things that effect us, and hit home with us, more than we care about things that do not effect us and are far away.

I “care” about starving children in Africa as in… if told about the issue I say it is wrong, then I go spend absurd amounts of money on food and throw half of it out. I just go about my day, making no effort whatsoever to help starving children. I feel sorry for them, I think it is a shame, I think they deserve help… and I do nothing about it. Even when I am part of a system that works to oppress people like that.

Most people are exactly like this, otherwise there would be more Aid going to solve the world hunger problem. So when anyone says they “care” about world hunger…. it is this shallow from of caring. A caring that is only committed to words, and not actions – a caring that absolutely does nothing for people who are starving but makes us feel like we are “oh so good people cause we care.”

Note* Before someone comes with with the silly point of “that means we can’t talk about any issue then?” No, it does not mean that. It means that, as you will read below, because of the nature of things this kind of apathy is, terribly normal – and no one can truly care about all causes… which is why you have to pick the ones you care most about. This would suggest that, if you want to talk about an issue you are not effected by directly, and are not involved in, in some way shape of form… then you probably got no business “giving instructions or advice” the ones who actually care. You should instead ask questions and attempt to educate yourself, rather than argue any point of give advice.

Basically…. lots of white privileged people pay lip-service to being anti-racist but when asked to commit any action.. most of them not only decline, but out of ignorance, like JT and Matt, usually function in a racist manner. The only ones who are actually qualified to say they care about racism are the ones effected by it, and the ones working in some fashion to end it. All the rest… “care” in a sense that is not practical to solving the problem.

Now, this is not a crime… and, even though it is fairly normal, that is not to say it is not an issue either. Apathy like this is an issue, it is an issue the people in the movement have to fight against. They have to make people care more than they do, care enough to commit to some action, no matter how small. People are also “too busy to care” and that is not a crime either, but it is an issue that needs attention. This stuff is relatively OK, I am ok with a white person fighting for a social issue that hits close to home… good for that person.. what I do not care for is people insisting they care, when really…. they don’t care all that much. Then what really pisses me off is how “offended” they get at a minority who rejects their shallow opinions… and how they try to victimize themselves by saying “I was your ally!” and such nonsense. That is crap.

The degree in which you are measured to care about an issue, the degree in which you gain credibility as an ally, is not through fiat or announcement.. it is seen through what you do. Those who spend no time educating themselves about an issue before they speak about it and hurt people; those who commit to no action ending a social issue, those who frequently land on the side of “telling a minority how to act” in unsolicited advice…. those people who say they “care”…. well that, that is BS. Take that sht out of here. I tire of it. When you start railroading people who are doing something about it, when you are constantly in the way of minorities speaking out… then, no you don’t fcking care. Whatever your intentions are, whatever warm fuzzy feeling you might want to pull out a conversation, or whatever intellectual point you want to raise out of curiosity about issues that actually hurt people…. that does not count as caring, so fck off.

With that… Lets look at JT’s and Matt’s “actions”…

1) JT and Matt almost never talks about racism, and are, to my knowledge, not involved in any anti-racist movement in any meaningful way. (This shows how much they care about it) This means neither of them has credibility if any of them claim they “care about racism.” No one is inclined to believe that sht, and no the benefit of the doubt is not a given.

2) The one time I see JT and Matt talk about racism… they are either trying to tell a minority “you are doing it wrong” (JT) or trying to argue some stupid insipid intellectual point (MD). Aint that funny… they never talk about racism, and when they finally do, instead of talking about how bad and racist that question was, instead of educating people why this question is racist, instead of using the minorities anger to show how deeply racism effects us emotionally… they argue that minorities need to behave in this “balanced” way when confronting racism. JT insisting he knows better if someone is acting racist with intent, and Matt insisting that he does not berate people in the same fashion… what fcking laughable points.

That speaks… and it speaks of them not as allies, but as fools. White privileged fools who need to STFU. Now, the exchange with crommunist and matt was not that long, so I am done with Matt… let me dig in deeper with JT.

3) JT said he walked out because he did not like the tone of what that POC was saying in her defense against racism. WOW. So you never talk about racism, and when you get the opportunity to learn something from someone who suffers from it you “walk out” in protest of the tone? Then you berate the person for not having a more sympathetic reaction to white racism? You go off the walls, writing pages and pages of intellectual racist garbage practically defending the “right” of white people to say whatever racist garbage they want, while telling minorities that they are only allowed to use their anger about racism in a specific way (a way you get to define as “productive”, and a way where that productivity centers the conversations primary objective on making the white person less racist (why should that be?).. instead of just… talking about how bad racism is and how it effects minorities). FFS…

This guy by fcking definition of anti-racist ally… just functioned in a way that would categorize him not as one, but also probably acting like a racist himself. He “exited the room in protest?” Are you fcking serious? Someone should tell him that there is this racism against strong black women, and that type of racist bias.. tends to make lots of white men not only not listen to strong black women, but also try to make them out of “irrational” or “berating”.. and guess what this mther fcker just did? If that is not a racist microagression, and no one better fcking tell me any different, then I don’t know what is.

I have like loads more to say…. but… whatever, I got more sht to do in meatspace rather than specifically outline how lots of white liberals betray minorities at every turn.


Thank you, dezn_98.

I encourage those of you who are prepared to keep listening to read the linked threads, and definitely read our own Black Skeptics, and Crommunist’s archives. None of us who have not directly experienced racism will ever know on a visceral level what it’s like, but by listening to those who have, we can at least gain some comprehension, and understand what we need to do to help end this shit.

Those of you not prepared to listen… please just walk away until you are. And for fuck’s sake, at the very least, refrain from lecturing oppressed people on how to react to oppression.

[notice] Hola, new commenters! Please do peruse the comment policy thoroughly before you expend valuable time sharing your thoughts. Or tl;dr: I reserve the right to drop asshats in the trash without a second glance. Bad behavior elsewhere will also get you instabanned here. Not an asshat or someone who’s been kicked out of other places for bad behavior? Then you’re probably cool. Thanks for reading![/notice]

Guest Post: “I Am Tired of Being Treated as a Subhuman When I Get Angry Over Racism”
The Orbit is still fighting a SLAPP suit! Help defend freedom of speech, click here to find out more and donate!

72 thoughts on “Guest Post: “I Am Tired of Being Treated as a Subhuman When I Get Angry Over Racism”

  1. 2

    “This would suggest that, if you want to talk about an issue you are not affected by directly, and are not involved in, in some way shape or form… then you probably got no business “giving instructions or advice” [to] the ones who actually care. You should instead ask questions and attempt to educate yourself, rather than argue any point or give advice.” *

    Thank you for taking the time to write this. It brilliantly summarises what is wrong with JT’s actions. I love the analysis of levels of caring about issues.

    *[typos fixed]

  2. rq

    Thank you, dezn_98.
    I know it isn’t your responsibility to try to educate those of us who need it (yes, myself included), so a huge thanks for taking the time to outline the issue with exceptional clarity. And the passion is palpable from your words – and whatever the fuck anyone ever says about that, thank you for putting it out there like that.
    I have a feeling that any other compliments I might pay might come off as sounding ignorant, patronizing and condescending, so I’ll just say another Thank you and leave it at that.

  3. 4

    I’m glad to see two of dezn_98’s comments made into a post at one place. They deserve front page.

    I hope to see more of dezn_98’s comments because it’ll mean that somewhere on FTB we’re still showing that we’re trying hard enough to be worth the time and effort. And yes, it would be time and effort to get through some levels of oblivious privilege, to put the deeply felt words of lived experience out there and have them minimized or appropriated. much less argued against as “doing it wrong” as JT did with Bria. It takes spoons to be a marginalized person in a majority space–even if that majority space is making an effort. (Don’t forget–we’re only slightly above 101 level.)

    Thanks, dezn_98.

  4. 5

    …if your ignorant about a subject – do not argue your fcking case like you understand it

    So easy to see when talking about evolution vs. creationism. So difficult when the conversation turns to racism.

    I am ok with a white person fighting for a social issue that hits close to home… good for that person.. what I do not care for is people insisting they care, when really…. they don’t care all that much.

    AKA. If you don’t want to run a marathon, you don’t have to, but then don’t complain about not getting a medal.

  5. 6

    What strikes me, is how many atheists are perfectly capable of recognising such arguments when aimed at them, but are completely oblivious when these arguments are aimed at other people. For example, if a Christian says to an atheist activist…

    “I appreciate that atheists suffer discrimination in certain ways, but frankly you don’t help your case. If you insist on being so combative, and on conflating fundamentalist extremists with those moderate Christians who largely agree with you, then you’ll alienate those most likely to help you.”

