When my blogging friend sent me that link the other day, I didn’t even have to click to know where this was going. The URL contained a malicious slur, and the thread’s title included a vulgar phrase, something I’ve never stooped to utter in any conversation.
These were haters, pure and simple. Hardcore racists who scorned interracial relationships.
Sure enough, when I clicked through I saw my friend’s photo in the forum. It was a photo taken with her Asian husband. But with the things these goons had written about her, it was like finding her photo inside the men’s bathroom stall, defiled by graffiti and infantile racist screeds.
I could understand why she wanted to share this with me. It’s chilling when you find total strangers essentially crapping all over you in such an unsavory place. She didn’t post that photo on her blog, expecting this to happen. It’s the kind of thing that makes you say, “Damn, something’s seriously wrong on the Internet.”
But the question is, what do you do when the haters start harping on you? Or your blog? Should you go public with it on your blog?
Those are questions I’ve considered when I’ve become the fodder of hateful racist forums (including, most famously, a white supremacist group on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s watchlist). And I’m not alone. Other women who have blogged about interracial relationships have faced these issues, such as Madh Mama (who was harassed by an Internet troll giving her death threats).
In a sense, hate mail and hate comments are a badge of honor. You angered someone so much they felt compelled to respond to your work. Granted it’s an ugly response, but it shows you have some power. There are ways to blog about it.
Madh Mama did go public with her Internet troll and that’s how she defeated him. But to be clear, she did it in a very strategic way. She never linked to this person’s online drivel or gave him additional attention.
Likewise, when I blogged about the white supremacist group, I was careful not to mention them in name OR link to their forum. The last thing I wanted to do was give a hate group more publicity. I chose not to make any screenshots of the forum either, concerned that – once again – it might reveal the group’s identity.
Yet just because we blogged about it, should you?
Ultimately, that’s a personal decision – but one that comes with a huge asterisk. My bottom line is this: a blogger should never feel obligated to publicly share every time someone attacks them online. After all, you would not believe the sickening racist comments/e-mails that I’ve seen. If I devoted a post to every single instance, I’d be busy for months. Besides, my blog is valuable space – I don’t want to deign to quote from racists (unless there’s a compelling reason to do so). It’s enough to say I’ve received many awful racist comments/e-mails and I’ll receive many more in the future.
However, I always, always talk about it with someone. It might be my husband, a friend, a family member or even a fellow blogger. It’s so important to share our experiences, to know we’re not the only ones.
And I always remember, there are times when we need to do more than just talk. That’s what Madh Mama learned after those death threats:
Keep documentation. Keep screenshots with dates and times of all the harassment, throw it into a file (without looking at it) and save it for later. You never know when you’ll need it.
Internet trolls have very predictable patterns. They often use the same IP addresses and they often attack at certain times of the day. These timings can tell you a lot about your troll – for example, if they attack at 3pm Eastern time – that’s after school time. And the more frequently they attack you – the more lazy they get in covering up their tracks.
Ultimately, the haters are gonna hate, no matter what. While blogging about it is optional, staying silent is not. If you’ve received a hateful racist e-mail or comment, or found your blog mentioned in a hate forum, please talk to someone about it. It could be your friends, family or even a fellow blogger like me.
One of the most powerful things we can do in response to hate is stay united, supporting anyone who has been attacked by racists or worse. The haters would rather I wasn’t here, but I’m not going anywhere. How about you?