“Vetting” Should Be More Than A Buzzword


Former blog readers often send me links to various online discussions that are taking place among Black women. While reading the links I’m sent, sometimes my attention is drawn to something other than what the reader has mentioned about the particular discussion. This is such an occasion. Let me preface my remarks by noting that none of what I’m about to say is about any particular blog or blog host. Blog hosts have their own reasons for posting the comments they post. Everybody’s got their own reasons, and I’ve never had any interest in running any blog(s) but my own. {chuckling}
I'm not going to post links to these troll comments at other people's blogs because I want you to pay attention to the  WM troll's deceptive behavior pattern, not any particular blog host's decision to post his comment(s).
The focus of this post is also not about this particular WM troll that’s been haunting Black women’s blogs for several years. This WM troll has simply provided enough material to constitute a “teachable moment” for: (1) newbies who are unaware of his online history; and (2) confused African-American (AA) women who don’t understand how healthy boundaries operate. My focus is on many African-American women’s lack of boundaries and lack of discernment.
Healthy individuals and ethnic groups have boundaries. For the most part, outsiders can’t just “Bogard” their way into other ethnic group’s online spaces, and talk just any kind of way to those people (from non-AA ethnic groups). Most non-AAs won’t tolerate the garbage that AAs put up with.
A large part of the reason why the African-American collective is in a state of free fall is because most of us don't have any clear values. Those of us who do have values generally fail to integrate these values into the fabric of our everyday lives. Such people only pull their values out for "special occasions."

Most African-Americans are not grounded in anything at all.

Our lack of basic, firm grounding is also the reason why we are so easily deceived and pulled off course. Especially by flatterers. Excessive and/or insincere praise is almost always rooted in negative motives. It’s typically self-serving, and designed to advance a hidden agenda. I’m reminded of a song my parents played a lot, Smiling Faces Sometimes by The Undisputed Truth.
Smiling faces sometimes pretend to be your friend
Smiling faces show no traces of the evil that lurks within
Smiling faces, smiling faces sometimes
They don't tell the truth uh
Smiling faces, smiling faces
Tell lies and I got proof
The truth is in the eyes
Cause the eyes don't lie, amen

Remember a smile is just
A frown turned upside down
My friend let me tell you
Smiling faces, smiling faces sometimes
They don't tell the truth, uh
Smiling faces, smiling faces
Tell lies and I got proof

Beware, beware of the handshake
That hides the snake
I'm telling you beware
Beware of the pat on the back
It just might hold you back
Jealousy (jealousy)
Misery (misery)
Envy I tell you, you can't see behind smiling faces
Smiling faces sometimes they don't tell the truth

Smiling faces, smiling faces
Tell lies and I got proof
Smiling faces, smiling faces sometimes
They don't tell the truth
Smiling faces, smiling faces
Tell lies and I got proof
(Smiling faces, smiling faces sometimes)
(Smiling faces, smiling faces sometimes)

I'm telling you beware, beware of the handshake
That hides the snake
Listen to me now, beware
Beware of that pat on the back
It just might hold you back
Smiling faces, smiling faces sometimes
They don't tell the truth
Smiling faces, smiling faces
Tell lies and I got proof
Your enemy won't do you no harm
Cause you'll know where he's coming from
Don't let the handshake and the smile fool ya
Take my advice I'm only try' to school ya


When we don't continuously refer back to our touchstones—or even worse, don't have any touchstones to check—we set ourselves up to be played and to do great harm to our own interests.

This sort of self-inflicted damage to our own interests is the general behavior pattern for most African-Americans. We don't react to events based on clear, firm values. We react based on emotions.
Anyhoo, I’m talking about all of this because (in the link that was sent to me) I saw a comment by a WM troll that pricked my spirit:
 
