The Nigger Lover

I have resisted posting about this topic because I didn’t want to encourage even more hate on the web, but now that some time has passed and more protections have been set in place, I am prepared to tell you on January 16, 2006 — Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in America — something awful happened here. 


My post on that day, The Shared Legacy of a Solitary King,
was well-received and I thought it served the spirit of a great man.
A few hours after that post was made public, I received an anonymous
piece of hate mail calling me a “Nigger Lover” for my post concerning
Dr. King and I was told I would be “taken care of” in due time.
If you’ve been on the web any amount of time at all you know hate is
out there everywhere all day every day and you just ignore it and keep
doing the right thing in the ongoing service of beauty and goodness.

Later
that day, however, at 6:35pm Eastern — this site was knocked down, but
not out, with a Dedicated Denial of Service (DDOS) attack. We were
offline for only about five minutes as the server automatically
re-started, but the movement of hate into concerted action was a sad
and unnecessary end to a rather fine day.
Media Temple are my hosting
service and they were able to lock down this site even more with
security measures over the last two weeks that are now tested and in
place — but dedicated people who are intent in tearing you down can
always find a morsel of success to confirm in their own minds their
purpose in acting out is righteous and done without moral malice or
mortal malfeasance.

The purpose in me telling you this now is to thank you for standing
with me here because if this blog didn’t have some sort of sensed
ethereal power we would not have been seen as a threat in need of
attacking.
The Power of the Written Word was reconfirmed for me in this experience
and I will continue to pound pencils into ploughshares with you while
others in the world choose to solider on taking up swords to slay good
intentions into silence elsewhere.

Have you ever had a website or a blog methodically attacked for
something you wrote online?
Have you been email bombed by a group that does not agree with you?
Share your story with us and be sure to tell us how you fought back and
recovered to write again another day!

46 comments

  • It’s ironic how easily people forget what they do not see. I deal with a different kind of race issue, the “dirty” kind. My mother is “white” and my father “black”, I have problems on both sides, but worst of all .. I’m just old enough to remember the time when there was talk of putting all the “whites” on one island and all the “blacks” on another island .. and “kulling” all the “impure” children.
    At some stage I’ll have to write about this in my blog. Maybe when I’m no crying.
    And yes, I’ve received many threats online. None of which I’ll repeat here as they really are THAT disturbing.

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  • Hi krome.obsession –
    It’s too bad an open web system allows the unrestrained spread of hatred against those who are just living an ordinary life.
    Pain like yours is the price we pay as a society to retain Freedom of Speech and other supposed inalienable rights — but there’s no hiding from the fact how this sort of hatred hurts me but savages you more to the core in tender spots I in which I can never be wounded because of my color and inexperience in living a minority life a majority of the time.
    Do you respond to the hate or do you just let it slide away somewhere else?

    Like

  • It’s easier to think of something to say when the person is standing in front of me, such as with comments like “You people should get a job and stop asking for hand outs” or “You’re not one of those black girls that beats their husband are you?”, yes, shockingly enough the last landlord I had actually asked me that. My reply was to ask her if she needed new glasses, and when she replied why, I smiled and said that her anti-glare coating must have worn off. I do believe that remark was too far above her head for her to understand, but she was very annoyed and they refused to renew the lease for unstated reasons a few months latter.
    The situation online was scary though. I actually had problems sleeping for a few weeks because of how disturbing some of the threats were, as they were concerning my daughter. I don’t know what shocked me more, that someone could harbor such hate simply because my mother had fallen in love with a man of colour, or that they could fathom such disturbing things to do to me and my daughter because of this. To be honest, after receiving no help from authorities I told my chatroom friends about what was happening. I haven’t herd from him or any of his friends since, that was over a year ago now, I never asked what they did.
    I do want to share a little something though, this isn’t over the internet, but I think it’s important.
    Last year a friend of mine, his best friend, and his girlfriend were walking into town from the best friends house. The had not been drinking, but planed to, so they’d left the cars at home. Because it was such a lovely night (seems it’s summer around Christmas/New Years here) they had decided to walk instead of taking a taxi. My friend’s and his best friend are both in the army, both very tidy guys, both black. His girlfriend is a really lovely young lady, she works for the local SPCA, she’s white. As they came down the main drag the passed the primary school and noticed the fence was all bashed in, like someone had driven their car into it (it’s brick along the bottom and large metal railing). My friend called the police, as you do. The next thing they know three police cars show up, cops with batons screaming “get on the ground” and pushing his girlfriend out of the way and they slam my friend and his best friend into the part of the fence that is still in one piece, and then onto the ground. They were kicked, punched, and beaten with the batons while his girlfriend could do nothing but scream in horror.
    I’m not mentioning this because of the injustice done to them, though it was horrible, I’m mentioning this because of the trauma his girlfriend suffered. She was terrified. She broke it off with him because of this. Of course, love is stronger than hate and they were back together a few months latter. But here is what’s important. It’s not simply one set of people that are effected by this hatred, it is EVERYONE. How would others feel being in her position, watching someone they love be beaten, all because they were the wrong colour and in the wrong place at the wrong time.

