Log in

22 September 2011 @ 04:46 pm
you are NOT troy davis  
There's a meme that's been making the rounds online where some White people are proclaiming, "I am Troy Davis."

As a Black woman who has a Black father, Black grandfathers, Black uncles, Black cousins, Black nephews, Black men friends, Black male colleagues, and  Black men I would love to number in any of the above categories, I would like to tell White people . . . 


This is about as polite as I will be about this. When you say that you are Troy Davis, you are not standing in solidarity with the Black community, but consuming our identities so you can look like one of the Good White People (TM). It's insulting; it's degrading; and you need to not do it.
pauraquepauraque on September 22nd, 2011 09:16 pm (UTC)
Since we are on this topic, there was something else that bothered me. There was a message going around on twitter along the lines of "Twitter has banned the #TroyDavis tag from trending topics on grounds of offensiveness, but is still allowing #youknowyoughetto".

The implication seemed to be that #youknowyoughetto was actually offensive and should have been banned instead. In a context where white twitter users often seem inappropriately amused/perplexed by the large community of black twitter users and their associated trending topics, to me this seemed wrong. What do you think? Am I reading too much into it?
afro_dyteafro_dyte on September 22nd, 2011 09:45 pm (UTC)
I'd rather talk about the life-and-death situation that transpired.
pauraquepauraque on September 22nd, 2011 10:06 pm (UTC)
I see how my comment came off as disrespectful of that. I apologize.
sparkles and guts: Of course it's stupid!bsafemydeers on September 22nd, 2011 09:49 pm (UTC)
How is this on the topic? It's marginally related to it, yes, but rather than being about the utterly oblivious bull in a china shop idiocy of white people claiming they are Troy Davis-- and the centuries of institutional racism that lead to his death-- it's about hash tags on Twitter.
suck itttttttttttttttttttonelittlesleep on September 22nd, 2011 11:34 pm (UTC)
where some White people are proclaiming, "I am Troy Davis."

Oh, ugh.
Being the ramblings of D.gmdreia on September 23rd, 2011 12:11 am (UTC)
I am a white person.

And I think that it looks pretty idiotic.

It's amazing how when people try to do things to make themselves look better, they look like fools.
Brett: WINGS - Puppypalmir on September 23rd, 2011 12:31 am (UTC)
First: I am a white male, trying to understand this post.

Second: My understanding of the "I am Troy" campaign was that it was meant to be an all-encompassing, global sentiment proclaiming that the death penalty is wrong in general and especially so in this case (more specifically, "I am Troy" as a statement to mean something like "I, like Troy Davis, am innocent of any crime worthy of the death penalty, so if you execute him you may as well be executing me.") I am okay with being wrong and corrected on this point, but it leads me to...

Third: The NAACP, who started the campaign... seem to agree with me. Again, I'm willing to accept that I am wrong here, but this is where I am confused. See the top of page 2 here: https://org2.democracyinaction.org/o/2446/images/Troy_Davis_Talking_Points.pdf

So this post leaves me with questions (but then, that's why I joined this community in the first place). At first glance, it seems I'm missing context for your backlash (... clearly). Is there something you feel is behind these particular proclamations that makes them insincere or misplaced? Or should I approach this in a different way?
liamunearthingbone on September 23rd, 2011 02:00 am (UTC)
i am also a white male. i appreciate that you are trying to understand this post and i think it's vital that white people get this. i also wish that you would go back and read afro_dyte's words again and again until you get it, because hers is the voice you should be listening to. not mine. white people only hearing other white people talk about racism is problematic.

the problem with white people using troy davis' death as an "all-encompassing, global sentiment proclaiming that the death penalty is wrong in general and especially so in this case" is that white people and white systems manufactured this entire process. from racism and classism and racist police brutality and completely-uneven consequences for crimes based on race and racism to the stigmatization of being a black person on trial in a courtroom usually for white juries (but even when not) to being tried in front of usually a white judge to going to jail or prison where a majority of the inmates are statistically going to be folks of color and the guards are most likely going to be white to then white people the world over taking the name of a black person (who is one of a million black faces that have gone through and will go through this same racist theatre production of "justice") and trying to use it to say, "see, i hate that this happens. it's not my fault this happens. if you could execute a black man, you could execute me. i hate the death penalty. it's so inhumane."

this excuses white people's -- and i do mean every single white person in america -- role in systemic racism.

by being a white person, i participate every day in creating and reinforcing racist systems by the virtue of my privilege.

further, to, as a white person, say "i am troy davis" or "we have the same likelihood of having the same experience with the 'justice' system, the troy davises of the world and i" erases that yours and my and every other white person's white privilege. white people are sometimes executed by a white system, but it is sure as hell not the same at all as a black person being executed by a white system.
asrana: Tienanmen oppression resistanceasrana on September 23rd, 2011 12:51 pm (UTC)
by being a white person, i participate every day in creating and reinforcing racist systems by the virtue of my privilege.

