Please Stand By

The Queen is travelling right now, which makes posting difficult. For that, I do apologize. However I am also struggling with feelings brought up by my post on Trayvon Martin and how to handle them in terms of this blog.

As in my “About” statement, one of my main goals for starting FBQ was to give a voice to a sparsely represented group on the web: middle-aged black gay men. And while the Queen adores sharing his musings about Rupaul’s Drag Race and other rather frothy fare, there are times when other issues fill my thoughts.

Except for the stalwart Miss Things who humble me by making a comment on practically every post I offer, the hits and comments on the two posts I’ve made which directly address issues of black men are the lowest in number. In fact Tea Time III, in which I address comments that CNN news reporter, Roland Martin made while tweeting during the Super Bowl, is the only post that doesn’t have a comment at all (the fact that all the other posts DO is what REALLY blows my mind–thank you all).

I swear to you: the Queen is NOT trying to have whine with his cheese. Not every post on FBQ is going to be everyone’s cup of tea.

However, in the wake of Trayvon Martin–and the re-commitment I’ve found to him and all the young men who have been imprisoned by America’s perception of them, I would like to use this platform to explore why.

But I’m torn. Thanks to Miss Things (and I hope y’all realize that I use that term without gender specificity) like mefein1 and many others, my viewership has grown exponentially. I know that if I spend more time talking about difficult subjects, I will lose some of those viewers who don’t want to get into something deep over coffee in the morning. I will have to wrestle with that on my own. And I will.

But before I head off to prepare for my night at another Motel 6, I had to ask–and I will truly appreciate your unbiased candor on the subject–why, as a nation, do you think we find it so hard to talk about black men? Is it fear? Is it shame? Is it ennui? Or is it something that I, as a Black Man, just have no clue of?

The Queen will return you to regularly scheduled programming tomorrow with a recap of Drag Race. Hope all you Miss Things had a great day, and have a lovely evening.



28 thoughts on “Please Stand By

  1. Those particular posts have given me great insight into your experiences and are much appreciated. But I feel like I, as a caucasian woman, have NO place holding, much less sharing, an opinion on these issues. Does that make sense? I don’t comment out of deference, not disinterest.

    • I know I’m beginning to sound like a broken record, and I so fear that by saying this so often my awe will start to sound insincere. But I really am humbled by the honesty and candor with which you and others share your thoughts and hearts.

      “But I feel like I, as a caucasian woman, have NO place holding, much less sharing, an opinion on these issues.”

      I had a FEELING that might be the case. It makes perfect sense, and I’m going to try to explain–without my usual rambling sentences-why I think we’re at the next step in the process.

      Of COURSE you have an opinion! And people should hear it. Most of us live in pretty insular and homogeneous communities in which we dialogue with like-minded people from similar cultural backgrounds. The only thing that is going to broaden our point of view is to hear a different perspective from thoughtful, caring individuals who are looking to bridge an understanding. Your last sentence is the key. I think people sense deference, and honor it. It makes disparate points easier to hear because they come from a place of respect.

      I’ve created and taught programs on Conflict Resolution for 5th graders. One of the first things I tell them is that dealing with different perspectives is going to feel uncomfortable at first, but in most cases feels great when you know that the other person has “heard” you. Then you can begin to find common ground.

      • Scotty,

        I’m curious what you think in regard to the last paragraph/quote of this article:

        When reading it, I thought of this thread, as his thoughts seemed in line with what several of us were trying to convey.

        Also, have you seen Luther? If not, I highly (highly!) recommend it. Idris Elba is incredible, along with the show’s writing, character development, etc.

      • @Mary

        First, I have to apologize for drooling all over this reply. Idris Elba tends to do that to me. Luther has been on my “must watch” list for a while now. This is the Universe’s way of telling me to get on it. So thank you.

        Second I need to also thank you for keeping this conversation going. I can’t tell you how much it means to me.

        I also want to reiterate that I very much respect (and believe I understand) the reticence about commenting on issues involving race.

        Third, this is going to be long. 🙂

        In the post I posted today which included the documentary Dark Girls, I included a link to an interview by directory Bill Duke.

        Like Mr. Duke, I very much believe in airing out dirty laundry.

