Genealogy and Anti-Racism [edited title]

+22 votes
1.1k views

I've edited the name of the document from "Genealogy, Race, and Being a White Ally" to "Genealogy and Anti-Racism." As mentioned below (and in the document), I appreciate constructive feedback. 

I hope that the document's name change will better reflect its intention: empowering descendants of white ancestors to use our personal historical studies to create a more just world. Genealogy can thus positively shape the future, rather than reinforcing systemic and historic injustice. 

-------

Hi Wikitreers! I am passionate about working for racial justice, so I wanted to make sure that I do genealogy as a white person in a way that does the least harm --- and hopefully can do some good.

I created the following document for people who identify as white who want to learn how to act in anti-racist ways while doing genealogy:

Genealogy and Anti-Racism 

Please read the link and then let me know if you have further additions or corrections!

in The Tree House by Diane Kenaston G2G1 (1.5k points)
edited by Diane Kenaston
1) See:http://slavenorth.com/penna.htm  which gives the dates that the Northern states emancipated slaves. It might interest some people here to know that some slaves in Northern states were not emancipated until after the Civil War was over;

2) As for your comment, Jack Day, I see this whole question as being framed in a deliberately biased fashion towards post-Civil War Northern Triumphalism at the expense of history and against whites.  So if you want to keep politics out of wikitree, then keep all of them out, including biases against the Confederate flag, white slave owners, and Daughters of the American Revolution, all of which the question-asker deliberately slams.  The original slavers and "owners" of black American slaves were black African enslavers, who sold them on the open market in Africa; treat this fact, Diane Kenaston, before you keep going on about "white privelege;"
3) Black people definitely have the right to be here, and are welcomed by me.  I may not agree with them/you on some historical questions, but I do agree with them on some, including their right to be treated as humans and brothers, and not as property or "them"; white folks also have the same rights, no matter the historical realities.

 Picking at historical scabs does not heal them;
Juneteenth 2020 has just closed, and I think quite a lot more white people are learning about anti-racism now than in 2017, and hopefully that trend will continue.

Many of the answers here are problematic at best - including the colorblind racism that white people will double-down on and defend that is nonetheless a mechanism of white supremacy - and I imagine it was stressful for OP and any non-white reader to read some of these answers.

I want to thank you for writing it and getting this conversation started.

I am an anti-racist white person (in progress, always in progress) who's been doing research on Civil War era Black history for a few years on WikiTree, and I have encountered a lot of white genealogists who continue to contribute to anti-Blackness, to assume white as default, and to uphold the whiteness of genealogy which can and often does create an exhausting or even unsafe environment for anyone who isn't white. Never mind how many genealogy tools - like Ancestry.com search - are a mess when it comes to race (example: many of the people I study have multiple race designations in various census records, but there is literally no way in Ancestry.com to just search on not-white, so for names with a lot of search results - like Henry Green or John Smith - I sometimes have to re-enter race five or six times trying to guess what a white census taker decided about someone's race in that particular census year.)

Anyway, it's 2020 and I look forward to taking some time with your document this week and seeing if there's anything additional I can contribute from my anti-racist praxis and my experience researching the 54th Massachusetts. Thank you!

K Raymoure, thanks for flagging this thread; I missed it three years ago when it was initially posted.  But maybe that's a good thing. I may not have been able to "hear" it then.

In today's environment, this topic and the collection of resources that Diane compiled is even more important.  

I am disappointed, but not altogether surprised, that Diane had such a negative reaction to her post.  I do not see it as political or divisive. I see it as a genuine inquiry and an invitation to join that inquiry. I am sorry that Eddie deleted his comments, though. I very much want to understand his response. 

And I, for one, do see the topic's relationship to genealogical research.  Understanding our bias as researchers-- whatever that bias may be-- is critically important as we attempt to tell the story of our ancestors. Whose story? whose voice? whose lens on history?

A recent facebook post helped open my eyes further on the topic of our "blindness." I encourage others to read it:

EDIT: I linked to the wrong one. Hold on while I find the right one. Here it is:

https://www.facebook.com/corderolamb/posts/10158223632713904

In the meantime, I think this thread should be re-opened.

