Tim Wise is my white blog-friend.

In Reading Comprehension 101: Text, Subtext and the Politics of Misinterpretation, Tim Wise writes (emphasis mine):

In other words, putting aside the inherent absurdity of this interpretation — I am white after all, as are my kids, as is my wife, as is my momma, all my immediate family and my best friend too — some who read the piece believe against all logic and in the face of plain English (however aggressive the piece may be), that I have announced, excitedly, the coming of a glorious race war and the end of white people.

Normally, when a white person asserts that she is “not racist” because she has a black friend or he has an Asian wife, it is considered an invalid argument, because knowing a person of colour does not grant immunity from being racist. Here, Tim Wise argues that he is not anti-white, because he is white, his wife is white, his best friend is white, etc.

I would normally consider this bad form, since making this argument may give some people the impression that the tired “black friend” defense is acceptable. However, some readers of my blog have constantly accused me of being “racist against white people”, so I will try to follow Tim Wise’s lead and invoke whiteness as a defense against accusations of being anti-white.

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The Ethics of Comment Moderation

Some people argue that bloggers have a responsibility to moderate hateful comments, but this abstraction often assumes that the blogger is an able-bodied, middle-to-upper-class, heterosexual, white, cis man who is not the target of the hateful comments. If the blogger is from a marginalized group, is she responsible for protecting her readers from hateful comments directed at her or her group?

When readers ask the blogger to moderate hateful comments, there seems to be an unquestioned assumption that if the hateful comments or trolls are not publicly visible, then these comments and trolls have ‘disappeared’. However, what usually happens for most blog setups is that the hateful comments go straight into the blogger’s Inbox and need to be processed along with other e-mails.

Comment moderation requires time and energy. When I have to read hateful comments closely to press the appropriate moderation button, it is more unpleasant and time-wasting than when I skim and mentally skip hateful comments.

Moreover, banning trolls often has the effect of increasing their bigotry and directing bigoted (e.g., racist, sexist) personal attacks towards the blogger herself. For example, the only commenter I have banned so far goes by the name of “goaler”, “Anonymous”, “brett weir”, or “jerky boy”, a White Canadian man living in Metropolitan Toronto, which is where I live as well. Before I banned him, he at least tried to pretend he wasn’t racist. Now that he is silenced on my blog, I get racist comments in my Inbox calling me a “racist chink”; other comments with the words “chink”, “sp**k”, and “sp*c”; and shameless declarations that white people are superior to people of other races. This White Canadian man also appears to have a predilection for fellatio, and said, more than once, that he would perform sexual acts upon me.

(Dear Journalists: This is why bloggers from marginalized groups want to use pseudonyms. If I blogged under my real name, I would probably quit blogging by now.)

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How to: Make your blog’s images more accessible

This tutorial explains how bloggers can make their images more accessible for people with visual impairments by adding ‘alt-text’. While most web accessibility tutorials assume that the all creators of web content code in raw HTML, it is 2009, and most bloggers today probably do not know HTML.

This tutorial also assumes that the blogger uses a blogging software (such as WordPress) and creates web content through a graphical interface. While this tutorial uses WordPress examples, the vast majority of this tutorial is applicable to any blogging software, content management system, and even to those who build webpages from scratch.

Tutorial

Understanding how to add ‘alt-text’ requires understanding how to edit a post in HTML mode, as well as understanding the structure of a HTML tag. These two prerequisites will be explained first. The content of this tutorial consists of the following sections:

  1. Accessing the HTML of your post
  2. Understanding HTML tags
  3. Adding ‘alt-text’ to images

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Howto: Post your Blogger comment actions on Twitter automatically

This tutorial shows you how to take a Blogger comment feed and output a new feed containing only your comments, formatted for twitterfeed. This is useful if you frequently comment on a Blogger blog and want your comment actions to be automatically posted on Twitter.

My last tutorial showed you how to use Yahoo! Pipes to filter a WordPress comment feed so that it outputs a new feed containing only your comments. However, Blogger comment feeds require more processing than WordPress comment feeds to make the RSS items presentable as a twitterfeed tweet. (If you want the WordPress version of this tutorial, see the previous tutorial.)