As this exchange continued, this one BW reader who does have boundaries was actually called "racist" by other commenters. [!!!] Yes, the commenter named Cocoababe was called a "racist" because she has and sets boundaries, and therefore wouldn't let this WM troll get over with his drive-by snark.
As far as I’m concerned, drive-by snark is not cute. And it’s especially “not cute” in the context of an outsider coming among others to leave drive-by snark. Boundaries aren’t necessarily about race or ethnicity. They’re about being a good and respectful guest when you’re in somebody else’s “house.” Being a good and respectful guest when visiting somebody else’s space. Being a good and respectful guest when people from another group (be it gender, ethnic, racial, religious, sexual orientation, whatever) are discussing issues that are vital to their group’s interests.
How many AAs go to, let’s say, Nigerian blogs—where Nigerians are discussing issues of great importance to Nigerian people—and leave drive-by snark that makes mockery of a Nigerian person?
How many non-Jews go to Jewish blogs—where Jewish people are discussing issues of great importance to Jewish people— and leave drive-by snark that makes mockery of a Jewish person?
And if some outsider was so-called “bold” enough to do something like that, what do you think the reaction would be among most of the Nigerians or Jews present at those blogs? Somehow, I doubt they would be tickled about being disrespected in their own online houses. For the most part, the only people who seem to enjoy being disrespected is AAs.
I've seen this same WM troll leave his drive-by snark verbal droppings in other places in recent months. Here is the verbal dropping this WM troll left during a serious conversation about BW and romantic relationships at another BW's blog:
Let's take a stroll down Memory Lane. This particular WM troll has spent several years worming his way into various BF-IRR and some BWE blog conversations. I first became aware of him (due to his uninvited, unwelcome intrusions into my blog's discussions) sometime around 2009.
Even though he's probably wanted to do this all along, this WM troll didn't start off verbally pissing on BW's heads at BW's blogs. If he had shown his true face years ago when he first started interjecting himself into BW's blogs, he never would've been allowed into those conversations. He knew that if he had started off by engaging in Obvious Troll Behavior (the way most BM trolls behave), he wouldn't be able to get his foot in the door at various BW's blogs.
This particular WM troll has been patient. He spent years wearing a false mask of fake-concern for BW, fake-support, and fake manners in order to infiltrate what should be safe, denigration-free, online zones for BW. He spent years wearing a false mask so he could get in a position to verbally piss on BW's heads at BW's blogs.
He tried to infiltrate my blog discussions back in 2009. I was never fooled by his fake-concern for BW, his fake-support, or his fake manners. My instincts told me to be wary of this particular individual, and I listened. Ladies, listen to your instincts! If you're having a negative gut reaction to a person, place or thing, pay attention to that reaction! Don't try to talk yourself out of it. 
Anyhoo, in 2009, I banned this WM troll from my blog. Here's how it went down during the course of a couple of blog discussions during February and March 2009.
During a February 2009 discussion:
 
Blogger Aabaakawad said...
Respected Teacher Khadija,

Small question concerning what my role participating in this blog:
As a sympathetic older white man, where can I go and where can't I go in challenging others' views. This can clearly be tricky. I may appear to be a "duck". Ex: the controversial, but I believe sincere & appropriate, analysis in that ancient P. Moynihan report.

Can I be appreciated as a legit source of criticism? Or would that be damaging to the goals of this blog? -- Should the deconstruction be left to bw, because then it may heard as supportive?

Wishing Y'all Progress,

--- Aabaakawad
February 14, 2009 at 5:24 AM
Delete
Blogger Khadija said...
Greetings, Aabaakawad!

First of all, thank you--but I'm NOT a teacher or guru of any sort. I'm just hosting the conversations here. I learn from listening to the participants.

After some reflection, I've decided to take your comment at face value, and respond accordingly. As you know, there are a lot of time-wasting, game-playing trolls, but I decided to err on the side that maybe you are sincere about your question.

You said, "Small question concerning what my role participating in this blog:
As a sympathetic older white man, where can I go and where can't I go in challenging others' views. This can clearly be tricky. I may appear to be a "duck". Ex: the controversial, but I believe sincere & appropriate, analysis in that ancient P. Moynihan report.

Can I be appreciated as a legit source of criticism? Or would that be damaging to the goals of this blog? -- Should the deconstruction be left to bw, because then it may heard as supportive?"

Response: I don't like voyeurs. By "voyeurs," I mean people who do NOT have a stake in the issues under discussion. So their participation is simply a matter of personal entertainment.

I don't like this because this sort of behavior is disrespectful of the gravity of the issues under discussion. I'm not running a gossip blog. This is about uplifting spirits, and helping people to change their lives for the better. Lives are literally at stake concerning the issues under discussion here.

This blog is not about entertainment for me. I don't mind if people read this blog as entertainment. But I DO mind if people participate in these conversations for personal entertainment. If I see that somebody is playing games, then they're out of here.

I would also not look favorably upon your wish to intrude upon conversations that don't pertain to you. What's that about?

Why would you want to come here to (I take it from your Moynihan reference) quibble with us? Don't you know any Black folks in your personal life that you can bounce your ideas off of? If not, then this is yet another reason to be suspicious of your motives.

Just because you claim (and believe yourself) to be "sympathetic" doesn't mean that you actually are. Furthermore, I'm not looking for "sympathy" from anybody. For you to even conceive of the situation in those terms is paternalistic and patronizing.

I'm interested in JUSTICE. I support anybody who supports JUSTICE.

There are some blogs where I function as a SILENT voyeur. For example, gay and lesbian blogs. I enjoy Pam Spaulding's and Jasmyne Cannick's blogs. [They are Black lesbians.] I also enjoy "Living Out Loud With Darian." [He's a Black gay man.]

I read those blogs so that I (as a straight woman) can learn how to become a better ally in their pursuit of justice for themselves. I am not "sympathetic" to gays and lesbians. Who am I to presume that they would want or need my "sympathy"? I support JUSTICE for gays and lesbians. I read and LISTEN so that I can learn how to be more effective in my efforts to support justice for them.

I don't comment at those blogs because I feel that doing so would be presumptuous of me. I don't intrude upon their conversations. I disagree with some of the viewpoints expressed by the participants at these blogs. But that doesn't matter. I go there to listen and learn, not to lecture or debate with gays and lesbians about THEIR understanding of THEIR concerns. I would suggest that you do the same when it comes to conversations here.

Peace and blessings.
February 14, 2009 at 1:41 PM
Delete
Blogger Aabaakawad said...
Khadija,

Thank you for your careful and detailed response to my query. My missteps may have provided a teachable moment. This blog is not about entertainment for me either.

Regard this as personal communication or blog comment, as you choose. But I hope this last comment is allowed before I fade away, so that at least I can protect my reputation as a sincere participant on certain IR blogs run by your colleagues, where wm are explicitly welcome. I will better research where my input is accepted after this. I am very new to blogging.

I am sorry about the poor choice of the word sympathetic. I meant it to indicate I agree with your outlook. It was a poor choice to submit a comment thru a smartphone in the wee hours.

I will remain as a silent voyeur as u suggest. The very reason I asked my question was to understand the boundaries.

Although I do not have a place in this blog, I feel no embarrassment in being interested. I date within and outside my race with intentions of finding a LTR, likely marriage. Understanding the territory is essential for interacting without causing pain.

After posting, I realized my salutation laid it on too thick. Sorry. But I do regard u as a teacher, along with also being someone learning from others, because I have learned a lot, and I am sure many others feel this way too.

I placed a comment as a prelude to weighing in on the disagreement over the legitamacy of wp and multi-racial people in the outside world, as opposed to the blog world, pointing out or describing publicly the demonry in the bc. I was NOT going to do a critique of behavior, or to shame anyone, but a defense of the legitimacy of outside-the-group analysis in the real world. Rereading my comment, I totally blew it in framing this.

Specifically I was going to support Felicia in the following exchange, but I will refrain from comment:

Felicia said:

Daniel Patrick Moynihan also told the truth but was dissed because he was white.

and Felicia supplied this link:

Four decades later, scholars re-examine Moynihan Report

[That link is a wonderful summary of the history of that report and the evolving reaction to it.]

to which Khadija objected:

In terms of Moynihan, I also refuse to meekly submit to a humiliating tongue-lashing from some non-Black.

to which Felicia replied

IMO if someone isn't personally attributing to a social problem, they shouldn't feel any humiliation or feel scolded at all if an obvious problem is pointed out. Whether the observation is being made by someone inside of the American "black community" - and judging from some of the atrocities happening in heavily black under-class areas one would be hard pressed to call them communities - or outside of it.

Khadija, I really am grateful for what u r doing, and I am sorry for the disruption.

--- Aabaakawad
February 14, 2009 at 7:36 PM
Delete
Blogger Khadija said...
Hello there, Aabaakawad!

I'm delighted to see from your thoughtful reply that I didn't make a mistake by taking your original question seriously. It's good to see that you don't appear to be a game-playing troll.