I’ve been trying to figure out how to write my post for a while, but this post and the recent post regarding use of an unfortunate acronym for Find-A-Grave said to me that now is the time.  The acronym post generated a lot of discussion, and a lot of people seemed to say “If a word doesn’t bother me, then why should it bother you?”  I was one of the guilty parties using the acronym and I’m sorry to say that what Mags pointed out never crossed my mind.  I have never been called by that word, so it flew right by me.  The fact that I did not mean to make anyone feel uncomfortable or disrespected doesn’t matter.  That was the effect and I apologize.

There are lots of other words I’ve never been called, but as an adult I know not to use them because I now understand that the underlying purpose of those words is to denigrate someone.  Using “nicknames,” slang terms, antiquated words for gender, ethnicity, religion, disability, sexual orientation or any other personal characteristic to describe any person other than yourself has the underlying meaning “You are less than a person.”   I am a man, I am a woman, I am English, I am American, and you are not.  You are “a slave” you are “a squaw,” you are [insert ethnic term].   I don’t buy the “I’m just quoting their words” line.  Unless you are posting a transcript of an actual document like a will or a census you can always paraphrase or pick another quote.  You can use statements like “John listed seventeen enslaved people when he wrote his will {transcribed below)….” to show that even if “John” didn’t think these seventeen individuals were people, you do. 

We all know that our choice of words matters, but just as I overlooked the acronym, we don’t always see that we’ve made  a poor choice. This isn’t being “politically correct” it’s being thoughtful, careful, respectful and those are things that we value here at Wikitree. 

The only way to do genealogy ethically is to report facts. An ethical researcher has no place injecting their opinions onto the past. And certainly not onto another's ancestry. The purpose of genealogy is not to shape the future. Keep you personal politics out of the field. If Wikitree is now adopting the BLM movement by erasing history, please advise me now so I can remove myself from the project. I prefer to conduct my research ethically and without the taint of politics.
Victoria, the problem is that we report facts with words which are politically loaded.  The word "slave" suggests a person with a certain status, which is actually a lie;  look at the wills and they are treated like real estate or cattle.  Using the phrase "enslaved person" affirms that there are real human beings to whom something bad has been done, which is much closer to the truth.

It can be embarrassing to admit that one's ancestors enslaved other human beings -- as some of mine did -- and I've seen a lot of family histories that dealt with the embarrassment by leaving out the slaveholding.  You are right, that ethical genealogy requires telling the truth -- but we have to select words which actually tell the truth.
Victoria, I concur. And I think that what Diane has shared with us encourages us to do just that-- to be very careful not to inject our bias onto the past.
Thank you, Diane. I needed this. I am going to try to send you a message.
Seriously, Jack, do you think I don't know any of this? I have a Masters in Rhetoric and Composition, Linguistics, and ESOL. Not looking for a half-witted, condescending, lecture on lexicon. I'm not here to change the facts to soothe someone's misplaced notion of embarrassment over a circumstance to which they have no control which would include a host of other socially awkward events.

I live in the Deep South. I research the Deep South. I research for a number of African Americans seeking to find their roots. In many cases, that requires finding plantation records, bills of sale, transportation, births, deaths. It's a really difficult task unless you know the area, history, social dynamics, and most importantly where to find the records.

I'm not in the business of sugar coating history. If that is what Wikitree is about, then it is not the group for me. I take my work far too seriously.

Can we please try to bring the curiosity of our trade/calling to this conversation? Please?

Victoria, perhaps we misunderstood your first response. The linear structure of these threads can make it to difficult to follow who is responding to what. 

What exactly were you responding to when you wrote, "Keep you[r] personal politics out of the field."?

I ask because I don't see the expression of personal politics here. I am trying to understand what you see as an expression of that.

And I think most of us agree that we should not sugar coat history.  But we may not be aligned about what sugar coating looks like. 

