Welcome to my reign as comment czar

Happy 2014 everyone! We have a number of improvements and expansions planned for Savage Minds that we’ll roll out as the year goes forward. Today I’m announcing the first one: we will be revamping the comments policy on our site.

For years we’ve felt that the comments section of the blog were, well, toxic is pretty much the word that comes to mind. We never really had a solution to this problem because different Minds had different senses of how severe the problem was, and because solutions took cycles that most of us didn’t have. This semester, however, I am finally taking the plunge and am dedicating myself full-time to moderating all comments.

My goal is to create a vibrant, civil, inclusive space where genuine discussion about anthropology can occur, and where anyone — professor, grad student, or random passer-by — can participate. Creating this community has always been central to our vision of the blog, but had fallen by the wayside. We’re bringing it back.

In the next week I’ll be announcing a new comment policy. We’re still working out the kinks, but essentially, I will personally be moderating all SM posts. Every commentor will have to register with our site, and all comments will be moderated by me before they are posted. I am also planning to ask for a volunteer/intern to work with me on comment moderation, as well as other aspects of the site. There’ll be endless thanks (and a letter of recommendation) for the person who comes on board to help.

I’ll be posting more of this soon. If you want to provide comments about the new comment policy before it comes into effect, now’s your chance.

Alex Golub is an associate professor of anthropology at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. His book Leviathans at The Gold Mine has been published by Duke University Press. You can contact him at rex@savageminds.org

64 thoughts on “Welcome to my reign as comment czar

  1. Alex, I’m might be interested in volunteering. Can you email me with specifics like time commitment etc. dsleitner (at) gmail (dot) com

  2. Thanks for your interest DSL. We will actually advertise the position on our blog in the next fortnight, so please feel free to apply then.

  3. Hm, I haven’t noticed a high level of toxicity in the comments here – but I don’t always look. Are you sure that aggressive moderation will contribute to a “vibrant community”? Wouldn’t a more open community-based moderation be a better way?

    And more importantly, wouldn’t a blog like this be the place to reflect on the whole notion of ‘community’? It seems to me that it gets bandied about with just a tad too little reflection. What sort of a social graph do you envision, what patterns of interaction, what power relations, what values, what taboos, treatments of outsiders, gender roles? Or is community just a shortcut for people commenting and occasionally referring to some other comments across comment threads – i.e. a series of interconnected conversations without any of the other glue that keeps communities together?

  4. Or is community just a shortcut for people commenting and occasionally referring to some other comments across comment threads – i.e. a series of interconnected conversations without any of the other glue that keeps communities together?

    I really don’t think that’s what the SM folks want. Going off-topic at all is a no-no, anonymity is frowned on, and threads are killed after a certain point anyway. So I don’t think the idea of community is actually all that important here, really. If you want a community of that sort on your blog, the kind of community where people interact almost for the sake of interacting and let their conversations run on even when they go off-topic, strong moderation isn’t the best way to do it.

    It’s strange that anthropologists, who often have anarchist leanings and don’t like communities to be regulated by an overarching authority that doesn’t come from the people themselves, would decide that the best way to ensure that comments stay on-topic and remain inoffensive is to regulate them with a metaphorical iron fist.

    There are several reasons why the comments here are dominated by certain people. I’m sure that I’m considered one of the reasons for thread toxicity, but I’ve never directly insulted anyone (except possibly Bruno Latour, by calling him a charlatan, which – well, you know), and as I’ve seen thriving communities on plenty of blogs with far more insulting and bloody-minded participants than anything I’ve seen here, I’m quite sure the supposed toxicity of the threads has little to do with it.

  5. Other blogs have communities because the people are given free rein and are allowed to deal with intrusive and insulting people on their own, with assistance provided where necessary. They expect pundits to have relatively thick skins – that is to say, skins thick enough to prevent their wearers from mortification when their views are challenged – and they don’t think that a comment critical of a particular theory, or even a particular person, is necessarily insulting or damaging. Or ‘toxic’.

    Savage Minds is a professional blog primarily written by and for professional anthropologists. It is one of the few popular anthropology blogs, but it’s really not written for ordinary people. We know it’s not because of two things: one, the writing is sometimes (not often, but sometimes) dense, if not unreadable, especially in some guest posts; two, the subjects are quite often about academic jobs and working as an adjunct. The theory stuff is too pompous and unimportant for people not only outside academia, but also those within academic but outside the critical theory bubble, and no one except anthropology jobseekers cares about anthropology job problems.

    Competition for anthropology-related jobs is fierce, and one’s online presence is increasingly part of one’s overall professional reputation. Make a rash comment here about another anthropologist, a particular theoretical outlook, or whatever else, and it could threaten your career, your reputation, your livelihood, especially if the fashionable theoretical outlook changes. I think the main thing about this site is that people don’t want to comment here because they’re afraid of what’ll happen if they do. For so many people, the heartbeat gets faster and stress hormones rise because of the simple act of engaging in conversation over the internet. That isn’t how it should be.

    I have no problem speaking my mind – I’m sure you’ve noticed – because I have no stake in things. David Graeber gets away with shouting matches online and the odd instance of rude behaviour because his reputation is assured and he has a popular book (I don’t think this is necessarily a bad thing). John McCreery doesn’t care because he also has no stake anymore, and he seems interested more out of curiosity than the desire for wealth and status. Discuss White Privilege didn’t care because she used a pseudonym. There are a few other examples of people who have reasons not to care, but other pundits are comparatively sheepish. They don’t want to get involved in the discussion because they don’t want to seem stupid and they don’t want to say things they might later regret. They don’t want to try to defend their theoretical musings because they don’t want to see them shot down in public view.

    No one here seems able to let it all hang out. Maybe there’s some long-term reason for that in the accusatory atmosphere of quite a lot of modern anthropology, but either way, it means that unless this blog becomes less focused on the academy, on jobs, on adjuncts, on reputation- and status-building, it will remain a blog with no real community of commenters and pundits.

    I apologise for this long post – or, as I once saw it referred to on this blog, where the writers hate most forms of comment, ‘kudzu’. I’m not really interested in commenting here anymore, I don’t think, so I thought I’d just let you know what I – the probable perpetrator of the blog’s toxicity – thought might be the root of the problem.