    …then most atheists will recognize this as a disingenuous way of saying “please make it easier for me to ignore you”, and “stop criticising me”. But when identical arguments gets aimed at under-represented groups within atheism, they’re accepted as being perfectly reasonable.

  6. 7

    don’t speak, listen. Don’t lead, follow.

    This! So much this. Members of marginalized groups know what pisses them off, they don’t need other people to tell them what they should be focusing on and how they should do it. Great post by both of you.

  7. 9

    Remembering the fiction of C.S.Lewis (lots more fun than his theology), I feel that you have helped me become older. Wisdom doesn’t always improve with age, but our long lives seem to have evolved to help us get there. I thank you for the lesson, and will work to get more listening into my daily interactions. Some years ago I took a course in listening, in which it was pointed out that most of us spend the principal amount of daily time listening and the least amount writing. Yet our education often emphasizes the latter, and usually ignores the former. I’m only 75, and still learning. In Transactional Analysis we were taught to reflect information in other words to to foster agreement on understanding. T/A is no longer fashionable, but I note that many of its tenets are in newer psychological techniques. Based on information exposed here and in a few other blogs about the same subject, I’ll strive to continue ‘active listening’ without advising (until asked). TNX AGN

  8. 10

    The whole tone thing gets me: as an observer to any interaction between two people, you don’t know what approach is going to be most effective at communicating a point. Maybe Alice expressing anger at what Bob says isn’t the most productive way to get through to Bob. Maybe Bob could be adequately educated through calm discussion. But maybe what Bob really needed to wake up was a good angry yelling. Or maybe Bob is committed to his position and isn’t going to change, but Charlie over there hears Alice getting angry and realizes that he’s been as offensive as Bob in the past and gets jolted into action. The observer doesn’t know what’s going on in anyone’s mind but his own and he doesn’t know that anger isn’t an effective approach just because it turns him off. Trying to hind under the “productive response” excuse is disingenuous at best.

    So to invalidate the speaker’s anger because you think you know better seems like the height of arrogance.

  9. 12

    Ugh. I’m a white middle aged dude. Which all too often is an embarrassing group to be lumped in with. I’m a big fan of Matt and generally think well of JT. A core component, in my mind, of skepticism is not having any sacred cows, as it were. Dawkins says something ignorant again? Call him on it. JT fucks up bad? Call him on it. The only way we learn and improve ourselves is when people call us on our shit. In this instance both Matt and JT screwed up. Both should acknowledge it. Learn from Scalzi, take your lumps and become a better person.

    I’ve never experienced racism (being a tourist in asia was an eye opening experience but I don’t kid myself that it’s truly comparable in any meaningful sense) but I like to think that I’m empathetic to the perspective of people who have experiences completely different from my own, and each time I read something like what dezn wrote I’m reminded once again to be humble and listen more.

    And fuck the “tone” argument.

  10. 14

    “if you follow crommunist on twitter, you can see how even Matt Dillihunty felt obligated to share his “enlightened” opinion on how to proceed.”

    Actually, I told JT that I thought what he did was wrong. I think he was wrong to call her out. I think he was wrong to tweet and blog about it. Despite our disagreement on that point, we’re still friends and he not only didn’t immediately attempt to vilify me, we’ve had some good conversations about this and other things.

    I was having a meta conversation with Crommunist where I primarily sought clarification. I didn’t share any “enlightened” position, I asked questions, listened and pointed out potential problems – which I will do in ANY situation, whether I agree with the person or not. That’s called communication – it’s two-way. It’s also called cooperation – it’s how we build better arguments and avoid defending good positions with bad arguments.

    If you’re looking for people who sit by and just let bad arguments stand because they come from friends – I’m never going to be that guy. If you’re looking for people who don’t challenge you when they disagree or don’t understand – I’m never going to be that guy.

    If your implication is that you’re OK with having bad arguments to support your good position, that’s your prerogative, but I can’t agree. If your implication is that if Crommunist and I disagree that I am always wrong, I can’t agree there either.

    I’m sorry that you feel that I was “trying to argue some stupid insipid intellectual point” – but that doesn’t mean I was incorrect or that I was wrong to be discussing it. Some of us value those points, because they lead to understanding. And if having this discussion means that I’m immediately dumped into your “White privileged fools who need to STFU” category, so be it.

    [Edit] If I’m wrong – point out where I’m wrong, but if you just found my discussion insipid, I don’t see why that’s remotely relevant or how it shows that I’m wrong.

    [Note from Dana: I’m publishing this comment from Matt after having him edit the last paragraph. If he wishes to provide a link to that Twitter conversation so that we can see how it unfolded, I will publish that. I’ll be monitoring as the conversation unfolds, and have advised him that he can take this to his own blog if he wishes to speak without following my cantina rules.]

  11. 15

    Awesome comment/post!

    It is depressing as hell to see white people pay the tiniest bit of lip service to racism and then expend thousands of words complaining about the reactions to racism, and then complaining even more when the victims of that racism don’t immediately apologize and get back in line with reactions that make white people most comfortable. Same thing with anything related to bigotries that don’t affect the most privileged: “OK, X is bad. We all agree. Now let’s fight the real problem: your overly emotional/aggressive response to bigotry. Hey, you don’t want to scare the bigots out of MY movement, do you? I know I don’t!”

  12. 16

    Thank you for your awesome comments. I know it’s bullshit having to explain the same stuff over and over again, but I wanted to let you know there are those of us who are listening. :)

    On a side note, can anyone link to (or summarize) what Matt did on Facebook? I think I missed that one (although the idea of Matt over-philosophizing about something (anything) doesn’t surprise me)

  13. 17

    a lot of this stuff could be avoided if everyone who wants to be “helpful” even in a casual, half-a-toe-in-the-water way, would first turn on the paternalism filter. This is an old trap for white liberals,

  14. 21

    Okay now go on to step two and start looking for more blogs of people talking about racism. Black skeptics and the Crommunist archive are only a start. there are many, many more people who have been talking this talk for years, in dead tree books and online, things that have *already been said.*

    The truth is, dezn_98 should not have had to make this blog post. It is a shame that dezn_98 did, and the shame is yours.

    The material available for white folks to educate themselves about racism has existed for over a century, and the sheer volume of material has been growing at an astonishing rate for over 50 years. So stop patting yourselves on the back and being thankful. Y’all are fcking late.

    Y’all ought to be going after racist claptrap with the ferocity and eloquence that you use to go after sexist claptrap, and you really ought to have been getting to that level of competence *years* ago. So quit sitting around here being brand new to this. Get wise, and fcking HELP US.

    And I don’t mean get wise as in get Tim Wise. The fact that a white man is making a living talking about anti-black racism is a further shame, because it actively demonstrates that white people are so racist they refuse to listen to anyone but a white man about what happens to black folks. Yes, he knows all the moves and he makes all the arguments. Realize that not a thing he says is original to him. He stole it all from Black people talking about their lives. he’s the Elvis Presley of anti-racism.

    Kwame Ture’s birthday was yesterday. You might remember him better as Stokely Carmichael. Read him. But don’t just limit yourself to reading black men. Find yourself some Audrey Lourde. Read Blackamazon. Gather comforting things around you and read Beloved. Read Kindred. Find books about the atlantic slave trade, just make sure that the author is black. Read Zora Neale Huston. Read Langston Hughes. Read the archives of The Bad Dominicana. Read Racismschool.

    And every time you get angry, or feel the tears coming, Stop. grab a journal. write down how you feel in that moment. don’t edit or correct. then close the book, and don’t go back to read what you wrote before. Go for a walk or something, clear your mind, and get back into the book you were reading, but start 5 pages back from where you got angry, and read it again. Keep going. Keep reading, keep thinking. And everytime you start to feel upset or angry, write it down, and don’t go back and read it.

    If all goes well, in a year you will be appalled by the person who wrote their anger in that book. Read it anyway. Understand what it took to come as far as you have come. Understand that there are literally millions of people who still think like that. that we’re all of us raised to think like that. we swim in racism as pervasive as the sexism you fishes have noticed. you have to actively work to raise your consciousness about racism in a way you didn’t really have to about sexism, because there were enough feminists talking that you were willing to listen to.

    There are not nearly enough anti-racists for your consciousness about racism to be lifted with as much ease. If you wonder why that is, think about how much harassment the prominent feminist women you’re familiar with go through. Realize that adding a color to that – any colour, though I speak specifically of anti-black racism – easily doubles the harassment.

    Read the comments on any article you happen to find written by a woman of colour or a man of colour about racism. note the bonus additions that white women do not have to suffer while they talk about sexism.