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  • I thank you for your beautiful comment, krome.obsession.
    The story you share is horrible and awful but, unfortunately, not unique enough to inspire awe in those who know better.
    I am glad you are still online and telling your story and you did not allow them to scare you into silence.
    Sometimes hate needs to be met head-on like my post today and your incredible comments.
    We shout them down with the truth of our experience because bringing the bristling light of attention to the dark areas in which they creep condemns their behavior in a public forum.
    I just wish they’d fight back with real names and email addresses so we could meet them on the same terms we live on the web.

    Like

  • Dave –
    Yes, I knew Wendy. Her sister died of breast cancer at 60. Wendy leaves behind a young 7-year-old child. She was unmarried.
    I wrote about her a bit here:
    http://urbansemiotic.com/2005/07/11/secret-to-good-writing/

    Like

  • This is my first time commenting, but your post struck a chord with me. I used to have a separate blog called bipolar bloggo, which I’ve since merged with my main/current blog. About a year ago, I received several comments (that I’ve left published) from a blogger who railed about how I should get off my lazy ass, and people like us should do etc., etc. I was going through a rough period at the time and was having trouble leaving my apartment.
    I wrote an entry quoting the commenter because of course I wished that I could just “snap out of it.” However, that isn’t the nature of the illness. He left more comments about how I was a liar because I said he remained anonymous, blah blah blah. I never bothered to clarify it as much as I really wanted to (he left anonymous tags on the tagboard that I deleted, then left non-anonymous comments).
    The reason I left it alone was because he was obviously baiting me. We went in a few circles about IP addresses and how he told me I couldn’t block him. His tone was threatening, but I wasn’t going to let him me keep from writing about my experience with bipolar depression. I never bothered responding to his last comment and that was that.
    Still, for months I was obsessed with explaining myself–how I wasn’t a liar, the whole anonymous tagboard message, and so on. Heh–I guess it still gets under my skin.

    Like

  • Hi Barb!
    It is lovely to meet you and thank you for stepping forward to share your experience with us.
    I have learned to just delete nasty comments. They are not worth the time and effort because if I publish them I need to respond to them.
    I work hard to actively value a certain tone here in this blog and that doesn’t mean everyone has to agree with each other, but we can have a thoughtful and respectful dialogue other without name calling or looking to hurt the other person.
    I hate reading blog comments that devolve into YELLING and hurt feelings. I can watch that kind of emotional bursting on television if I’m so inclined — I don’t want to read through it online.
    You should never need to defend who you are online or anywhere else. We are who we are and others may disagree with our opinions but too often that means to many people that the person is in jeopardy from those seeking to nullify the expressed opinion.

