22 January 2009 @ 09:23 pm
ven ve voke up, ve had zese wodies.  
I am home with either a cold or a delayed hangover from Tuesday. Thank you so much whoever sent me that lovely warm cup of tea on my profile, I really need it today! ♥

In any case, here are some of my thoughts about the recent Cultural Appropriation debate of doooom, part six thousand and seventy eight. This makes four serious posts running; I know, I didn't expect this would ever happen either.

I've spent the last couple of days wondering if I had anything new to say and trying to find the right... tone for this post because, hah, as bossymarmalade says, the ironing is delicious. In a discussion wherein white people have called PoC/non-white people several racist and racially charged insults (perhaps intentionally, perhaps unintentionally, I cannot pretend to know what is in their hearts) that I will not repeat here and displayed a huge and varied amount of white privilege, PoC have been repeatedly:

  • called on their angry, impolite tone

  • been assigned motives and words that they did not even say

  • viewed to be arguing in bad faith and baiting

  • branded attention seekers.

  • I have to moderate myself at this moment in time because I am so angry that I don't trust myself not to be cruel and unfair if I don't and -- I expect better from myself, if not for myself.

    The discussion that Seeking Avalon's Willow and deepad started and many other PoC participated in and the points they made regarding cultural appropriation, different PoC experiences with life in general, the media and the effect that cultural appropriation has on our emotions, our narratives and our ideologies was derailed. Instead, the discussion became focused on accusations of reverse-racism, racism against white people!, classism, anti-intellectualism, jealousy and grandstanding etc and the arguments that followed.

    In fact, the whole focus and point of the discussion devolved into several PoC having to defend themselves, their integrity and their character for having a non-dominant-white-mainstream opinion and for expressing it. It became, as these discussions do without fail, almost completely about white people's feelings, white people's actions, white people's reactions and white people's needs. Even a discussion about cultural appropriation, about us and our representation? The whole conversation is appropriated, our concerns are very much silenced and lost in the furore.

    In the remainder of this post, there are a couple of thing I want to ramble about regarding my perception of the breakdown of communication in this debacle and the personal consequences for me. I did have an even longer post planned in my head but then I realised that I have already written the post I am able to write about the cycle of race discussions and the fallout for PoC [here] (regarding the cycle of race discussions) and [here] (re: BFP, Amanda Marcotte and the feminist blogosphere). There is better and more in-depth reading to be done at rydra_wong's massive link archive and sparkymonster's delicious [here].

    I do want to state up front how important it is to me that whoever reads this, how many number of people read this, be it one or five or ten, this post is not a place for clueless, slightly clued up or even clued-in white people/allies to have a Kumbaya moment and then move onto other more sparkly things. As the dust settles, I have seen a considerable number of white people repeatedly declare that their painful, difficult ordeal has been worth it, thanking and patting each other/themselves on the back and having a little cry or whatever it is people do when they feel like they have had a cathartic moment. And hey, it's not that I am denying that there is real fallout and emotional pain for white people or that they need a space to talk about their issues and our collective issues. Race discussions *are* hard for all of us. I do not begrudge clueless white fans these moments because it is about them sometimes and they need to process about the implications and fallout and where they want to go with the knowledge they have, how they apply it in real life and in their art, to make themselves truer? (better?) artists. And I most definitely appreciate all the allies who have stepped up and been so passionate these past weeks.

    However, in the intense and almost singular focus on clueless white people in this discussion and the often repeated statement that this was an opportunity to dialogue, that there is solace in the fact that it has been worth all the pain and difficulty, that they are somehow *glad*, the underlying assumption is that:

  • PoCs have emotional/intellectual catharsis after such discussions.

  • PoC's pain being part of an educational moment for clueless white people is worth it to PoCs because it's worth it to white people.

  • Anti-racism matters the same amount, in the same way to clueless white people, allies and PoC.

  • My own personal answer is, frankly no, I haven't felt any kind of catharsis. I'm pretty sure that the sacrifice of my dignity and watching other PoC being denigrated without any remorse isn't worth it so please stop talking for me and be more precise in your speech and own that you didn't really think about whether my pain and humiliation is worth your enlightening moment. And I can't walk away after a discussion and it's not about having a choice (even a forced one) about writing or not writing characters that are in my head. When we talk about race, we are often talking about our lives, it's deeply personal, it's how we related to the world, to people, to media, to everything.

