36 Reasons Why QPOC-Only Spaces Are Very Necessary

Dear Beautiful Kittens from the Heavens,

We’ve got some things to talk about, especially since we all want to have transformative and uplifting experiences at A-Camp. At this very moment in my life, my 4th A-Camp is happening! This time though a very major event is going to be very different, like so different it’ll probably make some people uncomfortable. Discomfort can be a really good thing. It can be the impetus for legit soul-searching, question-asking, and wondering how to switch gears and be a better person.

This year at A-Camp, the QPOC panel will not be open to the general public. This time around it’s going to be called the QPOC Speakeasy. We’ll be making zines, sharing traditional cocktail recipes, raising some ruckus, and exploring ways that we can make Autostraddle be a more radical and progressive space for QPOC. The Speakeasy will only be for folks who identify as people of color or as part of a racialized group. In this respect, the Q stands for queer but we’re using that as a blanket term for all the happy weirdos. We’re also open to changing that as well. The thing about each A-Camp is that you get to try all the things in a bunch of different ways to see what works and what soothes the spirit best. But back to the Speakeasy being only for people who identify as people of color. We thought it’d be good to do some ‘splainin first, for ourselves and for all involved. The following list comes from the A-Camp staff involved in facilitating the QPOC Speakeasy (although we are not the only QPOC staff participating in it): Carmen, Whitney, Mey, Laura, Carolyn Wysinger, Dani, Fit for a Femme and me.


 

zine graphic by MOHAMMED FAYAZ

zine graphic by MOHAMMED FAYAZ – buy this zine asap

Reasons why a QPOC-Only space at A-Camp es muy importante:

1. I’m tired of navigating white guilt while exploring what being a QPOC means to me and others.

2. QPOC spaces shouldn’t be the only spaces that talk about systemic and casual racism, economic inequality, injustice, school-to-prison pipelines etc. please insert all the other f*cked up life things here.

MULTIRACIAL SOLIDARITY: FEMINISM IN THE 1970S

MULTIRACIAL SOLIDARITY: FEMINISM IN THE 1970S

3. QPOC space doesn’t always have to be focused on the relationship between white folks and “us”.

4. I’m tired of being seen as the singular representative of my race, authoritatively speaking for every other Asian on the planet.

5. I don’t know everything about race and I need space to be able to make mistakes and learn.

6. While rest of the world is working overtime to put white people at the center of every conversation, it’s okay if one thing exists that doesn’t include them.

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7. I wanna be surrounded by love that reminds me of my grandma’s house.

8. Because colorism exists between us too.

9. I’m almost positive that in this space no one is gonna be casually racist about a damn thing

10. Rice, beans, chicken  and something fried with cheese and no you can’t have any.

11. Sometimes we have to get together to remember we exist in queer spaces. Most times (in queer spaces) I feel like I’m back in high school and I’m the lone black kid in my AP class.

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12. Because when I post something on Facebook about being a Latina, I really don’t need to see commentary that says, “If you want to be a better Mexican, why don’t you speak Spanish instead of making stupid Facebook posts?”

13. Because I didn’t appreciate it in elementary school when all my friends looked at me like I was a freak when I used words I learned in Spanish first, like “mocos” and “chonies.”

14. I like to be reminded that Femmeness, Butchness and Androgyny don’t have to be centered around white bodies.

15. I want to say things like “white people” without someone telling me we’re in a post-racial society.

solange

16. I like to talk about my country and my family as a cool, casual thing I’m proud of and not have it turned into a lecture on “Life in The Super South: Communist Edition.”

17. Because I feel even less alone when I talk to people in QPOC spaces about my family and we just make eye contact and they know exactly where I am in my heart and I’m right there with them in their hearts too and maybe we say some words but we just get it.

18. Because no, I don’t want to talk about where the “authentic” restaurants are in this town and I don’t want to talk about which neighborhoods are the most “dangerous.”

19. When people in this QPOC-only space ask me “where are you from?” they are asking about where I live and not what ethnicity I am and what language my grandparents speak and if I’ll speak that language for them, too.

20. The best, most honest conversations I’ve ever had about being queer, about faith, about family and love and heartbreak and about feeling alone and not being alone have been with QPOC and I feel like we need more spaces for us so there can be more conversations like this.

21. Because according to this article on politicalblindspot dot com, “self-described white Americans believe they have “replaced blacks” as the primary victims of racial discrimination in contemporary America.”

9foi

22. Real talk, studying racism in an academic setting provides non-POC people with a disillusioned faux-authority on racism which has no place and holds absolutely zero weight in a QPOC space. (Check yo self b4 you wreck yo self.)

23. Co-signing ally as an identity  while nothing concrete in your life connects you to any social justice work is infuriating.

24. Some say the blacker the berry, the sweeter the juice, I say the darker the flesh then the deeper the roots. Basically because Tupac.

25. We need to to define community within ourselves, and not through others.

watch this web series

watch this web series

26. It is essential in life to find queers of color you connect with, not just to find the only other queer of color in the room.

27. Because you feel a little less invisible.

28. Our political histories, creative legacies, and personal narratives are constantly being absorbed, dissolved, and white-washed by the dominant power structure. We don’t know who our heroines are and we can change that right now by being in intentional community with each other.

mileycyrus

29. It’s super refreshing to NOT have to break down concepts of racism or privilege, or explain your community experiences or the power dynamics which impact your life, when you’re trying to talk about something even more complex or even bigger

30. Because we exist!

31. Because the world is not a QPOC-only space.

32. To foster collaboration and creativity among each other and conversations about race and ethnicity without walking on eggshells or navigating someone’s privilege.

33. Listening to rap music with no guilt or explanation required and/or for more lively dancing.

34. I refuse to provide non-QTPOC people with access to terminology and code-switching reserved for my QTPOC community, hunty.

35. The only way to fight the racism WITHIN the queer community is to build QPOC-only spaces and show that we are here and offer examples of the way we are marginalized in this community.

36. We deserve a sacred space where we can be and celebrate our authentic selves.

Lopez, Our Lady of Controversy 2008OLC

Got more reasons, please add them! If you’re a confused or hurt ally-in-training, reach out to your non-QPOC leaders/mentors and ask them how they navigate shit like this. We can all come together and have a very intentional kiki later. But for now, QPOC gaybies, we are here for you with open arms and beating hearts para siempre.

Avatar of gabrielle

Gabrielle Rivera is an awesomely queer Bronx bred, writer, spoken word artist and director. Her short stories and poems have been published in various anthologies such as the Lambda Award winning Portland Queer: Tales from the Rose City and The Best of Panic! En Vivo from the East Village. Her short film "Spanish Girls are Beautiful" follows a group of young Latina and Caucasian girls who like girls as they hook up, smoke up and try to figure sh*t out. She also freelances for Autostraddle.com while working in the film and television industry. Gabrielle is currently working on her first novel while bouncing around NYC performing spoken word and trying to stick it to the man.

gabrielle has written 68 articles for us.

206 Comments

    • Thumb up 7

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      I mean, there’s lots to learn from considering whiteness, like the historical construction of whiteness, or like, I am white people and get lots of mileage out of time with my other trying-to-fuck-up-less white people friends to be like “I feel complicated about this thing. This thing is fucked up, probably. I had some feels about this thing, but it was like not appropriate to bring it up at the time, so I am bringing it up now.” etc. also I suspect there will be like, panels on literature of pansexuality in the 18th century or lanyard-making or queer your omelette workshops, or whatever, so like there will be other shit to do besides sitting around contemplating whiteness, unless that is what people are into.

      • Thumb up 0

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        It’s also interesting because it creates this all-white space, that if created intentionally by white people, would be completely on acceptable. But with POC segregating themselves, it’s an unavoidable effect.

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        It’s also interesting because it creates this all-white space, that if formed intentionally by white people, would be completely unacceptable. But with POC segregating themselves, it’s an unavoidable effect.

      • Thumb up 29

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        Sometimes the best thing you can do as a person with a certain form of privilege is get out of the way of those who don’t have it.

        Not to equate homophobia with racism, but it’s saddening that people attending a weekend get-away from a world dominated by a privileged group might require an explanation for why a subgroup of that group may want time away from people privileged in a certain way.

        • Thumb up 3

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          “Sometimes the best thing you can do as a person with a certain form of privilege is get out of the way of those who don’t have it.”

          Yes!

          Or, you know, roll us out a red carpet as we strut through. That would be awesome. Just once. With those barricade rope things! Alert the #Camparazzi! QPOC parade! Floats! Confetti! Man, I’m a genius!

          But so are you. HUGZ.

      • Thumb up 0

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        I think it’s more apparent at a small weekend getaway. Also, I’ve never heard of a queer pride event that prohibits straight people from attending. Anyway, I never said they aren’t important–they are. This was just an observation of a fact that is pretty apparent.

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          I would LOVE to have some queer pride events that were for queer people only. Not all of them, but some. I took my family to Pride last year, but it was limited to the parade, and then they left because they understood that even when you are a “safe” person–even if you’re not going into a queer space to walk all over people–you change the space just by being there.

  1. Thumb up 14

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    I am still learning, and I hope it’s not an offensive question, but who else can join POC spaces? I ask, because I am Iranian/Persian, and we ethnically Caucasian, despite what society may see us as. We come in various shade of colors, from white(I would be an example, w/ blue eyes & white skin) to getting mistaken for Indian/Pakistani or North African(examples would be some of my relatives).

    • Thumb up 6

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      Its extremely validating to hear someone ask this question. I’m Assyrian and I’m pretty sure that the ethnic ambiguity of my skin color and features is usually passed off as “white”, although I always get asked where my “dark features” come from. It makes me super frustrated to be told that I’m white, when thats not the cultural experience my family or I have had.

      • Thumb up 6

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        I was reading over this article yesterday, and I was pondering your specific comments when my significant other, of white Cuban, white Berber, and Algerian mixed descent (white skin, black hair, and hazel eyes) walked by.

        I just had to ask :

        “Hey! I’m super curious. Do you consider yourself to be a POC? I know this is a ridiculous question, but you pass for white, have lived here for more than 15 years, yet you were raised in a mixed races family. How do YOU feel?

        “Gosh I hate that question. I guess I just don’t know! When I’m in Algeria I feel like a white Canadian. When I’m here, I feel like a foreigner.”

        This topic is causing me some hardcore re-thinking.

    • Thumb up 8

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      Arab here. Well, half Arab (dad), half unknown-non-white (mom). I have the same feels and the same wonderings. I am technically “Caucasian” (as it is defined as anyone of European, Middle Eastern, or North African descent), but I do not relate very well to white people nor do I consider myself to be white. I have found that this inability to relate to “white America” has been amplified by my being poor, queer, and disabled. HOWEVER. I pass as white to many people, and I am always reminding myself of my privilege and the ease with which I usually move through society.

      I have found that Arabs usually embrace my background without invasive inquiring or requesting “proof” of my Arabness — and I have at times felt a sense of community with them. White people, on the other hand, often 1) say shitty things about my heritage, usually involving a reference to terrorism 2) festishize my identity or 3) tell me I’m not reallllly THAT Arab.

      I also feel compelled to qualify the previous statement with a “not all white people…” but fuck that. I also grew up in the American South, which often felt extraordinarily oppressive, so SUPER fuck that.

    • Thumb up 4

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      I guess it all comes down to how you identify. In the US, I’m not sure if you live here or not, Latinos and folks from the Middle East and North Africa are encouraged to mark White/Caucasian (in terms of race) on the census. Most individuals I know from those groups do not identify as white, because they are marginalized in the US. To most Americans, white refers to those who are from European ethnic backgrounds.
      n

      • Thumb up 3

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        Well it’s an odd one. In middle school I marked Asian on a state exam(other Iranian/Persian classmates, which made up half the class, marked Other down). The teacher said she had to correct it for us & mark us down as white/Caucasian. It was the first time I remember being told I was white, vs ethnic or middle eastern. My teacher, is of Chinese(or is it Japanese) heritage, said told us Asian is reserved for people from Asian countries that isn’t the Middle East. Years later a friend told me, she had no right to tell me I am not Asian, as long as I’m not appropriating other Asian cultures.

        For a long time I use to see myself as white, because I was different than many of my relatives, I have blue eyes, lighter skin tone, dirty-ish blonde hair. I never really struggled to fit in the Iranian/Persian community(though proving I’m fully Persian is another story). My features were more common in the old empire days, vs now where they are sort of common, but only in the northern regions.

    • Thumb up 2

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      Yes, Al’s comment needed to happen. Pigment color is werd to classify.

