Sunday, January 4, 2009

So close... and yet so far...

*Warning - the following rant may upset some people. It concerns a very touchy topic. Just a note to my regular readers to let you know that I understand completely if you do not want to leave a comment here because you are afraid a snarky person will take offense and follow you to your own blogs to leave nasty comments. I won’t be mad if you skip over this post. Honest!*

Back in November, I had reached my first anniversary for this blog. It was a wonderful feeling to come to such a milestone. I met many wonderful people from many different countries and cultures. I learned about many different things . . . many good things. In truth, I lucked out.

Why do I say this? It is because there are people out in this big wide computer network who are very, um, let us just say they have very opinionated perspectives of the world and the people who inhabit it. This perspective involves seeing a society closed off in their respective regions, beliefs, and cultures. They believe that diversity will become the downfall of humankind and a harmonious lifestyle begins with separate racial boundaries.

I lucked out in not receiving any direct comments from these people who normally post under an anonymous moniker. The reason this might have happened is that, for 11 months, I did not reveal my racial background in a picture. For my blogger avatar, I went with a feather icon. Only in October did I change it to a photo of myself, fully accepting whatever may happen within the comments thread for both of my blogs.

I lucked out. I continued to receive wonderful conversations from my visitors and believed everything was fine in revealing my real picture. This has changed.

I will not go into any of the details except to say that someone has taken offense to my photo.

For the most part, this Anonymous has left comments on blogs I visit as they talk about how people should have pride in their own race (which I full-heartedly agree -- we ALL should be proud of our backgrounds). This person went on to remark that they had a right to speak their own minds even if they might not agree with the general observations made by other people (and this person has me nodding my head in agreement again -- we are a society that embraces, should embrace, free speech). Then the anonymous person said that their comment would more than likely be deleted because of its truthfulness but they are going to say it anyway no matter what.

Uh oh.

Whenever I come across something like this last part, it always seems more of a dare or a sort of . . . nyah-nyah-you-don’t-have-the-guts-to-let-me-say-whatever-I-want-on-your-blog-because-you-know-that-I-am-right! Go-ahead-and-prove-I‘m-right-by-deleting-the-truth-you-don’t-want-to-accept!

Sigh. I am sure my readers have seen or experienced this already. The bully tactic. Usually it forewarns that the comment might start out with several intellectual points. Yet it will soon disintegrate into name calling, banal one-liners, and cursing with the sole purpose of spurring heated trash talk. Most of the comments start as:

I am proud of whom I am and of my race.

Then they migrate into this:

Everybody believes we should forget our roots and embrace other people’s cultures. We should not. Why can’t they allow us to hold on to what we belief in?

After this, the comments start to change:

There are people that know not to allow such diversity to soil the integrity of their societies.

and . . .

Our society went into the toilet the moment we allowed rights to the black slaves. It’s because of you Western fascist liberal nation trying to screw up the world.

And finally the one-liners, which I choose not to post because this post is starting to get long and all my regular readers know how long-winded I can get. If you need any examples of the one-liners, visit an AOL message board for a news topic involving another culture. I stopped reading such sites. Someone is always trying to light a spark for a racial debate even if the topic involves drunken elephants cuddling with Tickle-me Elmo dolls.

Anyway, you might be wondering what I do whenever I come across these remarks (and I have come across many of them this year - right after the presidential election.) So do I go into a rant of my own, loudly proclaiming that they should not believe our world would be a perfect place if we went back to the days of slavery? Do I call this person out, deriding them for being a coward who hides behind an anonymous name? Do I lecture about the virtues of living in a peaceful society that is not asking anyone to give up their cultural beliefs, but to simply allow all people to find a place to call home without worrying about any hateful retaliation because of the color of their skin?


Why don’t I say anything about it? Well, I am not going to turn someone else’s blog post into an open forum mainly dealing with this anonymous’ remarks and how much we can snipe at each other.

So do these anonymous people believe they have one-upped me with their overwhelming logic? Do they believe I could not refute their “truths” and I am a coward by refusing to engage in this? Do anonymous people believe they have called me out and I could not deliver?

My answer: Why should I care what they think?

