You Won’t Believe This Email I Received Today: Racism Thrown in my Face

Today, I had a very odd experience with an email newsletter subscriber. I wasn’t planning to write a blog post about it because I didn’t want to upset anyone and just in case it got back to this now-un-subscriber. But then I thought–this is exactly what I want to write about and explore–how it feels to be a people pleaser finally trying to stand up for what I believe and find my voice. I have been handed another life example today, so I should write about it.

I will preface this story with saying that I did calm down the language and things that the person said in the email, when I copied it below, because it is offensive. It is racist, and it is clear that this person is not trying to understand another culture or what it’s like to live anywhere else or be anything other than a white American Christian. (which by the way is also just fine–whatever you identify with is just fine, as long as you are trying to understand other people and loving them for who they are.)

So…here’s the story…

I am participating in a fantastic free online writing conference for fiction writers called Wonder Quest, put together and run by Maram Taibah, who is a writer and filmmaker from Saudi Arabia. My email newsletter was inviting people on my list to sign up for this 10-day event by going here (in case you want to sign up–it’s free!) and registering your email address and your first name. Then the 10 webinars, by various women writers and creative coaches, will be emailed straight to your inbox for you to watch and work through until May 7. So when I opened this angry email from one of my subscribers, I was in shock because I was not sure how this free event could offend anyone. Here’s the end of the message from my subscriber:

And why an Arab woman? Why are these Arabs suddenly showing up everywhere? Is it because you want to be politically correct? I don’t give a **** about political correctness and you can remove me from the list any time you want. What can an Arab possibly have to teach?


At first, I thought about just deleting the email because I knew I wouldn’t be able to change this person’s mind EVER, and I didn’t want to step on this person’s toes. But what was in the email offended me. It made me angry. It was unbelievable that this is how people I actually know feel. And so even though I knew that I wouldn’t change anything this person thought, I wrote back. I tried to take advice from a recent Jen Hatmaker podcast and Brene Brown’s book, Braving the Wilderness, about speaking our truths without attacking a person, and so I said:

I was asked to do Wonder Quest and believe in the goal of offering a free online writing conference to writers who might not be able to afford to go to one. I actually don’t look at the color of people’s skin or their gender–the thoughts you are having never crossed my mind. And why an Arab? Because an Arab woman decided to get this together for writers around the world–an Irish woman didn’t. A Native American woman didn’t. An American woman didn’t. An Arab woman did.  I’m sorry that you feel the way that you do about my email and the things that are important to me and that I am promoting, so I am happy to unsubscribe you from my email list, and I wish you the best of luck with your writing and your books.

(To be honest, I’m wondering if I even used the term Arab properly or respectfully–I hope I did. If I didn’t, hopefully someone will tell me.) Anyway, this answer just enraged the person even more, and the next email, which went downhill very fast and I’m not sharing with you here because of its offensiveness, started with:


Don’t you give me that mumbo jumbo about race or color of skin.

To which I wrote back: “Like I said, good luck with your writing.”

Because I was trying to show by example how even though the things this person is saying are totally offending me, I am not wishing ill will. This person wanted an argument because I received another email, to which I have now blocked the sender. And then I decided to write this post.

It saddens me that in 2019, we still have people who are completely judging each other on race, religion, and culture. It’s not like I didn’t know that this was true. It’s not like all of a sudden today, I was faced with this cruel, harsh world. I live in St. Louis. I am 20 miles from Ferguson. I am on social media and see the racial slurs and insults slung at every one–no matter race, religion, or gender.

But why I chose to write about it here today is because I think a year ago, I would have handled this situation differently. I would have tried to reason with this person and explained how I didn’t mean to offend and what can I do to get this writer to stay on my list? But today, I decided I’m saying my peace in a kind way and moving on.

What can we do to combat people like this? Well in this very specific case, you can support the lovely and generous Maram Taibah by going to the Wonder Quest event (if you are a writer or interested in writing) and signing up for free! You can also visit her website. You can tell this story to other people and see their reaction or what they might have said if faced with this situation. You can start conversations in your home about word choice and language and getting to know individuals.

I’ll tell you one thing. I didn’t people please today–and I don’t feel one bit guilty.

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Margo Dill (luvboxerdogs)

Luvboxerdogs is just my Wordpress name, but these posts are put up by me, Margo L. Dill. I'm a writer and an editor, and this is my site--welcome! I hope you like it and stick around to read what I have to say or even better, some of my amazing guest posters. :)

6 thoughts to “You Won’t Believe This Email I Received Today: Racism Thrown in my Face”

  1. I unfortunately see this type of behavior (although usually more veiled) on social media every day. It’s sad and demoralizing, and my choice has been to stay out of the discussion. It so quickly degenerates into vitriol, and my observation is not once have I seen logic sway anyone’s opinion.

