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.