This page is for discussing the contents of Occupy UC Davis.
At the risk of even more people getting defensive:
I find it super interesting that nobody thought to start a Talk page before completely white-washing what was said. This made it appear that all editors involved were operating on the assumption that the discussion did not belong on the page at all and that it didn't even warrant any dialogue. Next time, you might want to ask for the input of the person whose words are being trivialized and erased instead of rushing to remove it.
Also, I thought we weren't supposed to throw the racist accusation around here lightly, but apparently I was wrong about that. It's extremely telling (and disheartening) that I am the one who was called racist (by multiple people, no less), and yet people are rushing to the defense of someone who managed to twist the situation and victimize himself after I had the audacity to call him out on his callous remark. He (and others) derailed the conversation and made it all about him(/them) (which, by the way, is common when folks are uncomfortable talking about their privilege), when it really should be about the operation of white (and other) privilege(s) within and around the Occupy movement.
I am pleased with the changes CP made after the page was whitewashed, and I might add some more when I am not drowning in work. I think it should be obvious enough to go without saying, but if editors disagree with these changes please discuss them here rather than outright deleting them again. In the meantime, try to understand what others are saying before hastily labeling their attempts to educate about privilege as somehow inappropriate to the wiki.
2012-04-05 13:09:25 I agree with what MW says here. First she was attacked for pointing out a problem with a dismissive remark that had been made about a serious concern. Then had her words wiped from the page without discussion that included her. I think we need to work a little harder at communicating with fellow editors and giving them the benefit of the doubt. —CovertProfessor
2012-04-05 13:38:18 I stayed out and watched people talking past each other and both sides being outraged. I'll give the benefit of the doubt that all outrage was legitimately felt in order to move forward. I always feel that legitimate discussions of race should not ever invoke any claims of racism by participants: otherwise you can't honestly present views or ask ignorant questions. That said, they provoke strong emotional responses. I think most people have made statements to the effect that the conversation got too personal and should end. Go buy an iced chai and sit on the porch of Delta if you want to debate it; text on the wiki doesn't seem to be really working for this particular topic.
I wrote the above, then got an email on the subject. I'm pretty clearly skipping over some of what I feel about the issue with that second sentence. If we really want to open this up, I'll be more specific. I'm making an assumption that we want to close the door and move forward. I could be wrong on that, and certainly am not trying to handwave or ignore people's concerns. The following is not intended to derail or dismiss anybody:
The second is the practical matter of the content of the wiki. We are writing about Occupy and specifically the name of the organization. Dropping "educating a person on the wiki" or "clarifying my position for a specific editor" entirely: do the few paragraphs in that section present the issues with the name accurately and with an honest attempt to be fairly comprehensive about the various viewpoints of people in Davis? If not, what needs to be added or removed? —JabberWokky
To be clear, I am not asking for a debate on privilege here. I am asking a) why it was all of a sudden just fine to hurl accusations of racism and b) why it was all of a sudden just fine to delete something from a page without consulting the editor whose contributions were being erased. Neither of these questions have been answered. As for the content question, what CP put in is much better than the initial deletion. No, I don't think it is comprehensive. I'll add more (or propose adding more) when I have time, but that could be weeks from now. -Megan
2012-04-05 17:11:11 I'm pretty sure that I asked one of your allies, Meggo, to revise the page. So I definitely wasn't looking for a whitewash.
I think it's pretty cool that you have the audacity to stick up for your beliefs. It's very not cool that you did so by categorizing me. And those sort of negative prejudices of ethnic groups don't belong on the wiki, because they're offensive. I like the current version much better because it discusses how privilege influences beliefs without resorting to stereotyping. —BrentLaabs
- Wow, you really do think everything is a criticism of you, don't you?? MW doesn't direct her comments above at you specifically. In fact, it wasn't you who did the first round of whitewashing. I'd also point out that talking to an "ally" is not the same as talking to the person whose comments you are deleting. I don't speak for MW, and I certainly did not agree to make changes to the page. I said that I'd think about it, and the next thing I knew, changes were being made. Hardly a model of respectful collaborating. As for your over-interpretation of MW's comments, well, we've been over that before. Where is your remorse at making dismissive comments ("these people need to chill") about a very serious issue? Maybe the movement should go around wearing white sheets with hoods — would that be OK? —CovertProfessor
- In the right context, sure, white sheets/hoods would be appropriate, especially this time of year. This seems to be the central issue, anyway. Words and symbols have different meanings in different contexts. The essence of the disagreement is this: should one group's uncommon experiences with a symbol or word dictate how others use it in different contexts? Is even having this discussion a distraction from the goals of the movement considering how the movement (at UC Davis in particular) has yet to come up with a cohesive statement of its goals? —WilliamLewis
- Sure, we could have a respectful conversation about that. However, "Those people might need to chill and realize that one can't get everything one asks for" is an outright dismissal of a group's experiences, not a discussion of how to weigh them against other considerations. And assuming that those concerns are a "distraction" from the goals of the movement is to beg the question about what is most important without even having the discussion. —CovertProfessor
- You're right in identifying that line as a problem. That's why I removed it in my so-called "whitewash" and summed it up in different words. It was a pragmatic criticism of the group not made in the most respectful words available. —WilliamLewis
- And the overreaction to the criticism of that problematic line is exactly what has gotten us into this situation. Deleting it might have helped the page (though I don't see where BL has retracted the sentiment, so the page no longer reflects that viewpoint), but it doesn't help clean up the mess that was left in its wake. —CovertProfessor
I don't really feel the need for remorse here. I stated an opinion. I was asked to "check my privilege". I didn't know what that meant, and I was answered with a racist statement. Then I actually did investigate privilege, and how I might be misinterpreting the situation. I reconsidered what I said in light of this. I still thought I was right. So I went back to reconsider from first principles, just to make sure I'm not just experiencing confirmation bias.
