The Problem of Blog Titles and White, Liberal Guilt

Despite whatever work individual authors, writers, editors, and publishers try to effect for it, Huffington Post is troublesome for the cause of justice.

Part of its problem is just the kind of catch-all liberalism/progressivism on its page. But, bigger than that to me is the way it sets itself up to sensationalize every piece of news and titles itself. On the one hand, it gives them a lot of eyeballs and helps to further progressive education. On the other hand, I’m not sure I like the kind of “education” going on. Your typical (meaning: EVERY) Facebook user can’t be bothered to open every link that comes her way, so she judges an by the title to what and in what way she’ll respond. And HuffPo is, for better and/or worse, the trendsetter in the blognews world. Some sites better headline writers than others, but all of us who have sent our articles out to a large blog conglomerate have gotten our headlines changed – sometimes drastically. And oftentimes, it changes not just the tone, but the meaning of what it is the author is trying to say.

And we know we can’t rely on intention…

Of course, I’d appreciate a much more collaborative process in the naming of our headlines. I’ve heard The Onion, for instance, has a policy where staff will have six or eight options to choose from before landing on a (quite honestly, pitch-perfect) option. But when you don’t have full-time editors and/or the writer and the copyeditor don’t have agreeable arrangements, this isn’t such an option.

I don’t want to bite the hand that feeds me, either. I’m very grateful for the chance that I’m given right now to expand my name and skills at a much, much larger blog than I’m maintaining here. The editors and publishers know how to give me eyes, and often the readers are more into actually reading and responding to the articles than I typically see at such sites. I know my editor and probably most editors work hard for meh money (if any) and tend to do good jobs within their systems.

But, again, the system is flawed. (That’s my theme around here: the system is fundamentally flawed! That should be my sub-line for every blog.) Take for instance this title:

America Is in Dire Need of ‘White, Liberal Guilt’

That title makes me see red. Despite noting the quotes around the term in question. Why?

  • Because HuffPo and the US is chock-full of White people who feel it is their burden to help out those poor People of Color and their People of Color Problems.
  • Because such a title puts the onus on Whites to be the Messiah and act in Messiahnic ways and thus, once again, silencing Black and Brown voices in their own liberation. It’s a colonial gaze that makes black and brown people mere subjects in the white kingdom. And that’s the problem we’re trying to address in the first place!
  • Because it removes the fundamental aspect of justice as a motivation and end goal from the situation. Guilt isn’t justice, nor even a motivator towards justice. And when it enters the equation, the goal is to eradicate guilt. Guilt is just feeling bad. And feeling bad can be assuaged in any number of ways. Charity work, marches, changing our avatars, sharing stories (such as ones that focus on White People and their White People Feelings), going out for ice cream. Not that those are bad things in and of themselves – they may show solidarity; they try to make sense of the horror; they may help a handful of people – but they do not address justice. At the end of the day, the injustice remains unchallenged but we whites can sure feel better about ourselves. For white privileged people the motivating factor for that which doesn’t directly affect us needs to be addressing justice in solidarity.
  • Because it focuses on feelings and particularly, the feelings of Whites. Because, once again, our feelings as White People are more important than the lived experiences of the oppressed…
  • If there is a feeling that should be prioritized, it’s anger. Anger at the injustice of targeting and murdering of black people, unjust laws, and the criminal justice system that justifies and encourages this.
Untitled

I haz the sadz…

Reading the comments in the article or the comments on its posting on The Christian Left page (disclaimer, the author of the HuffPo piece and some of the creators of TCL are FBF’s of mine) reveal this troubling trend. What it also demonstrates is that White liberals tend to view racism (when they do) as being a problem of white conservatives and do not seem to recognize the intrinsic White Supremacy all whites directly benefit from, let alone critique it. I say, “when they do” because, let’s be honest, White people were not talking about the rolling back of generations of rights and gains for Black USians coming out of the SCOTUS three weeks ago. They were too busy feeling outrage over some words by some phony celebrity chef.

Again, because White America likes to protect White America’s feelings. And recognizing that the entire judicial system is geared against black people would be to recognize that it favors white people. And that is something that we have to contend with. And contending with stuff may hurt our feelings…

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5 thoughts on “The Problem of Blog Titles and White, Liberal Guilt

  1. Why do you feel the system is geared against black people? In what way? In what way do you think it favors whites? Don’t just say it. Explain it. Why is it against the black people? It is the enforcement of our laws, how can they be enforced differently against a race? I am curious to know.

    • I generally don’t answer cynical questions – esp ones so broad that I’d have to give up my job, my daughter and any other plans for the next several years to begin to document.

      The point being, if you cannot recognize systemic racism in the United States, you’re either willfully dumb, or wantonly lying. Either way, I do not want to waste time on you.

      However, to those who may have similar questions but would never be quite so rude as to address them in such a manner, I would suggest you may start with any work by Michelle Alexander, the author of The New Jim Crow. Alexander deeply and well documented how the criminal justice system – and particularly the for-profit prison industrial complex – aims, targets, imprisons, and ruins the lives of not just black persons, but the black american communities.

      Further, if you have many questions and don’t know where to begin: http://vasundharaa.tumblr.com/post/31917466176/this-is-a-resource-post-for-all-the-good-white

  2. Pingback: The Good Samaritan in Sanford | Leftcheek deuce

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