Racism and Classism at MDC - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 251 Old 04-08-2004, 11:31 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Forgive me if this topic has already been broached but I have been noticing an appalling amount of -isms here at MDC. This is a community I presume, for all mamas, including those who are marginalized by society IRL. I, personally, don't feel they should have to come here and be marginalized as well.

What is being done about this? What can be done about this?

Frankly, it kind of shocks me that a community so steeped in positive love for their children could have prejudice brewing beneath it.

Amy: Certified Professional Midwife and mom to Max (11) and Stella (6).
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#2 of 251 Old 04-08-2004, 11:35 AM
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Sheena this would involve you pointing out exactly what statements and members you are referring to. So please compile a list of examples and email it to me for review and not just from the one thread that you participated in with the same sentiment. If it is truly a boardwide issue I need to see it from more than that one discussion.

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Thanks!

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#3 of 251 Old 04-08-2004, 11:50 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you Cynthia!!! I will start keeping track. I appreciate you getting back to me so fast, I feel better just knowing someone cares, lol.

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#4 of 251 Old 04-08-2004, 11:54 AM
 
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I care! It's rampant here, but not as bad as it used to be IMO. I was away for a while so I may have missed some new guidelines or discussion of how to deal. What I come across much more is very subtle stuff that is steeped in prejudice but hard to point out and name exactly, kwim?
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#5 of 251 Old 04-08-2004, 11:54 AM
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I'll look for an email from you.

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#6 of 251 Old 04-08-2004, 12:10 PM
 
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#7 of 251 Old 04-08-2004, 12:12 PM
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Okay - what would be the appropriate way to handle this? Label the person a whatever-ist and shame them in a public thread? Ban them? Delete the "subtle" stuff to wipe it out?

My desire for the community as a whole and for those who come here to join us as new members would be that we educate them with discussion. Talk about the issue, explain what they are obviously ignorant about, make them aware. That is what discussion is all about.

We get more out of educating and informing than we do out of labeling those who are voicing any sort of -ism. I'm not a fan of 'outing' people.

I prefer to assume they really don't understand what they are talking about and that what they may view as a reason is exposing a prejudice or -ism they hold. Now I could point it out with a "that is so racist and classist to say that! It disgusts me" and make them feel defensive, setting the discussion stage of the thread for a downward spiral. Or I can take the time to help them look at their words and see how they are wrong, explain the other side of the picture that they are obviously missing. And perhaps they can better explain themselves and I may learn something in the process too.

That's me and that's basically what I expect from MDC as a discussion community. But of course if there are outright statements being made with persistence by a member, being advocated through repetitive posting then it is an issue I would take up with them and not allow to continue.

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#8 of 251 Old 04-08-2004, 12:12 PM
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Gemini, you posted beffore I got my post up. Care to elaborate?

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#9 of 251 Old 04-08-2004, 12:17 PM
 
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it's the car seat thread in TAO, but IMO the racism is being misunderstood. The OP said someone pretended that they couldn't understand her by saying "speak english". So it was an anonymous person that was using racism against her.

at least that is the way I read it
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#10 of 251 Old 04-08-2004, 12:19 PM
 
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Oh, I just was sad that someone thought this of here thats all. I guess I don't venture into the places that have this or am not bright enough to see it. : But I'm bummed others see it.

eta that reading Ard's post it makes sense now. I did read that thread. I'm quick I tell ya. :
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#11 of 251 Old 04-08-2004, 12:19 PM
 
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Well, I have a question, but I really don't want to sound challenging or defensive. My question is, is there a difference between racism that is rooted in hatred, and racism that is rooted in lack of information/experience (in other words: ignorance?) And if there is a difference, should there be a difference in the way we address it? Personally, I don't see hatred in the voices of the mamas at MDC. Sometimes ignorance, yes. But I know that I appreciate being treated with a little charity -- being given the benefit of the doubt with regard to my intentions -- it opens up the possibility for change and growth in the way that I think about things.
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#12 of 251 Old 04-08-2004, 12:21 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Cynthia, I see what you are saying and perhaps you are right that saying "this disgusts me" is not the best way. I am guilty of that, I'll admit it. The reason that tends to be my first response is because I am kind of tired of trying to educate people who don't feel they have said anything wrong. You can go round and round with some folks and they will never understand what racism truly is. But, I also don't know if I necessarily feel grown women should be handled with kid gloves on this subject.

Take for instance the thread where I just said I was disgusted. So, it has been widely agreed in thread that Hispanics don't use carseats and that that is acceptable in their culture. IMO that is racist despite the fact that many people chimed in to say "Yes, I was in blah-blah and I saw that too." What if a Latina mom were to come here on her first visit to MDC and read that without there being any dissent in thread?

