Trigger warning: contains racial hate language
Yesterday, Easter Sunday, I checked my emails and saw I had a comment awaiting moderation on my previous post, Questions not to ask the mixed race daughter of two Jewish lesbians. That’s normally a fairly exciting moment, so you can imagine my absolute horror when I opened the email and saw this:
“Just answer the f****** god damn question concisely next time, you stupid ugly n***** b****. We havent got all day. Next.”
I’m sorry if that was shocking, but you can imagine my own shock was triply so, given that the comment landed in my inbox, with no warning, and was directly targeted at me. I’ve also considerately added in the asterisks above – I was subject to the full unedited onslaught.
The comment came from somebody calling themself ‘KKK’ (although interestingly their email address started ‘tofutofu’ – I’d like to imagine that’s because the main email providers are sensible enough to forbid addresses which are clearly offensive in nature, thus ruling out any other ideas in this person’s small brain).
It seems that my mistake, is daring, as a person of a skin tone other than white, to write and publicise my own opinion. On a side note, it’s slightly amusing that Mr Ku Klux Klan can’t even get his racial slurs right: the n-word isn’t normally one applied to people of Indian heritage.
When I started this blog, I knew that I was opening myself up to criticism. There is a difference, though, between reasoned disagreement over subject matter, and direct personal attacks based on my gender and the colour of my skin. I am a twenty-four-year-old woman, essentially writing in my spare time from my bedroom, offering a perspective which I fully acknowledge to be mine alone, and which I do not intend to push onto anybody. I don’t think I (or indeed anybody) deserves to receive such hateful vitriol in return.
What’s even more surprising, is that the comment I received did not take apparent problem with my subject matter. I don’t imagine Mr KKK even took the time to read my words. I probably could have been writing about film, or fashion, or food, and Mr KKK would still have found mine to be an unacceptable voice, given the colour of my skin alone.
This is why I now believe that what I am doing, in blogging about my very intersectional and unusual experience, is all the more important. People like Mr KKK, would rather not have to deal with the fact that there are people who look, think and behave differently from him, whose opinions count in the world.
It’s essential that different minorities get an opportunity to add their own perspective and experience to societal narratives. There are so many voices that are never heard in the mainstream media, and that’s why the internet is at once thrilling and dangerous. It opens up new opportunities to reach people across the world, but also allows cowards and bullies to intimidate people from the safety of their isolated existence.
This is why I’ve decided that this post will be the story of a little bit of hate, but a whole lot of love.
Because contrary to Mr KKK’s hopes, I am certainly not going to be silenced out of fear or shock or upset. His comment pales into insignificance, compared with the support I’ve received from a few thousand other readers.
It’s time to celebrate what my writing has achieved.
I started this blog less than three months ago, and here’s a list of some of my highlights so far.
My Motherfull Family, three months in:
- Over 7000 views, with my own self-promotion being limited to status updates on Facebook and a couple of (re)tweets per blog post on Twitter. That means a whole lot of people have discovered my blog and liked it enough to revisit and to share with their own friends – so thank you for that
- My 7000 views come from six continents, from countries asfar ranging as Bangladesh to Jamaica, and New Zealand to Japan. Check out the map below, to see the impact my blog is having
- Childhood friends whom I’ve not heard from in years have got in touch to tell me that they’re reading every post and learning new things about a family they’d taken for granted. Newer friends have been equally encouraging, telling me that they’re learning a lot from my blog, challenging their own beliefs, and thinking about diversity in a much more complex way
- After this post on bullying, a young man I went to primary school with contacted me to apologise for ‘being a twat’ when we were younger – how amazing
- I’ve been filmed by a student of Journalism for her final year dissertation project on LGBT+ families
- A Greek website posted an article about how hard it is for same-sex couples in Greece to raise families, then posted an excerpt from my blog to provide the counter-argument
- I’ve been invited to speak at a panel event for a new Jewish lgbtq youth group
- The What I See project asked me to write a piece on how my racial and cultural identity impacts on my female identity
- I’ve had an article accepted for publication in the Huffington Post, and interest from EverydayFeminism
- And most importantly of all, I’ve received messages of thanks and support from people living across the globe. Individuals have written to me to tell me that the words I am writing and the story I am recounting have given them hope to start their own families. And that means the world to me.
I do not claim that my story is any more important than anyone else’s, or that I have access to some deeper truth. I only hope that by contributing my story, I might help others. That I can provide a space for open dialogue around a subject not often discussed. That I can inform, and sometimes inspire. So long as I know that people are responding positively to my blog, I will not allow an ignorant minority to threaten that endeavour.
Mr KKK: I will not be victim to your intimidation or dreams of a whitewashed world. Rather, I see you as a victim of your own prejudice, living an unenlightened life, unable to share in the joys that the diversity of this planet’s people offer. You will not silence me: I will continue to write, to share, to shout – my words touching many more people than your vitriol ever will.
Thank you, everybody, for reading, sharing, and especially for responding. Every comment, message and tweet that I receive puts a smile on my face and gives me the strength to laugh at individuals like Mr KKK. The knowledge that I am making a small difference makes me prepared to fight fiercely for my right to do so. I know I can expect more comments like the one that’s inspired this blog post before I am done writing. I don’t want to pretend that this is easy, because it is not, and it does hurt, but I do want to acknowledge that what I have to say is important, and is said in an environment which isn’t totally safe, but is full of wonderful people whose acceptance and encouragement allows me to stand strong.
My words are more powerful than a bully’s words.
And if anybody feels like doing something practical today – there’s little better you could spend a few of your pounds on, than supporting this Kickstarter project, which aims to do something about the fact that 94% of the UK’s journalists are white, whereas 1 in 6 of the population are not. Let’s make sure that Mr KKK will soon have to deal with more non-white voices than mine, cluttering up his newsfeed.