A couple years ago my cousin told me she had started a blog. Despite my fear of technology I began reading it regularly. I soon learned that there was an entire community of “bloggers” on the interwebs, some of whom were women of color that were sharing brilliant opinions on a diverse range of interests. Then one fateful day I followed my cousin’s “blogroll” to the sparkliest and snarkiest of all ladyblogs: Jezebel.
This blog was different from any other, not only because it was geared primarily toward smart, funny women but because it was interactive. And I thought to myself, “I like this! I too will do the blogging!”
I chose a screenname that was an oblique reference to the furious cycle of flattery and flagellation I was sure would follow. I had no idea how right I would be. Having chosen a screenname derived from Black comedy I figured it was only fitting to choose an image of a Black woman to represent me. And after all, what that was unique and of value did I have to add to any conversation concerning issues of the day if not my perspective as a mixed-race woman who had spent a lifetime trying to understand what was real and admirable about her Black identity? And so MizJenkins was born.
After a few weeks I was excited and surprised to find that the ladyblog covered issues that were of specific interest to women of color like myself, such as the underrepresentation of Black people in the media and the uncomfortable social realities of interracial dating. I was far less excited (and less than surprised) to find that the level of discourse in the commentary was not as progressive and often about as uninformed as I tend to find elsewhere. So I took it upon myself —since the economy was down and I was bored at work— to attempt to educate and elevate the discussion by sharing what I had learned.
MizJenkins is a Star!
Suddenly – WOW!! I had all these “friends” and people “hearted” me! I even got a few shout-outs from the ladyblog editors and had won myself a shiny gold star of approval saying I was all right. Until the inevitable happened. I eventually found myself in a situation, much like “IRL”, where I felt compelled to say, “YIKES! You might want to reconsider that statement because it’s kind of racist.” And oh how the shit hit the fan! Because God as my witness, Hell truly hath no fury like White when it ain’t right.
I was branded as angry and “threatening”! I was denounced, banished from the clubhouse and summarily stripped of my badge of honor.
After letting wounded egos heal for several months and begging forgiveness MizJenkins was reinstated and I quickly regained my star status. But once it became clear that I was not going to sit idly by, that I was going to call out racism vociferously when I saw it, I was banned again. This time permanently.
The Rise of Miz X
Since first arriving in this country in chains, Black Americans have had to find creative ways to subvert and defy White authority, through slang, song, rhyme, code and creating whole new identities. Their success has been made possible in large part by the willingness of White people of strong moral integrity to poke holes in the mantle of White supremacy and allow their Black friends to sneak through (see, the Underground Railroad, Freedom Summer 1964 etc.).
After MizJenkins was banned, an internet friend who was appalled by the censorship she’d witnessed decided that MizJenkins should continue to speak out by any means necessary and generously offered to sacrifice her own distinguished status so that it could happen. And so MizX was born (surprise?!)
Originally I assumed that my secret identity would be pretty obvious to anyone who’d been paying attention to MizJenkins. After I realized that this was not necessarily the case, I decided to try a new strategy as something of a social experiment. I decided that MizX would be “more Black” in that she would adopt a vernacular and espouse concepts that are mainstream in Black America, instead of the kindergarten schoolteacher “voice” I sometimes used as MizJenkins and around my real life White friends who don’t really get it. But she would remain largely disengaged from any contentious discussions about race. Instead she would be far MORE strident on a number of other issues, espousing some of my more unpopular opinions (most of which it seems were excused or forgotten during the martyrdom of MizJenkins).
Many people railed against MizX’s comments on every topic from abortion to the color pink. She was told in no uncertain terms – even by some of MizJenkins’ nearest and dearest internet friends – to STFU (sometimes rightly so). But the only times she was officially silenced were when the topic of the offending comment had to do with race.
In all I have been banned from the ladyblog four times (that I can think of”¦):
Once for pointing out that the conceptual link between brown skin and fecal matter has a long history as a racial slur (see, above).
Once for expressing irritation at the tiresome tendency of White women to dramatically inject their own aggrieved commentary into discussions about a type of discrimination that doesn’t much affect them (see, my previous discussion about so-called White feminists who are incensed by the idea that a “protected class” might not include them).
