Saturday, February 27, 2016

MWHITF: Blogging Truth to Privilege

Bayard Rustin
The usual expression is, "speaking truth to power", a phrase believed to have been coined by Bayard Rustin that spread with the 1955 publication of "Speak Truth to Power: A Quaker Search for an Alternative to Violence."  Speaking truth to power is what the national leaders of civil and human rights movements across the globe did and died for.  It's not, let's be clear, a local or ordinary sort of thing.  

This blog, of course, is both local and ordinary.  Its focus could hardly be more mundane; neighborhood association meetings and activities, and efforts to address local poverty and homelessness in the central area. 

So why should some members of the MWHI task force be claiming that the blog is not to be believed; that it is "adversarial" and "judgmental", "disparaging, sarcastic and cynical"; that it's "breaking people down who are willing to put themselves in front of a community poised and insistent upon action"?

Well, remember the culture we are dealing with.  Another factor is privilege; the complaints are coming from privileged individuals, predominantly white men, who're used to running the show, or at least their show, and likely relatively unaccustomed to receiving anything remotely resembling negative feedback. 

Serving on a public body when one is not prepared for public scrutiny is no doubt stressful.  We appreciate that.  But refusing to hear what a member of the public has to say because the person isn't willing to give a name (as homeless people often are not), or because the message isn't one you like, or delivered the way you think it ought to be, is not the answer. 

For the record, we have received a few comments and corrections to the blog by email, and we updated the appropriate post(s) accordingly every time or, in one case, explained why we disagreed and posted the opposing view in the comments.  We have thus far received not one complaint about a material misrepresentation of fact. 




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