Thursday, March 26, 2009

You left me outside and now you want in

Blogger yeloson talks about some of his personal frustrations regarding fandom and racial cluelessness. An excerpt:
A few years back, I went to GenCon, the largest tabletop roleplaying convention in the US. I arrived excited and eager to play, and a little sad my friends whom I had attended ComiCon weren't with me. I had just gotten out of the registration line and saw a person dressed up in blackface as a drow/dark elf. I flashed back just about 4 days before when a friend of mine had to leave ComiCon, completely shaking with hurt because someone thought it would be cool to get in blackface to dress up as Storm from the X-men.

The day before I flew back, I saw a newspaper headline, "Blacks are leaving Indianapolis, feel unwelcome". I wonder why?

I began to start looking hard at my hobby. Everything from artwork to social circles and the behaviors around it. I tried to start up conversations. Conversations with people who were intelligent, who I knew personally, who had no problem analyzing social behavior and how it affected play (after all, a roleplaying game is nothing but a group socially deciding imaginary stuff...).

But those conversations failed.

At first I thought I wasn't approaching it correctly, I tried different tacks, from talking about the raw representation of the artwork, to the historical issues of blackface, to, well... everything.

But see, my mistake wasn't that I was talking to intelligent, well read people - it was that I was continuing to mistake ignorance on the part of intelligent, well read people as unintentional. I was giving benefit of the doubt to the people who had the least excuse to be ignorant of both history and media. It wasn't not knowing, it was choosing not to know.

Instead of turning their minds to a legitimate question, "Hey, how did I NOT notice that all the bad guys are dark, or that the language used around orcs = the language used on native populations, or that even POC heroes are dehumanized with glowing eyes etc.?", instead the response was "You're crazy/reading too much into it/it's just a game/why do you care/you should find another hobby!"

That's right. "If you don't like it here, you can leave." And then they turn around and ask why there's so few POC in their hobby or their numbers are shrinking. (I went to GenCon SoCal that year, and all I saw were asian and hispanic kids playing Yu-Gi-Oh. I guess people of color aren't into geek stuff, right?)

But my story is not unique.
Read the whole post here.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Fantasy Novel: Amy Tan Meets Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

[info]coffeeandink asked people to recommend books by people of color. She got a response from Cindy Pon:
i've got a YA asian fantasy coming out in
may : Silver Phoenix

when i met with a [sci fi/ fantasy] publisher
at a writing conference last year, he had read the first
12 pages and said to me : "why is this fantasy?
this is amy tan meets crouching tiger."
like it was a BAD thing.

also : "asian fantasy does not sell."

i was crushed.
Fortunately, another publisher bought the book, and Silver Phoenix: Beyond the Kingdom of Xia is coming out from HarperTeen in April. Seriously, "amy tan meets CTHD" sounds like an elevator pitch, not a rejection reason.

It's called Silver Phoenix: Beyond the Kingdom of Xia, and I just preordered it (thanks to trade-ins to Amazon's game trade). I'd suggest you check it out, too.

A qucik summary of RaceFail '09

What is RaceFail '09? [info]daedala provided the shortest summary of RaceFail '09 here and it is as followed:
1. Elizabeth Bear writes a post about "how to write the Other"
2. Avalon's Willow critiques one of her books on racial tropes
3. Bear agrees unequivocally in writing
4. Commenters defend Bear in increasingly racist language.
5. Massive fail all over the internet.
6. Bear says that she was lying in 3. in order to model appropriate conversation.
But [info]daedala's summary barely scratches the surface. Here are other more detailed, but still brief summaries of events:

» A reader's digest of RaceFail '09 by [info]white_serpent, which [info]dmarley kindly provided some contexts here.
» A summary of RaceFail '09 by [info]withdiamonds.
» A Timeline (of the Great Cultural Appropriation Debate of Doom '09) (a summary of the beginning of RaceFail '09) by Willow.
» Because "tl;dr" shouldn't be an excuse (a summary of the middle and later part of RaceFail '09) by [info]rydra_wong.
» Endangering somebody is okay when you do it under your real name (a summary of later events of RaceFail '09) @ unfunnybusiness.
» Racefail09: Just This (a summary of the beginning and later part of RaceFail '09) by [info]mpoetess.

And here are a few longer overviews:

» A themed summary of RaceFail ‘09 in large friendly letters for those who think race discussions are hard by Ann Somerville.
» O HAI RACEFAILZ: Notes on Reading an Internet Conflict by [info]tablesaw.
» I have stayed quiet about something for too long, and I am ashamed by [info]popelizbet.

For a comprehensive overview though, [info]rydra_wong has provided an almost chronological link list here and you could follow the discussion at her gcadod 09 tag. And among the many, many people who have spoken up about RaceFail '09 are [info]asim, [info]bossymarmalade, [info]ciderpress, [info]coffeeandink, [info]deepad, [info]helsmeta, [info]inalasahl, [info]nojojojo, [info]oyceter, Seeking Avalon's Willow, [info]shewhohashope, [info]sparkymonster, [info]spiralsheep, [info]vito_excalibur, [info]vom_marlowe, [info]yeloson and [info]zvi_likes_tv.

The reason it’s called RaceFail ’09 is to distinguish this from past incidents, and also to acknowledge that not only it is ongoing, but that this could happen again.

Does that worry you, too?

To quote Nick:
If the Fail is happening anyway—if havoc is already being wrecked in the hearts of authors and fans of color, if people who shouldn’t be driven out are already being driven out (or at least too damn close to out)—then I kind of want it to impinge on the space of as many white fans and authors as is humanly possible. Yes, it IS too high a price for mere education, but if the price is being paid regardless, let’s goddamn GET something for it. The more clueless-but-well-meaning white folk (I firmly include myself in this category) see the hurt being caused and start reading, thinking, and trying to understand the things being said by the myriad brilliant fans/authors/theorists of color (and allies!) involved here, the more likely it is that something will have changed by the time the next high-profile racial screw-up rolls ‘round.

Tabletop Gamers And A Social Contract

From TaoJeannes in the forums, comes a great set of guidelines for both players and game masters that work for any system you decide to play with:

The GM Agrees That...
1. I will say "No" only when absolutely necessary to preserve the overall fun of the game for everyone. I will make it a goal not to say it even once.
3. I will provide each player with individual spotlight time as well as no more than 30 minutes total off-stage time.
4. I will maintain a strict and thick line between in-character and out-of-character behavior and attitude.
5. I will end on time.

The Player Agrees That...
1. I will preserve the PG-13 or below rating of the table and refrain from in-character or out-of-character behavior that is excessively racist, mysoginistic, violent, or sexual in nature.
2. I will avoid IC [in character] actions that ruin the fun for my fellow players, even if I am "just playing my character".
3. I will not excessively argue with the game master or other players over their IC or OOC (out of character) choices.
4. I will maintain a strict and thick line between in-character and out-of-character behavior and attitude.
5. I will refrain from off-topic chatter.

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