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.Read the whole post here.
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.
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: