Okay, a few people have asked me pretty much the same things now, so let me just go through it once and for all.
1. No, nobody just showed up in my LJ and began spontaneously rattling around. I
made the first move. I was Googling a work-related topic, and (to my vast disgust) could only find exactly TWO links that even remotely dealt with the topic. I made an overture to each, and invited discussion.
2. What I'm seeing as a major part of the core disagreement here is pretty valid -- it's been argued for far longer than I've been alive and I'm sure it will continue when all of us are dust. I have, however, come down on a side:
I am not an absolutist. I believe in situational ethics. I believe, very strongly, that context is key. I believe, within reason!!, in relativism. So yes, I do believe that members (and to an extent, associates) of a group have the right to terminology concerning the group that outsiders do not share. In an ideal world I've no doubt it would be different, but as it stands, there is a dynamic of enforced inferiority and superiority that is impossible
when the people in question are from the same group. Or, in layman's terms, family is family. I
will tease my baby sister. YOU try it, and I'll take you down.
So the young woman in question saw my use of the adjective "blackish" ["black(ish?)" to be precise] as a diminutive, and therefore disrespectful. I put it forth, however, as a shorthand, lighthearted query
to an audience that had absolutely no reason to misunderstand me (via
cunning use of flags
use of punctuation. A query which, by the way, none of you have answered yet. You're totally going to make me go to those obnoxious IMDB message boards with the 13-year-olds, aren't you. ;-)
We are coming from entirely different directions, essentially. Misinterpretation is, therefore, all too easy. She is coming from an arena where a disturbingly large amount of fanfiction writers are being arguably exploitative of black sexuality.
I am coming from an arena where the very presence of a black child (in the 21st century!) on the cover of an international magazine STILL returned us the lowest newsstand sales of that entire year. (I have since quit and gone elsewhere, and am not aware if they tried it again in the interim. But there was a quantifiable difference between that cover and the cover featuring an East Asian child -- and even that one wasn't anywhere nearly as high as the regular "mainstream" covers, either. And I could go on about the whys and wherefores of that all day. I might, sometime. God, there is fodder. Industrywide fodder. There have been so many thwarted attempts, and blame is, surprisingly, not all that easily pinned.)
I'm coming from an arena where, for example, I've had a colleague who has never heard of fanfiction call me repeatedly, once in tears, because she could not find a single Asian or black celebrity "mainstream" and "recognizable-to-the-audience" enough to satisfy the editor-in-chief for an article on celeb dads, in time for deadline. (We have Denzel and Will, apparently, and THAT IS ALL. *headdesks bloody* And South Asia does not exist. Oy.* )
I'm in arena in which (where I am now) we've gotten letters of abject, tearful gratitude for the one black (non-U.S., in this case) face we've had on the cover in what I'm willing to bet is two years. (Not to mention the long-ass fight
I had to have with the story editor over why it was simply not accurate -- not
a house style question, NOT a query for the ed-in-chief, NOT a reason to call any meetings, but a very, very simple FACTUAL INNACURACY, a freaking lie
if you will -- to call the woman "African-American" when she wasn't from the bloody U.S.
) (Not to mention as well the outright unvarnished racial segregation
in certain bookstores which is pretty much guaranteeing that black authors -- and other authors of color overall, but this chain is ONLY
segregating Af-Am and nobody else -- will continue to earn significantly less than their white counterparts for the same amount of work. The same TYPE of work. Even if the white counterparts choose to feature characters of color.
So yeah, my goals, and my instinctive reactions, are gonna be quite different. We are still fighting for basic visibility, really.
I do not anticipate any further interaction concerning this, to be honest. Not because of any of the above, which are extremely discussable points.
Partially because ladyegreen
appears to kind of like me, a bit. (Boy, do I have her fooled. ~___^ BAHAHHAHAHAHA!!!)
But mainly because...hmmm. There is a dynamic that my own nature tends to allow to flourish, to my detriment; a dynamic of supplication
. It's taken me a lot of years to identify and become able to nip in the bud. It's not a dynamic of peers, or equals, and it's...pretty toxic. Therefore, *nip*. Namely:
I will not be a supplicant. I will be submitting no applications for worthiness to be spoken to. And although I think
, or I like to think, that I am pretty open to discussing most anything with anybody as a peer -- at least as long we're all following as certain basic logic-class parameters -- I will not be taking lessons in How to Be Properly Black from someone who, if I am to go by her statements, seems to have been in high school on my 30th birthday.**
So yeah. Not incredibly interested in pursuing that again ever.
She is talented, and I wish her well. Her generation will have a lot to offer the world, but the world is looking increasingly vile in a great many new and disconcerting ways, from where I'm standing. They will need to be smart, strong, and fairly silver-tongued. If they want anyone to listen at all.
*I think that was around the time luckykitty introduced me to Oded Behr? (yum ^_^) Which...thank you! But sadly he didn't come anywhere near enough to satisfying the "of color" criteria we were given.
** Jesus H. Christ on a vinyl record... 0_o
EDIT. Meh. I had disabled the comments, but you know what? I think anyone who would even bother to comment on this one is quite mature enough not to let it devolve into either a hate- or a woobiepoorthing-fest. There's plenty of fodder for objective discussion. So! Moving on, and on to the issues of import.