    Get out there and help us. I’m too tired. I’m tired of trying. I’m weary of the ways of white folks. More and more, I retreat to where most of the voices online are black and get the hell away from the white man’s internet, because it’s killing us while it robs us blind. Stop being comfortable and pleased with yourself, and help us.

    Go now, and educate yourself. there are millions of words already provided. go find them. Go read them. Quit being brand new.

  15. 22

    ” I’ll be monitoring as the conversation unfolds, and have advised him that he can take this to his own blog if he wishes to speak without following my cantina rules.”

    Yes, because I need to be monitored. After being attacked and submitting a calm response, it’s clear that I’m just not to be trusted. (Is sarcasm ok?) I feel so welcome.

    Meanwhile, I have no blog to post on and don’t plan to respond again here. And I only plan to respond (elsewhere) to actual arguments, rather than name-calling and inaccurate representations of my positions.

  16. 23

    If you truly want to help, you must be strong enough to admit that you don’t have all the answers. Brave enough to admit when you’re wrong, when you’ve made a mistake, when you hurt someone. Wise enough to keep your mouth closed and your ears open. Strong enough to handle the rage and pain you’re going to hear. Have the integrity and humility to step back and let others lead.

    If you can’t do that, walk the fuck away. You’re of no help. People need an ally, not a self-appointed savior. They need a genuine ally, not a self-declared ally who refuses to act as one.

    Full Disclosure: I am straight white guy with no kids who has never been married. I am an activist. My area of focus is reproductive rights but when I returned to school in my late 20’s that focus expanded to include LGBT and Feminist issues. I have worked in coalition with groups whose focus is fighting racism but I don’t think it is fair for me to claim the label of social justice activist. I describe myself as an ally and fellow traveler of feminists, social justice activists.

    I want to make a few comments about political sympathies, good intentions and activism. I’m not hear to do any tone policing or concern trolling. I don’t comment on FTB very often but I do follow a few of the blogs closely. Despite finding the AE folks on youtube a few years back and reading some posts by PZ that were linked from outside blogs, I didn’t really discover FTB until Greta came here. I became a Greta fan for life when I read Lesbian Sex With Men because she crystallized an idea I was having a hard time putting into words. It’s silly in retrospect because it can be summed up in four words: Feminism. Is. For. Everyone. If you aren’t nodding your head right now, please read Greta’s post.

    I’ve learned over time that when people ask me why I became an activist, they are often trying to ask me why a straight white guy is interested in reproductive rights and gender/sexuality issues. The answer to that question is that my own life experiences contributed to my political sympathies. The personal is political.

    The reason I became an activist is completely different. I am an activist because other people showed me that I actually could be helpful rather than simply well-meaning. Perhaps this is a little bit easier when you are a guy fighting for reproductive rights because the idea of putting yourself forward as a leader or as a spokesperson is transparently absurd because you accept as a given that as a man, this isn’t all about you. It isn’t even about you at all. As a man, your role is to listen. You are there to act in solidarity and support those who are the actual targets of oppression.

    Some people have an issue with this. They claim that their outside perspective, their personal knowledge and their experiences have equipped them to provide constructive criticism and help steer the movement. This is hubris. If you take issue with that characterization, I suggest reading Harvey Milk’s Hope Speech and considering where the LGBT movement would be today if they hadn’t insisted that letting their friends speak for them wasn’t good enough. There is no substitute for visibility.

    I agree with almost all of Dana’s advice. She lays out exactly what white people need to do to work towards social justice. The one area where I disagree is how to treat people who want to speak rather than listen. The reason I disagree stems from something that conservative activists taught me: Always. Be. Closing.

    Conservative activists never quit trying to sell their policy ideas. They repackage and relabel them but they never pass up an opportunity to push them into a conversation, no matter how unrelated they might be to the topic at hand. Liberals can criticize them all they like, that doesn’t change the fact that their policy ideas have simple labels and can be easily tied to basic conservative principles. When conservatives argue over policy, they always argue principles rather than specifics. For example, Republicans are divided right now on how the military should be used and whether or not domestic surveillance programs go too far. It was an issue in the 2008 and 2012 elections because Ron Paul ran for president and it likely will be again in 2016 even if Rand Paul decides not to run. Eventually, one of the two factions will win the debate and the rest of the party will fall into line. It won’t be a permanent victory but it could last a very long time. Hawks have dominated the Republican party since World War II and it is only in the last decade that isolationism has been revived.

    I think the best way to confront white people who want seats in the front of the anti-racism party bus is to throw their own liberal principles at them and call them out for their ignorance. That is not to suggest that they are owed anything. The rationale for engaging them is that their willingness to seek out confrontation is an indication that they believe people are changeable. The harder they push, the greater their potential to actually become a productive member of the movement.

    One of the hardest things I have had to accept as an activist was the brutal reality that some people need to experience horror and moral outrage in order to transform from well-meaning liberals into committed allies. In the first few weeks of my senior year at school there were a series of sexual assaults on campus that sent the student groups to which I belonged into crisis mode. All of events and our programs for that semester became about combating sexual and relationship violence. Our fellow students came to us asking what they could do to make sense of these crimes and it was our job to help them do that. Sometimes it was hard to watch this process. The more privileged and sheltered a person is, the less equipped they are to deal with the profound horror and moral outrage they experience when they are confronted with the reality of violence. One guy, who had never in his life done anything political, ended up joining our group after coming in once and chatting with our adviser, who gave him a copy of Bell Hooks’ Feminism Is For Everybody. At the first meeting he attended, he had tears in his eyes and was clutching that book with the same intensity that I’ve seen from some Christians holding onto the bible.

    I would never use a horrific crime as an opportunity to recruit members to a cause and it still bothers me that it takes that kind of event to motivate some people to act but I am willing to accept help from anyone who shows up and I am willing to let well-meaning people wear themselves out if it means that we might be able to settle our differences of opinion. I’m not suggesting anyone else is obligated to do the same. Everyone has a different role to play and as a ally, sometimes being able to share my experience becoming an ally is how I can best contribute to the cause.

  17. 24

    Could dezn_98 get an FTBlog, please?

    Thank you, dezn_98, for writing this. I’m so sick of these fucking tone-trolling arguments from people like JT when the anger is fucking justified. Bria had every right to be pissed off. She had every right to yell at that ignorant woman. And JT is nothing but an abject idiot for refusing to get that.

    And he’s gloating about it on Facebook, BTW.

    It is actually so easy to be an ally… just shut up and listen. What is so hard about that?

    Paul Durrant… the “fixed typos” thing… probably not the best of ideas…

  18. Pen

    I’ve never experienced racism

    Seriously? That blows my mind! You’ve never, literally never, had people (usually white) try to control or diminish your relationships with people who aren’t white, try to steam roller you into accepting a racist proposition or condoning a racist action, or try to reduce your appreciation of work produced by people who aren’t white? You sure? Because it happens to me just about daily, so I’m genuinely surprised…

  19. 26

    I see this did not sink in.. no matter. I did not expect it to sink in for you, I expected to be heard by others. I did not expect to be heard by someone who is awash with white privilege. I mean, I basically gave an entire outline about how these conversations go.. so that white people can avoid the pattern that is an outcome of white privilege… and here, not only did you manage to read the outline, but you manage to then function in a way that I explicitly warned you about.

    I never wanted to make this about naming big names in the movement that act like racists.. because I knew the conversion would tilt towards the direction of white people demanding that I “give proof” of accusations. Just like when a woman talks of harassment, and names someone, she is met with demands of such kind. I was tempted to not write your name down as someone who needed to “check your privilege,” however, no one else did it – so I felt I had to. In part, to show the atheist community that no figure is above acting racist. I also knew it would get flack – you can’t say that this worry has come true yet, but I brace myself for a storm of white denialism.

    You know what is funny.. you think your comment is benign. It is not. What it shows is a remarkable level of ignorance and arrogance. So let me begin….

    “if you follow crommunist on twitter, you can see how even Matt Dillihunty felt obligated to share his “enlightened” opinion on how to proceed.”

    Actually, I told JT that I thought what he did was wrong. I think he was wrong to call her out. I think he was wrong to tweet and blog about it. Despite our disagreement on that point, we’re still friends and he not only didn’t immediately attempt to vilify me, we’ve had some good conversations about this and other things.

    Here is the interesting thing.. You provided a deeper context to what went on before your conversation with crommunist. This is good, context is necessary, but then you say all this other unnecessary stuff. The things you write have various implications.. and none of them are good.