    Like

  • Yes, you’re right. Part of the reason I kept it published (maybe I’ll just delete it now) is because part of the point of the bipolar blog was to help fight stigma of mental illness. I guess I was using him as an example. :)

    Like

  • Hi Barb –
    I think using haters as examples is fine as long as they don’t ruin the greater tone and goodness you are trying to convey in your blog. There have been times here when I’ve gone ahead and published hateful comments just so I could smash them down into pieces where they belong.

    Like

  • Dave –
    What you say makes a lot of sense and I understand why you choose to leave the hate public on your blog. I couldn’t let it just sit there… unattended and taken at face value…
    Yes, it’s disappointing how easy for some to classify people based on race and ethnicity. People don’t come in boxes but so much free time is spent trying to box them up so they can be shipped right to the most convenient part of a mind.
    The love of football does overwhelm any rational discourse about race and equality. Someone said last week in Pro football over 60% of the players in the NFL are Black but less than 10% of the coaches are Black and they wonder when that great divide between perceived ability and color will begin to properly balance out.

    Like

  • I really hope you find this hacker. I don’t know about the states, but in our country he could be done for computer misuse and possibly inciting racial hatred.

    Like

  • Thanks, Joe!
    The log files are extremely clear and every option remains open and viable.

    Like

  • Thanks for clarifying that, Dave.
    I think when we move beyond neighborhoods and churches and into multi-million dollar businesses like NASCAR and the NFL with interstate financial exchanges at stake there is a greater common good that needs to be served to help ensure equality among people and opportunities for everyone and that rights are protected and re-established if there’s any doubt and the job of overseeing how it all plays out belongs to the federal system of governance.

    Like

  • Hello
    It is a very sad thing that some people have to express such hatred and take action against others. Whatever the reason.
    What is particularly sad, though, is that race is the most arbitrary reason of all to hate someone; I have lived and worked in Africa, Europe and the Caribbean. I have met wonderful people of every tone of skin you can imagine. I have met a lot of sly and nasty people too. Can’t say I ever noticed any correlation between skin colour and character (but regional culture and humour has always been appreciated). Funnily enough, the least well off and those who got an unlucky roll of life’s dice tend to be the most positive in their outlook, and the happiest.
    I was brought up to not really notice the colour of people’s skin. I’m a little saddened (although I’m sure it’s a quantifiable fact) that different races and creeds are segmented in the US. The only way we can really get people over their prejudices is to remix society and have everyone live together. Sadly, I keep hearing that people are getting more and more separated; the rich still getting richer, the poor still getting poorer.
    Peace be to all.

    Like

  • Hi fruey –
    I agree that sort of dedicated DOS attack is nonsense.
    You are right the separation is still strong in America. There was an attempt in the 60′s and 70′s to desegregate and come together by the force of law. It didn’t work well all the time and now the separation is happening all over again and the gains we made as a nation are being reversed and nullified and all to the stereotypical delight of the “put-upon” White Southern redneck. With a Roberts Supreme court starring Scalia and Alito and Thomas it probably isn’t going to get any better in my lifetime.

    Like

  • An American friend of mine visited me in England last year and expressed surprise that I lived in a neighbourhood which is predominantly Afro-Caribbean. He was particularly taken aback to see people of different colors talking to one another in the street.
    Race relations in England arent perfect by any stretch of the imagination but it seems to me that any country that seeks to segregate people on racial grounds can only be meaner, less vibrant and more insecure as a result.

    Like

  • You are absolutely, and sadly, right on the mark, Tarragon.
    When you say:
    “any country that seeks to segregate people on racial grounds can only be meaner, less vibrant and more insecure as a result.”
    You are unfortunately tracing the awful history and current state of American race relations.

    Like

  • amazing how much hate there is and how hard they work at it. truly depressing.
    but, i’m glad your host was able to get you up and running again so quickly and added some more security for you. maybe one day they will read and understand your words … and begin to let go of the hate.

    Like

  • The particular hater whose comments I left on my blog–it would have been poor form on my part to tear him up because it would have gone against my point of opening people up to those who have mood disorders, and how “normal” we are. It was exactly what he wanted, and if I had done so, then I would have been a perfect example of a “crazy” person.