No, it turns out. I reject the idea that I said something that requires an apology completely and unequivocally. The word "occupy" is a common word in the English language, and has never been used as a tool of oppression. White hoods have been. So I posted an alternative view on a non-NPOV wiki. I don't really see a need for remorse on that issue. I responded to a statement that specificially pointed out my race and gender — and further prejudged me based on a stereotype — by removing it and asking the author not to post further offensive statements.
I did not attempt to silence, diminish, or censor anyone's opinion, other than blatant racism, which I still believe should be kept off the wiki. Nor have I deleted it again, after only a single person objected. I have asked for an explanation, and sought a balanced, consensus page. So I don't feel I have to apologize for that.
I never said that CovertProfessor agreed to make changes to the page, I said that I asked. Other people editing pages they feel can be improved is standard operating procedure, especially in cases of excessive thread mode. I'm honestly surprised that Meggo is so attached to keeping her embarassing statements on the page, but I suppose that all views need to be represented. —BrentLaabs
- The word "occupy" never implied oppression — and yet somehow a a well-known pop song was written about it? I'd say again that your ignorance is a result of your privilege, but then you'd just call me a racist. You could, of course, do some research about why people have objected to the word "occupy," but you seem more content to ignore what I've already written about it and continue to issue denials. —CovertProfessor
Anybody reading this, get ready for an Edgar-length reply.
Brent, although you deleted my initial response to your comment to "chill out," my question about white-washing was targeting the deletion of the rest of the conversation later on, which you did not do.
Although I don't wish to continue to debate this, I will try one more time to defend myself against your (and others') accusation of racism (though CP has made several valiant efforts). Yes, I categorized you as a white male. I sincerely apologize if I miscategorized you- I was going by the skin tone and gender presentation in the pictures.
You were not prejudged based on your race and gender. Prejudging would be assuming that all white men will have the same reaction to concerns about the word occupy. NOT the order of events: white male -> I assume he'll be a jerk. ACTUAL order of events: your flippant statement dismissing the concerns of an ethnic minority -> I attribute it to white privilege. See the difference?
People with an appearance such as yours, even if they are oppressed in other ways, benefit from white privilege. This statement is not a "negative prejudice," but a sad fact. Are you really trying to claim your response would have been just as dismissive if you did not have the privilege of an uncolonized ancestry? In this case, if you were, say, Haudenosaunee, I seriously doubt you would have treated the concern over the word "occupy" in the same brusque manner.
I would like to be clear that the advantages one receives for their whiteness is not a result of personal flaws (or merits), but is correlated to their position in a racialized social system. I'm not saying that is the only type of privilege by any means. But, I'm going to point it out when I see it being exercised (just as I hope someone would call me out so I can work on being an empathetic ally), especially if the person is unaware. Yeah, I'm sure it's offensive because people don't like being told that certain aspects of their identity may blind them to the struggles others face, but the fact that someone is offended does not make it false.
Finally, I never said the exact thread should be kept on the page. I said there should have been a conversation before it was removed. As an aside, I am not embarrassed by any of my statements. If anything, I think those who recklessly threw around accusations of racism should be embarrassed.
Excuse me for not expanding on all of this in my earlier responses, but since you made a joke out of the issue of privilege (instead of simply asking what it was, which is how you're framing it now), accused me of racism, ignored all of CP's explanations, and then AGAIN said that people with concerns about the word "occupy" should chill, I didn't think a cordial tone was necessary. -Megan
2012-04-05 18:42:28 I said I wasn't getting into this. Dammit.