    You immediately put yourself in a position that “sides with the black people” on a previous issue. I want to note that, this does not matter…. as much as you think it does. Just because you sided against racism in one instance in the past does not mean that in another instance in the future, that you are not actually defending racism. You do not get a “get out of jail” free card simply because you just so happened to not act racist in the past. It does not work that way. Race bias has to be constantly worked against, a past history of race neutrality does not invalidate any claim on a future claim that says your actions can be interpreted as racist.

    Then you say you had a talk with JT and you are all still buddy buddy? Who cares? Why does this matter at all? There is literally no objective reason for you to outline this.. unless you are trying to imply that there is a proper way to conduct a conversation and an improper way.. of which I must fall into the later. It is weird.. you can talk to JT about his racism and you guys are still friends! See.. my colored friend, that is how it is supposed to be done!

    It could not be because you do not suffer from racism. It could not be that POC’s talking about racism does not traumatize us and thus be reason for hostilities.. can’t be about that. You can not blame a woman who has a history of sexual assault for not staying on friendly terms with a person who spouts rape culture….. Yet, you fail to connect the dots on the fact that people of color do not want to be friends to people like JT, who act in ways that propagates a racist culture.

    You ever think of that?

    It could not be because you have a prior relationship with the guy that makes you want to remain on good terms… and that people of color never heard of him. It could not be the case that we never heard of him because he never talked about issues that effected us. It could not be the case that the one time we get to hear from him, he is acting like a racist white man berating a black woman… that I see no reason to be nice to the fellow. If I am introduced to someone like that, excuse me if I chose to not be so damn friendly to him. This does not give you any moral upperhand to me or any other person who wishes to disassociate with people like JT.

    And what does “remaining on good terms” even suppose to mean? What is that supposed to imply? That you are now conducting yourself in a better way than I am? That I need to follow you and JT’s lead on this one? Excuse me if I set my own terms on who to remain friendly with. So do not act like remaining on good terms with someone who acted racist, puts you on some kind of pedestal, it does not make you any sort behavior model top strive for.

    Man, why don’t you think before you write things about which you know nothing about? You are clearly missing a lot of context here. It is ironic because you began with providing context, yet you fundamentally have shown that you lack a certain context.. you lack a social context, a political context, and historical context to even understand how you function here. I can tell that you do….. by your exchange with crommunist.

    Let me explain… My academic area study is around physics. So I actually know quote a lot about it. I have the papers to prove it to boot.

    Let us say that some stranger came up to me and said “You can not use the Schrodinger equation to tell me the movements of the hydrogen atom because it is inherently a time independent equation.” (Note to people who do not know physics – you learn about this stuff in your third or forth year as an undergraduate in physics. This is simple stuff. I use this statement because I know most people without a physics degree are not going to understand a word of it. They will use this ignorance as a signal to themselves to say, “I have no idea about physics so I have no answer to that.”) I, on the other hand, because I have expertise.. would call him a ignorant fool, laugh, and maybe tell him why he is wrong.. and then walk away. I am not wasting years of learning physics on some guy who clearly knows nothing of it.

    Now, I assure you this physics statement is as ignorant as if a creationist said “all species stay within the same kind.” You would only need to hear that one sentence to understand this person is ignorant and needs to go read something instead of arguing a point he can not possible understand. (BTW the answer to that physics statement is to call that guy ignorant and inform him that this is why there is a time-dependent Schrodinger equation.. and that he should STFU and learn something from a physicist). The correct response to such ignorance is to issue the quick correction, and if such a person continues to argue.. you are entitled to walk away and tell them to go read a book on physics because they clearly have not, especially if that person does not understand the answer to the question because they have spent no time learning about physics.

    In fact, if a professor of physics did just that, no one would question him.. even if they do not know anything about physics at all. This is because in this culture, there is this built in respect for physicists, and they earned it of course. All I would have to do is show you a diploma and you would take my word too.

    Yet I sht you not… this is exactly what white people do to people of color all the time. However, because there are no dipomas handed out, and this culture is not fond of a POC’s opinion on race relations, none of them ever would respond to a person of color with the rational they would respond to the analogy above. Keep that analogy in mind, because it is going to come in play here. When I say that you sounded like an ignorant white guy that needed to shut up.. that was not an attack, it was the truth. He has demonstrated that he is ignorant in his conversation, and in his reply here…..

    The first point is that in the quote above, he referred to my characterization as “villification.” Sorry.. no. You see, my characterization is laying out the cultural context needed to identify racist tropes. White people, you need to stop this.. when a POC is telling you, that you are acting racist.. this is not a villification, it is an assessment of your behavior – an assessment you need to take real seriously. The fact that he would call such an assessment villification, is an indication of ignorance. Everyone can behave in a way that is racist, I am no different. It is also true that most people of privilege are terrible at identifying racist behavior. The label villification would suggest that such an assessment is not warranted and irrational.. but that is a cliche counter argument to calling out racist behavior. No one is calling you evil… we are saying stop acting racist, and then showing how much your actions can hurt people.

    I was having a meta conversation with Crommunist where I primarily sought clarification. I didn’t share any “enlightened” position, I asked questions, listened and pointed out potential problems – which I will do in ANY situation, whether I agree with the person or not. That’s called communication – it’s two-way. It’s also called cooperation – it’s how we build better arguments and avoid defending good positions with bad arguments.

    I want to note that I do not need to be told what the cooperation is. Do not attempt to lecture me on ways to communicate across racial differences because I have been doing this for years. I do not need your definition of cooperation, as I am educated on the subject as is. Do not assume such a trivial point can invalidate anything I have said.. and I find it highly insulting that you think such a trivial point was even missed by me. I assure you, I have missed nothing.

    A copy on the conversation is here: So let me analyze it…

    Crommunist is illustrating a powerful point with..

    If the tone of voice someone uses is enough to make you discount their argument, then you didn’t care about the issue to begin with. And the repeated demand to have things ‘calmly’ explained to you simply means you’re looking for an excuse not to listen.This goes double for people who demand calm explanations, and then IGNORE those explanations when they are given. You. Just. Don’t. Care. And while it may make you feel good to SAY you care, your actions shine through the bullshit veneer of “but I want to learn!” So if you don’t care, at least be honest with yourself and with others. You don’t have to care about every issue, but don’t lie. It’s boring

    Matt responds with

    Maybe they didn’t care, and so aren’t very well informed, but care now…start by publicly berating them as 1st response?

    Yeah no.. my alarms are set off already. Matt was not there, at the event.. yet he is taking JT’s word that some black woman was “berating” a white person? Why? because JT said it? Does he not know there is a history of white people just like JT incorrectly summarizing a black womans comments just like that? When in reality their perceptions of the comments are laced by racist views of black women? In my experience, whenever I here a white person summarizing what a black person said.. it is filled with racist micro-aggression, tailored to make that black person seem irrational and the white person the “king of reason.” So I, because I actually have knowledge and experience in this area.. I did not take JT’s words on it… but Matt did. I want to note that other knowledgeable people on race relations did not take JT’s word for it either. Isn’t that interesting? This should indicate somethingto us all… Further…There was another white feminist who responded to JT on twitter and told him it was not “berating” as he was so keen to describe it. This context, I argue, right off the bat raises my alarms…

    However, let us just say that he knows nothing about this.. and instead wants to talk about an intellectual point.

    The conversation ensues like this..

    Matt_Dillahunty: I don’t begin with hostility and I don’t assume equally informed…and I’m also not perfect.

    Crommunist: no, you don’t begin with hostility, but you do respond to it. Questions can be hostile.

    Matt_Dillahunty: Was this question hostile? I got the impression that it wasn’t. I wasn’t there…couldn’t say.

    Crommunist : why don’t black people do more to combat ‘black on black crime'” isn’t a hostile question?

    Matt_Dillahunty: Are you saying it’s INTRINSICALLY hostile??

    Crommunist: just as hostile as “are you an atheist because you want to be able to rape babies”

    Matt_Dillahunty:I don’t know how to respond to that other than apples and bicycles.

    So by this conversation alone, by the way Matt downplays the “black on black crime” comment. You are left with only two options, he is either purposefully being obtuse to a very clearly racist statement, or that he really does not know that this statement has a very very very long history in the US of being used by racist to say racist things. I am not sure which option is worse. Anyone, who has engaged in any amount of anti-racist conversation, or read any books on it whatsoever, would be aware of an obvious racist trope. Where does Matt live? Did he not notice how this rhetoric was used by FOX news for weeks after the Zimmerman verdict in a racist way? Oh wait.. it might be because Matt is white… that he never noticed, is not informed, or worse is being asymmetrically obtuse and unsympathetic to positions espoused by people of color.

