On Being Black Online [positive post]


#1

Don’t worry, this is a positive post. Don’t report it, thanks.

One surprising benefit of NoSurf has been that the amount of time I spend thinking “Is this person being nice to me because they like me or because they don’t know I’m black/androgynous/bi yet?” has significantly decreased. This is a great thing because such thoughts release a shit-ton of cortisol in me.

Being black online REALLY SUCKS guys. I’ve had people flip from friendly to ferocious in an instant over it. More polite folks would simply cease conversation altogether. After going through that experience multiple times online (I was silly enough to think this wasn’t the norm), I finally settled for being very upfront about my race and other “triggering” qualities of me right from the get-go. I didn’t do that here though. Initially, my username had no identifying words in it and my profile picture was simply a cute tiger. Was it because I was trying to hide something? No, I just didn’t think it would be that relevant here. But… then people started to be nice to me. That made thoughts like “Is this person being nice to me because they like me or because they don’t know I’m black/androgynous/bi yet?” return. Memories of idiots online returned. Cortisol goes up and up. It was terrifying, so as a safety measure I eventually came out about all of these things. Did that make the cortisol go away? LOOLOLLOLOL, FUCK NO! After that I was just waiting for the facts to take effect on people’s behaviour. The problem is that the facts appeared to take no effect on people’s behaviour so I was just constantly in this stressed out state of mind.

Could my stress have been prevented? One experience I had in another online community would say that YES, my stress could have in fact been prevented. Over the summer I came across an online community dedicated to tech entrepreneurship. I bet that there was a very specific image of a person that came into your mind when I said, “tech entrepreneurship”. I know I that there was for me. So, on finding it my initial reaction was again fear but something was a little different about this community. There was actually quite a lot of black faces there… and in fact… the person running the community was actually super black as well. So, I was like… okay… all these tech nerds are witnessing this go down and they haven’t gone crazy yet… I guess I have nothing to worry about then.

Hopefully, the presence of my face here (even though I’d actually prefer not to show my face) and this post will have the same cathartic effects on the black folks to arrive here in the future.


#2

I still can never comprehend why someone’s melanin content would be in any way offensive or triggering. so sorry that you have to deal with that. I’m glad you were able to put such a positive twist on a negative.


#3

Thank you for your kind words @kbellxo21. Staying positive is all I really can do at the end of the day. From my experience, making a commitment to treating others and myself well can be just as effective and powerful as large protests in the streets.