What I learnt today

I made a mistake today. It was particularly bad because I made an allegation of racism against someone who was actually doing the opposite. I do not mean to excuse my behaviour, if anything I will mull over this for weeks to come; but I happened to be riding the Cocodamol wave of euphoria and, on seeing tweets of support and solidarity to a name I’d filed under Racist Question Time, I snapped and without thinking fired off a reaction.

I was met with a barrage of tweets that have now magically disappeared. I don’t want to name names and I’m not even that affected by them anymore but I was called stupid, blathering, an idiot and a lot of other stuff I glazed over. It then occurred to me that I should have checked my facts before rushing in guns a blazing. What did I really know about Mary Beard? Turns out I was wrong.

I promptly apologised and bowed my head down in shame. Because I did feel shame. I was catastrophically mistaken and I felt I had harmed another’s person. I don’t mind stomping on racists and I want them to hurt the way they hurt us but the thought that I’d wrongly accused and upset the wrong person, well, I wasn’t going to sleep very well. I apologised today and I will apologise if I ever do it again.

It could have been a whole lot uglier. If I wasn’t so slow today, I might have taken more offence at the storified version of events. I didn’t have the mental strength to read all the tweets about me.  Had I done so, there’d be a Twitter storm saying absolutely nothing new. Isn’t it time we moved on from all this?

We could all do with listening more and thinking about feelings. I know I will.

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3 comments

  1. It’s brave and absolutely commendable that you wrote this. I have to admit I was a bit miffed with you at first because you interpreted white people/feminists asking you what you were angry about as a defense of the (potential) offender or a lack of willingness to address the issue for themselves. But since that *is* usually how it goes, I can also understand your anger and your conclusion that this was what was happening. It made me afraid to try and engage with you and find out more, for fear of being called a racist when I was actually trying to be a sister. Now that you have clarified everything I just want to say I’m a radical feminist who is white and who vows to do her best to listen to my sisters who don’t have this social privilege–and whatever patience you can muster with those like me who are trying their best to fight with and not against you is greatly appreciated.

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