Super Quickie

britanica.com

You may have noticed that there was no wordpress wednesday post this week. Last Thursday, the day after the regular breakdown of race, gender, and sexuality issues with wordpress’ highlight page, wordpress staff chose to highlight a post about “not seeing race”. The post, written by a white male heterosexual middle class author about his white male middle class son’s trip to the library blended his son’s questions about race with the historical experience of a black child who had been denied entrance/use of the public library for years. One child, experienced state sanctioned discrimination exacerbated by individual actions, the other was reading a book about him in which he took away one question “dad, am I black?” Which led the father to ask him why he would ask such a question and then praise the “race blindness” of his son who just assumed people were “different shades of the same color”. Neither his father nor the post questioned the underlining issues here:

  1. there is no comparison between a black child actually being discriminated against and a white child who fears he would be (& let’s be clear, that is what the child was asking)
  2. race blindness in children is possible minus the issues we normally attributed to such a stance, but this child was not “race blind” he just did not know that “shades” had names
  3. more significantly, while he was clearly unaware/uninvested in white supremacy (the idea that white is best),he had already internalized the idea of white normativity because his shade theory depended on a norm – white; white normativity is necessary for white supremacy
  4. race blind liberalism is not only a form of erasure, in which we are once again all consumed by an unmarked normative (ie white) but also has been a key tool of conservatives to deny people of color financial aid, equity in education and employment, etc.

The father’s response was to praise his child’s “shade theory” rather than to give his child the tools he needs to understand AND embrace cultural differences and histories of discrimination (which I assumed was part of the reason he checked out the book about the black child and the library in the first place). In other words, he took a teachable moment and used it to reinforce misconceptions and misinformation about race that will continue the patterns of racial conflict that exist on the left, ie between people who “don’t mean it” but do it all the time and their targets, and upholds those conflicts on the right, ie the people who do mean it and don’t care. (Of course these left-right categories are arbitrary here since the operational aspects of racism on either side of the political divide can be unintentional or intentional depending on the person.)

In conclusion, the post asked us all to emulate this child, because there is too much emphasis on race in our world and just not seeing it or understanding it would solve everything …

After such a post, how could I possibly continue to mark out how wordpress’ “race blind” policies on their highlight page translate to elevating posts written almost exclusively by white heterosexual middle class parenting white cis people for the same and at least bi-weekly praising a post that insults at least one group of people of color, was … RACIST. Clearly if I just stopped seeing color and thought in terms of shades, I would not possibly notice that there is only 1 shade represented most days and very rarily 2 but seldom 3 and then the people who were that shade could continue to think of themselves as “good people”.

Next Wednesday, the wordpress fail posts will be back.

WordPress Wednesday Aug 11

updated post

I know you are just chompin’ at the bit for today’s weekly installment of fascinating stats about wordpress fail with regards to race, sexuality, class, and often gender. Unfortunately, I got a late start this morning and the Wednesday count took longer than usual because we had to track down some of the authors identities and debate whether or not to include findings about another major criteria for wordpress posts: is it interesting, entertaining, or providing new information. We have been tracking this category all along but recognize that in many cases, this criteria is subjective. Today, after reading two very dry posts about nothing and one incredibly funny one about the same thing, the debate opened up again. So … all this to say stats will be late today because I have meetings all afternoon into mid-evening. Ahh the start of Fall how I hate love it.

So here are the stats:

Pictures

  • men of color: 40
  • women of color: 14
  • TOTAL PICS OF PEOPLE OF COLOR: 55
  • white men: 37
  • white women: 30
  • TOTAL PICS OF WHITE PEOPLE: 70

Men of color were overrepresented in this count because of a post set in India in which 20 photos were featured, 18 of which were Indian men. The number of white women is also overrepresented in this count because of a post featuring 19 photos, 17 of which were white women. Though the latter post was not racially-culturally specific, it was about a city in N. America, of the 19 photos only 2 were people of color and both were of the same family who owned a shop featured in the post. Another post this week had 16 photos of a city with an extremely diverse population but only featured 2 photos of people of color, one was a crowd shot and the other was an older sticker of the Supremes. There was also an omission of images this week based on the problematic decision not to count photos from a Latina’s post on her wedding as her family would be considered white in Latin America but by nature of being culturally Latin@, would be brown in the U.S. Despite all of these issues, you’ll note that white people still appeared 20% more often than people of color this week and white women were still twice as likely to be depicted as women of color.

Authors

  • men of color: 2
  • women of color: 3
  • TOTAL AUTHORS OF COLOR: 5
  • white men: 19
  • white women: 18
  • TOTAL WHITE AUTHORS: 37

Once again white authors dominate those who featured on Freshly Pressed despite the published response to one of my readers that wordpress’ Freshly Pressed page highlights the diversity of “all of its authors” and blogs. White people were featured at 6xs the rate of people of color as were white women over women of color. While white men and white women were 9xs more likely to be featured than men of color, white men and white women had near gender parity this week. There were also three authors this week whose race was unknown but whose gender information was available.

1 white male’s blog was highlighted twice this week and several online journals whose assumed audience is white were highlighted again over individual bloggers or bloggers of color. One multi-authored blog highlighted this week had 9 authors none of whom were people of color and only two of whom were women. Another featured multi-author blog had only 3 authors but again none were people of color, though 2 were women.

Gender and Sexuality

  • pictures of women: 44
  • pictures of men: 77
  • female authors: 23
  • male authors: 23
  • gender unknown: 1
  • articles about feminism: 1
  • articles about gay rights: 1
  • articles about, related to, or otherwise assuming heterosexuality: 10

Men out number women in pictures this week but are equal with women as authors. This week marked the first in three weeks of consistent collection of data that a gay author was featured! The author was white, male, and middle class and made no reference to diversity beyond sexuality in his post. This was also the first week that a black male blog author was featured who has his picture prominently displayed on the front page. Most of the men of color featured on freshly pressed do not have their images on the blog or have them on a separate page. Interestingly, most of the white women featured on freshly pressed have their photos prominently displayed on either their home page, attached to their author credit when they write a post, and/or on their about page. As per usual there were no mention of transgender identity or rights nor alternative feminisms; the fact feminism appeared at all this week was fairly important even though it was not the first time. Feminist posts are seldom highlighted.

Grammar & Copyright

  • grammatical errors: 8
  • copyright infringement: 27

This section of stats highlights things that wordpress claims will absolutely prevent you from being featured. As in all other weeks, posts written primarily, if not exclusively, by white cis heterosexual authors were featured that violated copyright and grammar rules over diverse authors who had not.

Other Issues

This week saw the return of both white identified posts, posts that assume whiteness as the shared and normative experience, and racist or racialized posts. The biggest offense included a post that was exclusively about making fun of the way Middle Eastern people use the English language to sell product. The post included the image below which combined ablism and racism to form the crux of the post, including a caption that stressed the use of the word “retard” as ablist insult that was also the featured image on the Freshly Pressed page that day.

JeremyFugelberg.wordpress.com

Of the posts about racism highlighted, of which there were 2, both were written by white people about race issues in communities of color. The purpose of these posts was to highlight internalized racism, spoke only of as racism, ie putting the onus on communities of color rather than on the global system of racist inequality that ultimate is internalized by some targeted people. No people of color discussing racism have ever been highlighted on the freshly pressed page in three weeks this project has gone on even though they write about it every day on wordpress blogs. The week prior to the official start of this project, a person of color excusing away racism was featured, she was the first person of color discussing racism I had seen featured in some time.