Let me make this clear to you and any other non-Black readers: You are welcome to participate within certain boundaries.

To skip forward [I'll explain in detail later in this reply]: You are welcome to participate using the same respectful, self-editing that you probably use when discussing Jewish issues with Jewish people. [That is, assuming that you are not Jewish yourself.]

You are perfectly welcome to comment, and participate as long as it's NOT an effort to TELL us how we should think about racial matters that pertain to US. This is not a forum to debate with non-Blacks about OUR business. You are welcome to ask questions, as you have done. You are welcome to ask for clarification of why a commenter believes as they do.

Be aware that nobody is under any obligation to invest time in answering questions from outsiders. Readers are free to do so if they wish. They are free not to do so. I'll do it if I'm in the mood (LOL!), but keep in mind that educating non-Blacks is not my mission profile for this blog.

The problem that often occurs with non-Blacks jumping into many of these Black blog discussions is that it becomes a form of dominance. Many Whites feel perfectly comfortable telling us about OUR experiences. And telling us how we "should" perceive OUR experiences regarding racial matters.

This is disrespectful and unhelpful.

I would suggest the following thought experiment:

If you are not Jewish, have you ever questioned or debated with Jews about THEIR perceptions of matters related to their Holocaust? [I'm not talking about debates/questions about Israeli/Zionist politics or policies, I'm talking about matters directly related to their Holocaust.]

If you are not Jewish, have you ever questioned or debated with them about how they choose to define membership in THEIR ethnic/relgious group? Have you ever questioned or debated with them about how they choose to interpret the behavior of children from religiously mixed marriages?

People take liberties with AAs' concerns and sensibilities that they would never think to do with others.

So here's a quick guide for outsiders' boundaries here: If you wouldn't do it, say it, or challenge it regarding Jewish people, it's probably equally inappropriate to do it, etc. with us.

If you don't go around telling Jews who they should or should not consider Jewish, then it's not appropriate for you to try to define membership in OUR group.

If you don't go around telling Jews that they shouldn't be offended by actions and statements they perceive to be anti-Semitic, then it's not appropriate for you to try to give us lectures about what we should or should not perceive as racist.

LOTS of people seem to be able to figure this out when it comes to other people's sensibilities. Folks can figure it out when it comes to us as well. It's not that hard. However, part of the problem is that most "mixed company" discussions surrounding race tend to be dishonest. Another part of the problem is the AAs tend not to enforce boundaries. There are boundaries here.

Peace and blessings,
Khadija
February 14, 2009 at 8:23 PM
Delete
Blogger Aabaakawad said...
Khadija,

My gosh u type fast. I am envious.

I seem to be partially redeemed.

I am not Jewish, but my two best friends in college were. One was President of Hillel. I did discuss all of those subjects with them, and I sometimes disagreed with one or both of them. However, they were interested in my opinion.

But of course you are correct, since I could only do this because we three were a very tight group with complete trust. I think I now have a comfortable understanding now why my opinion of the Moynihan report does not belong here.

You have stated:

If you don't go around telling Jews who they should or should not consider Jewish, then it's not appropriate for you to try to define membership in OUR group.

Well of course. Was that aimed at me. Or just part of general instructions to non-AA participants. Am I being thick and missing something?

Wishing you progress,

--- Aabaakawad
February 14, 2009 at 9:16 PM
Delete
Blogger Khadija said...
Hello there, Aabaakawad!

My parents requiring me to take typing in high school has come in handy over the years. LOL! [They didn't want me to have to pay folks to type my papers in college.]

Peace and blessings.
February 14, 2009 at 9:41 PM
Delete

 
I ultimately banned this WM troll from my blog during a March 2009 conversation. The first part of my comment quoted below was in response to something Evia (host of Black Female Interracial Marriage blog) had said:
 
Blogger Khadija said...

Hello there, Evia!

. . . [skipped portion] You said, "Likewise, look at all the attempts that have been made to beat me down when all I'm trying to do is offer what I can to uplift bw, and I appreciate, Khadija, that you pointed that out the other day."
You're welcome, and THANK YOU for all the work that you have done. And this is something else that Black folks in general need to learn---how to SHOW gratitude for somebody who helped them. We tend to be ingrates with each other. Meanwhile, we gush for years later over any non-Black who throws us a moldy crumb.

