Rare Racism Topics: Targeted Harassment

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People of Colour are often punished or harassed for the same things that white people can and do get away with.  From things like being arrested, imprisoned and ‘mysteriously’ dying in police custody (very U.K specific example), to being targeted for harassment online.  This is a sometimes-subtle way that POC receive racism.  And the further down in people’s estimation we are, the poorer treatment we receive.  I’m going to concentrate mostly on online harassment, although these are often played out offline too.  The more life-ending examples are too painful for me to write about right now.

Example 1: A cisgender man of colour makes a post on social media about fighting racism.  He will get the inevitable pushback and defensiveness from white people, the “what about..?”, the “Not all whites,” and “You’re the real racist,” alongside some other horrible responses blaming him for the situation.  A few days pass and things will mostly die down.

Example 2: An Asian person makes a post on social media about fighting racism.  They will get all of the above, plus accusations of being a terrorist, Islamaphobic slurs (whether they’re Muslim or not), and in some cases they’ll have their photo, if they used one, altered in photoshop so they appear to be carrying an explosive (yes, that’s happened).  Some respondents will send DMs to the poster, with pics of atrocities against Muslim people (I’ve also had that happen to me).  Things will take a very long time to die down.

Example 3: A black woman who is heterosexual and cisgender makes a post on social media about fighting racism.  She will get all of the above two examples, but in much higher numbers.  She will get these reactions from people of all ethnicities and genders.  Her DMs will be full of thinly-veiled, or outright death threats, rape threats, details of personal information that go on to be shared (doxxed).  She will be hounded off social media, live in fear for her life and that of her family &/or friends.  She will receive very little support.  The police (U.K example) will not help unless she is very famous, which isn’t that likely.

Example 4: The most subtle and insidious example is of people who are not often considered human by bigots in the first place.  People like me: Black, nonbinary, fat, disabled and bisexual.  So I’ll use my own personal experience here:

I don’t make a post about racism.  I only press the “Repost” button, or maybe I respond to a post on racism with, “Thank you for this.”  Bigoted people of all ethnicities and genders inundate me with horrible responses, using many of the things in the three examples above.  The original poster does not receive anything near the volume of abuse that I do.  I wonder why this is the case, and then remember that I am open about who I am online.  I have photos and posts about fatness, blackness, gender, disability and bisexuality.  The abusive respondents have taken a few minutes to have a look at my online presence.  I am deemed to be “bottom of the barrel,” or an “Easy target.”  They know, and are often correct, that nobody is going to support me or respond to their public hate.  I also receive sexually violent images and threats in emails outside of the social media platform.  Many people will blame me for my own harassment.  I am told to “Ignore them!” Or “Don’t feed the trolls.”  The original poster will often ignore what is going on in their mentions/replies/comments section.  This has happened to me so many times online and offline too.  Things don’t move on until months or even years have passed by.  I leave social media, or at least leave for a very long time before I return, scared in case anyone still remembers me.

In the first three cases, the original poster will experience stress, worsening mental health, fear, and physical reactions to trauma, whether potential or not.  In the fourth example, people like me, who are often the most vulnerable in society, experience thoughts of suicide, self-harm, alcohol and drug abuse, desperation, and all of the things experienced by the victims of the first three examples.

Racial Harassment is not equal.  Even within minorities there is still a “pecking order.”  Bigoted people of all ethnicities and genders carry out this kind of thing.  So called Progressive people carry out this sort of thing, particularly when it comes to Fatness, especially if that person is fat and black.  It is a soul-destroying thing to be on the receiving end of.  Social media is often the major means of communication for vulnerable people like me.  When we leave, our world becomes infinitely smaller.  More needs to discussed about this.  But for now I just want you to acknowledge it as an often hidden racism topic that is far bigger than it seems.

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