Some months back, I turned off comments on this blog for good. I have always maintained an affection for comments, despite everything, and I really do believe that comments at their best can offer a kind of populist counterweight to bad ideas and bad writing. I have, in my time online, seen essays that did not get the kind of criticism they deserved from other writers get delightfully ripped to shreds in the comments. But over time, I gave in; the signal-to-noise ratio, never very good even in the best of days, had gotten too bleak.
Still, comments remain live on some of my old posts. They require approval before they’ll post. These days, I get a small trickle of comments on them. Some are spam. Most are comments on posts that got the most traffic, naturally. One post in particular, though, has never stopped getting random comments, despite never having gotten many views. That’s the post I wrote, pleading with people to stop making fun of “black names.” (Especially in a world where every bourgie white parent is naming their kids Keighleeee and Mansion.) Here is the kind of comment that still regularly pops up in the filter, never to be released:
Hundreds, like that. At least one a month or so, for a year-and-a-half old post.
I imagine being black on the internet must be like getting slapped in the face, over and over again, by strangers whose faces you can never quite see.