  6. Graeber told me years ago that U Chicago Anthro had a reputation for tearing guest lecturers to bits.

    Wikipedia says, with a link to the NYRB from 1970, that Sahlins was the inventor of the teach-in,
    but family lore says they teach-ins came out of a network friends from graduate school in Berkeley, including a family friend then in Ann Arbor. The second and third teach-ins were in Boston and Philadelphia, organized again by Berkeley graduates, now professors, all of whom including my parents had marched with Harry Bridges and the ILWU. They were not lit-crit leftists who read theory.

    Maybe Sahlins invented the teach-in and and I just want to defend family pride; the real point is that they were started by teachers, not students. We live in a time when teach-ins should be common, and they’re not. But marijuana is legal in Colorado.

    “I’ve never directly insulted anyone (except possibly Bruno Latour, by calling him a charlatan,”

    He’s not a charlatan as such, he’s a neo-liberal, full of human fellow-feeling, and empathy.
    Members of a collective argue with each other and come to an agreement, or not. Rocks, trees, and salamanders are not members of our collective: they don’t vote. There is no reciprocal exchange except in the imagination of one of the parties. Latour does a lousy job of trying to come to terms with questions of socialization and the individual consciousness. But there’s no denying there’s a problem, and one “science” does not solve.

  7. We here at SM are like many, many other places on the Internet, where we believe that structure, moderation, and answerability lead to civil discourse. So our philosophy is the opposite of A.J. West, where anonymity, going off topic, and expecting people to have ‘thick skin’ so you can ‘let it all hang out’. As he clearly already recognizes.

  8. They may lead to civil discourse, in the same way that a Stalinist government leads to fewer petty crimes. But they won’t lead to a community, and they certainly won’t lead to a welcoming community that polices itself and is an exemplar of what makes people great. No one jokes in the comments on SM. They’re focusing on putting their best foot forward. If that’s what you want, then have at it.

  9. Kerim recently linked to Rebecca Schumann’s blog, wherein she was attacked for speaking her mind, with tenured professors trying to get her fired. Because that’s how the academy works: revenge and abuse from those with more power who want to silence dissent. An issue not unrelated to this comment thread and post, and also directly related to why I post pseudonymously. This space is not a community for people like me, even if what people in positions similar to mine have things to say worth listening to–including in relation to what ‘community’ should mean on a site like this, which really isn’t welcoming to anthropologists interested in thinking critically about intersectionality and race-critical feminism.

    Recalling Rebecca Schumann’s blog again, all this talk of ‘civility’ is noteworthy. For one, the issues of tone-policing raised by Rebecca Schumann’s kerfuffle with Tenured Radical/Professor Claire Potter have, apparently, been off the SM radar, despite what should be a recognition of their obvious resonance with many an SM post and comment thread, and many of the issues around academic employment and employability raised here on SM. Second, a recent comment on Pan Kisses Kafka, to which Rebecca responded, engages the racial (and racist) subtext of demands (especially from ‘higher-ups’) for ‘civility’. It says so much, given the historic roots of the term and its imbrication in racist/colonial projects to subdue and control non-White Others in relation to a civilization v. savagery/barbarism dichotomy that this is the trope invoked here, by Rex, to address ‘toxicity’ and disrespect in SM comment threads. No irony here, on an anthropology blog, given that anthropology is Officially Anti-racist and so deeply committed to not (re)producing racialized hierarchies/inequalities for which ‘civility’ (and ‘civilization’) discourse has often be marshaled. But as I am one of the named Toxic Commenters, what would I know, right? I am probably just being disagreeable for the sake of being disagreeable, as is the habit of (Black) Feminist Killjoys who tend to make ‘unpleasant’ observations that get labeled toxic because they question the status quo in ways that make people who have the power to silence others (and especially to silence Racial Others) angry.

    So I wonder whose comments will be moderated, and why, and using what definition of ‘community’–especially given the anthropological ‘white public space’ problems which also afflict this site and have often allowed vicious racist-sexist personal attacks and stereotyping/stereotypical assumptions and silencing/dismissal in the past.

    Perhaps if SM/Rex/moderators could address the freighted history of ‘civility’ and mandates for it, as well as the larger issues of racism, privilege and silencing that Rebecca Schumann so graciously engages (or Karen Kelsky recently engaged in her recent apology on her blog, for problematically appropriating racism to discuss the privilege of the tenured) then SM could be the kind of ‘community’ it imagines itself to be/hopes to be/Rex is claiming it is in response to Al West’s comments on this post.

  10. I will rewrite the comments policy (which is already available) to hopefully address some of DWP’s questions. I do expect, DWP, that you will be among the most frequently moderated people on this site, given your past performance here.

  11. Now that the inevitable argument over whether any form of moderation is permissible has been decided in favor of moderation, perhaps we can move on to Rex’s original request for thoughts about what rules, if any, should guide the moderator’s decisions. I offer one: The moderator should ban absolutely any form of personal labeling. The rule will apply not only to list members but also to any and all individuals cited by them. Thus, to describe any individual as, for example, an idiot, a charlatan, a racist, or even a neo-liberal, will not be permitted.

    A case in point: Some years ago I was editor of the club magazine published by the Yokohama Country and Athletic Club. A member submitted an article in which he described another member as an idiot. I rejected that article and explained the rejection in print in the next issue of the magazine. I said that, so long as I was editor, labeling another member an idiot, jackass, etc., would not be permitted. On the other hand, if there were witnesses to support the claim that said member had been seen leaving the bar drunk, then jumping naked off the high board of the swimming pool with the Hash House Harriers’ rubber chicken on his head, I would print the description of those events.

    I was, in effect, applying the rule suggested by Dan Sperber for ethnographic writing, in which observations and inferences are clearly separated and inferences must point to specific observations and not be short-circuited by use of stereotypes.

    I realize that this rule may seem unnatural to many of us. On the upside, it will not only make our discourse more civil. It will make it more vivid and concrete as well. That, at least, is the hope behind this proposition.

  12. Rex, your responses to both me and Al West have been incredibly hostile and nasty, which is rather sad give that you are the person who will be moderating all comments and are telling others to be civil and claiming that you want to foster a sense of community.

    Calling out behavior that is racist and sexist, which anthropologists should be doing and have a right to do, should not be conflated with making personal attacks. The very fact that such a conflation is being encouraged is why SM is not a community, despite Rex’s claims to the contrary.

    So yes, Rex, your response to my comment, especially ‘given your performance here’, is petty, spiteful, and racist and sexist. There are plenty of SM readers who can attest to the fact that I never made any personal attacks on others but was instead subjected to extremely racist and sexist personal attacks which I forcefully called out as such. You hate me because I am not submissive and do not ‘know my place’, and so though my style of argument may be no different than a White male scholars, it offends you to no end because you do not see me as an equal. If the same comments came from a White male, especially one with tenure and above you in the academic hierarchy, you would engage them.

