Sunday, January 29, 2012

Conversations With Christelyn Karazin

History has shown that whenever a social justice movement becomes successful, there’s often an incoming rush of latecomers who run in with the sole purpose of profiting from that movement’s success. This is what has happened with the Black Women’s Empowerment social justice movement. There’s been a crowd of latecomers who want to wrap themselves in the BWE banner, yet refuse to practice BWE values.

I believe Christelyn Karazin is one such individual. Up to now, I’ve remained publicly silent in my reactions to her inappropriate behavior. I strongly disliked the idea of taking up space with this type of thing at my other blog, The Sojourner's Passport. Unfortunately, Christelyn seemingly has taken my public silence as an invitation to continue engaging in inappropriate behavior. This is why I’m finally speaking out about this. And why I'm speaking about it here. Enough is enough.

Christelyn has done a number of inappropriate things to various BWE bloggers, but I’ll only focus on what she’s done in terms of me. And since---unlike Christelyn---I don’t publish other people’s private emails without their permission, I’ll only publish my reply emails in response to the hysterical emails Christelyn sent me. Christelyn has also chosen to misrepresent and try to "spin" what has been happening behind the scenes.

Here’s what has actually been going on:

Christelyn Karazin engaged in a pattern and practice of sitting back and passively allowing BWE opponents to use her forum to denigrate BWE bloggers’s work. Here's one of several examples of this.

If you’re going to let people use your forum to snipe at BWE bloggers behind their backs, don’t call yourself a BWE "sister." Letting BWE opponents use your platform to denigrate BWE bloggers is contrary to the core BWE values of reciprocity and solidarity with Black women’s interests.

Christelyn seemingly didn’t (and doesn't) care about BWE bloggers being denigrated on her forum. But she does care--a lot--if she sees anything that could possibly be construed as criticism of her actions.

Christelyn was apparently very upset about a comment I made at my own blog expressing my displeasure with her choice to let individuals use her forum to backbite BWE bloggers. I was also not pleased about the segment of BWE readers who are happy to reap the benefits of BWE bloggers’ work, but were comfortable silently watching while BWE opponents denigrate BWE bloggers. I said the following to one such commenter (who was vigorously arguing in defense of a White male blogger, but had said nothing during at least one conversation at Christelyn’s house when BWE bloggers were being denigrated),

". . . that you've brought it up...I don't recall you defending any of the BW bloggers who were being trashed at one particular conversation over at Christelyn's house. Certainly not the way you're actively jumping to Jonathan's defense here, and trying to scold me with the Word of Allah (I could be wrong about the attempted scolding angle, but that's what it feels like).

And all because I'm not inclined to take seriously the "never get a job and live your dream" preachings from 20-somethings who fit into the category I described in my initial earlier comment about them. You're entitled to defend him against what you feel is an attack if you wish (I'll get to that angle later in this reply). That's fine. None of that changes my views about his "live your dreams" preaching. Which is also fine.

I'm just fascinated by the marked contrast between what you're doing here for Jonathan and what you did during that other conversation.

You know...the conversation in which you were a participant where Christelyn passively sat back and---without saying anything in response---allowed individuals to use her forum as a platform for denigrating her BW blogger colleagues. The same BW colleagues who actively helped her (out front and behind the scenes) with her NWNW campaign. Once it was brought to my attention, I found all of that quite fascinating to watch.

Let me emphasize that this is NOT about agreement. I'm NOT looking for agreement---I'm interested in reciprocity. There were a couple of readers during that conversation who demonstrated reciprocity by noting the benefit they got from some of the BW bloggers who were being trashed. That's all I'm talking about.

When somebody benefits and helps ME in some way, then I don't let anybody denigrate that person in MY presence without at least speaking the truth about how that person helped ME. That doesn't mean that whatever criticism of the person who helped me is necessarily wrong or incorrect.

It just means that I'm going to add my truthful, positive testimony to the conversation about that person. So that the picture being painted during that conversation of the person who helped me is full and complete. As opposed to lopsided and distorted because the benefit that person brought to me was never mentioned when they were under attack.

Anyhoo, that's all I'm going to say about that little episode at this point.]… This conversation is the one I had in mind. And I recall thanking [another reader] in particular at the time for the decency and reciprocity she (and some other readers) demonstrated during that particular conversation. I’ve heard about people being allowed to use that platform to launch attacks on Evia during another conversation at that same blog, but I hadn’t read that particular conversation. If you did as you described during that conversation, then I applaud and commend you for demonstrating decency and reciprocity.