12 Answers

+5 votes
Good for you,I too have requested Wiki Tree too invite all people of color

too ask Questions,I have seen some increase in them asking.And have

helped all i have seen.It is tough too help them,not much is available

till after the Civil war.Unless they were free before.
by Wayne Morgan G2G6 Pilot (900k points)
reshown by Jamie Nelson
Thanks, Wayne. It's true that there aren't as many easily-accessible resources out there for people of color. But in my mind, that just makes it even more important that we help to make one's ancestor search accessible for all people. I'm glad to hear of the work you've been doing!
+17 votes
I find this whole concept rather strange. I am happy to help anyone and consider all of my matches equally regardless of origins.
by Lynda Crackett G2G6 Pilot (626k points)
My comment related to the original title of the post. The changed title does seem less provocative.
+11 votes
Diane, thank you for your passion!
by Jack Day G2G6 Pilot (323k points)
I can't imagine why anyone would object to either Diane displaying passion, or Jack expressing appreciation of same.  I am - once again - appalled to see a -1 vote tally here.  I am about to get it back to zero with my upvote!
+22 votes
Deleted from discussion
by Eddie King G2G6 Pilot (527k points)
edited by Eddie King
Sorry to hear that you received that kind of negativity here, Eddie. I can't imagine suggesting that only people of European origin should be allowed to seek and find their ancestry.
Eddie, First I'm glad to see that you have accumulated some upvotes (including mine) and hope that number doesn't represent a decrease by any downvotes.  I can't imagine why anyone would flag your post - it is hardly inappropriate, nor is it offensive toward anyone in any way, so I'm glad to see that has not been done either.

Next, from what you wrote, I have the impression that you are black ... or African-American ... or "non-white" by whatever word may be socially/politically/whatever correct.  My only reaction to this is that everyone is something ... in fact, everyone is lots of somethings.  People can be grouped by labeling of many different attributes - race, religion, nationality, and heritage of any of these three are probably the major ones; gender is another big differentiator.  There are many, many others, though - fans of specific sports teams, fat/skinny, tall/short, married/single, lovers of veggies/junk food, city/suburban/rural lifestyle preference, ... I'm tired of typing and don't want to hit the 8K character limit.

Your example of a bigot who is anxious to prove he's not reminds me of something my father used to tell people - he'd say he's not prejudiced and follow it with the statement "my wife gives clothes to the shvartsa". I'm spelling that phonetically - I believe correct spelling would be something like "schwarze", German for "black", although my father's use would have been Yiddish.  At any rate, I grew up thinking that was the Yiddish word for "maid" until well into adulthood, someone educated me as to the meaning and also that my father used it in a derogatory way.

I can easily see why you find Diane's document offensive - in fact, I also feel offended by it, as I do by all attempts to single out any group (by whatever distinctions are used to form groups) for different treatment than other groups, for any reason (including a sincere attempt to atone for past sins perpetrated by one's ancestors).  I simply refuse to attribute any traits of anyone to their membership in any group, beyond whatever criteria is used to distinguish between groups.

Thank you for your input on this issue - I find it a breath of fresh air!
100% agree with you Eddie!
Eddie, I am sorry to have hurt you. I know that you don't want to say anymore here --- and I respect that. However, if you change your mind, I am willing to listen (via comments or message). Thank you for sharing.
Thanks, Eddie.
Thanks, Eddie.  There is nobody who belongs on WikiTree either more or less than anyone else.  We have a good forum here for people to post what they need to do their genealogy.  I hope you'll feel free to post whenever you spot an area where someone else might be able to help.  And I hope you'll look on all of us as friends.
"...skinny white boy..."..?

What's that all about, and why aren't people downvoting the post on that basis alone?
Because most of us understand what he's saying, Dan.
He's saying ".....skinny white boy...."   If I said "...skinny black boy....."  would he or most of you understand what I'm saying?
Deleted from discussion
My question is "Are either of you boys?"
Deleted from discussion
+6 votes
This is an interesting discussion and document, thanks for putting it out there!  I haven't gotten that far back yet but I do know that some of my ancestors were slaveholders.  It's good to have some ideas about how I could constructively address that when I get there.

I have also noticed, in my research, how many of my ancestors were very socially active - not only were they literate, educated, and landowners, they were very often members of political organizations such as local political clubs, committees, and pollworkers. It is striking when I think about exactly how much "know how" they had with regards to local government and civic institutions - and contrasting that with those at the time who may have previously BEEN property only one generation ago is striking.  Def. good food for thought.
by Crispin Reedy G2G6 Mach 4 (42k points)
+14 votes
Interesting collection of information you have there, Diane. It makes me a little queazy to think that this would be an issue at all in the search for genealogical truth.