    I challenge any reader to find a comment of mine in which I personally attacked others (v. responded legitimately to racist and/or sexist personal attacks, or called out patterns of silencing and assumptions based on racist and sexist practices/patterns of behavior/hierarchy). So yes, interesting that Kerim lauded Rebecca Schumann on this site for her willingness to ‘name and shame’ abusive academic practices, when it is precisely for doing the same that you hate me so much.

  13. I think Jon has a good point — we should solicit advice from people on what they would like to see in our comments policy. I’ll try to work on a post on that.

    DWP, if you think that calling some one “petty, spiteful, racist and sexist” for my previous comment, then you and I are in disagreement about what counts as civil behavior on this blog. In the future, comments with this tone will not appear on the blog. To be honest, I consider your cause to be noble and important, but you are using it to legitimate behavior that is simply not appropriate it. At least not here on Savage Minds. At least not any longer. If you think that makes me an evil person, then so be it — I think we will have to agree to disagree on this one.

  14. It will be interesting to watch this process! As a co-founder of the working group and manager of the web site/blog for the People’s Library (the library of Occupy Wall Street in NYC), I took part in similar discussions about what to do with our comments sections. We were endlessly trolled by a particularly odd librarian who felt it was important to prove we were not a ‘real’ library (a title we didn’t claim to begin with, despite our 9,500 catalogued volumes and 3 MLS credentialed librarians on staff), and who blamed us for each time the police seized books or otherwise attacked the occupation.

    In the end, we chose to keep the forum unmoderated (after initial approval of the first comment, as is default in WordPress) and tried to respond to substantive critiques while starving the trolls otherwise. Anyone who has spent time on The Grad Cafe forums, however, can see how important moderation is when you get academics or ‘wanna-be’ academics together in an internet comments Thunderdome. There are some other good models for constructive moderation mixed with a bit of community work. Metafilter is one that comes to mind which, though often dramatic, is pretty effective at keeping discussions civil and open.

    My gut instinct is a lot like those above – wait, we’re SO smart, can’t we just do this ourselves? Sadly – Advanced degrees doth not a civil internet commenter make.

  15. “So yes, Rex, your response to my comment, especially ‘given your performance here’, is petty, spiteful, and racist and sexist.”

    Above is a direct quote from my previous comment. Please note that I did *not* say Rex was “petty, spiteful, and racist and sexist”. I said that his *response* was. Big difference, and an important one: yes, because I agree with you, Rex, my cause is important and noble. And this is why I made a point of not attacking you personally and in totality, but pointed out behavior which is characteristic of the abuse the hierarchy that is the academy legitimates.

    I don’t think you are an evil person, nor would I say so. I can only comment on your behavior in our interactions. I have no doubt you are quite nice to many people, to those you respect. I am not interested in personally attacking people, but it is worth thinking about why my comments calling out racist and sexist behavior and/or implicit biases are constantly deemed personal attacks: both in light of the question of what kind of community SM presently is and could be in the future (especially with the currently proposed moderation policy), and in light of Twitter conversations on race/gender/intersectionality like #nopologetics, #BlackPowerYellowPeril, #SolidarityIsForWhiteWomen. All topics/conversations championed by SM interviewee Sarah Kendzior (the darling, deservedly, of many an SM reader and moderator, including Steven Tran-Creque; though, interestingly Sarah’s incisive race/gender critiques are usually cleaved from her class critique, here on this site, for the very same reasons of race-avoidance that make this site something other than a community for race-critical women of color feminists). The most vibrant Twitter conversations, which trend nationally and internationally and generate widespread media attention of the kind that those claiming they want anthropology to have more ‘public’ influence should welcome, will never happen here, especially given the proposed moderation policy, because too many who control the direction of SM conflate calling out racist and sexist behavior/practices/policies with ‘personal attack’ and thinking/claiming a person is ‘evil’. Yes, SM, and anthropology more broadly, has a serious–and very sad–race-avoidance problem, as discussed in “Anthropology as White Public Space?”. To borrow a Schumann-ism, one always has to worry about the ‘hurt fee-fees’ of ‘higher-ups’/the tenured gatekeepers/White men, instead of tackling racist and sexist behaviors head-on–which, yes, can be done in a straightforward manner, which includes ‘calling people out’, but does *not* have to be about personal attacks. But that people here keep insisting on conflating calling out racist and sexist behavior with ‘attacking’ people, while completely avoiding the historical legacy and racialized implications of the term ‘civility’ (god forbid we actual engage and discuss this point as it would require an actual conversation of race/gender/power of the kind the SM ‘community’ habitually works not to have!) so as to keep returning to demands for ‘civility’ and ‘civil’ discourse. Yes, politeness and deference to status quo race/gender/status hierarchies (because this is much of how ‘civility’ is being used here, though not being explicitly acknowledged), but no to any ‘uncomfortable’ discussions of symbolic violence in the comments thread, to silencing practices and quotidian forms of disrespect produced by racism and sexism which can’t be named lest a White person (usually male) feels ‘attacked’. Yes, and I know, this comment/observation/analysis will itself be considered ‘uncivil’ and ‘hostile’, and will be banned under the new moderation policy. #Nopologetics. Sarcasm from Rebecca Schumann (love you, Rebecca!) is OK, but coming from me, as I have ‘outed’ myself as Black and female, is not OK and will be deemed rude, ‘impolite’, ‘uncivil’, ‘hostile’, (and all other adjectives related to stereotypes of Angry Black Woman and ‘ungrateful’ Black people who complain ‘too much’; and here, too, I think of Sarah Kendzior and her article on complaining… ).

    SM can have whatever moderation policy it wants, but it should at least be honest about what kind of ‘community’–and person–it truly wants and values, and be honest about its race-avoidance and why it exists and persists. Labeling talking about racism/sexism as a personal attack is classic #Nopologetics behavior. And, so far as I’m concerned, it doesn’t make for very interesting or sufficiently critical discussions, much less a ‘vibrant’ and ‘diverse’ (intellectual) community.

    Having one’s behavior called out as racist or sexist, despite one’s intentions, should be something one can do here on Savage Minds, and it shouldn’t be conflated with engaging in personal attack. If SM were willing to acknowledge this difference, and its frequent #Nopologetics tactics, which are now about to be codified and enacted as the new comment policy, it would go a long way to fostering a truly diverse and respectful SM community: http://theprofessorisin.com/2014/01/01/the-problem-with-my-analogy/.

