Thursday, June 7, 2012

Staying Away From Controversy and Online Activism

I think that being a positive person and surrounding oneself with positive things is very important for one's health and success. Being around negative things, living in a negative and hostile environment, and being around negative or draining people can bring you down and derail you from your personal goals and focus on the positive things in your life. In my offline life everything is going great and I am not surrounded by why do I allow that in my online life? I know plenty of people who don't even read blogs or comment at all! 

As many people have noticed, the internet can bring out the worst in people and sometimes that is the case with me. Oh I have improved so much in terms of avoiding commentary by Black males about Black women and those Men's Rights videos criticizing women because those were so negative, hostile, misogynistic, vile, and full of foul language and they just made me so angry. I think that in the past few months I have only watched and made a negative comment on one such video (it was restrained and poised though). I don't feel the need to watch any more. I also avoid listening to many videos that contain foul language, I really have no tolerance for them and I feel no obligation to suffer through that vulgarity in order to hear a person's supposedly important message. 

But what I am realizing is that I have to be extremely vigilant about commenting on controversial African American (AA) women's issues on other blogs! One reason is because VERY often discussions of the negative experiences of AA women end up asking the reader to "do something", "fight something", "come up with solutions", and "solve the problem" and as you know I no longer feel the obligation to "lift up the race". I have no intentions at this time to do anything (other than signing a petition) to remedy any injustices and inequalities although I would be glad to see the improvements. Most people online probably feel the same way but won't say so and although everyone has opinions most are not activists. 

All I am willing to do at the moment is be a good person, possibly mentor someone offline, and lead by example.  This is a blog about improving myself and my feelings about being a Black woman and it is not an activism site. Someone may benefit from it as they would from a self-help book but I do not want to be involved with online activism. I tried that before and it ended badly. Furthermore, other than changing an individual person's behaviour and thinking I do not think that online discussions about Black issues change anything on a systematic level because it is all talk and no plans for action on a systematic level. There is no point getting angry at an individual's commentary when it really won't change things systematically anyway. It is just arguing with minimal benefit to anyone so it is exposing myself to negative issues and commentary that has a negative effect on me for no good reason.

One may argue that exposing myself to these issues will raise my "awareness" of what is going on for Black women and staying away from these messages will result in me being unaware, out of touch, and uncaring perhaps like Marie Antoinette. Well since I am Canadian I think I should focus more on issues where I live (that I have mostly been ignoring because I found it boring) instead of African American issues (that tend to appear more extreme or in the case of televised news, more entertaining). I will have to remember that I am a passive observer of all American content, not to take it personally, and not to co-opt the anger of someone else because I have no reason to be angry in my life. Yes of course there are injustices and inequalities but right now I don't see the benefit of making myself upset about them out of some "race loyalty" while I should be focusing on my personal goals. 

Although racism of course does exist in Canada there are so many differences when compared to the U.S. For instance Black people are only about 1.3% of the population (I think) and the largest minority is Asian; most of our Black media images are from the U.S. and is extreme compared to my middle class life; most of us came from the Caribbean and there is little discussion of the impacts of slavery which comes up in every discussion of African American issues; it's way more accepted to befriend, date, and marry interracially so race issues don't have to be as salient; and just from my experience people are not as angry and focused on race. So I am willing to be out of touch when it comes to U.S. racial issues and don't see the point of being constantly outraged about what is happening where I don't live. Some may be offended by this but really, how concerned are you about what's happening in Canada if you don't live here? It's normal to be more concerned about where you actually live.

So I think that I'll keep focusing on self-improvement, becoming an EBW, starting my career, dating, and starting a family in the near future. I'll restrict how many controversial U.S. articles I read. When I do read I won't bother commenting on controversial American issues unless I agree with the author and won't bother saying anything if I disagree. I won't come to the rescue of anyone online as I would for someone I actually know. I'm going to restrict myself to being positive in all of my comments for a long time in order to foster the feminine trait of being pleasant and agreeable. Of course I can disagree but I won't go around saying I disagree or getting into arguments online. We have to remember that the internet is a new thing and people in the past did not spend hours reading controversial issues and arguing online! Instead they focused their time talking to people they actually know where there are consequences for their actions. If and when I decide to volunteer or support something it will be in my offline life and not limited to racial issues. I have no desire to be an activist at this time like many other people. This will benefit me greatly at this time and is a huge burden off my shoulders. 


  1. Excellent point and you are right on target. I find it very difficult that Americans in general can't understand the fact that not all black people identify as African Americans.
    I am British, do you know how many Americans have called me AA despite knowing my actual nationality?