      I didn’t even consider identifying as a POC until I heard of a college workshop for POC. The invitation included latinas and reading that was a curve ball. When I showed up, I felt the need to explain that I was a latina. I soon started asking myself, am I a person of color or am I white? My family has lived in El Salvador for generations, but I’m very fair skinned. I never fully identified as Salvadoran because I didn’t grow up there and couldn’t fully understand my cousins’ lives, but I never considered myself similar to many classmates because of my heritage.

      I’ve always felt out of place and invisible in both worlds. Sometimes people refuse to speak Spanish with me because they think I’m just practicing my high school/college-taught Spanish when in reality, I miss speaking Spanish other than the hour over the phone with my mami and papi. I miss frijoles and pupusas and tortillas and queso and my family. Reading Toni Morrison’s Passing was a shock to my system. I started to understand more facets of why I felt so out of place culturally speaking as a white-skinned Salvadoran-American. I’m privileged to pass as white and it really infuriates me that my cousins, my friends, and even my parents aren’t always treated as equals.

      I would love to hear more about what yall think about the “white” or “not” classification. It’s something I’ve been trying to figure out my whole life.

  2. Thumb up 10

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    I haven’t commented in forever but I wanted to come and say that as a white gal when I first glanced at this article I went uhhh why are they excluding people and then I read this: “1. I’m tired of navigating white guilt while exploring what being a QPOC means to me and others.” AND “3. QPOC space doesn’t always have to be focused on the relationship between white folks and “us”.” and I went OH I SEE! So I wanted to say I’m glad you guys are doing this and I’m glad you guys did such a good job of EXPLAINING why you are doing it! So thank you. And go you!

    • Thumb up 16

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      The saddest reality is that this list shouldn’t have to exist in the first place. QPOC shouldn’t have to convince us white folk that no seriously, it’s not always about us and it’s okay to tell us to GTFO whenever they need to.

    • Thumb up 18

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      Actually, in an ideal world this article would simply have said “We’re going to have a QPOC-only forum because we want to” with no explanation or justification needed.

      As a (presumably) queer woman, can you see the value in having women-only spaces and queer-only spaces where we get the chance to discuss issues that are important to us without always having to make concessions to the feelings of people who are not part of our communities? Can you see the need to sometimes exclude certain types of people (men, straight people) from our discussions? If so, then hopefully you can understand why the initial reaction “why are they excluding people” in this case might evoke frustration.

    • Thumb up 3

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      Ok, obviously that was a very particular/amusing/ironic (shall we play semantics?) choice of words on my part – obviously I don’t have the ability to “see” or “get” or “understand” etc etc etc, but I think it’s highly generous on your part (because I agree with the commentator below who said having a forum like this shouldn’t have to be explained at all) and a good reminder for us white folk (especially those of us who are marginalized in other ways, even if those ways are not as many ways, which makes us approach things from a point of view of everyone should be included, etc) for you guys to have posted this list. That’s all.

  3. Thumb up 6

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    Thank You for bolding #6. That seems to go over a lot of well-meaning people’s heads. That Bingo Card though. And the White Tears one is even better. I have heard every single one of those things MULTIPLE TIMES from both of those cards at some point. Actually, it’s an almost daily occurrence on most comment sections I visit to the point where I have very little patience anymore. I feel like non-POCs should have that Bingo Card as the wallpaper on their computer so they can reference it every time they think about saying something stupid on an article about race.

    And before someone starts, yes I know not every white person behaves like these assholes. I wouldn’t still be on this website all these years if that were the case around here.

    • Thumb up 1

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      Not even joking I might print the bingo card and look at it sometimes, you know. I try to check my privilege when I can, and younger me probably pulled some of these gems without realising it at the time. Especially the “I’m trying to learn please be more patient with me” card.

      What I mean, I guess, is that even when you ain’t a legit asshole, you can still say assholish things if you don’t stop yourself and think.

      I know I do.

      • Thumb up 7

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        Doesn’t it say something that I’ve become practically trained to preemptively defend my opinion to white people with the addendum “not all white people” in case someone takes it the wrong way. I shouldn’t have to say it but that is the response I usually get in return so I thought I would just get it out of the way first.

  4. Thumb up 25

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    (This is where I miss the “like” button, because I’d like to support this post anonymously without it looking all like “this white person approves of your QPOC-only space”, because of course you don’t need my or anyone else’s approval to have a space of your own.)

    • Thumb up 4

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      I honestly feel the same. I commented then I was like oh, maybe I should just go play Cranium on my own somewhere and stuff. But I’m in a “show support however you can while also acknowledging your opinion isn’t needed or wanted” kinda mood, I guess.

      Wanna play Cranium?

  5. Thumb up 9

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    QPOC Speakeasy sounds like something every city could use. Same password gets you in the door no matter where you are — that way you’d always know where to go to find your people and all that something-fried-with-cheese. Amiright?

    Also: I have all of the sad for not being at A-Camp and being able to participate in this awesomeness. Enjoy, you beautiful humans!

    • Thumb up 19

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      Respectfully, 3 points.
      1) Racism is structural, and institutional. We non-POC can be racist or contribute to racist practices without recognizing it.

      2) Being queer doesn’t mean you’re not racist. Even if you’re not racist, it doesn’t mean you are aware of the structure of power and privilege. Being aware of power and privilege doesn’t mean you act to change it. Acting to change it (being an active ally) doesn’t mean you are suddenly an honorary POC.

      3) An analogy: We all (probably, maybe) have straight, cis-male friends, but we still need our queer lady safe-spaces.

      • Thumb up 0

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        I accept all three of those points and have no problem with this group, I just was taken aback by the number of points in the article that were based on racism. If it were a meetup off the street, I’d understand. I feel like all those points about racists were excessive for readership like Autostraddle. But I’m about to read the 100 new comments since I posted so I’m prepared to report back with a retraction.

        • Thumb up 4

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          I honestly feel like most of the racism that occurs in AS spaces are completely unintended rather than being malicious, which ultimately doesn’t negate the pain that it causes. It’s more a reflection of white people rarely being challenged for how we approach the world, and that we never have to process how our actions and words impact POCs. Conversations like this are really important so that white people can take a step back and understand that oh, our very social existence infringes on POCs’ ability to survive and/or thrive.

  6. Thumb up 14

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    I need to be in a place where I can be tired of the faces of the queer struggle being Ellen and Neil Patrick [forgot just last name] without the “We’re a community, at least someone is representing us.” or the “Let the white people go first and you can join in later” mentality.

    • Thumb up 27

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      Word. I think what a lot of white people forget, is that there is a lot of emotional and psychological work that has to be done (often continuously) to get to a place, such as the one from which this article was written.

      And because it is hard, uncomfortable work, in a lot of cases unless you are a POC and are forced to do it by virtue of your very existance, they’d rather not.

      Unfortunately, asking POCs for all the answers isn’t going to fly either.

      You gotta do the work. Yourself. And it’s probably going to suck.

      • Thumb up 28

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        Yessss. The amount of emotional labor it takes just to explain simple concepts to white people sometimes – like I can’t. Especially when so much of that energy can be spent improving things within our own communities and the larger POC community.

        That’s also the thing too, when white people ask these questions, they think they’re going to get a simple answer. It’s like they think systematic and historical racism is something that can be easily explained in a short discussion; and not something that can take a lifetime to unlearn and work against.

        And it is uncomfortable work, and should be uncomfortable work; because white people have done a lot of messed up things to POC in the past and still do so today. That bloody and violent history should make you uncomfortable.

      • Thumb up 23

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        I’m tired of white and/or straight people thinking that I’m their personal search engine. If we’re already friends and you say/do something unsavory, I’ll give you an extremely watered down version of why you’re wrong and the rest of the research is up to you. But please don’t seek me out because you don’t want to do the footwork yourself. Its quite rude actually.

        • Thumb up 2

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          Asking like that also expects us to have all the answers, and if you can’t explain exactly why a thing is messed up or not okay to say, it looks as though you don’t know what you’re talking about and are wrong or overreacting.

    • Thumb up 7

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      Lack of QPOC in your life is one thing but like, don’t collect minority friends to claim more feminist cred or something because that’s also a fucked up attitude to have. Honestly, I’m not sure how to address this issue without buying into the mindset that you can tokenize people of different backgrounds. Volunteering or joining a diverse social group would probably be the easiest way, but I strongly recommend you (from one white queer to another) to educate yourself first before inserting yourself in places and spaces where your lack of awareness may hurt people.

      Secondly, there are soooooo many awesome blogs where QPOC discuss their experiences, so it’d be a lot easier to book off some time this weekend and read their publicized stories rather than depending on living breathing humans in your vicinity to be your teachers. Like other people here have been saying, it’s not their responsibility to teach white people how to be less shitty and the fact that we default to expectation is part of the systemic racism that we as white people get to profit from.

      Check out Black Girl Dangerous and the old posts on Tigerbeatdown for a start. Really amazing and intellectually-provocative conversations happen there.

    • Thumb up 22

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      Woah, woah, woah.

      1) Look at my profile picture. Am I a white person?

      Let me clarify. I AM NOT A WHITE PERSON. I am a South Asian American person. Please don’t jump down my throat because of assumptions you made about me…. based on nothing actually written in my post.

      2) Where did I say that other QPOC of people need to teach me lessons? AS A QPOC there are many lessons I need to learn, too — not just the white people have to educate themselve, my friends. For example, I read Audre Lorde’s Zami this year. I am just starting to read Black Girl Dangerous. I just recently learned the meaning of intersectionality — and that was a lesson that really helped me reframe all of the things I read.

      And, by finding more people of color — I meant, finding time to join the one QPOC LGBT group on campus, to find people I can relate to.

      Thoroughly, thoroughly disappointed to wake up and find this thread under my own.

      I really don’t get why not clarifying my race is the ASSUMPTION OF WHITE. Isn’t that problem in itself?

      • Thumb up 0

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        You’re right; I was following the tone set by the previous commenters in terms of interpreting your initial comment. For my contributions, I apologize for projecting this at you (although I think it’s still meaningful for white readers who would like to learn more).

        However, pointing at your profile picture as indication of your racial identity doesn’t really help in this situation because a) it’s very small and I wouldn’t have been able to recognize any discerning features from something that’s less than an inch large ; and b) the colour of your skin/your facial features don’t define your racial identity since many POC are white-passing, while people who are categorized as white do not necessarily have pasty white skin. A number of posters here who have identified themselves as POC have profile photos that I would have mistakenly assumed as “white”, so. There you go.

        • Thumb up 4

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          That’s a valid point; I guess my own racism is showing.

          Actually, before I read the replies, I first interpreted your comment as you intended it: you’re looking for other QPOCs to form community. Unfortunately, once I read what other people said, my mind automatically switched and followed that thought process.

          I’m really sorry – I screwed up, and now I feel like a complete jackass :/

        • Thumb up 6

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          P.S. I get the problematic aspects of using skin color as a race/ethnic signifier, it was more my frustration that people didn’t take even a basic pause or think to understand where my comment could be coming from — in which case my profile picture (which YES, is small, BUT at least to me, seems like it COULD contain a POC), could have been helpful.

          I also kind of feel like your apology is a perfect example of an apology/non-apology: “Hey, I piggy-backed because it was easy. BUT in the context of educating white people (because that’s what this thread is about?), your hurt doesn’t matter. PLUS these points you raise are kind of insignificant because of this one point at the beginning that I’m going to educate you on.”

      • Thumb up 14

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        Hi there, I just made an account to tell you that I’m really sorry that people responded like this to you.

        The assumption that you were white until you said otherwise is something that the commenters who tore into you so enthusiastically should think about.

        We are conditioned to think that white skin is the norm, this is a pretty sad example considering the article in which such comments appeared.

        I think people getting defensive about being called out on this should take a long, hard look at themselves – even if you are a POC. We go through the same indoctrination, we make the same assumptions about what is ‘normal’, we need to stop it most of all, because we are hurting our own.

        I am also a woman of colour who spent most of their life wishing I was white like everyone else around me. I have slowly over the past several years come to be cool with being brown.

        I don’t apologise for my long name anymore, instead I get angry when people comment that I should use a short nickname. I don’t try to stay out of the sun in summer to avoid getting too dark.

        I hope this doesn’t put you off autostraddle, it’s actually a pretty nice space. I hope you keep reaching out to communities of QPOC :)

      • Thumb up 5

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        You know what? @livethequestion You’re totally right.

        You’re disappointed at all the assumptions being made about your post and you should be. I’m disappointed that I was a part of that.

