CN – quotes of racial slurs
I woke up really late this morning. Ledcat is on vacation this week so built-in alarm clock is not working. 9 AM is too late for my comfort and I had a bad feeling as I rolled out of bed to face the day. Little did I know.
I headed downstairs to make coffee and clear the cobwebs. I was sort of rumbling around the kitchen trying to make sense of the day when I glanced at my phone. That’s when I received the news – I was in Facebook jail for the next 12 hours.
Why? I had been reported for posting a satirical meme about a gay white man in Pittsburgh.
Why did I post it? Because he posted this commentary about a local queer woman of color who also happens to be my friend.
Apparently, this man has been harassing various folks associated with RootsPride for the past month. Not content to make his point and move on, he keeps coming back. I tried a rational approach to talk with him and he wasn’t interested. When I found this nasty comment, I had enough. So I reposted both the meme and his comments on my own timelines asking people to show support for queer and trans people of color. Apparently, I violated the Facebook Terms of Service – unsure if it is because of the meme or my decision to quote his hateful little update.
But I have had the chance to give this some thought. Was it worth it? Beyond my own frustration, I was unable to post for a few gigs. I contacted them and explained the situation – to a person, they applauded my initial decision and were fine about the impact on their needs. I know good peoples. Other than those conversations, I had no real negative fall-out. Well, I do have to wonder what this guy’s next step will be.
So I would do it again in a heartbeat. I find these obsessive control tactics to be deplorable and a little terrifying. This man is a leader in the local gay community. I have no idea why he feels compelled to keep up this level of harassment or if he realizes that it reflects pretty poorly on those organizations he represents. Unless they too think “Aunt Jemimah’s (sic) illegitimate bitch” is how to engage QTPOC?
I am going to do what I can to hold him accountable for his hideous racist slams against Joy. His comments undercut any claim around libel – his content is racist. He went to an extreme racist diatribe that reinforces almost everything RootsPride has been discussing. He proved their point. And he ended up getting Joy kicked off Facebook under the names policy. But we all know it was about his racism. Here’s her take on the situation. Note: I learned about Joy’s situation after I had nearly completed this post, but I opted to go ahead because the difference in how I was treated and how she was treated is very very important for everyone to read.
Being without Facebook is strange. I kept looking at my phone throughout the day, noticing things I wanted to share or like. Uh oh. I was kicked off Instagram for the day as well. So I spent more time on Twitter and went about my day. The world won’t end if I can’t share a story. Instead, I had lunch with a friend and visited a second friend. Then I did some other work.
I don’t think I really learned anything though because Facebook doesn’t actually do an adequate job of explaining the mistake. And I just decided to move the content to my personal blog which is a website where I control all of the content. Plus, I have to approve comments. Be forewarned that if you share this on Facebook, you might run afoul of the FB rules.
There’s nothing particularly noble about losing access to Facebook for 12 hours, even when you are engaging in anti-racism work. The worst that can happen to me is if this man starts targeting me with his vitriol and we take him to the magistrate on civil harassment charges. I doubt that will happen, but if it does – it is handy to have in-house counsel. I’m not really harmed so much as exasperated. I have almost as much privilege as Dennis in this situation.
On the other hand, Joy and other women will continue to live with this sort of responses from gay white men on and off Facebook. It is abhorrent that people in our very own community find this acceptable. Dennis Mowrey is not alone. His actions represent the most extreme end of the racism deeply embedded in the local LGBTQ community, the racism RootsPride forced us to confront in a more direct way than ever before.
I hope the good people of Pittsburgh who know Dennis will take some – ANY – concrete action to address his deplorable actions. This is everybody’s work.
I’ll be back on Facebook in ten minutes. The question now is how will I use that privilege moving forward?