    Then when cromm attempts to educate him, he flat out just rejects that education. He just says the analogy is not the same. I assure you cromm’s response is exactly the right answer. The problem with these “rationalist” type is that think that a mere acquaintance with logic gives them the ability to judge all arguments in a “fair” way in order to judge whether they are flawed. I want to note that without the historical context of the phrase “black on black crime” no matter how educated you are on how to use logic and reason you will not be able to make heads or tails of the situation – this would explain why Matt just can’t seem to figure it out, despite being given the right answer.

    The idea that white people like Matt have in that “I will point out informal or formal logical fallacies in all arguments!” is that this relies on the assumption that they have the ability to judge ALL arguments as fallacious or valid. You are not in a position to make such a judgement call if you do not have a good foundation of knowledge within the subject to begin with. Without a knowledge of physics, you are not going to be able to judge that persons statements – the one in the analogy above – as being rational or irrational. I promise you, no matter how much philosophy you read, or how much of a great debater you are… without some basic physics knowledge, your opinions are worthless – you simply do not have the capacity to “point out errors” because you do not understand the subject to begin with.

    It is the same here… Matt demonstrates, clearly, he has no knowledge base in which he can infer to… he does not have the foundation that will enable him to be able to “call out errors” of such a kind. Instead what his exchange looks like is an undergraduate physics student arguing with a physics professor because he thinks he sees an error in Einsteins equations.. when in reality the physics student does not understand the subject, and this only looks erroneous because the knowledge a physics undergraduate has, is so infantile, that they are riddled with misconceptions. Matt… is the same. It is fairly obvious he is riddled with misconceptions, and fairly obvious that he does not know enough about racism to be “pointing out errors” of any kind.. not from cromm, and not from me. So before any white man corrects a person of color.. you have to ask yourself at least two questions.. “Do I have experience with the subject?” (the answer is clearly no) and “Have I attempted to accumulate a knowledge base enough such that I am confident I can point out errors to someone who is knowledgeable about the subject?” (If you have no attempted to educate yourself through the literature.. the answer is fcking no)

    Now, lets look how the conversation proceeded.

    Crommunist” but maybe the person JUST DOESN’T KNOW that atheists don’t want to rape babies. Maybe they need it calmly explained!

    Matt Dillahunty: Meanwhile, YES, maybe they do need a calm explanation starting with “Whatever gave you that idea?”

    Crommunist: when you ask a stupid question that is ideologically motivated 99% of the time, I’m not obliged to assume you’re the 1%

    Matt Dillahunty: I don’t accept that the numbers are representative in general, let alone within our community. Meanwhile, misinformed != hostile

    Crommunist : And I have no idea where the “let alone” comes from. Atheists are better informed about racism than the GenPop?

    Now, Cromm correctly gives Matt an analogy to clarify that it was such a flagrantly hostile question. Such an analogy is apt. Matt says that he would have the ability to speak calmly to the person. Then cromm points out that what if you were asked this question daily and most of the time the people who said this turned out to be extremely racist? Matt says he flat out does not accept that trend. (I want to add to that.. what if you are also discriminated against because such racist ideology propagates throughout the world? It is not so easy to be that patient when you have a lifetime history of racist micro aggression chipping away at your human dignity.) That fact that he so easily says he CAN be calm and does not reflect on why others might not be able to be calm.. is again… highly illuminating to me, and I think other people of color.

    I am sorry… matt. You are white. What ever gave you the idea that your experiences or your disbelief of how incredibly common that racist question is asked by very racist people… can give you any sort of rational support in rejecting the experienced of crommunist? (One that I agree with and experienced myself) He goes on to say he does not think this racist reality represents atheists.. to which cromm rightly asked what makes him think athiest are any less racist that the general pop – from which cromm was deriving that experience from.

    This whole exchange is very simple to me. Matt is an example of white denalism. He is a clear example of that to boot. Not only does he reject information quite easily, he does not self reflect on why he does not see what cromm sees. Further then, when I say he is acting racist he puts himself out there saying he just “points out errors” never wondering if he is even INFORMED enough to engage in such an activity. This conversation alone tells me he is not informed enough to go about pointing out errors for any person of color. If he wants to get to a point where he can do so.. he needs to start reading about american racism.. something he has demonstrated he has not done and then is insulted when this is pointed out to him.

    He would not be insulted if I told him that as a physicists, by comparison to me, he does not know sht about physics… However, white privilege prevents him from making the connection that as a white person who has done nothing to educate himself on racism, by comparison, to me or cromm or many people of color, does not know sht about it. Truth is Matt is in no position to act as an arbiter for what is rational on this subject… his refusal to acknowledge that…. comers from his privileged experience as a white man.

    As a man of color.. I have to say Matt’s conversation is terribly cliche. In fact cromm later tweeted that if he could only harness the power “whites telling people of color how to act when discussing racism”.. he would be able to power a city. Whether that was directed at Matt I do not know.. what I do know, is that he fits that pattern of behavior easily. His statements are cliche and ignorant, his obliviousness is insulting, and the way he responds to criticism is filled with white privileged rhetoric.

    In fact, if you read this tweet by cromm.. You can see this pattern of behavior made by privileged people can be applied to Matt as well. During the conversation Matt openly admits to his unable to grasp cromm’s point and that this might be due to his ignorance… but that does not stop him from trying to “offer advice” or “spot holes” in the arguments made from people of color. Which is a racist micro-aggression. Is Matt ganna “spot holes” in arguments made by physicists about physics? I think not… but he THINKS he can do it on this subject, and that is an irrational state of mind. Matt’s actions are so filled with tell alls.. that it is ridiculous to how clueless he can be, and insulting that he thinks he can judge anyone’s argument on a subject he knows nothing about.

    Now he says this…

    If you’re looking for people who sit by and just let bad arguments stand because they come from friends – I’m never going to be that guy. If you’re looking for people who don’t challenge you when they disagree or don’t understand – I’m never going to be that guy.

    1) You are defending bad arguments already from your exchange with cromm.
    2) You are not in a position to challenge anything that cromm says to any significant degree when cromm talks about racism. It simply is not your area of expertise and it shows. Heck you are not even in a position to challenge me by what I see of you here. You might as well “challenge” me to a physics debate on quantum mechanics… because that is about as successful you are bound to be here when you talk about racism.

    If your implication is that you’re OK with having bad arguments to support your good position, that’s your prerogative, but I can’t agree. If your implication is that if Crommunist and I disagree that I am always wrong, I can’t agree there either.

    1) There are no bad argumetns being made here… accept from you. You are making the bad arguments.
    2) My position is that if you don’t know what the fck you are talking about.. then you are in no position to argue points, challenge others, or lecture others. You can not lecture me on physics, and you can’t “argue” with cromm to the strident degree in which you posture yourself. You can ask questions because clearly you are ignorant and need more information.. but to stridently put yourself in this position of power on racism, and the fact that you think you are even eligible to combat points rationally when you have so little knowledge on racism… means.. check your privilege.

    I’m sorry that you feel that I was “trying to argue some stupid insipid intellectual point” – but that doesn’t mean I was incorrect or that I was wrong to be discussing it. Some of us value those points, because they lead to understanding. And if having this discussion means that I’m immediately dumped into your “White privileged fools who need to STFU” category, so be it.

    I am sorry that you think such trivial points need to be made to me as if I am incapable of seeing such obvious rational errors. I mean seriously.. you think my position is as lofty as… “if you disagree with cromm you are wrong?”.. do you seriously think I am that uneducated as not being able to see such a trivial error?

    What I said was that you having no knowledge. This means you are in a position, at this time, to ask questions.. not argue points with any confidence based on your basic and trivial misconceptions. I am saying that people like you are so riddle with misconceptions.. that you can literally say nothing that progresses the conversation in a coherent way.. not unless you take a step back and educate yourself first.

    In physics you need to have a graduate degree to be taken semi seriously by professors (even then it ain’t that simple).. and there is a reason for that.. because you don’t want to be stuck arguing trivial points with some no nothing who has not studied but thinks he can correct you. In this instance you have DONE NOTHING and IT SHOWS to educate yourself about racism, as such you can not be taken seriously and you are in no real position to judge arguments. I can not count the number of times I had to explain to someone with a high school degree only that.. no I am sorry your opinions on time dilation, and why Einstein was wrong, are not going to be taken seriously. Get a degree and come back to me. The same is here…. I am telling you to step back and check yourself fool. You ain’t got the stuff to correct anyone. When you do, then come back… until then, stop pestering people as if your analysis is valid.. it is not… and man it is so obvious to anyone educated on the subject.

    [Edit] If I’m wrong – point out where I’m wrong, but if you just found my discussion insipid, I don’t see why that’s remotely relevant or how it shows that I’m wrong.

