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Dragons Are for White Kids with Money: On the Friction of Geekdom and Race

By posted at 6:00 am on May 11, 2017 145

I love Stranger Things, not just because it is pure nostalgia for the films that helped shaped my early childhood, but for the simple fact that in the opening scene, a young child of color is playing Dungeons & Dragons with no shame.  It is hard to be a geek more often than not, and when you are a geek who also happens to be a person of color, things only become more complicated.

covercovercoverThere is a certain racial coding to geek and/or nerd culture. The required reading of geekdom, whether fantasy (Lord of the Rings, the Cthulu Mythos, or Conan) or science fiction (Hyperion, Dune, or Ender’s Game) are novels that focus on predominately white characters, featuring tokenism at best and downright racial animosity at worst. The canon of fantasy and sci-fi authors is overwhelmingly white.

In the classic early-’90s show, Family Matters, it is easy to see such.  The uber-geek extraordinaire Steven Urkel can’t dance, lacks style and panache — he’s the antithesis of cool.  When he invents a machine to turn himself into the perfect lover, Steven creates Stefan Urquelle, a suave, handsome, stylish young man who instantly wins hearts.  Really, all that happened is that Steve went from a coded “hyper-whiteness,” as Mary Bucholtz puts it, to simply being what audiences expect a young black man to be.   His extreme intelligence as Steven is marked as white while his more corporeal attractions as Stefan are marked as black.  It is code-switching taken to the extreme.

With the expectation that geekiness is an embrace of whiteness, what happens when you are in fact not white? I am a geek, and I am Chicano. Over the course of my life I have learned to be both things proudly, but this presents a paradox. How can I justify my geek-cred while also maintaining my street-cred? Often, I cannot. I am a geek, and I am a brown man, and this has earned me a lot of shit from both sides.

On the one hand, I can run a D&D campaign about how poorly certain races like half-elves are treated, and my group will rail against the injustice of it all, but if I bring up any real-world situation of inequality, I get the cold shoulder at best or at worst booed down and given “focus on the game lectures. As Junot Díaz allegedly said: “Motherfuckers will read a book that’s 1/3 in Elvish, but put in two lines of Spanish and [white people] think we’re taking over.”

covercoverBut growing up around my more working-class family, I was teased for reading, and I was especially teased for reading books like Redwall or Lord of the Rings. That fantasy crap was for losers, gueros, and jotos. Some of my family even thought that Dungeons & Dragons was a gateway to Satanism and possession. (This was long before the Harry Potter sensation and attendant pushback.)

In high school in Los Angeles, I had a hard time creating a network of geeks simply because the price of entry into the geek world was too high, or my friends simply did not want to associate themselves with something so clearly “white.”  The insults that my small band of geeks endured while we played Magic: The Gathering or discussed Dragon Ball Z were pretty inventive.  Even now, some of my students snicker or laugh derisively when I make fantasy or science-fiction references, simply for the fact that, and I quote: “Dragons be for white kids with money.” It’s hard to argue against this reasoning when the most popular fantasy novel and TV series since Lord of the Rings features a platinum-blonde white woman saving thousands of adoring and helpless brown people.

You’d think that when I found geekdom, I’d be welcomed in with open arms, but my ethnic identifiers have often caused friction.  One of my favorite geeky pastimes is Warhammer 40K, a tabletop miniatures game.  I have played this game off and on since I was about 12, and its sweeping background of grimdark science-fantasy hits a lot of my geek buttons.  Some years ago when I was building an army, I wanted to paint my soldiers to be more reflective of me, my family, and my friends.  When I asked an employee at a store how I would paint darker skin, he laughed.  He both didn’t know how you’d go about doing this because he hadn’t thought about it, and he thought it was silly that I wanted to do it.  I have played against armies with not so subtly painted SS symbols on the sides of tanks.  When I have spoken Spanish to one of my few Latino gaming friends I have heard in response, “No speaka tha Taco” from a passerby.

After a lot of years, I have met a good number of others like me, but even when gathered together, there is still the underlying restriction of “don’t be too ethnic.”  If you want to make an observation about how something was casually or not-so-casually racist or commiserate in some shared experience of prejudice, you have to do that quietly, to the side.  That is not something to be brought to the forefront of the conversation in mixed company.  To some of my friends or acquaintances in the geek world, I am just too sensitive about these things, or they never really think of me as “Mexican.” I am too educated, too financially secure. If I am a little too loud, have a bit too much sabor at times, it can be awkward.  In short, when I violate the codes and tenets of geekdom, I am reminded of my transgression, and in some cases, ostracized for it.  And to some of my friends, students, and family, I speak “too white” or “forget where I came from.” I cannot be myself without violating either of these expectations, so I must either switch between personae depending on the situation, or learn to accept the friction.  And I am not alone.  There are many, many non-white geeks.

A lot of the standard stigma of geekdom is starting to subside as it becomes more and more mainstream and thus marketable, but some stigmas clearly die harder than others. Geekdom is now massively profitable, and so geekdom is expanding because those who profit from it understand that a larger audience is better for the bottom line. There are now celebrity geeks, although they are overwhelmingly white.

But I am not alone, even if it once felt that way.  I have seen how much my local game stores and comic shops have changed, and I’ve gone from being the only brownish face in a store to being one of several, and depending on the geek endeavor, one of many.  Even games are changing now, and one need only compare the ’70s artwork from Dungeons & Dragons to the artwork released today to see the whole shift in representation, both with women and people of color. There is progress; we now have an unapologetically black super hero series in Luke Cage. There is BlerDCon (Black Nerd), and Blerds (the term is typically inclusive of any non-white nerd) even get a shout-out in a song (thanks Childish Gambino).

Of course, this doesn’t mean everything is awesome, as you can see the pushback against this greater representation, whether it’s Gamergate or the stink over the Hugo awards.  There are plenty of voices lamenting that SF and Fantasy are moving away from this paradigm, and most of them pretend that Octavia Butler didn’t write “real” SF or that Ted Chiang is “just ok.”  If geekdom was never coded as hyper-white, why then is there such a loud resistance to the inclusion of non-white, non-male, non-binary, and non-heterosexual stories and characters?

Geek culture is changing because its demographics are changing, but work has to come from all sides. We Blerds (or whatever nomenclature you prefer) need to also take an active hand in creating geek culture, especially continuing the increase in authors of color engaging in these genres. This of course is often easier said than done, since access into these worlds has not been smooth. The geek world needs to open its doors to us, giving space and visibility to non-white creators and characters.  The geek world needs to stop pretending that it is only a white world. Plenty of properties are starting to do this, but white geeks need to shut their peers down when there is pushback against this inclusion. As people of color, we cannot enforce strictures of racial or cultural credibility through something as simple as our goddamn hobbies, and as geeks, we cannot tacitly accept that being geeky means embracing a rejection of racial or ethnic identity, or allowing others to dictate that non-white cultures are non-normative.

In short, we need to live in the friction. Because we are awesome, even if that’s hard for others to see.

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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145 Responses to “Dragons Are for White Kids with Money: On the Friction of Geekdom and Race”

  1. Swog Hollow
    at 9:02 am on May 11, 2017

    Thanks for this article. Internet geekdom has always struck me as perilously vulnerable to fascism–just dive into the darker recesses of 4chan or reddit for confirmation of this. These forums and others encourage and consolidate racist/sexist/homophobic groupthink and spruce it up with the trapping of social ingroupness, an insouciant cool kids vibe that is immensely palatable to a certain breed of lonely young white man. I think it was better, decades ago, when all the budding little Ender Wiggins had to make do with reading Atlas Shrugged and getting wedgies, before going to college and (usually) getting over it.

  2. steven augustine
    at 10:30 am on May 11, 2017

    Great piece! So great, in fact, that it may have triggered me… (laugh)…

    ” I cannot be myself without violating either of these expectations, so I must either switch between personae depending on the situation, or learn to accept the friction. And I am not alone.”

    Yes, being caught between the clashing rocks of trying to be ourselves and trying to conform to the expectations of others (or “Society”) is a problem we all deal with; a problem that may (among a handful of other biggies) define “The Human Condition”.

    But to parse this article another way, specific to racial codes vs Sword and Sorcery gamers: It would appear that People of Color are allotted too little childhood, while (middle class) White Guys are allotted a bit too much…? wink

  3. TooMuchBaggage
    at 10:35 am on May 11, 2017

    “When I asked an employee at a store how I would paint darker skin, he laughed. He both didn’t know how you’d go about doing this because he hadn’t thought about it, and he thought it was silly that I wanted to do it. I have played against armies with not so subtly painted SS symbols on the sides of tanks. When I have spoken Spanish to one of my few Latino gaming friends I have heard in response, “No speaka tha Taco” from a passerby.”

    What courage it must have taken to overcome these three incidents. No one ever has a awkward experience, you know, or is insulted, especially among hordes of teenage boys. If something happened, it’s a significant racist experience. Even personally defining!

    Maybe that subtle feeling of no one liking you because of your skin color is really because all you talk about is racism – you’re THAT guy. And no one wants to discuss Space Marine tactics with some dude who says he’s discriminated against by a tabletop game because the characters are default painted as white. Whenever I read these articles I imagine the utter incomprehension that 99.999% of the world (everyone who didn’t get a humanities degree at an elite liberal arts college) would read it with.

    Who cares if sci-fi is predominately white? It was invented by a bunch of white male geeks! If you think just it by having a natural set-point of “white perspective” is automatically discrimination, maybe you should stop culturally appropriating it?

  4. Swog Hollow
    at 10:38 am on May 11, 2017

    Steven,

    “But to parse this article another way, specific to racial codes vs Sword and Sorcery gamers: It would appear that People of Color are allotted too little childhood, while (middle class) White Guys are allotted a bit too much…? wink”

    Confirmed

  5. Lydia Kiesling
    at 11:25 am on May 11, 2017

    Hi there. I’ve deleted a comment and a comment responding to that comment. Let’s keep it “above the belt,” as they say. Thanks!

  6. steven augustine
    at 11:43 am on May 11, 2017

    Swog, L!

    Yipes. I stepped out the door to buy Daughter some modelling clay… and then something happened, hereabouts, eh? Was it… Sauron…?

  7. DJR
    at 12:27 pm on May 11, 2017

    @ToomuchBaggage: I’m impressed someone else mentioned Space Marines although I am a Tyranid man myself.

    And yah, your comment is essentially the same most people of color hear. We speak our piece, and the chorus is typically to be labeled as whiny. I know, I need to “focus on the game” when someone makes a racially-charged joke as if I would think it was funny. I wonder what is the cut-off for “only talking about race”? Can I mention something seems a bit racist once? Twice? Does it have to be a bodily threat of injury? I wish people would just write this down; it’d be easier to follow.

  8. Swog Hollow
    at 2:05 pm on May 11, 2017

    Steven,

    Lydia deleted my post responding to the above post that TooMuchBaggage reposted and hasn’t been deleted yet. I wish the site would just IP ban these worthless losers.

  9. Swog Hollow
    at 2:07 pm on May 11, 2017

    “the utter incomprehension that 99.999%… [more dumb, racist drivel]”

    Amazing how clueless white people are now 99.999% of the population. And here I was thinking they were a shrinking demographic!

  10. ASP
    at 2:41 pm on May 11, 2017

    As happens so often, the comment section becomes of perfect reflection of the exigence for the essay.

  11. TooMuchBaggage
    at 2:43 pm on May 11, 2017

    Lydia deleted your post Swog because you “wished harm” on “me and my kind” and said some other unsavory things.

    I’m going to try to make my post relevant to the essay. Thank you DJR for taking time to respond. Of course, I can’t know all the experiences you’ve had. But of those you’ve listed, because I know the environment, which is almost 100% teenagers or young men, it just doesn’t strike me as any kind of sinister umbrella of racism but just normal teenager crap. And saying you’re not represented by a tabletop game invented by a bunch of white male American geeks back in the 80s isn’t really a claim about discrimination. And if your counterpoint is just: well that’s what everyone says! that not much of a counterpoint. Maybe there’s a reason everyone says it!

    And yes, obviously in your hypothetical of someone wishing you bodily harm based on your race I agree that is overt racism, extremely bad, I’d be angry if I saw it, etc. But literally I’ve already actually been wished bodily harm just for posting here. And when you see my essay “The Publishing Industry is Now for Rich Minorities and Woke White Women Who Live In Brooklyn” you can write a comment strongly disagreeing with it and claiming I’m blowing things out proportion. Which I would be. But only kind of. I may actually write that essay.

  12. Swog Hollow
    at 2:55 pm on May 11, 2017

    “And when you see my essay “The Publishing Industry is Now for Rich Minorities and Woke White Women Who Live In Brooklyn”… you’ll know I’m a stupid asshole since the majority of published authors are still white men. Seriously, how hard is it to constantly gin up this sense of undue grievance? Seems like a part-time job.

  13. steven augustine
    at 4:16 pm on May 11, 2017

    The thing is, I can see chunks of reason on both sides of this debate.

    I think We POCs sometimes think that being “accepted” by non-POCs is (or should be) part of the Civil Rights legislation protecting us from *overt* discrimination; I sometimes think we worry too much about being Liked. I also think that having been legally second-class (or “subhuman”) citizens for so long has robbed us of the luxury of the confidence/security that’s a prerequisite for being humble, circumspect, and quietly impressive when needed. In Zen terms: sometimes it’s better to be water than a bullhorn or a baseball bat.

    On the other hand: non-POCs (mostly Dudes) need to understand that the world, as a whole, can not be expected to be their Comfort Zone… just because you don’t want to see or hear something doesn’t mean it has no right or reason to exist. Just because you don’t understand something doesn’t mean it’s wrong, silly, pointless or pathological and just because you haven’t experienced something, that someone is bothering to describe, does not mean it didn’t happen, or doesn’t matter.

    The essay that these comments are attached to is not a formal complaint to the Hague: it’s a description of some experiences. It’s not angry/ ranty/ hateful or particularly damning. No need for anyone reading it to go into Default Defensive or Curled Lip Mode. Be not so touchy; so fragile. Agree or disagree but is eye-rolling really fair or necessary?

    In short: a guy experienced some situations that sucked and which indicate a culture of White-Boy-Centrism that made it difficult for him to feel accepted as a Non-White-Boy.

    Questions: A) why did he or does he want to (or expect to) feel accepted? B) Is there any common sense, good faith, non-invasive remedy for the general problem? C) Is there a way to discuss the issue without going nuclear? D) Is the Pale Bro subculture really worth infiltrating/ reforming… or is it unlikely to change before the Broader Culture evolves? And if not, is it really a big deal?

    Personally: I’ve often found myself to be the sole POC in rooms full of Pale Bros (in various hemispheres). I’ve been the target of corny, mildly-racist jokes… but I am also a cynically sarcastic bastard with a laser tongue and a pretty good sense of humor, so, fire was often returned (amplified by wit) for bigger laughs. Having said that, I’ve never had the slightest inclination to go where I was palpably unwanted because, you know, fuck it. Life is short. The end of Legal Discrimination was the only thing I needed in order to thrive.

  14. steven augustine
    at 4:17 pm on May 11, 2017

    erratum: “POCs” should really be “PsOC”, shouldn’t it…?

  15. James
    at 8:19 pm on May 11, 2017

    “[I]t just doesn’t strike me as any kind of sinister umbrella of racism but just normal teenager crap.”

    Where did the author of this post say he’d suffered at the hands of malicious, “sinister” evildoers? And are you suggesting that “normal teenager crap” can’t include racism?

    Look, (geeky, socially awkward) teenagers give each other shit. When they give each other shit for being geeky or socially awkward, it’s geeky and socially awkward. We all know this, and we all know it can be hard to deal with.

    When they give each other shit by saying “No speaka tha Taco,” it’s geeky, socially awkward, and racist. Doesn’t have to be sinister, malicious, or even intentional for it to be racist–it just is. Maybe it’s not the end of the world, but it’s one more tiny cross to bear when you’re a socially awkward geek.