    Language and fallacies

    There were number of statements that put forth ideas claiming to be "academic", "unemotional/neutral" and reasoned/logical used to either distract/derail the points and criticisms rasied by PoC, put the focus on white people's perception of being "attacked", ostracise and Other PoCs or defend appropriation/white privilege ideology. Funnily enough, many of these statements clearly committed several obvious formal, informal, inductive and relevance logical fallacies. I noticed:

    - various ad hominem attacks
    - a very special round of bulverism ("you are wrong about everything regarding race because (I say) you are abusers! therefore, you are wrong." and "you are wrong about race because you are a middle class classist PoC who isn't even a real PoC because I'm colourblind! therefore, you are wrong.")
    - deductive fallacies
    - fundamental attribution error ("how dare you say my friend is a racist!" when, in fact, no one did)
    - straw man arguments
    - post hoc ergo propter hoc ("I can help but think you are the cause of this problem; we never had any problem with cultural appropriation, race representation and being colourblind until you turned up in this conversation with the chip on your shoulder.")
    - fallacy of irrelevance
    - and my special favourite, the style over substance fallacy, which is also known in my head as the 'I don't like your tone + I say I'm an academic so I must know more than I assume you do' fallacy.

    and hey, I'm no rhetorician.

    The basis of some of the most misleading and bad-faith arguments were a string of equivocation, false precision, false attribution and poisoning the well fallacies ("She's obviously a woman hating, white hating, performance attention whatever and so she no one should believe anything she's about to say, even in her own defence!") made by several people in Elizabeth Bear's, Sarah Monette's and medievalist's posts to discredit Willow and deepad's readings as "emotional" and to contrast them with their self-defined purely "academic/educated" and thus, "neutral" analysis.

    Even the diversity2009 project, the founding inspiration and opening statement of which tried to paint PoC as mean and unhelpful as well as attempt emotional blackmail by telling us curiously to do "something instead of bitching" and nullifying the activism that many PoC do online and in real life, was born out of a syllogism that we, over on our side of the Atlantic, call a Thatcherite fallacy. I actually seriously didn't think I'd see anyone but the fictional Humphrey Appleby try:

    We must do something, this is something, therefore we must do this.

    Add in a soupçon of "you are a part of the problem or part of the solution" and several unresearched assumptions of anti-racism movement and PoC, sprinkle with the arrogance to think that you don't need to educate yourself about race, anti-racism activism and existing communities and efforts before finally offering yourself up as the great, white hope.

    All of this was liberally dosed with a fallacy that makes me ponder over the power of language as well as feel pain over this particular brouhaha: the false dilemma. False dilemma is a quagmire of logical thought and yet one that has been used to devastating effect throughout history, especially used incite and make a group with power feel under siege from a horde of... whatevers. It's a heavily emotional appeal to people that many do respond to with a heavily emotional reaction: you are for us or against us! (Us vs. Them, War or Being Wiped Out, let's go invade that country!) Which really, I think says a lot about people who say generalised declarative sentences regarding how rational man, the man, they themselves, the singular person are.

    False dilemmas are dangerous because they separate things that aren't polar opposites and have far more complex relationships. They are dangerous because set up false choices and force people to choose something they might not have chosen. They Other people not defined as within the we-group and they are dangerous because they force the world, the people, issues, the human experience into binaries when they are anything but. It loses all the stages of change and growth in between and it boxes things that are unfamiliar to us or outside our personal experience into our own defined categories. Instead of real understanding, we impose our own ideology and turn inwards in our thinking. And hey, that is not rational or logical, no matter how much people want to pretend it is.

    Eddie Izzard has a bit that illustrates the absurdity of a false dilemma: "Cake or Death!" The ones in this discussion were no more logical but speak powerfully of where our unexamined and unspoken base assumptions lie. "Academic reading" vs. "Emotional reading" -- the unspoken presumption being that academics and critical readings are somehow not biased, somehow do not carry the ideology of the theorists, somehow aren't affected by bias. "PoC" vs "Academics"/"PoC" vs. "educated", which, wow, huh? PoC concerns vs. white concerns, civility vs. anger, as if you can't be civil when you are angry. "Write PoCs perfectly" vs. "Don't Write them at all!", "write more thoughtfully" vs "I forbid you to write about PoC ever!" "grovelling" vs "keep my dignity". Good vs. Evil. Good vs. Racist.