And once I believe I was demoted for calling T.I.’s wife a “hoodrat,”, which might be the truest thing I’ve ever said.
In each case I reached out to representatives of the ladyblog and offered my strongest and sincerest arguments — with all that my natural rhetorical abilities, my Ivy league degree in political science and cultural relations, my doctorate in U.S. law and 31 years of being Black in America could muster — as to why I believed my comments to be not only appropriate but necessary and why it was important for a certain Black perspective on these matters to be heard.
The only counterargument or response I EVER received in return was: “I don’t like your tone.”
Becky, Becky, Becky
Around the same time I created MizX I created another ladyblog persona and I called her DarlingBecky (surprise?!!) I created her largely as a foil to serve at the convenience of various commenter friends of MizJenkins who were in on the joke. Rather than them endlessly debating wearisome real life racists on the ladyblog (which resulted in a LOT of real life heartbreak and frustration) and since I could no longer take up the cause on the side of Right, I chose to set up the most common and illogical racist arguments I was familiar with so that the folks with good sense could knock them down. After all, I’ve been trained to argue both sides.
The experiment didn’t last long”¦in part because I am apparently too blatant to pull off subtle satire and in part because I quickly grew bored of being so inane. But in the time DarlingBecky was on the ladyblog she made dozens of purposeful, flat-out ignorant and flagrantly racist comments in the smarmiest tone I could conjure. She offered absolutely nothing of substance. And she was never banned…even after several people pointed out that she was an obvious troll.
She was “warned”, scolded, given the side-eye and quietly ostracized by the bold and shiny in-crowd. But at no point did anyone say to DarlingBecky authoritatively, “NO. You may NOT speak. That perspective will NOT be permitted to exist here.” No one ever does.
What Have We Learned Today Chirruns?
Someone once asked me what the point of all this was, but I don’t think I knew exactly until it was all said and done. The point, quite profoundly, is this:
THERE IS ALMOST NO IDEA OR ACTIVITY IN AMERICAN SOCIETY THAT IS MORE SWIFTLY AND VEHEMENTLY OPPOSED THAN THE RIGHT OF BLACK PEOPLE TO DEMAND RESPECT AND RECOGNITION ON THEIR OWN TERMS.
It is the single most enduring and defining FACT of African-American history. It has been true since slavery, through Reconstruction and the Jim Crow era, through the murder of Fred Hampton and the condemnation of Pastor Jeremiah Wright that finally allowed a docile and notably (overly?) conciliatory Black man to be President. Sure White society will tolerate — and even celebrate! — Black people so long as they retain the ability to decide how/when/whether Black people’s needs are going to be met. So long as they have the power to systematically quash any Black expression that they find offensive or unsettling (these, it seems, are legion).
Notwithstanding all the virtual ink I’ve spilled here, I don’t flatter myself to think that my words or actions on a silly internet gossip blog are particularly meaningful in the grand scheme of things. Mostly I just find social justice issues a lot more interesting than the financial derivatives I’m tasked to examine all day by trade. I don’t mean to call out any specific individual and I apologize for any undue stress or frustration that I’ve caused my friends.
I just hope to illustrate why I believe this principle is worth fighting for and to suggest that there is still evidence of racial discrimination abound – accidental or intentional – even in the most casual and trivial of environments.
They say that well-behaved women seldom make history. I say, this is a history that damn well needs to be changed. So please excuse me if I refuse to behave.
47 replies on “African-American History X: MizJenkins, Jezebel and the Banning of Black Thought”
I was banned once because I said that the blogger was being unprofessional. Those “Jezzies” only get their panties in a bunch when what you say is anything near critizing them.
I know this comment comes a little late in the game but I came across this article, curiously published just twenty days after the date of this article and I thought it was very interesting and relevant so I wanted to share it:
White Privilege Diary Series #1 – White Feminist Privilege in Organizations
I just want to say THANK YOU to Miz Jenkins for this, and for all her great comments over at the now-craptastic Jezebel. I think I was schooled by you once and let me tell you, it was much-needed. This might sound a little fangirly, but you did a lot to open this privileged little white girl’s eyes and I’m glad you humbled me.
