This isn’t the article I’d planned to write this week, but there we are. If you’ve been following me on LinkedIn, you’ll know that last week I posted about a troll. This wasn’t just any troll, spewing the usual set of ill-informed and specious arguments.
No, this troll went one better. He (because it’s almost always a he) signed up for my newsletter, waited for the welcome email, and then replied to it with a GIF of the N-word.
Think how much work that must have taken, just to tell me something I already know: that some white people, especially men, HATE Black women talking about racism and anti-racism. News flash, am I right?
I was annoyed, but I have to admit seeing the N-word GIF didn’t bite like the first time I heard the N-word (at the age of seven, in case you’re new around here).
Or like the time I heard it in French (and slept in the car rather than stay another minute under that person’s roof).
Or like the time I heard it in German (and used one of the few German words I knew to discomfit the offenders by letting them know I had understood them.)
I was younger then. Maybe I’m too battle-hardened now, lol.
More seriously, though, I know that I am not the only one to have this kind of experience. Every activist and committed ally experiences the same thing.
It isn’t right, it isn’t fair, but it happens. A lot. That’s why we need rest. Often. And that’s why we should never feel guilty about taking a break from social media or content creation when we need to.
I also know that this is the trolls’ attempt to scare me - and us - into stopping. Sadly for them, I don’t scare easy, though I am scared of some of the behavior I’ve seen from other people’s trolls. I really hope that doesn’t happen here, but I still don’t plan to stop writing.
Going back to my LinkedIn post, the discussion was rich. Some shared their own experiences, others recommitted to their allyship. I felt seen and supported. Thank you all.
Maybe it’s my character, but I’ve never been one to participate in every fight I’m invited to. One of the comments I made in that discussion is: "Cussing out a troll is like adding oxygen to fire. I'd rather starve them of attention as quickly as possible."
I stand by that. As far as I’m concerned, talking to trolls is a waste of my time and energy. I will never change their minds, so I’m focusing on those who want to learn and grow. People like you.
For now, I don’t plan to let the trolling distract me. We all know bullies are cowards, so when they resort to this, I know I - and we - are scaring THEM. We’re getting somewhere. That gives me hope. (Maybe I’m too optimistic, but it does.)
Right now, the trolling is manageable, and I’m grateful for that. And since I have my own newsletter website, I get to decide how to handle them. I don’t have to wait for a platform to decide that, no, the trolling DOESN’T violate their TOS, even when it clearly does. (It’s an experience I’ve had on ALL social media platforms, and I know I’m not alone.)
I get emails when people sign up, and when they comment, so it’s pretty easy to go in and ban trolls forever. When the newsletter gets even more popular, then maybe I’ll have to hire someone to help with my Whack-a-Troll approach. Till then, it’s block, report, delete, repeat and keep writing.
As I said on LinkedIn, this anti-racism battle is too important to do otherwise.
Thank you for reading
P.S. If you’re looking for a platform where anti-racists and allies are welcome, with a focus on DEI and wellness, may I recommend Linked Inclusion? It’s set up as a safe space for people who are doing the work and, so far, I’m very much enjoying it.
© Sharon Hurley Hall, 2021. All Rights Reserved.
Cover photo courtesy of Canva.