    Why is it so easy to accept this mode of thinking and why is it so easy to conflate and confuse what is actually being said? I think sometimes, it's about being an ass and an almost obsessive need to win an argument by any means and to score "points" for the "team". Other times, and I'm generalising heavily here, I think it is connected the ingrained nature of privilege and how many of us need to refute and deny that we have any kind of privilege over others. Privilege is the norm and they become a way of life, a way of thinking and become part of our identities. Majority thinking, privileged thinking is so natural and connected to our identity as "us", as "decent, good people" and whatever we say or do, whatever we assume cannot be not problematic or wrong. Does that make sense? A challenge to systemic privilege is often interpreted a personal challenge and threat to the individual.

    A lot of this is filtered through and in language, hidden in which words we use and why we use them. Barthes said, language is never innocent. Language is used to communicate ideology, language perpetuates ideology and what seems so innocuous and simple isn't at all. The power of words is what many of us, especially you writers out there, love about language and why it is such a powerful tool. Calling a PoC an explicitly racially loaded term/phrase like orc for the sole purpose to humiliate and hurt them and tell them they are wrong? Isn't the same as calling a white person an orc, no matter how hard you try to justify it. We choose words because of their power, whether we consciously acknowledge that or not. When writers, amateur or professional, choose to put word in a particular context, they are communicating something more than just the dictionary meaning. If you call people abusers, if you call them a firing squad, if you talk about whores, emotionality, intelligence, I am going to ask you why you used those words and then I am going to tell you how my brain and my experience in these explicit contexts analyses your words and what exactly I hear you saying to me. It's so hard to argue about language and meaning because no one can see` inside another person's mind. We can only talk about the signal and its effect on us, the patterns that we see that may not be apparent to or acknowledged by those who have had the privilege to be unsee and unknow it.

    (This sounds rather fatalistic, like it's too virtually impossible to break out of a lifetime of being told one thing and thinking that you are innocent individual. It isn't, I know this because there are so many people out there reading, writing, taking action, resisting in big and small ways.)

    Accountability and responsibility

    Although I've participated in, seen, watched and read various race discussions in RL and online, I have to admit that I was very shocked and angry at what happened and the racist and extremely hurtful things that were said about the PoC who were talking about cultural appropriation and their misgivings with some of E. Bear's advice to white writers. I'm still trying to figure out why I expected more from this space and people in it when hey, we've been here before, but I did and I was especially hurt and disappointed at the explicit and public nature of the racist/racially charged/gender-specific insults that were used to hurt and discredit PoC.

    In connection to that, I wonder a lot about why it is that while white people are often given the benefit of the doubt, their intentionality privileged, their introspection lauded, their efforts applauded and thanked when they do the bare minimal decent thing, PoCs are extremely othered, often regarded as acting in bad faith and are targets of abuse. I wonder why it is that there aren't more people questioning this phenomenon and I wonder why that we don't talk about how the baseline of basic... respect and treatment is different for PoC and white fen in discussions of racism. Why is it that it's worse to be called out on white privilege or racist words/acts than it is to be receipient of privileged and racist words/acts? I wonder why that even though they say the same thing (at times *exactly* the same thing) white allies are listened to and thanked while PoCs are angry, overreacting and using language in a way that white people can't understand. Why, if we are all so colourblind and one people, one community, why is this double standard present and part of a pattern that won't stop repeating itself? Why do we have such a hard time calling each other out on this, admitting to this as a community that we brush it aside and talk about the common good and cookies and encouragement. Why are PoC so invisible?

    People are fearful of public reckoning and often, sorry seems less of a hard word and more of an impossible one. In many cases, people say they feel... bullied and bruised. So instead of taking responsibility for hurtful racist words and actions and holding themselves accountable for the mistakes made, regardless of the intentionality, they either clam up or disappear from public view because that's somehow easier. Accounting for one's actions does not equal self flagellation, abject humiliation or grovelling or whatever it is that people think they are being asked to do that frightens and offends them so terribly. It is a gesture of good faith and an acknowledgement that they understand what happened and what they did contribute to that situation. Holding yourself accountable for your words and actions is not throwing yourself under a bus and it is not the same as being abused; acknowledging mistakes were made by the people you love on your behalf that hurt the cause you so passionately argue you are an ally of is not taking responsibility for their actions and it is not throwing them under a bus. To claim so and make a dramatic exit is, well, it is what it is.

    Personally, I think the more we hold ourselves accountable as individuals and as a community, the easier it is to resist other people's privileges and our own. During the Harry Potter miscegenation imbroglio, bethbethbeth held herself accountable for her words and owned up to it. She left her original reaction post open and then, as she talked to people, she kept adding to it and adding to it how she was feeling and what was changing for her. I am sure it couldn't have been all easy but it's part of what makes me like and respect Beth as I do today. Beth has lots of integrity in all kinds of ways and her post was my first glimpse of that.