I’m definitely not trying to reduce this dialogue to a petty argument between Persephone & Jezebel. But the simple fact of this post is enough to prove to me (and, hopefully, many others) that THIS is what a “ladyblog” should be like.
Thanks so much for the kind words, lady, and thanks for being honest and open-minded enough to reflect on your privilege and what I had to say. I am definitely a FAN of folks like you!
Don’t you think that you may have overinvested emotionally in Jezebel? It’s an understandable mistake when you’re new on the Internet and everything is still wonderful and shiny, but surely you figured out that something was wrong after your first skirmish with the editors? The commenting and staring policy on Jezebel was quite blatantly designed to get people to trip over themselves to leave comments and worship the editors. I remember reading the post explaining the starring system when it started and I felt I had joined a particularly cut-throat High School clique with the editors at the top. Some are nicer than others, and, clearly, Tracie Egan Morrissey doesn’t have a very benevolent personality (or a taste for self-reflection).
It’s a bit naive (or hypocritical, depending on your level of awareness of the arbitrariness of the rules) to start decrying Jezebel’s autocratic mentality now when this stuff has been going on for years. Jezebel has never been a democracy, and nobody has ever had complete freedom of speech there. I think it’s fair: it’s their space, their rules. Criticism of Jezebel can come from outside of the site, just like it does for any other blog, newspaper, book, TV show, etc.
By the way, sockpuppeting for social justice? Not going to cut it. When you’re acting like ? You might want to reconsider your course of action.
Yes, but to be fair, a lot has changed since Jezebel’s inception. When I started commenting there, all you needed was 40 followers for a star. The two-tiered system was a big change. As was the new editor-in-chief. As was the increasingly defensive attitude of some editors. As was the overall content of the blog.
girlscientist meets thesciencegirl.
I was banned from Jezebel in May 2008 for calling troll on someone who was quick to mention he was a guest blogger on Jalopnik. When I failed to magically start fawning over him, I realised that I couldn’t comment anymore (it was a permanent banning, too). I hadn’t broken any rules, I hadn’t insulted anyone, and I had just criticized the guy for his moronic and offensive comments (he had bounced into the comment section like a puppy expecting everyone to explain Feminism 101 to him and he didn’t like it when people – not just me – called him on his shit. I was simply the most vocal of his opponents). But I was a nobody who pissed off the wrong person and that was the end of it. I just dusted myself off and got myself another account, but if I had had any illusions about Jezebel’s policies, I would have lost them right there.
I agree that things have gotten a lost worse since then, but I’m not particularly surprised about the course of events.
I understand your sentiments here, but I don’t think it applies.
1. No one is trying to topple Jez as an institution and cry foul when they don’t play fair.
Rather, I took all this as a disturbing reminder how editorializing works *in general* to silence specific viewpoints and statements when they involve race. It was not a directed attack at Jez but an article that discussed an experience at Jez to illustrate race privilege.
2. For that matter, Jez makes the perfect example precisely because the whole emphasis on commenting and whatnot is built on a false promise of inclusiveness and free expression. To some degree Jez WAS (not now maybe) designed to be a “community.”
3 Suggesting that MizJ was just too emotionally invested in Jez is tantamount to excusing racism with the line “you’re just too sensitive.”
4. Finally, the issue isn’t about Tracie’s mean girl pettiness but about racism. Suggesting in so many words that MizJ and other harried readers just ignore the politics of the mean girl high school crew significantly minimizes the reach and impact that racism has on our lives. I can choose to stop giving Tracie view counts but I can’t “choose” to step outside my body, my experiences, and my positions as a non-white person.
That’s a valid point of view. I didn’t want to comment on the side of the article that was about racism, because I’m white and European and the likelihood of me saying something stupid on that subject is very high. But I have been in more than one Internet fight, and I could comment on that side of the story, so that’s what I did.
I just wanted to clarify one bit:
Suggesting that MizJ was just too emotionally invested in Jez is tantamount to excusing racism with the line â€œyou’re just too sensitive.â€
I didn’t mean to say she was “just” to emotionally invested, but for her purpose, she was. You can either strive for acceptance or for calling Jezebel editors and commenters on their racism, but you can’t have both. I have no problem with MizJenkins doing either, but you have to face that if you’re going to make trouble, chances are you’re going to get banned. Developing a thick skin is not optional.