        There is a huge elephant in the Living Room of our collective society. Most of us (whether we admit it or not) have at least one thought a day that involves race. Based on my experience and conversations that I’ve had, I believe that most black people who self-identify with mainstream black culture have a lot more. We talk about white people to each other–but not to white people.

        I believe we have to start talking to each other–specifically BECAUSE it’s scary to do so. There is a real flag in that for us a society. Why can’t we find a safe environment to discuss things that we’re all thinking about? Or should be.

        I want to know why shows–other than comedies–with black people as the main characters don’t do well on commercial television? I want to know why white people don’t watch them. I yearn for candid, thoughtful responses from people who don’t self-identify as black.

        In my first year in college at NYU, just before the Thanksgiving holiday, I was sitting in the residence hall cafeteria talking about the family dinner with some colleagues. I mentioned that I couldn’t wait for my mother’s turkey. A young Caucasian student from New England’s eyes opened wide. She very innocently said: “You have turkey for Thanksgiving dinner?!!! There was no malice in her question. Just a totally different “story” about black culture, based primarily upon media and no personal experience with any African Americans. Through our conversation on the subject, not only did she find out that our families had most dishes in common, but that we shared a few that were completely foreign to many of her white friends.

        I just want to work to take off some of the taboo regarding earnest discussion about race–to stop us from thinking that everyone’s point of view is necessary to find out where the intersections AND the disconnects are. Is it going to be uncomfortable? HELL yeah, but honestly it’s a lot less freaky than seeing that big elephant crashing the good china constantly, and pretending like it’s not there.

      • Thanks so much for your response and willingness to be candid (which is so refreshing). And your shared admiration of Mr. Elba. 😉

        I think so much of the hesitation to discuss race, for white people, is the fear of being assumed either a white apologist or that something we say might be misinterpreted as racist. There’s a self-imposed “walking on eggshells” feeling, that makes not engaging on the topic easier than maneuvering through the awkwardness and fear of saying the wrong thing.

        For example, I read and commented on your new post, before realizing you had responded to me in this one. In that comment, I was genuinely curious, in regard to the questions I posed, but struggled with trying to word things in a respectful way, with the least likelihood of being taken wrong. There is just a wariness that is so ingrained, and difficult to put aside, even when asked to.

        Once in college, there was a man in a wheelchair struggling to get up a steep hill. I asked if he needed help, and my intentions could not have been more sincere (or naive). His response was to give me a death glare and a snarled “no”. I was instantly ashamed and humiliated. In retrospect, I understand that my asking was insulting. I don’t know that if in the same situation, twenty-some years later, I would offer help. Maybe his feelings were singular to him, and not shared by most in his community? I don’t know, but was shamed enough the first time, that I doubt I’d find out.

        I think many people have had situations like this, but regard to race. And, unfortunately, it’s our (both white and black people) negative experiences which often become the most clear in our memory and can dictate our later actions (or lack of).

        You asked why white people don’t seem to be interested in shows with black leading characters. I honestly (again, this may be naiveté) don’t think that’s the case. I wondered, when reading this, if you may have thought my lack of enthusiasm after watching “Scandal” was related to this. My issue was the “being a murderer is better than being gay” storyline and the “I’m a strong, independent woman, but can lose all sense of logic and rationale because I’m pining over the guy in question” nonsense. I loved that the main character was a black woman…I just hate that they then compromised her by turning to some tired, clichéd, woman are weak and emotional, b.s.

        Sorry, didn’t intend for this to be so long… 😉

  2. Mary says it better than I could, I’m not great with words. But I too am pretty much your opposite in colour, gender and sexuality – and nationality too being a Brit – and have no idea who Roland Martin is. But I do read all your posts – frivolous or otherwise – and find them all very interesting even though I often have nothing relevant to contribute to the conversation.

    • Thank you SO much for responding! Actually, I think your being from another country and culture gives you perspective that we Americans sorely lack being right in the “thick of things” so to speak.

      For example, as hard as it is for me to see the other side in the case of Trayvon Martin, I know that there is a better chance for a solution if I understand what would make someone turn a firearm on a youngster. Maybe if we address those issues in some way we can make a systemic change in the fabric of our society.