I think the interracial concerns of Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemmings are pretty much irrelevant in 2017.  I don't consider ethnicity or race in my genealogy research.  If a profile needs == Sources == and I can find them, I add them.  If I have information that will improve a profile, I add it.  I don't think race or ethnicity influence my research, and I only consider religion if it bears on the burial information (Catholic cemeteries, etc.).
by Kitty Smith G2G6 Pilot (514k points)
I agree with your queasiness Kitty. I felt so uncomfortable with the way the first paragraphs in the document were formulated that I did not even bother to look at the reading list.
+6 votes
"Ally" has become a very political word (so I definitely understand some the response), but I welcome a variety of ways to build bridges.

I will say that I am happy to help anyone connect to any of my (our) ancestors. If you link to my GEDMatch or Ancestry DNA tests in any way, I would love to know how we are related. Reach out at any time and we'll talk.

Thanks to everyone who makes this whole WT project work and flourish.
by Yvonne Gammell G2G6 (7k points)
+12 votes
I would like to request that this discussion be marked CLOSED and that no further comments, answers or replies be made.  I offer several reasons for this:

1.  This is a genealogy site.  We do genealogy as family members and historians.  If we stick to the facts and seek to be respectful of the people we profile, neither our own ethnicity nor opinions should make a difference.  All of us hit brick walls in our ancestry and the merit of a site like WikiTree is that we can pool our brain power and sometimes help solve someone else's brick wall.  This discussion, however, has veered quite far away from genealogy.

2.  Wars end, but writing about them probably never ends, and differing opinions about them will exist for a long time, if not forever.  It is not the function of WikiTree to resolve differences of opinion about any wars.  As a genealogy site, our main interest in history is how the history affected the individual people that we profile.  If John Smith died at the Battle of Vicksburg, that's what happened, it doesn't matter whether the Battle of Vicksburg was a good idea to the generals.

3.  The topic of race is still one that can engage emotions in the United States in 2017.  This discussion has reminded us of that, and that's useful, but it's time to say, let's stick to genealogy -- and whatever our ethnicity or emotions about it, let's commit to playing respectfully in the sandbox together in such a way that we all have fun!  

4.  The topic of slavery itself is a thorny one.  I'm aware of some genealogies produced in the last centuries, where, slavery having become an embarrassment, all mention of the family's slave-ownership and any documentation about their slaves was left out.  That not only creates a fake history, but it makes things more difficult for the descendants of the slaves to trace their own history.  So I think we have to acknowledge slavery and document it.  Because we know that ultimately everyone is related, today's descendants of slaves and slave owners are cousins.  That will create new sets of conversation topics.

But it does feel like this conversation has gotten personal and therefore needs to be closed.
by Jack Day G2G6 Pilot (323k points)
As previous selector of Eddie King's answer as the best, because of the direction on which this thread has veered, I am now changing it - mainly because, even though Jack's answer is not at all responsive to the original topic, I believe it is important enough to ensure that it is at the top of the answer list.

Thank you very much, Jack, for this thoughtful and eminently written contribution!
If you plan to close the topic, then I would insist that the topic be entirely deleted from the site.

      What Diane Kenaston did was to politicize this site, with which the majority of the commentators fully agreed.  That's not even genealogy.  It's politics.  Genealogy in a pure sense theoretically cannot be politicized;  X and Y had children A, B, and C, etc. etc. etc. and that is as far as it goes.  The race of X, Y, A, B, and C is irrelevant to the question or the science.

      Where Kenaston is headed is for the biographies on the profiles.  She wants to act as the ultimate judge and censor, which from my standpoint she is welcomed to do on profiles of HER FAMILY.  But she wants to cast the whole half of the country in a sinister light, and this cannot be permitted by this site in any way without polluting it politically.

In her document, she implies that it is somehow bad for families to search for heroes among their ancestors.  I would disagree with that.  Families have the right to be proud of the heroic deeds and accomplishments of their ancestors to a certain extent.  It gives them a special connection with history when they understand that their forebears had an important role in it.

