On Bias, Perspective, and Truth Telling

Recently I have had a lot of interesting comments regarding my work on Facebook or in the comments section of the blog, and each time a particular assertion was made, it caught me by surprise.

“This article is biased.”

“You are so biased.”

“I don’t like this article because it’s biased.”

My reaction?  Well, of course I’m biased.

Bias is defined as “a particular tendency or inclination, especially one that prevents unprejudiced consideration of a question; prejudice.”

The fact is that Change From Within is incredibly biased.  This blog is written from a particular perspective that is meant to shed light on voices, events, and perspectives that are often ignored or under-reported in other areas of media.

One of the most common places that I found indignant accusations of Change From Within being biased was in response to my piece on the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show.  My response, of course, is that the piece is meant to be biased.  We are inundated with messages of how women are “supposed” to look in everyday media.  Young women are told that they should look like the models in that show at all cost, and young men are told that they should lust after such women.

My work (and the work of blogs like Racism Review, Women Are From Mars, Ill Doctrine, Genderre[a]d, QueerBlackFeminist, Native Appropriations, and Stuff White People Do) is meant to provide an inherently-biased counter narrative to the perspectives heard in mainstream, dominant culture and media.  The goal of such work is truth telling in the face of mainstream media and culture’s lies, half-truths, and problematic perspectives.

To anyone who argues that I am biased or that I should work to be unbiased, I give you one of my favorite quotes from the late Howard Zinn:

You can’t stay neutral on a moving train.”

This Valentine’s Day Try a Yes, No, Maybe Chart!

Valentine’s Day, huh?  Well, I’m not a huge fan of the holiday.  My socialist leanings tell me it’s a manufactured holiday meant to increase wanton consumerism after the feeding frenzy of Christmas has died down.

However, I do think it can be a good time to check in with those you love to remind them of ways that you love them.  As we all know, one fantastic way that people in romantic relationships can show love is through sex!

In my experience (with evidence to support it), nothing makes for better sex than open, honest communication.  I’ve talked about it as I detailed my views on sex, and I’ve stressed the importance of consent.

However, one thing I’ve learned is that it is not always easy to start such an open, accountable, honest conversation.  Then, thanks to The Consensual Project, I discovered Yes, No, Maybe Charts!  Essentially, a Yes, No, Maybe Chart is a list of sex acts and topics related to sex with a space for you to express your comfort level with a simple Yes, No, or Maybe.  Yes, No, Maybe charts are a great way for you to check in with yourself about your wants, needs, desires, and comfort levels in various sex acts and things related to sex, and when done with a partner, they are a great way to start a conversation about what your sexual relationship can, does, and should look like!

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Video Blog: The Woodlawn Plantation & the Legacy of Slavery

As part of Black History Month, I have put together this video blog on my time speaking at Woodlawn School, a private school that sits on the property that was once a slave-holding plantation.  This video blog is a part of my processing of the time I spent on campus, dealing with the legacy of slavery.

I also put together a follow-up video about Woodlawn School, the incredible institution that now exists on the property that was once the Wood Lawn plantation.

Listening is the Root of Justice

So . . . Keep an eye out for a video blog I’ll be posting later today, but in the mean time, someone asked me to repost a piece I had published in Good Men Project on Change From Within, so here ’tis:

Listening is the Root of Justice

Reflections on Listening, Privilege, and Twitter Conversations

Talking about identity, power, privilege, and oppression are hard enough when we have unlimited characters in which to conduct the discussion.  In turn, why so many (including myself) decide to have these tough conversations over Twitter is beyond me, but it happens.  Recently a highly-publicized conversation took place on Twitter between The Good Men Project founder Tom Matlack and some feminist and anti-racist women and men concerning the language and perspectives Tom had taken in some pieces here on GMP.

The majority of the conversation related to feminism, male privilege, and the concept of being a male ally, and the conversation inspired such controversy, that much publishing has been done in its wake (see here, here, here, and here as a place to start).  However, a small strain of the conversation related to a comparison Tom made between black men being overrepresented in prisons and a piece Hugo Schwyzer published explaining why it’s understandable for men to be “guilty until proven innocent” when it comes to rape.

Race scholar Sarah Jackson took issue with his comparison and tried to engage in a discussion with him about why the analogy is problematic.

If there’s anything we White folks are good at, it’s getting defensive when we think we’re being called racist, and we’re especially good at getting defensive when we’re told that we may, in fact, be benefitting from White Privilege.

In reading through the Twitter conversation, I had to stop here for a minute because this hit a little too close to home.  In my attempts to become an ally to Women, People of Color, LGBTQ folks, and other traditionally-marginalized identities, I’ve definitely messed up – A Lot.  One of the hardest things for me in attempting to build ally relationships, then, has been to hear that I’ve messed up and not simply get defensive and retreat into my privilege.

A professor of Color in college once told me, “The best thing you can learn to do if you want to be an ally is realize that you’re going to fuck up, and you’re going to do it a lot, so you will need to learn to apologize with honesty and a true desire to change.  Then don’t get hung up . . . move forward and do better.”

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