        I debated whether or not I should delete my comment, because I certainly never should have assumed that the poster before me knew anything about you, based on your profile picture or not, and you’re right, you shouldn’t HAVE to “come out” as a POC in order to be part of the conversation.

        But, I will leave it there because a) I do think that still applies in some cases (not this one) and because b) how ’bout another glaring example of why we need POC-only spaces to work through this shit.

        So yeah, I am sorry if waking up to this made your day shitty. I will take this as my reminder to check myself. But I don’t need to be checking myself at other peoples expense, especially when I’ve been where you’ve been.

        I do genuinely hope you find a space to surround yourself with POCs so you can talk about that bitch on AS who assumed you were white. (Me)

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      I am so annoyed at, and sorry for, the responses to your comment, especially because it is a familiar feeling for me. I immediately read it as a QPOC bemoaning the lack of QPOC community around them, not as a white person crying from lack of a rainbow family to guide them. I think the immediate assumption of white by default is absolutely, 100%, a product of white supremacy and an example of the kinds of conversations we need among ourselves.

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        “I think the immediate assumption of white by default is absolutely, 100%, a product of white supremacy and an example of the kinds of conversations we need among ourselves.”

        Yup. Woke up this morning with the bitter ass taste of white supremacy in my mouth. Gross.

  7. Thumb up 6

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    Articles like this keep me constantly logged into this site. So now I’ve got to start selling some plasma in order to have the funds to go to A-camp next yr… Well as long as the speakeasy will be up and running. I’m there!

  8. Thumb up 10

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    ‘Because according to this article on politicalblindspot dot com, “self-described white Americans believe they have “replaced blacks” as the primary victims of racial discrimination in contemporary America.”’

    ….

    Is murder *always* a crime?

  9. Thumb up 5

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    Let me start by saying this- white privilege does exist. Deep seeded, systemic racism also exists and that is fucked up. However, the sweeping generalizations made about white people in this article are just so… ugly. No matter what color your skin is, it’s not ok to make over reaching generalizations about an entire group of people and pass it off like that’s ok because you belong to a racial/ethnic group that is marginalized in this country. The double standard is striking. In my experience, autostraddle has been a really positive space for queer women to get together and have meaningful conversations with like-minded queer folks. Honestly, reading this made me sad. It was very specifically “us” vs. “them.” I very much understand the need to get together with those you can relate to; that’s why I’m here. This article is just not what I’m used to from A.S. I think the point the author wanted to make here (which I do think is totally valid,) could have been made in a way that didn’t feature cartoons of air headed, privileged white girls talking about saving Africa on their summer vacation. The idea of a space for qpoc is a valid one, but the spirit in which the idea was delivered was, frankly, ugly.

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      Yeah, it is an “us vs them” thing because white people don’t experience the same things as POC. And guess what? POCs don’t have to give a shit about the feelings of white people! The majority of systemic racial oppression revolves around the idea that *gasp* the needs and feelings of white people are more important than those of POC! And that’s really fucked up! The fact that you as a white person (I’m assuming because of your post; my apologies if my assumptions are mislead) feel the need to voice that your feelings are hurt in a post simply stating that QPOC shouldn’t have to cater to your needs is the whole point!

      I was incredibly fortunate to have been able to sit in the QPOC panels in the past A-Camps, and those panels were most sincerely the most important ones I attended. I will always, always be grateful for Gabby and the rest of the panelists for teaching me that the best lessons for being a white ally are: 1) Shut the fuck up. 2) Listen with open ears. 3) Accept that it’s not about us and shouldn’t be about us.

      If you feel like this comment, and this entire article, has an “ugly spirit”, that’s nobody’s problem but yours to unlearn because it’s an ugly truth how we white folk profit from the default social attitude that POC feelings and experiences must be structured around making white people feel comfortable.

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          Sam, that has happened at the past A-Camps, but now that I look back I remember that a lot of the conversation was being dictated by white people in the audience (myself included). While I’m very appreciative that that happened because it’s changed my understanding of POC experiences, I know that it ultimately took away the power from the QPOC in the room to focus on themselves. And that’s what is changing at this Camp – a space where white people don’t have to be present.

          I think it’d be an awesome idea for some of the white A-Camp counsellors/writers here on Autostraddle to open up a space for white allies to discuss how to better support our QPOC family and our contributions to that effort. That way, it’ll let us create safer spaces for QPOC without having to monopolize QPOC energy to do so. White people are the ones who have to learn how to better operate – why not have it led by white people instead of forcing QPOC into the role of educators when that’s not their job.

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        I think if you have to include “I’m assuming you are A because B,” and “B” is anything less than “you self-identified as the category I am including you in,” maybe you should rethink your assumption.

        Also, as Emilie’s finance, I feel comfortable saying that yes, she is categorized as white by the Census, but she’s also of Lebanese decent. ‘Cause, you know, those from the Middle East are categorized as white by our Government’s Statistical Data Source.

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        Based on your comment, it seems to me that white people who attend QPOC spaces now or in the past should be attending to gain more of an understanding and perspective on the issues that POCs deal with. If they were dictating most of the conversation then they probably weren’t “shutting the fuck up and listening with open ears” and were not doing the 3 things. I think that’s a cool thing to have an exclusive space to relate to people who have had similar life struggles or differences. However, while keeping a space exclusive for POCs, would it be so terrible to educate people of any race/color/ethnicity on those issues?

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          No, of course it wouldn’t be terrible. However, the people at A-Camp have decided that this time they don’t want to use that time and energy towards education which is their prerogative. Trust me, the ideas of intersectionality and race are NOT only discussed at the QPOC panels so it’s not like people at Camp aren’t going to have those conversations without having it structured exclusively around that topic.

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          @paperoflowers that is an excellent point. I only ask because I am a white person and my first read through of this article made me feel as if it was aimed at people who were not of color. After I reread and saw some comments I thought about the fact that, yes it is all factual. I know many people who say things like that and much worse (1-36 and more) but in my brain it was like “I don’t think I’ve done these things.” but now I’m like “oh gee maybe I have done some things I’m unaware of that bother others.” I think it would be so so helpful for some education on a side note. It’s hard to accept that well, maybe I’ve been doing something wrong. But yeah, I understand that educating white people isn’t the focus of a QPOC only space.

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      You start by writing that white privilege exists and systemic racism is effed up, then the rest makes it seem like you don’t understand what those are. The article was written to/about/because of those things. The truth isn’t always nice and it’s your/our job to not get defensive about it. Read the derailment bingo card. Think about how wanting this article to be a certain way is centralizing your comfort over those of QPOC.

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        One thing that’s a small step toward unlearning racism would be to take an Unlearning White Supremacy workshop. It’s not a panacea and won’t make a white person suddenly able to recognize all the levels that racism operates at. But it can help people recognize their own ingrained behaviors and start to change them.

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        If your only comment is to say anything along the lines of “NOT ALL WHITE PEOPLE” then guess what, you’re one of those white people. Because saying “not all white people” doesn’t stop white people from constantly doing the things described above, and being more concerned about PoC speaking about it then white people doing it makes you more of an ally to them than us. Sorry if your feelings get bruised while we try not to get smothered to death.

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      I sat on this and thought about it for a long time. I feel like I shouldn’t give enough of a shit to defend myself against total strangers, but I’ve decided it’s important to me based on the fact that almost all of the replies my original comment got were hostile and made the assumption I am white. Let’s talk about THAT for a minute. A few of these comments have disappeared, including one that called me “one of THOSE white people.” What makes you think I am white or identify as such? I thought about not replying to any of this because I feel like the next place this argument is going to go is to the “you’re not brown enough” place. Passing as white and being white are two different things, friends. Especially when people look at you in a post 9-11 environment and say things like “sand n*****,” “camel jackey,” and “a-rab,” like you should be agreeing with them. Maybe some of you should reevaluate the motivation for what you are saying and meditate on it. I am checking out of this conversation.

  10. Thumb up 6

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    I am going to break this out into its own comment because I’m still fairly upset about the thread below my first comment:

    Why did people assume I was white based on the comment I made?

    Why is this a problem in what I did? (Ready for criticism based on QPOC love, not just reflexive judgement on who I am, why I am here, and what I am looking for)

    And maaaaybe, are there any issues with what happened to me in the context of a larger conversation?

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      And I guess this is why I hesitate in getting my food in the door at QPOC groups.

      Am I brown enough for y’all? Does South Asian count? Do I already have the predetermined amount of knowledge about these issues to come into a circle, and say, hey, my longest relationship was with a white queer, and it hurt that she didn’t understand? Can I tell you that I have worked on my knowledge so hard this year but still feel like I’m so vastly behind in understanding myself and other people QPOC and sometimes afraid to speak up because of it? Do I need to start every sentence as “As a QPOC”, or is it safe to think that I would make a comment from my heart on a community post because I feel a part of that community?

      Granted it’s 4 in the morning during finals week and I’m fairly emotional at this time, but I feel sad, really sad and a little like a door slammed in my face, given the number of comments and likes on comments.

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        I have a similar issue to yours; I’m mexican, and very, very pale. I never feel like my being in POC spaces is appropriate. I don’t want to make people feel invaded or wave my passing privilege around. Because white is the default. And it’s not fair. I’m sorry people jumped down your throat. I’ve had that happen to me before, so I think I can hazard a guess at how you feel. I wish I could say more other than what I’ve already said: that sucks, I know how you feel, and I’m sorry.

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        I’m really sorry that people were so harsh and quick to assume with you, that must have been really hurtful, especially in this context. I’m REALLY hoping to see more people apologising on this thread (seriously, guys, come on!)

        Sending you warm and cuddly vibes, and best of luck with your exams this week! x

      • Thumb up 7

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        Hey livethequestion,

        That was a really shitty thing that people did to you. They read something mildly ambiguous, made the worst set of assumptions about your intentions, and then more people jumped on censuring you without taking the time to question those assumptions. Those things are inexcusable, and you didn’t deserve to be treated that way. I’m sorry you had to experience that. I hope those people, who aren’t bad people and probably had good intentions, recognize their error and spend a little time thinking about the best way to apply those intentions in a complicated and often unclear world. I hope they take a little more time in the future to think critically and question the assumptions they make, before they hurt someone else with misdirected invective and condemnation.

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      I posted something upthread, but I will again here because you’re right to be upset, and any misguided assumptions that I made shouldn’t have to ruin YOUR day.

      Now that all this has come to light I’m disappointed in myself for having piggy-backed off someone else’s assumption about your race.

      You shouldn’t have to prove your race to me or anyone else.

      I think a lot of times when POCs try and create space for themselves, white people say “oh that looks fun, I want to be part of that too!” And my knee jerk reaction is to defend against that.

      But clearly I’ve taken that waaaay too far.

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      My dear, I hear you, definitely read your comment like you were a QPOC looking for some more QPOC fam. I definitely go through a lot of the same feelings of legitimacy in various ways. (Am I POC enough? Am I genderqueer enough.) I’m sorry that queer community harmed you, but thx for calling it forward into a discussion about accountability.

      And you called out some fur real internalized racism, that centering whiteness and prioritizing skin tone.

      I hope you read/watch Darkmatter! They are some queer and trans* South Asian badassery.

      Big love from Colorado

      xoxoxo Hana

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      And maaaaybe, are there any issues with what happened to me in the context of a larger conversation?

      Yes. Yes there are issues. I’m really fucking sorry that sometimes people act shitty. Wanna go get tea and talk about our feelings?

      Love and big ol’ hugs,
      Julia

  11. Thumb up 18

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    I completely agree with the article in its entirety. However, the comment section leaves a bit to be desired. I just always saw AS as a supportive place where queer women were meant to be allies, rather than bickering via the internet, which is the least efficient way to truly understand someone in context, as false assumptions have obviously been made above. QPOC get their space, its that simple. I just don’t see why people chose AS to insult each other out of context. That’s not why we’re here.

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    I know this is really irrational, and you should all definitely have your own spaces and communities and all, but I live in a really big city and sometimes I feel like the only cool things that happen in the Queer community here are for Queer People of Color only. And it sometimes feels like all of the people on Autostraddle are QPOC too and also really don’t like white people (which is definitely false, but hey: emotions). I’m pretty sure from the tone of the comments that at least one person will call me an asshole for this, but its getting pretty lonely in my corner of rl and I feel cut off from the queer community in general. Sometimes I feel like the only things the queer community here (rl) does is hold spaces for very small and specific groups. But I feel like everyone on Autostraddle is all like “White people should go fuck off, the fucking assholes” which hurt, honestly, because while I respect your right to live your life away from me and not have me mess with your shit (I don’t go to those places because I feel like / may actually be not invited), but not all white people are assholes. *Sigh* I feel like someone is going to call me an asshole for saying that there are white people who are good people, now. I actually felt like I had to delete that part of the comment. But I won’t. I guess I’ll just have to see. The number of people here who are tired of accidental racist shit and are ready to insult and jump down the throat of anyone who tries to express their gratitude for the article or their need to know better how to deal with ethnicity really doesn’t make me too hopeful.

