Friday, September 28, 2012

My blog world...shattered

For the past 7 months, I have existed in a blog world that was full of happiness, hope, community, and sometimes even a little sadness. Before this week, my blog world was void of hate. But this week, I saw the ugly side of blogging.

I was forced to face the truth about the blogging world: It's no different than the real world.

This week, I read a post in which the author declared that she was tired of driving through a poor, mostly black and Hispanic, area of her city on her way to work and seeing people drinking from brown paper bags and smoking cigarettes and that she was sick of her tax dollars going to these people. Upon reading this, I made a comment that poverty is a cycle and that being poor does not automatically mean one is lazy. My comment, among others (including several from my sister), set off a flurry of debate.

I saw women begin stacking their soapboxes to see whose could stand the tallest without falling. I saw women throwing around stereotypes like they were truths. I saw women unapologetic for their complete insensitivity. I saw women who were unabashedly unaware of their privilege. And worst of all, I saw women completely dismiss the original comment as a "joke" and a part of the blogger's "humor".

I had spent 7 months thinking I had finally found a little part of the world where people truly cared about each other, regardless of race, ethnicity, social status, religion, sexual orientation, or disability. And I had let myself become comfortable.

The day the post went up, I felt so disappointed that a part of my world that I had seen as so pure and safe was exposed as hostile and tainted by hatred. I was distracted at work and couldn't stop thinking about it.

My sister and I talked about it a lot that night. I found it interesting that even though we grew up in the same household, we reacted in very different ways. While I was disappointed by the comment, I wasn't shocked. It seems that in many different places in my life, I have been exposed to such behavior often. In high school, I was the target of racist remarks that I was told were just jokes. In college, I also saw racism in action through incidents that happened to my close friends. In one of my first jobs out of college, I was told to "take off my Hispanic hat" and try to be like the rest of my white co-workers in the room so that we could better make progress.

Sometimes I wonder if I am just overly sensitive to racism and hate because I know how much it hurts to be the target.

My sister on the other hand, was shocked by the number of women our age who truly believed that it was acceptable to judge the people in the neighborhood in question. On Wednesday, she posted an articulate, beautifully written piece about treating others with grace and dignity. If you haven't read this piece yet, please do. You will be as moved as I was.

The blog world needs more posts like my sister's. Posts that challenge others to not only be better bloggers, but to be better people in real life too. Posts that encourage us to reach beyond our own communities and try to understand the communities that surround us...communities that we may have judged negatively before.

I will never again believe that the blog world is immune to hate. Instead, I have even more motivation to use my voice as a voice for those who have lost theirs or were never given one in the first place.


Oh hello, Love said...

I am so glad you wrote this! (And thanks for sharing my post!)

Through all this, I've come to realize that you and I were never meant to write blogs about pretty things. We are at our best when we write what we are truly passionate about. And while I love a good pair of leopard white flats, I love social justice and grace even more.

I posted a link to this on my blog today! Talk to you latersssss.

Erica said...

Wherever there is self-expression (such as in the blog world), there will be hate. Sad but true.

It is up to us to be the bigger people. I just don't understand how someone could say (or even think) such awful things. :(

TheTinyHeart said...

I heard about this, although I haven't seen the original post (I believe it was taken down?). I think it's really sad that this prejudice is going on in the blog world as well, but fortunately there's people like you and your sister to call out the hate.

The Tiny Heart
Win a chain link necklace + Chanel print!

Katie Price said...

Something you said really stood out to me, "women who were unabashedly unaware of their privilege." I think this may be close to the root of the problem. It takes really knowing someone who despite their best efforts cannot escape the cycle of poverty or joblessness or homelessness or drug abuse or any other problem to find compassion and understanding. And that takes getting out of your comfort zone and opening your heart to the real world around us.

The truth is most people don't know how lucky they are to have a roof over their heads and groceries in the fridge. It's something that many Americans take for granted. But also something that can be quickly lost.

I remember when I was in gradeschool my dad was living out of his car for a while. He had a fulltime job but because he had a record of drug abuse he couldn't find a place to live.

Every person has a story and the right to live their own path without judgement or condemnation. I imagine this girl had no idea how insensitive she was being, probably because she's never been on welfare, or homeless, or known someone personally who has. It's not our place to judge her either but rather educate and encourage thoughtfulness on the matter.

I guess I got on my own soapbox there. All this to say, loving your neighbor isn't always easy. In fact it's definitely harder to lend a compassionate hand than to shake our heads and ignore what we see. Here's hoping someone's eyes were opened a little by you & your sister's posts.


vickichristine said...

amen sista - pretty sure i know where this happened.

Ariel Tyler Henley said...

Hate and ignorance is everywhere, unfortunately. The best thing to do, though, is educate people. It's sad and unfortunate, but hopefully one day people will actually be able to come together and appreciate differences.

jami lynn said...

I didn't know about this, but I can't say I'm surprised. Sucks to say but the blog world isn't void of a lot of 'real world' negativity. Glad you stepped up and said something, ingorant people need to be called out - and using the 'ol 'blogger humor' thing is a total copout!

Karla said...

Now up super curious to know where this was posted. It’s pretty heartbreaking to see how ignorance continues to affect us. I have to admit I stray away from writing about controversial subjects.. because I’m scared to see the reality of the world.. so I commend you for being that voice. I love your writing.

Tranae said...

Hi Erin. Love this post. I find myself surprised/ sadden by some of the ignorance I read on blogs and online in general. Just today I was reading a post where a blogger was loudly voicing her small minded opinions. I was shocked because I really wasn't expecting that type of intolerance from her.

I'm glad you and your sister are speaking out. No one should have to experience racism.