    When someone writes a thoughtful article pointing this out, you really shouldn’t feel obliged to overstate the case he’s making and tell him it’s not as bad as he thinks.

  16. Mr.Null
    at 1:38 am on May 12, 2017

    I grew up dirt road poor,cane switched raised,bible thumping,praise singin’, white,southern male and as such I call bullshit, I was on my football team because it was required of me but when I was done I sure as hell went into my own world and sometimes found friends who shared the same interests. I was raised to be a bigot and I rebelled against my upbringing by my geekiness and I paid that price in blood, not only did my family publicly shame me but my associates sought to show how tough they were to fight the big fat kid. To this very day I hold no shame in who I am, My wife who is an Afro-Latina from Brazil absolutely hates all things geek or nerd, sci-fi or fantasy, yet she fell in love with the goofy guy who can loose hours playing D&D, watching Geek & Sundry, or just talking to others on forums on the things I love.
    You come off as a professional victim, blaming who you are on others and yes I fully admit there are plenty of edgelords and bigots who are very open about their ideals and the further back in time you go the worse it was. But to let someones hate stop you from being who you are, stop you from enjoying what you love and then to try to twist that shame you feel into reverse racism(and yeah that is what it is bro) is a pretty common thing these days and would be the only reason I would bar myself from interaction with you. I welcome all those who like what I like, be they white,black,brown,green,gay,straight, or unicorn and I don’t hold any of it against you so long as you came to play and enjoy time together and not bitch and moan about the crappy ass real world we are trying to escape.
    End Rant
    TL:DR
    Stop whining and start enjoying.

  17. Ris
    at 4:12 am on May 12, 2017

    Thank you for this piece.

    I have never experienced racism against me, being a white Spaniard in predominantly white Spain.

    But being a gay man very much into wargaming (WH40k, Fantasy, Malifaux, Infinity, you name it), I’ve had to hear the age-old “this character is a fag”, “elves (or whatever) are gay” shit countless times. If you bring it up, you’re exaggerating or being too sensitive and told to “focus on the game”, as if “the game” was some sort of magical, egalitarian Promised Land, immune to the Real World. It’s the same for every slightly social comment you might make: women are over-sexualised to the point of being ridiculous? It’s just a game! Gay people do not appear and, if they do, the sole reason for them to act in a given way is their sexuality? You’re overanalysing! No POCs or turned into stereotypes that would be at home in a movie from the 50’s? It’s just for fun!

    Sometimes the geek community is as blind as everyone else. It’s just harder to understand when abuse comes from the archetypical underdog.

  18. Swog Hollow
    at 8:55 am on May 12, 2017

    Re: Mr. Null and TooMuchBaggage,

    Why is the reaction from this segment of the (usually white male) population basically to tell people they either didn’t have the experiences they thought they did, or that those experiences don’t matter as much as they thought? I’m genuinely curious here, because I just don’t understand what is at stake. I mean at stake enough to presume to tell someone how they should experience racism, and what the degree of their response should be–like what hangs in the balance here, culturally, enough for this to be people’s response instead of reading and thinking, “Yeah, maybe it kind of sucks sometimes to be a brown person in America…”

  19. Swog Hollow
    at 10:10 am on May 12, 2017

    Also, apologies for my first response, which was over the top, but ever since the election I just have no time for this kind of aggrieved, reactionary victim blaming. White male grievance was kind of sad and cute ten years ago, when we still had a two party system and the World’s Worst Person wasn’t in the White House. Now that white male conservatives control literally every lever of power–and are using those levers of power to try to build walls against and deport/bar brown folks, and to defund essential health care for women–the continued defensiveness and fragility of feeling any time a non-white and straight male suggests that their personal experience in America may not be A-OK, has gone from merely annoying to feeling complicit in something, well, evil.

  20. Gooseman
    at 11:47 am on May 12, 2017

    The reason that white and Japanese men are primarily represented in geekery is due to white and Japanese men being the primary creators and consumers of the content back in the “heyday” of the various niches, and often times now. A lot of this has changed since… I’d say around the Playstation and Playstation 2 era, which is also around the time that comic book movies became more mainstream.

    In order to facilitate the changes you want to see, you need 2 things. You need someone willing to create the content you are looking for, and you need a consumer base willing to buy into it. The honest truth is that privilege is irrelevant here. Consumer entertainment is not a democracy, it is a business. You have to be willing to start from the ground up, like those white and Japanese men of yester year. Luckily, this is easier than ever to do with the rise of crowd funding and indie ventures. I rarely see anyone take issue with that, but rather when people go into various hobbies and start making demands or bashing the hobby. Or worse, bashing the hobbyists (like a certain “culture critic” that has become popular on gaming sites).

    Anyway, there is enough room in the various hobbies for everyone to get into.

  21. EldarCorsair
    at 1:12 pm on May 12, 2017

    Your personal anecdotes don’t support your conclusion.

    By your own admission, you faced the most ostracization, derision, and outright slurs about your race and sexual orientation from your non-gaming friends and family than you did by the “white” gaming geeks….who have, barring two personal interactions (one of which you admit was because the person in question “had not thought about it”), accepted you. You go on to state that you are now one of many non-white gamers in your local community and you admit that games and artwork have changed since the 1970s to be more inclusive.

    ALL this….and your conclusion is that “white gamers” aren’t inclusive enough and need to be more accepting??

    Frankly, reading this you come off as an PC authoritarian who constantly feels the need to interject real-world issues into games and police other gamer’s thoughts and actions and then proceeds to play the victim when you meet with resistance to your poor attitude. Do you not see how off-putting that attitude is to other people in any social setting, regardless of their race?

    In your own example of the D&D campaign, put your racial identity aside for a moment, why did you feel the need to interject a real-world social issue into the middle of a game about a fantasy world involving half-elves? How does that do anything to add to the game? Isn’t the entire point of a good RPG to immerse the player in a fantasy world and let their imaginations run wild? And did you really think that you were going to have a sideboard to solve some massive social issue in the middle of a D&D campaign? Think about that and maybe you’ll understand why your fellow gamers told you to “focus on the game”.

  22. Kristin
    at 1:13 pm on May 12, 2017

    Thank you for the perspective and insight, Daniel. Great article!

  23. J. Carl Henderson
    at 2:30 pm on May 12, 2017

    I’m sorry that you believe Gamergate is an example of “the pushback against this greater representation”, however I’m not surprised as the media consistently misrepresented the goals, tactics, and history of the movement.

  24. Danny Vazquez
    at 3:11 pm on May 12, 2017

    Please, TooMuchBaggage, do write that essay. Everyone loves a white guy’s salty opinions on subjects they know absolutely nothing about. “The Publishing Industry is Now for Rich Minorities and Woke White Women Who Live In Brooklyn” is so lazy and ill-informed that it feels almost… presidential.

  25. Kevin G. Rhoads
    at 3:12 pm on May 12, 2017

    Read Octavia Butler novels decades ago in paperback.
    [I’m white, male, nerd (4 degree from MIT) ]

    Anyone who says Octavia Butler’s work is not real SF is exposing their prejudice, her works are more SF than *at least* 95% of all SF.

    Unfortunately the exclusion you’ve described is real, and too few of us work to tear those barriers down.

    Kudos for hanging in there.

  26. Swog Hollow
    at 3:50 pm on May 12, 2017

    @Danny

    Seriously, well put

  27. Thomas McGuire
    at 5:08 pm on May 12, 2017

    interesting view point I am glad gaming continues grow

  28. Redditor712
    at 5:59 pm on May 12, 2017

    I think TooMuchBaggage should write the essay. Like, for real, 90% of the publishing industry are women. Most probably do live in Brooklyn. The essay practically writes itself. Literary agents are like totally women. The majority of people who get fiction book deals are women. And I’ve noticed that the prize lists of the last few years are pretty clear about what’s valued in publishing, and why it’s valued. What’s valued is the same scrounging for victimhood portrayed by this essay. But it doesn’t matter – literature was on its way out anyways and this social justice fad that people either love or are upset about is just hastening the process by making it artistically nonviable, not just commercially.

  29. Sean H
    at 12:47 am on May 13, 2017

    Steven,
    I always welcome your whip-smart commentary on these forums and was fascinated by a couple of comments of yours above and by your (over the years on this site) relating of personal experiences of minority/exclusion. I was even more so intrigued by your quip “It would appear that People of Color are allotted too little childhood, while (middle class) White Guys are allotted a bit too much.” I found myself utterly fascinated by this as it relates to a number of things. I’m not a fan of identity politics but I am in a relationship with a woman who has biracial children (half-Ghanaian; she’s Jewish) and she has spoken often about how certain races/ethnicities privilege maintaining a child’s innocence while others do not. She also works with domestic abuse, and has related stories about how in some homes/neighborhoods, it is commonplace to curse at and threaten one’s children, while in other homes/neighborhoods, if this behavior is overheard, it leads to Child Protective Services being called in and reports of neglect and abuse being filed). We have also discussed whether or not this is more a matter of class than race. And, I found it even more interesting that you phrased it as “are allotted,” because my partner has also spoken about how American school systems and screening systems (for Little League and things like this) have often misjudged the age of her children, and how there is an abundance of medically and scientifically verifiable biological evidence regarding how different races mature differently. Anything about all that strike you as relevant to the issues you’ve discussed in this comments section and elsewhere?

  30. steven augustine
    at 4:29 am on May 13, 2017

    Sean!

    “and how there is an abundance of medically and scientifically verifiable biological evidence regarding how different races mature differently.”

    As far as I can tell, those kinds of studies… inferring a *biological difference* in the rates of maturation between the “races”… are crypto-Eugenic pseudoscience. The “races” would have to be reliably established, for once (and not guessed at based on phenotype, aka appearance) and there would have to be dozens, if not hundreds (or thousands) of Races as a result. People *want* there to be these DNA-based and easily-separable (and rankable) differences between traditional folk-categories, so they can blame their prejudices on God and/or Nature and shrug, but human tribes, being randy as we are, have been interbreeding (since branching out from the one or two or three proto-human variants) for tens of thousands of years. The “Grandfather clause” of Blackness, alone, shows the Bad Science at work behind all this Race stuff. Having ultra-black skin may definitively exclude one from whiteness, but it doesn’t establish the degree of connection and distinction between other darker-skinned people, which would be necessary in establishing the Races of the not-White (before or after we’d done the work of establishing the racial differences between Whites). But the supposed study of Race, in America, was primarily about shunting “impure” Whites toward Blackness. The Purity fetish is familiar to all students, and aficionados, of Superman Theory. And Superman Theory is bullshit.

    Childhood didn’t develop, as a broad concept, until sometime after the first Industrial Revolution (with decreasing child mortality?) and it seems to have really taken off and reached a zenith in post-War North America as a function of the expansionist boom of The New Frontier. Clearly, Childhood is a luxury item and, as such, is going to be keyed to class. A child from a one-parent family who needs to work to supplement the family income is going to have a much shorter childhood than an upper middle class kid (correcting for variables in the ambiance of family life: a kid in an abusive family doesn’t get much childhood, despite family wealth).

    “Minority” kids are too often sexualized a bit earlier than non-“Minority” kids because (again, for psycho-social reasons) the Pop Culture assigned to “Minority” (esp. Black) kids, as a supposed *traditional* culture, is harsher: more sex, violence, crime. Shorter time in the educational system. The advent of Sexuality is the effective end of an individual’s Childhood… and that’s been blurred, lately, across Class, because of the Internet, which is The 24/7 Birds-and-The-Bees channel, eh? But let’s not forget that Romeo and Juliet (hardly what you’d call either Black, or generation Y, kids) were in their very early teens (Juliet “hath not seen the change of fourteen years”). Dante’s Beatrice was grammar-school age when he fell in love with her. “Maturation” is a psycho-social construct.

    My POV on all this has been formed by the fact that my family is extremely mixed, and although I grew up (from ages three to thirteen) in a certified Black ghetto, I spent my junior High School years in a nearly-all-White, middle class neighborhood, then my High School years in a mixed neighborhood (in an upper-middle class family), college in a thoroughly White environment, post-college in a thoroughly integrated scene… then out of the country.

    I’m pretty conversant with several Black, and several White American and “foreign” subcultures. I’ve been dirt-poor and I’ve been well off. I’ve had some hairy Racial experiences (I was harassed, in Vegas, in the early ’70s, by a Black-hating Irish-American kid on *horseback*… I am not making this up!… which is why I sneered at Claudia Rankine’s prissy book of “micro-aggressions”); I had to fight a few fellow Black kids, because I was too bookish, already, at 10. I never “code-switched”. Generally well-liked on all sides but always caught in the racial cross-fire. Always alert to the sham that is Race.

    Whenever I come to a Race-based fracas on the Internet, Sean, or even Liberal vs Conservative skirmishes, I can see the self-serving bullshit on each side of the artificial divide! I’m a spy in the House of Hate! Laugh.

    And: again: I see Truths and I see Bullshits on both sides of this thread’s Gamer Race issue.

  31. toad
    at 9:26 am on May 13, 2017

    Fun fact I came across the other day: any two fruit flies have 10x the genetic differences than any two humans. Genetically speaking there is only one race: human. It’s crushing to think how much violence and hatred and misinformation have been perpetrated in ignorance of this simple truth.

  32. H.A.
    at 10:26 am on May 13, 2017

    Did not read all the comments, got stuck and thunderstruck by Steve Augustine’s brilliant comment that “people of colour are allotted too little childhood, while white (middle class) people are allotted too much”. Very thought provoking; and if you want to turn gaming (yawn personally) into a social justice issue, as the comment section seemed to be heading that way, it is a the best point that could be made. Playing, having the access to playing, being encouraged to play. Fuck me and wowsa. Thanks Steve.

  33. steven augustine
    at 12:07 pm on May 13, 2017

    @Toad and H.A.

    Yo!

  34. AlbinoHitlerDragon
    at 3:43 pm on May 13, 2017

    ” If geekdom was never coded as hyper-white, why then is there such a loud resistance to the inclusion of non-white, non-male, non-binary, and non-heterosexual stories and characters?”

    The resistance is to the constant “inclusion” (promotion more like) of content pushed for its identity’s sake. These stories and characters are pushed not because they’re good, but because they’re not white, straight or male.
    This leads to the celebration of mediocrity, or even to an outright rejection of the concept of quality. We all win, yay, except for straight white men, they suck.

    Create stuff and improve at doing it. Lead by example, not by whining.

    Also your point about Daenerys in GoT is just…wrong. Her character arc shows a complete failure of a “white saviour”, not a shining example of it.

    Sincerely,

    Not-A-Straight-White-Male

  35. akorndr2
    at 7:56 pm on May 13, 2017

    see we have asian communities mixing with the white communities no issues from my point of view of a white australian living in sydney. now the geek community is notorious for its ability to change. 40k is going through an edition change the rage is real. when warhammer fantasy had a reboot people ranted raved and burnt their armies.

    geek communities were built by middle class white people who did have money and spare time but didnt fit anywhere, hell were are our own worst enemies in this regards.

  36. H.A.
    at 1:21 am on May 14, 2017

    Hmm. Some bizarre comment there. I have been listening to a lot of ’80’s music and some ’90’s. For sure ’80’s new wave was a great mosh of black and white musicians. So maybe gamers are not represented well in the black community. But new wave music – most definitely. And also, I grew up in ’60’s with heavy influence by music through to ’90’s. So if gamers are underrepresented in gaming, they have beat us white folk in music continually.

  37. ML
    at 8:33 am on May 14, 2017

    No mention in the article or the comments of the entrenched sexism of gaming and geekdom? The show “Stranger Things” (leading this article) featured weak, hysterical, mute, tortured, and anorexic women. These storylines, even in 2017, communicate that it’s taken for granted that the boys need to be saving, protecting, instructing, and mansplaining the girls. Every female character in that show is fought over by men and boys to determine who has “ownership” of the females. The stories we tell about ourselves matter.

    The stakes are too high now to make critiques about race and social class without acknowledging the deep misogyny that still pervades geek culture, not to mention all of American culture, as revealed and exacerbated by the current administration. When I read a piece like this I feel that the author must be so steeped in a sexist culture that it’s not even noticed or questioned.