    So yes, interesting who gets to call out practices of academic abuse and who will be silenced for being ‘uncivil’ (and/by virtue of being seen as ‘uncivilizable’ and a de facto Savage).

  16. I, for one, welcome our new comment overlord.

    I’ve been interviewing members of the Something Awful forums recently, which is one of the most heavily moderated forums on the Internet, as well as one with the strongest sense of community. Most of the members, and certainly the administrators, believe the two are related.

  17. In my classes I often encourage people to separate a position or claim from the person who holds it, because it creates a distance that allows people to feel safe critically analyzing those positions (I think this is especially important in Hawai‘i). So to a certain extent I understand what DWP is saying. But there is a limit. I mean really: I’m not evil, racist, sexist, just my positions are? Who can really believe that this is somehow more civil than just attacking someone? And at any rate it seems to separate knowledge and the personal in exactly the way that critical theory would claim is impossible.

    If you think this position is racist, sexist, etc. then you will probably chose to leave the site, or else to make a lot of work for me and the intern pruning your comments.

    DWP, in the end it will not be up to us to decide whether you can act civilly. It will be up to you. You can chose to follow the standards of the site, or not. Your choice — not ours. It’s that simple.

  18. Michael I hear you — the question is always finding the right mix of constraint and freedom that creates the kind of sociality that participants want. That’s what we’re working towards — consciously steering the site around to try to create that mix.

    Do you or other Occupy folks (sorry, I’m pretty ignorant here) read a lot about public debate in relatively egalitarian societies? Like Karen Brison’s “Just Talk”? Seems relevant.

  19. “Having one’s behavior called out as racist or sexist, despite one’s intentions, should be something one can do here on Savage Minds, and it shouldn’t be conflated with engaging in personal attack.”

    This is a really important point and one I hope SM keeps in mind in their moderating policy/practice.

  20. I would like this blog to be a place where people’s minds can be changed, and where people recognize that others may know more about them then they do themselves. This includes topics of race and gender, which I think can and should be discussed frankly.

    Indeed, one reason we didn’t have moderated comments in the past is that Minds like me are used to these sorts of discussions, even when they get personal and heated. But its been made clear to me that that is not the way that everyone feels, and so here I am.

    Key to creating healthy discourse on this blog is for everyone to A) recognize their own fallibility — that we may not have perfect knowledge of ourselves and others; and B) writing comments that truly try to convince others that your view is correct. Explain and convince? Yes. Denounce and accuse? No.

    Finally, I do think we need to recognize that the personal is political, and that language and expression are essential to self-making. I’m willing to stand by the claim that you can’t call someone’s words racist and sexist without also making claims about who they are. If I called DWP a stupid n—, who would believe me if I claimed that my words were racist, but that I was not?

  21. I’d like to add to this discussion by sharing some of my favorite posts about moderating comments:

    On the impossibility of automating the process, and the need to have someone do it by hand (as Rex and the intern will be doing).

    Ta-Nehisi Coates view of comments as a “dinner party”: “Once you take out the rubbish and clear away the weeds, flowers begin to grow.”

    The Crooked Timber Comments Policy which says something similar: “If your comments strike us as stupid or irrelevant we may also delete them in the interests of keeping the conversation at a reasonable level. Commenters who who routinely seek to make marginally relevant debating points may be barred to make room for those with a substantive contribution to the discussion. It is up to us.”

    Anyone can sign up and start their own WordPress.com blog like this one for free. You might also check out Medium.com as a place that is good for writers who want their work to be highlighted without having to create their own blog. (It is sort of a group blog where anyone can post.) But when you post on our comments section you are in our garden/party/classroom and we will run it in the way we feel best serves the interests of our entire community, not just the egos of one or two people.

    To be honest, most of the core members of Savage Minds are used to raucous internet discussion and are willing to put up with a lot. We are doing this because the toxic nature of the comments has been a problem for guest bloggers and potential guest bloggers – especially women. We feel that having a more civil discussion will allow us to have a wider variety of voices here, not less. I am personally grateful that Rex and our future intern will be willing to take on this unforgiving task. I think the blog will be better for it.

  22. Wow, I am truly frightened by the critical thinking skills involved in thinking calling me a “stupid n______” is equivalent to saying someone’s actions were racist and sexist, or petty and spiteful. Truly flabbergasting. Nothing–not a thing–I said about Rex’s actions being indicative of racist and sexist patterns of behavior produced by implicit bias and power asymmetries that structure individuals’ behavior, even when they don’t ‘intend’ (consciously) to be sexist and racist, was in any way equivalent to or even came close to calling Rex a ‘stupid k*ke’, or any such despicable personal attack which would in fact be analogous to the hateful racist assault involved in calling me a “stupid n______”. If the SM audience actually thinks that calling out racist and sexist behavior is equal to such an intentionally racist and dehumanizing slur, than this site is truly horrible (and not just ‘unintentionally’ hostile ‘white public space).

    Rex, with your constant instance on implying I can’t control myself and can’t be trusted to be ‘civil’, while again refusing to engage the racialized history of this the terms ‘civil’/'civility’, you invoke the very discourse of uncontrollable Blacks which Lewis Gordon writes about while discussing the continuing anti-Black racism of the academy: http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/2640:the-problem-with-affirmative-action.

    You have again engaged in racist behavior in order to avoid acknowledging that one’s behavior, including yours, can be racist and sexist absent intention, and that this is in fact how racism produces people in the world as racialized subjects irregardless of whether they want to be racialized subjects. You keep claiming I’ve called you evil. As anyone with eyes can see by reading my comments above, I never used the word evil to refer to you or your behavior. This is a word/concept *you* introduced so as to pull the classic ‘calling my actions racist and sexist is more important than thinking critically about whether or not my actions may actually have been racist and sexist’ defection tactic. Enough of the straw man arguments and accusing me of making claims I never made.

    How ironic that you (and Kerim) are–however ‘unintentionally’–sanctioning racist and sexist silencing (and the ‘go start your own site’ retort is a classic on this account; yes, Annoying Black Person/Woman asking ‘us’ to think about racism/sexism we don’t want to deal with as we don’t want to think about our privilege, so tell her to just shut up already and go away. Great attitude to have in a comment thread on how the SM moderation policy is being redesigned to foster ‘community’ and ‘respect’. And all done while implicitly deploying ‘the N-word’ to put me in my place. Bravo. Way to show a genuine commitment to anthropology as an anti-racist discipline.