      I’m VERY grateful for your reading my little blog at all. And I hope you feel comfortable contributing in many, many ways in the future.

  3. I understand Mary’s point of view and I almost held off from posting for almost exactly the same reason. Finally, I just couldn’t overlook my feelings of rage and ignore the issue to skip over that portion of Scotty’s post to just comment on the Project Runway season finale. In fact, I deleted another post before hitting enter because I thought perhaps my voice didn’t necessarily add anything further to the conversation.

    In all the conversations about this tragic event the central element has been how to keep this from reoccuring. The only that can happen is to bring all the facts out into the harsh light of day and confront them critically but with compassion. Yes, we are still failing large groups of people in this country and a disportionate number of those people are minorities. Particularly at risk are young black men living in urban areas.

    Scotty, I think you should keep doing what you have been doing. Speak up about what is on your mind. Some issues are not comfortable or easy to talk about. The make it hard to look in the mirror when your brushing your teeth or explaining PTSD to your 8 year old when you see a panhandler/Vet on the side of the road or when you get an uneasy feeling when you see a group of teenagers in “maybe” gang insignia. Mix it up with the fun, lighthearted stuff. I’ve been having so much fun following your posts on RuPaul’s Drag Race. I never would have started watching that show without you.

    • Okay Miss Thing. There’s something you need to understand: you ARE this blog. You and the others who taken the time out of your busy day to engage in a dialogue with someone you don’t even really know.

      I am moved to post primarily from comments of yours and others who have something relevant, intelligent and very witty to say on a myriad of subjects.

      Over at T&Lo, it was pretty clear that a very large part of their readership was comprised of women who identified as White (whatever the hell that really means in our society. I recognize that the term itself is vague and compartmentalizing). Most of the unbelievably kind and supportive comments about my posts came from that particular population. And I truly felt as if I “fit in”–even when addressing topics that I thought were particularly biased or racist. However I got so sick of the one or two posts a season that focused on race; allowed everyone to rant and feel progressive, and then move on to the next fashion post. I just couldn’t see the point of doing that any more.

      I LOVE getting a deeper perspective of your thoughts. Since slavery, white women and black men have been kept apart–relegated to stereotyped perceptions and relationships. I think it’s about damned time that we had conversations as peers, as opposed to Mandingo and Miss Anne, or Effeminate Queen to Fag Hag.

  4. *sigh*

    You’re not the only one wrestling with this. I am the daughter of a handsome downtown brown gentleman. A former doo-wop street tenor, session musician and English teacher and preacher gentleman to be exact.

    The same proud father that told his congregation where the door was if they hated his gay daughter (that’d be me).

    Honestly? I think I’ve been wounded almost beyond repair to talk about it. It hurts that much.

    Dearest FBQ, I get it. I feel it. And, I want it to go away…to finally go away.

    • I know I do my black sisters a huge disservice. I tend to think of you all as super-human and the most evolved of all us human beings. Having been raised around mostly women of color I watched them make something out of nothing daily. It kills me when I recognize the price women in general and black women in particular had to pay for that particular ability.

      But somehow y’all keep climbing that Crystal Stair.

      I have to admit that, like Mary and this blog, I tend to read the poems and evocative stories on your blog quietly and without comment. Partly because I feel that a male presence might be somewhat of an intrusion in such a well constructed House of Womanhood. But mostly because it feels a lot like being in Church: hallowed somehow. And I simply want to selfishly revel in that power that I remember so well growing up.

      “Dearest FBQ, I get it. I feel it. And, I want it to go away…to finally go away.”

      It will go away. Because you are the daughter of Visionaries. And you Will it so.

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  6. Scotty, I started to respond several times, and I really feel badly that I didn’t because I know how strongly this was affecting you , and I can see how you hoped to get a dialogue going about it. And you’re right to push for just that, and I hope you don’t stop. Please don’t see the comment numbers as indicative of lack of interest. Some things just take more time, leave you pondering and at a loss for words, until work and life call you back. It’s so much easier to dash off something (hopefully) witty about something frothy. But it’s because you offer substance that I want to check in every day, and I do. The blank screen I kept looking at as I started to respond was kind of like the silences when I was talking to my aunt this weekend, who has been fighting lung cancer for eight years, but has finally gotten the definitive answer there was nothing more they could do: I just found it hard to find the right words (and clearly I had no such writer’s block when I went on about my own problems in your therapy post!).