    I see you did not even take my god damn post seriously? I just said I ain’t got the fcking patience to educate someone like you. Yet you practically “demand” that I do.. or I am not worth your time? WTF is wrong with you? I just spent like 3 fkcing hours just to educate you by writing this post… I know I should not have… I know I had the right to say “fck off, go learn something before you speak”… Yet here I am. 3 FCKING HOURS Matt. 3 damn hours on some trivial racism 101 BS.

    I said I am tired of being spoken to like this by white poeple.. and you come in here and do it anyway. So predictable… It is the ones filled with the most white privilege that act like you and JT, and Fincke. No you ain’t evil… just fcking boring, predictable, and yes.. yall act racist. Yes, sometimes it pisses people off. I am giving you the privilege of my time here, when you have done nothing to educate yourself about this issue. Take a damn hint. In fact, read the comment below by ceesays.. because that is exactly how I feel. Either do that… OR STFU already cause this sht is tiring. 50 years of stuff for you to read… and you go an demand I explain myself to you? Puhlease. I demand you go learn something before you boast how rational and great you are.

    ” I’ll be monitoring as the conversation unfolds, and have advised him that he can take this to his own blog if he wishes to speak without following my cantina rules.”

    Yes, because I need to be monitored. After being attacked and submitting a calm response, it’s clear that I’m just not to be trusted. (Is sarcasm ok?) I feel so welcome.

    White privileged dude saying ironic things that victimize himself…. This is a pattern, people of color are tired of this patter. When are you going to get it? Your response is calm.. that do not mean it is valuable. Do not attempt to vicitmize yourself simply because I am saying your pattern of behaviors falls into a pattern of behavior that is attributed to racist behavior.

    Meanwhile, I have no blog to post on and don’t plan to respond again here. And I only plan to respond (elsewhere) to actual arguments, rather than name-calling and inaccurate representations of my positions.

    Cry me a river. Get a clue. What you are doing is nothing but a derivative of this..

    Basically using name calling to complexity and utterly not take in the information I laid out for you in my guest post. Why don’t you just listen?.. instead of acting like you can “correct” anyone.. because I assure you.. nothing you have said thus far is new, and nothing demonstrates knowledge. In fact it demonstrates ignorance. Instead of realizing your ignorance and listening.. you come here to lecture. Lecture me on how to behave, lecture me on what cooperation is, implying that because you still “remained” friends with JT that this is how things should be done, and showing you are so keen on “rationality” despite now understand the sociopolitical and historical concepts that are necessary for you to actually have a rational position on racism.

    Sorry, I don’t buy it.. and no one else should either. You are an example of how not to behave not an example of “rationality” whatever you think of yourself as. You are an example about how not understanding the nature of privilege and not knowing how racism functions can lead to you doing and saying silly things that fall into a pattern of racist micro-aggression.

  20. 27

    The generosity of this response is miles beyond anything I could muster. I see it. It’s -amazing.- thank you very much for writing it. I hope it gets read and thought about by people who simply don’t know just how little they know about racism. I hope it marks a sea change in many. I hope it provides a light out of the unconscious incompetence of people who have no clue what it’s like to not be white. I hope that people link back to it for the next ten years. I hope people tell stories of the day they read it as the day when shit started to fall into place.

    It’s that good.

  21. 31

    Posts that abound in this same irony “We’re not telling theists to shut up forever. We’re telling them that, right now, they do not have the knowledge or understanding to talk about atheism. ” For example – you get why this is ironic? (my apologies for the original typo).

  22. 32

    please blog here, oh pretty pretty please

    @Matt Dillahunty
    It doesn’t look like anybody’s “immediately vilifying” you or JT. In all the responses to JT, nobody’s attacking JT’s entire character. As for still being his friend, in all the FTB posts the only one who said that he didn’t consider JT a friend because of this was Jason Thibeult in this post.
    Everyone else who posted a response was attacking his actions. They’re good and pissed (as they should be) but none of them are saying that JT is a bad person who is wrong about everything all the time. (Initially I did think Sikivu Hutchinson was implying malicious motives for JT. But after reading over her post and the comments several times I now think she was just trying to illustrate what the episode looked like from her perspective). The worst people are saying about you is “you don’t know what you’re talking about” which frankly isn’t that bad. We’re all ignorant about most things and we shouldn’t feel hurt when we’re called out on it. It’s like when you call somebody an idiot on the show, you mean that they’re only being an idiot about whatever you’re talking about at that time. You don’t mean to say that “idiot” sums up their entire character

  23. 34

    Gotcha. It seems to me as if the objection that was the catalyst for this thread was a paternalistic assumption of a person who “knows better” that a person can’t comment on, assist or otherwise act until they have “shut up and listened” Not forever of course..but until he right time, the right knowledge or what have you has happened. And you prescription for this problem is a paternalistic prescription.

    Which seems…Ironic. A glaring logical fallacy as well, but what the hell.

  24. 35

    Thank you for taking the time to do this. I know from the endless rounds with sexist bullshit how infuriating this 101 shit is. I don’t even have words… just thank you. I think a lot of bystanders have had some lightbulbs come on.

    Adding my voice to those calling for you to get a blog on FTB. You’ll always have a standing invitation to post here if you wish.

  25. 37

    I have no idea what you’re on about. What’s ironic here? What’s the fallacy? Telling a person who’s never directly experienced a particular type of oppression to shut their yap and listen to those who have before they pontificate upon it isn’t paternalistic.

  26. 38

    Which is why ‘m so confused, as well. I already know hat as a straight, white, able-bodied, cis-gendered male, I know the absolute best thing I can do is listen to those who… well… aren’t… and learn from them.

    That was exactly the point of my Theistsplaining post I put up immediately after WiS2. Theists who insist that they know better than atheists what atheism is, and thus deny atheists their own lived experiences, infuriate the hell out of me. Having to do 101 discussions with theists to try and get them to figure out that, since I’m an atheist, I know what teh fuck I mean when I say that I’m an atheist, is frustrating as hell.

    Every atheist knows this (I would imagine…?). Matt Dillahunty and JT Eberhard talk about this all. The. Time. The whole “Gnu Atheism” thing is all about this.

    Since it infuriates me when theists do it to me, I operate under the principle that it would infuriate, say, a woman, if I did to her what theists do to me and other atheists. Same for people of color, and LGBTQ, and so on.

    I operate under the principle of “shut up and listen” precisely because I expect theists to “shut up and listen”. To me, shutting up and listening is the best way to start being an ally.

    After all… how can you help if you don’t actually know what’s wrong? It’s not being paternalistic… it’s wanting to be educated to better understand all the dynamics at work. That’s what Ron Lindsay at WiS2, and Matt and JT here, are all missing… rather spectacularly.

    Theists don’t get to tell me what being an atheist means. And by extension, I don’t get to tell people of color what being a person of color means. I don’t get to tell women what being a woman means. And so on…

  27. 39

    I guess it would be all right. but now I regret not remembering to add Read Angela Davis. Read bell hooks. Read Gradient Lair. Read TransGriot. and if I sat and thought I could come up with twenty more, and more after that, because the sheer number of black writers writing about blackness ain’t nobody heard of is truly staggering.

  28. 40

    Steve at #22, there is irony in that people who claim to ‘talk the talk’ then find it so hard to ‘walk the walk’, as it were. I haven’t said much on this topic at all because I’m aware of my ignorance, and I want to hear the views of those who know it intimately – and I’m thankful for the efforts dezn_98 and also ceesays have made in the OP and comments (and thanks Dana, for hosting this discussion). In actuality, there’s something of an obligation not to talk if you speak from a relative position of inexperience, because otherwise you are removing oxygen from a conversation, which has to derail while you force a diversion into 101-level or worse, which then has to start again later.

    This has been a recurring pattern on many FtB blogs – of ignorant commenters doubling down on their ignorance – so JT and Matt as FtB blog-writers past and present should already be well aware of that dynamic, and note that domain-specific lack of knowledge and experience is incredibly obvious in some of these discussions. They should also know that those who blunder into them, and who are unaware of the First Rule of Holes, almost invariably do not come off looking good (unless they happen to like their Dunning-Kruger-esque garb).

    A piquant example (in a domain where I do have some personal knowledge and experience) occurred last year when Natalie Reed wrote about hostile, bigoted abuse aimed at her from a random passer-by, and a first-time commenter stopped by to gaslight her, victim blame her, JAQ off, teal dear with impractical suggestions of what she could have done differently, and finally used the pathetic whine of ‘why is my opinion being viewed as less valid than everyone else?’ And the answer was, because he was the fool trying to tell the physics prof that the Schrödinger equation can’t possibly be time dependent (to use dezn_98’s excellent example).