Let me repeat a stern warning that I heard one of Elijah Muhammad's supporters give:

If somebody helped you, you need to open up your mouth and THANK that person. And THANK them again! And tell the truth about what they did for YOU when their name comes up in conversation.

If somebody helped you, that person shouldn't have to defend themselves, BY THEMSELVES from liars, nuts and trolls. You need to open up your mouth and just tell the TRUTH about what that person did to help YOU.

If somebody helped you, and was later wronged by somebody else, you need to open your mouth and say what was wrong. You don't have to fight that person's battle for them, just TELL THE TRUTH about how they helped you!

Too often, when somebody helps us, we take it for granted and let that person twist in the wind. When we act like this this, we DON'T DESERVE any help from anybody!

Evia, I know that you're a modest person, and I don't mean to embarass you, but the following really needs to be said to the silent audience:

What the above means to me in this context:

1-Reading Evia's essays helped ME when I felt disoriented after coming out of the Black Nationalist trance I had been in for years.

2-Evia's essays have helped a LOT of other BW. She's lifted a lot of BW's spirits.

3-Evia didn't have to be bothered with any of this. She didn't have be bothered with facing the cyber-stalking, threats, and madness that has followed her public support of BW's interests.

4-Since I am one of the BW who were helped by her work, I need to open my mouth and THANK HER for her work.

5-Since I am one of the BW who were helped by her work, I need to publicly TELL THE TRUTH about how her work helped ME.

6-Since I am one of the BW who were helped by her work, it should be displeasing to ME to see her slandered and maligned. And since this is displeasing to me, I need to speak out about that.

7-This is how you show gratitude to God for those people among His creation who helped you!

Dear Silent Audience: It angers me that there are a LOT of cowardly BF ingrates among our ranks who are eagerly reaping the benefits of reading essays by pioneers like Evia, Halima and others, but yet these women are silent when they come under attack. And these women never publicly acknowlege how their work has enriched their lives.

Half of these BF cowards would have fits if the pioneers retired from blogging. But yet they say and do nothing to show any appreciation for all that they have gained by reading the pioneers' work. All the while, the pioneers have been out on the front lines taking LOADS of heat and harassment.

This is despicable.

{climbing down from my soapbox}
[skipped portion] . . .
Peace, blessings, and solidarity.
March 10, 2009 at 6:23 PM

 
The WM troll intruded into the conversation to say:
 
 Blogger Aabaakawad said...
@Khadija

About the women who use this material but dont speak up. Its basic human nature to seek approval. while logicly the trolls cant hurt them,it still takes a certain amount of courage to confront the trolls. The hurt the trolls cause is inside the heads of these silent listeners, as the nasty ppl press the buttons and pull the levers in their minds that bind them back up in their learned hopelessness and pain.

You understand the problems, but you have not drowned in them for a lifetime. It does not take very much to pull out the despair all over again. These are PTSD women, and the vulnerabilty is profound at this point in their progress.

Khadija, I admire you, but you need to understand that you have been blessed with a warrior spirit and you came out of a relatively safe environment. You are not normative.

Merely reading and absorbing this information puts many women at the very edge of what they can tolerate in psychic pain. The hope is that they get past that, but this phase in the process can not be skipped over. It has to be endured. Then comes the strength.

If you care, and I can't believe you would put such effort effort in this if you didn't, try to approach this from the standpoint of what works and what is possible. Shaming only inhibits their progress.

Of what use is a newborn baby? A baby grows up eventually and together with others raises new babies. And so the human race continues.

We might at this moment be present at the birth of a transforming movement. Don't strangle it out of frustration with its current weakness. The silent followers at this stage need nurturing and encouragement. As they build on that, and tentatively speak up, pull them in. Listen to each one, and you will feel when there is enough strength there in an individual that they can b asked to try to do the hard stuff.

Wishing you progress Khadija, and PROGRESS to those who have not found their voice.
March 11, 2009 at 12:50 AM
Delete

 
My response was:
 
Blogger Khadija said...
Aabaakawad,

Before I say anything else, let me repeat some of what I told you previously:

"Let me make this clear to you and any other non-Black readers: You are welcome to participate within certain boundaries.