    Also, just in case it hasn't been made abundantly clear to anyone following this whole mess this by now, if you host a discussion about race in your journal or start a race discussion in livejournal, you must moderate the discussions in the comments if your aim is to have a serious conversation, be involved in anti-racism activism and do not want the subject to be derailed and leave PoC unsafe from racist insults. These conversations are fraught and need heavy moderation to protect people from themselves and to ensure a safe space for dissenting opinions of every kind. If you are committed to being anti-racist, then you have to be anti-racist PoC or ally when it's hard, not just when it's easy and people pat your back. I don't even think it's a "cause", I think that social justice is a common responsibility we have to each other.

    the state i'm in

    Every time this cycles round (and in the last couple of years, it has to be at least six), I grow colder inside. I don't debate very much, I don't go into people's journals very often to argue. I stay very safely entrenched in safe spaces and avoid as much public confrontation as I can. This has nothing to do with civility or niceness or not being angry. I think that anger is a driving force that makes some people extremely eloquent, drives their passion for change in themselves, in others and in their environments. Anger, education, these are all gifts to people who are willing to learn. I tend to do very little because, and I know I have said this before, I'm increasingly ceasing to care or consider people who are wilfully blind to their own privilege worth any consideration.

    I know that many white fans consider fandom as their "safe" space or at least, they think it *should* be their safe space. The subtext of that in regards to race and white privilege is that fandom is supposed to be a safe place for people not be challenged about their white privilege. For me, a safe space in regards to race is that no one gets to call me racist epithets or treat me or people who look like me with less respect, as accessories or dehumanise me because of my race. Those two models are incompatible and I'm not sure how to reconcile them or whether they can be at all.

    Fandom isn't a safe place for anyone. I had already known that fandom wasn't a safe place for me. I hadn't, though, realised quite *how* unsafe it is. As more of these discussions keep happening, I am weary and am wondering if it will ever end. I find myself pulling further away from fandom and am much more wary of people. Which isn't very fun because it means that I have limited fandom interaction with people in my *own* fandom.

    In real life/fannish application, this is the result. I'm planning to visit my cousins in LA this year and had the bright idea to go around about Escapade time, mostly to see smallbeer and arallara but also to see what the con was like and meet people from the internet.

    Today, I don't think it would be a good idea to go to Escapade or any other big meeting of fans ever again. I don't know if I would be safe. Based on the last six big race imbroglios in fandom, I am afraid that if I say something there regarding race that challenges someone's ideas and if they and/or their friends don't like what I say, they is a good chance they will say I have a chip on my shoulder, call me a racist for seeing race, say that I'm not intelligent to understand, that I'm too foreign to get it, they might call me an attention whore and then make perhaps a remark about my eyes and perhaps that's why I don't have much perspective. (yes, it happens to me sometimes!) Maybe most people will sit in embarrassed silence, maybe my friends will come to my rescue and they'll be a whole lot of shouting about big concepts and how I'm not evil and then people stop and talk about their feelings and hug and I'll just sit there, forgotten and humiliated and overlooked because, hey, *I'm* the problem, people studiously pretend to ignore me so we can all feel good again. I've had this happen in real life situations a few times, work, school and with friends. Only fandom, fandom is meant to be a happy place, a place I go to for fun. Why would I willing put myself in another situation that this is likely to happen again?

    And thinking like that is unfair because so many people in fandom have been very kind to me, very supportive of me and very good friends to me. The panel at con.txt went really well, even though zvi and I didn't end up talking about what we had originally planned to talk about.

    It's unfair to be afraid of people and fear the worst and I should be brave but... well, I'm still processing it, trying to weigh my options, trying to decide just how much I can handle, whether I could go through another soul crushing experience of someone calling me racist/racially offensive names, trying to decide whether I'm quiet because I'm quiet or because I'm afraid. I wish I were better at confrontation, I wish my heart were stronger, I wish I were scarier and gutsier and sassier and all those things that people keep saying we are. I wish that I did not have to talk about these things, these things wouldn't hurt me so, I wish there were no hurt to sting me so.


    Many thanks to Maggie for reading this through and noticing where all my sentences were left unfinished. You are the best of us, bb.

