I remember when I was used to “duke it out” with insensitive and empathy-less racists in the comment section of various sites. I actually used to browse through sites like FalseNews.com aka foxnews.com, vanguard, and storm front solely for the sake of batting down racist comments expressing kudos to anti-black propaganda material–comments of agreement that was based in no data, logical, or context.
The exchanges would normally become visceral, with either I or the other party(ies) resorting to vulgar name calling, and I used to be of the mindset if I got that last word in or got the person to block me it meant that I was the victor of the “debate.”
I felt I was, on some level, really making progress in the name of racial equality by hurting the feelings of or embarrassing these random white supremacists in a public internet space.
Around that time in my life, I had committed to composing and publishing my first book, and I was busy creating content in efforts to get TheStormyPoet.com off the ground. In addition to those endeavors, I was adamantly building a fan base through my Facebook page.
I invited a variety of people to my page. I really didn’t implement much of a screening process because I wanted people from all walks of life to join. And, I would post about and break down a mixture of topics related to systematic racism. So, being that a few people with racist views “friended” me, I had to deal with my own group of trolls–individuals who had nothing of real value to add to the conversation but were only commenting to distract others from what they really needed to know about racism or to frustrate me so that I’d lose focus in delivering my message to The People.
Unfortunately, I took the bait multiple times, and no matter how logical, passionate, and factually-based my arguments were, they still would respond with something disrespectful, dismissive, or half-truthful.
For example, whenever I brought up the issue of police brutality, some of the typical responses I’d receive were as follows:
“What about black on black crime? Y’all complain about cops killing y’all when you’re out here killing each other off. Deal with that first.”
“If you guys would just do what the cops say and pull your pants up, maybe you wouldn’t get shot.”
“Black people get shot the most because they’re out here doing the most crime. If they would stop robbing and stealing, they would have less run-ins with the cops, and they would get locked up and shot up less.”
Naturally, I combated every response, and I’ll admit, it wasn’t just because I was trying to prove to them and to all those looking in on our conversations that racism was a living and breathing beast that needs slaying. It was an ego battle for me, and me engaging in that, in and of itself, was problematic and is problematic for anyone who chooses to do so.
When we as black people get in the comment section and go toe-to-toe with these white supremacists, are we really trying to “make the world a better place,” or are we just interested in winning the argument? And, what really is “winning the argument?” What even determines who won and who didn’t, and what does winning the argument do in the name of bringing justice to all of the victims, past and present, of systematic white supremacy?
For every bigot I responded to and argued with, there were another five ready to unleash their vile and wicked rhetoric in response to my posts.
I found myself wasting hours and hours engaging in this tediously fruitless practice. It took away time that should’ve been spent working on my book, my site, and from having constructive dialogue with individuals who were genuinely interested in challenge institutionalized racism.
Plus, even if I caused the other person to block me or to be at a loss for words, I wasn’t leaving these interactions feeling victorious before too long. I left away feeling bitter, frustrated, misunderstood, and hopeless.
“How do they not understand where I’m coming from?” I used to ask myself all the time. That was before I learned just how much social engineering and propaganda I was up against. No “15-comment” reply was going to reverse a lifetime of the racial pathological conditioning they’d probably been subjected to.
Also, on the sites of the independent news sources I was following, there could be the most thorough and convincing presentation being displayed, and there were still trolls in the comment section trying to disrupt the constructive exchange of ideas. That’s when I learned, some people flat-out WANT to practice systematic racism. They’re consciously aware of the ideology they’ve subscribed to is wicked and unjust. They don’t care.
They care about dominance and the mistreatment of others, not compassion and understanding. They know the suffering this system has caused and aren’t interested in challenging it, because they benefit from it. The only reason they’re in the comment section is to distract you, to drain your energy, and to neutralize your efforts.
You don’t have to debate with the trolls, family, because, at the end of the day, it doesn’t accomplish much in the name of progress. It is okay to delete comments. It is okay to not respond to every objection, especially if it isn’t backed up with any data or context.
There are racists who still follow me, and I keep them around because I’m not afraid of opposing views. I want them to see what I post on my timeline, and I want them to be uncomfortable. Don’t know if it will change their ways, but I allow them to stay on my page for that reason.
Another reason is, I will let them comment, for the purpose of debunking all their talking points, so that others potentially looking in on the conversation can learn how to do so with the rhetoric they’re subjected to daily.
Don’t let the trolls manipulate your emotions. Most of time, they’re either don’t know enough about white supremacy to have an intelligent conversation with you, or their only purpose to vampire your energy–energy that should be put into eradicating it.
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