    Someone earlier said it fairly well. Because I haven’t been unfairly excluded from most places, my initial reaction to the Color-only space is to wonder why they’re not equal and open to everyone. Again, I respect your right to have these. …I just feel sometimes like there aren’t queer spaces I’m allowed in anymore. Maybe I’m not being proactive enough and it’s just that the queer community here in rl seems to assume that you know when and where everything is and posts events about an hour before they happen, so I guess it could be that I’m just missing all the inclusive stuff. But I do honestly feel like I’m being pushed out of Autostraddle sometimes. I could care less about a lot of the pop culture articles, and most of the articles about politics are lacking in hope or give me the feeling like I’m being told to fuck off because I’m a white person. Like I shouldn’t care about or do anything to try and do my best to help fix issues related to ethnicity because I’m not wanted in the general society of your lives, and am a casual racist for caring(because all attempts white people make to deal with their part of this are White Savior Industrial-Capitalist Complex). And I’m fairly certain someone’s going to run through this and find every possible way to call me a racist asshole rather than try and talk about what’s actually going on in my comment (as far as my perspective). This is one of the reasons why I feel like I’m being shoved out of Autostraddle. Like, if I’m thinking wrong, can you at least be polite while you’re telling me to get lost (or maybe even try to discuss what I’m doing wrong)?

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      In RL I’m in a small town and the community is overwhelmingly white. There’s no overlap between my queer community and my latina community. I’m sorry you feel left out but based on my experience, I’d be happy to switch locations with you.

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        You might like it out here. The rent is way too dang high, but the Latina community in SoCal (um S. CA) is so massive you could probably find a queer group (or event) just for your particular national background/ wherever your family is from. And there’s definitely at least one for Latino and Latina queers in general. (There are also events for more specific groups like there was one for Pacific Islander queers recently)

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      I don’t believe that QPOC necessarily believe that all white people are casually racist, etc. They are only venting about frequent encounters they have had throughout their collective lives. I am of a mixed racial background with the ability to pass as white, so I don’t experience this firsthand, but my black partner does all the time. When she comes home and tells me about experiences she has, or has had in the past with some white people, I don’t automatically get defensive and believe she’s referring to me, although I have been guilty of doing some of these behaviors in the past. For example, when she told me that she wanted more black queer friends, I did not understand initially, which I completely get it now (among other things I have done in the past). Believe me, we all have something to work on when it comes to race relations and biases, but these QPOC are not being mean to white people/it’s not about the feelings of white people.

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        “I don’t believe that QPOC necessarily believe that all white people are casually racist, etc. They are only venting about frequent encounters they have had throughout their collective lives.”

        THIS!

        “Believe me, we all have something to work on when it comes to race relations and biases, but these QPOC are not being mean to white people/it’s not about the feelings of white people.”

        And THIS!

        Thank You for your comments Nico.

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      I totally hear what you’re saying. I do understand the point of this article and particularly about not having to deal with white guilt, but I do think, we as a community NEED to come together, and focus on our similarities, not our differences.

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      Welcome to what it feels like to be a white person coming in contact with challenging, honest, and helpful POC’s perspectives on racism and privilege! It feels so crappy. It’s really hard, and you feel really attacked. You feel like everyone is shitting on you for no reason. I get it. I’ve been there, and continue to visit there on a regular basis. But if you are able to tolerate that discomfort, seek out more information, and keep your eyes and ears fully open, it’s extremely worthwhile.

      Other people in the comments have also highlighted this, but I think it’s important to note that no one has actually called you an asshole. No one has told you to fuck off because you’re a white person either. In my experience, it feels as though that’s happening at first because we are so not used to encountering such honest, intense, and critical discussions of race and privilege. Plus, because we don’t usually have a strong intuitive awareness of belonging to a society-level racial category (part of what it means to be white is that we never have to think about it!) we sometimes misinterpret society-level commentary as being on a personal level. But notice the difference between what you expected would happen and what is actually happening. People are not actually calling you names and cursing at you (unless I’m not seeing those comments or they’ve been deleted – and if they’ve been deleted, that is noteworthy too). Mostly, you’re just feeling really weird and uncomfortable.

      I strongly encourage you to come along for the discomfort ride, and to not ask others to tone down the things that are making you uncomfortable in this context. Discomfort is, well, uncomfortable – but it won’t hurt you. I have found that discomfort is actually usually a good indicator that I am beginning to process something that I really need to process. It’s possible to feel uncomfortable, to have all kinds of thoughts about being attacked and shoved out, and at the same time to stick around, to notice what is actually happening, and to listen openheartedly.

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    Wow. @emilie D. I am aware that this opens me up to the same thing, but, wow. I am so sorry that people responding to you were down right cruel. That’s the biggest FU I’ve seen on Autostraddle, ever. All you did was suggest that maybe it’s not very pretty to see POC deciding that white people are casually racist, air headed, asshats universally and that using a nicer tone might weaken the divide between peoples rather than strengthen it. Honestly, I feel like everyone in the entire world gets along better when we don’t casually insult each other and act like it’s ok. This article *is* Us v. Them. It’s not only about “Ok, we’re having a nice positive space for ourselves” it’s also about “because every single one of you other people is a casually racist asshole *see stupid white girl*”. No. POC don’t need to not hurt white people’s feelings. But having a space specifically for POC should maybe not be all about how shitty white people are, maybe it should be more about how QPOC want to build stronger community and more happiness in their own lives. A stronger community among QPOC means a stronger queer community overall, and that’s reason enough. I’ve been running into enough of the issue you talk about here on Autostraddle that I honestly can’t say I share your impression of it as a generally positive space for everyone. Too much of the discussions of race over-generalize about white people because a lot of them happen to be assholes or haven’t unlearned every bit of ignorance in their lives (which is harder than it might look). I can’t believe how mean those commentators were to you. That’s just uncalled for.

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      “POC don’t need to not hurt white people’s feelings. But having a space specifically for POC should maybe not be all about how shitty white people are, maybe it should be more about how QPOC want to build stronger community and more happiness in their own lives. A stronger community among QPOC means a stronger queer community overall, and that’s reason enough”

      Once white people stop complaining about our hurt feelings in threads that are dedicated to QPOC perspectives, then maybe that stronger community can be built (or maybe you should stop assuming that that isn’t the purpose for these spaces in the first place). Seriously, do you not understand how comments like yours are the reason why you have this deluded notion of what these kinds of spaces even look like (in that you assume it’s a bunch of people complaining about stupid white people)? Who knows what QPOC spaces are like? QPOC, not us, so stop trying to insert your voice in a place where it doesn’t belong.

      Also, maybe keep in mind that the overwhelming number of white people who are generally not assholes aren’t commenting about their feelings because they recognize that this isn’t the place for their voices to be heard. Please just sit back and understand the fact that the only white people who are really commenting in the first place are those who are whining about being excluded and having their feelings hurt by mean angry commentors (which JFC hello tone policing).

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        Hello PaperofFlowers, I don’t think those things about what goes on in POC spaces. You’re already assuming that I’m an ignorant asshole and that’s why I commented. I’ve found that you’re rather quick to judge and always assume malice and ignorance rather than good intentions. I was talking about the tone of this article specificaly, especially the comments, and not about the spaces. The comments here, and the tone of the article are in question, not the content about having spaces for oneself. My issues is with *how* some of this is said and not with the desire for a QPOC Speakeasy. I’m sure there’s a bit of everything goes on in POC spaces. They have a right to do whatever the hell they want as long as they’re not hurting other people. If they want to spend some of that time discussing Llama care, or the use of cilantro in cooking, or discuss the effects of racism as a system, or complain about some of the stupid people who have said casually racist things, that’s totally fine. It’s their space and they can do what they want with it. I don’t imagine that the space itself is all about white people, or lacking any content about white people. It’s a relevant issue that might come up, or it might not. Not all groups and not all POC spaces are the same and In sure there are at least a couple devoted exclusuvely to having fun and not talking about white people at all, just like there are at least a few seminars talking only about racism. The country and the world is a big place. There are all kinds of people in it. That wasn’t what I was even talking about, but thank you for assuming I am an ignorant self-obsessed white person.

        But as for doing no harm to others: I wasn’t whining about my feelings, I was defending someone you didn’t bother to listen to before you skipped the discussion and went straight to insulting. She has a valid concern and honestly it’s one that’s affected me as well. I never try to insert myself into the lives of random strangers who happen to be people of color. I always do my best to be a good human being, know what’s offensive or presumptuous, and not do stupid or offensive crap. And here I am online finding all these negative things that assume that all white people are ignorant assholes just because a few of them are. Those people are embarrassing and sometimes evil people. We agree on that. So why do you automatically assume you know my thoughts and my reasons? Do you honestly think me being white automatically makes me a self-absorbed asshole? If you honestly think that, then it is painting with a broad brush. It’s dangerous to assume that you know what someone is thinking, when your assumption is about malice or guilt. It is painting with much too wide a brush to assume that my comment comes exclusively from an ignorant and small minded place or that I have never dealt with this issues or whatever just because I’m white. And attacking someone with words because of that assumption is wrong.

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          LOL Okay, if that’s how you feel but you’re still missing the point of this article and all of the comments trying to explain it to you. It’s up to you to educate yourself at this point.

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      Thanks for this. I guess it can be easy to sit behind your keyboard and assume to know what’s in a persons heart, but I still stand by what I said. Being less than respectful doesn’t help a thing. Not for any of us.

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      The anger, frustration, negativity etc. that you are picking up on comes from years, decades and centuries of aggressions both micro and macro that you and I, as white people, can never really wrap our heads around. It is not about you as a specific individual white person. Telling people that they should use a nicer tone when discussing issues that affected probably every conversation they’ve ever tried to have is yet another microagression.

      Try to think of it this way. Most of us have some small thing that everyone always comments on. Your name might be spelled oddly, or you have a giraffe-shaped mole, or your voice reminds people of Julia Child, or whatever. By the time you’re 12 years old and the millionth person has made the same stupid joke about your name or mole or voice or whatever, you’re already sick of it. Your smile becomes more forced. Your reply gets a little bit sharper. You find it harder and harder to be nice even though you know these well-meaning people don’t intend any malice.

      Now take that situation, and magnify it by a billion zillion. It’s no longer one small thing about you, it’s your entire self. It’s your entire appearance. It’s your entire identity. And furthermore, sometimes malice is intended. Sometimes a lot of malice. Other times it’s hard to tell if the malice is there or not, but you’re always aware of the possibility.

      Now answer this question. How do you think it feels when every time you try to discuss these experiences, instead of listening to your words, people complain that you’re not saying them in a pleasant and accommodating tone?

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        I don’t know. All I’m saying is that it’s really hard to feel like they aren’t talking about me specifically, because it sounds like they’re assuming every white person is like that. So I got defensive, because I try really hard not to be like that, and usually succeed. And then I came to this thread and not only were people unwilling to just not help teach the people who put themselves out there (which would be fine) they started calling people names because they wanted to learn to be better people, or didn’t like feeling hostility towards themselves. I guess my point is that it involves emotions, which makes it difficult for everyone to calm down and be nice to each other. It can be difficult for me to react calmly when instead of being told to go away, I’m told to fuck off (in tone).

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      So… would there perhaps be interest in having a discussion group for Concerned White Queer Folk, where these kinds of issues can be talked about without having to hijack article threads? It seems like there’s a lot of desire/need to process stuff as the AS community expands and tries to become more inclusive. But as the above article so eloquently states, there need to be boundaries about where those feelings get hashed out. Maybe it would be good to create a space for sharing and critiquing ideas about being a white ally, so that if people want to talk/learn after they read a post like this, there’s a forum for it, and our white-people-feelings can be redirected there.

      I say this with respect, as a person who sometimes has white-people-feelings and wants to be active about analyzing them without forcing POC queers to aid me along the way.

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        Yes please. It would be great to have somewhere to talk about that without being called an ignorant asshole because I can’t telepathically know everything that comes across as annoying. It’d also be great to have a space where I can honestly ask what the Macklemore pic is supposed to be calling out exactly without having someone call me an asshole because I have to ask. Also, the entire conversation about the so called white savior industrial complex, where the term is appropriate versus where it demeans people who are seriously trying to help and actually don’t pretend that other people can’t do things themselves.