    [eta] Thank you all for dropping by to read and comment.[/eta]
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    can't find my drink or pantsgeeklite on January 22nd, 2009 09:30 pm (UTC)
    a remark about my eyes and perhaps that's why I don't have much perspective. (yes, it happens to me sometimes!)

    *blink* What? omg.

    It's unfair to be afraid of people and fear the worst and I should be brave but...

    FWIW, I think you're perfect as you are. And {{hugs}} if you want 'em. I can't even imagine what this shit has been like for Fen of Colour.

    buddleia: Sit with mebuddleia on January 22nd, 2009 09:48 pm (UTC)
    I can't tell you how gutted I was to see this hateful crap hit you so hard. But, sweets, you rock like a rocking thing.

    And that may be the most useful use of Humphrey Appleby language ever.
    "She Who Procrastinates"logovo on January 22nd, 2009 09:55 pm (UTC)
    I'm leaving the office for and appointment, but this:

    Today, I don't think it would be a good idea to go to Escapade or any other big meeting of fans ever again. I don't know if I would be safe. Based on the last six big race imbroglios in fandom, I am afraid that if I say something there regarding race that challenges someone's ideas and if they and/or their friends don't like what I say, they is a good chance they will say I have a chip on my shoulder, call me a racist for seeing race, say that I'm not intelligent to understand, that I'm too foreign to get it, they might call me an attention whore and then make perhaps a remark about my eyes and perhaps that's why I don't have much perspective. (yes, it happens to me sometimes!) Maybe most people will sit in embarrassed silence, maybe my friends will come to my resute and they'll be a whole lot of shouting about big concepts and how I'm not evil and then people stop and talk about their feelings and hug and I'll just sit there, forgotten and humiliated and overlooked because, hey, *I'm* the problem, people studiously pretend to ignore me so we can all feel good again.

    Basically? Yes.

    I'm going to Escapade again this year. Race might be discussed, but from past panels what I'm expecting is very few POC being present and like before, a derailing of conversation happening as a matter of course. I really wish more POC attended Escapade, but I get why it might never happen.

    Edited at 2009-01-22 10:01 pm (UTC)
    Purveyor of Hot Combs and Hand Grenadesladyjax on January 22nd, 2009 10:33 pm (UTC)
    Hey, I've been to Escapade a couple of times and actually hosted the discussion about fanfiction and characters of color a few years back along with coniraya.

    But I also sit on the concom for BASCon and have run programming since the beginning. I understand what you're saying in terms of PoC con attendance because I feel it and see it. It sucks that more of us don't go but then I had to step back and think about it. I see more PoC when I work ComicCon because of the broad appeal of comic books and movies. I know there are PoC fans of slash but going to the cons? Where you may be outnumbered 10 to 1? Where if you do go to a panel where race is discussed it may not be on the level that you're prepared for and stuff gets derailed yet again? It can be heart breaking.

    I wish I had a better answer. I know when I mod a race panel or ask someone to do it for BASCon, there's a lot of trust and planning that goes into that one hour of time because I hate bullshit.
    (no subject) - logovo on January 23rd, 2009 10:50 pm (UTC) (Expand)
    (no subject) - ciderpress on January 25th, 2009 04:33 pm (UTC) (Expand)
    (no subject) - mimesere on January 23rd, 2009 03:00 am (UTC) (Expand)
    (no subject) - vito_excalibur on January 23rd, 2009 07:01 am (UTC) (Expand)
    (no subject) - logovo on January 23rd, 2009 10:55 pm (UTC) (Expand)
    this is not in the proper spirit of rumspringa: sga - teyla classysiriaeve on January 22nd, 2009 10:08 pm (UTC)
    and then make perhaps a remark about my eyes and perhaps that's why I don't have much perspective. (yes, it happens to me sometimes!)

    *stares* I... what? This makes me want to curse so hard that I can't even prioritise which word should come first and am left sitting here in slack-jawed astonishment. My god, this world.

    I don't blame you for feeling down now (understatement of the year: Siri), because for all FoC, these past few days must have been like being punched in the face repeatedly, extra hard. But you have reserves of strength in you that I can only aspire to possess, a heart big enough to take in a complete stranger and treat her like a friend, and I have always detected definite, definite sass. ♥ ♥
    Melycoffeeandink on January 22nd, 2009 10:10 pm (UTC)
    Thank you for posting this. I'm sorry for what it cost you & continues to cost.