“You can either strive for acceptance or for calling Jezebel editors and commenters on their racism, but you can’t have both. I have no problem with MizJenkins doing either, but you have to face that if you’re going to make trouble, chances are you’re going to get banned. Developing a thick skin is not optional.”
This is totally true, but it also makes me sad. It’s true of my life in general that I often choose between speaking up against racism and being accepted, comfortable, or treated in a friendly manner. And it’s certainly true on Jez that if you refuse to drop the issue, you will be ostracized for it.
This is perfectly said.
I feel both geeky and petty for this, but I would say MizJenkins’ behavior was a lot more like Stormfreak and her various fandom wank/LJ incarnations, and not MsScribe. You can disagree with her points or her tactics, but there’s a consistent argument she’s making that never was present in MsScribe, imo. MsScribe had no agenda besides her own self-aggrandizement, and a malicious pleasure in making other people unhappy.
(FWIW, I ran into Stormfreak in several of her LJ versions (I think I know her current one–I don’t do a lot of sockpuppet checking, but I’m 90% sure it’s the same person from verbal tics and RL references) and generally found her points valid even when her manner was abrasive, and. Other people on my nominally progressive LJ comms loathed her and obsessively talked about how racist she was against white people.)
Stormfreak was before my time, but I read the entire MsScribe story when it was first posted. I read about the sockpuppetting, and my first thought was about MsScribe. Now that you mention it, yeah, Stormfreak is a more appropriate comparison.
Thanks for this MizJenkins. The way you were treated bothered the hell out of me, particularly because it seemed to set in stone certain constraints on discourse that I hadn’t previously realized existed over there. It really opened my eys.
I think your outline of your experiments with MizX and DarlingBecky is fascinating and disturbing (more for the different outcomes than anything). Good for you for doing it.
Excellent article but…….Unless someone is determined not to see the motivation behind Miz Jenkins first banning (a very obvious case of “how dare the black woman challenge my authority”) then I don’t see how they can be convinced by DarlingBecky. That one ban is evidence enough.
After the banning I’m not sure that the DarlingBecky experiment would have been needed to convince anybody of Jezebel’s skewering against WOC. Before then they already had white commenters who
a/ told black people to get over slavery
b/ demanded all WOC decide what they want and tell them
c/ without any sense of irony, talked about how awful it was that black men told them where to sit on a bus
d/ used their grandparents’ oppression to diminish other commenters’ on going oppression
None of these resulted in bans or even warnings as far as I can tell. In many cases other white commenters sympathised and encouraged the OP. The site already had so many Beckys, how could she compare with the real thing?
I disagree with Miz Jenkins/Miz X on very, very many subjects but I can’t argue with this article.
I have thought long and hard about this issue (i.e. “Do I agree with Persephone’s editorial decision to publish this?” “Do I agree with the content?”, etc.). Ultimately, I realized that my opinions or thoughts on these questions are irrelevant, as the piece is already out there and now all I can do is comment on it.
First of all, as anyone who reads my own blog knows, I write about Jezebel quite regularly. I am extremely critical of Jezebel as a whole and more specifically, in racial and ostensibly transphobic matters. Moreover, I contend that Jezebel is not just problematic in matters of race but openly racist in its permission (tacit, implicit, at least), to allow someone like Tracie Egan Morrison to post some of the comments and remarks she has made throughout the years. That tacit permission, to me, is identical to the White person’s silence when they witness a blatant wrong and do nothing to correct it. A sin by omission, to use a popular metaphor. I don’t want to extend my remarks about Jezebel’s racism because, as I said above, I have written dozens of time about it (anyone can pursue the archives of my blog to find such instances).
Also, I think it is important to clarify that I am not an expert on racial matters, like MizJenkins is, or at least, as she has been crowd appointed (not necessarily by choice, but by popularity). I am, however, a visible (visible, as in â€œby appearanceâ€) racial minority in a country where racism and White supremacy are quite pervasive. I have written about this before and everyone is invited to read an analysis of my racial situation at Racialicious if they so desire.