  38. Swog Hollow
    at 12:11 pm on May 14, 2017

    “The resistance is to the constant “inclusion” (promotion more like) of content pushed for its identity’s sake. These stories and characters are pushed not because they’re good, but because they’re not white, straight or male.
    This leads to the celebration of mediocrity, or even to an outright rejection of the concept of quality. We all win, yay, except for straight white men, they suck.”

    I’ve seen this argument made over and over, on this site and elsewhere, in various iterations, and it’s so bizarre to me, both in terms of what a bad argument it is and how it explicitly reveals the bias of the person making it. Like when Colson Whitehead wins the Pulitzer, it must be virtue signaling and at the expense of a more deserving white person (Anthony Doerr, presumably). In general, the logic seems to go when a POC or a piece of art about POCs wins something it must be 1) because they are a POC, and 2) at the expense of “quality.” The assumption here is that media about non-white people is inherently inferior, not to mention that telling diverse stories couldn’t possibly be a valid metric for the quality of something.

  39. peggy freeman
    at 12:27 pm on May 14, 2017

    This is race baiting bullshit.

    I played at the national level as a player and a judge. I met old, young, rich, poor, fat, thin, tall, short, black, brown, red, white, blue, green, girl, boy…

    Tolkien had many many different subraces of humans. D&D has all kinds of races of all different colors including humans. The 3.5 PHB has a black female picture for the monk. You have bubble gum crisis – Asian. Legend of the Five Rings – Asian. Big eyes Little mouth – Asian. Werewolf. Vampire. Changling. Wraith….

    If you see the community as whitewashed, maybe its your perception…..

  40. Brandon Stewart
    at 1:37 pm on May 14, 2017

    This is a great and eye opening read. Id like to think that science fiction and fantasy, at least newer forward thinking ones, are getting better at being inclusive and diverse. I can totally understand the sort of overwhealming whiteness of older things like Tolkien and even modern things like Game of Thrones i feel at times isnt helping the concept of racial stereotyping. There is a lot to still be done, but i do see a brighter future. As a white nerd i can say ive had friends of color that ive played role playing tabletop games with, been in metal bands with, as well as played obscure video games and appreciated strange forign movies and animations with. I hope that ths nerd community continues to be accepting of all those who dont fit in other places, and not just a cave for basement fringe white culture anymore haha. Btw those books you listed are A+ references, especially the scifi. Kudos sir id love to share a beer with you someday haha

  41. Taka
    at 5:29 pm on May 14, 2017

    @ML : Sometimes, I think, intersectionality goes too far. I doubt you’d want an MRA talking about Men’s Rights in your feminism posts, and I feel like this is a similar kind of situation.

    The author is a man. He has probably been the target of much, if any, sexism in gaming. Considering this is an expression of his experiences, it doesn’t seem reasonable to expect him to talk about those issues that are not part of his experiences.

    If you want to talk about sexism in gaming, and I’m sure you can, you should do so in your own post, where you, who has far more experience than Daniel, can do the issue justice.

  42. Taka
    at 5:34 pm on May 14, 2017

    Sorry, in my previous comment, I meant to say “probably *not been the target”

  43. Doc Capaldi
    at 5:44 pm on May 14, 2017

    What Peggy Freeman said. I believe this will just turn into companies pretending they’re all on the bandwagon of inclusivity to make a buck. There is no problem, and if there is, it’s on a personal level, so get over it.

  44. Lucifer
    at 8:31 pm on May 14, 2017

    The whiteness of a lot of the fiction was something I totally failed to notice for a very long time. I don’t think I ever participated in ostracising anyone in the ways you talk about (I really hope I didn’t), but I won’t pretend I noticed the lack of race representation.
    As someone who suffered plenty of the problems of being a nerd from a young age I am sorry to hear that others like me weren’t (and still aren’t) more welcoming or understanding.
    As much as I wish people who were victims of bullying would be more welcoming and understanding of others, unfortunately one of the biggest problems with bullying is that it turns many of its victims into bullies. And nerddom isn’t immune from that.
    There are plenty of us that do learn from being victims and don’t become bullies, but there are still too many who become what we hate, often without even realising it.

    On a brighter note I thought you may like to know of a fantasy book series that does have plenty of representation. I’m sure you know of a few, and now you can add Tales of the Malazan Book of the Fallen by Steven Erikson to the list. One of my all time favourite series. A now complete epic 10 book main arc starting with Gardens of the Moon. If you are a little unsure during the first book I recommend reading the second. The first book is like a pilot episode, he got it published as a stand alone. I still really enjoyed it, but after that he managed to get a contract to do the next 9 and he kicks things up a notch. The second book is more representative of the rest of the series.

    Best of luck to you finding (and possibly even helping to shape) more of the awesome people in our community moving forward.
    :)

  45. Swog Hollow
    at 10:21 pm on May 14, 2017

    “There is no problem, and if there is, it’s on a personal level, so get over it.”

    Well, there you have it, Daniel. A guy on the internet has officially solved what momentarily seemed to be a potentially complicated and vexing cultural issue by saying it is not a problem, or that if there is one, it’s yours, and that the solution is for you not to care. Such an economical solution, too–it would be so much faster and easier for you and other POCs/women/gay people to consult a white person first before expressing what you erroneously thought your experience was, and what your incorrect feelings about it were.

  46. Ash
    at 11:48 pm on May 14, 2017

    It feels like the author may be succumbing to the very thing he’s complaining about. Racial essentialism. He doesn’t want ethnicity to be a qualifier for his indulgence and presence within geekdom while simultaneously wanting to use it as a measure of quality within geekdom.

    I also see double think occurring in the comment section where people who are taking critical stances to article are being called white or white men. Why is that a qualifier of someone’s opinion? Why does that somehow lower the argument being made? Don’t become the thing you’re claiming to be fighting against.

  47. Fraucha
    at 1:04 am on May 15, 2017

    I am 65 years old and have been playing Wargames and Adventure Fantasy since I was 9. I might add that I had and played the original D&D and many other games that are now long long gone. I had a Public Access TV show in Central California called The Wargame Review (100+ hours) and had a company in Modesto called Forge World Models – licensed by Games Workshop. I sunk thousands into my Warhammer and 40k armies, as did all my friends. These friends were of all colors and ages and no one batted an eye. EVER. We never looked at what color the guy or girl was, all we cared about was having fun with our hobby, spending time together…and of course kicking our opponent’s butts.

    Race of the player never entered our minds, only race of the actual game armies made a difference, due to bonuses etc. I am sad that people are so insecure that the have to go out of their way to point out that fantasy and fiction is more white than anything else. My Orks, Skaven and Undead dispute theise claims.

    Are fantasy stories mostly “white”, well, I guess they are, though I never much thought about it unless I was playing Battletech and I had a giant Kurita based Mech Army. Or was playing ranged 1/2400 scaled water lined WW2 Pacific battles on a basketball court…I loved the IJN–but then that wasn’t fantasy based now was it.

    Well, not as much content in my message as I wanted I guess.
    And to those in the community who MIGHT be old friends who know who Fraucha is…I am still alive and now live in Ukraine…guys!! WW2 battlefields!!

  48. Seth
    at 7:49 am on May 15, 2017

    https://www.google.com/amp/s/amysmartgirls.com/amp/p/3735d785411c

    White men did not create science fiction. They just tend to take credit, like they do for all great things pioneered by any minority.

  49. steven augustine
    at 9:33 am on May 15, 2017

    @Seth

    Cool, but whoever wrote the following beat Mary to it by a couple of thousand years or more (especially the section commencing with part 15)…

    1In my thirtieth year, in the fourth month on the fifth day, while I was among the exiles by the Kebar River, the heavens were opened and I saw visions of God.

    2 On the fifth of the month—it was the fifth year of the exile of King Jehoiachin— 3 the word of the Lord came to Ezekiel the priest, the son of Buzi, by the Kebar River in the land of the Babylonians.[a] There the hand of the Lord was on him.

    4 I looked, and I saw a windstorm coming out of the north—an immense cloud with flashing lightning and surrounded by brilliant light. The center of the fire looked like glowing metal, 5 and in the fire was what looked like four living creatures. In appearance their form was human, 6 but each of them had four faces and four wings. 7 Their legs were straight; their feet were like those of a calf and gleamed like burnished bronze. 8 Under their wings on their four sides they had human hands. All four of them had faces and wings, 9 and the wings of one touched the wings of another. Each one went straight ahead; they did not turn as they moved.

    10 Their faces looked like this: Each of the four had the face of a human being, and on the right side each had the face of a lion, and on the left the face of an ox; each also had the face of an eagle. 11 Such were their faces. They each had two wings spreading out upward, each wing touching that of the creature on either side; and each had two other wings covering its body. 12 Each one went straight ahead. Wherever the spirit would go, they would go, without turning as they went. 13 The appearance of the living creatures was like burning coals of fire or like torches. Fire moved back and forth among the creatures; it was bright, and lightning flashed out of it. 14 The creatures sped back and forth like flashes of lightning.

    15 As I looked at the living creatures, I saw a wheel on the ground beside each creature with its four faces. 16 This was the appearance and structure of the wheels: They sparkled like topaz, and all four looked alike. Each appeared to be made like a wheel intersecting a wheel. 17 As they moved, they would go in any one of the four directions the creatures faced; the wheels did not change direction as the creatures went. 18 Their rims were high and awesome, and all four rims were full of eyes all around.

    19 When the living creatures moved, the wheels beside them moved; and when the living creatures rose from the ground, the wheels also rose. 20 Wherever the spirit would go, they would go, and the wheels would rise along with them, because the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels. 21 When the creatures moved, they also moved; when the creatures stood still, they also stood still; and when the creatures rose from the ground, the wheels rose along with them, because the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels.

    22 Spread out above the heads of the living creatures was what looked something like a vault, sparkling like crystal, and awesome. 23 Under the vault their wings were stretched out one toward the other, and each had two wings covering its body. 24 When the creatures moved, I heard the sound of their wings, like the roar of rushing waters, like the voice of the Almighty,[b] like the tumult of an army. When they stood still, they lowered their wings.

    25 Then there came a voice from above the vault over their heads as they stood with lowered wings. 26 Above the vault over their heads was what looked like a throne of lapis lazuli, and high above on the throne was a figure like that of a man. 27 I saw that from what appeared to be his waist up he looked like glowing metal, as if full of fire, and that from there down he looked like fire; and brilliant light surrounded him. 28 Like the appearance of a rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the radiance around him.

    ****

  50. steven augustine
    at 9:44 am on May 15, 2017

    To add to the Sci Fi Trippitude of the Ezekiel thang (disclaimer: I am *far* from Christianoid):

    http://www.abovetopsecret.com/forum/thread964042/pg1

  51. Swog Hollow
    at 10:47 am on May 15, 2017

    “I also see double think occurring in the comment section where people who are taking critical stances to article are being called white or white men. Why is that a qualifier of someone’s opinion? Why does that somehow lower the argument being made?”

    Because straight white men (I am one) enjoy a relatively frictionless identity status in society and usually do not know what it is like to be belittled on the basis of their skin tone or sexual preferences. It is therefore suspect when they barge into a comments section telling a POC that they didn’t have the experience they thought they did, or that it doesn’t matter as much as they thought. It does and should qualify our opinion and lower our argumentative stature on these topics, in the same way it would qualify a person’s opinion on a military board if a person who had never served came in and told ex-Marines how to feel about their service/injuries.

    This isn’t to say that white men can’t or shouldn’t have opinions about cultural issues, just that they could stand to do so a little less arrogantly and with more of a receptiveness to other people’s experiences.

  52. Suopis
    at 11:56 am on May 15, 2017

    I really enjoyed your essay. I come from a small country called Lithuania (Eastern Europe). People of color are a very rare sight here. I have never though about this being a problem since everyone I know are raised to treat people equally. We have no preconceptions. This mostly makes me think that in your country this problem is rooted far deeper than nerd culture. I mean what the hell people actually cannot enjoy a game if there is a black or latino guy playing it?

  53. AnotherPOC4U2Dismiss
    at 12:18 pm on May 15, 2017

    Hey Defensive White Male Geeks,

    I totally get why reading this post made you defensive, angry, and dismissive. After all, as a geek, you too endured a lifetime of mistreatment and societal pressures to conform, so how dare this writer tell you that you were one of the “bad guys”. That, and his experiences didn’t sound so bad…I mean no one burned crosses and you got beat up and shoved into lockers too and it is not your fault that LOTR was written by a White guy! Right?

    Oppression is not a Dick Measuring Contest.
    Oppression is not a Dick Measuring Contest.
    Oppression is not a Dick Measuring Contest.

    Just because you suffered, doesn’t mean someone else can’t acknowledge their pain.
    Telling a homeless kid in the USA that homeless kids in Burundi also get Malaria doesn’t make that child any less hungry!

    Geek White Men have their own, very sucky experiences
    Geek White Women have their own, 2 layers of very sucky experiences
    Geek Male POCs have their own, 2 layers of very sucky experiences
    Geek Female POCs have their own, 3 layers of very sucky experiences
    Geek Trans, Homosexuals, especially POC variants, have Layer Cake Bingo Suckage!

    This doesn’t mean being a White Male Geek suddenly became awesome and you’re not allowed to feel pride in overcoming your oppression.

    Oppression is not a Dick Measuring Contest.

    Being Oppressed Does Not Give You License to Ignore Other’s Suffering
    Being Oppressed Does Not Give You License to Unintentionally Add Other’s Suffering
    Being Oppressed Does Not Give You License to Ignore Your Privilege in Other Realms

    When you got beat up as a Geek as a kid, as a White Male you could feel safe to inform school authorities or the Police without worry you would be presumed to be the violent instigator as a POC. A POC Geek recognizing that they had to contend with that additional layer of oppression doesn’t make your childhood any less traumatic, your triumph any less remarkable, or the POCs upset about being told to quietly shoulder that extra burden any less unjust.

    I am a Female Geek POC.
    I have experience Geek Mistreatment, Misogyny, and Racism, even at the hands of my fellow Geeks. Those additional layers of mistreatment did impact me and made me feel less at home in the counter-culture community that was suppose to be my refuge. I will not list out every experience so you can measure their merits, as it is not the job of the mistreated to keep listing our experiences for you to dissect and dismiss in piecemeal while refusing to acknowledge the overall trends. I am choosing to assume the White Male Privilege of Sound Mind, where I expect that my words will be read with the presumption that they are being written by an intelligent and mentally well person that is capable of properly judging what has happened to them.

    Things are getting better in the Geek world every year, but they are not good yet. Things did NOT get better when Women, Homosexuals, and POCs just quietly swallowed our pain and “focused on the game” and “created stuff”. They got better when we got loud and agitated and pushed. They got better when the greater agitation toward the world at large trickled into the Geek sphere. They got better when the White Male Geeks around us started to realize how their behaviors were unintentionally hurting others and started to soften them and made room for us to step it.

