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I'm so white I carry a fire extinguisher instead of sunscreen.  I'm so white that drivers flash their high beams as they approach me walking on the sidewalk.  I'm so white that I broke my leg and the ambulance took me to a dentist.

But I know what's going on here, because it's happened to me, too.  I left a comment in the thread below the infamous "Minstrel" cartoon, and others in the diary that followed, and I found myself on the receiving end of what this site's contingent of African-American diarists are complaining about - a more limited dose, no doubt, but enough to get the flavor.

Even though I explained that I felt certain the cartoonist had absolutely no racist intent - that he just did not notice the unintended racial overtones in his image - I was accused of calling him a bigot.

I was accused of making the whole thing up for factional reasons - of being dishonest by saying I had a concern about a racial issue.  You know, "playing the race card," as if expressing concern about the racial implications of someone's words or images is some shady activity to be filed away under a dismissive heading.

I was told that the cartoon in question couldn't possibly have a racial overtone, because the intended message was a legitimate one.  As if having a message other than "I look down on black people" means that the way you express that message can't possibly have a racial implication, even an unintended one.

As if agreeing with that message means that you should overlook a problem someone raises with how it is expressed.

I was bombarded with excuses - bogus ones, clearly coming from people who'd never even heard of minstrel shows the day before - about how the cartoon did not actually resemble a minstrel in any way, even after linking to pictures in which the similarity could not be denied.

I was pestered with the old faux-colorblindness, as if feigning ignorance that race is a relevant context that influences meaning is a legitimate way to understand words and images.  From self-proclaimed progressives, this is coming.

In short, I saw a whole lot of white people - people who conceive of themselves as not just progressive, but as much more progressive than thou - who decided that they were simply not going to listen to anyone, including African-Americans, who reported that the site was an uncomfortable place for non-white people.  Because they know better, apparently.

Well, let me say something to my fellow white people: if you frequently find yourself insisting to black people, when they complain that they don't feel comfortable, that they don't really feel the way they're telling you they feel - YOU'RE PROBABLY WRONG!

And now, I come here and discover that such productive contributors as Adept2U and This Is My Time have been banned for complaining too loudly about this state of affairs?  I find that the Great Purge has targeted African-Americans at ten times their actual numbers?  Nah, that's not going to cut it.

I want this place to feel safe and open for all Democrats.  It doesn't, and there are too many people here who don't give a crap.

See you in a week.

Originally posted to joe from Lowell on Sun Sep 11, 2011 at 07:03 PM PDT.

Also republished by The Yes We Can Pragmatists.

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