However, I do take issue in a personal attack that transpired as a result of this post: the semi pile up against MorningGloria for her unfortunate use of the word â€œcrazyâ€. Now, let me tell you this: calling someone crazy as a synonym for bad manners or a behavior one doesn’t agree with is ableist. It is. Because it further stigmatizes people with disabilities. However racist? We cannot know. And this is where I think we are obliged to apply the principle of â€œthe benefit of the doubtâ€, especially because of the implications of tarnishing someone’s reputation by labeling them a racist. There are consequences in that. Such a label could affect someone’s employment opportunities, someone’s social life, someone’s advancement possibilities. And to be fair, we can say many things about MorningGloria but to this day, I have to see one shred of evidence of her alleged racism.
You want to know the lesson I learned from this? That we should be careful about crowd appointed internet heros. No matter how right they might be about some issues, they also risk turning their own, personal experiences in universal dogmas. And there is not such a thing as a universal, one size fits all experience when discussing racial matters. Let’s not forget that crowds are responsible for lynchings, not individuals in use of their critical thinking abilities. We should always try to remain in full use of ours.
Absolutely agreed on all counts.
I’m not understanding your connection between criticism of Morning Gloria for making an ableist remark and this post.
I wasn’t around for Morning Gloria’s comment or the resulting furor, so maybe I missed something that ties it to the conversation here. Can you explain?
Are you on Tumblr? This piece was originally published in MizJenkins Tumblr, where serious allegations were made against MorningGloria.
I think that’s another reason to talk here, because things did get ugly and personal so fast on tumblr. Like TSG and others have mentioned, the points miz j is making are still salient, even if you disagree with how she tested her hypothesis or reported her findings. Once it got personal, and people were hurt, that’s what the conversation became about. Which is really unfortunate and I have nothing but empathy for everyone involved, but I don’t think that means this conversation should stop. I think here we can talk about the situation without pointing fingers at the individuals involved.
Okay, I see. I hadn’t read what she said about Morning Gloria. But I agree with Selena’s comment below. I don’t think it’s fair to discount what I think is a very salient point in this post by MizJenkins about women of color being shut out from conversations because because of something else she said that you disagree with–or even find offensive. Or even if you dislike her, generally.
By that logic, it’d be impossible to have conversations without full disclosures about our views on various topics.
People can be wrong about one thing and right about another. MizJ is human like the rest of us. She has become a kind of Internet Hero, but I think that’s partly because there are so few women of color with strong voices on the old LB who were willing to take on the goofballs.
And again, as I mentioned elsewhere in the comments here, this piece to me is far less about dumping on Jez or a particular Jezeditor, or even to extol the heroics of MizJ–it’s simply an example, a very clear example, I think, of a woman of color being shut down for her views. And whether you like that woman or her views, I think we can all agree that gagging her is bad for us all.
I’ve always really liked MizJ, but I’m disappointed that still even today she’s taking some cracks at MoGlo on tumblr. It doesn’t make her wrong about this by any means, it just bothers me to see.
Friends, this isn’t about a pissing match between PM and Jezebel. It’s a piece that uses that conflict to illustrate social interaction on the internet and what it can be like for a woman of color who voices opinions that don’t fit into the mainstream idea.
Yes, Miz Jenkins is angry, and her anger showed through the piece. But if that’s all you focus on you missed the point completely. She’s saying that even at her most offensive, DarlingBecky was still allowed to comment, while Miz Jenkins was destarred and actually banned from commenting for much more minor offenses. And she’s wondering what that means. And she’s suggesting that it means that society doesn’t want to hear an Angry Black Woman ™ speak.
That’s an uncomfortable discussion to have, especially with a group of well-educated, smart young women who generally already consider themselves–and already are–pretty enlightened. But that’s the discussion we Should be having, and I’m pretty sure, the one Miz Jenkins hoped to spark.