    The good new White Male Geeks is reading this article doesn’t actually require any significant life change on your part, just a general awareness. That general awareness involves the following 10 super simple activities:
    1) When you see Geek Movies and Books made by POCs, try enjoying them and don’t presume they must be of poorer quality than the stuff made by White males and they only got promoted out of Geek Affirmative Action.
    2) When you see Geek Movies and Books including POC actors or characters, try enjoying them and don’t presume they must be poorer quality plots or actors than White-centered stories and White actors that only got promoted out of Geek Affirmative Action.
    3) When you see a Geek POC at a con, don’t pressure them to cosplay in only POC characters or aliens (true story)
    4) When you create gaming session or LARPs, don’t require everyone to play White characters all the time. When you include POC characters, don’t make their race the sole focus of their existence. POC geeks like playing multidimensional characters too.
    5) When you see a woman or POC at the gaming store / con / etc., don’t presume they’re less hardcore than you. Resist your urge to “test” their knowledge to determine their right to “belong”.
    6) When you see a woman or POC at the gaming store / con / etc., don’t pressure them to ape your hairstyles and clothing, because you can’t be “ethnic” and “counterculture”
    7) When you see a woman or POC at the gaming store / con / etc., try starting up the same conversation with them that you would a fellow White Male geek. Friendship is fun. Try it.
    8) Appreciate the mental and emotional benefit you gain from seeing characters that look and sound like you fulfilling your favorite Geek fantasies that you can vicariously live through. Share the wealth and let your POC friend have that experience sometimes too and don’t be aggravated that that they can’t just live through your platinum blonde elf.
    9) When your new POC friend says something you said made them feel uncomfortable and hurt, try listening to them. Resist the urge to immediately jump into mansplaining and dismissing their experience. Even if you didn’t mean your comment to land that way when you launched it, the effect is still the same. Just like you learned to stop saying “He gypped me”, you can learn to stop saying other dumb shit you didn’t realize was racist.
    10) Remember that no one snowflake blames itself for the avalanche. When you see POC Geeks “overreacting” to racism, remember that this small experience you are finally witnessing is the tiniest tip of the life-long iceberg of bullshit your POC acquaintance has had to put up with. A 5lb weight feels light till you’ve been made to lift it for the 1,000 time in a row. Learn to extend the Privilege of Sound Mind to the POC Geeks in your community and trust that they are intelligent and mentally sound enough to correctly interpret their experiences.

    See, not so bad right?! You can totally do this! It’s a heck of a lot better than telling us all to Suck it Up Buttercup and lamenting in another decade that Geek Culture is still predominantly White Male because those are the only ones left that you didn’t push out. You can do this White Male Geeks! I believe in you! You got Game of Thrones on HBO AND you got everyone to watch it! Making it feel welcoming for POC to geek out with you should be child’s play!!

  54. Swog Hollow
    at 12:40 pm on May 15, 2017

    AnotherPOC4U2Dismiss,

    Bravo, excellent

  55. Morganne
    at 12:45 pm on May 15, 2017

    Great article!

    My only commentary is that I wish Ursula K. LeGuin and Andre Norton were considered more of a staple of the geek world…. LeGun’s main character is not white… in spite of his having been whitewashed when they made it into a movie… and jebus… the movie based on Norton’s book Beastmaster got so mangled from a Native American character in a sci-if book to a white dude on a fantasy story that she took her name off…. authors in sci-if have actually expressed concern about having their books made into movies in “I don’t want it to get Beastmastered.”

    Coincidence that both of these authors are women? Maybe… maybe not… Men in the movie industry are more likely to respect the skill and reputation of a man than a woman in keeping the movie true to the book… men are more likely to advocate for and hold strong for stories written by men than women… Men have a better chance of being a “staple” in the first place because their stories are more likely to be made into movies…

  56. ugh
    at 12:48 pm on May 15, 2017

    sadly, and as always, half the comments here (the ones that accuse the poster of racism, or being a “professional victim,” or a million other things that show people really have no idea what it is like to be black in the US) just prove what the original post is trying to point out.

    our world is hell.

  57. steven augustine
    at 1:43 pm on May 15, 2017

    @AnotherPOC4U2Dismiss

    kachow-kachow-Ker-BLOOOOOOOOOOOOSH!!!!

    [AnotherPOC4U2Dismiss walks away from ramifying chain of explosions without even turning to watch]

  58. Nicolek
    at 2:08 pm on May 15, 2017

    Check out the Elena of Avolar series. It is set in a Mexico-like feudal magic kingdom. It is for younger kids, but still fun.

    Most of these fantasy worlds are doomed anyhow, whether they defeat their respective evil lord of darkness or not as they tend to be both sparsely populated and 99% male

  59. Luke Styer
    at 2:12 pm on May 15, 2017

    “It feels like the author may be succumbing to the very thing he’s complaining about. Racial essentialism. He doesn’t want ethnicity to be a qualifier for his indulgence and presence within geekdom while simultaneously wanting to use it as a measure of quality within geekdom.”

    There is plenty of space between racial essentialism and denying the impact of race. The column seems to me to be safely nestled in that vast space.

  60. Luke Styer
    at 2:16 pm on May 15, 2017

    ” I am sad that people are so insecure that the have to go out of their way to point out that fantasy and fiction is more white than anything else. My Orks, Skaven and Undead dispute theise claims.”

    I am sad that people seem to miss the irony that when confronted with the observation that (Western) fantasy and science fiction are “more white than anything else” they point to non-human creatures rather than non-white humans within their fictional universe of choice.

  61. Bobby
    at 3:01 pm on May 15, 2017

    @Morganne

    “Men in the movie industry are more likely to respect the skill and reputation of a man than a woman in keeping the movie true to the book… men are more likely to advocate for and hold strong for stories written by men than women”

    As someone who has worked in Book to Film, I can go ahead and tell you that there’s little respect for authors or their work beyond source material. Once the rights have been sold they can do whatever they want with it, and they do.

    I can’t speak to how the gender of the author might affect perception, but they generally look for straight and white leads, and usually male focused. It seems to be heading in a more equal direction though, as films are consistently facing controversies related to white -washing.

  62. Power
    at 3:13 pm on May 15, 2017

    This resonates so much with me. You wouldn’t believe how hard it is to be in multiple cultures in the rap world. Normies that listen to my hip hop think it’s too geeky or outright don’t understand the nerdcore aspects. While nerds feel it’s too street and just can’t fully relate. Just because of stereotypes people are either stuck on one side or the other. I personally believe prejudice is stupid and life should be like MMA or Jeet Kune Do choose whatever works best for your style of adapting and evolving and merge them into the magic potion of life. Anyways I love your article and shared it multiple times! Check my music videos out on YouTube (Search) Ninja Magic Words.

  63. WaaaghBoi
    at 3:24 pm on May 15, 2017

    “Because straight white men (I am one) enjoy a relatively frictionless identity status in society and usually do not know what it is like to be belittled on the basis of their skin tone or sexual preferences.”

    You’re doing it right now. You’re trying to shame and belittle people for being white, straight, and male.

  64. AnotherPOC4U2Dismiss
    at 3:41 pm on May 15, 2017

    @Luke Styer

    OMFG YESSSS!!!
    I am not a #@%&ing Ork!
    I am not #@%&ing Jar Jar Binks!
    Meesa Not Gonna Shuck and Jive for Your Entertainment!
    My heroine character doesn’t need a rape backstory to justify her strength!

    @steven augustine

    You go on with your bad self! I applaud your strength and resilience. But do you really want everyone, for all time, to have to be as bad @$$ as you to “thrive”? Why stop at legal discrimination and tolerate the rest? You don’t go where you’re not wanted…well what about your friend that has to go?

    It’s the same demented concept as the Talented 10th, where the most awesome, brilliant, brave, and strong among us get a narrow shot at happiness, and when those few of the few succeed, it is merely used as a cudgel to beat the average among us for failing due to their mere averageness. I’m super glad strong people like you have learned to find self confidence in the face of crushing oppression, but that doesn’t mean I am OK with the averagely strong among us getting crushed under the weight of microaggressions and being blamed for not being as strong as you under supposedly “better” conditions.

    All this does is lead us to Misery Math!
    How many times being called Nigger equals 1 chasing by racists on horseback?
    How many having strangers fondle your hair equals being called Nigger?
    Divide the average by the square root of being called Nappy to find the derivative of FUCK YOU (though not you personally, of course)!

    Yes, we’re lucky no one is making us drink from separate fountains anymore. That does not mean I have to become water, go with the flow, and ignore ongoing mistreatment. I’m strong, I deal, but that doesn’t mean I should have to. I know those that are less strong, but that doesn’t make them less valuable and I am sick of watching them get crushed. May we put our strength to good use! “I will speak for the trees, for the trees have no lungs”.

  65. Jules
    at 4:16 pm on May 15, 2017

    AnotherPOC4U2Dismiss, I think I love you. “Layer Cake Bingo Suckage” indeed.

    But better still are your thoughtful scenarios and guidance. I hope people read them and think about them next time someone at their table gets a ‘no taco’ comment, or wants to have non-white good guys (because yeah, Tolkien had PoC and they were villains because he’s not perfect… and I love me some Tolkien).

  66. Swog Hollow
    at 4:45 pm on May 15, 2017

    “You’re doing it right now. You’re trying to shame and belittle people for being white, straight, and male.”

    Pls explain how pointing out the seemingly uncontroversial fact that straight white men don’t typically have to deal with the same identity stuff that other people have to deal with is “shaming” or “belittling.” I am a straight, white man, and I feel pretty goddamned confident in saying I’ve never felt belittled on the basis of my identity. I mean, do you actually disagree with that?

    It’s very telling that you–and many others itt and elsewhere–interpret any suggestion that POC/women/gay people may know what it’s like to be a POC/female/gay better than a straight, white man, as some kind of grievous insult. The impulse to write other people’s narratives for them is deeply culturally embedded in us and difficult to let go of.

  67. Yawg
    at 5:10 pm on May 15, 2017

    This is one of the saddest, whiniest, most idiotic articles I’ve ever read.
    Here’s a vid that explains why this article is weak, self important sophistry without me having to grade it like the 3rd grade English paper it is. It also has far fewer curse words then I would add.

    https://youtu.be/iLeBV94VvFU

  68. steven augustine
    at 5:30 pm on May 15, 2017

    AnotherPOC4U2Dismiss!

    “Why stop at legal discrimination and tolerate the rest? You don’t go where you’re not wanted…well what about your friend that has to go?”

    I’d need a concrete example to parse but there is a profound difference between “needing to go” to an event where the people won’t necessarily throw a special party to welcome your arrival… and being physically barred from same. These things are case-by-case, no? Be fabulous WHEREVER you go and people (of your color/ gender/ toe-count or not) will probably be glad you came. Be defensive and needy and fragile and: the opposite? Having said all that:

    World is full of no-go zones for peoples of all colors and persuasions and socio-economic levels, Comrade (there are Lesbian Tequila Parties at which I am not welcome and more power to ’em)… nobody gets (or needs) an ALL ACCESS PASS to every single spot, experience, compliment and victory lap possible. My Philosophy is: do what YOU need to do and allow yourself what you want (when it’s not going to mess you up) and don’t worry about what anybody else wants, needs or GETS. Late Phase Capitalism wants to delude us into believing that Everybody Has A Right To Everything All The Time Forever. I’m here to say that ain’t precisely so. It’s just a come-on to get us to buy goods and services that celebrities swear they can’t live without… and keep up with the virtual joneses.

    If someone wants to throw an All White Pool Party, I say: be my guest… as long as you don’t take it personally when someone throws an All Black Pool Party next door. Private parties of whatever description have a perfect right to exclude me from whatever random activity they want to indulge in as long as it isn’t funded/ advertized/ supported by State or Federal Government or plotting my doom. It’s like ZERO my business and why should I care? These (hypothetical) people aren’t better than me; I don’t crave their company or approval. And I *dare* them to try to high five me on MLK Day.

    I fear that the secret issue is that WE (as POCs) have been conditioned to believe that anything a non-POC is doing or having is a good thing (a better thing?) WE need some of, too. I happen to know that’s an illusion.

    89% of the World would/will *probably* Love you. That’s all you need. The other 11% are what they are. They will not change. I give this many Fs: ______.

    PS The irony of my presence in this thread is that my only connection to Gaming is my 11-year-old Daughter’s Minecraft obsession.

  69. steven augustine
    at 5:49 pm on May 15, 2017

    AnotherPOC4U2Dismiss!

    PPS

    ” I know those that are less strong, but that doesn’t make them less valuable and I am sick of watching them get crushed.”

    World is a Crushy place, Comrade. Everyone has value but intrinsic value isn’t what keeps anyone from being crushed. For the majority of humans walking this Earth, sadly, Life is a crushing machine at one time or another. Eluding that fate takes some tactical, and Philosophical, dexterity. And, yeah: being Water helps.

  70. Stephen Bierce
    at 7:58 pm on May 15, 2017

    After the “San Escobar” scandal broke, I’d been seriously thinking of inventing an Escobaran army for the Team Yankee wargame. Even though I’d base it on the real military capabilities of actual historical forces, it would be difficult, maybe even impossible, for someone like me to do it and not have it look disrespectful.

  71. Doc Rotwang!
    at 8:47 pm on May 15, 2017

    I want to know what I can do about this.

    Here’s the thing: I’m half-Mexican. I’m caucasian, or whatever, but I don’t give much of a damn about ‘race’ and that crap. Everybody’s gotta look like something. So I didn’t struggle with growing up geeky like you did, Daniel, and I’m lucky to say that I never really saw it happen in my town.

    But obviously it IS happening, and I’m not down with that. I want games with goofy dice to be for EVERYBODY. I love tabletop RPGs with all my nerdy-ass heart, and I want to share that joy with anyone who wants a piece, no matter their ethnicity, gender, ability, identity, heritage, or whatever you’ve got.

    I just don’t know what I, a 42-year-old space opera dork, can do to help make it so from where I sit.

    What can I do? I’m in.

  72. Jon
    at 11:39 pm on May 15, 2017

    … wait. It’s been a long time since I last read it, but I thought three of the Seven Pilgrims in Hyperion were POC. The Consul, Brawne Lamia, and Fedmahn Kassad. Does 3/7 still count as tokenism in your book?

  73. Silverzippo
    at 1:57 am on May 16, 2017

    What I’m getting from this article is the complete dismissal of all of the wonderful hobbies we have, because of where they came from and who plays them “in the majority”, because of skin color.
    That goes against everything I’ve learned over the course of my life and is both demeaning and offensive.

    You want me to “shut down pushback against inclusion”, but seeing where it comes from, I’d rather create the pushback so we can get back to what’s important: Our hobbies.
    Note the “our”, because by that word I mean everyone who plays to have fun. The only people I want to exclude are those that distract from it and bring in our ugly real world, to the worlds where we’re free from all that.
    I’m not dismissing your problems as irrelevant to me as a person, but I am dismissing them from my hobby along with my own problems.

    From my perspective, the only one excluding you from the “geek community”, is yourself. You’re actively choosing to mix problems and pleasure to the detriment and misery of all.

    If you want others to be sympathetic, maybe you should stop beating people over the head with their skin color and what you associate with it, because it not only comes off as hypocritical, but extremely bigoted.

  74. Anssi
    at 2:25 am on May 16, 2017

    I recommend watching Appabend’s “The Geek Heresy”-video response to this.

    Also, you seem to have pretty mean family and friends if they keep laughing at you for liking DnD-stuff. Hope it gets better!

  75. Shielding Cournoyer
    at 6:26 am on May 16, 2017

    I love how white people can read a whole story from a person of color about how racism has affected him, and then start asking, “Where is the discrimination in this?” Like you realize what you’re doing, automatically, is looking for the white person at the theoretical table and demanding that we focus on whether hypothetical whitey really did something wrong. Guess what? It’s not all about what people like you are doing/will do/have done. Sometimes the story’s about the Hispanic dude telling it to you. Maybe listen to what he’s gone through and care about it. That could seriously be the essay’s whole entire point.

  76. Nova
    at 8:30 am on May 16, 2017

    I remember hearing about this kind of thing the first time in community college well after high school. Id had a relatively diverse crew of geeky friends in some ways for a while. But it was in a history class i remember having a side conversation with a young man who has black about gaming. And he happened to say, “i would play but my family would think its too white”. I had this feeling like, “…what is wrong with your family?” but i think i said something like, “tell em to fuck off. You can do whatever the hell you want to do”. But i could tell from his response that it was not that simple. Still bugs me :/. Particularly that none of the non white friends id gamed with had mentioned anything like that going on at home. It may be different with different families. But it bothers me if they felt like that was something they didnt feel comfortable to bring up with their friends :/.

  77. Atsiko Ureni
    at 8:37 am on May 16, 2017

    Wow… The comments section is so depressing. Though there are a few rays of sunshine, I guess.