    I don’t have many answers, but I did want to say how much the video you posted really moved me, knocked me out really, and I came back to it many times. What a beautiful and truly powerful way to pay tribute to Trayvon Martin. Yes, this is the hope and pride and endless promise with which every child comes into the world, and how every child should be valued. It will stay with me for a long time, long after your Ru Paul posts (as much as I love them). And I’m sorry my lack of comment didn’t reflect that.

    • Girl, don’t you DARE get me all choked up sitting here in this lonely hotel room!

      Regarding your aunt: When my mother was in her last stages of cancer, she always said that the friends that she appreciated the most were the ones who didn’t try to find the words, but as she put it: “Just sat there with me and Death in silence.”

      Don’t you DARE apologize for anything! It is my ego that didn’t recognize that silence can mean many things, and I am grateful that you and other Miss Things pointed that out. Especially since my lack of response to you guys in the “Therapy” post is similar to process that you described.

      And I am touched that you were also moved by “Wheels of A Dream“. There are songs and moments that resonate to the depths of your very core. It’s like a reverberation in your soul that comes from the essence of who you are. That song is one for me.
      And I owe it to Trayvon and all the other young people who have suffered at the hands of Ignorance to show them the true America.

      • Thanks, Scotty. I know with my aunt that a telephone is no substitute for just being there, like you say, without words, but somehow I have to make it suffice until I can get down there. And I’m sorry you lost your mother. I’m sure she was an amazing woman.

        Well, I hope you have cable in that hotel room. We should do a live chat or whatever for the show sometime. This should be an entertaining one — yay for life’s occasional distractions!

  7. 1) Topics of posts: Do what you want to do. Change if it’s not working for you, change back again, and again, if that’s what feels right. Because a considerable amount of time & energy go into posting.

    2) Why I read/comment: I read this blog because you are frequently entertaining, almost always interesting, and from your postings here & elsewhere, I’ve come to believe that your opinion is worth listening to. In part that’s because we share enough background (same generation, roughly the same economic class growing up, enough shared references to assume some overlap in education/reading) that I am comfortable with how you frame your opinions and feel that I can understand at least some of what you are saying (rather than *thinking* I understand, but as often happens if frames of reference are too different, one ‘understands’ what they hear, not what is being said.) Partly because we are different enough (female, straight, white, here) that you are going to have perspectives that would never occur to me & over my life that’s become more and more important to me.

    I comment because I’m interested and because it is a primo way of procrastinating.

    3)Why do we as a nation find it so difficult to talk about black men?: As a nation we suck, and I mean SUCK at having a reasoned & informed public conversation about anything difficult. Case in point: each succeeding election cycle.

    I don’t know if ‘black men’ is a discrete topic; it’s a compendium of several topics, each of which we don’t talk about well. Prime among them are race and class (heck, I think we do better at race than at class). Talking about young black men drags in a bunch of other problematic things on top of race and class, many of which many of us don’t think about critically or find too difficult: public institutions & their relationship to the young, especially the poor & uneducated of all races, real & perceived differences in social norms in different segments of our society, education, sometimes religion, and above all violence.

    As individuals, I think we avoid topics that we think are going to lead to rifts or discomfort, especially topics (religion, race, abortion, gun control, politics) on which most of us aren’t going to have our fundamental beliefs shaken by a conversation.

    • Okay. That does it. I’m nominating you for the Wisest Person on the Web award.

      If they don’t have one, then I’m making one.

      1) I have to decide on my current goal. Is it do have a larger readership, or dialogue with folks on topics that are important to me. Right now it is definitely leaning towards the latter.

      2) Thank you. The feeling is quite mutual.

      3) I think we, as a nation CAN have reasoned discussions–but only in the most dysfunctional order: we only start talking AFTER someone is dead.

      4) I never quite looked at it that way. Much to consider there. However, I still maintain that, along with women our country has systematically and consciously worked to suppress men of color, keeping the status quo of a white male oligarchy.

      As I said about Roland Martin on the subject of homophobia, I would just have SO much more respect for the Republican Candidates as men, if they would just come out and say that they don’t want a black man as president. Not only do I think it would get them more votes, I honestly think it would galvanize the rest of us.

      • “I would just have SO much more respect for the Republican Candidates as men, if they would just come out and say that they don’t want a black man as president. Not only do I think it would get them more votes, I honestly think it would galvanize the rest of us.”

        And while they’re at it, they can admit that they really DO like class warfare. Why not? As Warren Buffet has pointed out, their side is clearly winning.

      • I’m glad you think some of what I’ve got to say has value, though “Longest-Winded Person on the Web” is nearer the mark.

        “I would just have SO much more respect for the Republican Candidates as men, if they would just come out and say that they don’t want a black man as president.”

        What makes me craziest about many conservative politicians (not limiting myself to presidential candidates, here) is that I can’t tell what are their own real opinions and what are the opinions they think they have to spout in order to get & keep voters. Maybe it’s because most in the public eye are at least competent at being media-acceptable, most of the time. I think at least one or two of them would, personally, be perfectly fine with a black, wealthy, conservative president who went to the same colleges they did (as long as his election isn’t cutting them out).

        [The above paragraph led me into the below. Long & rambling but I decided to let it stand as a roundabout way of saying why I’ll keep coming back and reading here.]

        But I’m white. There is racism – especially institutionalized racism – that I am simply blind to, unless someone points it out. And I understand why some people have a hard time accepting that such exists, because I only ‘get’ in my gut that it can exist and I can be blind to it because I’ve witnessed blatant sexism that those around me (men) didn’t even notice. Much of which even perpetrators are unaware of and have to be educated to recognize. I honestly think that if I hadn’t had those experiences, I’d be prone to say “really? Are you sure? Wouldn’t I have noticed?”

        I don’t have the same sensitivity discerning between in-the-bone racism and the combination of pandering to voters and supporting policies (for not-explicitly-racist reasons) that have a disproportionate negative effect on those of color as [I think] I do in discerning between in-the-bone misogyny and the combination of pandering to voters and supporting policies (for non-misogynistic reasons) that have a disproportionate negative effect on women.

        [Not to start a huge digression but as an example: Rick Perry’s been my governor for, well, too damn long. He’s a states’ rights guy (most fervently when it’s politically expedient which it generally is in TX) and he’s pro-business and he’s moved noticeably to the right on several “women’s issues” over the years, I believe because he’s chasing voters. He’s supported a lot of policies which I believe hurt women, as a group. But I don’t believe that he’s consciously misogynistic or any more sexist than a ton of men of his age who take more a more liberal/feminist/-your descriptor here- stance on those policies than he does.]

        I do realize that a lot of people see the distinctions I make between intentional & self-recognized vs. unintentional or unconscious racism/sexism/homophobia etc. as meaningless and feel like “racist – or sexist or homophobic – is as racist does.” But I think that if you’re trying to engage people and get them to recognize what they’re doing, (and if it’s institutional, get it corrected,) acknowledging that someone has no conscious agenda to be racist/sexist/homophobic/etc. may allow them to hear what you’re saying. Leading with (in effect) “You’re a sexist pig!” when they really don’t see themselves as such just gets you branded as an irrational crank and shuts ears.

        [I never was radical enough for my activist friends & loved ones when we were all young.]

        I just can’t lump people who are unconsciously racist in with people who are blatantly & consciously racist. Like my cousin the cop who went into the force determined not to become as cynical, jaded and bigoted as his father the cop. And within 10 years, he was almost as cynical and bigoted, if not as jaded. He honestly believes that a way higher percentage of black & brown people are dishonest, violent, ineducable “dirtbags” than white people. (Of course, like a lot of cops, he’s not real positive about people in general, whatever their color.) He thinks of himself as a good man and follows rules & procedure in his work, even when that puts him at odds with others who don’t. But I can’t believe that his beliefs don’t color how he reacts in situations & that’s a damn scary thing when you realize he’s got a badge and a gun. IMO he’s a problem of much higher magnitude than someone whose actions are not consciously racist. I don’t think he’s educable in real time. He’s *thought about it* and believes he has experiential evidence supporting his racism. [In the “but people are complicated” department, I think he voted for Obama – he hated Bush & is a diehard Democrat. And was leaning to Obama over Clinton when she was a possibility. And I know he went to the polls because he took his elderly, disabled mother to vote.]

        I like being older; I no longer think it’s my personal responsibility to “fix” the world because I no longer believe that’s possible. Too much of what’s wrong has its roots in human nature and normal human failings.

        I now believe that it’s my responsibility to do my [very] little bit to “evolve” the world. To work on the side of what I believe is right, to educate, to protest when I’m outraged, to put my time and money to work where it can do good, and to plant seeds of change. To try to make my words “both true and kind” as my refrigerator magnet says. To help others through this life when I can because I’ve been given a lot of help. To support and nurture and not to be a wet blanket to my son & his friends (when they twist themselves through airy-fairy flights of intellectualized analysis of power & inclusion & ‘the other’) as they are becoming real, practical activists – as well as artists, teachers and scientists -themselves. (gosh, it makes a mother proud).

  8. I always read the posts, even if I don’t comment (it’s been a crazy week at HK HQ). I adore your take on things and think this blog is fantastic.

    I’ll cosign what others have said about being white and feeling that maybe it’s not my place to speak up, out of deference. Then again, speaking up–even and especially when it’s difficult can make things better down the road. If that makes sense.

    I’m so disgusted by so much of what’s going on in the world right now. Between Trayvon Martin, the Republicans in general, and their nasty little war on women, it pisses me off. It’s 2012, I thought we had a lot of shit settled. I was wrong, apparently.

  9. I just recently stumbled across your blog and from what little I have read, I am not going anywhere anytime soon. Your words have both entertained and inspired me. I may be a straight, white woman, with a dash of Native American in her, but I am also the mother of a gay son. When he came out I came to the stark realization that America is sorely lacking in civil rights and things need to change.

    I’m also an author and with that I am aware of just how powerful words are. They can do more damage or make more changes than any weapon. By writing these posts and being brave enough to step forward and speak up, you are making a difference. It may be slow and it may only be one person at a time, but people are listening and learning. So, don’t stop. I am proud of you and am amazed at your bravery. I just wish there were more people like you in the world.

  10. Scotty, I have been thinking constantly about your post on Trayvon Martin since I read it, thinking I want to say something, and feeling guilty because I didn’t. My reluctance to comment, about Trayvon Martin specifically, and race and black men in general, is much the same as the others here – I’m not sure it’s my place to talk about.

    Since I’m unable to work due to a disability, I’m home most of the time, and much of that time I’m alone. Discussions with the cats are short and mostly one-sided, I don’t let myself turn on the TV in the afternoon, it’s hard to read for a long time without suffering from severe pain, drinking alone is pathetic and dangerous, and there are just so many times you can scrub the sink before you turn into an obsessive wacko. As a result, I spend a fair amount of time on-line, on different boards. One board in particular is populated primarily by men. When the subject of feminism (or anything closely related to it) comes up, they have so very much to say about feminism, what kind of feminism is OK, what feminism actually is, what women’s lives are now as compared to 50 years ago, etc. It’s like that panel on birth control that didn’t have any women on it. There’s all kinds of mansplaining going on.

    And you know what? I feel that they shouldn’t get a say. They don’t get to define feminism, or what a woman’s role should be, or what our lives should be like, and most definitely what our lives ARE like. They don’t get to define it because they don’t know.

    I don’t want to be that person who ends up sounding like a whitesplainer. I generally choose my words very carefully when I comment on-line, but it’s really easy for a comment or a question to be misconstrued when you can’t indicate tone and intention.

    So all those things are why I didn’t comment. That, and I’m so horrified by what happened to that young man, and so sad for his family, and so disgusted that it took three weeks for the story to come out, that I find it hard to talk about. I think it would be easy to say “let’s just talk about the tragedy of this 17 year old being shot dead. Race doesn’t have to enter into it”, but race, I am convinced, had a lot to do with his being dead. We can’t have this discussion without talking about race and racism. And more than any other -ism, I think racism in the one that’s hardest for people to admit about themselves.

    By the way, this weekend’s “On the Media” did a great piece on Trayvon’s murder. For anyone who didn’t have the chance to hear it, you should be able to find it on NPR’s website.