I can not express how relieved I am to finally see SOMEone able to acknowledge this point. I've been trying to point this out to a lot of my friends in a (non-race-related) minority group which has problems attracting and keeping non-white members and all I've gotten back is "ZOMG you called me a racist! You hurt my feelings!" Yeah, your feelings may be hurt but what are you going to DO about it. Whining at ME shouldn't be how you're trying to make yourself feel better.

liamunearthingbone on September 23rd, 2011 03:34 pm (UTC)
also, palmir, the NAACP is a group that was created primarily for any by folks of color, specifically black folks. anti-racism white allies have had a role, as i understand it, in many parts of its creation and history and mission, but the NAACP still remains, as best as i can see as a white person, a space for and by folks of color.

also, i read the link you posted in your point you labeled "third" -- and i'm going to hedge my bets that your perception as a white person and the lens of white privilege lent itself heavily to yours and others' interpretation of this being a cart-blanche invitation to subsume black identity and community in saying "i am troy davis."

saying "the NAACP, who started the campaign... seems to agree with me" is basically like saying "i have black friends who think this is okay; in fact, my black friends said it first, so obviously it means that i'm right and really smart about racism" when, really, communication is so subjective and our perceptions shape so much what we think we hear other people saying.

and, also, from my experiences as a person who identifies as a member of several marginalized communities, i know that sometimes i have to play this sort of game with how i address something someone says about my community that is messed up and clearly a product of privilege, especially "well-meaning" privilege. in order to preserve my own mental health and ability to function in the world in the face of the 9,000,000 instances of transphobia, for example, that i encounter every day, sometimes when someone sort of very marginally gets some part of trans identity and seems like they are looking for a ~*cookies!*~you're such a good cisgender (non-trans) person~*~! response, i give in. or when, even more likely, someone is incredibly argumentative about a point i've made about trans community, i am silenced because i just can't have the same fucking argument again and have my identity take not only the traumatic transphobic hit that the other person can't see they're participating in, AND i can't take the hit of being labeled that "angry trans person who just can't shut up about trans people and always makes it about trans people" at that moment.

i use my trans identity as an example because i don't feel that i have the right to speak about racism feels like for folks of color, and while my experiences with marginalization is NOT the same as the experience of racism that folks of color encounter every day, sometimes, i think, the dynamics of what marginalization can FEEL like and how we all navigate the individual types of marginalization we encounter can be similar. so, i wonder how much of what you're perceiving about the NAACP isn't partially about playing this nicey-nice game where marginalized communities have to minimize some part of our genuine feelings or anger in order to be heard from our own mouths by the mainstream and, basically, entice the mainstream to ally with our cause -- which really means, often, "please lend us some of your attention and social power so we can carve out some minor legislative change or social sea change for one minute here" -- by giving out cookies and saying "you're so important."
afro_dyteafro_dyte on September 23rd, 2011 08:15 pm (UTC)
via witchsistah:

Third: The NAACP, who started the campaign... seem to agree with me.

"Guize, the NAACP, yanno that BLACK organization started the whole thing so ALL, as in EACH AND EVERY LAST BLACK PERSON ON THE PLANET, signed off on this so why is this cullud gal complaining?! Don't ALL Negroes do exactly what the NAACP tells them?! 'Sides they agree with ME, so NYAH!"
Brettpalmir on September 23rd, 2011 08:34 pm (UTC)
I brought up the NAACP not because they like the campaign or because I thought they agreed with my interpretation of the phrase and how it's been used, but because they *ran* the campaign and used broad, inclusive terminology in their action kit.

I apparently have no idea what you're reacting to if it's inciting this level of vitriol. The top of your post mentions a meme that I haven't seen, so can't comment on; I was attempting to question and understand the sentiment behind the phrase. Clearly I failed.
afro_dyteafro_dyte on September 23rd, 2011 08:39 pm (UTC)
You have no idea how racist this is, do you?
Brett: WINGS - Puppypalmir on September 24th, 2011 12:16 am (UTC)
I interpreted the phrase "all Americans and global citizens" as including me. This phrase is used in the action kit for the campaign. Unless this interpretation is itself racist, there were clearly some steps between the interpretation and my words that were - I'm trying to figure out what those steps are so I can at least be aware of them before I open my mouth.

