EDIT: After 72 hours of observing and participating in the latest iteration of RaceFail, I decided I’d had enough. Click here, this is my final word on the matter. I don’t think there is any more I can possibly say that better explains my position. Many of you will no doubt disagree, or even find my final word offensive. A few of you will find it resonant. That is all. Carry on.
1) Back in late 2005, early 2006, I can’t remember exactly when, someone named Max wrote a letter to the letters column of Science Fiction Weekly, complaining that Battlestar Galactica was just another whitebread sci-fi show for whitebread viewers. No african american content. no african american actors, etc, etc. He didn’t like that Dee was a minor character, didn’t like that Simon was a Cylon, used this as ‘proof’ that BSG and its producers were committing DiversityFail, etc.
2) I’d been reading SF Weekly for years, and had sent in the occasional letter when it seemed warranted. So I responded to Max’s letter with a pretty pointed letter of my own, saying I thought it was fairly ridiculous to accuse BSG or its producers of DiversityFail because BSG’s two key characters were a woman and a latino, several of the supporting characters were women, pacific islander, asian, and african american, etc.
3) At which point Ms. Jemison dove in with her own responses to my response to Max — I don’t think Max ever did respond, though I can’t be sure. So Jemison and I went back and forth a few times on the SF Weekly letters page, never really getting anywhere.
And that was the end of it. Or so I thought.
4) Flash forward many months. I was vanity googling through the InterToob and discovered my name on a page called “The Angry Black Woman.” Raising an eyebrow, I clicked the link, discovering that “The Angry Black Woman” had decided to take me to task for what I’d written in my original letter to Max.
My letter was deemed “ignorant-ass” and I was personally called “clueless” and “prejudiced.”
5) Now, because I knew the “Angry Black Woman” had no context for her comments — she had no clue I’m in an interracial marriage — I wrote “The Angry Black Woman” an e-mail explaining my position, that I was not just some ignorant white dude, that I had EXPERIENCE with this sort of thing, and that both my wife and I couldn’t see why BSG was an exercise in DiversityFail, much less why “The Angry Black Woman” felt it necessary to dime me out by name on her blog, using very charged words and accusations.
Where Ms. Jemison gets confused, is that she persists in thinking that I am upset about the exchange she and I had on the SF Weekly mail column. That exchange was civil and I walked away from it feeling that, while Jemison and I clearly didn’t see eye-to-eye, she at least had the decency to cross swords with me in a forum where I’d at least have an opportunity to explain or defend myself.
Even being dimed out at “The Angry Black Woman” might not have been so bad, if “The Angry Black Woman” had not responded to my e-mail with an e-mail of her own, basically telling me my experiences as a WP in an interracial marriage we irrelevant, I was still white, clueless, and prejudiced, and that she couldn’t understand why I would get so upset when all she was trying to do was open my eyes and “help” me see how wrong I was.
Sorry. From that letter forward, I knew I wasn’t dealing with someone who could have an honest interraction about race matters. This was a person who a) was convinced that her status as a PoC gave her overarching authority in any racial discussion with any WP and b) was not at all interested in “helping” anything, as much as she was interested in being ANGRY ANGRY ANGRY and diming out WP whenever and wherever she felt like it. Regardless of whether her caustic accusations had any basis in fact.
In the years since that e-mail, I’ve been peripherally tracking “The Angry Black Woman.” As it expanded to include more than one author. And especially, this year, when it became clear that “The Angry Black Woman” and her compadres were very often in the thick of various racial and gender-related imbroglios within SF and F.
I got into it with Jemison again, at Scalzi’s blog, when Scalzi paid his danegeld and allowed “The Angry Black Woman” to guest blog for a day on matters of race and RaceFail ’09.
My understanding is that Jemison and “The Angry Black Woman” are very tight, now. That they actually became aware of each other via my exchanges with Jemison at SF Weekly. That they actually see the world through very, very similar eyes. Especially the WHITE world. So every time Jemison shows up going, “Gosh Brad I never said a rude word to you,” I suspect Jemison is either displaying buddy solidarity with “The Angry Black Woman” or is simply confused as to where my beef lies, and with whom. Or maybe she’s just pissed at me because I never backed down at SF Weekly, and I don’t back down now. Who knows.
In the end, I don’t believe The Angry Black Woman blog is a good source of information for any honest, progressive WP who is seeking to explore beneath the surface of race and race relations in the U.S. That blog is run by people who have demonstrated with their words and their actions that they have axes to grind, and cannot or will not cut any WP any slack. Even WP like me, who have a broader window on the PoC experience than 90% of the rest of the white populace.
If someone like me is “ignorant-ass” and “prejudiced”, how do any of you WP who are NOT married to a PoC think you’re going to do, dealing with The Angry Black Women and their vitriolic brand of race education? I’ve got almost 20 years dealing with race, racism, race issues, etc, on the most intimate level possible. Yet ABW and Co. think this is irrelevant, has no bearing on the matter, and can be dismissed out of hand.
Trust their opinions and viewpoints on race. If you feel like it.