In a piece inspired by Adria Richards, the black technologist who was fired for tweeting a photo of two white male colleagues she overheard making lewd jokes during a conference co-sponsored by her employer, Colorlines' Channing Kennedy explains the tactics that cause similar tragedies to happen to black women from all walks of life.
Step 1: Wear Down Your Subject
Akiba Solomon wrote last year about Michelle Obama and the microaggressions that punctuate the daily lives of black women — actions, direct or unintended, by members of a dominant group that can subtly tell said women that they aren't worth respect …
Do everything you can to rationalize, ignore, stay silent and generally fail to acknowledge the abysmal race and gender employment ratios in your field. Implicitly require that women suck it up when someone in power jokes about their 'biological limitations,' gropes them or obscenely propositions them. It's also hip to claim a "bad cultural fit" as a reason for failing to hire or promote her. It's not racist if it's corporate culture!
Step 2: Let The Trolls Do the Dirty Work
Okay, so the stage has been set — really, it's never not been set — and your weary subject has chosen to speak up. Maybe she did it perfectly; maybe "perfect" isn't possible. Doesn't matter because it's troll time. See, as soon as word breaks about a black woman calling out bigotry, it'll show up on some Internet forum that provides user anonymity and very little moderation or consequences …
Step 3: Play the 'Middle' Between Rational and Frothing Racist
You know how mainstream news shows discuss global warming by pairing an actual scientist who points to decades of consistent research with an oil-company shill who says global warming can't be real because Al Gore said something dumb once? …
Read Channing Kennedy's entire piece at Colorlines.
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