Bottom line: The cowardly snipers who launch their backbiting attacks while hiding behind the shield of another blog host’s forum need to find the courage to take their gripes directly to the bloggers they’re angry with.

I only linked to the conversation above because you said that you didn’t know what conversation I was talking about. At this point, I’m done with talking about any of that—I’m not going to make any further comments about that during this conversation. Expect Success!"

This is the point at which Christelyn started sending me hysterical emails. She claimed not to comprehend why any BWE blogger would take issue with her pattern of letting BWE opponents use her blog to take potshots at BWE bloggers. She also claimed not to understand why I was not interested in producing written content for use in her ongoing self-promotion projects. This is what I finally told her:


I thought it was clear from our previous communications that I don't want any further involvement with you. As far as I'm concerned, you're an unprincipled, self-promoting opportunist who's looking to pimp the BWE social justice movement for your own financial gain.

You got over on BWE before. You previously used many of the BWE bloggers and our support of your NWNW campaign when it was convenient. And then later on, when it was convenient, you passively allowed individuals to use your blog to denigrate and take verbal potshots at BWE bloggers---without challenge or comment from you. You apparently think that sort of behavior on your part is okay. And now, you're asking me and others to do your homework (i.e. answer a series of questions and contact Evia on your behalf) as if I have nothing better to do and with less than two weeks notice at that. Homework that is in active support of your ongoing self-promotion.

Since it apparently didn't register with you the first time, let me repeat what I told you the last time you emailed me:


Did Dr. King allow people to publicly use his microphone . . .

at his pulpit . . .

in his church . . .

to denigrate his colleagues in the SCLC?

Or to denigrate his colleagues in the struggle in the NAACP Legal Defense Fund?

Or to denigrate any of his colleagues in the overall civil rights struggle?

That's exactly what you did as far as I'm concerned. And since you apparently feel that this sort of behavior would have been/is appropriate, it's not my place to try to dissuade you from it. It's not my place to try to tell other people how to run their pulpits/blogs.

Furthermore, I don't have to know the intimate details of a dispute to take a principled stand with commenters who have gripes against other BWE bloggers. I'm not talking about so-called "taking sides," or fighting other BWE bloggers' battles. I simply tell the commenters who have gripes with So & So Blogger to take their gripe to So & So Blogger. I won't let people use my microphone, at my pulpit, in my "church" to launch attacks against my BWE colleagues. They need to create their own platform for that, or better yet find the courage to take their problem to that particular blogger.

I'm not a rapper who's involved in some petty "beef" with anybody. I'm involved in a social justice movement in support of African-American women. Perhaps you don't see BWE blogs as being part of a social justice movement. But I do. However you see it, with all due respect, you're not a neutral bystander in terms of what you allow to go on at your pulpit in your "church." What you let happen without challenge in your pulpit and "church" IS an endorsement of that behavior. Similar to how people are responsible for what they knowingly permit to go on in their houses.

And since in front of your thousands of readers---you let people publicly use your pulpit to launch public sniper attacks against women I (perhaps mistakenly) thought you saw as colleagues in the BWE struggle, then it's perfectly appropriate for the reaction (whatever it might be) to also be in public.

You let them use your forum as a launching pad for attacks against BWE bloggers in the context of a public conversation, so the reaction should also be in the context of a public conversation. It's all about reciprocity.

. . . This is my final rotation with you about this, because obviously you don't get it and you believe that sort of behavior is appropriate. I don't.

You're trying to reframe the issue as being about "criticism." That's not what I'm talking about. I don't care about that.

My issue is your betrayal of some people who helped you. The betrayal by your choice to freely allow others to use your platform/resources to take sniper shots at some of the people who helped you---without comment or challenge. People who are engaged in a social justice movement (BWE) that you purport to be in solidarity with. However mild those sniper shots may be is not the point for me.

The point for me is you freely allowing people to use your resources to make those attacks in the first place. As far as I'm concerned, that's unprincipled behavior on several levels. It's unprincipled in the context of a solidarity with a social justice movement. And it's unprincipled on a personal level.