    Edited at 2009-01-22 10:10 pm (UTC)
    rydra_wongrydra_wong on January 22nd, 2009 10:11 pm (UTC)

    Oh god, you are so brilliant, and you cut through to the heart of it all, and I don't know how you always manage to do this, despite how painful this is for you.

    Because, YES. These discussions do not exist to be a cathartic and educational experience for white people, and somehow we are not talking about the fact that the key thing in this discussion is not what white people may or may not have learned about ourselves and writing (or not writing) characters of colour, it's that the POC in the discussion were repeatedly, systematically treated like shit.

    (Which, incidentally, is what made me snap re: matociquala in the end, after trying to give her the benefit of the doubt all the way. Because, after everything that happened, to make a post which is directed entirely at white people and then lose her shit when someone said um, hey, there's this OTHER elephant in the room ...)

    You are amazing, and I still want to buy you cake.
    rydra_wongrydra_wong on January 22nd, 2009 10:35 pm (UTC)
    In case I haven't said it, I am so sorry that this has hurt you and other fen of colour so much. And I know that people expressing their sorrow doesn't make it hurt any less, but still.
    (no subject) - folklorefanatic on January 23rd, 2009 06:40 am (UTC) (Expand)
    (no subject) - ciderpress on January 25th, 2009 04:41 pm (UTC) (Expand)
    (no subject) - rydra_wong on January 25th, 2009 07:49 pm (UTC) (Expand)
    Sister Sabre of Enlightenmenthederahelix on January 22nd, 2009 10:16 pm (UTC)
    I'm running off to work, but I wanted to post here briefly to tell you that, well, your post is great(well, duh, your posts are always great), and while I was (selfishly) hoping to see you at Escapade this year, I will totally understand if you choose not to go.

    However, if you do make it to LA outside of Escapade, I would love to see you and arallara and smallbeer because you are one of the great people in fandom that I hate to see hurt by these discussions.
    you have the boldness of a much younger womanciderpress on January 25th, 2009 04:43 pm (UTC)
    You were definitely one of the people I would like to see if I make it to LA, I need more time to listen to you talk! I will definitely make it to LA sometime this year so I hope I can see you then.
    born a wondersmith: SCC-Ellisonvaradia on January 22nd, 2009 10:18 pm (UTC)
    Fandom should be a safe space for everyone, and I wish some people's idea of safe space didn't mean 'freedom from being made aware that sometimes they engage in hateful behavior'. I really do. Because learning that is not unsafe, except to their puffed-up self-satisfied self image--and who can't stand to lose some of that?

    Unsafe is this stuff you're talking about here, and the things so many puffed-up self-important jerkoffs have said throughout this whole increasingly cruel debacle that should never have gotten that far oh my god, and I am so damn sorry it keeps happening every damn time.
    bespectacled abracadabra & metaphoric whoopee: JM: he said my strumming needs workkita0610 on January 22nd, 2009 10:19 pm (UTC)
    Every time this thing goes round, I am less surprised to see the lows people will sink to. Which says something, bc I was never very surprised to start with. I hate what this costs you.
    Are you bold enough to reach for love?yeloson on January 22nd, 2009 10:20 pm (UTC)
    Yeah. I've stayed on the edge instead of diving in, because, why?

    They never learn, they never become allies. Why is it worth precious seconds of my life? Why is it worth my blood pressure? I've jokingly asked, "Why do we continue to read these racist TimeCube babblings?" but it's a real question as well.

    At this point, I feel if we're going to be involved in foolishness, it might as well be the detached observer- let's note it, analyze it and keep it moving.

    I've mostly withdrawn from my fandom (roleplaying games) because of similar issues and an EVEN HIGHER level of segregation, sexism, heterosupremacy, etc.

    The few things that do come out of this is us throwing up our hands and starting our own projects. But why keep trying in the first place? We should just go to our project/community building from get and leave the madness - we'll always have to deal with it on some level, but why keep in it?
    you have the boldness of a much younger woman: always eat a turkey or a hamciderpress on January 25th, 2009 04:48 pm (UTC)
    Thanks for this.

    I love that there have been a lot of projects starting up from us (the Remyth project is my most favourite thing ever this year) and that, just through this, I've had the opportunity to meet so many more PoC and I definitely feel like I'm not alone.

