“Incivility” is necessary for some voices to be heard, for the stakes of any particular debate to be apparent, for conversations to result in meaningful change. A colleague supportive of Salaita, who has served in administrative positions for several years now, posted this morning on Facebook, “People in upper admin with whom I’ve worked closely for years are now unwilling even to make eye contact with me. Inclusive Illinois.” That right there is the problem with making “civility” the boundary of conversation. “Civility” only works if both parties are already operating from a position of equality and already in mutual agreement on the need for the conversation. It doesn’t work if a powerful participant refuses to acknowledge that…the less powerful participant has an issue that needs to be discussed. It also doesn’t work when only the powerful participant gets to define where the outer bounds of civility lie. Civility commits us to a university where existing injustices remain entrenched and silenced voices stay that way.
“Change is messy. It’s angry. It’s uncomfortable. It’s full of angry people saying angry things, because they’ve been disrespected and forgotten again and again and again and again, and they’re tired of being fucking nice because it makes you uncomfortable if they act in any way that is not deferential or subservient to you and your worldview.”
I feel this quite a bit. More often lately than previously. But I’d also like to draw a distinction between being civil and being nice. I want to remain both. But if I must choose, I’d rather be civil.
Don’t even try to take away my rage by playing up my other emotions, like guilt, shame, and embarrassment. I am enraged, not just because I’ve been repeatedly dissed. I have it because my basic humanity is too-often denied for the convenience and comfort of those with more power than me. Taking my rage away just stresses my continuing dehumanization. I have good reasons to be this upset and angry. So don’t even try to placate me. Just because I have these fires in my chest, it doesn’t mean that I don’t see the value and desirability of “letting it all go,” seeking hope and positivity. Rage fuels and motivates me. It sparks the embers in my belly and keeps me moving forward. I so wish my fuel was something else entirely, but I am a product of my environment, after all. I hold my rage and hope in constant tension.
I also want to work for peace, harmony, and healing. But not at the expense of the dignity I deserve as a human being. And since my human dignity should not impede another’s, I really fail to see the problem…more on this later…
A dana boyd gem: “I thought, what could I do that would provoke this audience to think? I saw it as a political platform; not big P but small p. I wanted to use this opportunity to challenge norms inside tech industry. I decided to take on the underlying values and beliefs in tech industry regarding privacy because my research was showing that the rhetoric being espoused was naïve. My topic was not surprising for academics, but it was for practitioners.”
“The memorandum gives government agencies six months to detail plans to ensure the public can read and analyze both research and data, without charge. Both open access and open data are key to promoting innovation, government transparency, and scientific progress.”
The possibilities of a connection culture are astounding. Nurturing ideas, saying yes, connecting with others…can save lives.
Please read this. It’s not just for and about female empowerment. It’s for those of us who take social justice work dearly and seriously.
Crossing paths with snarky, ignorance-laden, bigoted commentary, online and off, this late in the 2000s, still bothers me a great deal. Don’t get me wrong. I like a good, irreverent laugh as much as anyone. And I struggle daily with my own internal biases, blind spots, and prejudices. I think we all should take stock and do personal inventory at least once a week. But I still hear things that makes me want to say, “do you understand the words that are coming out of your mouth?” When that happens, the world becomes a smidge bleaker and colder.
I sometimes feel overcome by the hate. It saps me of my strength and will. Like, what’s the point? And the point is, I do what I do because it brings me to life. I keep doing what I do because I want to get better at what I do. Haters will hate no matter what. So let them. Take heart. You are not alone.
“That doesn’t mean I consider all of my critics to be haters. If I get negative feedback from people who are close to me, strangers who actually care about my work, or experts in the field, I listen. Those people push me to work harder, too. But nothing motivates me like haters. The hierarchy just helps me to compartmentalize them. It’s not that I stop caring altogether, it’s that I care much less about the least consequential among them.”