I think my favorite part of your whole comment is that you addressed the commenters as “friends.” If I know one thing for sure, it’s that we are aiming for the people who read this site and interact with each other to be friends despite differing opinions and points of view. I think it was a beautiful way to frame your point, noting that you view everyone here as a friend, and that as a friend, you wish to share your point of view. You very much so just epitomized what we’re trying to ultimately do here at Persephone. Rock star status :)
Agreed. I see all of you here as buddies and peers whereas in Jezebel I did not always feel that way.
I feel really strange to have such an active presence on the internet and feel like I have to constantly “out” my embodied self. It has taught me that social interaction online reveals identical positions and biases that come with privilege and that “outing” yourself in certain ways will allow people to judge you.
I know PM is imagined to be a kind of haven for recovering Jez readers and I don’t want to feed some hate-fest. However, I do think that the site echoes race bias in a way that is NOT adequately controlled by its own writers and editors.
There’s just so much to say in response to this. I’ve been mulling it over all day. More complete thoughts will probably come, probably on tumblr.
But I just want to say that I don’t think this is “just an internet catfight”, or “trifling bullshit”, which seems to be a common criticism.
As social experiments go, this was a deeply interesting, sometimes heartbreaking, often infuriating year. And those who think this didn’t matter… well, I just have to wonder WHY you think this didn’t matter. HOW we can just dismiss the respective fates of DarlingBecky and MizX as the consequence of some disgruntled, possibly insane commenter who decided to become the World’s Most Annoying Troll.
Personally, I’ve been very disheartened to see the derailing of this conversation that needs to happen — especially from so many ex-pat Jezzies who I thought were mostly on the same page on this issue.
I agree that reducing this discussion to a petty catfight is really disheartening. And I also don’t see the DarlingBecky experiment as trolling. I discussed it with MizJenkins when she first had the idea. I liked it immediately. And you know why? She was the embodiment of every ignorant, tone deaf, and silencing thought I’d heard (with regularity) on Jezebel from white commenters (and on a larger scale, this of course happens in “real” life too). I have had vitriolic comments directed at me for trying to address prejudice, and seen outright racism in the comments, and have never seen those commenters so much as warned. I, however, have been demoted and destarred for pointing out racism or ableism in an article or comment. This was reflected in the treatment I saw of other commenters. It began to look as though anti-racism (with the wrong tone or target) was a ban-worthy offense, but actual racism was not. I also saw a lack of reflection among the commenters and editors. I think that many people who dislike the DarlingBecky thing don’t understand what a Becky is. They interpret it as a way to laugh at white women, but Becky isn’t all white women; she’s white women who are willfully ignorant and who smugly exercise their white privilege. And peeps, there are lots of Beckys on Jezebel. So, when MizJ and I were talking about what kinds of things DarlingBecky would say (not to imply that I had control over the experiment, but rather that I knew about it and endorsed it), I had tons of ideas… born out of my frustration with hearing the exact same things on Jezebel (and elsewhere) in the past, and seeing no consequences for the speaker… because she was a harmless white girl. I honestly expected the reaction to DB to be 1. that anti-racist commenters would school her, and 2. other “Beckys” would chide them for it and tell them to gently educate her. After all, that’s how it usually went down. I think, perhaps, things didn’t go quite as anticipated because MizJ went a bit heavy on her tone, and also because in the wake of the banning of the real MizJenkins, she had a lot of support from people who’d sort of turned her into a martyr.
And that’s another problem. When people turn you into a martyr (which was done without any encouragement by MizJ), they idolize you and they turn you into a one-dimensional entity, and then it is very easy for the tide of public opinion to turn. MizJenkins has never claimed to be a saint, but it seems that when you’re lionized on the internet, there’s a fine line indeed between hero and crazy person. But I digress. In my mind, the DarlingBecky thing was born of catharsis more than it was about trolling.
Hey, thanks for the added perspective on DB’s creation. I had the same experiences you did when I did venture to comment there.
Also, I remember you from Jez. And, you are still awesome.
I’m the one who gave the go-ahead to run the piece. Letting women tell their stories in their own voice is what we do here, even if we all don’t agree with what each woman is saying. We can’t even agree on when to use a comma, it is unlikely everyone is going to always love what we write.