    Like

  • I gotcha, Barb. Your argument makes a lot of sense, thanks!

    Like

  • ender –
    Welcome and thanks for the support!
    It is despressing how many people find sport in tearing down the work of others.

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  • With regards my own story. How similar is this from the days of Mr. King? You asked in the other article if we had come far enough, I believe this, and the fact that it isn’t that shocking, is proof that we have not. Not simply Americans, but the world. He had such a beautiful vision, and as was stated in many comments, the world has yet to listen.
    Last year I met a young Kenyan man at Uni. through our conversations I told him my chosen name was Kaya (not to be confused with my legal name which I don’t use for anything other than legal documents). He smiled and asked me if I had chosen it for any particular reason. I told him that a great man once shared a special vision with the world, he said “Until the colour of a man’s skin, Is of no more significance than the colour of his eyes, Me say war”. I explained that I chose this name to remember that there is beauty in the world, beauty in the darkness. People have become obsessed with the war of terrorism, but seem to pass over the simplistic nature of the war between belief, colour, creed .. it is the same in my eyes, only now it is extreme. An old war, a new face, that is not so new. He understood that while I did not share the faith, race, or even creed of this man that I shared the hope. After this I was lucky enough to spend many hours listening to him speak of his home, and he admitted he only shared this because he believed I shared his hope for a better future. I feel very lucky to have been able to receive that.
    Dave, you can extract IP’s from emails.
    Barb, you can range ban IP’s, I have my stalker on range ban at the moment.

    Like

  • With regards my own story. How similar is this from the days of Mr. King? You asked in the other article if we had come far enough, I believe this, and the fact that it isn’t that shocking, is proof that we have not. Not simply Americans, but the world. He had such a beautiful vision, and as was stated in many comments, the world has yet to listen.
    Last year I met a young Kenyan man at Uni. through our conversations I told him my chosen name was Kaya (not to be confused with my legal name which I don’t use for anything other than legal documents). He smiled and asked me if I had chosen it for any particular reason. I told him that a great man once shared a special vision with the world, he said “Until the colour of a man’s skin, Is of no more significance than the colour of his eyes, Me say war”. I explained that I chose this name to remember that there is beauty in the world, beauty in the darkness. People have become obsessed with the war of terrorism, but seem to pass over the simplistic nature of the war between belief, colour, creed .. it is the same in my eyes, only now it is extreme. An old war, a new face, that is not so new. He understood that while I did not share the faith, race, or even creed of this man that I shared the hope. After this I was lucky enough to spend many hours listening to him speak of his home, and he admitted he only shared this because he believed I shared his hope for a better future. I feel very lucky to have been able to receive that.
    Dave, you can extract IP’s from emails.
    Barb, you can range ban IP’s, I have my stalker on range ban at the moment.

    Like

  • Well said, krome!
    The only problem with Dr. King’s mission is he was the only face of his legacy.
    Others in his party tried to take up his torch but none have been able to replicate the passion and glory he brought to a noble cause.
    If he had perhaps better prepared those around him and if he had better sought to spread his message beyond himself as the sole public bearer of the message I believe his work would be much more widespread and accepted in the mainstream today.

    Like

  • Yes, that is an unsettling turn of events, Dave!
    Now it’s up to the Kings’ children to try to keep the legacy alive and remembered and relevant.
    It will be a hard task.

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  • You were right about making the post about Martin Luther King. He was a great man and should be remembered like one. No fuss about skin colour or race.
    A lot of these threats are based in fear and I would say that by doing these things they do nothing but showing the rest of us how scared they really are. After all, Dr King is dead…and his name will still stir the pot.

    Like

  • Thank you for the wonderful comment, christa. I agree the pot needs stirring and that may be the best legacy Dr. King has to offer the future.