  23. Correction: meant to write ‘regardless’ not ‘irregardless’. But it is not easy to think clearly when being called, back-handedly, a ‘stupid n______’ while being told to shut up and leave the site.

  24. I have never claimed that you have called me ‘evil’, as anyone who has read this post can see. In fact, this is something that AJ West, who has also participated in this discussion, has called me (or my ideas). I have also never told you to shut up and leave the site.

    In my opinion, our positions — and rhetorical choices — are probably irreconcilable and we will not be able to agree in any way on any substantive issue. I am instituting policies you will probably not like and disagree with. You can follow them and stay on the site, or you can not. Its up to you.

    I personally think you should take Kerim’s suggestion and start your own blog — you certainly have a prolific pen. There you could explain to the whole world all of the problems that our blog has without having your opinions buried twenty comments deep in our comments section. But whatever, its up to you.

  25. All this talk of civility and neither Rex nor Kerim seem to remember Henry Farrell’s tone in the arguments over Diamond, or that Brad DeLong’s contemptuous response included a link to VDARE http://delong.typepad.com/sdj/2005/07/a_better_class_.html

    Farrell’s posts:”Nobbled Savages”, “Cultivating Ignorance”, “Bourdieu among the Anthropologists”

    Farrell and DeLong lost that fight, but the fight itself was worthwhile. The authors at Crooked Timber choose to engage broadly, or at least try. The authors here seem to do that only when forced to.

    “Having one’s behavior called out as racist or sexist, despite one’s intentions… shouldn’t be conflated with engaging in personal attack.”

    There’s still a problem; let’s say I want to argue in a civil manner for racial distinctions of one sort or another. Where’s the line between manner and idea, form and content? Fact, value, value fact. But we don’t need to go so far down the line of argument; you’re drawing your line well before we get to that grey area. The question is why.

  26. Well, Rex, thank you for not denying that the “stupid n_____” comment was an underhanded intentional insult. Good to know where I stand with you. As reinforced by your continuing to belittle me (as you’ve done for years now) by telling me I should start my own blog so I can tell ‘the whole world’ what is wrong with this one. Yes, because what a silly little Black girl I am–with a big ego (if I am to understand Kerim correctly)–for trying to raise issues of implicy bias and structural inequality and how they consistently manifest on this site.

  27. A brief note to say, for the record, that I also oppose this moderation policy. I rarely leave comments on Savage Minds but I frequently read them. In my own interview on this site, I commented on the culture of conformity and fear with which anthropologists contend in a university environment. Savage Minds has been a welcome alternative to this kind of self-censorship. A.J. West and Discuss White Privilege both raise good points, particularly regarding the importance of being able to make public structural critiques from a position of relative powerlessness.

  28. Given how the term ‘civility’ is being used:

    “In other words, by “smarm,” Scocca means the habit, inescapable in today’s public discourse, to retreat from difficult debates and engage in bloviations about tone, propriety, courtesy. He characterizes this maneuver as useful to those in power. If the hoi polloi raises a ruckus about an injustice, don’t discuss the injustice itself. Don’t search for solutions. Instead, complain about the noise of the ruckus, the impoliteness of it all. “Talk about something else, smarm says. Talk about anything else.”

    http://seminartable.wordpress.com/2014/01/05/on-rage-smarm-and-the-great-academic-labor-debates/

  29. DWP do you have any specific suggestions or recommendations for what you would like to see in our comments policy?

    Seth, I’m afraid I can’t understand your comment. Could you try explaining it?

  30. As a total newbie to the serious study of anthropology — and a non-member of the petite bourgeoisie — I’m struck by the uncritical reference above to Te-Nehisi Coates’s assertion of the “dinner party” as a model for civil online discussion. That is, after all, how the rest of the world imagines academics carry on their social lives, around a nice table, in a nice home, in a nice neighbourhood, with a good bottle of wine and brilliant and like-minded friends.

    I think I’m with DWP (and others) on this issue. I guess I don’t really think that a “polyphonic space” (to misuse Clifford’s term) is necessarily a polite one. “Civility” has always struck me as unbearably loaded ideologically, and I at least — see disclaimer above — am not here for a dinner party. I like the Crooked Timbers comments policy, because I think it’s clear, authentic, and practical. But beyond that, I’d say it’s better to leave us alone in dialogue and argument.

  31. Anyone who thinks that the existing status-quo is an unmoderated anarchist free-for-all is kidding themselves. We have always moderated our comments. For instance, I regularly edit or remove DWP’s comments for personal attacks which are in violation of our existing comments policy. The problem is that we have not been applying these rules in a clear or consistent way because we are a group blog. One of the main changes here is simply to impose our existing rules in a clear and consistent way.

    But it is more than that – we get a lot of off-site feedback by people who don’t feel comfortable participating because of the ways one or two people dominate the conversation as well as the general tone of that conversation. The current status quo also turned off people that we would very much like to have as guest bloggers – especially women. We strongly feel that a stricter policy will allow and encourage a greater diversity of voices. Anyone who thinks that the comments can be self-regulating should spend a month reading all the stuff we edit/delete and speaking to the people whose voices are being silenced by the current tone.

  32. I would like to see Savage Minds have a healthier, more productive comments section. Our new policy is designed to do just that by having our regular bloggers be more involved in moderating the comments. The goal is not to shut down conversation or community but in fact to promote it in ways currently not being realized on the site.

    This part of Rex’s post reflects our collective thinking on this:

    “My goal is to create a vibrant, civil, inclusive space where genuine discussion about anthropology can occur, and where anyone — professor, grad student, or random passer-by — can participate. Creating this community has always been central to our vision of the blog, but had fallen by the wayside. We’re bringing it back.”

    In some ways, as Kerim says above, the new policy is our commitment to consistently enforce our existing policy. But it also more than that, it is a recognition from the inside that we’d like to do better in creating a more dynamic comments section (rather than just delete abusive or harassing comments before they get posted). Also, if you re-read Rex’s post, you will see that it is an invitation not a ultimatum (his “comment czar” language notwithstanding): he writes that we are working out a new policy and he invites your input. We all do.

  33. Thanks Carole for making the point that this is a work-in-progress. We think most everyone will welcome the changes (if they notice them), but if you don’t – let us know and we will continue to adjust.

    One thing the new policy will hopefully let us do is have more “open threads” as well as more posts on controversial topics. Even if we don’t admit it to ourselves, many Minds and guest bloggers have been daunted by the very thought of having to moderate comments on such posts. [See my comment above about how all our posts are already moderated, no matter how it may seem to most readers.] Having a comments czar will hopefully remove that hesitation. We have some great things planned for 2014 and these changes are part of those plans.

  34. I am a bit concerned that moderation is being represented as a largely passive, filtering process, whose purpose is only to reject uncivil and obnoxious comments. Moderation in this form resembles the behaviour of a gardener who only clears a patch of soil and keeps it clear of weeds, when planning, planting, pruning and fertilising are also essential components in the process. One of the joys of Savage Minds is that the bloggers who run the site do make an ongoing effort to plant new seeds and invite others to start new threads. I would very much encourage active moderation, with even more effort in this direction. I would also urge those who comment frequently — and, yes, I do have myself in mind— to ask ourselves whether what we are about to say has something new and constructive to offer, as opposed to trotting out our favourite hobby horses, which others are likely to find tedious, even outright obnoxious.

  35. I find Kerim’s comments about ‘frequently’ editing or deleting my comments to be troubling, and indicative of the unequal terms of evaluation for Black scholars v. White ones, of which Lewis Gordon wrote about in the link I provided above. It again casts me in the role of Uncontrollable Black Troublemaker while showing that what will be deemed a personal attack is in fact dependent on the subject position and institutional status of the commenter. Most of my comments have in fact not been moderated or deleted, in fact the vast majority have not, but in giving the impression that most everything I post is deleted or edited because it is off-topic personal attack, kerim does a great job of reintroducing the cudgel of ‘civility’ while casting me in rather dubious racist-sexist terms. I find the Black Troublemaker characterization, albeit not explicitly stated but just implied,disappointing and ironic given that kerim recently tweeted a graphic about startling racial disparities in life-without-parole sentencing. Posting such tweets would seem to indicate that Kerim is well aware of issues of implicit bias and how they end up disproportionately punishing Black people: both punishing Black people even when they’ve done nothing wrong/are innocent/have committed no crime and punishing them far more harshly if they have transgressed (including punishing them when others would not be punished at all). How often has this happened with censoring my comments by accusing me of being ‘uncivil’ and engaging in ‘personal attacks’.

    It is interesting what the moderators of this site do and do not consider a ‘personal attack’, and how often I get accused of them while non-Black (and especially White male) commenters have been allowed to heap vitriol on me aplenty. From being told my request to ‘discuss White privilege’ is “some KKK shit” to having my legitimate analysis of un acknowledged White privilege in ethnographic scholarship on Silicon Valley deemed the product of my putative ‘militant Black Power rage’ to being accused, in shocking and ridiculously stereotypical fashion, of liking and listening to hip hop (which I rarely listen to and have little knowledge of) because I’m Black. And yet when these actual personal attacks against me were being made, where we’re Rex, and Kerim, and Carole to speak up and demand ‘civility’ toward me? Rex, in particular, made a point of NEVER stepping in to defend me in the comments thread of any post he wrote, even when I was being attacked on the basis of my race and gender. So I do love how I (and Al West) have become the poster children for ‘toxic’ comments, with three tenured professors complaining about my tone (while not engaging the larger, to invoke a term from the ‘smarm’ post I linked to above, ‘injustices, that I raised with my comments). Yes, because what is really important is not the abuse or inequality I’ve pointed to, Judy how ‘uncivil’ I am and how much I ‘personally attack’ people–especially since my ‘personal attacks’ are never a response to any racist/sexist behavior directed at me. I just like to ‘attack’ people, you know, like I love hip hop, and am violent, and unreasonable, and am from the ghetto, and hate White people.

    What is my suggestion for the comments policy? Please start by having an open thread on what actually constitutes a ‘personal attack’ on this site. To the extent that I understand Seth Edelbaum’s second comment, he is right to note that one can say many racist things (like arguing for the inferiority of some racial groups) in a very ‘civil’ manner.

    I made a point of not commenting on the empathy posts, despite noticing the conspicuous absence of discussion/mention of the ‘racial empathy gap’, because it has become clear to me that this is not a site on which someone like me can bring up issues of racism and racial privilege without encountering hostility (from dismissal and silencing to outright personal attack and racist stereotyping). I find it interesting that I have been characterized as dominating conversations on this site because of my ego, as though this is the reason that my comments have made certain people uncomfortable, as opposed to because I have violated the unspoken rule of academic anthropology, as discussed by anthropologist Elizabeth Chin, that people of color are supposed to study themselves while White anthropologists get to study everyone.

    Is it a coincidence that the three SM moderators supporting the current moderation policy change are all White, tenured, and do fieldwork among non-White populations? Why, really, are my comments so easily deemed ‘threatening ‘ and ‘personal attacks’, though I really don’t personally attack people and though White female critics like Sarah Kendzior and Rebecca Schumann are supported on/by this site for their ‘naming and shaming’?

    Be more honest about the silencing techniques of those with more power (in the academy). This would be one suggestion for how to create a more respectful SM ‘community’. Don’t silence people who make statements of fact (such as about public cyberbullying via a departmental listserve, witnessed by dozens) so as to defer to tenured professors who don’t want to talk about abusive/racist/sexist practices in their department and the academy more generally. So yes, Al West is right about how fear of consequence and status- and reputation-building hamper discussion on this site. It is fairly ridiculous for SM to claim to be an inclusive community for professors, grad students, and passers-by alike when so much censorship on this site has occurred in deference to tenured professors and the hierarchy of the academy. I don’t think censoring statements of fact about widely witnessed bullying, so a well-known and relatively powerful tenured White male professor could say all is/was fine I his department sent the message to a lot of grad students or un tenured faculty that they could speak freely on this site–even pseudonymously. But nice to know that my comments are seen as more silencing and dangerous and dialogue-stifling.

    If people–and especially women–are afraid to guest post here because of my comments, then this is also worth discussing. Again, is the issue really that *my* comments are personal attacks! or that they know that if I comment they probably will have to engage a racial analysis that should already have been part of their analysis and they are, as Al West has correctly pointed out, afraid of having to acknowledge this blind spot “in public view”, in a way that makes one feel uncomfortable and is worrying because as Al was also correct about so much of one’s success on the academic job market is now tied to one’s online presence. So I am a ‘threat’ because having a Black woman point out a shortcoming is seen as mortifying as I am seeing as belonging to a less-intelligent racial group and because my pointing out behavior as being racist/sexist makes people worry that they will be labeled as Racist–yes, capital-R noun. Sorry, but like I wrote before, legitimately calling out behavior as racist or sexist is not the same as engaging in personal attack. Anthropologists should be capable of acknowledge as much, especially in a discipline with an *official* race statement and “zero tolerance for sexual harassment”.

