Hey, I need to apologize. A couple of commenters recently found a two-year-old post that ended with a fucking textbook example of privileged ignorance — the kind of shit I now get on my high horse and call other people out for. I’m ashamed I ever thought that way, and I’m sorry. I really fucked up.
And as much as I’d love to let those comments fall off the front page and hope no one else ever goes back and reads that post, I think it’s worth posting about for two reasons. First, because it’s a really good example of how good intentions don’t mean shit if you don’t think about your privilege and actively try not to marinate in the ignorance that comes with it. The fact is, I have learned a hell of a lot about privilege from reading feminist and other social justice blogs in the last couple of years, and as a result I’ve become much more cognizant of my own. I simply wouldn’t say anything like that these days — but only two years ago, I would have and did. And two years from now, I will probably look back on shit I said in 2008 and cringe at how ignorant I sounded. I expect that will continue for the rest of my life. I’m constantly learning, there will always be more to learn, and of course, I will never fully be able to see my own privilege — ’cause that’s how it works.
Which brings us to reason number 2 for bringing this up now. Over the last few days, I’ve been called out for making privileged comments on a different thread. Some of it I already recognize as well-deserved, some of it I probably will recognize as well-deserved upon further reflection — and some of it actually is bullshit. (No amount of introspection is going to make me own words that were flat-out put in my mouth.) I’ve been feeling really defensive, and it’s hard to tease apart how much defensiveness is the typical response of a person being rightly called on her privilege, and how much is in response to the parts that are indeed bullshit.
But that’s something that comes with the territory of having privilege — having to sort through the lousy feelings that come up when someone tells you you’ve got a blind spot that’s leading to shitty behavior. When it’s obvious, as with that old post, it’s actually relatively simple. I feel shitty and mortified about that, but I should feel shitty and mortified, because I said an asshole thing, no two ways about it. When it’s not so clear-cut, however — when there are a few twisted words and false assumptions among the valid criticism — it’s tempting to reject the criticism wholesale.
I need to not do that. I need to reread Amp’s How Not to Be Insane post, and I need to shut up and fully process that conversation. And in the meantime, I need to apologize for being defensive and hurting people. I’m sorry.
Update: I appreciate comments attempting to defend my honor here, but as many people have pointed out, my honor is not the larger issue. Before anyone comments again — and this includes me — I’d ask that people read this post at The Angry Black Woman and this post by zvi on “tone.” (Both of which were just sent to me by a reader who is rightly concerned that this thread is getting into the territory covered by those posts, which is really unhelpful, to say the least.)