(This is post number one in a new series I am writing about tough discussions and how not to be an asshole when talking about difficult issues)
I admit the limitations of trying to talk about something real and not Kardashian related on Facebook.
I feel the need to say this and it pertains to everyone and to any of
the hard discussions you might find yourself involved in down the road.
This applies whether you are talking about the death penalty, abortion,
racism, sexism, police brutality—whatever.
not a response. This doesn’t make them any less true or less valid—but
they are a cop out. They are a way to allude to things without having
to discuss the issue in any real way. They are euphemistic and that
cheapens the discussion. Further, if you are talking to a
child, they are a way to confuse the issue. (We aren’t talking about
fucking birds and bees—we are talking about sex. SEX.)
They are a failure of communication.
I wrote those posts following Davis’ execution, I was asking for
commentary. I wanted to have a conversation about what happened, why it
happened, and responses to it. I also, desperately, wanted to know
that people found this as abhorrent as I did because it was gone almost
immediately from the news cycle. It was gone almost immediately from
I felt like this was something that needed to be
talked about and comments that amount to various restatements of “you
can’t judge a book by its cover” and old school civil rights references
with a few doses of religiosity for flavor, does not equal discourse.
These are Farrakhan responses—they will get a lot of “amens” from the crowd (or on Facebook, likes) but they means nothing.
is probably my fault. I could have couched my reflections on Troy
Davis in different terms but I chose to talk about the school to prison
pipeline for black males for a reason. First, it exists, it is real,
and it is wrong. Second, I had the reasonable expectation that my
audience would be willing to at least entertain the ideas because I was
talking about children.
People love to tell you how to raise kids--especially when you ask.
didn’t work out the way I expected it to. I think putting the
discussion in those terms masked what I really wanted to talk
about—fear, paranoia, the reality of racism, racial violence, and lynch
culture. We are still there and the fourteenth amendment still does not
mean the same thing for people of color that it means for white people.
could have used other terms—other examples. I could talk about
domestic violence, sexual assault and the way the state punishes and
blames women for their victimization. I could have talked about how
fear of the state and fear of the police are further barriers for women
of color from even reporting assaults and seeking justice.
I could have talked about other things—more adult things.
If I had, I wonder what platitudes would apply?
For more information about Troy Davis' execution:
Ann Coulter Being an Asshole
If you feel like you want to do more: