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Intl. Blog Against Racism Week
POC in SF Carnival, special IBARW edition! 
17th-Oct-2007 01:10 am
still ibarw
A brief history and explanation of IBARW

International Blog Against Racism Week (IBARW) originated in an email discussion among coffeeandink , liviapenn , minnow1212 , rachelmanija , rilina and me, but for me, the origins go back to the Great Cultural Appropriation Debate of DOOM. The debate started from a Wiscon 30 panel, but it was the aftermath on LJ that made me stop and think about racism for the first time. More specifically, it was after I requested the conversation to stay on white appropriation of POC culture just in the comments to that post and got comment after comment protesting the exclusion of white culture. My later post on racism in Pirates of the Caribbean 2 was another eye-opener, with comments ranging from "white people are stereotyped too" to "you are being paranoid!"

As you may have noticed from the above, I came into anti-racism late after struggling for years with wanting to be "the good Chinese girl" who blended in and didn't rock the boat, who took it upon herself to make other people comfortable, no matter how she felt.

All six of us were still finding our feet with anti-racism when we began to email each other. We then tossed around a few ideas, some being a community we could post to, or all of us posting something on our LJs. We debated a lot about tone and how to present things; most of us were afraid of alienating people by being "too angry." In the end, we decided to do something meme-like that would be on all our LJs at the same time out of practicality: if six of us were blogging at the same time, there would be a much smaller chance of one person getting bombed with 100+ nasty comments (I have to admit, this was my main concern, having been the person whose LJ had just exploded). Rachel ended up suggesting doing something like International Saiyuki Week, an informal celebration of a manga series that had sprung up entirely unorganized.

And so, we ended up picking the next Monday as a date, I pre-announced behind a filtered post in my LiveJournal, and that was IBARW1.

I wanted to give you all a sense of where IBARW came from. Looking back, I see a well-intentioned, clueless me, and both Mely and Minnow have commented on how we were too conciliatory. IBARW1 reflected that. Many people posted on how they never really thought about racism, or stories of "How I met my first black person and realized racism was bad," neither of which furthered the discussion of institutional racism and how to combat it.

This year, I debated on and off whether or not to have IBARW2. I wanted one so that IBARW1 wouldn't just be a blip in the blogosphere, but I also wasn't sure if I wanted to organize the entire thing. In the end, I did, though I couldn't have done it without the help of ladyjax , jinian , or poilass , or without the posters' participation.

I believe blogging against racism is important. Blogging won't save the world or miraculously end racism, but it's also not without effect. I have a remarkably short-sighted view of trends, as I've only been noticing racism consciously for about a year, but it feels to me that things have changed this year, both in my online fandoms and at Wiscon. I do not think IBARW is solely responsible for these changes, though it may have had some part, but I do think that the cumulative effect in my areas of fandom has been an increased dialogue on race and racism and an increasingly nuanced understanding of racism. And a large part of that is because people have been talking and linking and posting, not just one week of the year, but all year.

Because of this, I hope it's become somewhat safer to post about race and racism in fandom, though it's clear just from the HP DD mod debate and the current anti-Semitism debate that there's still a long way to go. And this is just my small corner of the internet.

It's not saving the world, but it is a change.

While there's no official definition of racism or "blogging against racism" for IBARW -- anyone can post anything they want -- it'd be disingenuous for me to say that there isn't a definition that I work with, particularly given the selection criteria that goes into posts like this and the IBARW recommended reading list.

So with all that in mind, this is what I want IBARW to be:

  • IBARW should be international. It should look at global trends of racial oppression as well as country-specific trends, and the default should not be American. While the default so far has been American, I've been heartened by posts from people in Ireland, Germany, and Australia. One of my goals for next year is to get people from other continents to join in.

  • IBARW should push limits. Some of the posts in IBARW should make people uncomfortable, me included. Talking about privilege and oppression isn't a fuzzy, happy topic a lot of the time.

  • IBARW should talk about intersectionality -- how racism intersects with other oppressions and how those intersections are more than the sum of their parts. As Audre Lorde says, "There is no hierarchy of oppressions." We should be talking about black lesbians and lower-class Asians, American Indian women and Latino immigrants, people who suffer from the effects of ablism and homophobia and sexism and classism along with racism.

  • IBARW should not obscure the efforts of those who fight against racism via other means or those who blog against racism every day; rather, it should call more attention to the people working against racism.

  • IBARW should not just be a week. And this is the point that is most important to me. It shouldn't just be the anti-racist blogosphere raising awareness every day. If people who don't normally blog or think about racism participate and then drop out the other 51 weeks, I've failed. I've said this elsewhere, but that is because I firmly believe it: every week should be International Blog Against Racism week. And I would love nothing more than to see IBARW become obsolete because talking about racism is normal and everyday for everyone, not just for POC and allies.

My goals for IBARW3 are to get more participation from other areas of the blogsphere (fandom and non-fandom), more international participation, and more POC participation. Brainstorming post here; comments, suggestions and critique highly welcome!

And now, massive linkage!

Please note that these were taken out of IBARW1 and IBARW2; there are about 700+ posts for both of them combined, and I encourage looking through the whole list, because there is no way I could cover everything. I've also kept all of my own posts out, though I am not above giving you all a link to them.

POC voices on POC experiences

I especially want to highlight POC voices because we are so often silenced, drowned out, and ignored. The disclaimer is as always: there is no singular POC experience, no one Asian or black or Native or Latin@ or multiracial experience. Not all written-by-POC posts are here; these are ones that focus specifically on being a POC, and they range from the very personal to the academic to every shade in between. I'm roughly grouping these by axes of affiliation. While there was relatively good representation of black and Asian posters, I still want more representation of POC, particularly of POC outside the US, indigenous people and Natives, and Latino@s.


Because race isn't the only thing some of us worry about, and because it's not as simple as saying "This is just race, this is just gender, and this is just sexuality."

International perspectives

I wasn't sure what to title this. I don't want "international" to imply that the US is above nationhood, but I also didn't want to define the section by a negative. So really, it should be something like "the US is not actually the center of the world." Most of these are written about other English-speaking countries; I suspect this may always end up dominating given that IBARW started in English, but I really want to include more countries and continents going forward.

Discourse on racism

A lot of what I've seen becoming more "mainstreamed" the past year has been talk on how we talk about racism. I use "mainstreamed" ironically, since a) the space I've been immersed in isn't really mainstream (media fandom), b) using that term completely ignores how this has been in international discourse for a very long time, and c) completely ignores the thriving anti-racist blogosphere.

  • IBARW1 started as a discussion on how to post what would eventually become Mely's How to Suppress Discussions of Racism (with addendum). Plus, it's illustrated with stick figures!
    Tired of discussions of racism in literature, television, and film? Worn out from the unexpected criticism of your leisure pursuits? Exhausted by the effort of having to respond to each new argument carefully and conscientiously?

    We can help!

    We'll teach you how to suppress discussion of racism in six easy steps. Soon suppressing dissent will be so easy you can do it in your sleep!

  • rilina on racism and intent, or "I don't care as much about intentions as these people think I should."

  • ciderpress on language and race and tone

  • truepenny on voices, shrillness and loudness

On privilege

White privilege, the flip side of racism.

Unlearning racism

I had originally titled this "for allies," as some of the posts are specifically on being a white ally. But some are for people who just started thinking about racism and don't know what to do, and I am always aware that I can do more as well.

Race and Racism and ____

Tthese are posts that look deeper into a specific topic and show how race and racism works there.

Critique and support of IBARW

There's been critique of IBARW from various angles. Hawke thinks that it's just preaching to the choir and furthermore, an excuse to beat up on white people. Danielle questions if people are merely jumping on the IBARW wagon (or anti-racism wagon, or anti-Semitism wagon) just to gain popularity in fandom.

And now, I editorialize a bit and point you to jonquil 's post on how it's not about you. I do advocate people examining their motives for blogging, particularly if it's to get their ghetto pass. On the other hand, blogging against racism as a means to win friends and influence people? Please excuse me while I go through some of my old posts and reread the comments, which still have the power to make me cry, shrivel up inside, raise my blood pressure, and feel completely alone even a year later. I don't think it's just me -- I know too many people who have locked down their posts or screened comments after things got out of hand, read too many posts talking about how scary it is to speak, how alone it feels, how terrifying it is to put yourself out there as a target.

There's also been critique of IBARW from others. Loomis writes that IBARW is generally a circle jerk of white people patting themselves on the back.

I've been wavering on how much responsibility to take for this; too much and I take away individual posters' agency, too little and I shift the blame.

I chose not to promote IBARW in the anti-racist communities I am in. Some of it was because I dislike promoting myself. A lot of it was because I didn't want the people who blog about racism all the time to feel obligated to do anything; they are already doing so much. I went back and forth between feeling like I was excluding people and feeling like I was pushing the burden back on to people. In the end, I made the wrong choice, and I very much regret it. I will try to do better next year.

The other critique that came out a month after IBARW was the discussion of racism and anti-Semitism. chopchica wants to know where her parade is, technosage writes about the intersection of racism and anti-Semitism and speaking against both, vaznetti writes about feeling invisible during IBARW, and kita0610 posts about token Jewish characters. Vaznetti's post in particular struck a chord with me, espeically her line about the fear of fracturing the anti-racism "we."

I wrote this to her: "[W]hat I believe here is along the lines of Audre Lorde talking about feminism and [how] feminists can never tear down patriarchy by using patriarchy's tools of racism and classism. That is to say, I do not think we can build an anti-racist space on a foundation of anti-Semitism (or, well, we do, but we shouldn't).

And part of me understands the feeling of fragility with anti-racism; I'm terrified to talk about anti-black racism among my Chinese community. And much of it is because I've seen how quickly it becomes a weapon to dismantle anti-racism. But. I also think the argument of "You shouldn't talk about [this issue] now because we are talking about [other issue]!" has been used multiple times to suppress discussion of [this issue] (be it [racism] in feminist discussions or anti-Semitism in anti-racist discussions).

And I don't think racism (or feminism or classism for that matter) is The Real Problem; they are all real problems but not to the exclusion of each other."

IBARW is flawed. But I believe the best response to that is to improve it rather than not have it. Here are two IBARW co-founders on why they participate, and they speak for me as well.

Finally, if you'd like to read more, check out the delicioused recommended reading or IBARW's race-related resources.

Thank you all for reading the special IBARW edition of the POC in SF Carnival! The fourth carnival will be hosted by sparkymonster at the end of October. Please see the main site on how to submit your links and articles next time.
17th-Oct-2007 10:01 am (UTC)
Thanks for writing this up. I thought I'd read all the IBARW posts, but I'm seeing some I missed. (Just the sort of procrastination-enabling reading material I needed when my deadline is looming ever closer!)

18th-Oct-2007 06:33 pm (UTC)
Thank you for reading!
17th-Oct-2007 03:12 pm (UTC)
This is so impressive it's hard to know what to say, so for now I'll just say thank you for pulling it all together.
18th-Oct-2007 06:34 pm (UTC)
Thanks for your help with it!
17th-Oct-2007 03:14 pm (UTC)
Wow, thanks so much for putting all this together. It's an impressive collection.

Next year's IBARW will be even better.
18th-Oct-2007 06:34 pm (UTC)
I think I left out so much too! Am looking forward to next year.
17th-Oct-2007 03:29 pm (UTC)
This is fantastic.
18th-Oct-2007 06:34 pm (UTC)
17th-Oct-2007 03:31 pm (UTC)
technosage 's post is either flocked or a bad link.
18th-Oct-2007 04:13 pm (UTC)
Sorry about that! It's fixed now. I had to flock for work reasons and hadn't unflocked that post yet. There's also a recent addendum post on the Yuletide-spawned discussion.
18th-Oct-2007 06:37 pm (UTC)
Sorry! I didn't manage to check all the links before posting.
18th-Oct-2007 10:35 pm (UTC)
No problem! I locked it down the other day, possibly after you posted. It's unlocked again now. :)
17th-Oct-2007 03:54 pm (UTC)
You rock.
18th-Oct-2007 06:34 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
17th-Oct-2007 04:39 pm (UTC)
This is fantastic! Thank you. I can't believe I missed so many of these at the time.
18th-Oct-2007 06:34 pm (UTC)
Thanks for reading!
17th-Oct-2007 06:19 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I'll look through more of these when I have the time.
18th-Oct-2007 06:35 pm (UTC)
Thanks for reading!
17th-Oct-2007 11:25 pm (UTC)
I'm shocked to see one of my entries made it into the round-up, but in a positive way. The past couple of years, I've really been working on becoming a strong anti-racist ally, so it means a lot to me that I've been able to contribute and help my friends to begin to explore and question as well.