I have grown tired with comments like this. I have dealt with racism since I was five-years-old when playing out in my driveway as a man drove by and shouted, “I didn’t know any n****** lived out here?” as a round of hearty laughter came from his female companion. I dealt with it when I was twenty and had my first job interview when the employer behind the desk said, “You know, black people didn’t have it so hard in the past as you made it out to be.” I dealt with it several months ago when a woman at the Walmart took one look at me in the parking lot and hurried to lock up her purse into her SUV while setting the car alarm. I guess she thought I might rob her while she pushed her empty cart into the cart return stall, which was right next to her vehicle.

And how could I possibly forget about all the property damage:

Four mailboxes destroyed.
Numerous vehicles keyed along with the back bumper damaged.

Yet I am supposed to get upset over a comment made by an anonymous person who doesn’t like my blog photo? Yawn . . .

Okay, my post is becoming too long and digressing fast. So I will wrap things up and get to the point. First off, I don’t plan to change my picture back to my feather icon. I have no reason to feel uncomfortable with whom I am or to be worried about what other people might think of me based on the color of my skin.

Secondly, to all those anonymous people out there who might have a problem with me, please feel free to EMAIL YOUR COMMENTS DIRECTLY TO ME! Don’t go all hell’s bells on someone else’s post all because the blogger has a black reader who stops by.

Third, to all my readers, I do apologize if you have had to deal with someone like this all because they saw my photo in the comment thread. If it makes you too uncomfortable, please drop me an email and let me know. I will restrict my comments there although I will continue to read and enjoy your blog. I am not there to create waves for anyone. I am just being myself.

Fourth, to reiterate again to those anonymous people, EMAIL ME DIRECTLY.

Thank you for allowing my rant today. I needed to vent again. As a special treat, you can read this. Yes, it is long. Didn’t you read Friday’s post?


  1. Write on, friend! First, if these igmoids are so brave and "right," why are they afraid to put their names to their posts? Second, in the end, I try to feel pity for this sort of ba$$-ackwards ignorance because the haters cut themselves off from so much of life's joy and richness. I'd be happy if they dropped by my blog and made slurring remarks so I could ban/block them. :) Don't you DARE change your profile picture or hide your beauty for anyone or anything!! And about publicly debating with those nuts, it's not even worth your time. You can't undo inbred idiocy. Hugs to you.

  2. WOW! I am sooo utterly disgusted by that comment!! Seriously it pains my stomach to know there are still truly ignorant people out there in the world!!! This really makes me very angry. Hello..I live in New York City --the melting pot.. if I chose to keep with my own kind and culture ..I really wouldn't be able to talk to anyone or have a job... what a freeking creep. Arghhh..I guess this just hits home because I have many friends of different races who are all wonderful people and no one should be treated like this. So should not take this person to heart..he/her just sucks!!!

  3. Admirable of you to post about this and also, admirable of you to ignore the ignorance of the anonymous commenter too! To respond to someone like that -obviously a jackass (OK, you didn't really expect me to talk "nice-nice" about this person now, did you?) -well doing that generally leads to nothing good happening. Kind of like my older daughter who has a thing for always wanting to get revenge for some perceived slight or whatever, a move that goes totally against my grain.
    Anywho --to respond to these actions -in my opinion -just gives the idiot more fodder, enforces their belief then that they are right, have the upper hand, whatever. Keep doing what you've been doing -writing about lots and lots of different things and pay no attention to the person behind the green curtain (to paraphrase from The Wizard of Oz, ya know.) You know, I know, as do many, many readers of your blog and readers of lots of other blogs and such, who is right, who is wrong in this scenario. And this, by the way, is coming to you from your competitor in the "long-winded" department!

  4. Well said and I am sorry you have had to deal with this garbage. My husband and I are from two different cultures, so we have both heard comments about the other person's culture--outside of the other's presence of course.

    When left to their own devices, ignorant people will be stupid and mean, and the whole anonymous thing allows cowards the freedom to be especially so.

  5. My answer: Why should I care what they think?

    Which is a dead-solid perfect response. I'm of an age where I experienced racism directly, as in the segregated "Old South." Paraphrasing that old cigarette ad: "We've come a long way, Baby." But I'm afraid racism will always be with us in one form or another, and that's a sad fact of life.

    As far as the idjits go: shunning works. There are limits to this approach, tho, and I acknowledge that. But in the meantime I'll simply continue to ignore those folks with diminished intellectual and emotional capacities.

    Well said, Michelle.

