There was a lot of racism on the Internet last week. But there is always a fair amount of racism on the web – peep the comment sections of any mainstream website when it puts up a piece on race or dares to talk about a person of colour – but it seems as though a particularly wide hell mouth was cracked open. What with George Zimmerman apologists, the anti-black vitriol of the Hunger Games tweeters, the responses of despicable nerds to Awkward Black Girl winning a Webby, the Liam Stacey fallout and reactions to yet another account of Metropolitan Police-on-black crime. It is difficult enough processing these events individually but when they pop up in clusters they hurtfully highlight what a mess we’re still in when it comes to getting along.
Unless I’m feeling deliriously masochistic or in the mood to give my blood pressure a concentrated boost, I do not read about race and racism online, pretty much for the same reason I wouldn’t pitch up to a complete stranger and begin discussing the finer points of my menstrual cycle. The arena of racial discussion is too fraught and personal to enter with just anyone. Unfortunately as much as there was going on last week I couldn’t help but stumble into race on blogs that I frequent, fall into it in comment sections, bump my head on opinion pieces, I came away battered and bruised and very upset. I refuse to link to the article that sent me into a tailspin of sighing, weeping and playing Zuma with the curtains drawn, but by early Thursday afternoon I’d had enough. I switched everything off, unplugged everything, took to my bed and full-on cried myself into a nap. I woke up a half hour later, lay very still in the daytime dark of my bedroom and thought about coping mechanisms. Things people of colour can do to help them deal with living in a world that has racism in it, things that can provide comfort when it gets to be too much.
Find like-minded thinkers
Similar to a favourite mix-tape, build up a hit list of writers whose work comforts in times of abject frustration brought on by racism. Son of Baldwin’s internet presence, his no nonsense pro-equality activism provides me with daily reassurance, as does Racialicious’ righteously intellectual analysis. I read The Crunk Feminist Collective when I need a hit of sisterhood and Yo, Is This Racist when I’m in the mood to watch prejudice get shouted down with good humour and serious intent. Your choices should be as personally resonate as your favourite song. Alice Walker’s In Search of Our Mother’s Gardens lives on my bedside table for re-read in times of need. I never miss a Gary Younge column in The Guardian. I’ve been talked down from high sadness by the words of James Baldwin, Frantz Fanon, Lola Young and bell hooks.