Friday, July 24, 2009

I don't care what you are, I care about what you did.

Check it out. Funny AND educational! Found this over at 49 percent who had linked to one of my previous posts (thanks for that!).



At 11:46 AM, Blogger Samia said...

I guess I'll repost a giant chunk of what I wrote on another person's blog (they reposted this vid too)...

When Jay tells us not to care WHAT the other person is, he doesn't mean we're supposed to ignore the power dynamics of privilege. Our individual situations affect the impact of our words on each other. In his other videos Jay explains that you can't just take responsibility for that you MEANT to do, you have to take responsibility for what you actually DID. And a person's privilege level has an effect on what they DO.

Here, I think Jay saying is that we shouldn't openly draw conclusions about a person's character based on statements in one or two conversations. It gets people defensive and gives them an easy way out of the conversation.

But it is impossible to ignore "what" we are when it comes to the intersections of privilege and oppression that influence each of us. Hope I'm making some sense.

Thanks for the link love! I enjoy your blog.

At 10:46 AM, Blogger Ms.PhD said...


That's a good point about not ignoring the power dynamics.

I think one of the things we have to balance is understanding that everyone is human, and they might not be aware of their own biases when they're oppressing us, but that doesn't excuse their behavior, either.

I'm not sure if I agree with what you're saying Jay argues re: intent vs. what you actually did.

I think we've all had the experience of accidentally offending someone (on any issue, not just race) without having any bad intentions whatsoever.

Obviously it's important to educate each other on what's acceptable and what's not, and to respect each other enough to say "Hey, you fucked up back there, and here's what you should do next time instead".

Some people get defensive, some don't. I've certainly had the experience of receiving comments on this blog that make outrageous accusations about my character based on reading one or two posts.

It did not, however, give me an easy way out. I probably lost readers and I'm not sure if they'll ever come back.

I guess I take responsibility in the sense that I try to clarify, by addressing comments, wherever necessary. But if that's not good enough, then oh well. It was educational for all of us.

One of the things I liked about this video is that it raises the point of how everything cuts both ways, and you can undermine your own cause by being accusatory.

At 2:01 PM, Blogger Samia said...

Hi again, YFS.

I'm not sure if I agree with what you're saying Jay argues re: intent vs. what you actually did.

That's just something he points out in other videos. If you're interested, they're the vids on Asher Roth and also his interview with Dan Charnas. Anyway, I really really hope I'm not coming across as nitpicking or anything, but for some reason when it comes to discussions about race in particular, the "I didn't mean it" tack seems to be deployed very frequently as a defense, not as a preface to any kind of acknowledgment that harm may have been done. It easily turns into "I didn't mean it, so why are you being mean by telling me that was hurtful?"

I think we've all had the experience of accidentally offending someone (on any issue, not just race) without having any bad intentions whatsoever.

I agree 100%; I know I do it quite frequently myself. It can hurt us to find out that we have unintentionally hurt others. And it's our tone and receptivity to correction that lets people know it's worth the time to educate us. So "I didn't mean it" can come from the heart, but if it's used as a way to shut down conversation altogether or to accuse other people over hypersensitivity, the conversation will start to take a decidedly less rational direction very soon.

I've been reading you for a while and have yet to figure out why some commenters will drop by to launch personal attacks rather than address what you actually write. It's good to see that you don't waste time entertaining people who are clearly out to hurt your feelings rather than discuss your writing.

Again, I truly hope this comment is not seen as argumentative or nitpicky. Much love.

At 7:12 AM, Blogger femme de science(s) said...

It's actually a good thing to keep in mind for any conversation, a bit like saying "I feel this when you do that" rather than "you did this to me". I had never really thought about that as a "communication tool",so thanks for posting it.

At 8:05 AM, Anonymous BikeMonkey said...

The second, perhaps even more important point, is that individuals need to stop playing the "you called me a -ist" card as the first response to criticism of action or statement...

At 3:53 PM, Blogger butterflywings said...

Generally, not just on race issues, but in life, 'I didn't mean it that way' is used as an excuse. I am very sick of hearing it right now. Do not justify yourself. Just don't do it again.

I don't care what you *meant*, I care about what you *did*.

And yes, 'when you do x' - *describe behaviour factually* *then describe the effect of said behaviour* is a very powerful tool.


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