    Guys, racism in the gaming community is a thing. A huge thing. I’ve personally witnessed it. And I’m saying this as a white dude. (Sexism is also gross and depressingly prevalent in the gaming community and gets pretty similar levels of nastier when someone tries to point that out.)

    Also, straw-men much? Nowhere did the article dismiss all of gaming as worthless because of the racial issues. Nowhere are white people universally shamed and belittled. Seriously, this is pathetic in how starkly it exemplifies all the concerns the author of the article brought up. White geeks shouldn’t be ashamed, but y’all should be.

    Keep up the good shit, Daniel.

  78. Swog Hollow
    at 8:46 am on May 16, 2017

    Shielding,

    The unwillingness to empathize, or at the very least stfu for a second while acknowledging that someone may have had a different experience from you, is breathtaking. Even more breathtaking is the need to frame someone else’s grievance as the very thing they’re aggrieved about. In other words, it isn’t enough to tell someone their feelings are wrong–they are actually the oppressor! From the poster above you:

    “If you want others to be sympathetic, maybe you should stop beating people over the head with their skin color and what you associate with it, because it not only comes off as hypocritical, but extremely bigoted.”

    This kind of response from white people is just pathological–if you complain about discrimination, you are discriminating! If you hate bigots, you are bigoted against bigots! At best it’s unbelievably, willfully naive about power structures (i.e. “I don’t see color” works marvelously when you are the correct color). At worst it’s just another version of the right’s typical discourse: a fat toddler smeared with his own excrement, fingers in ears, having a neverending tantrum.

  79. TooMuchBaggage
    at 10:42 am on May 16, 2017

    I hope the moderators allow this to go through, given how much others have been allowed to speak. I think it’s worth summing up the main points of the thread, which have been great. Here are some:

    “Nowhere are white people universally shamed and belittled.”

    “This kind of response from white people is just pathological”

    “I love how white people can read a whole story from a person of color about how racism has affected him, and then start asking, “Where is the discrimination in this?”

    “is looking for the white person at the theoretical table and demanding that we focus on whether hypothetical whitey really did something wrong.”

    “while (middle class) White Guys are allotted a bit too much…? wink”

    “Amazing how clueless white people are now 99.999% of the population. And here I was thinking they were a shrinking demographic!”

    “the continued defensiveness and fragility of feeling any time a non-white and straight male suggests that their personal experience in America may not be A-OK, has gone from merely annoying to feeling complicit in something, well, evil.”

    “Why is the reaction from this segment of the (usually white male) population basically to tell people”

    “Everyone loves a white guy’s salty opinions on subjects they know absolutely nothing about”

    “Hey Defensive White Male Geeks,”

    “Sincerely,
    Not-A-Straight-White-Male”

    “straight white men enjoy a relatively frictionless identity status in society and usually do not know what it is like to be belittled on the basis of their skin tone or sexual preferences.”

  80. Swog Hollow
    at 11:24 am on May 16, 2017

    TooMuchBaggage,

    What’s your point? That using the phrase “white male” is inherently insulting or damaging or something? This would certainly be in line with the insane sensitivity you and other (white male) posters have exhibited in this thread. Almost all of the quotes are, in fact, addressing that very thing–the inability of white guys to shut up for a second and listen to someone else’s POV without telling them they’re wrong. Of course, as others have mentioned, you and others are doing a spot-on performance of the very thing criticized in the article– as a refresher, you, in fact, initiated that line of this argument-in-comments, when you said:

    “What courage it must have taken to overcome these three incidents. No one ever has a awkward experience, you know, or is insulted, especially among hordes of teenage boys. If something happened, it’s a significant racist experience. Even personally defining!
    Maybe that subtle feeling of no one liking you because of your skin color is really because all you talk about is racism – you’re THAT guy. And no one wants to discuss Space Marine tactics with some dude who says he’s discriminated against by a tabletop game because the characters are default painted as white. Whenever I read these articles I imagine the utter incomprehension that 99.999% of the world (everyone who didn’t get a humanities degree at an elite liberal arts college) would read it with.
    Who cares if sci-fi is predominately white? It was invented by a bunch of white male geeks! If you think just it by having a natural set-point of “white perspective” is automatically discrimination, maybe you should stop culturally appropriating it?”

    Translation: “You haven’t experienced racism, or if you did it wasn’t important. No one cares. Also sci-fi belongs to white people and fuck off if you don’t like it.”

    The sheer balls and lack of self-awareness it takes to write this post and then cry to the mods about your hurt feelings because people used the phrase “white men” a few times would be completely hilarious, if it didn’t so precisely model the rightwing’s state of infantile hostility and cognitive dissonance.

  81. Atsiko Ureni
    at 2:02 pm on May 16, 2017

    Of course, those comments refer to the enormous preponderance of white guys in the thread to be the ones calling POCs sharing experiences with racism racist. Which to be totally fair is a microcosm of such things in the wider world beyond gaming communities.

    As a straight white dude, I’m saying these are accurate descriptions. Unless you think I’m a race-traitor or pandering for positive attention.

  82. Victor Arroyo
    at 2:25 pm on May 16, 2017

    Que decepción viniendo de una persona de origen latinoamericano. Difícil de creer que desperdicie su tiempo con estas fantasías improductivas en lugar de ocuparse de mejorar la raza que vive atrapada en Estados Unidos. En lugar de quejarse llorando, es mejor trabajar para construir una dignidad e identidad propias. Si no te gusta la oferta literaria que existe, crea nuevas, aunque no esperes que sean buenas por el hecho de ser más “diversas”. A éso se le llama mercado, que (¿por qué será) está enfocado en el público norteamericano.

    Y no entiendo tampoco cómo puede atacar a Gamer Gate si ha sido un movimiento que claramente ha demostrado la hipocresía de los SJW de toda raza y género.

  83. Marc
    at 2:36 pm on May 16, 2017

    You make some really great points. I’d be interested to see the intersection of class here explored in greater detail, particularly as it relates to certain areas of geek culture. As you mention, there is often a high barrier to entry (i.e. being able to afford card collections, action figures, comics or video games) that relegates geek culture to the domain of suburban white kids with money. Are the demographics different for geek hobbies or fandoms that don’t require as much disposable cash? Perhaps fandoms for shows on basic cable or something like that?

  84. eliott
    at 2:52 pm on May 16, 2017

    Liked this article immensely. It’s interesting how “nerddom” in a WASPY suburb in America is somewhat embraced as “oh he’ll just be an engineer someday” and mom will leave you alone in the basement computer, while for other communities there is sometimes a) an aversion to/unease with reading and b) a serious aversion to spec fiction/fantasy lit. This makes being nerdy feel all the more lonely.

  85. Christina Marie
    at 3:33 pm on May 16, 2017

    Yo, as a Mexican geek woman, I definitely feel this. We don’t fulfill anyone’s expectations of what we’re “supposed” to be, and it’s like an entire lifetime of shucking stereotypes. I’m pushing against my family’s expectations of me as a Latina, the geek community’s expectations of me as both a geek and a poc, and society’s expectations of me as a woman. It’s a messy hotbed of identity.

    Growing up as a brown girl who skipped recess to read in the library and obsessed over Power Rangers and TMNT more than Barbies didn’t do me any favors. My cosplay/con buddies ask me every question under the sun that could possibly related to my being Mexican. I’ve been gaming since I was a kid, and I still get asked if my gaming consists of “healing for my boyfriend” or if he introduced me to WoW (he didn’t). I’m 30 now and at this point, I can ignore it for the most part, but sometime a bit of the racism and misogyny ekes in and ruins my happy, geeky day.

    This piece says a lot of things that I’ve felt in the past, but never put into words for others to read (and as we can see in the comments, take personal offensive to and trash). Thank you for sharing.

  86. Paul Morton
    at 5:14 pm on May 16, 2017

    These comments remind me of my mortality.

    Here are some suggestions for further reading:

    Ursula K. Le Guin’s novels feature many non-white protagonists. She discussed the whitewashing of Earthsea awhile back.

    http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/culturebox/2004/12/a_whitewashed_earthsea.html

    Nalo Hopkinson, a Jamaican-Canadian writer, has also written about the subject. I believe she had a performance piece about the use of blue-skin coding (Avatar, Beast and Nightcrawler in X-Men, etc…) to effectively erase black and brown people in science fiction.

    I can’t find it, but there’s also an essay by Samuel Delany about the willingness to accept essentially one black person in a room of science fiction writers, but not two.

    There’s a lot more out there. You can probably find some academic work on the subject if you search JSTOR.

  87. C.Orona
    at 6:17 pm on May 16, 2017

    I would like to point out one thing. There will be a few people saying “oh, your experience had nothing to do with race, you just encountered assholes”, yet you have many POC geeks saying “I totally relate to that”. Let’s be aware that we shouldn’t discredit someone’s experience just because we think it’s highly unlikely because we have never experienced it ourselves

  88. Swog Hollow
    at 6:35 pm on May 16, 2017

    Btw, lol at “Victor Arroyo.” I’m totally sure this an independent Spanish-speaking commenter opposed to an essay about discrimination against POC, and not at all TooMuchBaggage or someone who has figured out how to use Google Translate!

  89. Gina
    at 10:05 pm on May 16, 2017

    Hi, I’m a Latina nerd. I haven’t had the same experiences as you, but I connect with a lot of the things in your essay. Thanks for writing it. I don’t usually comment on stuff online, but I wanted to counter all the wounded alt-nerds who are trying to insist that exclusion and casual biases are just the way it is.

  90. Trent
    at 7:51 am on May 17, 2017

    The author here has intentionally chosen sci-fi and fantasy works that are very dated. Most recent sci-fi and fantasy has significant cultural diversity. Implying that fantasy writing is racist because of HP Lovecraft is like saying that literature is racist due to some of the caricatures of Mark Twain.

    Please, take the time to read the works of Cixin Liu or Ann Leckie or N. K. Jemisin. These writers have been dominating the awards of recent sci-fi and fantasy and their writing includes a great deal of cultural, racial, and sexual diversity. Want classic material that delves into this? Look into the books of Samuel Delany. Tell me that a community that lauds a novel like “Dhalgren” written by an openly gay black man is discriminatory.

    In fact, modern fantasy and sci-fi writing has become so rich with cultural and gender diversity that the Hugo Awards (a major award for sci-fi and fantasy writing) has become a battleground for a particular flavor of conservatism, with conservatives voting as a bloc, and they largely lost. Please, go look into the “Sad Puppies” voting bloc.

    This article was either poorly researched or intentionally skewed as to misrepresent the cultural and gender diversity of modern sci-fi and fantasy.

  91. Atsiko Ureni
    at 9:23 am on May 17, 2017

    @Swog, that gamergate defensiveness from “arroyo”, though. XD I was there for GamerGate, and man is that comment full of crap. Gross. Regardless of the guy’s race or socket-puppety-ness.

    To be fair, it does seem like better spanish that google translate could produce. Although that is one of the languages that Google is best with. I ran the English translation through the program, and it has different and seemingly inferior output to the original comment.

  92. Atsiko Ureni
    at 9:25 am on May 17, 2017

    Trent, the Sad Puppies exemplifies the issues this article brings up rather than countering it. I am very involved in both SF fandom and the writerly community(though am not an author, agent, or publisher personally), and this is still a major problem. Ditto with gaming. We have made a great deal of progress, but we have not made it all the way to the goal yet.

  93. steven augustine
    at 9:34 am on May 17, 2017

    I can still remember when posts about LIT could stir up such violently healthy debate…

  94. Swog Hollow
    at 9:53 am on May 17, 2017

    Steven,

    It’s Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs through a cultural-political prism. When you don’t have nativist white nationalists in the White House, you can afford to laugh off the odd reactionay internet troll and focus on how wrong David Shields is.

  95. Mara Sky
    at 9:56 am on May 17, 2017

    I’m disappointed to see so many comments that are minimizing the author’s experiences or even outright belittling him for them. I’m a woman who grew up a geek and I experienced a lot of subtle and not-so-subtle sexism and was VERY aware of the attitudes towards POC in the gaming stores and conventions (it’s gotten loads better, but it has always been there). If you were not aware that this stuff goes on, that just means you didn’t personally experience it or are yourself not part of one of the minority groups targeted. It also, hopefully, means you didn’t engage in this kind of behavior (good for you!). That being said, this kind of conversation is hugely important to be having, even as things get better for POC in geek culture.

    One of my 40K armies is Sisters of Battle, btw, and I have a mix of skintones in my battle sisters. :)

  96. Trent
    at 10:03 am on May 17, 2017

    The “sad puppies” pretty definitively lost. They voted as a bloc, whereas other voters voted for a wide variety of works, and they still couldn’t sweep the Hugos. That means that their perspective is a very small group within the community and that the broader community is pretty supportive of diversity.

    The fact that “sad puppies” exist at all is kind of sad. I would rather that the most thoughtful SF and fantasy wins awards, regardless of the race and gender of the author, and the only thing I wish were different is that people of all races and genders with new and novel ideas get a chance to shine.

    I think that the current mainstream of SF and fantasy writing actually does that pretty well and that most snap judgments against the diversity of SF and fantasy writing are looking at works from decades past, like the author of this article who is pointing at Lovecraft and Tolkien as though they have much of anything to do with the diversity of modern SF and fantasy.

  97. Trent
    at 10:10 am on May 17, 2017

    A final thought: to me, diversity in my reading doesn’t mean that my favorite book of the year comes from a POC or a LGBT writer. It means that strong works from POC writers and LGBT writers make it onto my bedside table and are given an equal fair shake among all books on my bedside table. I want to read the most thoughtful and impactful SF and fantasy and I believe that POC writers and LGBT writers have a lot of interesting things to say. I want my bedside table to be a battlefield of interesting ideas and characters and settings and one of the most effective ways to do that is to just make sure that I have a lot of diversity in the writers that make their way to my bedside table. To me, it’s no different to say “I don’t give two shits what a white male hetero writer have to say” than it is to say “I don’t give two shits what a Mexican trans writer has to say.” They both can – and should – inform my worldview and, hopefully, entertain me to boot.

    The worst bias in the world is bias toward people like ourselves and away from people different than ourselves.

  98. AnotherPOC4U2Dismiss
    at 10:11 am on May 17, 2017

    @Marc and @Elliot

    While I won’t pretend to be psychologist or anthropologist, here are my observations on why communities of color seem to have an aversion to Geek / Sci-Fi hobbies / culture

    1) Desire to toughen their children up for the cruelty of the real world ahead.
    (i.e. “As a person of color, you are not entitled to frivolity and escapism, as these activities lead to dangerous things like hopes and dream!”” Who do you think you are? You think you’re going to be the one who escapes this and lives a better life? What makes you so special? Better to accept your fate now rather than experience the crushing pain of inevitable failure.” “Because I love you, I am going to teach you not to dream above your station, so you don’t get hurt.” Etc.)

    2) Desire to regain power by “rejecting” what has already been barred, aka Sour Grapes.
    (i.e. “That hobby is just how rich White people burn their money…even if I could afford it and they wouldn’t cold shoulder me out if I showed up, I wouldn’t want it anyway.” “Being Geek is weak and effeminate, so participating will make everyone question your manhood!” “Being Geek is so pathetic, only rich White people can get away with it and still get considered for high paying jobs when they throw out my resume just for the sound of my name” Etc.)

    3) Interpreting interest in traditionally White activities / cultural expressions as a rejection of your own race and culture as inferior.
    “What?! You want to be White, running around dressed up like some White elf? You ashamed of being Black or are you some Oreo or something?” “You think you’re so smart reading that junk….think you deserve to get out of here and the rest of us deserve to be left behind…you Uppity Uncle Tom?” Etc.)

    I really don’t think the expense is the barrier (though admittedly it probably doesn’t help). Even in affluent communities of color, the attitudes toward geekdome are slowly changing at a pace far outstripped by the surrounding White communities of the same income level. I think the darker stuff listed above has a lot more to do with it.

    I also think this is why POC Geeks are so frustrated by the racism they face within the Geek community. They basically had to burn bridges behind them and risk ostracization by their own community just to show up to the Geek event, only to be rejected by the people they risked so much for…makes the cut slice all the deeper.