    I used to think that I couldn't cut myself away from fandom/fan community at large. I'm still not sure if I could divorce myself from it completely or if I want to; I weigh the risk/rewards and compare it to my RL life, work, friends and especially my family, how we are an integrated family of various races, and yeah. I'm still at a loss. Then again, I think that a place of fun and pleasure and where I am in control of making my choices can be shaped by my choices and maybe I should start making smarter ones.
    her soul like a prismchopchica on January 22nd, 2009 10:26 pm (UTC)
    I hope to one day be one billionth as eloquent and brave as you, and I wish so much that this could be a place of happiness and safety for you - for *everyone*; one that never causes even a *second* of pain.
    cathexyscathexys on January 22nd, 2009 10:28 pm (UTC)
    I am impressed with the way you succeed in using one of the standard responses to anything problematic "fandom's just fun" and use it powerfully to show how and why these conversations are not something that you desire and find somehow cathartic but one that leaves you much more upset and shaken than it could ever make me and how you would love a scenario where fandom *could* be fun for you!

    I'm learning. I've been learning most intensely for years now, but even as I'm getting better, I realize that it's often happening at the expense of and on the backs of FOC.

    I want fandom to become that happy place for both of us--cons places where noone would even consider feeling unsafe. And then I wake up...

    *hugs* and thank you for once again bleeding yourself just so that a few of us somewhat clueless folks get it just a little more!
    shewhohashopeshewhohashope on January 22nd, 2009 10:35 pm (UTC)
    This is just everything I've been feeling for the last few days (years?). Thank you.
    you have the boldness of a much younger woman: love in search of a wordciderpress on January 25th, 2009 04:50 pm (UTC)
    I'm glad that I posted it despite my misgivings. I've been so grateful to read your words these past couple of weeks, thank *you*.
    naiadi_naiad on January 22nd, 2009 10:36 pm (UTC)
    You're wonderful, amazing and incredibly articulate. I'm sorry for all your hurt.
    zvi LikesTVzvi_likes_tv on January 22nd, 2009 10:42 pm (UTC)
    I have no words. I want to offer you comfort, but this isn't a medium through which I can pass hugs or food or pillows. I just, I'm right there with you, and I'll be sorry if you wind up retreating, but I'll understand it, too.
    you have the boldness of a much younger womanciderpress on January 25th, 2009 04:54 pm (UTC)
    zvi, one of the best things I did in fandom was meet you and do that panel at con.txt with you and I know that I have definitely felt less bewildered and alone since then. Thanks so much for that and this and yeah, I feel like a bit of a drama queen because none of it was directly said *at* me in lj but yeah, I will dig deep and be braver because so many FoC are.
    The artist soon to be known as happydorkforeverdirt on January 22nd, 2009 10:45 pm (UTC)
    Thank you so much for writing this. I'm sorry.
    Loligololigo on January 22nd, 2009 10:51 pm (UTC)
    Thank you for being willing to share the truth with us. (By which I mean, thank you for taking that risk, when it is so colossally unfair that the risk even exists to start with.)

    Edited at 2009-01-22 10:56 pm (UTC)
    I'm not fluent in your dialect of crazy: heartcat - lanningdine on January 22nd, 2009 10:55 pm (UTC)
    you continue to impress with the way you always write so clearly and eloquently on real, painful subjects (as well as the frothy fannish stuff)

    I'm so sorry for the hurt this mess has caused you and other friends. it's hard to wrap my head around a worldview that permits one to cause hurt (possibly unthinkingly/unknowingly) and then react so badly when it's pointed out (unaccusingly) by those who have been hurt.

    I'm sorry fandom no longer offers any sort of safe space - creating distance from hurtful situations makes a lot of sense, and if you do continue to draw back, know you'll be missed. I hope you are able to find/create other, safer places in which to build community and have fun
    Sophie: existentialismalias_sqbr on January 22nd, 2009 10:56 pm (UTC)
    Hi, I was directed here by <;j user=ithiliana>. This is a very powerful summary of this whole mess, but I particularly agree with

    If you are committed to being anti-racist, then you have to be anti-racist PoC or ally when it's hard, not just when it's easy and people pat your back. I don't even think it's a "cause", I think that social justice is a common responsibility we have to each other.

    I'm increasingly annoyed at the way other white anti-racists will wait until there's some acceptable target(*) and then vent all their indignation at that but are unwilling to confront themselves or their friends etc. or question those aspects of the status quo they like or benefit from. Or, as in this case, be willing to make any personal sacrifices to dignity/give people the benefit of the doubt etc when someone else challenges those things and people. A lot of the time the anti-racist "identity" just acts like an excuse for us to hide behind: "It's absurd to accuse me of being racist, since I am demonstrably anti-racist!".