    What I can do, however, is unfollow or block the worst offenders so I don’t have to upset myself by seeing a barrage of garbage.

    Sounds to me like you handled this situation with grace.

    1. Hi Pat:
      It is such a fine line on social media because some people are on there just being trolls. I agree that what they want is some kind person trying to explain their position so they can rip it apart with hyperbole. I think the way we combat them is by writing posts like this, posting things on our own social media pages that speak a different message, and having conversations in our home. I also think it’s okay to have questions. Other races and religions welcome questions–I welcome questions about my own faith and race.

      Something I might start doing (emphasize the might) is stating my opinion based on facts with kindness when I see something like this and then defriending. 🙂 LOL

      Thank you for the kind words,
      Margo

  2. Margo ~ You did a great job handling the situation, and you didn’t back down for what you believe in. We can’t change these people’s minds, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t say anything back if we want to get something off our chests. Managing a large list, I’ve gotten so many negative comments over the years that I’ve pretty much stopped responding to them, but I used to! Now it’s just a matter of too much email to deal with small minded people that they aren’t on my radar.

    I’ve also been in the position of being racially discriminated against. People have no idea what ethnicity I am, and they often ask “What are you?”–well, a person, thank you very much–but I’m privy to racial slurs for every race. If they think I’m Mexican (which is often), they’ll say something racist about Asians. Then, they’ll find out I’m Asian (because I tell them, because no one in my entire life has ever guessed I’m Asian, which is annoying), and they’ll say something racist about Mexicans. It’s crazy. If I’ve experienced this type of racism, I wonder about other people who look more ethnic. And that’s the thing, this subscriber didn’t know one thing about Maram and made assumptions. I just don’t understand it, but I’m so glad you brought this out in the open. We didn’t receive anything at all like this at WOW when we sent the email, btw! In fact, I don’t think we’ve received ANY racist responses in the twelve and a half years we’ve been operating, so you are special. 😉

    xo

    1. Hey Ang:
      Thank you for taking the time to read this blog post. Yes, I almost thought about not responding to her but then I thought this one was special–as you said, you’ve never received such a racist email at WOW! before.

      I am sorry to hear that you face this all the time too. I think that is so odd that people ask you: What are you? I should ask Uri what he faces–he is an American citizen, but he is also an Israeli citizen (born there, immigrated here for work and became a citizen) but his parents are Indian who immigrated to Israel before he was born. He is also Jewish. I guess people don’t think about what they are saying before it comes out of their mouths. Geez, I used to get annoyed with “YOU ARE SO TALL!” I can’t imagine how it feels to be constantly faced with: What are you?

      Thanks for the kind words,
      Margo

  3. I am so sorry you were subjected to that. I know you, and I know you don’t have a racial/cultural or any other bias for anyone. I agree. A person’s race, skin color, religion, and probably several other things don’t get a second thought when you are trying to help someone with a plot, or someone is helping you with the perfect “red herring.” I guess that statement will probably offend some, but “red herring” is the term. I would like to add politics to the pot. Most people know I don’t tout a particular party; I push the Constitution. However, I can have conversations with people with other views. We can remain civil; we can each help the other understand where we are coming from. At times, we can agree to disagree, and still remain friends, or, if we are just acquaintances, we can remain friendly. I have blocked one friend on Facebook. I didn’t want to do so. We can have these conversations I spoke of, but when she would share something someone else would post, the comments were offensive to me. Not the ideas. I am open to ideas. However, my Facebook page is shared with many Christian women. I did not want them to be subjected to the offensive language. Still can’t figure out why people can’t realize other people are God’s children, too. Prayers for all of them.

    1. I completely agree with you, Judy, that it is all about having conversations and trying to understand where the other person is coming from. I don’t think it necessarily changes our mind, but I do think that it makes us have more compassion for people and understanding of why someone is acting how they are or saying the things they are. People like to attack others when faced with opinions they don’t like or can’t understand. That’s the part that drives me batty and what happened in this situation. I also think it’s wise of you to control what goes on in your Facebook space. I have had a few people over the years write me about something that was very calm language on my Editor 911 page because of reading it around their kids. I understood the position but I also explained mine. I probably lost a follower, but I think my point is (I’m rambling) we each have to do what we believe–but we can do it in kindness and with conversation.

      Thank you for the kind words!
      Margo

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