      I think everyone on here understands that black Americans have extraordinary difficulties in making their family trees, and that these difficulties arise out of circumstances beyond their control or the control of their ancestors.  I am happy to see wikitree making some special efforts to help them in their efforts.  I think it is quite unhelpful to inject a large dose of racial politics into the process and then claim that you are helping black genealogists.

      I think it is especially unhelpful if one uses the site as a platform to deliberately distort history as Gaile Connolly did with her West Virginia fairy tale version of history.  I think all Virginians have a right to vigorously call her out on this point, and to defend the history of the state and its people.

       No matter what anyone thinks of slavery, it existed, not just in the southern States, but in every area of the world, including Africa, where the original enslavers of American slaves, black coastal inhabitants, sold black slaves they had captured on to whites, who imported them into the western hemisphere.  Slavery was as legal as marriage. Slavery was not a particularly white invention. It was particularly egregious in the southern USA, and we should be happy to be rid of it.

      But there are right ways and wrong ways of doing things.  Jack Day doesn't mention it, but in Maryland, there was a bill introduced into the Maryland Legislature sometime before the Civil War to compensate slave owners for the emancipation their slaves It barely failed, probably because the compensation to be offered was a very small fraction of the cost of a slave.

One then could look on subsequent events as a curiously immoral exercise in morality,  when 800,000 Southerners were murdered so that Northern ship owners and slave traders could assuage their guilt without any compensation regarding property that they treated as property and sold as property to a competing section of the country.  How righteous!.  Most Southerners were not slave owners.

      Bruce Catton, the historian, who wrote a trilogy on the history of the Civil War, stated that the Civil War and Emancipation Proclamation was actually a revolution by the North against the Constitution.  This is why it is important for people concerned about slavery to be aware that EVERY state was a slave state when the Constitution was adopted.  The Northern States looked at it as a moral question; the Southern States looked at it as a property and due process question.

     The North won, and it is better that way, but the question is not simply a black and white question either.

      Anyway, I think that if D. Kenaston is allowed to have her politics on the site, then the Ku Kux Klan and anyone else should be allowed to exercise the same right.  The better way, I think, is to let the Administration think up some guidelines and put them up here.  Genealogy is a branch of History, which itself is intertwined very much with politics.  Politics and History do lead to disagreements, but pure Pollyannaism is also to be avoided.
+6 votes

I only just noticed this now. Missed it at the time. It brought to mind an article an acquaintance of mine wrote some time ago.

Teaching about "race" in the US. Part 1 (to my knowledge, there was never a Part 2.)  She has pictures of her own family history, and how their "race" was dealt with in the Census, changing standards of reporting race in the Census over the years. Draws from material she teaches (taught? might be retired by now) about race in cultural anthropology in the SUNY system. Worth a look: it's remained in my memory for nearly a decade now!

 

by Elizabeth Winter G2G6 Mach 7 (70.4k points)
+1 vote
I appreciate your post at this time in our country.  Also I think it is important to point out, while studying our genealogies, how families may have evolved on this issue over time.  For example, one of the more prominent ancestors from my mother's paternal branch was a slave-owning legislator from the state of Tennessee who placed the name of Andrew Jackson before the State Assembly for nomination as US president.  His father also knew Thomas Jefferson and had previously urged Jefferson's government to go forward with the Louisiana Purchase in order to afford poorer (yet obviously white privileged) pioneering families opportunities to profit from further land acquisition.  The descendants of this family ultimately moved to Missouri, a state that was very split during the Civil War, and my more immediate ancestor from this branch of the family had served on the side of the Union.  Obviously the issues driving the Civil War were more than just racial, none the least of which was the potential loss of livelihood for plantations and farms that depended on slave labor.  Ultimately we should keep in mind the principle put forth by the Founders that ALL men (and women) are created equal.
by Keith Schindler G2G1 (2k points)
+2 votes

Thank you for your work.

One note about the use of "White," (capitalized) I think it only fitting, especially since "Black" is now considered by the AP (AP changes writing style to capitalize ″b″ in Black) to be the appropriate use. I noticed that some of your document did use the capitalization of White.