I guess I am not usre how I think it should be handled but I really think it is a problem here and I worry that there are moms who are lurking and feeling really low about some of the things they are reading.

Amy: Certified Professional Midwife and mom to Max (11) and Stella (6).
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#13 of 251 Old 04-08-2004, 12:22 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally posted by Arduinna
it's the car seat thread in TAO, but IMO the racism is being misunderstood. The OP said someone pretended that they couldn't understand her by saying "speak english". So it was an anonymous person that was using racism against her.

at least that is the way I read it
Sorry, but using racism against her? That's kind of an oxymoron isn't it? I don't mean to be sarcastic but really, it isn't an anti-racist persons job to mind the feelings of someone who says something blatantly racist or classist. It's hard for me to believe that someone here could not know that "Speak English!" is both of those.

I will admit, as I already have, that maybe I was harsh in thread but I still believe my point is valid.

Amy: Certified Professional Midwife and mom to Max (11) and Stella (6).
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#14 of 251 Old 04-08-2004, 12:23 PM
 
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Sheena, I hear what your saying (I know it wasn't directed as me) but it seems that as long as it's just someones opinion it's allowed??
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#15 of 251 Old 04-08-2004, 12:25 PM
 
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Sheena, maybe I didn't understand the OP?? But if as I understand it someone was being racist against her, what are mad about??

I mean ya it sucks. But it wasn't someone here that was telling her to "speak english". It was a woman in a minivan. Or are you saying that the OP shouldn't have posted that someone else was racist to her??

edited to add, do you think the OP told someone to speak english?? because that isn't the way I understood it happened.
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#16 of 251 Old 04-08-2004, 12:27 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally posted by Arduinna
Sheena, I hear what your saying (I know it wasn't directed as me) but it seems that as long as it's just someones opinion it's allowed??
Do you mean even if someone's opinion is racist? I'm not totally sure but I think this board does have standards and I guess that would be for Cynthia to decide.

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#17 of 251 Old 04-08-2004, 12:28 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally posted by Arduinna
Sheena, maybe I didn't understand the OP?? But if as I understand it someone was being racist against her, what are mad about??

I mean ya it sucks. But it wasn't someone here that was telling her to "speak english". It was a woman in a minivan. Or are you saying that the OP shouldn't have posted that someone else was racist to her??

edited to add, do you think the OP told someone to speak english?? because that isn't the way I understood it happened.
No. What I am seeing in that thread is some general agreement that if you live in America you need to get with the program and speak English and that it is OK in Hispanic cultures to endanger the life of your child by not using a carseat.

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#18 of 251 Old 04-08-2004, 12:28 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally posted by Cynthia Mosher
Now I could point it out with a "that is so racist and classist to say that! It disgusts me" and make them feel defensive, setting the discussion stage of the thread for a downward spiral. Or I can take the time to help them look at their words and see how they are wrong, explain the other side of the picture that they are obviously missing. And perhaps they can better explain themselves and I may learn something in the process too.

I'm basically in agreement with the latter approach. It's what I try to do in my daily life. But when I come across really strong racism/classism, etc it's usually not worth the energy to get into a heated debate with someone who is not open to learning. In that instance I don't think that member should be allowed to continue to post until they start to listen to what's being said. there has to be some bottom line. But I haven't personally come across any such poster lately.

It is too bad that isms exist here, but prejudice is in the world, everywhere. I don't believe you can set up an "ideal" community and it not still pop up. It's how it's dealt with that matters.
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#19 of 251 Old 04-08-2004, 12:28 PM
 
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maybe she will post an undate of the recent rule changes that allow for opinion that are offensive.
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#20 of 251 Old 04-08-2004, 12:28 PM
 
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I have noticed some things that made me cringe. However, I don't see them being said in a malicious manner, just out of ignorance. And ignorance begs for education.

I think a good thing to do, when one notices such things, might be:
  • start a new thread
  • stay non-confrontational
  • do not refer to the original thread
  • use a "did you know" approach
  • remain gentle
  • understand that you have an opportunity to help others learn, but know that loud noises lead to closed doors.
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#21 of 251 Old 04-08-2004, 12:35 PM
 
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ok I reread the OP and I misunderstood. Appears that the woman in the mini van pretended that she herself didn't speak english as a way of avoiding a conversation she didn't want to hear.
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#22 of 251 Old 04-08-2004, 12:38 PM - Thread Starter
 
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ITA SoHappy, and just for the record I never claimed it was malicious. But, as a white woman I don't feel it is my place to say whether something is malicious or not, KWIM? I am not in the shoes of a marginalized woman.

However, I'm not sure starting a new thread is the way to go. It seems like TAO will then become nothing but arguments about racism. I have seen boards I love go down in flames over this issue.