    Keep writing, Scotty. Write about frivolous stuff, and important stuff. Write about what matters to you. We’re here. It’s a small group, but a dedicated one, I believe. You have given me many things to think about over the past year and a half (or however long ago it was when you appeared over at TLo). I would be bummed out if I lost that.

    • Exactly! You describe my feelings really well.

      I may run at the mouth in this forum, but there are a lot of situations (work, other people’s social events, even my facebook page) where I feel exactly like this – that my “whitesplaining” perception might be of interest if somebody actually asks for it, but it’s inevitably going to miss the boat because in some ways, I just *don’t get it* and *can’t get it.*

      And, frankly, my African-American friends, colleagues and acquaintances who are actually willing to engage in such discussions have heard it all before and I’m pretty sure were weary, weary, weary to death with trying to educate well meaning white folk well before they were out of their 20s.

  11. I’m one of many who probably found your blog from mefein1’s recent comments over at TLo. (Thanks mefein1!) The reason I remembered your comments after you stopped posting there, and sought you out here at your own place, is because of the SUBSTANCE your writings always have, and the obvious care you take/have taken to think through issues and frame your thoughts. Your posts are often entertaining and fun, but even when you’re writing about more “frivolous” topics, there’s often a deeper level of subtext and analysis that I find refreshing. I can’t speak for others, but I really appreciate your sharing a bit of your life with us, and I enjoy the insights I get from your posts, and I love that I so often finish reading your posts simultaneously smiling at your wit and pondering Deep, Meaningful questions. Like others above, I would encourage you to keep writing about the light stuff, the heavy stuff, or whatever mix of stuff you feel like writing about, and I’ll be happy to read (and now hopefully join discussion of) whatever you care to share.

    For me, I think the reason I haven’t commented thus far is that – aside from worrying about what I as a white Jewish woman can, or should, say on certain topics – even in 2012 I’m not quite sure how to go about engaging in a substantive discussion via a blog’s comments. Even the comments section on a blog such as yours, where substantive discussion and varying viewpoints are so obviously welcomed, has left me puzzled at how or where to start. The ol’ intertubes are frequently not so welcoming of critical thought, after all, and as a result I’ve let myself get in the habit of not engaging, even when engagement is called for. It’s a common failing these days, I think – so much to take in, so little time for engagement and reflection, and always something new clamoring for our attention. I’m lucky enough to have friends who do value these types of discussions in the “real” world, but I’ve gotten so discouraged reading comments on other blogs, news sites, youtube, etc., etc., etc., and had so many bad experiences with trolls on message boards & the like, that I’ve pretty much let myself get trained out of trying to have a conversation in this “virtual” one.

    Now that I think about it, the whole “PC” culture probably plays a role in my reluctance to comment as well. I sometimes think that PC-ness causes more problems than it solves (“solves”?) – it often seems like my friends who are the most liberal, the most concerned about issues of class, race, religion, etc., and the most well-informed about these issues, are the ones who are most hesitant to speak openly about these things. Either they’re just afraid of being called a racist/anti-semite/etc., or they’re exercising some pretty extreme self-censorship out of some fear of causing offense somehow, or they’re just plain uncomfortable with voicing such conversations publicly (or unsure quite how to go about it) because they rarely HAVE those conversations. Like anything else, it takes practice to deliberately wade into a situation that makes you uncomfortable, especially when it’s so easy to avoid it, so the more we have these conversations (as blog readers, a community, a nation, and so forth) the better we’re getting at them, and the more nuance we’re able to bring to them. But as we all know, even convincing people (even those of us who know better!) that it’s a good thing to do is a sloooooow process, never mind the equally sloooooow next step of learning how to have the conversation once we accept that we need to. It’s like teaching kids to eat healthy food – first you have to convince them that they should try, then you have to start with something like carrots to get them to open their mind and try a new food, then you have to introduce more and more “complicated” veggies…. Eventually, I think we will all be happy eating our broccoli & spinach & brussels sprouts, but it’s going to take a long time.

  12. Mary said it all. As a fellow caucasian lady, I don’t feel like I should have any opinions facing a group I am not a part of.

    I truly enjoy reading your posts, please don’t stop writing!