I don't let folks use my platform or resources to take shots at people who are colleagues in a struggle that I'm participating in. I haven't let people use my platform to take shots at you---no matter whether those shots were mild or harsh. Correct or incorrect. Because that's not the point for me. The point is about solidarity and reciprocity. Reciprocity means that I don't let people borrow my resources to attack colleagues in a struggle. I also don't let folks freely use my platform or resources to take sniper shots at anybody who has helped me in the past.

That doesn't mean that I automatically engage in some debate or conflict with the wanna-be snipers. Many times I simply tell them to take their issue/gripe directly to the person they're upset with. And to stop trying to use my platform or resources to work through their gripe with somebody else. I believe that this is common courtesy for: (1) the people I'm in solidarity with; and (2) the people who have helped me. But if you don't feel that way, you just don't feel that way. And like I said before, it's not my place or assignment to try to dissuade you from behavior that you think is appropriate.'

Christelyn, I have neither time nor interest in dealing with someone who continues to demonstrate a lack of reciprocity. I thought I had already made myself clear the last time we had this issue of reciprocity. Obviously, you still do not understand and that is fine, just don't bother me with your requests.

Khadija Nassif"

This was the point at which Christelyn went into emotional overdrive and had a series of public tantrums. Without my permission, she published a highly-edited (edited by her) portion of my private reply email. I got reports that she was whining about me on various social media. Throughout her public whinings, Christelyn chose to misrepresent what had actually happened. Nevertheless, I said nothing in public. Faith ultimately had to respond to Christelyn’s series of destructive antics with this post.

Christelyn never apologized for publishing edited portions of my private reply email without my consent. And she only took down that particular post because several of her readers told her to do so.

Recently, Christelyn went into emotional overdrive--yet again--in reaction to this post at Halima’s blog. She sent in a hysterical comment in response to this conversation over there. Then Christelyn started bombarding me (along with some other BWE bloggers) with a series of unwelcome, hysterical emails. I replied as follows:


You are irrational. And you're engaging in revisionist history. I would suggest that you seek professional counseling. Because your public (and private) hissy fits demonstrate an extreme lack of emotional discipline.

You seem to have forgotten about how you published a portion---a portion that was highly edited by you---of a private email conversation we had. And you did this without my consent. You never apologized for that utterly inappropriate behavior on your part. And you only took down that post after some of your readers told you to do so. This episode was after you had engaged in a pattern and practice of allowing BWE opponents to use your comment section to denigrate various BWE bloggers. We had a private email conversation about how your choice to let trolls use your forum to denigrate other BW bloggers---accompanied by silence from you---demonstrated a lack of solidarity and lack of reciprocity on your part. You blew off the concerns I raised about this behavior of yours---talking to you directly did not help---at all.

All of the above-described behavior on your part (plus your attempts at recruiting various BWE bloggers to produce written content to promote your personal projects and interests) is what Faith responded to. And this behavior pattern of yours speaks to another long-term problem with what you've been doing: You want to wrap yourself in the BWE banner when it's obvious that you have zero comprehension of core BWE values. And you refuse to honor BWE values.

What you did when you chose to let trolls use your blog to denigrate other BW bloggers showed that you don't understand the concept of reciprocity. Your little tantrum over at Halima's house about Red Tails being so-called just a movie shows that you don't understand the concept of putting BW's interests first and foremost. That flick was so-called "just a movie" in the same sense that it was "just a seat on a bus" that Rosa Parks got arrested over.

And any Black person who continued to finance that bus system after Ms. Parks was arrested was not acting in any kind of solidarity, sisterhood, or anything else positive with other Black folks. Any BW who financially supports the erasure of BW from their own history (the latest example being Red Tails) is not acting in any kind of solidarity, sisterhood, or anything else positive with BW's interests. These basic concepts of reciprocity and putting BW's interests first are not rocket science.

You presume too much. I don't care about you; and I'm indifferent to the fate of your projects. I noticed that your tantrum-comment over at Halima's house centered around your personal projects and prospects; and not about furthering the BWE movement. As I told you before, I would prefer not to receive any future communication from you. However, I do care about the BWE social justice movement. I don't like to see it being sabotaged from within by individuals who want to wrap themselves in the BWE banner (mostly for personal financial gain) while refusing to practice BWE values. Good riddance to bad trash."

I truly hope Christelyn will cease and desist from seeking to involve me in her drama. I’ve repeatedly told her that I don’t want to receive any future communications from her. I’ve also told her that I don’t want any involvement with her. Enough, already.