        • Thumb up 15

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          Serious question:

          Where did someone in this thread call you an “(ignorant) asshole”? Because I understand the need to have a space to process these things just as Mary L said and I think it would be a great idea that something like that exists along side a lot of anti-racist workshops in general.

          What I keep seeing is “called ignorant asshole”>trying to learn without being defensive.

          Does being called an ignorant asshole keep you from wanting to learn or does keep you from wanting to participate? Maybe it’s just me but when I enter a space that has nothing to do with me AND I have considerable privilege in that space, I have to check my motivations to see if I want to learn vs. taking up space. There are times that I realize that I should not participate, because I am not prepared and my mistakes cause more damage.

          I have been called “an ignorant asshole” in spaces and I had to check-in on the purpose of me being there. I ask myself: am I helping or am I hurting? Am I looking for something this space that cannot provide for me because will I be in the way? I think all of us have to ask these questions especially when we are privileged in that space. One thing I remember which is humbling when I listen is that these conversations the hurt is real, people are trying to survive because people are actually being dehumanized.

          As much as you can’t read the minds of people, I cannot read your intentions but the words you say do in fact give me pause in that I have to deal with people like you in this type of conversation (in real life) a lot and it’s taxing. So in participating you may upset people but I hope you take it as a means to take a step back and think about the motivations you have in trying to enter this and *any* space.

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          How about just asking the question and waiting for an answer instead of just assuming that all QPOCs are going to jump down your throat before asking it and call you an “ignorant asshole”, which again I’m wondering who in this thread actually said those words that has you assuming that we are making this a hostile environment for you. Or that this entire article is invalid because it “demeans (white) people who are trying to help”. Assumptions go both ways. You have done quite a lot of assuming about QPOCS, the posters here and the intentions of the author of this article while claiming they are doing the same about you. You, specifically.

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          @ turkish

          Thank you, I feel like it’s a thing people do when they are feeling defensive. The use of hyperbolic assumptions in order to silence *respectful* dissent or differing opinion especially when the person is of a privileged class.

          Take a step back and assess your motives.

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          @turkish As far as the: “Demean white people who are trying to help,” that’s specific to the very long discussion about my thoughts regarding the term “white savior complex” and “white savior industrial complex” the first of which, I believe has some use in specific situations about specific projects but very rarely to specific people, and the later of which I believe assumes horrific self-serving intentions and applies them to every white person who tries to help even casually and may or may not realize that the method or plan of action is not the best one (and sometimes seems to be used to go with any attempt to help at all, sadly).

          As for why I don’t just ask: People in this comments section have been very, very quick to judge and assume bad intentions or malice. Case in point: What happened to Livethequestion and her feelings about reactive anger. As Kaitlyn said: “and if you can’t explain exactly why a thing is messed up or not okay to say, it looks as though you don’t know what you’re talking about and are wrong or overreacting.” I’m pretty sure on re-reading her comment, she’s talking about trying to answer questions about race, but it applies to white people too. If you don’t know why something is offensive, it makes you look like you’re racist too, rather than simply unaware because you’ve never been through all the situations that a POC has been through. And then you get people in the thread saying that presumed white people should take a class in “Unlearning White Supremacy” where the title itself assumes that every white person is actually a White Supremacist (who are the lowest and most vile of people and share the same space as Neo Nazis and Holocaust-deniers) rather than ignorant people with good intentions who would probably be better by *learning* what’s wrong, building a good set of actions, and not doing the bad ones.

          So no. No one in this thread or the other articles has called me specifically “ignorant asshole”. But racism is usually a form of hateful ignorance, where the behaviors especially in younger people might be fixed with knowing better. But the jumping to conclusions about any person being a racist, rather than an ignorant helpful person, and the tone of response that talks about “the stupid shit white people say” rather than “the stupid shit that white guy said” makes me feel like it’s talking about me specifically. I don’t assume that people of color think all white people are racist assholes. I don’t assume that any group thinks something universally (I guess unless it’s a religion, and we’re talking about a core belief, like in god & that’s a tangent, sorry). The people on Autostraddle probably don’t even think all white people are racist assholes. It’s just that sometimes they talk like they are, and even if they don’t think that, or weren’t trying to say that, that’s what I picked up on. So that’s what I’m reacting to. It’s in many ways an error in communication.

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          You’re missing the idea that someone can inhabit a white supremacist world without consciously thinking that white people are superior. That’s ingrained in our society; it’s not something that white people have to actively buy into because, for example, the fact that a number of us assumed a POC was white by default is a consequence of white supremacy. That doesn’t mean that ANY of us subscribe to Nazi-ideals (good job, by the way, introducing Hitler into this because obviously it was lacking Godwin’s Law).

          So, no, racism isn’t hateful or malicious – it’s more likely to be the subconscious hierarchy of whose voices are prioritized in conversations, and whose experiences are considered to be more normal and idealized. And THAT kind of racism is what’s occurring in these spaces.

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          @Azra Noxx – another way to think about @Paper0Flowers‘s point that people inhabiting a white-supremacist world may unknowingly or unintentionally make assumptions that are a product of that ingrained belief (the societal structure’s belief, not the individual’s), even if they peronally don’t agree with white supremacist ideals (don’t identify as a “white supremacist”), is the difference between intent versus impact.

          An example unrelated to this situation would be if you recycled what you thought was scratch paper, but actually had someone’s groundbreaking scientific something written on it. Your intent was simply to clean up the space, but the impact was that they lost the product of years of hard work. It’s great to have good intentions, but it is ultimately the impact that matters.

          So keep in mind that while a person may not identify as a racist, white supremacist, etc, it is still entirely possible for them to make racist or white supremacist statements and assumptions without realizing the impact they are having. And that is when it is extremely important to step back, reflect, listen, and learn, to raise our own awareness of these issues we may be privileged enough not to have to think about every day, and be a better ally/friend/human being moving forward, rather than jumping to defend our intentions when they are irrelevant compared to the impact we have had.

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          In response to @Paper0Flowers. So now I have my example of someone calling me an ignorant asshole who references Hitler in a facetious way that cheapens and makes like of the atrocities committed in the Holocaust. That’s, with respect, not at ALL what I was saying. I really don’t appreciate being accused of *that* kind of hatefully ignorant person who lacks the basic understanding and empathy that would tell them when to not reference the worst goddamn atrocity that we’ve seen in recorded history. I did not in fact, call up the Holocaust randomly. I called it up because the people who really *are* white supremacists are often the same people who are neo-nazis or at least they share a similar hateful and ignorant insanity. They are the lowest kind of scum. And that’s why I referenced them. I did not do so because I wanted to accuse some random person of being as horrible as goddamn Hitler.

          With respect, your definition of White Supremacy is not appropriate for the words. It’s a good definition for White Privilege, or for for a society dominated by Second Generation Racism (which is a racism characterized by unconsciously racist thought or action, and is in fact an ignorance that has to be opted out of). It is in fact probably a good theoretical framework for discussing what’s going on in our society. But the words White Supremacist do not fit it. I cannot accept a definition of our society as a White Supremacist society because it either ignores the people who are actively and hatefully racist (actually white supremacists or people with first generation racism) or assumes that all white people start off at the same level of hatred, ignorance, and think in KKK style. To say that all white people are naturally white supremacist both abuses the terms power to describe hateful people who actually believe that white people are the supreme race and paints an entire people with a consciously expressed hatred.

          I am aware that you don’t define White Supremacy as that sort of conscious hatred, but that is the history of the term and my definition of it, and I believe it’s an appropriate definition. Merging White Supremacy with White Privilege defaces both terms because there are still fringe people who are White Supremacists, but White Privilege is a society wide phenomenon which is automatic, and generally seen. White Privilege simply talks about a different but related phenomenon which functions at a societal level rather than at a personal one. The days in which it would be accurate to call all of white American society generally White Supremacist haven’t been here since the 1950s or perhaps earlier. It is a great abuse of the term to assume that such a general and conscious attitude of white superiority remains, however the privilege caused by centuries of conscious white supremacy remain, and so White Privilege can be appropriately applied to our society in general.

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          I give up with you. You consistently distort every comment I make in response to you, and I feel like you’re missing the fact that other people are also trying to explain the same concepts to you as I am (so it’s not just me “against” you). I’m done. This is getting ridiculous, and unfortunately, has turned into the very thing this article was trying to get away from.

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          @Clare I think my communication skills must have failed somewhere along the line. I actually don’t disagree with that at all. White privilege and racism do exist like that in American society. They’re largely unchosen and frequently unacknowledged things that most white people have to learn to avoid or deconstruct. What I take exception to is the tone of Paper0Flowers’ responses to me, and the specific use of White Supremacy as a synonym for white privilege. I am a writer and words matter very much to me. White privilege is something that white people have, but don’t buy into. Racism is a cultural effect caused by ignorance and centuries of oppression. But I don’t feel that we can use the term White Supremacy in the same manner because we can never get rid of its history as the primary descriptor of the KKK’s ideology. I respect the history of that word and think we should reserve those connotations for people who deserve it, rather than blanketly applying it in all the places where white privilege applies. And to be clear, I do believe white privilege exists and is a bad thing and should be gotten rid of. Maybe I was bad at expressing that clearly.

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      All you have done, in this entire thread, is attempt to quash down anything people of color say unless it’s outright coddling you.

      You characterize women of color who say anything in any way critical of whiteness as personally attacking you, constantly lie about what people have said (as bra has *repeatedly* pointed out, and you have completely ignored). You put words in other people’s mouths and constantly evoke the Mean Angry Woman of Color trope.

      You’ve made it perfectly clear that you want women of color to tell you that you’re a good person and not responsible for racism – and that if/when they won’t, you will constantly try to silence them and act like you’re being victimized. You have made it perfectly clear that you believe yourself incapable of racism and desperately work to dismiss and silence anyone who would question that. All your concern has been expressed towards being *seen as a good person* and not over *whether you’re harming people of color*.

      See, people aren’t making ‘assumptions’ about you, but reacting to your disgustingly self-centered, manipulative, and yes, racist, ACTIONS. We don’t need to speculate about your beliefs and reasons for being horrible to recognize that you are being horrible. You demonstrate clearly enough what you care about through your actions and ironclad refusal to apologize or admit any fault.

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      Umm this RACIST fuckery: “But having a space specifically for POC should maybe not be all about how shitty white people are, maybe it should be more about how QPOC want to build stronger community and more happiness in their own lives.” Who the fuck do you think you are to DICTATE what queer people of color should discuss and how they deal with racism? I am SO SURE you would totally love it if a guy came dictated how YOU should deal with sexism, and how YOU should talk about the oppression that YOU experience in a way that fucking BENEFITED HIM. How manipulative and HORRIFYING can you get! In fact why the hell didn’t they delete your RACIST bullshit off this thread. :Eyeroll: Sociopathic racist derails and makes racism all about how THEY are the victim again. Yea, I’ll start feeling sorry for YOU when people don’t look at your skin color and automatically think you’re a subhuman, ape-like, lazy, thief with below average intelligence.

  14. Thumb up 19

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    Certain comments on this thread are the reason we need QPOC only spaces. Fuck.

    I do wish I was coming to A-camp but I look forward to reading the A camp posts about the QPOC stuff, and maybe one day I will be there in person myself!

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    One of the things I’ve always loved about A.S. is that even those who disagree can remain respectful of other points of view. It sucks that a few people are being so negative. I won’t let a handful of people who presume to know the kind of person I am (from behind their monitors) ruin this space for me. Hopefully we can get back to that place. After all, it’s about *you doing you.*

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      Please consider that maybe the reason your experience in this thread differs from other discussions you’ve seen on AS is because in this case you really aren’t getting it.

      You’re basically saying to POC “Please talk to me more nicely about the way my people continue to systematically silence your voices after centuries of oppression”. Can you not see how problematic that is?

      I get that you felt unpleasant feelings after reading this article. So did I. I cringed, my gut twisted up and I felt uncomfortable in my white skin. And so it should be. It is a supremely cringeworthy and fucked-up thing that I am still, today, benefiting as a white person from a social infrastructure designed by my ancestors that continually marginalizes POC. That is something that you and I and all white people need to be reminded of. It is not something that should be sugar-coated in pretty language to make us feel more comfortable.

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      From what I’ve seen, I feel like the discussions throughout the comments have actually remained very respectful. Have you seen the ways that people discuss this stuff elsewhere (especially on the internet)? Discussing racism and white privilege is an emotionally-charged topic for everyone involved. As I’ve been reading, I’ve been feeling so impressed by the patience evident in the responses to us white folks’ complaints.
      I know that reading articles like this is really uncomfortable for us, and I know we don’t usually hear ourselves talked about in this way. But maybe that discomfort isn’t “ugly.” Maybe it’s growing pains. Maybe it means we’re coming in contact with something that is new and hard for us, and that we can learn by listening more closely.