For your opening sentence in your Google doc, you might consider using as a source the article, Why Talk about Whiteness?in your bibliography from Tolerance as a source.

One of the things that I have been attuned to in my work is being sure to examine and document the following (the 1st of which you noted in your Google doc):

  1. Slave Schedules - these are invaluable, but most importantly, they should be thoroughly documented on the affected profiles in a section labelled Enslaved Persons, and either enumerated by age and gender if that is all that is given (which is usually the case), or add the names of the enslaved persons, when provided.
  2. Watch out for Will documents, as many times these are more complete at naming enslaved persons by at least their forename and typically distinguishing them as child (boy/girl) or adult (woman/man).
  3. Slave Owners, [State] as a Category should be added to the profile where documentation is found. Here is the top level "Slave Owners in America."

Good luck in your future endeavors, and once again, thank you for your work.

by Fann Fann G2G6 Mach 4 (41.3k points)
I know there's a desire to match Black with White in terms of capitalization. A rebuttal I've read is "Why do we capitalize 'I' but not 'You'?" to point out that we aren't consistent when it comes to matching on what's capitalized.

Some authors, including Black authors, choose to capitalize both because of how fundamentally race informs a person's experience and outcomes. There are also some authors, including Black authors, who capitalize Black specifically as the only ethnic adjective afforded to Black Americans who are descended from the enslaved people where forced breeding erased the ethnic identity most white people are able to identify. We as genealogists are sometimes better versed in this than non-genealogists.

The AP is still working to determine whether or not to capitalize white.
Oh! I'm so glad you brought up "Slave Owners." Owners is problematic, because it implies a person can own another person and therefore isn't a person, but property. Jack Day made a great point about challenging this language elsewhere in the comments of this post.

In my own research, when writing biographies, I currently use "Enslavers" and "enslaved by."
Hi K,

Until the Category is updated and made obsolete, I do not feel that I am the one who should take on revising a Category, especially because of the widespread usage and number of affected profiles. (It looks like someone has started the work of reconciling regional breakdowns, as of 20 Jun 2020, so I cannot say much about the scope as I am unable to locate the summary page for US enslaved persons now.)

Another way of looking at it, as onerous as it is to hear: that is perhaps closest and may be precisely what these persons who enslaved others were referred to as during the time that they lived: perhaps with the exception of the term Master, which is equally, if not more offensive.

Also, the suggested language that you've proposed is an awkward construct: it's a great idea, in most all respects to change language, but in this case, as we do with surnames, perhaps it is best to identify with the language used at the time?

Again, not for me to say, but I just wanted to acknowledge that I understand the difficulty and have used the categorization that was present when making or updating profiles that I encountered.

Elsewhere in G2G in recent months, slaveholders was suggested as a substitute for slaveowners, to avoid the dehumanizing connotations of ownership. I remember having some concern that this word somewhat diminishes the crimes of people who kept slaves, but I defer to the sensibilities of descendants of enslaved persons.

+2 votes

This is a beautiful document and I'll tell you all the things I like about it in a minute, but first I must say I almost didn't read it. It may not be your intent, but your Caveat paragraph actually offends the person you are most trying to reach.

" If you are put off by the terms “white,” “privilege,” “racism,” or the general premise of this document, then this guide is not for you"

Then you go on to explain how we should go off and get a little education so we can be comfortable with these terms.

So I would ask you to rethink how you word your Caveat paragraph. It immediately seeks to offend the people you want to reach. It dares me not to read your work because I feel you are going to continue to offend and shame me in it. Anyone who comes to your document in the first place is likely there because they want to learn. Show them a friendly face and invite them to do so!

That said, the rest of your work in this document does quite the opposite. I never felt you were shaming me as a person, but rather shaming an oppressive institution and you sought to educate me on a broad variety of topics. Your list of resources is impressive and valuable. You referenced many people I have a high respect for (ie Nicka Smith. I love her work). I was already familiar with many of the resource, but still found new items to bookmark. I even joined a new newsletter. Your personal introduction was beautifully written and an excellent glimpse into what you felt were your privileges and your personal journey.