  36. DWP’s writes: “I find Kerim’s comments about ‘frequently’ editing or deleting my comments to be troubling, and indicative of the unequal terms of evaluation for Black scholars v. White ones, …Most of my comments have in fact not been moderated or deleted, in fact the vast majority have not, but in giving the impression that most everything I post is deleted or edited because it is off-topic personal attack, kerim does a great job of reintroducing the cudgel of ‘civility’ while casting me in rather dubious racist-sexist terms.”

    I did not say that “most of DWP’s comments” have been moderated or deleted, just that her posts are frequently subject to moderation or deletion. In fact, not only is this true, but it is more true of DWP than of any other commenter on this site. This is a simple fact and is not based on her race or gender but on the fact that she finds it difficult to follow our comments policy.

  37. Actually, Kerim, the issue is not that I find it harder to follow the policy than other commenters, the issue is that the comments policy and how it has been applied is intended to shut down and avoid ‘difficult’ discussions of racism and sexism, especially in anthropology. So yes, the fact that the comments policy reproduces anthropology as ‘white public space’ does make my being more frequently censored a function of my race and gender as I am not in a position to not have to think about racism and sexism so as to avoid commenting on it in ways that enrage Kerim, Rex et al.

  38. And for the record Kerim and Rex: your definition of ‘personal attack’ creates the kind of environment in which people like Jerry Sandusky can get away with abuse while the top Penn State administrators cover it up for a decade-plus.

    Your comments to me are indicating, intended or not, caring more about ‘civility’ and protecting those who benefit the most from status quo power asymmetries/inequalities in the academy than protecting marginalized whistleblowers who speak out about these inequalities and abuse. Your constant insistence that I engage in ‘personal attacks’ is really not honest. The real issue is that I call out abuse that more powerful people who you want to defer to and/or not offend don’t want discussed. Sarah is right about the climate of fear and conformity in academic inequality, and how and why my comments get so frequently censored is directly related to the practices creating this fear and conformity.

    John wrote that he would only publish a negative comment about someone’s behavior if there were witnesses to confirm it. Even this criteria isn’t met by SM. So even when I am making statements of fact about abuse for which there are many witnesses, it is easy to silence me by claiming I’m just personally attacking individuals, even when I’m not, because of the reluctance of witnesses to speak up due to the climate of fear and conformity, especially when SM has shown it will shut down grad students who challenge a more powerful professor on the issue of departmental hostile climate and public cyberbullying.

    Once again, tiringly, the response of tenured White male moderators is to my tone, not the injustices/abuse/inequality raised. The issue is not how the comments policy maybe encouraging racist, sexist, and/or abusive practices, just how I refuse to be a good little girl and conform to The Rules–and as Tanner Colby wrote in Salon, “Black Girl With a Great Attitude” who never calls out White people on their racism in ways that make them uncomfortable.

  39. And just to be clear on the Sandusky/Penn State reference, lest people think I’m making an absurd comparison: the current insistence by moderators that I engage in ‘personal attacks’ and thus am the commenter who most ‘refuses to follow the comment policy’, and thus most needs to be edited and deleted, creates the kind of SM ‘community’ which will always sanction abuse by the more powerful in the academy so long as they have the ability to get away with covering up and keeping it out of the public eye (i.e. journalistic media outlets). Had I trued posting on SM about Jerry Sandusy being a pedophile, prior to the story breaking in 2011, I would have been accused of engaging in ‘personal attack’, especially given my race and gender. How many witnesses were there who could have corroborated Sandusky’s actions but had remained silent out of fear? What was really learned from the Penn State scandal, or last year’s Kate Clancy et al. survey which prompted the AAA’s “zero tolerance for sexual harassment” statement if SM moderators are talking about creating an ‘inclusive’ ‘community’ but refuse to discuss what actually constitutes ‘personal attack’ or how to ensure that less-powerful individuals are protected when they tell the truth about abuse in the academy for which there actually are witnesses but those witnesses aren’t speaking out because of fear that they (too) will be retaliated against.

    Sorry Rex and Kerim, my idea of SM as a ‘community’ is not one in which abuse by academic higher-ups is sanctioned and encouraged by a moderation policy which disproportionately censors those always and already marginalized within Anthropology’s ‘white public space’, or encourages beating up on them for not conforming to the ‘keep your mouth shut, or else’ intimidation tactics that the hierarchy of the academy makes possible all too often.

    Of course this is not why you think I supposedly have such a hard time ‘following the moderation policy’, but now you know. Contrary to the ongoing racist-sexist subtext of the insistence that I just can’t manage to control myself.

  40. As a blogger nothing is more unwelcome than investing time and energy into a blog post (sometimes 6-8 hours of effort for a nice one) only to see the comments section go off topic. Simply put it makes me not want to blog. I for one welcome the change to the comments policy and I anticipate that more structured conversation will create a more inviting environment and encourage participation by a more diverse constituency.

  41. Sarah, in your comment above you write “In my own interview on this site, I commented on the culture of conformity and fear with which anthropologists contend in a university environment. Savage Minds has been a welcome alternative to this kind of self-censorship.”

    In truth, it would be great if we were that, but I don’t think we are. This is a place where many tenured professors lurk, and graduate students want to participate, but often get pounded down by people who are further up the hierarchy than them, or are no longer academics but are still older. The result is a chilling effect where those who have something to lose are afraid to speak. Despite what DWP might think, we are making these changes in order to make this site more the way you want it: a place where there is less fear and more room for expression.

  42. As Kerim pointed out, we have ALWAYS moderated comments here. The thing is, we’ve left it to each author to moderate comments on their own posts, and that’s made for a fairly haphazard application of the rules. I’m a lot more forgiving than Rex, for instance — I’d probably be one of the folks dragging comment threads off-topic if I were just a commenter — so I let my comment threads run pretty wild.

    But here’s the real issue: I’m one of the founding members of the site and (if I may pat my own back a bit) author of some of the site’s most popular posts over the years, yet I hardly ever write anything any more. Partially that’s because of the particular trajectory my career has taken, away from traditional anthropology and academia and into public history, but partially that’s because the last few experiences I had with comments on my own posts and with other comment threads I got involved with were so pointless, fruitless, and joyless that I basically didn’t want to do it any more. And I’m not the only one — we lost some of our other founding members and many guest bloggers over the years because of the harshness and counter-productiveness of some comments (and our unwillingness to delete comments or ban commenters because of a misguided sense of “free and open conversation”) — and more still have been unwilling to come on as guest bloggers.

    I for one do not think that free publication of dozens (hundreds?) of 2000-word comments on how racist Rex is and how Savage Minds systematically promotes privilege makes up for the dozens (hundreds?) of lost opportunities to promote various anthropologists’ research and widen the range of voices and perspectives on this site. In some Platonic ideal world, maybe self-regulation would be the key to enlightenment, but in the world we live in, it has made Savage Minds oh-so-much-less than it could be.

    As for DWP… As noted, what you see on the site is not everything she’s posted. But more than that, every full-timer at SM and some of our guest writers have endured a years-long campaign of abusive behavior including a constant stream of unwanted and irrelevant emails as well as phone calls, often to employers and colleagues. That we have tolerated her presence on SM as long as we have is, if anything, evidence of an incredibly open and forgiving approach to academic discourse. She should have been banned long ago (and if memory serves, was — DWP is a second incarnation, which is why I didn’t know who she was when I foolishly engaged her in comments last year) and time and again we’ve turned the other cheek because dammit, free and open discourse! It strikes me that the people who are most up-in-arms about this (and there are only a handful of you, which is telling in and of itself) would find it difficult to find another site that would tolerate their approach to “civil discourse” for long.

  43. I’d like to see MORE comments and participation on Savage Minds, not less. I want to see more comments from grad students, adjuncts etc etc. I do think that a good comment policy and fair moderation helps open things up and create an environment where a range of people can take part in discussions–without worrying about how their words will affect their career, etc. As Alex says above, I want to see a site with less fear and more room for participation and expression.

    That’s why I have been one of the biggest advocates of the need to rethink our comments policy and moderation. I used to belong to the “let them all hash it out” school of thought, but that all changed earlier this year when a few of my threads went completely out of control. Various people sent me emails…including some very well established academics. Some were respectful, some definitely were not. Before that moment I had never even considered deleting a comment, let along shutting down a comment thread. I ended up shutting down three in a row because things went so far off topic and/or out of control. A lot of people were pretty angry, and it was not fun to deal with. Part of the problem was that we were all very lax about enforcing our comment policy…so many threads tended to escalate, get personal, and worse. And that was the moment when I realized SM needed to rethink how we deal with comments–and find ways to do so in a fair, consistent, even-handed manner. All of the good sites with extensive comments have well thought out comment policies–Crooked Timber, Racialicious, etc. There’s a reason for this.

    I do think Savage Minds can be the kind of space that Sarak K talks about–in my view this is what Rex and the rest of us are really trying to create. It’s already been said, but keep in mind the fact that this is a work in progress. We are literally in the middle of doing all this. I think it’s a good cause–and it’s about time. Overall, the goal is to work to build and maintain a more open, inclusive, and fair place for people to discuss, debate, share, disagree, etc. For me, it’s not about being “nice”, or maintaining a pleasant, “civil” tone, as much as it’s about fostering a certain level of respect. For me that’s the most important thing. Respect–no matter where a person is coming from. That will indeed go a long way.

  44. DWP says “I really don’t personally attack people”

    This is untrue. DWP has, on numerous times, written comments (or parts of comments) which are little more than personal grievances – often completely unconnected with this blog (or its members). She also emails these grievances to many bloggers and guest bloggers on a regular basis. She has even phoned bloggers at their places of work and left long phone messages about these grievances. We do not feel Savage Minds is an appropriate forum for her personal grievances, nor is email and phone harassment of Savage Minds bloggers appropriate. I should add that we are not the only blog where she has exhibited this kind of behavior.

  45. Just for the record, DWP says she did not get banned and return under a pseudonym some years ago. Could be true – without our archives to check, I can’t confirm that and my memory may well be faulty. So lemme withdraw that and stand even more strongly behind the rest – you could be the ghost of Boas himself posting his grand unified theory of human behavior and offline harassment STILL should not be tolerated. And that’s all I have to say about that.

  46. You unethically banned my previous comment, allowing Dustin and Kerim to smear me and distort my private responses to comments I posted, obscuring the fact that while it is true that some moderators and guest bloggers hate me, not all do and I struck up excellent correspondence with others (not that we didn’t also disagree at times). Additionally I was not previously banned and DWP was not a second incarnation. Moreover, it is interesting how Dustin is remembering the past and forgetting actual facts, like having to apologize to me in one of his last burlesque threads, because he attacked me unfairly and was called out by others about it. Likewise, it is interesting that he thinks I am a useless commenter who should have banned long ago, despite having written comments or emails to guest bloggers which resulted in posts on the site, including the post that was generated in response to my ‘Reimagining the Masters’ comments. In short, and true to the Unreasonable Angry Black Woman Who Needs to Shut Up stereotype, I am being smeared for the ‘crime’ of talking too much, while having legitimate critiques and grievances written off, as so often happens when women of color speak up, as unfair personal attacks.

    Kerim has said that my grievances have nothing to do with the moderators or the site, but this is a blatant lie and willful distortion. I only began reading this site because a founder emailed me a link to the Chris Kelty DDR or Receivership list because this person was disturbed by the claims being made as they related to the public cyberbullying I was subjected to which Chris Kelty censored from having openly discussed. All the ‘grievances’ I have raised which Kerim writes off as irrelevant and not related to the site are in fact the direct consequence of the retaliation which came from speaking about this incident. So I have spoken up about it, spoken out about whit this censorship was wrong and relates to larger issues of racism in anthropology and the persistent blind spits around racism and intersectionality that anthropology consistently has, and the reluctance to discuss White privilege so as to address anthropology’s ‘white public space’ problem.

    But love the personal attacks via distortion and dishonesty so as to avoid any of the many legitimate points I made. Misrepresenting my actions, and especially my motivations, which I’ve been quite explicit about, is deeply unethical. And yes, my race and gender made it easy for Kerim and Dustin to do as they focused on how ‘annoying’ I was in their estimation, instead of thinking about the daily micro-and macroagressions and silencing of Black women which might have something to do with why I spoke up so frequently, especially to try to get the very moderators now attacking me to take seriously how this site can be complicit in (re)producing extreme forms of abuse and anti-Black racism.

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