I was moderating a Facebook group and a BLM related post came up for pre-posting approval.
Instinctively I approved the post and then turned off the comments. This in itself is not an untried practise when a post is informative in its nature but does not warrant any comments.
However, it did get me to thinking as to why I had acted so instinctively, was it really because the post didn’t need comments or was it down to the subject matter?
Was I on auto pilot using my past experience of emotive topics?
Was I burying my head in the sand?
Was it just me being lazy and going with the flow?
Or was it something more sinister?
As I was using Facebook I started there and read their blog
Navigating your community through race and social issues.
This suggested amongst other things the adding of people of colour to moderating teams, a good point but not a solution to my personal dilemma.
However, the main thrust of their blog was for moderators to educate themselves on the issue at hand.
So my next step, in a bid to increase my understanding, was to search out other Facebook moderators for their tips on where to educate myself and to also to find out how they were dealing with the surge of BLM related content.
Amongst all this material there was one reoccurring theme that is best summed up by the title of this piece published by The Verge;
“Facebook groups are falling apart over black lives matter posts – Infighting, deleted comments and drama”
Reading this and other articles made it clear that the majority of those running Facebook groups were taking the exact, or very similar, initial course of action as I had in relation to BLM specific content.
This raised even more questions – Was this borne from past experiences of posts that required extensive conflict resolution? (..which ultimately result in the original post being pulled anyhow..)
Or, was it just as equally down to the fact that those of us performing these tasks, who are not from a BAME background, are generally guilty of either ignorance or worse still, are we being inadvertently racist?
It was now that I was able to address my original dilemma.
Was I on auto pilot using my past experience of emotive topics? – YES
I do feel that my extensive past experience of online moderating and conflict resolution was a major factor in my decision process. However, this was impacted upon by additional factors which answered my next two questions;
Was it just me being lazy and going with the flow? – YES
This was most likely an almost unconscious desire not to upset the unity, community spirit and generosity that continues to manifest itself online as a result of our local COVID-19 volunteer effort.
Was I burying my head in the sand? – YES
I was guilty of being ignorant. Up until a couple of days ago I honestly had no idea that “white privilege” was a thing, let alone even begin to understand what it is. I rarely watch the news and I last purchased a newspaper in 1991.
Was it something more sinister? – NO
By definition of the fact that I don’t show or feel discrimination or prejudice against people of other races, nor do I believe that a particular race is superior to another, I am not a racist and I certainly don’t see myself as one.
I am glad I questioned my reaction, to what for me is an everyday event, as I now have some (albeit limited) understanding of what BLM and white privilege actually mean.
I also accept that my BAME, friends and shipmates won’t think any less of me for being afforded what is being termed as “white privilege”. However, I do believe that they would be disappointed in me if I did not acknowledge the existence of this privilege and that the respect and humour I have always shown to everyone was being diluted by a failure on my part to stand up for fair treatment and justice for all, in the real world and online.