Yesterday I posted a question on an open water swimming FaceBook site about leads on ethically and environmentally sourced swimming wetsuits, adding a link on environmental racism around neoprene factories. Within an hour I got a message saying the post had been removed because the piste (sic) was about how wetsuits are racist and they felt it was inappropriate.
A real knee jerk reaction, based on what? Fear that I would enter into some kind of social justice tirade on a swimming forum? Tribal loyalty to the neoprene tradition, effects be damned? Anti Black racism issue fear or fatigue? I was surprised and thought it was really strange, as everywhere else there is so much openness to see and connect the dots on how Western society is racist. It touches conversations where it was hidden, and thank heaven so many Black writers, speakers, comics, artists, friends and acquaintances are speaking and being heard more. May it continue, and not just be “trending now”.
And for the question itself, what kind of moderator can’t see the sense in looking for a product that isn’t directly tied to illness and injustice? Wearing something made from a known carcinogen, even if only at the manufacturing level not a concern?
I looked for a way to respond to the moderator. Didn’t seem to be one, and I was reluctant to put my response out there for all when the issue, I hoped was with this person; I also didn’t want a public call out to be my first conversation on the page. I wondered if perhaps I would be blocked if I continued in that vein, and the pros and cons of making a stand.
After some thought–not a lot, I reposted the question without the link, and soon had some good suggestions. Others saw the value in a more “green” suit.
I now I feel I should have pushed back more, at least appealed to site members somewhat to look into the issue for themselves, and use the opportunity to spread the conversation about anti-Black racism, what is known as Cancer Alley seems to be a prime example. I have not given up hope that it’s possible to get through the moderator’s fears to allow at least a conversation. When I looked again at my second post I realized it was pretty whitewashed, no mention at all for my social-ethical reasons for wanting to avoid neoprene. I will take another stab at it, and if I do get blocked, that site isn’t local for me anyway, and I did find one connected with my own waterways. It will be interesting to see what may come up when I bring up the topic three, or if others have already done so.