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        I don’t know. The part which has been deleted where people assumed a person was white (who wasn’t) and jumped from a fairly innocent comment about wishing she had more POC friends, and wanting to know more about the issue to lecturing that person about Unlearning White Supremacy and telling her to 1) “Shut the fuck up” 2) Listen and I think three was go ask someone else. Also lots of people yelled at her about tokenizing minorities and wanting to collect a rainbow family to fulfill her fake diversity needs. It was really, really ugly. And I personally think it would have been ugly even if they were reacting to an actual white person.

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          Hahaha, nope, see, I was being very blunt in describing the lessons *I* have learned as a white person in terms of occupying QPOC spaces. My post is still there, actually, so you’re free to re-read it to understand the point I was trying to make.

          It’s unfortunate that my comment was directed towards a QPOC, but the underlying message wouldn’t be wrong if it was directed towards a white person. I know other people who tokenize minority groups (“Omigod I’ve always wanted a lesbian friend!!” “I love hanging out with black people!”) and I was stating that it’s shitty to have that attitude.

          It seems to be more that you’re uncomfortable with the vocabulary that I was using rather than the take-away lesson which was that it’s very problematic how people approach QPOC as representations of a different experience instead of individual human beings. I never once used any harsh language directed AT someone; most of it has been generalized or self-reflected. It also seems pointless for you to reference a comment I made without taking into account my apologies to the original poster and the fact that I realized how I fucked up. That’s the kind of respect and cordiality that Jane and others are pointing out.

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          You seem to be lumping both of my initial comments as one giant attack on one specific person, which is not only erroneous but also completely perverts the context in which they were made.

          http://www.autostraddle.com/36-reasons-why-qpoc-only-spaces-are-very-necessary-237164/#comment-383040 My comment discussing why tokenizing minority people is problematic, followed up by suggestions to check out a few QPOC blogs for further information.

          http://www.autostraddle.com/36-reasons-why-qpoc-only-spaces-are-very-necessary-237164/#comment-383044 My comment reflecting on the three lessons I learned by occupying QPOC spaces.

          Nowhere did I use harsh language directed at another person. Nowhere did I call someone names or belittle them for being ignorant on racial issues. You seem to be cherry-picking specific phrases that I’ve made and a) projecting them on everyone else that has spoken here; and b) assuming a hostile tone where none was present which goes back to your first comment where you go on a diatribe about you just KNOW that someone is going to call you an ignorant asshole and that you hate it that you can never ask questions about race without someone yelling at you (neither of which has actually happened. Not even to livethequestion – that issue was incorrectly assuming she was white, NOT the points we made about white people’s inexperience dealing with race)

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          Sure, that discussion got heated. But, while I didn’t see all of the comments from that conversation before they were deleted, I do think a few things here are important:
          1) As PaperOfFlowers is pointing out below, if the commenter had been white, it would have been valid to ask her to learn more about unlearning White Supremacy (by listening, somewhere else). It would have been equally appropriate to bring up tokenization of minorities and so on. Even if a comment is “innocent,” it can be ignorant and hurtful, and it can still be subject to criticism.
          2) Perhaps I am missing something that was said, but based on what you are describing I am still not hearing anything that sounds terribly disrespectful or “ugly.” It sounds like what you’re describing is emotionally-charged disagreement. Is a setting of emotionally-charged disagreement the 100% easiest place for us white folks to learn? No – but that’s why we are being asked to go use other resources for learning. And just because it isn’t the easiest place to learn (and/or just because it doesn’t feel comfortable) doesn’t mean it’s wrong or “ugly.” Again, please consider that some of what is being labeled “ugly” isn’t ugly – it’s just unsettling and challenging for us white folks.
          3) Did you see how thoroughly and thoughtfully everyone hashed out that incident? It was beautiful. Where else on the internet does that happen? PaperOfFlowers is exactly right that that’s the kind of respect and cordiality that I (& others) are pointing out.
          If you compare the comments on this article to the comments on an article about race/racism/privilege almost anywhere else on the internet, you will see the difference. I completely stand by my comment that I am in awe of other commenters’ patience here.

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      I expected it as soon as I saw this article because it always rears it’s ugly head. Couple that with the demographics of AS and the articles produced on AS, the type of audience those articles reach, the types of people who can relate to those articles and there you go. Definitely not surprised.

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    This is really interesting for me to read coming from a country with a very small queer community and immigration from non european/north american countries being super new here (like last ten years at the most), so we haven’t really got the same background in this sort of thing.

    This article does read a bit hostile, but I don’t think thats a bad thing. My college queer society has gradually started becoming more and more into the whole straight ally thing – kind of by force from a few allies and a few queers who had really positive coming outs/few negative experiences with straight people. I personally have found that even the most well meaning of straight people stifle what I can say about my experiences, I feel like I’m being watched and its just not as safe a space for me anymore. The same can be said for most of the queer bars in town which are now populated by straight girls and the gross straight men who have followed them. There is no truly queer space for me anymore.

    Now while this might be light years away from how this applies to race, I just want to say that hostility isn’t always a bad thing. Sometimes its born out of really legitimate concerns of safe spaces and being open and just not having to deal with people who don’t get you and I think in many, many situations, we’re not past the point where hostility and suspicion are valid and even useful things. I don’t think communities are well served when groups become entirely cut off from one another, but equally, sometimes you need space to relax and vent and just not be watched.

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      I am glad you mentioned this. I have complex feelings about this article but in general I don’t feel like my voice is needed in this space so I have not commented until now.

      I love straight people. Most of my friends and family are straight. But sometimes I just want to talk to my gay friends in a safe place without having to explain myself or worry about coming across as a good little unthreatening queer.

      (Btw, not trying to equate race with being queer.)

      So whether this article is hostile or not, or whether or not I approve is really beside the point. It’s not about me.

      My one major concern I guess is my desire to be a good ally. I volunteer with youth and a constant worry I have is that our youth of color feel alienated. So it would be nice to have a forum (at a different time and space, not taking over a QPOC only space) in which to discuss strategies for how to make our space more welcoming/inclusive.

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      Hmm. That’s an interesting idea about justified hostility. Maybe like how some flowers have thorns to keep predators at bay. I definitely agree with the need to have the space for QPOC. And I appreciate the reasoning about it being a space to relax and not feel watched, which I might not always understand. …I guess though that I have some difficulty with the hostility because I always, always do my absolute best to not say stupid racist things, and am in general not a racist person. But then it’s really hard for me to see hostility that’s phrased as being about white people in general as not applying to me, because I am a white person and it sounds like whoever it is is talking about all white people. So then I feel like it’s hostility being applied to me unfairly, and I get defensive and feel a bit attacked. I don’t know. Has that ever happened to you?

  17. Thumb up 12

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    Another white person here voicing their support for QPOC speakeasy & also this article & also acknowledging that I am not intending to give my permission because that tish is unneeded. I will join the game of Cranium suggested above.

    Can we, in the future, do both QPOC-only Speakeasy and QPOC-inclusive Panel? Can we just devote more time overall to creating space for QPOC at ACamp?

  18. Thumb up 27

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    The derailment bingo is giving me life right now. QTPOC speakeasy sounds delightful. I hope y’all have a wonderful time, make tasty drinks, and lay the groundwork for badass QTPOC spaces all over the place.

    Also, for the people having a hard time understanding why spaces like these are important, here’s an analogous example: “Men who want to be feminists do not need to be given a space in feminism. They need to take the space they have in society and make it feminist.” – Kelley Temple

    White people don’t need entrance into QTPOC spaces. White people need to take the spaces they have and make them less racist and more welcoming to QTPOC.

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      I suppose I should mention that I don’t want into the speakeasy. That should totally have that. I was mostly responding to the people who are really quick to assume that my issues with being called an asshole are actually me having issues with the space itself (which they’re not)

        • Thumb up 21

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          Bingo!

          This is so frustrating because seriously it’s really not about white people, “not all white people” and (individual) white people feelings. It’s so much bigger than that and I am burned out emotionally in online spaces and in real life. I deal with this everyday and I’m on a “I am too black/gay for this, you can google it,” mode because I have a life to live and I am not some magical Negro gay-lady to help those of considerable privilege be a better person. I’m for community building for queer people of color and felt my time and energy has been better spent doing that than telling white people to examine their shit, wasting energy on telling white people that my experience is valid and I do not need to “prove” racism exists. I’m done with that shit, done.

          With that, honestly, I am at a point where I HAVE TO leave that for my (white) friends who are allies to do the work. It’s not perfect because no one is, but I am really thankful for people like Paper0Flowers and those similar to her in my actual life who put these theories of race and privilege into practice in their real life. I’m (not) sorry for the white people feelings who got hurt by the perceived hostility in the article and some of the comments. One thing I know about living in US is that white people do not like the word “no” in these types of conversations thus making all the things about how hurt they were when some POC say “no.”

          Stop it please.

          I think this qpoc-only space is a great idea and again so sad that I won’t be able to go. We are at a critical cultural point where these conversations are difficult to have. I honestly think at this point it is not up to qpoc to bring about these conversations. We exist so there is no denying that, however it will be up to allies to make those conversations happen when qpoc are not there with a basket of “thanks for being a decent human being” when allies demonstrate that commitment to creating anti-racist, inclusive spaces.

          I like it when I see certain commenters who are allies post all the time and are willing to be corrected when they make a mistake. It leaves me less jaded and hopeful.

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          I cannot directly reply to Bra so I hope you read this :)

          I like what you wrote.

          You know right now I’m just biting all 10 of my fingers, and walking on the very wavy line of “supporting VS derailing the conversation”, and “learning how to be an ally VS asking the wrong questions in the process”.

          I’m just another human with a naive but genuine interest for social questions, wether it is the environment or human rights. I didn’t get a chance to study any one of these subjects either, as I chose a whole other discipline in university. I’m still hungry for such conversations, and sometimes I keep going back and forth between my yearning to do better, and being afraid that asking the wrong question might burn me.

          What you wrote above is enlightening. I know it isn’t up to any one here to “teach” me (or another user) better, on any given subject, but it also happens that I feel more comfortable asking on Autostraddle than anywhere else when a question does come up. I’ve learned valuable things in the past about the reality of trans* people, and the reality of disabled people, to give an example, so I have a very positive experience on Autostraddle overall. And I like to try to repeat it when I have a chance.

          I also guess I’d basically rather look like an idiot once instead of on a regular basis. :P

          It’s far from perfect, but for now I am trying to “walk on the line”, that is the line of being an ally, and sometimes maybe a foot slips on the wrong side because I’ve much learning to do. When I’m better at this maybe I can be more like the people you described at the end of your comment. That’d be great, and stuff.

          :)

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          @Michelle

          Hey girl, hey! It is all related, as you try to “walk the line” about racism, for me it is about hard conversations about bi-invibility, biphobia, it’s intersection dealing with bisexual people of color and how my assumptions can hurt bisexual people. At the end of the day it is a practice on empathy which I take very seriously. So with that said I find it frustrating that in spaces like AS where feminism for the most part “makes sense” there is much racism, biphobia, cissexism, etc. So for *this* conversation about race, I really thank allies who say their piece in trying to help the conversation move into a place where as a queer person of color I can focus my energy building community not assuaging white guilt/hurt feelings.

  19. Thumb up 4

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    This is beautiful! I have attended QPOC Only events, but they weren’t focused on discussion. I live in Seattle where I often feel like the brown one out. I am multi-ethnic and femme presenting, so sometimes even feel like I am even the invisible QPOC if I fly solo at some queer events. I am sad I am missing a-camp, but feel inspired to start a group on Meetup.

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      “I live in Seattle where I often feel like the brown one out. I am multi-ethnic and femme presenting, so sometimes even feel like I am even the invisible QPOC if I fly solo at some queer events.”

      Oooh me too, on all The above points! Want to be friends?

  20. Thumb up 16

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    Now that I’ve had a little time to chill, and you know, move on with my life, a few thoughts:

    I really wish that comments hadn’t been deleted out of the original thread. Like, let’s not erase history where an important dialogue needs to happen. It also makes me look a little bit like a crazy person.

    When/if moogles comes back, I’d love to talk about why she jumped to the conclusions she did.