  6. Maybe the persons that wrote those comments will fall through their own butt and hang themselves. I have very little patience with bigots of any kind. When my patience goes away it is not a pretty sight. Ask our two boys.
    Stay after it.
    Oren (Friend Of Angie)

  7. It's darned unfortunate that hatred is immune to reason.

  8. Do not change your lovely profile picture, Michelle. And ignore the comments. What they want is attention; if they don't get it, they'll go somewhere else.

  9. Wow. So many though-provoking comments.

    Angie: I am adding igmoids to my list. Too true about how such people are, in the end, losing out on so much in life when imposing their own self-segregation because they have problems accepting other races. You nailed it on the head about inbred idiocy!

    FP-design: What urks me the most is that this person had to do the rant on someone else's blog. They could have easily done it here, and I would have welcomed it more so. They need to talk directly to me to have me respond.

    Jeni: I never feed the trolls, or give the person fodder-bullets just to have them shoot back at me.

    Jennifer: Thanks for stopping by!

    I'm sorry you had to deal with such similar circumstances. You know exactly what it feels like, and how tiring this can be to hear. I suppose the big question is: "Why haven't these ignorant people grown tired of their own hate yet?"

    Buck: True. The one thing we must never forget is that racism is a two-way street, and applies to ALL PEOPLE. I have known black people to commit the same remarks, which I will never tolerate or understand. I only wish that the light bulb would turn on over their heads to realize that the hate does no one any good.

    Oren: While I would never condone violence to anyone, sigh... I am prone to wishful thinking sometimes and your comment is at the top of my list. Thanks for stopping by!

    Frank: If only the opposite could, would happen.

    Brenda: That is exactly what happened with this person. When no one engaged them with their vileness, they simply cussed everyone out and went away.

    Thank you, everyone, for stopping by and reading my rant. I just hope it can make a little difference out in the world.

  10. Er rather, Oren, I don't mean personal violence on you! But "butt-hanging" is something to consider for those rat bastard haters!

  11. I am sorry to hear that you have had to experience ignorance and hatred of people to such a degree. It is unfortunate that the world is not as ideal and as open minded as we like to believe at times.
    For what it is worth, I find you very courageous and think your post is very articulate and thought provoking, presenting your views and standpoints clearly and without any offense. I hope those you write about will take notice and follow your example.

  12. Protege: I tried to be very neutral minded in this post. I didn't want it to simply become a mindless rant. :)

  13. Michelle:

    I truly wish I could give you a hug right now. Or, perhaps more accurately, that you could give a hug to me.

    It truly pains me to think that a person as nice as you has been subject to ANY sort of mindless racism. It makes me ashamed to be a member of the human race.

    And I don't know what sort of comments you may have received about your photo, but if they said that you were anything less than beautiful, then the people making the comments need a dog and a striped cane.

    Ignoring such bile, as you are able, is always the best course. Remembering that there are scads of differently-colored folk who love you will, I hope, help.

    Your lighter-gray friend,


  14. Jim: Your encouraging words are always appreciated. I still hold out some hope for the human race. And although we cannot physically hug, virtual and mental hugs are always welcome. :)

  15. Wow.. now I'm really confused. The only comments that I've seen of this nature are by the Anonymous moron who decided to post three times on my Homes and Native Lands post a short while back. I didn't think it had anything to do with you personally since the post was discussing multiculturalism and racism to some degree.

    I just thought it was one of the loons who slipped in the back door along with the now-deleted spammers and those who were advertising their porn sites (which I promptly forwarded to Sully). ;)

    I left those comments just because, as you said, I wasn't going to bow down to the "told you so" threat of deletion. But I had no idea this jerk was following you around to other blogs too. I never made the connection at all.

    Nor did I get that impression from your email a short while later Has he been hitting more sites since mine?

  16. I see my good friend Angie's comment right to the left as I type this and I'l just say "ditto to what she wrote!!!" Instead of my "want me to kick their ass?" comment I was going to leave *laughing*

    Don't give this a second thought - easy for me to say, right? But, imagine anonymous posters trolling across all manner of blogs just looking for a "forum" and if we give them that "forum" they will use it again and again. Ignoring them, blocking them, and yes, deleting them, is the best medicine to that sickness.

    (HUGS) to you...see how many friends you have who are appalled at that behavior and support you? *smiling*...