  99. Atsiko Ureni
    at 10:51 am on May 17, 2017

    Trent, folks have done studies. And SF fandom is not just best-selling novelists. There are many datasets on the breakdown of race in fandom and also how race affects people in fandom. Yes, the Sad Puppies were not as successful as they may have hoped. But the fact that they got as much momentum as they did speaks volumes to the presence of those attitudes in the fandom and in publishing.

  100. steven augustine
    at 11:24 am on May 17, 2017

    @Swog

    I just wish I could find a frothing tsunami, like this, to jump in, on the topic of *books*… somewhere…. anywhere. The last I can recall happened c. 2010…

  101. Swog Hollow
    at 12:21 pm on May 17, 2017

    Steven,

    I thought the Elena Ferrante books were overrated!

  102. steven augustine
    at 1:04 pm on May 17, 2017

    Swog!

    Now we’re talking…! (rolls up shirtsleeves and dons welder’s goggles)

  103. gabtastic
    at 1:09 pm on May 17, 2017

    @Doc Rotwang!

    Please read the amazing comment by @AnotherPOC4U2Dismiss above yours. There is a to do list of “10 super simple activities” which I think you will find helpful :).

  104. AnotherPOC4U2Dismiss
    at 2:53 pm on May 17, 2017

    Oooh, if anyone wants it, here’s some extra curricular homework for the Advanced Woke Geek Class:

    11) Point out offensive crap going on instead of leaving the POCs and Women to deal on their own. Women and POCs don’t need “White Male Saviors” all the time, but always being the only one to say something is exhausting. If you don’t have the chutzpah to speak up first, at least back up the POC defending themselves instead of just standing there awkwardly. A little “that was kinds messed up” from the peanut gallery makes more difference than you know. You don’t have to publicly shame anyone…pulling them aside privately later and having a real discussion is far more effective anyway. Shame isn’t the goal, change is.
    12) Point out offensive crap going on when POCs aren’t there to see it. Your friend feels the need to play an Asian character in a LARP with a crappy Chinese accent, tell him that it’s not funny. Some chick shows up as Storm in Blackface to your con, tell her “too soon, too soon”. One of your buddies can’t seem to write a strong female character without a sexually violent backstory, ask him how that actually adds to his plot and why the woman couldn’t just be a [email protected]$$ naturally? Not being offensive takes time to learn for a community, so waiting till the minorities show up before you start trying to stop doing dumb crap doesn’t work.
    13) If you see a new POC or Woman enter into your Geek space, make a point of going over and being nice. You don’t have to make friends if you don’t like them, but just the show of welcoming can make all the difference. Being the Pepper in the Salt Shaker isn’t easy and a few friendly faces early on can change people’s whole impression of a group long term. Even just a nice eye contact and smile is great! Can’t tell you how many times I’ve walked into a gamer store and gotten the “What is she doing here? Is she lost?” look from every dude in the store.
    14) If you are friends with Sci-Fi writers, animators, or filmmakers (or their employees), be honest when their work in progress is crossing into [email protected]$$ Racist or Sexist Land. I often wonder where George Lucas’ friends were, or the friends of his animators, as he penned Jar Jar Binks or Watto? Or anyone at Lionsgate when they cast Katniss in the Hunger Games?

  105. Nathaniel Whitestone
    at 6:53 pm on May 17, 2017

    I’m a pale-skinned geek, originally from rural Vermont, and I want every person complaining about Swog’s article to just breathe for a few minutes. Just relax.

    People do say racist shit for no good reason. Geek art of the 70s and 80s was mostly about white guys and the chicks they dug. When I was growing up there was loads of casual racist stuff going around that none of my friends recognized because we had no idea it was offensive, although looking back I am glad I got wiser before I started hanging out in more mixed crowds. Racism, sexism… and all my friends called each other fag. The worst offender admitted to us all, 15 years later, that he was gay! And thank god we were good enough people to celebrate that when he did. We would have when we were teens, too, despite our casual terms of abuse, but no wonder he couldn’t admit it to himself for so many years. The unthinking pressure we put on each other (and ourselves) made that very difficult.

    If you’ve been complaining about how thin skinned Swog is (or any POC geek is), just imagine all the bullshit you caught over the years for being a geek, maybe for not being the perfect male or female, then double it. Just as a suggestive approximation.

    So, y’know, when someone says “that was tough for me”, try to empathize. I don’t believe in the “it’s a black thing, you wouldn’t understand” stuff. I think we can all understand each other, and that’s one of the great gifts of SF/F and roleplaying games. We can explore what it means to be superheroes, and we can explore what it means to be persecuted, sometimes in the same character. But if you can’t do that, then as far as I am concerned you really lose geek cred.

    You might not like Swog, you might not agree with every point, but you should damn well be able to imagine the life he’s talking about well enough to be on his side – if you’ve ever played D&D.

  106. Swog Hollow
    at 9:29 am on May 18, 2017

    Haha, I think I’ve (over)posted so much itt, you’re mixing me up with the author, Daniel. I’m a white dude who gets way too mad at other white dudes’ seeming congenital inability to imagine not being white dudes.

  107. Moe Murph
    at 10:55 am on May 18, 2017

    @SwogHollow

    For what it is worth, Mr. Swog, I have never seen anyone address that topic with more clarity and brilliance. Keep it up. : )

    Moe Murphy

  108. Lee
    at 11:09 am on May 19, 2017

    Good topic but somewhat conflicted about conclusions! I grew up poor in South Florida (half Hispanic) and fantasy/sci-fi was always my refuge as I could always go into any pawn shop, Salvation Army, etc and pick up a months worth of classic works for the three bucks I had in my pocket! Yes, the characters were white but to me they addressed the issues such as race, politics, humanity in ways that were always more profound than convential stories or TV (lots to be explore in wars/alliances/ with aliens, elves, etc.)

    I agree to participate in geekdom is expensive writ large but growing everything was expensive. We had seven kids so my parents didn’t pay for soccer, or take us to baseball games, etc. so I personally never got the Dragons are for white kids with money comments. I had a few friends with similar interests and we had fun finding (and playing) discarded D&D manuals and creating our own worlds. I guess to sum up, our geek hood was very organic, locally based, and didn’t subscribe to a national geek Dom movement. Just a couple of poor awkward kids who bonded over a topic we loved and had fun in the process.

  109. D20Chicano
    at 4:16 pm on May 19, 2017

    Thank you for writing this! I love all things geeky, and have been a dedicated tabletop roleplayer since the mid-1990s. I’ve had a lot of similar experience as you have, but even the occasional dickhead or racist not is enough to diminish the magic I find in these hobbies. I got flack as well from my extended family as well (devout catholics and old school maschismo types) but my family always pissed me off so instead of letting them punk me I just got all my cousins into anime, comic books and roleplaying! Haha!

  110. SocietallyMandatedDeafMute
    at 4:44 pm on May 20, 2017

    I’m sorry but I actually burst out laughing while reading AnotherPOC4U2Dismiss initial post because I thought it was satire. Then I saw more posts with a bunch of word salad and knew that no troll is that dedicated.

    “Oppression is not a Dick Measuring Contest.”

    …and then proceed to list how everyone except white people have a longer “oppression dick” than white people.

    okay

    That’s it right there, we found peak WOKE geekdom.

    And a perfect encapsulation of why there’s pushback in the first place.

  111. Joshua
    at 1:31 am on May 21, 2017

    except you know what dungeons and dragons, lord of the rings and magic the gathering all have in common? they’re all based on medieval europe which was made up of guess what? white people. and another thing most of these things are made up by white people. you want to have fantasies with main characters that are other races in them? make up your own thing. stop expecting everyone else to do it for you. i’ve read books by asian people and do you know what those books had in common. sit down this may shock you…….they all had asian main characters. i know. i know. you just had a heart attack but it’ll be ok.

  112. psychosophe
    at 2:37 am on May 21, 2017

    I saw your story, Daniel. And in some way, i can understand what you lived. The difficulty to be between two cultures, moreover, to be the minority on a minority. But, especially on the comments, i saw many useless and counterproductive fights. Let me develop before insulting me. I’m sot saying what he lived is insignificant, I want to point out some bias.

    As a nerd, many jerks attacked and bullied me during my early years and this turned me a little bit misantropic. I wasn’t part of a minority on this time, so my resentment turned against all the humanity. Were I be a girl, or non-white ? I’m pretty sure I would have felt attacked as a girl, as a non-white, so I would have turned not against humanity, but only against the men and the white.

    Yes, sexism, racism ARE a reality, but many times, we only assign ordinary mean people as sexists and racists. Because we are biased by our history to feel the world on this way. In some times, we even inflict harm by ourselves, because we have become sensitive, like a rejected child can take any laugh he hears behind his back for himself. This feeling is long and hard to heal, but the « offensive » person is not responsible of your suffering.

    I have a confession : I am a racist. And a sexist. And some more bunch of things, because I think in terms of race, sex, and so, not people. I’m able to rationalise it, but it pollutes my mind. I’m not innocent any more. 4chan, extreme-right websites corrupted me ? No. It’s SJWs websites who « enlighted » me.
    They are the worst kind of people : even the most extreme-right man doesn’t objectify people as the « equality » fighters do : “white cis rich male neurotypical valid” (and the list can continue a long long time). For example, on poster said that suffering is not a dick contest, which I approve. But on the same post, just 3 lines down, he hierarchies all in his own extremely rigid dick contest of sufferings: Geek White Men < Geek White Women < Geek Male POCs and so and so. You see the contradiction ? I too !

    But all these considerations and bias are too subtle for SJWs. They see sexism, racism and so on every corner of the life. And because they fight against this, all the time, they launch a lot of wars. And so, rancour and hate spread as people struggle. People began to think : if I suffer, it's because of this enemy ! Ressentiment stay as a poison for both sides. TIP : They are Social Justice WARRIORS. Not Wizards, not Clerics. Their highest stats is not intelligence, not wisdom.

    I met many geeks since years and this scheme is not even close to the reality. Women, trans, disabled person. They all have their history, made for shades of pain and happiness. And if I wanted to do the sordid sorting, no, I weren't have White Men < White Women < Male POCs and so and so. In my RPG association, we have semi autistic, Chinese, girls, nerds, disabled. – the sexists and racists SJWs who put these things before any other consideration oblige me to say that – I'm one of them. And we joke about it, with everyone, and no one feel offended. It's a part of our culture and we won't let people divide us.

  113. James conner
    at 3:19 pm on May 21, 2017

    This has always been an issue for me. I’ve been gaming since i was 11, I’m almost 40 now. I’ve had many friends that were near and dear to me go through this who weren’t white males, and it disappoints me dearly. Gaming, and really any hobby should always be inclusive. The sad truth is that the best thing any of us white gamer guys can do is use some of our white gamer guy privilege to stand up and say, everybody plays, everybody gets their turn, and everybody gets to shine. it’s also really selfish of me, cause the more people who feel comfortable gaming means the more opportunities I get to play too, and that’s more fun than not playing.

  114. Zidders Roofurry
    at 6:42 pm on May 21, 2017

    Speaking as a white guy uptight white guys who get offended about articles like this make me sad and more than a bit angry. When I was a kid I listened to a wide variety of music and read a wide variety of novels and watched a ton of Star Trek. One of the main things all that taught me is that infinite variety in infinite combinations truly is a good thing. It sucks seeing people exclude others. Not just because all they’re doing is limiting how rich in experience their lives could be but because it’s wrong to treat their fellow human beings like that. I wish there were more I could do to convince people to not be like that.

    The author and people of all kinds are welcome at my gaming table. All I ask is that you treat others with kindness, decency and acceptance and pitch in for pizza.

  115. Richard Leon
    at 7:10 pm on May 21, 2017

    Thank you for expressing this. As a Latino growing up in Houston I experienced similar issues to the writer. I will say the demographics are changing as so will the hobby. Maybe people will start to notice other writers and see how muticultural Geekdom is.

  116. steven augustine
    at 2:50 pm on May 22, 2017

    Dedicated Students of Online Argumentation might remark that debates like these, in which each side presents its argument according to certain well-known defaults, and in which neither side allows that the other might be even a little bit right, sometimes, never advance beyond a basic level. That is, it’s good to bring attention to a problem, but what happens after that? Are opportunities being missed because people are locked in these oppositional binaries without room for new and slightly divergent readings?

    Is bearing witness (and preaching to the choir) an end sufficient to itself?

    Can change result when unchanging views clash in unchanging ways and always end in stalemate?

    Maybe it’s all about Testimonial and Catharsis but for how long will that feel like enough?

  117. Marko Savić
    at 4:23 pm on May 22, 2017

    Kevin Smith put it best nearly 20 years ago.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZqKv_laDbks

  118. Mjorik
    at 6:52 pm on May 22, 2017

    Man, wish I could invite you to our gaming table. Yeah, I mean, most of us are, in fact, some stripe of white, but if you’re a geek and a good person, we’ll hang with you, and are happy to talk about all manner of social issues. Personal opinion: anyone who gives you crap for your race or your hobbies, separately or in combination, can suck it.

  119. AnotherPOC4U2Dismiss
    at 12:44 pm on May 23, 2017

    I came back to check how the comments were developing (first mistake, I know).

    I’ve posted plenty, but as 2 new comments address me directly, I’ll answer and then leave you all to it.

    SocietallyMandatedDeafMute and Psychosophe, while I appreciate your frustration and pushback, my post is not as hypocritical as it seemed to land for both of you. I will try making the same points without reference to race, gender, and sexuality terms and see if it lands differently for you…

    3 little kids died in horrible storms
    1 died in an F3 tornado
    1 died in a F5 tornado
    1 died in a Tsunami

    Do the grieving families say to each other “My child had the most tragic death”? Of course not! Dying unexpectedly in a weather event is horrible, painful, and tragic, no matter how wild the storm! Every little child has limitless potential and a full life ahead of them, no matter how it was tragically cut short!

    Death by natural disaster is not a dick measuring contest!

    However, no matter how equally tragic the results are, this does NOT keep Meteorologists and Public Emergency Services from discussing or documenting or researching the difference in severity of the weather events. An F3 tornado does factually do less damage than a Tsunami, even if the net result is still dead people and destroyed buildings. Local government resources should absolutely look into better ways to reduce the fatalities from ALL weather events, BUT they should allot greater budgetary resources toward Tsunami planning, especially if they are near a coast and have experienced Tsunami devastation in the area before. Creating systems for handling Tsunamis, like early warning systems and evacuation signs, can certainly be used to assist potential tornado victims as well, but that doesn’t detract from the fact that if the system is allowed to fall in disrepair, the greatest amount of resulting catastrophic damage and death will occur from the next Tsunami, not F3 tornado.

    Death by natural disaster is not a dick measuring contest, but that should never stifle discussion about the difference in weather events and the best customized resources necessary to protect people from them.

    Hope this helped,
    Melissa

    PS: For further reading, Google “Intersectionality”. Being a member of multiple oppressed groups does amplify the rate and severity of oppression in a documentable, data trackable manner. One size fits all solutions rarely address wide ranges of challenges.

  120. steven augustine
    at 2:18 pm on May 23, 2017

    Melissa!

    ” Being a member of multiple oppressed groups does amplify the rate and severity of oppression in a documentable, data trackable manner.”

    Perhaps this debate is really about definitions? I think we can all agree that Oppression is a bad thing, but I don’t think we all define “Oppression” the same way. Some of us would disagree that not being greeted, with open arms, by largely-middle-class-white-make gamers, is Oppression. In fact, to be quite honest, I think interpreting herd behaviors, toward “minorities”, that range from neglect to micro-aggression, as Oppression… is offensive in light of the fact that lots of people are targets of real discrimination in the work place, and/or physical violence in public, simply for being “different”.

    You wrote, to me, upthread, the following sentence: “How many having strangers fondle your hair equals being called Nigger?”