    1. Thank you, thank you for the support. People came out of the woodwork on this one, and I appreciate it. I think my anxiety about queer, women’s, people of color spaces was really triggered (in the unpoliticized sense of the word) by this incident. It’s taken me a long long time to both be comfortable with myself and feel comfortable with having open discussions with other queer people, and Autostraddle is one of the only places that I do that. You know, when entering a QPOC space, I think about: Am I _________ enough? Do I know about ___________ enough? Do my ideas and thoughts and activism align with ____________ enough? Fill in the blanks with whatever, I’ve thought about them all.

    2. It takes real vulnerability to admit wrongs, and I appreciate those who have done so. I DO find it really amusing that a white person told me how to be a better white person to people of color — I mean how many POC have had THAT particular experience? So having that lived in experience, in duality with my real identity, here’s a few things that are solely my opinion:

    Let’s talk about productive anger vs. reactive anger. I get the need to be angry, I get that it unifies and creates solidarity and makes us heard and pushes back against oppressive systems. That’s productive anger, the kind that organizes rallies and safe spaces and disrupts white privilege and that I so very much want to be a part of.

    Then there’s the fact that the two people who got that chance to apologize, and did so eloquently said that the only reason they assumed I was white was because of the first response post, and didn’t bother to question why that post was made. That’s reactive — and again I appreciate the apologies — bullshit. We’re not a hivemind, I wished that someone had jumped in before I did and say, hey, wait a minute, where are you getting this from. I come from the place of a learner and an educator, and sometimes, I like to throw a small rope to someone who is struggling to learn. I’ve been thrown many a rope here when I didn’t understand something (veganism, INTERSECTIONALITY, etc.) I get that that’s not everyone’s deal, AND I get that that’s not what this thread should be about. Let’s just make sure in our attempt to educate others that we don’t need to educate them, we’re not actually you know, picking on them because it’s the Internet and it’s… mmm kind of fun to yell at them. Because let me tell you, it’s not very fun to be on the other side.

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      (It’s looking to me on my browser like most of comments got bumped out of their original context and into the general thread instead, so it looks like they were in response to the article as a whole instead of your comment. If that’s the case, I actually have a major issue with that moderation decision on principle because it causes some pretty big not-okay misrepresentations. I’m going to charitably assume that it’s just a web bug for now, though, and if it’s still around tonight, bring it up with the mods directly to avoid further derailing this article’s comment thread.)

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      I agree with you completely.

      I did a shitty thing. I don’t like that I did, since I’ve been in your shoes… But I’m not going to deny that I did it. Which is why I agree that maybe those comments shouldn’t have been deleted.

      But I’m glad you stuck around, and whether or not you take my accept my mea culpa as genuine, I hope you’re feeling better about things today. :)

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      Yeah, autostraddle mods, I have to say, if the comments stay the way they are, I might have to stop commenting myself.

      I forgive honest mistakes, even if they are really stupid.

      But the deliberate manipulation of conversations? THIS IS WHY THE HIVEMIND HAPPENS, why everyone thinks all the commenters think the same thing.

      As a person harmed, I say, let us be grown ups and talk it out. Let people see that they did an ugly thing and let’s deal with it. That’s where the growth comes from.

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      Hey livethequestion, I just wanted to add another apology for the shittiness that was thrown at you (however unintentional, it was undeniably shitty). I don’t usually comment, and as a white person I was hesitant to insert myself in this space, but I noticed the reactions to your comment and was taken aback by the assumptions and aggressive responses flying up. I was scared to call folks out, but I definitely should have, because if I had said something when I first noticed, it would probably have made subsequent commenters check themselves before carrying on with their white-normative assumptions, and spared you a lot of hurt.

      Thanks for continuing to engage in this difficult conversation and standing up for yourself. Calling people on their bullshit isn’t easy, especially when it is being targeted at you, and I’m sorry I hid behind my computer screen and didn’t say anything. I hope you’re feeling better. Next time I’ll be an active community member and speak up. <3

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      Hey yo! I am terribly sorry for my original comment! I basically had a knee jerk reaction to seeing the phase ‘the lessons I still need to learn’ because earlier that day someone had said some thing along the same vein to me when I had got into an argument over something problematic they had said. And after going through the frustration of explaining everything they said they were so happy to have a POC friend to teach them things they won’t learn in school, and I got really annoyed. So I was still reeling from that annoyance from that incident when I saw your post and I ended up jumping to conclusions, which is totally my bad. I will own up to that and apologize. Not offering this as an excuse – just an explanation.

      Usually I’m better at not jumping to conclusions, but I wasn’t really thinking in that moment. I just saw ‘lessons to learn’ and literally went ‘omg not this crap again,’without thinking about what context you could be coming from.

      For what it’s worth, all the points you have raised afterwards are actually discussions I’ve had a lot in the POC safe spaces I’m a part of at my school. We have a number of white passing Latin@’s and South Asians at my college campus. So we’re always talking about what it means to be an inclusive space for all POC as there’s still a lot of stuff we need to work on within our communities, as I have so gracefully demonstrated by shoving my foot in my mouth.

      Again, I’m really sorry. I don’t know how many comments you ended up getting over my comment since they’ve all seem to be deleted, but I am sorry for starting the whole thing.

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      I super confused by your comment.
      I can’t tell who you are calling out exactly, but it seems like you have a problem with the entire article and the concept of QPOC only spaces.

      If you bothered to read all the multiple comments from QPOC, maybe you would understand what they are trying to do. At first I balked at the thought of being “left out” so to speak, especially when I consider myself an ally, but after reading everything over again and keeping my original feelings to myself, I understood. Just reading this comments section and seeing all the constant difficulty in having to explain/educate others left me feeling exhausted and I don’t have to deal with that reality every day. So I can definitely understand needing a space where QPOC don’t have to basically educate white people and navigate those feelings. There are other places and times to get involved as an ally.

      And anyone who does want to be an ally will respect their marginalized friend’s boundaries. Your friends don’t need permission to build safe spaces for themselves, even if those spaces don’t include you. And if you are a friend, you should be supportive, even when you don’t get it.

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      I know you don’t realize this, but your comment comes off very badly (it’s also kind of confusingly written). There are PLENTY of people who are willing to teach, and if you have any willingness to learn, I suggest you seek them out (this, of course, is assuming that you were referring to a personal desire to be educated in your post – I can’t quite tell if that’s the case). You can take workshops and classes on unlearning racism, and there are tons of books and articles you can read. There is a great list of links at http://vasundharaa.tumblr.com/post/31917466176/this-is-a-resource-post-for-all-the-good-white. For books, I particularly like Uprooting Racism: How White People Can Work for Racial Justice.

      It’s not fair to ask POC to take on the job of educating white people on-demand, 24/7 – that would be exhausting and untenable (not to mention unfair).

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    I am a) heartened by the white people calling their fellow white people out on their bullshit. And b) Fucking enraged that white people could read an article like this and then think it’s appropriate to whine and moan like lil bitches afterwards. COME ON FFS. White queers have got to do better. I’m really sick of feeling other in what’s supposed to be my community. Being a QPOC is difficult and I wish white queers had more sympathy to us and less ‘waaah what about me???’ feelings.

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    For white people feeling like they need more understanding of issues around race: there’s an excellent reading list of things written by POC in struggle, which could be helpful to people wanting to understand things more clearly whilst also avoiding asking POC devote space, time and energy to perform demanding emotional labour to educate each and every one one of us on a one-to-one basis: http://wire.novaramedia.com/2014/05/12-books-white-people-should-read-in-preparation-for-becoming-a-minority-in-britain/

    Also a great tie-in podcast: http://novaramedia.com/2014/05/race-uk-left/

    Though this stuff is explicitly aimed at a UK audience, it can also be helpful for people located elsewhere.

    Hope this is helpful.

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    Up-thread I mentioned starting a group as a potential forum for the kinds of questions white readers have been posting in this comments section, to serve as a place to redirect those conversations in the future in hopes of making the comments more of a safe place for QTPOC. Considering how much this thread already got hijacked, I figure it’s better to post this as a separate comment so that more people might see it.

    Here’s the link to a group I just created.

    Honestly, though, I’m not sure the best way to make said forum useful without plastering comments about it in the threads below future QTPOC articles, which seems like hijacking in and of itself. I’m debating sending a message to the AS crew to see if they have any official thoughts. (Hey, mods, if you’re still monitoring this: maybe a footnote like the ones you guys put at the bottom of posts about bi issues? telling people what kinds of comments would be better-appreciated elsewhere, and providing links to relevant groups?)

    Please join the group if you’re at all interested, so maybe we can figure out something productive.

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    I’m sorry this list had to be written at all. Have a great time!

    I’m a borderliner (my family is mixed, I’m white-passing, sometimes racialized,’get’ some things, had to learn some things, still learning other things, blah blah etc). The great people at http://queerwoc.tumblr.com, in a now-deleted conversation, put it something like this (paraphrased as I remember it): If the idea of a qpoc-only space feels like it MIGHT be exclusionary, or prompts us to talk about aspects of our families/appearance/roots we don’t talk about on a daily basis, and/or raises questions about whether we ‘qualify’ at all, then the answer is that it’s probably not the space for us. . . that doesn’t mean we can’t make spaces like .

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    I am just an ally, but I fully support this. While I want to be an advocate for people of color and the queer community (I vote, write letters to editors and politicians, I march, I teach social justice in my multicultural literature class), no one wants me around when queer people of color get together. I *absolutely* support your right NOT to have to include me in every conversation, explain things to me, “thank” me for my support.

    You be you without having to worry about or consider me in this one space. I wish I could do more to make more safe spaces for your ilk.

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    Totally agree with the list itself. But interested as to why the event turned into one with alcohol? I’ve never been to A-Camp so I don’t know how this works but I’m guessing that it started out just a regular panel or caucus of some sort? As a QPOC myself, who is struggling with sobriety, I’m disappointed that this is how it turned out because it means shutting out sober QPOC and QPOC under 21. If this is truly a space trying to be radical and progressive, you’re already missing some folks…

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      I’m asking this in all seriousness and not at all trying to be an asshole. Most of A-Camp could double for Spring Break in Cabo. Booze is kinda our thing. People drink in every workshop. Why is the Speakeasy being held to a different standard? I understand that sobriety is a thing in our community,but this feels like a bit of a stretch.If simply being around alcohol is a struggle,then all of camp would be a struggle. To have the expectation that this space would be dry is odd,and a bit unrealistic.

      Also,if you’re underage,you simply drink soda. Not having a drink in hand does not exclude you from conversation.

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    19… because no white person has ever asked where you’re from without it meaning your example. Same with 2. I am a QPOC (who loathes the term POC) but pretty white passing- family is mixed Eastern European/Kazakh/South American and feel out of place in both white and POC queer spaces because of my skin. I never mind explaining my background because if it means I can educate someone about my family’s home background and rich culture and they previously didn’t have any knowledge, I have made one person a little smarter. And as far as the ally one, that reeks of Tumblr SJW talk. how many people are truly involved day in/out in physical activism? like, actual work? not just “existing” or blogging. sigh. I’d love to go to ACAMP and support further QPOC spaces but we as a queer community have a way to go.

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    I hope the moderators have a kiki and address their role in shaping this thread towards the monolithic voice it developed in the middle. The commenters involved in the thread’s misunderstandings and disagreements stepped it up and re-connected with each other over the words exchanged. I hope the moderators do the same.

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      ~Yeah, clearly ‘raising walls and causing more division between humanity’ is not the fault of racists, but the fault of people DEFENDING themselves from racism. How could people of color feeling freer to talk without being subject to white gaze be a positive thing? Not like you could’ve spared a second to listen to all the people here talking about how important this is to them.~

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    Late to the game here but I would add for the white folks with hurt feelings, just because there are quite a few negative visceral emotional responses: don’t confuse the ‘exclusion’ of QPOC taking the rare occasion of communing together without you with the experience of being excluded from space because you’re queer or trans etc.
    Not being included does not always equal being marginalized even if our instinct is to make that connection. Sometimes being denied access to a space, before we reflect about the wider implications (in this case, of white privilege and the needs of QPOC to take the space they need) reminds us of the time we were asked to leave the washroom by a transphobic cis lady, or not invited to a partner’s family dinner because her parents are homophobic. That’s discriminatory and hurtful and leaves scars. Sometimes it leads us to project past pain onto a situation like this which isn’t the same.
    I do my very best to learn about race issues and offer solidarity without assuming the mantle of ‘white ally’. I have learned by now to honour POC friends who are generous enough to critique me when I say clueless shit despite my best intentions. I can see that there are levels of empathy and identification that POC friends get from each other that I can’t touch. On a human level, who would I be to want to deny them such an enriching environment by inserting myself into such conversations and changing their dynamic? And why wouldn’t they be pissed at having alleged friends resist them doing such a simple thing? Supporting QPOC’s basic entitlement to their own space is one of the most obvious things white A campers can do to help make the camp at large a safe space. That’s just the beginning.

