White People can't Help us with racism until they know what it is

This audio is a rant directed to Black people as a result of me trying to test out migrating to Mastodon.

More background to this drama after the audio. I'd suggest reading that first. There's also a transcript after in order to entice you. And if you want to read as you listen, here is the Otter link .

Thoughts for Black people migrating to Mastodon

If you know me, you know that I am a giant rules stickler. If there are rules that are fair to all I want to know what they are and follow them. If they are not fair, I will question them, within the parameters of those rules if I can.

One of those rules was to put Content Warning (CW) on certain content.

The content warning label on Mastodon hides your content from the feed. People will still see that you have posted, but before even your title, they will see the warning, then choose whether or not they want to click on it.

From a marketing perspective, I actully kind of dig it for certain things. Nothing makes people want to click on something more than curiosity. You put up a barrier between people and your content and it increases the amount they want to see it.

But the Mastodon server I am on currently on was not specific enough about WHAT content you need to put a content warning on to prevent being reported and booted from the server.  

So I digged a little deeper to discover that of the things that some people wanted behind a CW, surprisingly, was racism.

As a Black person though, this isn't clear enough. For me, racism includes microagressions, workplace bias, looks people give me, access I am denied, you know, existing in a  world built with the default setting to white.

I know two to ten percent of this is paranoia - which is part of why Black people always interrogate whether something is anything else except for racism- but where does that paranoia come from? Our default state. I don't even have to leave my house. It's embedded in societal programming down to where I am encouraged to live and discouraged from living.

I was hoping that they meant public events with video of Black people in trauma, which I refuse to share, as they are traumatic. I didn't want to trigger anyone and I wouldn't show those anyway.

But after meandering around I got the impression that people wanted me to shut up about race altogether.

Ok several people TOLD ME they wanted me to shut up about race altogether. They did it indirectly or came to Twitter to tell me so they couldn't be reported, as they techically didn't break any rules. That's how racism skates by these days. It hides in rules white people make, in ignorance of not realizing the depths that racists will sink to.

Or that even the most well meaning liberals - of all races - have this racist programming in their minds and have not addressed it.

Are fish aware of water? How often do humans talk abour air except when we're in lack of it?

So I asked the general population - behind a Content Warning - if the preference was for me to put up a content warning about incidents of racism or race.

That created a controversy on the site where the white people there fell into three camps in response.

  • White people who were mad at me because they thought I was against CW, which I never said - my ask & poll was behind a content warning
  • White people who were mad at me because I am Black, who created the rumor that I was against CW and weaponized the rumor to attack me and try to get me kicked off Mastodon
  • White people who were on my side and suprisingly to me VASTLY outnumbered the second group, and actually read what I said and agreed.

The subsequent emotional overwhelm caused by thousands of strangers suddenly talking at and about me led to the audio rant addressed to Black Mastodon as they attempted to come to my rescue. I didn't want them to sacrifice themselves for a battle that could not be won.

Is Mastodon emotionally safe for Black people? Inconclusive.

I do know, as I did then, that moving to a Black instance or muting and blocking bad actors is NOT the point. I know the things I can do to mitigate abuse.

My point is that as a Black person, I am a survivor, an ongoing survivor of racism. Therefore, I should not be the one bearing the labor of cleaning up racism's mess.

The emotional, physical and mental labor Black people must do that white people never even need to consider IS racist and it IS racism, and telling us to do it is NOT the answer.

The answer is making spaces online and off ANTI-RACIST. Which I will do by continuing to park myself at Mastodon, being Excessively Black and Proud.

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Jamie Larson