    I’ve been absent the last few posts… midterms, work, and other random crappy life stuff… but I promise I’ll be back!

  13. Hey, Scotty. I’d like to echo the other white women up on this thread, that I don’t feel like it’s my place to define the story of black men (and women.) White people have been doing that in this country for long enough. I have been reading and… well, “enjoying” is the wrong word for a story of this depressing nature, but I have been appreciating your commentary as well.

    One of the things that I was pointed to on another blog is a project called “Question Bridge” ( which is a video project where black men can ask questions to other black men and see their answers. I’ve been flipping through the videos when I have time, and it’s been helping me deprogram myself of the instinct of trying to define other people’s experiences, especially in this case black male experiences.

    … So I guess what I’m saying is that I really like reading your words, even though I’m a really infrequent commenter, and I would be sad if you felt that you were being pressured to only write about popular subjects instead of things important to you. It’s your blog and your voice and I’m interested in just about everything you have to say.

  14. Scotty, I suppose that in my case a reluctance to comment on the Trayvon Martin post had to do with my feeling that the facts of the case are so stark, tragic and outrageous that there was not much I could say to make any sense of it for myself, much less for anyone else. When things don’t make any sense, when there is no justice, I feel powerless and depressed. To top it off, the media coverage often makes a circus out of everything, no matter how important or serious. It makes me want to shut down. I know that shutting down is not helpful, and that we must express outrage when outrageous things happen. I suppose that even expressing oneself in the comments section of a blog can be a way to contribute.

    As has been said above, throwing off a comment or two about RPDR is one thing. Even though, as I have said before, I think that the show is culturally significant, it is still just a TV reality show. What I say about it doesn’t matter. It isn’t important what I say. The Trayvon Martin case is important in every way. It is serious. It is not something to be taken lightly. If I am to comment on it, I want to have something important to say, and I’m not sure I’m always capable of that. But, thanks to your post, I now appreciate that not commenting can be seen, paradoxically, as not treating the subject with importance, especially within a small community such as this blog.

    The online community that you are creating here is still very young. So far, I love it. I enjoy your posts and the comments, even when I don’t comment myself. I like that you bring up a variety of subjects and I like how welcoming you are. I’m sure the blog and the community will evolve over time, but this should always be about subjects that are important to you. No doubt people will come and go based on whether they feel it is a good overall fit for them or not. Keep posting about what interests you, both fluffy and serious. You have a great take on things and I like your writing style.

    Here’s something cool to consider. You posted that you were disappointed in the response to a serious subject that you wanted to discuss–and look at the response now. So, if you really want some feedback on a topic, don’t be afraid to ask for it–explicitly and unambiguously. Just say “Hey! I really want to hear from all of you people about this. It is important to me and I need to know what you think!” I suppose the act of your posting about it should imply that, but some of us need to be hit over the head, especially when the topic is a heavier one where a serious, well-thought out response might be required.

    Finally, you asked why we find it difficult to talk about Black men, so I’ll try to answer. I guess I don’t think that it really is difficult, depending on the particular aspect of the topic you want to discuss. (As someone above said, “Black men” is a very broad topic.) Something that has to do with a cultural issue within the Black community might be harder for those of us not within that community to comment on in an intelligent or relevant way, but don’t let that prevent you from writing about it.

  15. FBQ – I am so glad I found you. You made such an impression on me over at TLo, with your thoughtful comments, that I missed you when you stopped posting, and this morning — ok, I’ll admit I’m also procrastinating a bit — I thought, I wonder if I could find Scottyf by googling him and, lo and behold here you are. I’ve added you to my “favorites” and plan to check in regularly. I expect that I’ll be especially interested when you post on topics like this, because I appreciate hearing a perspective different than mine and, ok, I don’t watch RuPaul’s show. On the question you posed, I think I’m echoing some other commenters when I say that I wouldn’t normally voice an opinion partly because I realize that I don’t know hardly any young black men so my opinion would be ill-grounded, and partly out of fear of being accused of this that or the other thing. In short, I do not want to be a racist, I work at not being a racist, but I think it is so HARD not to be fall into racial misconceptions and assumptions if you have grown up in American society. The effects of slavery on our country are so pervasive.

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