So we decided that March would be #NSFW month on Ello. As such, we've been flooded with tits and dicks for the last four weeks. That's awesome, but it doesn't represent the sum total of #NSFW. There's a lot that's not safe for work. Politics. Religion. Race. But for me, those are the barriers Ello strives to obliterate. There's a great quote hidden in Nick Hornby's High Fidelity. I don't have it in front of me, but it goes something like this: "What really matters is what you like. Not what you are like." And I think that's what Ello is for. To enable connections between people with common interests. To create a truly social network that's not shaped by corporate greed and what might look bad next to an ad.
Like this stuff below. I had a conversation with a friend/former co-worker who grew up in Louisiana in the 1960's. He went to the same high school as the Duke family. He had run-ins with David Duke's little brother that were extreme enough to get the FBI involved. He was the first black kid to score a touchdown for his high school after desegregation. The first conversation we had about this stuff blew my mind. I was born in the late 70's. Segregation, racism, the Ku Klux Klan ... those things happened a long time ago and were ended by Abraham Lincoln generations ago. They weren't modern problems.
A Larry Wilmore quote about Starbucks' #RaceTogether campaign got me thinking about this: "Starbucks wasn’t blasted for having a conversation about race, they were blasted for wanting to have a conversation about race. That’s how much we need to have a conversation about race. We can’t even talk about talking about it!"
It blows my mind that racial segregation is still so prevalent. We still divide ourselves into racially-biased neighborhoods. I don't know how much is casual suburban racism, how much is the comfort factor in surrounding yourself with people sharing similar cultural experiences and values, and how much is due to other causes. And people talk about "tolerance" while congregating with their closest skin-tone matches. Fuck that status quo.
Let's apply "tolerance" to toddlers and sharing. Tolerance is the first step in becoming a functional member of society. Like teaching a toddler to tolerate sharing. The intolerant hit, bite, scream, and cry. Those successfully practicing tolerance are still pissed about sharing, but they don't lynch their play dates. They just shove when no one's looking. Acceptance is the next step. It's much the same, really, but with resignation replacing the anger. They're not mean about it. Sharing doesn't bother them, but they're not really fully evolved. Where they need to get to is "celebration." When children are able to celebrate the act of sharing, they begin to build friendships.
I used to advocate for acceptance instead of tolerance. But I don't think that's enough. There are so many interesting people out there. There are so many things to be interested in. And there are more ways to connect than ever before. It gives us a platform to start celebrating people and building new relationships.
And Ello is great for that. But we can't rely on technology to do all the heavy lifting for us. If I haven't thought about it in a while, #IllRideWithYou hits me pretty hard. Chokes me up a little and moistens my eyes. Rachel Jacobs is a Good Person. A modern hero. All I know about her is that she started #IllRideWithYou not by typing a hashtag into Twitter, but through cultural understanding and compassion.
I'm rambling a bit, because feelings. I think the path from tolerance through acceptance into celebration requires awareness. This comic is focused on explaining white privilege, but its message can be applied more broadly. I'll ruin the punch line, though: "The only way to not be ignorant is to open your eyes to the privilege you have and fucking educate yourself!"
I had a disheartening conversation about Ersula Ore a while back where people jumped to conclusions and the awareness of white privilege was at a stunning low for people who are otherwise quite compassionate.
I didn't really have a plan when I started writing this post, but there were a few things I wanted to share in the hopes of raising awareness. And I still haven't gotten to them. So, without further adieu, please enjoy and old Billie Holiday song that is sometimes credited with being the first anti-racism song. First recorded in 1939, this video is from 1959.