My intent was not to whitewash anything. To sum up my motivations behind the edits that are being condemned, I quote Evan. "[T]he conversation got too personal and should end. Go buy an iced chai and sit on the porch of Delta if you want to debate it; text on the wiki doesn't seem to be really working for this particular topic." It was some back and forth sniping that did a poor job of explaining what debate happened within the movement. Let's make this about issues, not people. —WilliamLewis
- The issues that MW raises above are not so much about the content of the page specifically. Rather, they are about the way that the editing of the page was handled. Those issues remain unresolved. Also, the wiki is full of specific people's opinions about topics. We're always saying that those should be in the main body of entries. Now, all of the sudden, they don't belong? —CovertProfessor
- Not all opinions are helpful or informative. I believe this was the case here. As for these other issues, my opinion remains the same as always. Namely, content can be fixed. That's what talk pages are for. These other nebulous issues don't seem to have a solution because differing philosophical assumptions are rearing their ugly heads. This talk page isn't going to fix that. —WilliamLewis
- Are you saying that we never need to discuss how editors should behave towards one another? And that if one misbehaves, no apology or future change of behavior is required? Yes, discussing content is the primary use for a Talk page — but one of the points that MW makes that this was not done here, even though the subject matter was obviously controversial. —CovertProfessor
- I'm saying a talk page like this and the discussion it has spawned is not going to help out here. As for there not being a talk page beforehand to discuss content—if we had a talk page for any slightly contentious issue, we'd never get anything done. I judged that one was not needed and tried to improve the page. No revert war. No unclear plan of how to proceed. By default, we make the edits we think are right. If we disagree with others, we say so. —wl
- Aaaaand so MW gets called a racist and has her words erased without discussion. No harm no foul, we move on. Great. What a welcoming and respectful place this wiki is. —CovertProfessor
- What do you want from me? What do you want from any other people in particular? Justice? Insincere apologies? —wl
- I'd like a lot of things, but what I would like most of all is for editors to stop attacking anyone who dares to bring up an issue concerning race or gender. The wiki should be a place where reasonable criticisms don't become opportunities for dog piles and rock throwing. Based on what I am seeing on this page, though, that is a pipe dream. And this is far from the first time that this has happened. —cp
- I would like people to acknowledge the difference between telling someone their privilege is showing and actual racism. I would have REALLY liked it if everyone lurking during that whole conversation could have said "hey, it's not acceptable to call her that," even if they didn't agree with my philosophy. Finally, I would like editors to be consistent in consulting others before deleting their content. -Megan
- It should be noted I personally was focussing on her statement and not her as a person (although it's been removed I can't clarify my earlier statements in context as I had said I would do today). I believe that should've been allowed. You post something-you are responsible for what you post. WL has called people out for stuff they've posted. Now it won't be done due to the whitewash. Sorry-I don't agree with it. —PeterBoulay
- CP, I actually thought there was a fair amount of discussion about the change before it happened. No, it didn't happen on a talk page, but myself, PB, and BL all expressed issues with the stereotyping on the main page and various user pages. MW was engaged in all these discussions and her points were openly included for everyone to see. BL eventually asked you if you'd consider rewriting the page, and you were non-committal, essentially saying you weren't interested right away, but would maybe consider it later. At that time DD, expressed removal of all the bulleted comments. So at least six different parties, including MW and you, participated in discussions about the content of the removed section. Personally, I thought WL did a good job of trying to retain the essential arguments, while removing the personal attacks. I thought is was fair and justified, and I support it. The prior version is still there, however, so it's revertible if consensus decides otherwise. I'm not a big fan of censoring either, but in this case, assuming statements based on race or sex, no matter how privileged someone is or isn't, in my opinion, is inappropriate. —JT
- You've misremembered, JT. MW was not involved in that conversation about deleting the conversation and rewriting the section. —cp
- If you want to get technical, then yes, she wasn't directly asked about that specific edit. The broader discussion was public though, and she was involved with a lot of it and had stated her opinions, all of which I thought were generally retained, (minus the personal attacks and stereotyping). WL is right, we can't open a talk page for every edit. Believe me, we've had many discussions where a majority of editors rewrite or remove somebody else's statements based on some sense of consensus, despite how the original author feels about it. This case seems no different to me. Myself, BL, and DD, were all interested in removing the stereotyping and personal attacks, and WL, appeared to agree by making the actual removals and taking a stab at a rewrite (BL, DD & WL, please correct me if I'm wrong on that. Not trying to put words in your mouths here.) Either way, to me, that seemed to show there was enough consensus to make a rewrite to a majority's satisfaction. WL did include an invite for further changes in his edit comment, and I assume MW would have been included in invitation. She's continued to participate in discussions since the removal, and despite some people maybe feeling a little frustrated or worn out, I think she was given a fair opportunity to express her opinions on the matter. —JT
- The following paragraph makes it very clear that statement is predicated upon people wanting to head in that direction, and is not an attempt to silence opinion. —jw
- And it was not my intent to imply otherwise. I tried to represent the opinions of the people involved in a more helpful way than a little fight on the page, not pretend differing opinions or the issue itself didn't exist. Obviously, some people weren't happy with that. —wl
- Yeah, I just didn't want that out of context. This is a bit muddled, as happens when general discussions and specific discussions are mixed. -jw
2012-04-05 19:58:48 This whole thing makes me sad. I'm glad I haven't been involved. There were some pretty harsh and/or dismissive actions and reactions on both sides. It reminds me of the sexism discussion on the Identity page.
I've got to agree with JabberWokky. Experience indicates that the wiki is not a good medium for having these discussions. Prejudice and privilege are highly charged topics, and people (including myself) tend to be more than a little sensitive about anything that might seem like an accusation or stereotype once the discussions get going.
I'd second JW's suggestion of sitting down at Delta and talking things out. Or throwing a Wiki BBQ. Something where people can meet face to face and carry out a discussion with all the sincerity, emotion, and nuance that can't be fully conveyed in text. —TomGarberson