    But you couldn’t realize the irony of it, because one of the most vivid memories of my childhood was *constantly* having my fellow classmates touch my hair (surreptitiously) because my hair was a little bit “different”. The twist: my classmates (from when I was three until I was thirteen or fourteen I lived in a notorious ghetto on the Southside of Chicago) were Black. I was Black, too, but being Black with a few mixtures thrown in, my hair was unusual to my classmates. Were they being Racist or curious? Was I being Oppressed or merely going through the All Too Human experience of being “different” enough to attract attention?

    Maybe people of my generation were made of stronger stuff, but “micro-aggressions” rarely came up when we were swapping stories of being spat upon (in my case twice, by White adults), physically attacked (several times, by Black kids), verbally threatened (by Whites and Blacks), menaced by cops (not down South, thankgawd), menaced by gang members (slightly scarier), and, again, my fave, as note above: menaced by a ginger cracker on horseback (that was Vegas in the early ’70s for you). Every single time I was picked on for being *bookish*, as a kid, it was *not* by Whites. So: how to flatten that into a reassuringly standard racial narrative….?

    Weirdly, the violence stopped *immediately* when I left the Motherland.

    Don’t be certain about all of your Certainties… the Other Side is just as Certain.

    Now, while I’ll admit that almost *everyone* in America is at least a little Racist (function of A) History B) Ongoing Segregation), I think it’s off to say that everyone who doesn’t agree with the OP is Racist. Calling people Racist *by default*, without knowing a thing about them, is ridiculous and not the best way to open the channels of discussion. Again: what’s the point of preaching to the choir, and feeling validated when a commenter with presets aligned to yours agrees with you? It’s kinda meaningless.

    Why not consider the fact that people (ALL people) tend to be clannish? Why not consider the fact that a Japanese kid who wants to hang in a scene established by Black Jazz Heads is probably going to have a rough time of it, too? As I pointed out upthread: there are going to be ALL kinds of Social Clubs for, say, Lesbians, in a civilized society… and would they make me “feel at home” if I wanted to hang? Would I be considered within my rights to “call them out” for excluding me?

    The Elephant in the Elevator in the postmodern institution of American Victimology is the Double Standard that undercuts too much of “Intersectionality’s” lore. As a minority within a minority within a minority within a minority (on top of growing up Black/ Mixed/ Poor and Geek I was an Atheist at an early age, at a time when I could see kids walking to church every Sunday, through the kitchen window of the apartment that cost us thirty dollars a month). Who started the blazingly false myth that “Minorities can’t be Racist”? Because I know more than a handful of day-glo Racist POC (I love ’em anyway but you don’t want to go into an Asian grocery with some of these boyhood chums….)

    This debate needs more nuance.

  121. Swog Hollow
    at 3:57 pm on May 23, 2017

    Steven,

    Three separate comments to your points:

    1) I believe most people are aware of cultural herding and bias within minority groups. The reason the white response gets singled out is because white people remain in control of almost all levers of power within our society, from business to law enforcement to the military to elected office. White selfishness and obliviousness is therefore more of a pressing matter than, say, Korean selfishness and obliviousness (I’ve also found that POC tend, because of forced exposure to these problems, to generally be more thoughtful because they’ve, you know, thought about it).

    2) While it’s admirable (I guess) that you are not bothered by microaggressions and general cluelessness on the part of white folks, it doesn’t mean that it, and the cluelessness/privilege that engenders it, isn’t a problem. Perhaps you are made of sterner stuff, but for many people it amounts to a low-level sense of being constantly demeaned and undermined. See this thread for an example of how white people (white men, frankly) feel comfortable in this mode, telling the author that he hasn’t experienced racism, that it didn’t matter, that his feelings are bs, and that anyway sci-fi is for white people.

    I agree, though, that this stuff is substantively different from racial hatred, violence, and workplace discrimination. And that we need better terms for discussing it.

    3) Sometimes these oppositional binaries exist because one side is, well, right. I think progressives are right about this stuff. Inclusiveness and fairness and empathy and listening and not shouting down people when they tell their stories is the right side of the fence to be on, even if it is sometimes self-righteous and annoying (see: me a second ago saying we’re right). I freely admit PC can be obnoxious and shrill, and I think real work needs to be done in terms of the progressive message. But substantively, the central aim is good–essentially for people to quit being okay with being assholes.

    Please tell me what positional nuance I’m missing. All I see from the other side is vitriol and exasperation at being forced to allow for the possibility that someone else’s experience might be as valid as their own.

  122. steven augustine
    at 5:24 pm on May 23, 2017

    Swog!

    “Sometimes these oppositional binaries exist because one side is, well, right.”

    Swog, that’s what they ALL say! It’s funny, it’s tragic…. and one of the most dependable facts of life I can think of. Now, let’s try to guess how many more generations this problem will linger, before finally fading, with everyone so tenaciously (and predictably) anchored to precisely that take on things…

    “See this thread for an example of how white people (white men, frankly) feel comfortable in this mode, telling the author that he hasn’t experienced racism, that it didn’t matter, that his feelings are bs, and that anyway sci-fi is for white people.”

    Except that’s not what the RATIONAL ones said. They denied being Racist (well, no more Racist than the mean, probably) and did, in fact, point out the actual fact that the core Gaming Mythologies under discussion (mythologies I find hokey at best and childish, largely, and borderline repulsive) weren’t exactly Benneton Ads. If a POC is drawn to such Mythologies, like moths to a flame, perhaps that’s a discussion in and of itself? But not many of these commenters have said “F- Off”… they’ve said exactly what I would say if I were a founding member of the John Coltrane Society Discussion Group and some Swedish kids came at me saying it was too “Black” and there wasn’t enough stuff about Benny Goodman.

    Re: micro-aggressions: who on Earth doesn’t both experience and perpetrate them, Swog…?

    Point out the people marching around in Racist Sandwich Boards and I’ll say, “Let’s GIT ’em!” Show me the dog-whistle Racism in a hiring policy; show me the Racist propaganda in Hollywood… and I am ALL over that pernicious shit. But every time I hear or read the word “micro aggression” I seem to hear it in a Valley Girl’s voice. First World Problems. Sorry, kids. Life is a Tough Gig. Pick yer Battles? Get Real? (and I write all that fully anticipating the useless virtual hugs that scandalized Liberals will come rushing in to deliver to micro-aggressed POC they will never meet).

    One of Postmodernism’s little jokes: the People who survived Bull Connor’s German Shepherds find themselves with grandkids who are reduced to getting PTSD over… what again? Not being handled properly by geeky White teens with zero social skills to begin with…? Oh the MFing humanity.

    But you didn’t address my core point. What about a Japanese geek who wants to hang out with Black Jazz Heads and finds himself shunned. Will you go to bat for that agent of diversity? Or will you at least go to bat for me when I rock up to the next NASCAR event and face a self-image-crushingly chilly reception….? Or maybe there are Ultra Orthodox Jewish zones of exclusion I feel entitled to enter: who will bring the placards with me…?

    I think it’s great when any hegemonic social block is infiltrated by the Other; I utterly believe in every kind of Exogamy. I just don’t think such infiltration is a BIRTHRIGHT. I think it’s absurd to treat it as such. And I think Liberals need to stop enabling the Infantilization of POC. We need to regrow a pair of whatever non-gendered organ best connotes strength. Because all well meaning smiley faced SJW happy talk aside, we are getting KILLED out there, and not because of Dungeons and Dragons.

    I mean, Black people *knew* this shit in the ’50s. How have we forgotten so much? I’m looking at *YOU*, Liberals (well, mostly the ones with access to mass media outlets)…

  123. steven augustine
    at 5:36 pm on May 23, 2017

    Also, Swog, can you address this part of my comment?

    (ie: how much of being Othered is really “racist”?)

    “You [Melissa] wrote, to me, upthread, the following sentence: “How many having strangers fondle your hair equals being called Nigger?”

    But you couldn’t realize the irony of it, because one of the most vivid memories of my childhood was *constantly* having my fellow classmates touch my hair (surreptitiously) because my hair was a little bit “different”. The twist: my classmates (from when I was three until I was thirteen or fourteen I lived in a notorious ghetto on the Southside of Chicago) were Black. I was Black, too, but being Black with a few mixtures thrown in, my hair was unusual to my classmates. Were they being Racist or curious? Was I being Oppressed or merely going through the All Too Human experience of being “different” enough to attract attention?”

    I mean, we need to sharpen our terms by dismantling our preconceptions. How do you respond to this?

    What I want, most of all, is to move this discussion (here or elsewhere) to a new place, for a change. Away from the Comfort Zone of Racial Pieties.

  124. steven augustine
    at 8:00 pm on May 23, 2017

    Well, it’s late over here and I’ve got to get to bed. So I’m going to make a final statement for tonight and avoid commenting further unless someone says something either BRILLIANT or delightfully BONEHEADED (standard Boneheadedness is not response-worthy). Meanwhile, I’m praying for an Italo Calvino or Harold Brodkey thread I can comment on instead. Until that Heaven…

    “The reason the white response gets singled out is because white people remain in control of almost all levers of power within our society, from business to law enforcement to the military to elected office.”

    Swog, you’re talking about “White people” in the abstract (which strikes me as a tad bizarre, if you’re White): I guarantee you that no one commenting in this thread has access to any but the tiniest lever of power, and as to whether a hypothetical person with a hand on a tiny lever , ’round here, happens to be Black or White : that’s a coin-tossing guess. But, no, no Captains of Industry are commenting and very, very, very few of the micro-aggressing Nerds being put on trial, in absentia, ever made it out of their mothers’ basements. They didn’t send any tragic POC to prison or a sanatorium by displaying callous Gaming disregard… or touching the curly hairs of strangers.

    “I think progressives are right about this stuff. Inclusiveness and fairness and empathy and listening and not shouting down people when they tell their stories is the right side of the fence to be on…”

    If Inclusiveness is an absolute good, then everyone, in every group, needs to practise it. Not just White Males. But if we can agree that the freedom to hang out with whomever it is one prefers to hang out with, privately (that is, outside of work/ school/ the military) is a human right of some kind, are we claiming that White Males are the only ones who don’t deserve this right? And how is that not racist? How does fighting racism with racism end racism?

    Moving right along. Here’s the part of the discussion you’re probably not qualified to handle: not a small part of this discussion is *really* about “Colored” Self Esteem.

    Because of the devastating effects of centuries of actual Spark-Spitting Racism, quite a few Black People have very little Self Esteem. Ridding the world of “micro aggressions” (which is not remotely possible) won’t return a micro-gram of Self Esteem to half of one Black Person, although, having had their Psychic Immune Systems pulverized by the intentional acts and policies of people who actually control all the levers of power in Society, too many Black People are too easily wounded by the micro-aggressions (from Whites and Blacks, too) we find listed above. Forget about the micro-aggressions, and forget what you think about the so-called Progressives “who are right about this stuff”. Because…

    …some of the most devastating anti-Black policies of the past thirty years were conceptualized and enacted by “progressives”, Swog, old friend. I’ve been trying to explain to you for weeks and weeks, now, that those comfy binaries are a con-job. Nobodies waddling around with clannish scowls on their faces and micro-aggressive rhetoric at hand ain’t, as they say, Shit. You want to see the kind of legislation that literally wiped Black families and neighborhoods off the map and practically crushed two generations of Black Self Esteem in the womb, read this (from an article written by a Liberal who works under my friend at Harper’s, btw):

    ***

    “Back in the early 1990s, and although they were chemically almost identical, crack and powder cocaine were regarded very differently by the law. The drug identified with black users (crack) was treated as though it were 100 times as villainous as the same amount of cocaine, a drug popular with affluent professionals. This “now-notorious 100-to-one” sentencing disparity, as the New York Times put it, had been enacted back in 1986, and the 1994 crime law instructed the US Sentencing Commission to study the subject and adjust federal sentencing guidelines as it saw fit.

    The Sentencing Commission duly recommended that the 100-to-1 sentencing disparity be abolished, largely because (as their lengthy report on the subject put it) “The 100-to-1 crack cocaine to powder cocaine quantity ratio is a primary cause of the growing disparity between sentences for black and white federal defendants.” By the time their report was released, however, Republicans had gained control of Congress, and they passed a bill explicitly overturning the decision of the Sentencing Commission. (Bernie Sanders, for the record, voted against that bill.)

    The bill then went to President Clinton for approval. Shortly before it came to his desk he gave an inspiring speech deploring the mass incarceration of black Americans. “Blacks are right to think something is terribly wrong,” he said on that occasion, “… when there are more African American men in our correction system than in our colleges; when almost one in three African American men, in their twenties, are either in jail, on parole, or otherwise under the supervision of the criminal system. Nearly one in three.”

    Two weeks after that speech, however, Clinton blandly affixed his signature to the bill retaining the 100-to-1 sentencing disparity, a disparity that had brought about the lopsided incarceration of black people. Clinton could have vetoed it, but he didn’t. He signed it.

    Today we are told that mass incarceration was an “unintended consequence” of Clinton’s deeds. For that to be true, however, Clinton would have not only had to ignore the Sentencing Commission’s findings but also to ignore the newspaper stories appearing all around him, which can be found easily on the internet to this day. Here’s one that appeared in the Baltimore Sun on 31 October 1995, in which it is noted that:

    Civil rights organizations had led a telephone campaign to pressure the president to veto the bill. At a rally last week in Chicago, the Rev Jesse L Jackson said that Mr Clinton had the chance, ‘with one stroke of your veto pen, to correct the most grievous racial injustice built into our legal system.’

    It is impossible to imagine that Bill Clinton, the brilliant Rhodes Scholar, didn’t understand what everyone was saying. How could he sign such a thing right after giving a big speech deploring its effects? How can he and his wife now claim it was all an accident, when the consequences were being discussed everywhere at the time? When everyone was warning and even begging him not to do it? Maybe it didn’t really happen. Maybe it was all a bad dream.

    But it did happen. There it is, Bill Clinton’s signing statement on the website of the American Presidency Project. Yes, the 100-to-1 disparity was finally reduced in 2010, but we liberals still can’t ignore what Clinton did back in 1995. Every historian who writes about his administration will eventually have to deal with it.”

    ***

    Now THAT is Racism, devastating, deadly and stark. Those are the *facts* of Big Ticket Racism, Swog. Give me some *facts*: show me the statistics on how the intrinsic Rudeness of Semi-Autistic White Male Middle Class Gamers is destroying POC.

    The concept of “Racism” as we’ve been batting it around in this thread is like a squeeze toy we’ve been given by Massa to keep us distracted. Knowing the facts, I tend to lose patience with the myths and pieties. The word “Progressive” tends to make my coppery-black ass puke, the term “micro aggression” makes me sneer and the word “Woke” makes me sigh “If only…”

    Allowing one’s Agency to atrophy into a Lazy Menu of uninformed Complaint ain’t “Woke” ness.

  125. Swog Hollow
    at 12:12 am on May 24, 2017

    Steven,

    Look man, I get it, you’re tough. Most people aren’t. And most people shouldn’t have to be, because there should be a baseline level of civility and empathy that is notably lacking with many many people, some of whom are posting itt. Your Bull Connors point doesn’t wash with me–yeah, it’s great we’ve moved on from actually murdering black people. That doesn’t mean being an insensitive asshole isn’t a problem. Or that this kind of thing doesn’t hurt people. It does, as many folks have personally attested to itt, as many people I know and love have spoken about, even if your particular upbringing and intellectual makeup allows you to disregard or scoff at it.

    “But you didn’t address my core point. What about a Japanese geek who wants to hang out with Black Jazz Heads and finds himself shunned. Will you go to bat for that agent of diversity? Or will you at least go to bat for me when I rock up to the next NASCAR event and face a self-image-crushingly chilly reception….? Or maybe there are Ultra Orthodox Jewish zones of exclusion I feel entitled to enter: who will bring the placards with me…?”

    I don’t understand what strawman you’re swinging at here. I would find black jazzheads who told a Japanese jazz geek to fuck off to be assholes, too. I generally find Hasidic isolationism and hostility to be offputting. But I also understand a lot of those kinds of clannishness to be reactions, defense mechanism as being tiny islands in a giant and deep cultural sea of whiteness.