I'm also looking forward to coming back to this post and the del.icio page and reading more of the posts when I have free time. Thank you for organizing this.
18th-Oct-2007 06:35 pm (UTC)

Thanks for reading!
17th-Oct-2007 11:51 pm (UTC)
You are awesome :)
18th-Oct-2007 06:35 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
(Deleted comment)
18th-Oct-2007 06:21 pm (UTC) - Re: here through IBARW round-up
Hi! Um, did you mean to comment on an individual link as opposed to the round-up? ;)
18th-Oct-2007 06:41 pm (UTC) - Re: here through IBARW round-up
:facepalm: Um. Yes. I'll delete that now and repost where it belongs, if that's okay with you. How on earth did I manage to do that?

But, now that I'm here, it's a wonderful roundup! Reading online took up 2-4 hours of my every day during IBARW2 and is doing so again with current discussions, and sometimes I want to say "screw coursework" and just spend my time on these posts and the works they link to. I've been learning so much--not just about perspectives but about how to have discussions and why it's important, and hopefully I can carry the tools and expanded consciousness I've gotten into offline life. Actually, discussions of race have become one of the major reasons I love fandom and am still actively (well, actively reading/commenting, since I've never really used LJ to post) involved. So thank you for this post and for IBARW, because it's made an immeasurable difference to me--in the way I spend my spare time as well as what questions I ask of myself and my surroundings now, and when and how I speak up.
18th-Oct-2007 06:42 pm (UTC) - Re: here through IBARW round-up
Hee, don't worry about it!

And thanks so much for the kind words!
20th-Oct-2007 12:26 am (UTC)
Thanks for the roundup!

I don't post much, and I have been lurking more due to other things in my life, but I wanted to say that IBARW had me thinking about race more often, about race in relation to entertainment media, and about it in new ways. There might be others like me, who are influenced by IBARW but may not visibly show it online.
22nd-Oct-2007 06:33 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much for reading! And it is always good to know that things are changing for people.
(Deleted comment)
23rd-Oct-2007 08:18 pm (UTC)
I saw! Exciting!
23rd-Oct-2007 10:57 am (UTC)
Racialicious, which has a wide readership, covered IBARW recently. Could be a good thing...
23rd-Oct-2007 08:18 pm (UTC)
Oops, commented to the wrong place.
(Deleted comment)
30th-Oct-2007 04:58 pm (UTC)
Well, yeah... I've noticed that about a lot of their articles - recapitulation seems to be the name of their game.
23rd-Oct-2007 04:01 pm (UTC)
Hi, I apparently failed to say "holy cow, what a lot of work, thank you so much!" when you first posted them. So, thanks.
23rd-Oct-2007 08:18 pm (UTC)
Thank you for reading!
29th-Oct-2007 07:20 pm (UTC)
I just wanted to drop by and say that while I understand that people have concerns about ibarw, the last§ two years really helped me find what I wanted to say and find a voice in which to say it. I spent the first year just reading but, for all the criticism that it's for white people patting themselves on their backs, it really helped me connect and feel less alone as FOC, so. Yeah.

Thank you so much for all your hard work. :)
31st-Oct-2007 06:13 pm (UTC)
Thank you for the comment! And yes, yes, yes. It has been so good for me to be finding more FOC these past two years, and I really loved your IBARW2 post!
12th-Nov-2007 08:16 pm (UTC)
This is outstanding. Thank you.
12th-Nov-2007 09:04 pm (UTC)
Thank you for reading!
13th-Nov-2007 01:52 am (UTC)
Thanks for doing!

You may want to check out your invites page, btw.
13th-Nov-2007 07:15 pm (UTC)
Oh! I checked, thank you!
16th-Jun-2008 09:56 pm (UTC)
This is a fantastic post! Thanks for this, and thank you so much for the work you have done and do in anti-racism -- I cannot tell you how much it's helped me and how much I have learnt from you.
17th-Jun-2008 07:35 am (UTC)
Thank you for the comments; it's always so encouraging and heartening to read that!
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