    It’s humbling that there are some discussions you can’t really offer much substance to, aside from giving support those who are leading the conversation… well, except as a negative example of how not to participate. It’s a lesson well worth learning though.

  29. 41

    The objection to paternalism is the exact same thing you are advocating here. That’s the irony. The objection to paternalism is that someone claims to know better than others for one reason or another, doesn’t listen, doesn’t admit ownership of the idea/problem/situation because they feel “privilege.” A common form, and the one to which the principal objection here as being part and parcel of the racist structure is this idea that someone not oppressed can dictate to the oppressed when they can, and how they can object to oppression is exactly parallel to this appeal to – you have to shut up and listen, not forever, but…. In fact movement politics are a skill, one that is learned through experience and is not an exclusive blacks-, atheist- leftist- Theist-only club. When you insist that no one can be an ally except at the time and chosing of…who exactly? Aren’t you supporting the infrastructure of racism every bit as much as the sad ass pale, stale penis person who is well meaning but born to privilege? The guy or gal who votes the right way, stands up (even if only occasionally and when it affects them?) . Isn’t there a fundamental truth to King’s words about bystanders? Or Gandhi’s? As to the logical fallacy, I am sure I shouldn;t have to say that you are asking people to credential themselves, and valuing their ideas based not on the quality of the ideas, but on the content of their credentials. Indeed, you don;t get to tell people who they are (however they choose to identify), but the fact that Matt or JT don;t get everything right doesn’t mean that they don;t get what is wrong. This is cutting off your nose to spite your face – “rather spectacularly”

  30. 42

    I don ‘t think there is much obligation to engage in “meta” – in fact I would say on this particular topic it’s best to avoid the “meta” because it is irrelevant to the issues involved. I see, of course, that there are people here who want to settle particular personal scores and re-litigate past arguments on these forums. All well and good, I assume that FTB doesn;t aim to be an echo chamber however. My main objection is using the exact same rhetorical means to criticize someone as the one which you are criticizing. This thread stinks of that (and a certain amount of white guilt group think).

  31. 46

    Ah. I see many buzzwords and much bullshit, which I am too busy to unpack. I shall give you some nice quiet time to go ponder upon what has been said. Goodbye and good luck.

  32. 48

    Note to future commenters who may wish to indulge in this sort of dismissiveness: study Steven’s comment above for the kinds of words that will get you unceremoniously deposited outside the cantina, never to return. Thank you.

  33. 50

    ceesays — Those are a impressive and excellent set of recommendations. And the idea of journalling while reading them I hadn’t heard before and sounds really good (and intimidating).

    I’ve made a list, with links, of the writers and blogs you mentioned. I hope this is useful.

    Black skeptics
    the Crommunist archive
    Kwame Ture
    Audrey Lourde
    books about the atlantic slave trade (still need to verify that the authors are black)
    Zora Neale Huston
    Langston Hughes
    The Bad Dominicana

    Angela Davis
    bell hooks
    Gradient Lair

  34. 52

    @ dezn_98: I will admit that I skimmed your reply to MD, and I agree with another commenter that I would never have achieved your level of civility and polite but firm response. I intend, at a later date, to fully read and take in all you had to say, but, in my brief perusal, might I say BRAVO!!

    I am a white 61 year old male, and there was a time in my life that I might have been MD, although I hope I was never JT. This was before I was a reader for Antioch University in Seattle. I read books to CD for Visually Impaired or Dyslexic students, and one of the students I read for was studying Privilege. It was a very difficult series of books for me to digest, or read out loud, but, as I read them for the student, I was shocked to see myself in those pages, and not the self I envisioned myself to be. I found that I did indeed harbor many racist ideas. I found that I was indeed privileged, not only by color but by gender. And then I grew to accept that this was true and that, “smart” as I was, there were areas about which I KNEW NOTHING!! Shocking I know, or at least it was to me.

    Thank you for taking the time and energy to try to educate those of us still ignorant. I know that in the areas of race and gender equality I have little or nothing to add to the conversation, and that little should come in the form of shutting TFU and listening to those who have had to deal with these prejudices for ALL OF THEIR LIVES. I have, hopefully, learned some of the lessons that JT and MD seem to have missed. It is incredibly uncomfortable to recognize hateful attitudes within oneself, but it is liberating and freeing to dial oneself back and, as far as one is capable of, try to correct those attitudes. I have not been entirely successful, but I have been, thanks to people such as Bea and yourself, able to more quickly recognize when I fall away from that goal.

    And a BIG THANK YOU to Dana for publishing this as a guest post. Kudos to you.

  35. 55

    That’s awesome of you. And like i said, there are a lot of black writers writing about blackness. we could add to this list for days and days. If we started listing the writers talking about colors that aren’t black, that would be one heck of a library.

    i find the online resources a lot easier to access of course, being poor, but also – these books aren’t in my library. I’ve been fortunate in that people have gotten books to me so I can read them, and I have passed these books along, because many of us are poor, and the small press and short print runs that are a “natural” consequence of publishing “niche work” means that a lot of these books can be quite difficult to find if you haven’t got cash to spare. But I’m building my shelf, gradually.

    I wonder how many people would find that same thing? that for some, it’s just a matter of just buying them, but for others, the books stay out of their hands because Blackness isn’t valuable enough to make it available?

  36. rq

    Uh, sometimes someone does know better than someone else… Comment 12.2 uses physics as an analogy. But it works in other situations: someone’s intellectual forays into a subject do not even come close to providing the same knowledge and experience than someone who viscerally lives the subject from day to day. The second person will know better, and the first person would do well to shut up and listen to them when they are explaining the subject.
    From the inside out, as it were, which is a far more valuable source of information than doing lots of reading**.

    **Not that reading isn’t valuable – it is, especially when the writing being read is by those who do live the experience, rather than outside perspectives (thank you to ceesays for extending the reading list). But reading will never quite bring about that same level of understanding that actual experience can give. So yeah, if someone who has lived through it says that living an experience isn’t quite like what you read about in that book, I’m pretty sure they know better than you.

  37. 57

    Somehow the “preview” function did not work in my version of FF (as I am on automatic updates I’m hoping I have the latest incarnation), but, whatever, in the last sentence of the second to the last paragraph of my comment, what i meant to say was: “I have not been entirely successful, but I have been, thanks to people such as BRIA and yourself, able to more quickly recognize when I fall away from that goal”. My apologies for getting Bria’s name wrong.

  38. 58

    oh and I forgot to mention – the diarizing is an important part because reading about racism isn’t going to leave you with a lot of choices about who you can talk to about it. And you do not want to try – because it’s an imposition to the people who know, and talking to people who don’t know will not help you. however I am certain that everyone will understand that experience fully if they take my advice!

  39. 59

    I totally get that! I’ll get it published Wednesday morning, then. And thank you again – this reading list is an excellent beginning, and the journal idea is brilliant.

  40. 60

    That… absolutely breaks my heart. Do you know if there are any groups who are trying to set up libraries or republish these works at more affordable prices? One thing this network definitely excels at is fundraising for efforts like that.

  41. rq

    I’d never actually thought about doing this kind of reading with a journal. That really is a brilliant idea, for exactly the reason you mention here. I admit, sometimes I have wondered where I can put those questions I have, because – as you say – it’s an imposition on the people who know, and those who don’t know won’t be any help. Thanks for solving the issue for me. I’m going to try it.

  42. 64

    Hol-ee shit, this is fucking gold. Thank you for taking the time to spell it out; at first glance I didn’t recognize many of the problems hiding in Matt’s comment. I hope the time you spent will reduce pain caused to people who interact with me.

  43. 65

    Apparently… Matt is just not ready to here this stuff…

    As an update, here is Matt’s response via twitter. Rather than defending himself, he instead decides to dig deeper… again, I want to point out that this is a pattern, and although his is an as vile as JT, his pattern is remarkably similar. Matt’s aggressions are more annoying that vile.. JT’s was vile..

    Here is his first response..

    He calls my post a “witch hunt”??? Sound familair to anyone? Remember when Shermer and other skeptics were accused of acing sexist when it came to sexual Harrasment? They said it was a “witch hunt” too… my… my….

    How enlightened Matt is on this subject.

    Then he says my criticisms were “innaccurate” and CLEARLY.. that I apparently have no interest in being helpful.

    Right… care to lecture me more Matt? Who are you to say these things do not help? People here find it helpful. I find it helpful to MYSELF to express my dignity as I see fit.. and I do not need your approval to do so. Nor do I need to make it my priority to help you be less racist.. get that sht straight. My priority was to express my opinion as I see fit, it was also in small hopes that you can straighten up.. but if I have to sacrifice the idea of “making white man less racist” to express myself.. I will fkcing do that. You are not to judge me for that.

