I've been pondering what does and doesn't count as a derail, which seemed a like a valid thing to ask this community about.
I think it's relatively easy to judge a derail if it's on someone else's post or community. But what about posts to our own journals?
I wrote a long rambly post about it
to try and express it better: if there's a particular conversation about race happening in our online circle(*), should we try and avoid slipping into a tangential discussion which is very similar but not about race? If you get inspired by a race discussion to make a similar post not about race should you save it until later so as to avoid derailing that particular discussion? Is making that sort of post worse than making a totally unrelated post not about race?
I'm not saying that if there's a discussion like RaceFail going on then Every Post Must Be About Racism. And as has already been discussed many times, there are perfectly good reasons why any individual might avoid posting on the topic at all. But as a group
we have a responsibility to try to not avoid talking about race and racism.
Similarly, I think there can be a dynamic a bit like cultural appropriation where FOC get momentum into a discussion about race and racism, and then white people are inspired by and take advantage of this momentum to pursue their own non-anti-racist agenda. And while as an individual you may have good reasons to engage in this sort of thing, as a group we should try and avoid it.
Two examples which come to mind:
-Following from RaceFail09 and Wiscon there were discussions about how the different dynamics between different subcultures of fans contributed to the fail. To some extent this turned into a general discussion of the different dynamics between different subcultures of fans without much reference to race. (my post
goes into this more)
-(from a possibly misremembered post I read on metafandom
ages ago) Someone started a community to promote fic about Foreman from House to counteract and draw attention to the racist way he and other COC are ignored. People got inspired to make similar comms...for lots of other white characters.
And the thing is, neither of those actions (discussing fandom dynamics and celebrating ignored white characters) are inherently racist or derailing. But in that context the effect
of those actions is (possibly?) to derail an anti-racist endeavour. So perhaps like cultural appropriation, it's impossible to totally avoid but we should be mindful of this sort of knock on effect and where possible avoid this sort of derail.
Do people agree? Can you untangle my point? :)
Note: I have health issue which mean I can be VERY slow at replying to comments and dealing with Badness. But I will do my best.
(*)What "our online circle" means
is a whole nother discussion, but going into that here would I think be a derail!