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  • It’s a shame that some people are so afraid of ideas that they feel they need to block them out.
    My area has a good mix of people, but I hear all sorts of comments all the time that remind me that we haven’t solved our nation’s equality problems. It’s also segregated, if you look at the census figures.
    I had a friend who used to work for the state prison tell me that he was a little worried about driving in certain areas for fear of being pulled over for “driving while black.” This was even though he was working for law enforcement as a correctional officer.
    I always thank God that things have improved from the past, however. I can’t imagine what it was like 30 or 40 years ago.
    But we still have a far way to go.

    Like

  • Chris!
    When you hear nasty comments — do you say anything to the person — or do you just let them go?
    Several of my UMDNJ graduate students get pulled over for “driving while Black.” One of the older students, who was an MD, said to the trooper, “I know why you pulled me over. I’m a doctor. I just moved here. Get used to me. You’ll see me around here all the time now.” It worked. He and the trooper would wave at each other from then on when they passed each other on the street.

    Like

  • David,
    It depends on the situation.
    You have to pick which battle to fight at times.
    I’ll usually try to gently steer them back to reality, if I can. I once heard a neighbor say “I hope blacks don’t buy the house for sale” in the neighborhood. I gave her a shocked look and said you can’t judge people until you get to know them. She acted contrite afterward and never mentioned the subject again.
    Most of the comments I hear are usually are “coded” because people are smart enough to not come right out and be nasty.
    In my county, it’s an older, poorer, north vs. the affluent, suburban, brand new subdivisions in the south filled with “McMansions.” Sometimes the comments are seemingly innocuous as “the county should split into two.” Of course, the dividing line would be between the north and the south. There has been the same type of discussion in Cook Co., Illinois also of splitting the county into two to remove the south part from the more affluent northern areas.
    Or, it will be a crack about how it seems that everyone wants to get addicted to drugs so they can get approved for Social Security Disability. Of course, they aren’t talking about the drug addicted teenagers and others in the wealthy neighborhoods who drive across the Skyway to the mean streets of Chicago to get their fixes.
    My wife has experienced comments along the lines of “I didn’t realize you were foreign. Your name is American.”
    The only time I’ve heard really nasty comments has been when I was in Kentucky when I was younger. It was shocking, but I was too young to do anything about it. I does affect my view of the south as compared to the North and the Midwest.

    Like

  • Hey Chris –
    Your entire story — with all your perfect examples — describes Lincoln, Nebraska and Omaha, Nebraska and North Loup, Nebraska… all the haunts of my youth and I find that scary and a little crazy!
    “Turning” is another code phrase. Our real estate agent used it when she was talking about her mother’s house in the Bronx near Fordham University. She said the family urged her mother 30 years ago to sell the family mansion “before the neighborhood turned” and when she didn’t her house value dropped by $250,000 because those doing the turning — the Whites fleeing and the Blacks moving in — turned the area so fast you had to sell at just the right time or you risked selling to low or not selling at all.

    Like

  • The real estate issue is interesting.
    There are fights about allowing apartment buildings vs. single family homes. People seemed to be fearful of allowing apartments to be built because they are afraid people getting Section 8 might end up moving in at some point.
    Efforts to build new houses seem to be focused on having builders build more expensive and larger houses — maybe it is to gain more property taxes or maybe it keeps the poor out of the area. Not too many people getting Section 8 can afford to buy a $450,000 “McMansion.”
    Also, there’s a city in our county that voted to deny permission to WalMart to build a store. We have a WalMart in our city and it’s filled with all sorts of people from all over the county — both shoppers and workers. A majority of the employees are African-Americans. It’s a true melting pot where people from all backgrounds come together in search of low prices and groceries.
    While the argument against WalMart was that it wasn’t a union store, I wonder if some of the opposition is because it might draw a lot of people who live in the northern part of the county to their city seeking low prices?
    Another possible “coded” battle is an effort against public transportation. Our county has a bus system that only runs to certain points in the southern part of the county (i.e. the county courthouse). Another government funded public transit system doesn’t run south of a certain street. A lot of northern county people are asking that more public transportation be offered so that people can get to work and recreation. A lot of southern county people say it’s a waste of money and nobody uses public transportation because cars are so plentiful.