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    Wow, so I am amazed at the ignorance displayed in most of these posts. People are commenting on how the tone was aggressive or something, but was it really? Wasn’t it the truth? IMHO when they said we don’t want white people in this, cus this’ll happen and it’s not about that, they weren’t trying to marginalise or say that all white people do this just that WHITE PEOPLE IN A QPOC SPACE MAKE IT ABOUT THEIR EDUCATION AND UNDERSTANDING INSTEAD OF WHAT THE ACTUAL POINT IS. The problems of the Qpoc community are independent of white people for christs sake, so why should they be in there? Okay think back to the L word when Tina decided to throw a mixer for her gay and straight friends. Se how that turned out? Yeah, it’s educational for straight folk, and yeah it’s needed but Gay folks need purely gay spaces too. So they don’t feel like they have to curb their words or explain everything. Everyone hanging around at the diner, or in a casual party? Completely different from Tina’s party. In Tina’s party there’s just this.. thing that doesn’t make it a truly open space. So this article wasn’t meant to offend anyone, just take a step back from your hurt, and truly try to understand what it’s like to have to cater your own journey of self understanding and community to some other group that wants you to be the spokesperson for an entire race. Oh wait, we should all know how that feels. White Queermos I say this with love and respect in my heart, but this is not your space, truly whether or not you mean it to, you may not be “one of those” for lack of a better term, but simply being there .. (again for lack of a better term) pollutes what is trying to be done. Maybe some other time.

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    The reason this event needs to happen is the same reason that queer women (cis and trans*) seek out queer-only spaces, even if they have access to women’s only spaces (“for all women!”) where the women who are not queer say they want to learn and be allies, that I should educate and not exclude, etc. When I seek out queer-only spaces, I am not attempting to exclude non-queer people, I am simply tired of constantly feeling like my voice is not heard even though I am shouting, or my experiences are not represented, or that it is my job to represent all queers in this room. For all the queer non-POCs who are hurt by this article, maybe thinking about it from this perspective brings about some understanding?

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    it’s so simple, y’all: you cannot claim to be an ally to qtpoc if you insist upon challenging qtpoc who are clearly telling you what they want and need for themselves. being an ally involves listening and involves letting a thing not be about you for a second. the very act of arguing with qpoc about what’s in their best interest is a betrayal of any allyship you claim to embody. period the end.

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    [Sorry this comes later in the week, but I've been busy lately]
    I’d like to apologize for some of the weirdly bad miscommunication that I’ve been part of in this thread. I managed to somehow appear like I was saying things I’d never intended to say and then was equally bad at explaining what I was trying to talk about, then it devolved into a downright argument. I am sorry about that. I think my part of the miscommunication revolved around me writing way to late at night, and in an emotional place where I honestly felt like Autostraddle was becoming a toxic place for me. I’ve calmed down a bit since then, with the help of the couple of people who reminded me that the hostility I was feeling wasn’t necessarily directed at me (which I’d forgotten for a while). Now that I’m thinking a bit more clearly, I’d like to talk about some of the misinterpretations and my miscommunication of what I was trying to say:

    I did not intend to ever appear as though I do not believe in White Privilege or racism. I believe both these things exist in US society. They are at this point largely unconsciously accepted and you can in fact say racist things, or be interpreted as being racists regardless of whether you intended to say something hurtful, ignorant, and based on skin color or ethnicity. I feel like most white people try to not be intentionally racist, but I can’t speak for other people’s experience with the prevalence of that. My argument here was only that I don’t think the use of “White Supremacy” as a synonym for “White Privilege” is a good use of white supremacy. I believe that white supremacy has a significant and different depth of history and use that prevents it from ever being used neutrally. White supremacy is an ideology that some fairly evil people still hold, and it involves organizations like the KKK which still actually exist even if they no longer hold nearly as much power. Making the word a neutral relative of white privilege ignores the continued existence of people who really do believe that white people are supreme and *should* be more important. White privilege describes the fact that white people still *are* favored by the current system, whether or not anyone necessarily believes it should be that way.

    Likewise, I never ever intended to appear to invoke the angry black woman trope in any way shape or form. I am deeply sorry if I appeared to be doing so. When I was talking about the perceived hostility I’ve felt on this website towards white people and general (and therefore me in specific), I was never intending to appear as though I thought that QPOC or the writers of any of these comments actually believe that all white people are racist little shits. I have a fairly deep understanding that words and their implications do not always line up exactly with what people intend to say (case in point, how I didn’t manage to explain my basic understanding of what communication is). I do not assume that just because *I* feel like someone’s words imply that all white people are racist therefore that person deeply feels like all white people are racist. I certainly do not believe that every person of color in the world or even ever person of color on this site believe that all white people are racist.

    When I was talking about hostility or ugliness (in defense of Emily D, where people were cruel to her in response to an honest feeling), I’m talking about my perceptions of these things. I wasn’t assuming that anyone intended to be hostile necessarily, just that I felt like they were being hostile, or that their words implied a hostility. I was never trying to say that this hostility was deep enough to the point where I thought some of you actually believe all white people are racist assholes. I did not think that.

    But I do feel like I should try one last time to explain what I was reacting to. I was reacting to what @livethequestion calls reactive anger. The type of anger that tries to overcorrect, and instead of correcting it assumes people were intending to say the worst possible interpretation of what they wrote and then insults that person with both the tone and content of their reaction. This kind of thing was best exemplified by what happened to @livethequestion who is not even white, and who said something that didn’t automatically mean that she (hypothetically white) wanted to tokenize people by collecting minority friends and making herself a “rainbow family”. Even if livethequestion had been white, maybe the hypothetical white girl simply knew that not knowing any minority people is the fastest way to be accidentally racist and wanted to make minority friends. Or maybe the hypothetical white girl just made a mistake in speaking or thinking, and would have been horrified if the implications of her words were explained to her calmly. Unfortunately, the most verbally violent responses on this thread were responses to livethequestion who does not identify as white, and the moderators have removed them so I can’t talk about what they did specifically that came off as unnecessarily hostile and quick to assume the worst.

    Unfortunately since those responses *have* been removed, the easiest to find example of what felt like unnecessary hostility towards white people in general comes from this article. (I’d like to remind you that even when I felt like this was directed at me, I was aware this is an impression I have of the implications of what’s being said, and was not necessarily the author’s intentional meaning).
    “34. I refuse to provide non-QTPOC people with access to terminology and code-switching reserved for my QTPOC community, hunty.”
    Now, we can all (I hope) agree that no one outside of your communities has any sort of right to know your codes or how you switch them to single the racist or dangerous assholes out to the other people in your community. I respect that. You have absolutely no obligation to tell me, and I will respect that lack of obligation by not asking to know unless you want to tell me.

    That said, the phrasing of this clearly ends with some kind of direct insult which I have no way of knowing how bad the insult is. I can only assume that it’s pretty bad. And it’s in direct address to the white readers of the article. That makes me feel like I’m being treated (and I’m being serious here) like some sort of evil racist spy whose only purpose in potentially wanting to attend QPOC spaces would be to steal those codes and reveal them to all the other racist white people. It seems to assume that white allies who know the code switching would never keep that knowledge mostly to themselves, but use it to know when they’re way over the line and correct themselves. It implies that whatever hunty means it’s being used to apply to anyone who might want to listen honestly to what POC go through and come out of it knowing how to be a little bit of a better person. That seems pretty hostile to me. Again, I’d use a different example, but some of them have been deleted so we can’t discuss them, or are more diffuse like comments that just in general sound like they’re supposed to apply negatively to all white people.

    Regardless of whether the atmosphere was intentional or not, this kind of tone collected through several articles, and a bunch of incidental things like stuff about why white people only like Macklemore rather than some other rapper because something about Eminem (I don’t really listen to much music, but the tone was definitely about how Macklemore was crap and white people like him b/c they’re white). That sort of tone only got worse through the reactionary anger that happened in this comments thread. There was a specific damned if you do, damned if you don’t kind of thing where the commentators would get really angry if you put yourself out on a limb by admitting that you didn’t know enough, but then they’d get really angry if you tried to ask a question instead of just not answering. So when I said that I was afraid to ask what the meme-pic about Macklemore was supposed to be about, I was being very honest. I really was afraid of asking a simple and relatively factual question about the article because I saw so much reactive anger and I knew that if I asked, I’d probably get torn to shreds for being a supposedly racist asshole. This feeling may not have been entirely fair to the people commenting on Autostraddle, but it was a real one.

    Again, I am very sorry that I managed to imply such horrible things about my beliefs. I really never intended to appear like I was using the angry black woman trope. I do not think POC and their anger diminishes their complaint. POC have a right to be angry. Racism and white privilege are really F’ed up things. I do however believe that a lot of people stop listening when they feel like they’ve been insulted too much and then things turn into an argument where no one really comes away having learned anything or been convinced. My belief that conversation is more effective, and less wasteful, than anger is mostly why I asked for people to be more polite. It was never because I intended to get someone to shut up. And I apologize if it ever seemed like that’s what I wanted.

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      Of course YOU think you’re entitled to harp about a situation where some people of color and white allies fucked up with @livethequestion, in order to trivialize the way you came on this thread and engaged in BLATANTLY RACIST, narcissistic, self-centered, and frankly sociopathic white behavior! Look, you keep trying to pretend that EVERYONE ELSE has the problem, when it’s YOU and white people LIKE YOU have a problem. Why in the blue fuck do moderators allow racist, derailing, and sadistic behavior like yours to persist in relation to the the topic of racism? Don’t we have enough to go through already!?!

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    So, white people who feel disgruntled about this post, listen up: if you are a white anti-racist ally, then the #1 thing to do is to listen to qtpoc when they tell you what they need/want, who they are, what their lived experiences are, and what is important to them.

    When you challenge a qtpoc’s assertion of their needs or the words they choose to explain those needs, you are doing a thing that is inherently NOT allyship, because it is not trusting or listening, it is re-centering yourself in a conversation which is trying its very hardest for once to not be about you. It’s not unusual to feel knee-jerk defensiveness, or to feel like “hey, that’s not true about me!” — but those are personal feelings for you to deal with and investigate on your own. This post isn’t about us white people or our feelings.

    What I find interesting about the white defensiveness regarding QTPOC thoughts in this post is that we don’t see that same defensiveness when us queers write about straight people in a similar way — and if a straight person did come on here to get upset about being generalized, we’d be pretty fucking defensive. Honestly, this also has some parallels to the recent thread criticizing us for rampant misandry — and the way Rachel eloquently broke down the problem with that attitude could easily apply here.

    Some of these comments sound to me like “Not All White People!” which is just about as annoying as “Not All Men!” I didn’t feel defensive or angry when I read this post — well, that’s a lie. I did feel angry. I felt angry at the white supremacy that appropriates, colonizes, legalizes discrimination and makes life so fucking hard for QTPOC. I felt energized by the possibility of a stronger QTPOC community within Autostraddle, and I felt really excited that this closed space was being created and hopeful that it would be a happy and productive space for the humans who wrote this — a group of really patient and dedicated people who put their hearts/souls into this entire community every day, producing work that is consumed by a majority white audience.

    QPOC-only spaces don’t in any way make non-qpoc/white people spaces less valid… and the truth is that most queer spaces, albeit unintentionally, do end up being all-white or white-dominated. But any queer who has experienced a queer-only space knows the strength one can garner from those spaces, and I see no reason to be anything less than excited for another marginalized group within that group to experience that for themselves, and I am confident it will make our community as a whole much stronger.

    This was one of the first QTPOC panels at camp I didn’t attend, b/c i am so white i glow in the dark and therefore it was not for me, but the panel facilitators left up the words and pictures they’d assembled during their speakeasy on the cafeteria wall for all of us to see, and also have gathered ideas for us on how to make AS better for QTPOC people, which I think is pretty rad! I’m really glad that it happened and that a facebook group for POC A-Campers has also launched (there already were groups for people of various gender identities/presentations, so). I believe this is a really, really, really, really good thing, and I hope those of you on this thread who disagree can come around and realize that soon, too. LISTEN is the thing. Listen.

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    this was super informative and very important thank you

    my fellow white women who have a problem with this (see multiple comments above): would you not agree that having a female-identifying only safe space (yes excluding men-HOW DISCRIMINATORY!) is important?

    though race and gender are in no way identical issues, the idea is the same

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