  17. Hilary: I've been meaning to make this post for awhile now. I have had people follow me before your recent post, one person in particular, which was why there was a dry spell when I restricted myself from making comments on anyone else's blog. I would wait about a week, then go back to visiting people.

    When I saw someone had made comments on your blog (especially the bit about "Only the whites like us from southern africa know how to handle the black african - Be very hard on him. Only when you have cracked his skull does he respect you as his master and leader") did it remind me of what happened before. I decided that if it should happen again to not hide myself but instead let these loons know to just email me directly.

    Kathryn: Hi, thanks for stopping by and commenting. Yeah, it's hard to not give it a second thought. But I try to just turn the other way. Knowing there are great people who just don't abide by this helps.

  18. give em hell, michelle! grrrrr

    i decided to filter comments on my blogs through me, just so i don't have to waste energy deleting them once posted

    so far only those with a commercial interest have incurred my wrath and not allowed to post in my space, bigots and spammers have not even tried

    and michelle, obviously those dolts are incapable of thought, merely spouting what they hear, which gives you their precise IQ....

  19. laughingwolf: Gnaw on their legs for me!! ;P

  20. what? you gonna nurse the then-ill wuff? :O lol

  21. yes, easy for me to say -but, yeah, I'd probably be going "errgh errgh errrrghhh!" *laugh*

  22. laughingwolf: I said gnaw, not swallow. ;P

    Kathryn: So long as it is "Errgh" to them then "Ummm" to a judge by doing something damaging to these people.

  23. Very interesting.

    I love your writing :) It is fascinating and compulsive reading..

    I would be honoured to have comments from you and your picture on my blog!!

    Happy New Year :)

  24. You can comment at my blog anytime!!! I don't think there's a regular reader there who wouldn't blow a gasket at that kind of commentary and I generally haven't gotten a lot of anon snark on my own blog... I must not be annoying the right people.

    If I did get those kind of things, I would delete it. See, if you leave them up like that, your regular readers will defend you or argue, and then you've got a whole comment section turned because of one idiot. So they can stalk off into cyberland under the delusion that they were deleted because they're so right, blah,blah, blah... but really, who the f*#% cares what they think?

    Anyhoo, I have to agree with Buck, though I'm hoping racism itself isn't with us forever but I do think prejudice will be - whether it's socio-economical, racial, religious, or any other reason... there will always be people who have to draw a distinction that makes them feel superior... Oddly, the book Sneetches by Suess is probably the best on this topic I've read.

    And don't take down your pic or even let it bother you at all. Even the commenter knew he/she was being an idiot - if they really thought they were right they'd have used their name.

  25. Interesting thoughts, all. I agree with the general sentiment that the hate-mongers are best ignored whenever possible.

    You might like to know, too, that I actually clicked on your little icon on Expat's blog *because* of your photo. Your photo called out to me saying, "I'm an interesting person with intelligent thoughts, so come check out my blog." (Did you like my use of dialogue there? See, I've learned something already....)

    So while you may lose a few ignorant readers, you may gain a few folks too, for changing your icon from the feather to the photo.

    And I would never want someone to feel that they couldn't comment on my blog just because someone else might say something hateful in response. I would direct my frustration (and my delete button) at the hate-spewer, not at the person the hate-spewer targeted.

    So, come on over to my blog and comment any time you like... Or not, if I'm not writing about things that interest you. :)

    Meanwhile, I think I'll go click on that little "followers" widget, or whatever you've named it here on your blog.

  26. And by the way, yes I recognize the irony in encouraging you and praising you for using your real photo for your avatar when I haven't even changed mine from the fuzzy bluish anonymous one provided by Blogger. But that's just because I'm either too busy to deal with those details, or too lazy -- one of those.

    I probably should find something a little more interesting, shouldn't I? Something that would call out to folks saying, "I'm an interesting person and my blog is cool, too, you should come check it out."

    They might complain about false advertising when they arrived, but at least I might get more traffic!

  27. Fi from Four Paws and Whiskers: Wow! That is a long name. Hope you don't mind if I call you Four Paws if you comment again. Thanks for stopping by!

    Merry Monteleone: Agree completely! I have stopped by your place, and meant to do it again which was why I stuck you on my blogroll. Just been very busy, lately. Thanks for stopping by!

    Legalmist: I have definitely gained folks by this comment thread. Wow! Thanks for stopping by!


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