    (*)ie left wing australians criticising George Bush. Not that he doesn't deserve criticism :)
    delux_vivens on January 23rd, 2009 02:15 am (UTC)
    will wait until there's some acceptable target(*) and then vent all their indignation at that

    a certain bestiality debate in HP fandom comes to mind...
    (no subject) - alias_sqbr on January 23rd, 2009 03:50 am (UTC) (Expand)
    Maevelemaevele on January 22nd, 2009 10:58 pm (UTC)
    It's not unfair to fear the worst when the people involved keep shovelling it onto you. It's a perfectly valid response to keep yourself from being beat up on any more.

    And no matter how much white fans may be learning from this, that does not make the pain that has been caused to FoC even remotely justified. If we can't learn without hurting people, we suck.
    badgerbagbadgerbag on January 23rd, 2009 01:16 am (UTC)
    hear hear.

    it is painful and alienating to be thanked for your oppression having provided a great learning experience when one might have expected to be among friends. it's like there is suddenly this vast unbridgeable gulf that stretches open and the "friends" are a million miles away. how hard to say anything, across that.

    (no subject) - sparkymonster on January 23rd, 2009 02:12 am (UTC) (Expand)
    (no subject) - browngirl on January 23rd, 2009 02:33 pm (UTC) (Expand)
    (no subject) - ciderpress on January 25th, 2009 04:56 pm (UTC) (Expand)
    the high four-and-a-half: make some noisenextian on January 22nd, 2009 11:00 pm (UTC)
    It is bullshit, bullshit that people expect this of you, of everyone who engages or is forced to engage with these conversations over and over and over again, that people expect you to be happy and cheerful that the discussion was had. I'm so goddamn sorry this happened.

    You don't know me from Adam, but I really respect your writing and your thought and I hope hugely that you don't have to abandon fannish space entirely, but at this point, it's looking like it'll need a bulldozer to clear out the resistance to being polite to other fans, so ... yeah.

    Thank you for this post.
    unfriendly black hottie: [misc] lonesome - aasha davissugargroupie on January 22nd, 2009 11:15 pm (UTC)
    Thank you for articulating what many of us feel we cannot.

    Edited at 2009-01-22 11:16 pm (UTC)
    you have the boldness of a much younger womanciderpress on January 25th, 2009 04:58 pm (UTC)
    Thanks for this, I was worried about posting this because it was so revealing and I am glad that I haven't let anyone down by being so... emotional about this.
    Red Star Robotredstarrobot on January 22nd, 2009 11:18 pm (UTC)
    Thank you. I'm sorry for the way this makes you feel, and the way it makes fandom such an unsafe place for FoC in general.

    I wonder why it is that there aren't more people questioning this phenomenon and I wonder why that we don't talk about how the baseline of basic... respect and treatment is different for PoC and white fen in discussions of racism.

    I don't feel qualified or able to start this discussion, but it feels like an important one to me; in part because it's one where my own understanding and ability to perceive these differences and double standards has been changing in the past few years, and in part because it's, by definition, so fundamental to even having the discussion.
    you have the boldness of a much younger womanciderpress on January 25th, 2009 05:03 pm (UTC)
    I think it's a discussion that we are going to have to have sometime and sometime soon if we really want to live up to what we believe fandom actually is and continue to insist that it is. It wouldn't break us, I don't think, we shouldn't be afraid.
    jamjar: Music: Amanda Palmerjamjar on January 22nd, 2009 11:25 pm (UTC)
    It's horrible that you have to deal with this and that you keep on having to deal with this. It sucks that other people's issues and refusal to deal with -or even acknowledge- them costs you.

    For what it's worth, you deal with it all with inordinate grace. You shouldn't have to, but you do anyway.
    shake.: life was stamped and sealedcallmesandy on January 22nd, 2009 11:44 pm (UTC)
    I don't think it's unfair to be afraid of collected fans at all - have they done anything to make you *not* feel that way? We're assholes and even the marginally better of us don't speak up enough and then act like you should be so proud of us for not being complete assholes. Your hobby shouldn't be so fucking hard or hurtful.

    I will totally miss you if you post less and interact less, but I would totally understand and be angry at me (and the collective peeps like me.)
    you have the boldness of a much younger womanciderpress on January 25th, 2009 05:05 pm (UTC)
    Well, there was that time you guys helped did me that huge favour. <3

    I want to say that you are right and I still have a lot of thinking to do, I know I've been interacting less with people this past year and that makes me... sad as well as safer at the same time. It's difficult.
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