To skip forward [I'll explain in detail later in this reply]: You are welcome to participate using the same respectful, self-editing that you probably use when discussing Jewish issues with Jewish people. [That is, assuming that you are not Jewish yourself.]

You are perfectly welcome to comment, and participate as long as it's NOT an effort to TELL us how we should think about racial matters that pertain to US. This is not a forum to debate with non-Blacks about OUR business. You are welcome to ask questions, as you have done. You are welcome to ask for clarification of why a commenter believes as they do.

Be aware that nobody is under any obligation to invest time in answering questions from outsiders. Readers are free to do so if they wish. They are free not to do so. I'll do it if I'm in the mood (LOL!), but keep in mind that educating non-Blacks is not my mission profile for this blog.

The problem that often occurs with non-Blacks jumping into many of these Black blog discussions is that it becomes a form of dominance. Many Whites feel perfectly comfortable telling us about OUR experiences. And telling us how we "should" perceive OUR experiences regarding racial matters.

This is disrespectful and unhelpful.

I would suggest the following thought experiment:

If you are not Jewish, have you ever questioned or debated with Jews about THEIR perceptions of matters related to their Holocaust? [I'm not talking about debates/questions about Israeli/Zionist politics or policies, I'm talking about matters directly related to their Holocaust.]

If you are not Jewish, have you ever questioned or debated with them about how they choose to define membership in THEIR ethnic/relgious group? Have you ever questioned or debated with them about how they choose to interpret the behavior of children from religiously mixed marriages?

People take liberties with AAs' concerns and sensibilities that they would never think to do with others.

So here's a quick guide for outsiders' boundaries here: If you wouldn't do it, say it, or challenge it regarding Jewish people, it's probably equally inappropriate to do it, etc. with us.

If you don't go around telling Jews who they should or should not consider Jewish, then it's not appropriate for you to try to define membership in OUR group.

If you don't go around telling Jews that they shouldn't be offended by actions and statements they perceive to be anti-Semitic, then it's not appropriate for you to try to give us lectures about what we should or should not perceive as racist.

LOTS of people seem to be able to figure this out when it comes to other people's sensibilities. Folks can figure it out when it comes to us as well. It's not that hard. However, part of the problem is that most 'mixed company' discussions surrounding race tend to be dishonest. Another part of the problem is the AAs tend not to enforce boundaries. There are boundaries here."

__________________________

I see that it didn't take long at all for your repeated, uninvited INTRUSIONS into these discussions to turn into attempted dominance and disrespect.

You said, "If you care, and I can't believe you would put such effort effort in this if you didn't, try to approach this from the standpoint of what works and what is possible. Shaming only inhibits their progress."
First of all, it is not your place to try to instruct me as to how I should perceive, and respond to, the actions of other BW.

Second, it's quite easy for an outsider such as yourself to advocate letting adult BW slide with inappropriate, cowardly, disgraceful behavior. Their cowardice is NOT costing YOU anything. It's not creating an atmosphere that puts YOU and others like YOU in direct danger.

You said, "Khadija, I admire you, but you need to understand that you have been blessed with a warrior spirit and you came out of a relatively safe environment. You are not normative."

So now you're telling me what's "normative" among MY people. On top of that, you're telling me that I'm not normative because I'm emotionally stable and brave.

DON'T waste my time with a response.

DON'T intrude upon these discussions again.

DON'T come back.

Peace.
Khadija

March 11, 2009 at 4:50 PM

 
This WM troll's long-term prank is a good example of stealth. He spent a long time flattering various bloggers, and pretending to sincerely care about BW's issues. The snarky, disrespectful way he's talking to BW at various BW's blogs right now is what he's wanted to do from the very beginning. But he knew that he would first have to use STEALTH and deception to get his foot in the door at various BW's blogs. As I said during this post at the Sojourner's Passport blog,
 
Part of the reason African-Americans are so easily manipulated and exploited by others is because they know our emotional thumbscrews. We tend to wear them on our sleeves. They know that most African-Americans lack racial or ethnic self-respect. They know that most of us are desperate for validation from outsiders. They also know that we are a child-like, gullible people who assume that every smiling face is a friend. We don’t understand that an enemy is actually being kind by remaining aloof and openly showing hostility. We’ve never learned that the most dangerous and vicious enemy is the one who smiles in your face and joins you.

 It's something to keep in mind.