    Anyone recognize this pattern of privilege BS? Remember how all those nasty little sexist atheist said that the feminist are not being helpful? Remember how their perspective was full of sht? Yeah, Matt is doing the same here… again, I tire of this.

    Finally he says that this post is nothing but name calling and has no substance.. The fcking nerve of this man. There are actual simple criticisms within the post, and clearly this white man is incapable of understanding them… this is because of the amount of ignorance he has on the subject and a rather reckless idea that he does not have to “check your privilege” either… just because he sided with people of color on one issue? No.. sorry… It does not work that way.

    Again, this is nothing but a tone troll argument that attempts to not actually engage in some self reflection.. and these actions, although are not as vile as JT’s, fall into a remarkable pattern that fits within the archetype of white denial, white privilege, and white racist micro-aggression.

    Next when crommunist spots this rather distasteful action.. he calls Matt out on his rather pathetic attempt to victimize himself and avoid what I am actually saying. Matt’s response is dismissive.. which is not surprising. Did he even read what cromm linked? He should have, because it is relevant to how his self-victimization is perceived by marginalized and oppressed people.. Basically you look like a privilege fool.

    Then Matt responds in a rather repugnant fashion to cromm.. he tells crom to “splain” to him what he did wrong. Note that the term “spaining” is often used to actually explain how Matt is behaving right now, and how people who have social power attempt to lecture those who are effected by oppression by telling them how to behave… This does not stop him from, rather ignorantly, using terminology he clearly does not understand, again in a pathetic attempt at victimizing himself.

    When I said Matt’s reactions are nothing knew.. I meant it. His reactions are a direct indication that not only is he ignorant about this subject but he has a white privilege problem he apparently refuses to acknowledge.

    His irrational diatrabes here on twitter reveal to me that my instincts about him were in fact.. right on point. Rather then defend himself, instead he serves as a blatant example that undermines my point.

    However, there is a shinning light here..

    Crommunist managed to speak to him privately and he says it was “productive” enough for cromm to be satisfied at Matts evolution about a subject of racism ( that Matt clearly knows nothing about.) Matt concurs… and says he liked the discussion…

    Being not privy to that discussion… I can not tell. My hopes though, because of his actions here and on twitter are not high – despite my deep trust that communist can do a much better job than I can.

    I want to note that the very situation I wanted to avoid, and tell white people to avoid.. which was stop acting so obtuse to racism such that people of color have to take time out their day to explain how you are really wrong… and instead to go and educate themselves about racism in private.. did not take place. Instead what took place is exactly what I predicted would take place.. a white man demands a explanation.. and he gets one from people of color, he responds aggressively and ignorantly, and he still gets one from people of color.. and now the conversation is finally “helpful.”

    I hope cromm smacked some sense into him… but I will never know. Just understand this, Matt’s behavior while understandable – his ignorance is deep, and his white privilege is apparently deeper – is not acceptable to me. Understandable, predictable, but not acceptable. Yet, I understand that this is the behavior POC’s have to withstand.. we have to withstand this sort of white denalism and aggressiveness to smash through that privilege barrier.. no matter the tole it takes on us personally. I put myself out there knowing it would take a toll.. and it did… I hope something good can come from this. I understand it takes time to break the hold privilege has on the man, but that do not mean I have to like the process.

    Meanwhile… no matter the outcome of this conversation, no matter if Matt remains ignorant or “sees the light”.. I still have to wake up in the real world and deal with Racism. I still have to deal with people like Matt and JT everyday.

    “Witch hunt”?.. No my friends.. this is a reality I am attempting to wake you up to and apparently many of you guys have not listened to cromm hard enough. Wake the fck up.. join me in the real world. Understand that Racism and other bigoted ideologies are inherent in american culture… and no one escapes from it. No matter how Matt and JT and Fincke wish to dress themselves us with “civility” (a racially charged term) and seem “rational”…. know that they are not unbiased representatives of this culture.. instead their behavior represents a long history of white supremacy and they don’t even fckign know it. It
    may be a mild version of it, an even trivial version of a micro aggression.. I just am tired of dealing with it.. day in and day out… I am tired of holding my tongue and being silent because I have to weather the storm when I do speak up. No one is attempting vilification.. I am attempting to force you to…

    WAKE UP.

    Just. Wake. Up.

  44. 66

    I suppose, since my ghost is haunting this exchange whether I want it to or not, it might be helpful for me to offer my perspective.

    I spoke to Matt last night, and the consensus that we arrived at is that his comments were intended to be considered free of any context, which (as I explained) is not only not a good idea but can only be done by people who don’t live in that context on a daily basis. Matt acknowledged that his insertion into that conversation was ill-timed, and I went on to suggest that if there is a time for the context-free discussion of “communication best tactics”, it cannot be during a discussion in which the context is so much a part of the event. Nobody got anything “smacked” into them – it wasn’t necessary, as Matt was already largely on board.

    At no point during my initial or follow-up exchange with Matt did I get the sense that he was behaving in a malicious way, or attempting to derail the conversation. He was arguing the way he always argues, mostly for clarification rather than to ‘win’. He and I have had several exchanges of this type on other topics. And yes, whether or not his intent was malicious is largely irrelevant to whether or not his actions were laudable, but if the statement is “Crommunist was on the receiving end of a condescending tirade”, it should be stated clearly that such a statement does not reflect the opinions of Crommunist Inc. or its subsidiaries.

    It’s also worth noting that while I share dezn_98’s frustration at having my anger ‘managed’ by white ‘allies’, Matt’s behaviour and JT’s behaviour are vastly different. With the exception of the initial outburst (which surprised me), Matt reacted to the criticism by reaching out for clarification rather than doubling down with some kind of “zero bad on my part and everyone else is wrong” tirade. That’s what you’re supposed to do in the face of criticism.

    Anyway, my final word on this is to say that I hope this becomes a teachable moment about how to (or how not to) have conversations on race, because there’s (obviously) still a fuck-ton of work to be done on that front.

  45. 67

    I do not, but if i happen to notice i’ll bring it up. It’s my hope that many of these books become available in e-format, so they can still drop some money in the laps of the people who wrote them, because they’re now only a few clicks away.

    I feel the same way about midcentury fiction. I have a shelf of disintegrating paperbacks of novels i love that have been out of print for decades, and I wish that they were available to buy on my reader so I could have them handy. I’m afraid to open some of my older paperbacks…

  46. 68

    This was HUGELY helpful to me. Dezn_98’s physics analogy laid it out so well.
    I have recently finished High Price, also written by a scientist. If this post spoke to you as much as it did to me, you really should check out this book.

  47. EEB

    @ Dana, ceesays

    Oh man, it would be wonderful if there was an organization/fundraiser to get these books into more libraries and make them more accessible. Of course, I think the idea of an online library would be wicked awesome in and of itself but maybe logistically impossible. But raising money to buy more of these books and stock libraries that didn’t have them? And it would also have the benefit of supporting authors of color…

    I’m lucky because I live in an area with lots of universities, so even though the main library system is ridiculously under-stocked, I could request books from the university. And if I live in uber-liberal (or at least the inhabitants like to think of themselves that way…) Marin County CA, I can only guess what the libraries are like in other areas.

    Anyway, I’m just seconding (thirding?) that it’s a great idea, and I would support the hell out of something like that.

  48. 70

    Thank you cromm for letting me know your perspective. I am kind of sorry I threw around your name so much, such that, you felt obligated to share your perspective. Your words, though, were so on point that.. I could not help but quote you as, sometimes I have difficulty myself spelling things out.

    I agree MD was different than JT… MD was more annoying than vile. JT was just vile and he has a history of doubling down on ignorance – Dan Fincke also has this flaw.. IMO. MD justsohavehappened to land on the wrong side of the issue at exactly the wrong time – and he continued to stumble about it, in his replies on twitter and here, with such arrogance and clumsiness that I could not let it go.

    I know you have a thicker skin than I do on this subject and I think that is why you are pretty good at explaining things… So… If you say he finally took a step back.. Ok. I just really felt the urge to call him out because even though that exchange did not bother you, it did bother me.

    This whole exchange left a sour taste in my mouth… I am sure I am not the only one. Maybe this goes somewhere, I am not as hopeful about this as you are, so I will chew on this “event” for a bit more, and think things through for myself.

    Again, thanks for taking the time and clarifying some stuff.

  49. 72


    @denz_98, just want to chime in here to agree with everyone’s who’s said you’d make a great blogger. You pack a real whallop–your voice is visceral and intellectual at the same time.

Comments are closed.