In the Washington Post today (Wednesday, June 6, 2019), Henry Farrell writes about the demonetization of conservative YouTuber Steven Crowder for the racist and homophobic content that Crowder has spewed across the video platform, targeting Vox producer Carlos Maza.
Maza, in a brilliant display of calling out the homophobia of Crowder, put the following montage together that allows Crowder to speak for himself:
There is so much to unpack here that it is almost impossible to know where to begin. That said, a couple of important themes have emerged as Maza has attempted, for years, to address Crowder’s hate:
Corporate Statements = Public Pedagogy
Public Pedagogy, that is, the education that exists outside of the formal classroom, is an important aspect to consider in this case. Not only are Crowder’s
disciples subscribers doxxing and harrassing Maza based on the information in Crowder’s content, the allowance of that harrassment has been formalized: YouTube put out a statement that read, in part, “In the case of Crowder’s channel, a thorough review over the weekend found that individually, the flagged videos did not violate our Community Guidelines.” This was after Maza stated the following:
I’m not mad at Crowder. There will always be monsters in the world. I’m fucking pissed at @YouTube, which claims to support its LGBT creators, and has explicit policies against harassment and bullying…This isn’t about “silencing conservatives.” I don’t give a flying fuck if conservatives on YouTube disagree with me. But by refusing to enforce its anti-harassment policy, YouTube is helping incredibly powerful cyberbullies organize and target people they disagree with.Maza, C. (2019, May 30, 7:16 P.M.)
The issue with this, which seems to me to be really obvious, is that YouTube, like Budweiser, et al (ad infinitum), has latched onto who they see as a particular market — LGBTQ+ folx, as in the following, which Maza has so graciously prepared [for this blog]:
Along with the content that YouTube creators make for their subscribers, the statement that YouTube made teaches the public (ergo, public pedagogy) that despite violating standards that state, in part, “if the primary purpose is to attack a protected group, the content crosses the line,” it is okay to continue to develop content that is hateful if…if what? For me, the answer seems to be obvious: if the solution is not related to interest convergence, the idea that the dominant group will only cooperate in dismantling oppression if it is in their own best interest, then Play On Bigots, Play On.
Racism + Homophobia = Intersectional Bigotry
Before I address the intersection of racism and homophobia, I want to address Crowder’s racism as a separate issue. There is no doubt in my mind that Crowder behaved like a racist pig (this is the guy who created the “Change My Mind” meme through his video on the Texas Christian University campus titled “Hate Speech Isn’t Real — Change My Mind,” in which he is simply just saying that there is no “legal” definition of hate speech — a misrepresentation of his efforts, at best). And yet, only a small handful of Crowder’s comments in this case have been repeated as examples of racism. That seems awfully suspicious…and I have a thought about why: it is easier to marginalize race than sexuality using underhanded means. We all know that racism is “bad,” but we still do racism — we toss out the overt racist, and then we clutch our purses just a bit tighter when a black man walks in. Racism is woven into our society to the point that we don’t even know when we are racist.
Allow me, Dear Reader, to explain why I believe this issue matters now. As a white, queer person, I understand that I have blinders on. I get that there are things that I do not know and can’t understand. But I came to a particularly interesting turning point yesterday when I saw this:
Of course I recognized that I am privileged. Of course I am aware that racism exists. But when I saw this, I understood something on a much more personal scale, which kind of sucks: why the fuck do I take so long to understand?
The issue with Crowder’s hatred is not just that it is homophobic — it is that it is also racist — and the combination of the two creates an unholy intersectionality that WE AREN’T TALKING ABOUT. #BlackLivesMatter. #BlackTransLivesMatter, and I wasn’t even paying attention.
If I feel guilty about this (and I do), what good does that do? By itself, it does nothing, but theologically speaking, guilt is the feeling that comes from understanding that which separates us from God — from the Divine — from Love. If I feel guilty, and then I do nothing, then I am culpable for my continued blindness — that is, I become increasingly complicit in my own racism. However, if I am willing to grow from this experience, then I can connect back to the divine through action — theologically speaking — through repentance. That repentance, Dear Reader, finds its voice in my teaching and in my learning, which is a continual process: Paulo Freire’s conscientização.
In the Classroom
Admittedly, I am working on my teaching and learning, a process that will not stop any time soon — nor should it. Lately, I have been working on meeting my students wherever they are — seeking their literacies, in particular, to address a concept in the class. Lately, this has manifested itself in using LEGO to communicate various writing concepts. Tonight, in my technical writing class, I asked my students to create the same three models, but for different purposes. With permission, I am sharing one group’s designs, based on their interactions with the perception of how law enforcement in the community presents themselves to various members of the community (the descriptions are theirs):
When I first asked them about these models (sans descriptions), they told me that they “did some political shit.” I said that I appreciated that, and I invited their descriptions. As they presented their models, I shut up, and I listened. They finished, and I spoke:
“I had no idea,” I said.
“No offense, professor,” one student said, “but most white folks don’t.”
And they are right. Most white people just don’t understand.
The Final Word
A great deal has happened since I even began this post. YouTube has demonetized Crowder, backlash has ensued because Crowder makes his money through his t-shirt sales and through Patreon, and Maza is still (rightly) pissed. I think the last word belongs to Maza, here, whose most recent Tweet was 30 minutes ago (around 10:30 PM EDT):