Amy: Certified Professional Midwife and mom to Max (11) and Stella (6).
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#23 of 251 Old 04-08-2004, 12:40 PM
 
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We make "loud noises" on here about Bush and his policies, about "those mothers in Walmart" we see yelling at their kids, about parenting practices that don't fit with our own; why should we not make a big loud honking noise about racism??? It just isn't something to be polite about. If someone shuts the door that's their responsibility. My responsibility is to speak up against prejudice.
I agree with Sheena that we are grown women who don't need to be treated with kid gloves.
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#24 of 251 Old 04-08-2004, 12:41 PM
 
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We've had a ton of topics on racism and it hasn't closed the boards down yet.

Start one if ya want, activisn is always a good place for it, since it is standing up for a cause. And you might want to do a search. We have recently had topics on privlege.
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#25 of 251 Old 04-08-2004, 12:45 PM
 
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Well, there are "isms" everywhere, unfortunately, aren't there?

And I think Cynthia makes a lot of valid points about the difficulty of handling them on the boards.

Hipmama tried to handle it by leaving the threads up, banning offenders and letting people call others out on their "isms..." but it didn't stop the "isms.." and the boards, sadly, collapsed under the weight of them.

So I am not sure that the calling out approach works on boards... though I myself have done it here.. and not always gently.
I do not think blatant "isms" should be tolerated... but it is hard to know what is in people's hearts when they post on boards.

I think it is possible for someone to become educated through dialog... Hipmama helped me recognize my own racism.. and to take responsibility for unlearning it... but not everyone WANTS to be educated.

It is a quandry. And I don't envy Cynthia for having to be the one to deal with it.
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#26 of 251 Old 04-08-2004, 12:48 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally posted by asherah


So I am not sure that the calling out approach works on boards... though I myself have done it here.. and not always gently.

I do not think blatant "isms" should be tolerated... but it is hard to know what is in people's hearts when they post on boards.

<snip>

It is a quandry. And I don't envy Cynthia for having to be the one to deal with it.
I guess this is where I am at. I had hoped this thread might become a discussion about the best way to deal with this. It really is a quandry.

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#27 of 251 Old 04-08-2004, 12:57 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally posted by muse
We make "loud noises" on here about Bush and his policies, about "those mothers in Walmart" we see yelling at their kids, about parenting practices that don't fit with our own; why should we not make a big loud honking noise about racism??? It just isn't something to be polite about. If someone shuts the door that's their responsibility. My responsibility is to speak up against prejudice.
I agree with Sheena that we are grown women who don't need to be treated with kid gloves.
I guess it depends on what your goals are. If you want to vent or punish, I say "say it loud, say it proud". If you want to present info and educate, I feel your chances of success are directly related to the level of respect you show your audience.

You can't force somebody to change or listen. You can show compassion and illustrate the sensitivity and mindfulness you expect from others, and hope it leads to the same. And if it doesn't, well, you've done your part.
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#28 of 251 Old 04-08-2004, 02:50 PM
 
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My observations on this topic over the past few years:

There are often discussions of ism's here. It ebbs and flows. Sometimes there will be five in a month and then none for a while. The problem is that in a huge and constantly growing community you can never get everyone singing from the same sheet of music at the same time. Sooooo... someone starts a thread pointing out a particular type of somewhat unconcious racism. It gets maybe a few hundred posts, a couple thousand views... maybe as many as several dozen people really learn something new that will change their behavior.... which is great. But then two weeks later that thread is on page 12 of TAO and the 300 people who join in the interim know nothing about it.

I have watched people who are willing to assume the mantle of ism educater grow weary of it and stop. I have learned and tried to help educate others when I can. The internet is a strangely momentary and fluid medium. I just don't know if we can do much better. I would love to try if someone has an idea of how.
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#29 of 251 Old 04-08-2004, 07:09 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally posted by mamaduck
. My question is, is there a difference between racism that is rooted in hatred, and racism that is rooted in lack of information/experience (in other words: ignorance?) And if there is a difference, should there be a difference in the way we address it?
Yes, there absolutely is a difference and they can and should be addressed differently. The problem comes when someone who is racist because of ignorance decides that they don't want to be educated on the subject, that they'd rather remain ignorant. It's not something I can even pretend to understand, but there are lots of ignorant people out there who would rather stay ignorant than face something unpalatable.

Rynna, Mama to Bean (8), Boobah (6), Bella (4) and Bear (2)
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#30 of 251 Old 04-11-2004, 12:37 PM
 
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This EDITED LINK was a really excellent example of the kinds of comments that are thrown around here in complete and total ignorance. My so-called "call-out" was largely ignored and that didn't surprise me one bit. The offending person in question brushed it off like I just didn't get her sense of humor.

-Laura

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