I have this document bookmarked and will go back and look at it more times to pick up new information.

by Emma MacBeath G2G6 Pilot (637k points)
edited by Emma MacBeath
Was it neccesary to resurrect this topic from 2017, instead of, say, replying to the OP via direct message?

Frankly, I don't care for all the "political" posts I've been seeing on Wikitree lately, not because I don't agree with certain points or issues, but because I am not impressed with the average Wikitreer's ability to discuss these topics calmly and rationally and keep it on topic.
I didn't resurrect this post and would be happy to remove my answer and reply by private message it you feel it is offensive. I'm not sure why this post is seen as political however. It is about respecting African American Genealogy, the major challenges they face, and ways we can be a part of helping them find their family.

I didn't realize that this topic had likely been dragged back up to the top a few hours before you posted.

I didn't say anything you said was offensive, however, the last few days G2G has been filled with reactions to current events that include, but are not limited to: threatening to quit Wikitree due to alleged heavy-handed political correctness; and hand-wringing over "vandals" from a movement currently in the popular media who could maybe, potentially, somehow, come to Wikitree and tamper with our profiles.

I am just tired of seeing all of the above. I have often been the dissenting voice on G2G,  my experience with others in this community has not always been a positive one, and I have little faith in most Wikitreers (not all) to discuss these topics with the lack of ego and rationality that they deserve.

I, for one, am glad the topic was resurrected. 

We do not conduct genealogy in a vacuum.

And whatever color our skin is, we all perceive the world with some sort of bias.

The original post invites especially white folks into a query about that bias and offers a number of resources for learning more, with a focus on genealogical research.

I would hope that these conversations that are surfacing would trigger the natural curiosity that we bring to genealogy. Wouldn't that be great? Instead of responding defensively, why not GET CURIOUS instead?

Re: the term "white privilege." I, too, have been blamed and shamed for my white privilege, and yes, by other folks with the same color skin as me. But for me that doesn't mean we should get rid of the term. 

My privilege allows me to walk into a convenience store with my hands in my pockets and not be accused of hiding a weapon. Our privilege allows the white kids in my neighborhood to run around the street with toy guns pointed at each other, shouting "boom boom you're dead!"  Around the corner, a black mother won't let her black child do anything like that for fear they will be arrested or shot by the police. We, as white people, do.not.even.think.about.these.things most of the time.  *That* is white privilege.

The original post is asking us to examine our white privilege when we are conducting research, when we are writing profiles. I think it's a wholly appropriate topic for wikitree.

related: I often see responses that are variations of "but that wasn't my intent."  In this conversation, intent doesn't nearly matter as much as impact. What we often fail to realize is the impact of our words, despite our intent. I have learned this the hard way; I continue to learn it. 

And I'm more than a tad worried that we are pushing away and not attracting the diverse voices and experiences that would truly make this a single family tree.

Let's try to get curious about that.

Sure it is, it's an important topic and relevant to genealogy. I just have no faith in Wikitreers. I've seen some of the disgusting opinions posted on here. I've also seen the underwhelming response from Wikitree 'Leaders' and 'Mentors'; the same people, btw, who promote Confederate generals and Nazi sympathizers as Profiles of the Week despite outcry. I swear, Wikitree would make David Duke POTW if he wasn't alive! So I go on G2G and see half-baked, poorly thought out rebuttals and vaguely racist statements posted in thread after thread, by people who haven't reconsidered the viewpoints they were taught in the 1950s, and it makes my head hurt and my blood pressure rise. I am not an endless font of give, give, give; I am not the most patient person, or the one to selflessly educate, or smile (figuratively) in the faces of some of these people. I'm not here to be on Boomer Facebook.

Jessica, it's a hard line to walk. How do we honor our Confederate ancestors that we have been taught for generations be proud of and at the same time be factual about the fact they owned slaves or wanted to keep slavery alive? There is often a lukewarm response to some of the posts because people don't have the answers. And it's hard to completely change the way things have been done for generations. You're right, the posts and conversations can get exhausting. When that happens to me, I stay away from g2g for awhile. As a matter of fact, this past week has been the most I've been on g2g for a long time.

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