Arguing with old friends on Facebook

A very odd day today. That’s what happens when you post a seemingly uncontroversial link and within days you’ve been de-friended and blocked by an old school mate.

I think I’ve said before (maybe here) how I sometimes forget that not all the people I know have the kind of conversations we have each day. And then I get surprised when people just “don’t get it”.

You see most days, topics like racism, sexism, Australian politics, art politics, literature, etc, end up coming up. It’s been years since we became exposed to the term White Race Privilege. Analysis of what’s going on the world – either through gender, class or race lenses – is what we talk about. When I say we, I mean our families, our friends, our colleagues.

So today, when old-school-friend dismissed an analysis of racism (an analysis shared by the commentator in the video & most of the Murri women who commented), she was challenged. She argued that it wasn’t racism, it’s just cause she stood her ground (the video was of police brutality of a pregnant African American woman). I suspect old-school-friend had finally had enough of me seeing racism in everything.For hours, literally hours, the conversation/debate continued, finally ending when she de-friended and blocked me.

A couple of take-aways for me:

1) I was not angry during any of the interaction. In addition, I actually bear her no ill will. I read tonight the definition of mindfulness (will link when at desktop). It felt really good to be able to engage with no anger – very good for the blood pressure

2) I was a little patronising at one point, mostly due to frustration as she wasn’t actually listening. I wondered why, but then it occurred to me that FB is a completely different context to say a classroom. In a classroom I would have unpacked the issue thoroughly, but I also imagine in a classroom, she may have actually listened.

3) Some White People think when you call them racist, you’re saying their bad people (almost as bad as paedophiles). They can freak out and then can’t hear anything you say. For the record, I never said she was racist, she thought we did.

4) What White People think racism is, and what we know racism to be, are very different. Many White People think racism is  saying ABC (abo-boong-coon) on a train, it’s much more insidious than that. Often hidden and covert.

5) Some White People will listen to other White People before they will listen to Black People. (White voices are more authoritative)

6) Some White people don’t allow Black people to get exasperated, annoyed, frustrated, bored etc, with them, because White People are doing you a favour with their support and Blacks should be grateful. Never mind how exasperating, annoyed, frustrated, boring said White Person is.

7) Black people are not allowed to be angry. Ever.

8) Black People should be grateful that their educations were/are paid for by “the tax payer” and should demonstrate their gratitude by not being angry. (Cause apparently White People’s education isn’t tax payer funded? And tax payers = white people?)

9) If black people have ever received any “benefits” they are exempt from the right to be angry or ever to criticise White People.

10) If you went to school with Black kids and were their friends at school, you’re not racist. And you’re allowed to use their names as proof that you’re not racist.

11) If you work with Black people today, it’s further evidence that you’re a good person. You’re also issued with a lifetime money-back guaranteed shield of protection from any criticism of racism. Ever.

12) More work to do in getting the concept of White Race Privilege to the masses.

An interesting day. Surprising. I wish her well. Maybe I’ll see her at a school reunion one day if I ever bother going to one. I hope she does take a few of the things we said and maybe reflect on herself and her biases.

As always, I live in hope.

A big shout out to my deadly cousin CB, who really kicked the whole debate off.

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