    Similarly here:

    “But you couldn’t realize the irony of it, because one of the most vivid memories of my childhood was *constantly* having my fellow classmates touch my hair (surreptitiously) because my hair was a little bit “different”. The twist: my classmates (from when I was three until I was thirteen or fourteen I lived in a notorious ghetto on the Southside of Chicago) were Black. I was Black, too, but being Black with a few mixtures thrown in, my hair was unusual to my classmates. Were they being Racist or curious? Was I being Oppressed or merely going through the All Too Human experience of being “different” enough to attract attention?”

    You seem to be ignoring the contextual difference inherent in this action being performed by a white person. And again, this difference may not matter to you personally, but it is obviously there, and to ignore it by way of making the (correct) point that everyone exhibits these in-group social behaviors is to ignore a cultural power differential, and the difference in potential effect when enacted by the powerless in one case and the powerful in another.

    And while you’re correct that these commenters are not actually Jeff Sessions or Bill Clinton (as per your example), they are people with agency, operating from a hegemonic cultural position with centuries of force behind it (perhaps this is what bothers you about this line of argument? the a priori suggestion that this kind of person should have some kind of natural cultural upperhand? understandable if so though demonstrably true, I think). To put it simply, yes most people have a herd instinct, but I believe, due to the sweep of history, that white people need to work a little harder against theirs.

  126. Swog Hollow
    at 12:20 am on May 24, 2017

    As to this: “Now THAT is Racism, devastating, deadly and stark. Those are the *facts* of Big Ticket Racism, Swog. Give me some *facts*: show me the statistics on how the intrinsic Rudeness of Semi-Autistic White Male Middle Class Gamers is destroying POC.”

    Come on. No one is saying gamer racism or insensitivity is as bad as Clinton’s incarceration bill or the larger and ongoing issue of America’s genocidal prison policies toward young black men. That doesn’t mean that shitty insensitivity and willful non-empathy aren’t problems. They are behaviors that distress people on a day to day individual level, and on a mass, macro level, contribute to the popularity of certain websites, certain political movements, certain politicians.

    In general terms, I don’t think the “you think this is bad but what about THIS” argument tack is very convincing, and you employ it frequently. Two things can both be bad at the same time, to differing extents.

  127. steven augustine
    at 4:15 am on May 24, 2017

    Swog!

    “yeah, it’s great we’ve moved on from actually murdering black people. That doesn’t mean being an insensitive asshole isn’t a problem.”

    A) We have?

    B) Insensitive assholery is a common problem for everyone on the planet, Swog. Special Racial Pleading regarding the matter is silly.

    C) “Two things can both be bad at the same time, to differing extents.”

    The problem is if you concentrate on the minor problem for 90% of the time and chose not to even discuss the real problem and even, weirdly, give the perps of the real problem a free pass over and over again.

    D) “You seem to be ignoring the contextual difference inherent in this action being performed by a white person

    Yeah, I’m missing the difference because it’s nonexistent, Swoggers. Don’t just keep asserting that difference, describe it in convincing detail. Tell me why it made me feel less self-conscious, less like a freak, less like something in a petting zoo, just because Magical Black People were doing it. Do fat White kids feel better about being teased by skinny White kids because the teasers are White? Your point falls apart as absurd with three minutes of thinking on it.

    White People are not magical beings and neither are Black people. This new kind of Racial Argument is just as absurd as the old kind of Racial Argument. And it serves the same purpose: POC and Whites are busy making myths about themselves and about The Other and NO progress is being made and the USA is as segregated as ever. Good luck with that thing about your side being “right” about everything.

  128. steven augustine
    at 4:23 am on May 24, 2017

    “I would find black jazzheads who told a Japanese jazz geek to fuck off to be assholes, too. I generally find Hasidic isolationism and hostility to be offputting. But I also understand a lot of those kinds of clannishness to be reactions, defense mechanism as being tiny islands in a giant and deep cultural sea of whiteness.”

    Swogdawg, you’re just endearingly naive, actually. Your stance is amazingly naive. And you really think the USA is a “deep cultural sea of whiteness”? Where do you live, a compound in Idaho?

  129. Swog Hollow
    at 9:11 am on May 24, 2017

    “Swogdawg, you’re just endearingly naive, actually. Your stance is amazingly naive. And you really think the USA is a “deep cultural sea of whiteness”? Where do you live, a compound in Idaho?”

    Lol, says the guy who moved to Germany. Maybe your finger isn’t quite on the pulse of How Things Are in America 2017?

    At any rate, I don’t need to be talked down to about this. I think the hostility and lack of empathy demonstrated over and over itt, and everywhere you turn in our culture right now, is a problem. A problem on a personal level and a problem on a political level. I think the naive stance is actually to posit some non-malicious sameness–in terms of cause and effect–about everyone’s herd instinct, when you demonstrably have one half of the American political system run by (white) nationalists, elected by voters to whom things like building a wall and Mexicans being rapists sound like True and Good ideas, motivated by a right-wing news bubble that stokes their fear and grievance at every turns, which manifests in exactly the kind of kneejerk anti-PC sentiment you see in countless threads like these.

    You disagree, I hear you. Don’t think there’s anything else to discuss on this point.

  130. Moe Murph
    at 9:44 am on May 24, 2017

    @SwogHollow

    In case you missed it above Swog, will say once again, I have never seen a clearer, more incisive analysis of (as you put it) “white dudes’ inability to imagine not being white dudes.”

    Moe

  131. Swog Hollow
    at 10:12 am on May 24, 2017

    I did miss that, Moe Murph. Thanks a bunch!

  132. Mixed D&D dork
    at 11:59 am on May 24, 2017

    I think it is awesome that so many have taken so much time out of their life to correct you, and tell you what your experience actually was. To many, there are no other vantage points, save their own. “I was a white fat geek, so get over your being Black” seems demonstrative of your thesis. How irony escapes those in the midst of it is baffling.

  133. steven augustine
    at 12:57 pm on May 24, 2017

    Swog!

    “At any rate, I don’t need to be talked down to about this.”

    Because of your Life experiences! Of course. You can gainsay whatever hard-earned truths my experiences bring to this “debate”. I get that. You’ve fully developed the apparatus required to tell the difference between being N-worded or merely coming up against a disinterested fellow human who’s not there to nurture or praise you (and doesn’t feel he or she should be)… which is what I mean by “nuance”. Your Hypotheticals rock, man. You know so much I never knew I never knew.

    “Lol, says the guy who moved to Germany. Maybe your finger isn’t quite on the pulse of How Things Are in America 2017?”

    Ohhhh, that’s a YouTube-style non sequitur flame, Swoggie… not much argument or info there but I’ll bite! But, yeah, you and Morphy nailed it. And my American friends and relatives clearly don’t know much in comparison, so my discussions with them equal zilch. They’re just not virtuous enough, are they? And that Total News Blackout around North America keeps me guessing about situations that *you*, being edgy cross-cultural phenoms, are up to your hipster necks in.

    Tell me: what’s new in Hip Hop, you two crazy kids?

  134. steven augustine
    at 1:22 pm on May 24, 2017

    “You disagree, I hear you. Don’t think there’s anything else to discuss on this point.”

    The obvious answer to that would be, “Yas, Massa!”…

    …but how about this, instead: maybe you don’t have as much to say (of substance) on the topic as you seem to assume…? Maybe using POC as pawns in a vituperative Liberal/ Conservative Proxy War is not providing the service to POC you think it is? Maybe sometimes you should “listen” more than you “talk”? How is “Racial Discrimination” your area of expertise?

  135. Forrest
    at 3:26 pm on May 24, 2017

    Steven, to be fair, I can understand the frustration with business-as-usual politics and the harsher implications of an American dynasty like the Clintons. Plus you have similarish feelings about Beatty that I have about Yanagihara.
    More power to you, seriously!
    But, and hear me out, I think you underestimate the importance over the superfluous and the superficialities of life. Sure, it’s an experential account of a Latino nerd being rebuffed by white nerds on specious reasoning on racist stuff passed down the familial line. But it’s hard not see you on the flipside arguing that this entire experiential account is entirely beside the “real” racisim. Plus postmodernism’s fifth joke is in Niels Borh: “Don’t tell God what to do.” In less cryptic words: don’t assume the basis of Clintonite business-as-usual politics, because it makes an ass of u and me.
    And you’re YouTube savvy, you should know the paranoid and real-world consequences an unimportant hobby like, say, video games can have.

  136. Swog Hollow
    at 4:02 pm on May 24, 2017

    “Because of your Life experiences! Of course. You can gainsay whatever hard-earned truths my experiences bring to this “debate”. I get that. You’ve fully developed the apparatus required to tell the difference between being N-worded or merely coming up against a disinterested fellow human who’s not there to nurture or praise you (and doesn’t feel he or she should be)… which is what I mean by “nuance”. Your Hypotheticals rock, man. You know so much I never knew I never knew.”

    I’m as much gainsaying your truths as you are gainsaying the truths of the dozens of POC who have posted itt saying they appreciated the article and have been affected by this kind of thing. You are saying this stuff is trivial and doesn’t/shouldn’t matter. Whole lotta gainsaying going on!

    As a matter of fact, I would never presume to argue with your experience, only to the extent that, by your nature, you seem to want to assert it as the default mode for everyone else, which is not that stylistically different from the right wingers itt.

    “Ohhhh, that’s a YouTube-style non sequitur flame, Swoggie… not much argument or info there but I’ll bite! But, yeah, you and Morphy nailed it. And my American friends and relatives clearly don’t know much in comparison, so my discussions with them equal zilch. They’re just not virtuous enough, are they? And that Total News Blackout around North America keeps me guessing about situations that *you*, being edgy cross-cultural phenoms, are up to your hipster necks in.”

    Seemed like an okay comeback to your unwarranted naive idiot living in a compound in Idaho jab. But I’d rather we kept it civil…

    “You disagree, I hear you. Don’t think there’s anything else to discuss on this point.”
    The obvious answer to that would be, “Yas, Massa!”…

    Seems pretty unnecessary.

    “…but how about this, instead: maybe you don’t have as much to say (of substance) on the topic as you seem to assume…? Maybe using POC as pawns in a vituperative Liberal/ Conservative Proxy War is not providing the service to POC you think it is? Maybe sometimes you should “listen” more than you “talk”? How is “Racial Discrimination” your area of expertise?”

    I don’t actually feel like I have much to say of value experientially. But I have an okay sense of decency, and the kind of society I’d like to live in, and I’m pretty sure it isn’t one where people like me shout down everyone who asks them to imagine being born a different gender/orientation/color/etc.

    I’m sure I should listen more though, probably. And I should say I think your proxy war comment, which you’ve made before, is interesting and contains some truth.

  137. steven augustine
    at 4:07 pm on May 24, 2017

    Forest!

    “Sure, it’s an experential account of a Latino nerd being rebuffed by white nerds on specious reasoning on racist stuff passed down the familial line.”

    On that level it’s fine; the article is about Daniel Jose Ruiz’ experiences, and it’s interesting and I have been there (as have we all, White and Black and Everyone else, which is not a minor point) and I empathize as a Person (period).

    But the comment thread is going in another direction, no? It’s becoming another self-serving bully pulpit for recycling the bullshit meme about all Whites being powerful enough to inflict harm on (or even ruin the lives of) POC with “micro aggressions”. It’s lazy thinking and I object to it on the level that it A) infantilizes POC and B) significantly waters down the ongoing media-wide discussion about Racism. I take that problem seriously. A sense of proportion has to be maintained or the discussion gradually becomes meaningless.

    Re: Clinton: I don’t care what the “basis” for (Progressive) Clinton’s Black-People-Destroying moves were and are, I’m interested in having a look at the devastating results.

    This is supposedly a comment thread about Racism, but the examples of Racism people seem to feel comfortable discussing are so tame they almost come off as the complaints of the Privileged. Because, again: a sense of proportion actually does matter IRL. Yes, some of those Gamers can be a nasty bunch. So can members of your family. Things only become genuinely alarming (with either group) when verbal and physical violence kicks in. Having one’s hair touched or withstanding jokes about being a Black Frodo are not on a plane with being N-worded or fat-shamed or beaten up or raped… sorry. This comment thread is not exactly Rosa Parks territory. Anyone who thinks it is obvious very lucky… and naive.

    To recap: POC felt drawn to a “Super White” environment, had some (or many) day-ruining experiences as a result and… what’s the next step? Figuring out why this is… or taking Gamers to court? Or is the thread just an Orgy of Rightness?

    Swog’s Side is convinced it’s Right, it appears. I’m just questioning A) how much thinking they’ve done on the matter (and for how many decades) and B) if they’re interested in working out Solutions or just pointing the finger and venting a weird rage that seems to transcend the subject.

    “And you’re YouTube savvy, you should know the paranoid and real-world consequences an unimportant hobby like, say, video games can have.”

    Well, let’s list some of these consequences and figure out if the consequences can be mitigated in some way by stamping a default RACIST on the foreheads of a few million people we don’t know. While, coincidentally, giving (eg) the genuinely powerful Bill Clinton a free pass because he’s “Progressive” (and on “our” team).

  138. steven augustine
    at 4:15 pm on May 24, 2017

    erratum: “Anyone who thinks it is is obviously very lucky…”

    @Swog: no hard feelings, man! I’m probably trying to use the Comment Thread medium in a way that it just won’t bear. I’m just tired of having the same limited zero sum “debate” on these topics. We could cover MUCH more ground, I feel, and even make discoveries… but, nah. Format sucks.

  139. Forrest
    at 5:48 pm on May 24, 2017

    Steven,
    Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat. Shorn of symbolic value or its aesthetic dimension that is what literally happened. I’m willing to take “micro-aggressions” more on that basis; there’s them considered red flags for harsher stuff incoming. Like, is it so far to go from snide remark to suckerpunch and then worse from there? Should the lion’s share of American attention spans (not a good reputation) be spent on more graphic descriptions of real horrowshow violence? I could tell stories of small town homophobes and make it colorful as well. But that risks being food for a common-demoninator society manned by a large margin straights wanting an education in emotions.
    Also the video game thing had been a point of comparison: I needn’t tell you of women being run from their homes and livelihoods by virtue of having opinions. Hell, type “feminism” and there is a cottage industry dedicated to the leveraging of their experience over ours. And these people didn’t pull for Clinton, at least last I checked.
    Having conceptual tools like “micro-aggressions” is useful. In a mediated environmemt, it’s the critical mass of meaning that’s worrisome rather than the meaning. Especially when you’re outnumbered, the universal values quickly turn to pig-shit.
    Still I sense we agree on a lot more than disagree, maybe. I shake my fist at your opinion of David Bowie!

  140. Swog Hollow
    at 5:49 pm on May 24, 2017

    Steven,

    Agreed. Comments fields really encourage binary discussion, particularly on a subject like this, in which no one feels like giving the other side the benefit of the doubt (I admittedly and obviously don’t).

    Fwiw, I still feel like I’ve gotten some stuff out of this. Again, the proxy war about POC idea, while I do not think is by any means comprehensive, has merit and explanatory power, and is something that has been bouncing around in my head, so I don’t think it’s all just meaningless shouting. Maybe 98%. Have a good one.

  141. steven augustine
    at 6:16 pm on May 24, 2017

    Forest!

    “Still I sense we agree on a lot more than disagree, maybe. I shake my fist at your opinion of David Bowie!”

    Har! At least I’m not Bob Christgau!

  142. steven augustine
    at 6:18 pm on May 24, 2017

    (erratum: damn, I meant FORREST! sorry!)

  143. Forrest
    at 6:27 pm on May 24, 2017

    Steven,

    “Har! At least I’m not Bob Christgau!”

    Maybe, maybe not, you could be. And no worries about the name. It’s fake anyways.

  144. H.A.
    at 7:42 pm on May 24, 2017

    Meanwhile is Syria..

  145. steven augustine
    at 8:17 pm on May 24, 2017

    @ H.A.

    Don’t get me started on that one…!

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