This morning, several screenshots and reblogs of this post started flooding my dash (and a lot of yours too. A post in which David Karp, the founder and CEO of Tumblr, asked whether or not it was ok to say the n word whilst actually saying the n word. This post was dated 2010.
This sparked what will not be the last in a series of conversations about exactly how little this networking site and its creator care at all about People of Color and, in this instance and many others, Black people specifically. That post was old, but there have been much more recent events to add to this issue.
Namely, both Dion and Riley (among other Black and PoC bloggers I follow) have received emails from Tumblr staff which threaten to shut down their blogs for hate speech, when said ‘hate speech’ has always been in direct self-defense of anon-and-off bloggers who’ve been aggressively racist toward them, often using the same slur in Mr. Karp’s post above.
But Tumblr staff and David Karp don’t actually give a fuck about hate speech. They’ve made this perfectly clear time and time again by responding with ‘freedom of speech’ to distress calls from People of Color who are experiencing direct, abrasive, stalkerish racism from white Tumblr users, and then by threatening to shut down those same victimized bloggers for defending themselves.
And about that freedom of speech thing. Here’s a screencap of the very first section of Tumblr’s community guideline policy.
Tumblr staff knows very well that this is a private forum and that freedom of speech does not apply when that speech is defined as malicious bigotry. The staff knows that they have every right (and responsibility) to remove posts or blogs with anti-queer, anti-trans, ableist, and rasist content (especially when they directly target another blogger). However, Tumblr staff also seems to be living on a post-racial internet where racism is impossible. Unless, of course, you’re being ‘racist’ toward a white person.
So, in this toxic environment where People of Color have been continually subjected to racial slurs, hate speech, death threats, rape threats, stalking, dehumanization and dismissal-while being given no opportunity to defend themselves without further threatening from Tumblr staff itself-a number of bloggers packed up today and moved on to other sites. No blogs were deleted by Tumblr, but a few folks didn’t feel like sitting around and waiting for that to happen.
I hope to keep in touch with the people who’ve left, and I hope that these other networking sites treat them well. I hope that the founders and CEOs of those sites don’t vomit ‘freedom of speech’ in their faces and then threaten to silence them for defending themselves when and if they are subject to violent, unprovoked attacks of racial hatred. And I will do what I can when I can to watch closely what happens here, because I’ll be staying. This is where I collect.
Protect yourselves and the people you love.