Running this piece doesn’t mean we’re going to talk about Jezebel all the time. I think we’ve mentioned them in a handful of pieces out of the 1500 or so articles we have in the archive. A few of the editors are ready to never speak of it again, for assorted reasons. ; ) Speaking for myself, I wish Jez the best. There’s no such thing as too many women writers.
I do think, however, that this is a good place to have this conversation. We’re really, really good at discussing things with each other rationally around here, which is probably because we’re not nearly as big as either Jezebel or tumblr. Also, we’re pretty awesome.
When someone has been unhappy with something we post, I always give them the opportunity to write a counter argument, either in the comments or writing a post. All of our readers are welcome to do that, too.
It is a big deal, and this post both here and on tumblr has had a big effect on a lot of our readers. Isn’t it better if we talk about it?
I appreciate you taking the time to justify your decision to run this piece–you totally didn’t have to. I’ve thought about it more and read your (and others’) response, and I do regret criticizing y’all’s decision to run it. I hate that I may have derailed the conversation from something worth talking about to yet another “why did you publish this?” non-issue. I have my own views on why I think this isn’t the whole story and why maybe this particular author isn’t the best choice to run under your masthead, but on further reflection I think it’s actually quite refreshing to see you choosing to do so–if for no other reason than you knew some people would feel that way. I really should have just bitten my tongue so we can get past that and actually discuss the real issues this piece attempts to bring to light. I have a whole new respect for the way this magazine is run. I honestly do hope we can have a real discussion on racism and voice in this context, and I apologize for derailing the message just to bitch about the method.
@Selena, I for one am glad you did post it; it’s nothing to apologize for. It’s only incendiary because it’s critical of the LB, which is really beside the point. It’s well worth posting and I hope PM takes on more challenging topics like this.
Maybe I’m just a “the ends justify the means” kinda gal, but I think it’s weird that people think “trolling” is the worst thing ever. To me, trolling isn’t some great sin. Especially when said trolling reveals something more insidious than trolling.
That said, I wouldn’t call this trolling. It’s a social experiment. I thought this was a good read and there were some really good points made. I appreciate that Miz J put the time and effort into this, and there was also a lot of thought put into it as well. I don’t think it’s an accident that Miz J (a woman who thoughtfully contributed to a community) was banned, but what we call a “troll account” (a commenter that contributed nothing) wasn’t banned. Kind of makes you think about the motivation behind banning.
Agreed. I’ve done it myself on certain forum boards. Expressed the exact same opinion as a white boy and an Arab woman and watched the fall out. It’s incredibly telling and relevant. In fact, on one website I had the site administrator outright call me a racist when I was the Arab Woman, when, as a white boy expressing the exact same ideas (except about the African American community rather than the white community) I had my feelings thoughtfully considered.
I’m not sure how what I did was any different and I hardly felt like I was trolling. I duno. Perhaps if people are expecting commenters on the internet to be 100% truthful at every turn they might want to…I don’t know…practice internetting more often.
Haha. Thanks for this. And an interesting perspective… seems like black women aren’t the only ones who get static about their views.
I feel the same way. I don’t see “trolling” as a negative thing, just a means of an action. I use to see it as a negative thing, and then I realized how most people use it.
Trolling now is a term used to describe little girls that speak up and make people uncomfortable with their views and opinions. Trolling is what visible minorities do when they decide to stop protecting the feelings of white people, and start protecting and standing up for their own beliefs and views of reality.
People can say what MizJ did is trolling. But I just see that as the means, and not the end. She made sockpuppets, she intentionally drove out people to show their true nature.
It’s a social experience to show other what she sees as obvious and there every single day of her life. Clearing out any fuzziness by controlling the sockpuppet, so people can’t bring in all these other “factors” to prove her theory wrong.
This all follows the line of how to the majority of white people, it’s worse to be called a racist than to do something racist. And what makes people uncomfortable (white or not), is when other people challenge them to think about their own beliefs and views of reality that they take for granted.
