On the reductionist flamewar called Racefail 09 and the retroactive pseudonymity of Micole Coffeeandink

In 2009, an enormous flamewar erupted in science fiction fandom when race reductionists who claim to be intersectionalists wanted to talk about race as an isolated phenomenon—they hated talking about class so much they made "class issue" a square on their racist bingo card.

It began when Jay Lake and Ben Peek wrote blog posts arguing that women and people of color needed to be better-represented in f&sf. Then a white woman, Micole Coffeeandink, criticized their efforts by comparing them to "white men of varying political allegiances who try to discuss racism, sexism, and colonialism", and the flames of war began to burn. For more, see the racefail 09 flamewar, a timeline.

The only amusing thing about the Racefail '09 flamewar is that if you use dictionary definitions, no racists were involved. In Monty Python terms, it was the People's Front of Judea versus the Judean People's Front.



During Racefail 09, Coffeeandink quoted me out of context to misrepresent my beliefs. I've never said racism no longer exists or matters. During the Civil Rights struggle, I bled from the blows of racists. I believe racism will matter until the last racist is dead.

Being a democratic socialist, I understand racism differently than neoliberals and identitarians do. I agree with historian Eric Williams that “Slavery was not born of racism: rather, racism was the consequence of slavery,” and with Malcolm X that “You can't have capitalism without racism.”

Coffeeandink's side in Racefail 09 hated talking about class so much that it's a square on their racist bingo card. Her only comment on class came late in the flamewar—her statement she sees class as "a significant axis of oppression separate from but interacting with race and gender" sums up the neoliberal view. By disconnecting class from race, they can ignore the basic privilege in any capitalist society, the privilege of wealth.

Micole and her friends claim I outed her during the flamewar. That's impossible, because she had been out for years. Her LJ was entirely public and searchable by Google. She was using her very rare first name as her LJ handle. She used her full legal name on her LJ whenever she was promoting her appearances at conventions or the publication of one of her short stories. A popular web site, Fantasy Magazine, hotlinked her legal name with her LJ for two years, and she never objected. The only way she could have outed herself more thoroughly would have been to buy ads announcing where she was. But she didn't need to do that because Google had her back. At the time, if you typed in her first name, she was always one of the first hits. The only other Micole that Google knew about then was a stripper or maybe a porn actress.

During Racefail, Micole and her friends began compiling lists of everyone who disagreed with their race reductionism, so I was fool enough to compile one of my own. Worse, I was stupid enough ironically claim I was outing her, which I thought was funny because she was so very out.

More fool me.

The internet doesn't do irony.

Micole announced that she was retroactively pseudonymous. Her friends scrubbed their links to her. She hid her history thoroughly to pretend she had been pseudonymous, but two things show she knew she was not pseudonymous:

1. On March 7, a week after she claimed I had outed her, she admitted in what was then a public post addressed to Kathryn Cramer:
Please also explain how I was hiding my identity from you or the Nielsen Haydens in a LiveJournal pnh friended a few years ago, with a user profile that lists my very identifiable first name, in a post that is signed with my very identifiable first name.
2. Several weeks after I supposedly outed her, she changed her user name to Mely and made many of her posts private. If she truly believed she had been pseudonymous all along, why did she change her public record?

Her complaints about outing ring especially false since she had supported her community's earlier effort to dox and terrorize Zathlazip, who, unlike Micole, had actually made an effort to be pseudonymous.

For much too much more: The Retroactive Pseudonymity of Micole “Mely” Coffeeandink.

ETA: There's more about Coffeeandink's desire for retroactive pseudonymity in Fanfic has a child porn problem, and more about Samuel R. Delany.

ETA 2: A call for kindness inspired by Requireshate and Racefail 09

ETA 3: Tidying up: An apology for Julia Sparkymonster, Micole Coffeeandink, and Mary Dell