    Like

  • Fantastic analysis, Chris!
    You are drilling down into the core of it.
    I never understood why Wal-Mart wasn’t wanted everywhere — that chain brings big jobs and small prices. Lincoln has one on the outskirts of town and Wal-Mart has been pushing to get another store into the center of town. Now I understand why the City Council keeps killing the Wal-Mart purchase applications! They say it will kill the small businessman, and I’m sure that’s true, but it has to mostly be about turning the neighborhood and not about building the bottom dollar.

    Like

  • WalMart recently built a store on a street that borders Chicago in Evergreen Park, Illinois. They received 25,000 job applications, 90% from Chicago residents, according to news reports. http://www.chicagobusiness.com/cgi-bin/news.pl?id=19286
    Chicago officals now lament the fact that the store is virtually in Chicago, but they get no piece of the action because they wouldn’t allow WalMart to build in the city.
    http://www.buffalonews.com/editorial/20060128/1003925.asp
    In earlier debate about allowing a WalMart, Chicago approved a store in a poor neighborhood, but wouldn’t allow another in a middle-class neighborhood. Subsequently, they disapproved WalMart leading to the Evergreen Park store. An alderman said that the store would have brought sorely needed jobs to her district in a 2004 news report. “Take a ride in my area and see what I am dealing with day in and day out. There’s a lack of jobs and opportunity,” Emma Mitts said in support of the jobs that WalMart would bring.
    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/5069992
    I’m convinced that people in wealthy areas are fearful that the “unwashed” masses will flock to a WalMart store in their city or town and that’s why there is such fierce opposition. Of course, nobody would ever admit it.

    Like

  • Love those links, Chris. What great reads!
    I had no idea the “sort” of folk Wal-Mart brings into a community but if you think about it the people who need Wal-Mart the most are the poor and not the wealthy.
    Thanks for bringing this so clearly to our attention!

    Like

  • Chris, you are brilliant.
    This brings up an interesting situation that has been drifting in my mind for awhile now. I am Kiwi, born, breed, and bitching. My partner, on the other hand, is American. Once his studies are finished he plans to return to America, as you do, and I (of course with my children) will go with him. He has tried to reassure me that there will be no “backlash” due to my ethnicity, but I am far from convinced. I worry that I will be treated badly because I am not American, but worse, I worry that my children (though they are very young) will be treated even worse. This has nothing to do with the fact that it’s America, I would have this fear no matter where I was going. Actually, it would probably be worse if I was going to Australia because then there would be the whole rugby issue as well. On one hand, it will be exciting because no one will recognize my last name (as my legal last name is associated with a gang here, thus why my children don’t share it), but on the other hand it may breed a whole new problem.

    Like

  • Hi Krome,
    Thanks for the compliment!
    Most people are pretty cool in America — I bet things will be fine for you when you move here. There are a few bad people here and there, but for the most part, they are few and far in between.

    Like

  • Oh, don’t get me wrong. I am a lot of friends in America, some of them are so dear to me that we call each other brother and sister (I have one American sister and one American brother). The irony of this is that I’d always planed to study in America because, to put it bluntly, there is no better place in the world to study eCommerce. I guess it’s simply the fear of the unknown. which add’s to this thread rather nicely actually. The fear of being mistreated causing ill preconceptions that end up turning into more problems than would have happened had the “path” been left open.

    Like

  • The Danish Cartoons

    I came across this blog the other day: David W. Boles' Urban Semiotic and was struck by this post: The Nigger Lover

    Like

  • The Danish Cartoons

    I came across this blog the other day: David W. Boles' Urban Semiotic and was struck by this post: The Nigger Lover

    Like

  • The Danish Cartoons

    I came across this blog the other day: David W. Boles' Urban Semiotic and was struck by this post: The Nigger Lover

    Like

  • Pingback: Dithering the Color Line with Violence | Urban Semiotic

  • Pingback: Kanye West Waves the Queer Flag « Boles Blogs

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