Persephone, I really can’t believe you guys are entering this pissing match. I was a real supporter of what MizJenkins had to say back in the day, and I really believed that she was in the right during the final debacle. That said, this is exactly the reason I came to this site and limited my frequenting of Jezebel. The shitstorms, the egos, and, really, the damn hierarchies are no longer something in which I’m interested. No starring, no hearts, just thoughtful discussion–THAT’S what I like about Persephone. I especially liked how you guys did not try to pit yourself against Jezebel; you simply offered a more inclusive alternative that doesn’t seem to be run by out-of-touch demigods. But, alas, you’ve entered the fray and brought the rest of us along with you. If this were at least a compelling piece that would be one thing, but those of us who were witness to MizJenkins’ eventual “demise” are likely to take a more cynical approach. Yes, she made good points and the powers that be acted inappropriately, but she also trolled Jezebel like nobody’s business with that DarlingBecky/MizX stuff. She apparently views herself as some sort of internet caped crusader for racial justice, which I might be able to get behind if she had actually been good at it. For all her condescending prose and self-righteousness, she toyed with people without actually changing the dialogue. In the end, though I cannot defend or get behind Jezebel, I also feel the same way about MizJenkins now, after everything. Persephone has a real opportunity to publish the voices of the unheard, to enter the dialogue and provide a forum to fight racism and silence. I don’t think this does that.
I won’t speak on behalf of the editors of this site as to why they saw fit to publish my article.
I will say, on my own behalf, that I have no interest in a pissing match. I hold no grudge against Jezebel – though I mourn for the community it used to be – or any of its editors or contributers.
This article was intended merely to express my frustration, as a woman of color, with the experienced of being shunned and silenced at times when I have tried and tried in vain to speak my truth in a mainstream White-dominated society.
I could have written about my first-grade classroom or for that matter my Constitutional Law classroom but those memories aren’t as recent and I didn’t think they would be as relevant to the readers of this blog.
I hear you. And on further thought I regret commenting because I sincerely don’t want to derail the meaningful discussion you wanted to have on racism and privilege, and I think I may have done just that simply by opening my mouth. I apologize.
Thanks for writing this btw.
I have been through similar experiences in real life, and have been throwing mental pots and pans about it. Because what else do you do?
Thank you for this essay, Miz Jenkins, and for all of your posts, in all of your personae.
I remember your second banning on Jezebel. It was absolutely appalling. People were still talking about it and sharing the link to it months later.
Your links to it and your other banned comments won’t work on the new Jezebel, but for now you can still put them into the old format and read them there. That might help out, because it seems that some people still require evidence, and I think those exchanges speak for themselves.
The link to that memorable discussion would then be http://ca.jezebel.com/comment/26379485
(For anyone unfamiliar with all of this, I highly recommend reading that page down to the bottom; the commenter Tracie is the author of the piece MizJ responded to and one of the editors of Jezebel.)
I’m incredibly disappointed that Persephone chose to publish this post. It sounds like a personal vendetta, and it probably should have stayed on the original website being discussed or on Tumblr. What lessons did I learn today? That trolling should be applauded and admired? Sockpuppet accounts are fun? I don’t think that’s what I was meant to take away from this, but it’s what’s jumping out at me. The site mentioned in the post has a history of difficulty with discussing racial issues, (I commented there a long time ago) but I don’t think this piece is a good way to set an example for a more productive discussion. There are so many conversations that need to be had, that Persephone might have been a good setting for, but celebrating how someone tried to manipulate a website and its readers and (it seems) got found out is not a good start. Like I said, I’m disappointed. I’ve enjoyed the articles here, but I hope Persephone readers have more and better to look forward to.
Thank you MizJenkins. I really enjoyed reading this post. There were many times when I read articles which seemed so blatantly offensive to me and so few people called out the author. I’m not sure when it started happening, but there used to be a time when I felt like dissent and disagreement was encouraged and then one day – it was the banhammer for anyone who didn’t “toe the party line.”
I have long since resigned myself to the fact that the ladyblog I started reading had morphed into an unrecognizable mess, and – I’ll admit it – I enjoyed reading some of the flamewars because they were such a nice change from the regularly monotony of “Hearted! I totally agree!” I think when I saw a commenter being starred for no apparent other reason than agreeing with the author of the article, I knew it was over. It’s hard to say what I want to express without sounding petty and bitter, so I’ll just leave it at that.