Every now and then, I post my thoughts on an under-developed idea … something that isn’t ready for a more complete article, but that I want to “get out there” anyway. I call it “Thinking Today.”
There are more developments with “The Mighty.” Unfortunately, things are getting worse, not necessarily its content, but how the management is treating the disabled writers who are trying to change the site, including those who have made good-faith efforts to engage rather than just condemn:
Oops, The Mighty did it again...and again...and again
Cara Liebowitz, That Crazy Crippled Chick - January 11, 2016
An open letter to The Mighty: being mighty outspoken means getting mightily shut out
Carly Findlay - January 12, 2016
Based on these two pieces, I have a question and an analogy:
Why does “The Mighty” even have a special private Facebook group for contributing writers? What I mean is why does a website designed to publish formal articles spend any time and resources at all on a separate comment section just for its writers? Is “The Mighty” an online magazine, or a therapy service? It seems like a guaranteed headache and hotbed of infighting, over important things, mixed in with petty bickering.
Suppose a group of white liberals obtained some generous capital investment to set up a high-quality website, the purpose of which is to improve white people’s attitudes towards black people. They invite people they assume to be “like minded” on “race relations” to submit articles, and they go out looking for good articles to publish. Over time, the site begins to develop a personality … which turns out to be something like the white liberal / pro-civil rights mindset circa 1975. There are lots of articles about “good” black kids “rising above” poverty and crime to become doctors and lawyers. Other articles praise black sports heroes and famous musicians … while carefully avoiding any who present a jarring, challenging image that might make white people uncomfortable. All of the articles are nominally “pro” black people, but most black people who read the stuff can’t stand it because it represents, at best, a particular approach to racial justice that is way past its sell-by date. When they criticize the site and try, from the outside and from the inside, to redirect it to a more inclusive, sophisticated, and black-centered orientation, the white contributors complain they are being silenced, that their views or race count, too, that white people have their own struggles with race that deserve to be heard. Others simply can’t comprehend why black people might not like what they are writing. After all, they’re good liberals, right? And what’s wrong with focusing on athletes and musicians and notable high achievers? What’s wrong with being positive? Why do you always harp on problems and conflicts? As far as social justice issues are concerned, that’s all very well, but nobody wants to read “negative” stuff like that. It’s not uplifting! There’s an audience for this kind of thing; we’re just serving it. As an extra bonus, there are tons of white writers patiently and impatiently explaining to black writers what words they should and shouldn’t use to refer to themselves.
That’s what I think is going on with “The Mighty,” only in the realm of disability. In retrospect, none of it is surprising, though that doesn’t make it any less disappointing and frustrating.