Brouhaha on Twitter Yesterday…
I’m not famous, so maybe something “popular” in my stream gets 50 retweets. Usually, 1-25. But over 2500? Apparently, people can relate. They understand. (I actually sent a lot of tweets yesterday, in regard to the shooting, not just this one.)
They understand that I of course DO NOT view people in the highly negative monolithic way that the media, the government (from politicians to actual legislation) and a great deal of the populace do…and I used such statements in my tweet to illustrate the absurdity of the existence of these assumptions in the first place. They know that the word “but”, the word “just,” the question mark, and the use of the statement “please” is to illustrate the juxtaposition between monolithic labeling in relation to religion/race (the Muslim and Black mention in the tweet) and crime, and how that differs from how White people are viewed…as individuals. They understand the context of the tweet that I used to create the comparison to speak to the injustice that starts and ends with labels.
Now a few people had a problem understanding the CONTEXT of my tweet. They only read the words, with no regard to context. Thus, they assume that the tweet itself is racist, instead of understanding what the context of the tweet is actually commenting on—White privilege. (Yesterday I wrote a post titled White Privilege and Criminal Justice.) When I talked to my best friend on the phone last night about all of this, she brought up a point that helps to explain some of the problems (a few) people had understanding this tweet. IF a person actually already believes in the monolithic view of Muslims and Black people in relation to crime AND they miss (whether inadvertently or on purpose) the contextual narrative my tweet conveys, they will then assume I simply stated the racist beliefs that they themselves have, but never (can) publicly state. Then, what I tweeted is “racist” to them only because I got to voice it, not because of the core reasons they misinterpreted it in the first place…reasons in this case, that go beyond grammar.
It just makes me think of something Jon Stewart alluded to once. You cannot control how people interpret what you say. You can only control how you voice it. People can inadvertently or willfully choose to misinterpret what you say.
I…do think it is interesting that only 1 Black person (of the thousands that retweeted this) misinterpreted what I said. They knew what I was saying even if they don’t know me. Only a few people with location (on their Twitter profile) in the Middle East misunderstood, and that may be because some of the nuances of English were lost. Conversely, others with that same location actually thanked me for speaking out. The only ones who did what I mentioned in the 3rd paragraph were White. Hmm.