The method in this tutorial creates the title of the feed item based on the blog post’s URL. For example, if I commented on Sweden expected to legalize gay marriage in May 2009 which has the URL http://gay-persons-of-color.blogspot.com/2009/01/sweden-expected-to-legalize-gay.html, the final tweet would be “commented on Sweden expected to legalize gay” with the URL appended at the end as a TinyURL link. Although the item title may not perfectly match the title of the original post (“Sweden expected to legalize gay” vs. “Sweden expected to legalize gay marriage in May 2009”), this method is easier and faster than extracting the real post title.

What you will need

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Howto: Post your WordPress blog comment actions on Twitter automatically

This tutorial shows you how to use Yahoo! Pipes and twitterfeed to automatically log your WordPress comments on Twitter.

Why it is useful to automate tweets

The great thing about Twitter is that it asks you, “What are you doing?”, and no update status is too trivial. If you are like me, you use Web 2.0 services outside of Twitter. If you are like me, you feed the RSS feeds of your blog posts, Wikipedia edits, and Delicious saves into Twitter via twitterfeed, so that whenever you blog, edit Wikipedia, or save a link to Delicious, your actions are logged on Twitter.

I also comment on other people’s blogs, and I thought it would be a great idea to keep track of my comments on Twitter. Some comment systems provide a RSS feed of your own comments, but most WordPress blogs provide only the RSS feed of all comments. I decided to use Yahoo! Pipes to filter the comment feed of my WordPress.com blog and output a new RSS feed containing only my comments.

What you will need

  • the WordPress comment feed of a WordPress blog on which you frequently comment. (The URL of a WordPress comment feed looks something like http://pddp.wordpress.com/comments/feed/. All WordPress.com blogs have a comment feed URL in this format.)
  • a Yahoo! account (free)
  • a twitterfeed account (free)
  • a Twitter account (free)

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White People Like taking credit from Asians: Who is Myles Valentin?

CORRECTION: Valentin’s monetary gain from the Stuff White People Like brand is greater than 0%. According to the LA Times’ interview with Lander, Valentin receives all the ad revenue from blog. According to Valentin, he uses this money for horse-racing. Lander gives Valentin credit as the co-blogger of Stuff White People Like, but the mainstream media portrays Valentin as (just) Christian Lander’s Filipino friend and inspiration.

Stuff White People Like, the Definitive Guide to the Unique Taste of Millions, Christian Lander “#11 Asian girls” is the all-time most popular post of web-phenomenon Stuff White People Like, but it was written by Filipino-Canadian Myles Valentin, not White-Canadian Christian Lander. While Christian Lander received a $350,000 advance and receives royalties for his book, Stuff White People Like: the Definitive Guide to the Unique Taste of Millions, Myles Valentin is living paycheck to paycheck in East Vancouver.

Myles Valentin has written #11 Asian girls, #15 Yoga, #30 Wrigley Field, #31 Snowboarding, #44 Public Radio, #45 Asian Fusion Food, #56 Lawyers, #57 Juno, #66 Divorce, and #74 Oscar Parties. However, Valentin is rarely mentioned in articles about the blog Stuff White People Like, except being credited as Christian Lander’s Filipino friend. Even Racialicious, an anti-racist blog about race written from the perspectives of people of colour, credits Christian Lander as the “The Man behind Stuff White People Like” and makes no mention of Myles Valentin.

While it is true that Lander wrote 90.7% of the full list and Valentin wrote only 9.3% (89.1% and 10.9% respectively before the official book deal announcement), it nevertheless seems unfair that Valentin received no book deal, is rarely mentioned, has never been interviewed, and is not the co-author of the book that spawned from the blog. A white man receives 100% credit for roughly 90% of a blog, and his friend, an Asian man, receives 0% credit for roughly 10% of the blog.

This may appear only slightly unfair to some, but what if it was a white man that received 100% credit for roughly 90% of a blog, and his friend, another white man, that received 0% credit for roughly 10% of the blog? Ceteris paribus, we expect that everyone should get their fair share, even if the inequality is not tremendous. If Valentin was a white man, we would expect him to sue for his share of the profit, and we would not disagree with the lawsuit as a means to uphold “meritocracy” and protect white man’s intellectual property.

Asians are stereotyped as uncreative, lacking a sense of humour, and as people who are unable to criticize social conventions. When an Asian writes successful satire of white culture, why is his contribution forgotten?

Christian Lander’s name may go down in Web 2.0 history, but will anyone remember the name Myles Valentin? Will white people still ask, “Where are all the bloggers of color?”