I never claimed to be Troy, only to not know what you were talking about. I offered what I thought was the sentiment behind the "I am Troy" campaign, with what I thought was a clear statement of wanting to learn why I was wrong. Clearly I made a misstep, and I apologize. I just don't know where that step was so I can avoid it later.
rhiechaeri on September 24th, 2011 12:50 am (UTC)
Well, I can say with certainty that trying to explain the I am Troy campaign would have been your first problem. She knows. She gets it. It's highly racist for you to assume otherwise.

Secondly, the only person who is responsible for educating you is yourself. Start at the beginning of this community. Read the profile. Read the links in the profile. Scroll back to page one, and read all the way through, clicking links as you do.
Ellen likes to arguelogicalargument on September 23rd, 2011 06:58 pm (UTC)
Sorry, I spelled "white" with improper capitalization so I am correcting myself.

Would it be appropriate for a white person to post this?

"I killed Troy Davis. As a white person, I am complicit in a corrupt, racist justice system which executes persons of color. By reason of my privilege, I can never experience or understand the systemic oppression which allows the white system to murder innocent people of color with impunity. By failing to take any action, I am responsible for the continuation of this system and for all the suffering that it creates each day. Today, I acknowledge that if there were any real justice, it should have been me."
afro_dyteafro_dyte on September 23rd, 2011 07:44 pm (UTC)
How about, instead of making it all about you and your fee-fees, you give attention and resources to the many organizations that seek to correct the wrongs that led to Troy Davis' death?

Is it really that damn difficult to not make it all about y'all?
Ellen likes to arguelogicalargument on September 23rd, 2011 08:25 pm (UTC)
Should a list of such organizations be attached? (I agree that any white who posts should not claim to have donated to any of them.)
afro_dyteafro_dyte on September 23rd, 2011 08:29 pm (UTC)
Did you really not understand what I just said?
Ellen likes to arguelogicalargument on September 23rd, 2011 08:45 pm (UTC)
Is this what you mean?

Whites should keep silent about the death of Troy Davis and about the institutionalized racism and injustice which led to it. Making statements which give attention or encourage the giving of resources to organizations led by people of color which seek to correct the wrongs that led to the death of Troy Davis, if it is done by whites, makes it all about the whites, and not about the organizations or the people of color who lead them. The act of calling attention to those organizations, and suggesting that other whites should contribute to them, by the fact that it is being performed by a white, creates an illusion of being less complicit in the racist white system. Such illusions should never be encouraged.
afro_dyteafro_dyte on September 23rd, 2011 08:49 pm (UTC)
No. I made my meaning very clear. I told you what would help. What more do you want from me?
Postmodern Girl Cartographer: ObliviousPiemadmoisellestar on September 24th, 2011 03:49 am (UTC)
It's hard to break the training, but sometimes 'I statements' really aren't what's called for.

I'm a white chick and I feel positive about the rewrite you offered; I feel like it talks about white culpability and white complicity in injustice and I think that's a worthy thing for white people to do. But, see what I'm saying here, it's still about White people and me. And that's not always the thing that needs to be said. Some people find it honest and truthful and the kind of thing white people need to hear, but some people, with at least an equally valid point, are going to find it inappropriate and self-centered (white-centered?) in the context of someone else's death at the hands of an unjust system.

There's a way to say 'there is systemic injustice and this is an ugly gaping example of it' and 'Amnesty International and the NAACP have press releases that deserve to be read' and so on, without actually talking about white people. We get plenty of attention.

Er, or that's my well-intentioned, thoroughly 101-level take. I may just be another know-nothing mouthing off.
afro_dyteafro_dyte on September 23rd, 2011 08:44 pm (UTC)
See how a couple of White people are acting in this thread?

This is exactly what NOT to do.
afro_dyte: human pleaseafro_dyte on September 23rd, 2011 09:00 pm (UTC)
Count the derails!
MESSAGE: White people saying, "I am Troy Davis" is harmful for reasons XYZ. If you're White, don't say that.


"If You Won't Educate Me How Can I Learn?"
  • Would it be appropriate for a white person to post this?
  • Should a list of such organizations be attached?
  • Is this what you mean?

"Well I Know Another Person From Your Group Who Disagrees!"
  • The NAACP, who started the campaign... seem to agree with me.

"You're Being Hostile!"
  • I apparently have no idea what you're reacting to if it's inciting this level of vitriol.

Two more and we got Bingo!
rhiechaeri on September 24th, 2011 12:39 am (UTC)

Wow. Almost any idea is better than that idea.