Saturday, June 22, 2013

Apologies and White Dudes ... Gamer Edition (Ugh, it's always Gamer Edition Here)

I had been following the PA stuff because there are a lot of people around me who follow it for various reasons. I try to avoid them, for a whole host of reasons that aren't the point of this. What is the point is that someone said that Gabe had posted an apology about his complete ignorance of trans issues, and his hurtful and eliminating words. I checked out the website and much to my surprise there was an actual apology. With words that described how he had hurt people, and what he was trying to do to make it right.

That was a pleasant surprise. (EDIT Before Publishing: The short apology was far better than the longer one, assume I only read this and not this while looking for links because unpacking that second one is scope creep. That's a lovely shout out for all my IT Ops folks.)

Then, something else happened. I wasn't expecting it because I wasn't really expecting an actual apology. That was the whole "Forgive and Forget" vibe coming from a bunch of white dudes in games. Now, I have met a bunch of these white dudes. They are all really smart, really intelligent people. We share things in common, mostly being a white dude in games, but I think of them as up there kind of people.

That said, I should have expected this. You see, us white dudes have this thing where when someone apologizes for one thing it should immediately be applied retroactively to whatever other hurtful things we've done in the past. It's the whole divorced from history thing that happens whenever an apology comes up, the "forget and move on" kind of line that gets shoved around and in the faces of people who might actually have a point that is constantly blocked by the shouts of "MOVING ON!"

A couple of things to that.

The first one, is that as a white dude myself I feel I can say something without the whole MOVING ON shout getting thrown at me. Let me throw you an imperfect analogy at you. If someone keeps taking your things, I don't need to be specific they are nebulous things that you own make a list if you like, you're not going to like them very much.  Now say around the tenth thing says "Oh, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to take this from you" and gives you back your tenth thing. That's cool, it's appreciated. Now how about the previous nin--


Yes, he apologized. Good on him, it shows that Mike has the capacity to understand someone else's situation and realize the impact he might have had on it. This does not magically make the other times when he's not done that go away, nor does it absolve him of his previous actions.

What it is, is a start. If he wants to put his previous actions in the rear view mirror, you take that start and you build up from there. You can still make mistakes, and you can still learn and apologize from there but you have to keep trying even though people get angry at you, or upset because you messed up and verbally crushed them under that thoughtless thing, or that intentional jab.

To take from @wilw's don't be a dick line, because he's been another one of the well meaning white dudes who have been shaking his head wondering why people aren't just moving on, just because stopped being a dick this time doesn't mean you weren't a dick a bunch of times before. It just means you have the opportunity to show that you mean it, because it's not like there haven't been many times in history where people have apologized, looked like they meant it, and then brushed it off.

The second thing, I might point out, is something that struck me. Most of the people shouting MOVE ON ALREADY were the well meaning white dudes, and most of the people who were like "Well, okay that's a start" weren't white dudes. That's why I prefaced my opening with a "as a white dude myself" because chances are I'm going to get a different kind of reaction than everyone else who has been trying to remind folks that we don't live divorced from our history.

That's kind of one of the things you should take stock of sometimes. If you're sitting there with a bunch of people lamenting the fact that some people can't get over things, take a deep breath and look around you. If the people you're sitting with are, for the most part, white, straight, cis-gendered, dudes ... maybe you should rethink your position because there's a good chance that you're all wallowing in your privilege. You know, that thing that you have so you don't have to deal with this kind of stuff on a regular basis.

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