Since the death of George Floyd in May, racism became a big topic of conversation. Is it time bloggers address their anti-racism plans?
I’d be willing to bet most bloggers have no official anti-racism policy. But I would also bet the majority of bloggers have their own mental notion of preventing racism on their own blogs.
Since George Floyd died on May 25 while in Minneapolis Police custody, the topics of racism and race relations became unavoidable.
If the nation discussed such topics with as much fervor in the past, the protests and riots needn’t have happened. I’d go so far as to say if meaningful conversations had occurred earlier, Floyd may not even have died.
But we find constant reminders that we are a far-from-perfect species. Too often, we react to things that shouldn’t have happened…if we don’t try to pretend they didn’t.
In the Floyd case, a cell phone video recorded by a bystander made it impossible to pretend.
I’m glad that video exists. I think the national conversation needed to happen.
Some of us saw plenty of examples of racism before George Floyd died.
Growing up in the South gave me plenty of examples of racism in everyday life. Not the least of which, I would add, is the obsession with the Confederate flag and the Confederacy itself.
I do believe there are well-meaning people who find, in their mind, legitimate reasons to honor ancestors who fought in the Civil War. That they fought on the wrong side does not diminish their desire to honor their fallen family members.
I have an ancestor who was a Confederate soldier. But I find zero desire to fly a Confederate flag to remember him. I don’t know if he truly believed in the Confederacy or fought because he was forced to do so.
Either way, I can’t change that.
But I also can’t change the fact that the Confederate flag has taken on a very different meaning over the years. It’s a symbol of hate for many, no matter how many others insist it’s about their heritage.
Both sides will never agree on that point. But neither side should waste time pretending that theirs is the only valid one.
Growing up in the South, I heard white people use the N-word. There are still white people who think it’s acceptable. I’m not one of them. But just like the Confederate flag, there are people who defend the N-word’s continued use. Some people of color, those targeted by the word, use it among themselves to eliminate its negative meaning.
The fact that the word can’t be said without prompting understandable anger shows that such efforts to minimize the word remain epic failures.
Can bloggers really further conversations about racism?
I think we can. And I think we have an obligation to have that type of conversation from time to time if we feel it’s something that we can do practically.
I’ve talked about the Confederate flag and my thoughts on the symbol plenty of times over the years. I’ve talked about the Black Lives Matter movement and why you should never believe “All Lives Matter” is a valid response.
Recently, I also discussed a movement in journalism to use a capital B when referring to people of color as Black people. And I explained what my policy here would be going forward.
Depending on what you blog about, you can probably find easy ways to discuss racism. You might write about your own personal experiences. Or, you might write about what you plan to do in your corner of the blogosphere to combat racism.
There are some sites with a fancy anti-racism policy.
The website Discord, for example, published a post titled, “Our stand on racial equality” last month. In their post, they list “concrete actions” they will take to “build meaningful relationships and strong affirming communities.”
They focus on three specific areas of action. First, they spell out they they will combat hate on their platform. Then, they lay out their plans to use their reach and scale to promote justice. Finally, they explain how they, as employers, will “train, hire and retain underrepresented people.”
You’ll see more of this, I suspect. For businesses who take such things seriously, these can be valuable messages to their customers.
Your anti-racism policy doesn’t have to be elaborate.
If you blog for a business, perhaps you should go into more detail about what you will do to avoid racism in your workplace.
As a personal blogger, all I can do is commit to discussions on race, racism and discrimination.
As a white man, I have white privilege. Any white person who doesn’t believe there is such a thing must have their head buried too deep within it. But even those of us who recognize that we benefit from it still sometimes can be caught off guard when we find new examples of it we hadn’t considered before.
It’s one thing to understand that as a white man, I wouldn’t fear dying if a police officer stopped me at night.
But George Floyd didn’t die from gunfire. He died after a white police officer pinned him to the ground with a knee on Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes. It happened in broad daylight. It happened in front of witnesses. And it happened as police were aware that people were recording video of it. None of those things seemed to faze the officers.
How many white people would ever have to worry about such a thing happening to them? Very few, I’d wager.
I think the awareness of privilege might make some of us commit to try to look at situations with a more objective eye.
My anti-racism policy might be more simple. But I’d commit to fighting racist messages in comments. I’d also commit to trying to foster discussions on topics of race relations more often.
I want to be part of the solution. I think bloggers who do should post something to address the topic and what they are trying to do to make a difference.
We’ll make mistakes. We’re only human.
But if we’re serious about avoiding those mistakes and trying to right wrongs, we should say so.
I hope we all feel that way.