yeloson: (stop silencing us)
[personal profile] yeloson
We are not allowed to express our political needs or tell our political histories because when we do it makes other people feel uncomfortable....silence about America's racial legacy is the price of admission to the social contract. - Melissa Harris-Lacewell

(Speaking from heart, speaking to healing. You know and I know the hate is out there. I don't link to it in these things because why should we let their hate use us like a computer virus, forcing us to forward hate on to each other? Wave after wave comes, so let's speak power and strength and do the opposite of what they do.)

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

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

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

But those conversations failed.

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

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

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

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

But my story is not unique. We've been silenced, we've been pushed out. What is changing at this point, is that we're giving up the hope of working with broken social contracts. We're giving up on trying to engage in negotiations and reconciliation with people and groups that place their primacy and our marginalization as a price to admission. We're making our own.

And this is where we face white rage. It's not enough to push us out of the circles and silence us there, it's the fact that we're having conversations of our own, building our own circles, and our price of admission is equal participation and they are outraged to hear the word "NO" applied to their demands to be let in, to silence us in our own spaces, to make themselves the center here as well, all guised under the rationalizations of making "civilized discourse", "letting all sides be heard", or quite simply, getting to be the authority.

I'm watching a lot of folks go through the same journey I did- where you realize hate will follow you into your escapisms, where you realize we're not all one because we love the same thing, where you start to find out whether people respect you as a person, or just for what you can do for them.

Maybe the question you need to ask, isn't "How can I say this so they understand?" but instead, "Why does this person with this level of intelligence not understand already?"

Or maybe you need to ask if you still want to be paying the price of admission to play in those circles, or if you need to be charging your own admission and opening up your own.

(ETA: I'm amused at the number of white folks showing up to comment, imagining that this is a plea for reconciliation, or better behavior, or sympathy cookies. It's not. I'm talking to other people of color going through the growing pains of realizing their circles aren't as "colorblind" as they thought they were. As hard as it might be to imagine, people exist outside of you, and the world is not all in relation to you.)

Date: 2009-03-23 04:36 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] gwailowrite.livejournal.com
This post is so well put. I hope many read it and understand...and choose to understand.

Date: 2009-03-23 04:51 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] yeloson.livejournal.com
This is more about our circles and organizing, and choosing to disengage and stop trying to fix tainted social groups with broken core values... I've pretty much given up the role of educating the lost on that.

Date: 2009-03-23 08:20 pm (UTC)
ext_6191: (Default)
From: [identity profile] abydosangel.livejournal.com
This is more about our circles and organizing, and choosing to disengage and stop trying to fix tainted social groups with broken core values.

Self preservation at it's finest.

Thanks for this post. It says so much and says it well.

Date: 2009-03-23 05:13 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kialio.livejournal.com
I've found that trying to get others to understand is like rubbing your heart against a cheese grater.

Date: 2009-03-23 03:14 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] yeloson.livejournal.com
Pretty much. I remember a phrase my friend's father said: "You're just a toy to them. When they're done with you, they'll throw you away."

People's feelings matter, toys feelings do not. And toys that talk back and try to be people? It's like the Uncanny Valley that induces rage. It's easier to love an inanimate object, or a pet, than it is to love us.

Trying to love someone hating you? Abusive relationship at best. Suicide at worst.

Date: 2009-03-23 05:22 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ailiathena.livejournal.com
Important points, great illustration of them. Thanks.

Date: 2009-03-23 09:55 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rcloenen-ruiz.livejournal.com
I love how this post puts into words my frustration on reading posts written by nay-sayers. But it's not my role to repeat what they've heard and read repeated over and over again. Some people just choose to remain blind.

THIS.

Date: 2009-03-23 08:11 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] theotherbaldwin.livejournal.com
had just gotten out of the registration line and saw a person dressed up in blackface as a drow/dark elf.

Yes. I so wanted to join a fun fantasy LARP (live action rpg), and NERO seemd like a good system, and then I got to the part about the make-up requirements for the dark elf (http://www.nerodfw.net/plot/racepacket/DarkelfPacket.pdf). This seemed doubly not okay, and then triply not okay considering how were were in Texas. ;p

Re: THIS.

Date: 2009-03-23 08:24 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] yeloson.livejournal.com
For extra bonus points at GenCon:

1) Most of the people working the convention center were black
2) The drow cosplayers would walk out of the convention, into the general public make up and all
3) Pictures of a "Drow lynching" basically started showing up with the white elves standing over the drow with swords aimed at their throats.

Re: THIS.

Date: 2009-03-23 08:59 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jonquil.livejournal.com
Oh, Jesus wept.

Re: THIS.

Date: 2009-03-23 09:29 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] theotherbaldwin.livejournal.com
Pictures of a "Drow lynching" basically started showing up with the white elves standing over the drow with swords aimed at their throats

Jesus.

If I were feeling charitible I' could chalk up the first two to LART-worthy cluelessness.

But this...

I have no words.

Re: THIS.

Date: 2009-03-24 01:02 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] metonymy.livejournal.com
...

There is no "WTF" big enough. Unless I spray-paint it across the Goodyear Blimp.

Date: 2009-03-23 08:34 pm (UTC)
littlebutfierce: (Default)
From: [personal profile] littlebutfierce
Or maybe you need to ask if you still want to be paying the price of admission to play in those circles, or if you need to be charging your own admission and opening up your own.

A-fucking-men.

Date: 2009-03-23 09:45 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] thistleingrey.livejournal.com
Word.

I've been friends with a couple overlapping groups of tabletop and LARP gamers for more than fifteen years--mostly watching, not playing. I went to DunDraCon this year and was, somehow, still surprised that I was visibly more of a minority there than at the big professional humanities conferences where I've presented papers. And I've asked my friends occasionally why they think this is, and it's always, "Oh, I don't know." One African American man games sometimes with one of the groups, and a few individuals make unmerciful fun of him, picking on mistakes in a way that they don't pick on similar mistakes others make--and they don't know? Someone tells them in no uncertain terms to quit it, and they don't know?

(One of my parents is East Asian, which is enough for "visible minority" at a gaming con around here... and as I think you know, locally we are not short on cultural diversity.)

Date: 2009-03-24 02:40 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] yeloson.livejournal.com
I remember one gamer friend of mine lived in Oakland and I was his only friend of color.

You know, because people of color are so hard to find in Oakland, right...

Date: 2009-03-24 01:56 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] dharma-slut.livejournal.com
But see, my mistake wasn't that I was talking to intelligent, well read people - it was that I was continuing to mistake ignorance on the part of intelligent, well read people as unintentional. I was giving benefit of the doubt to the people who had the least excuse to be ignorant of both history and media. It wasn't not knowing, it was choosing not to know.


Oh fuck, I just now made that very same stupid mistake. Again.

Date: 2009-03-24 01:57 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] stewardess.livejournal.com
*wild applause*

Been so far away....offline but

Date: 2009-03-24 03:33 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] femmeflame.livejournal.com
I would like to repost this information in a closed website for leatherfolks. I can only say that I would not change a word... is that ok with you?... The role playing conversation is one that is so linked up! If it's not ok... then that's ok too....

PS Thanks for this....

Date: 2009-03-24 03:37 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] arantzain.livejournal.com
Ample evidence recently about how badly safe-spaces are needed. I'm still reeling over the anecdote up-thread.

Re: Blackface. Not acceptable on so many levels. Was going to make some comment pointing out that kids 12 - 15, especially from the white middle-class demographics, might not have encountered the historical and cultural weight of blackface. Then I thought about it, and kids have parents. Kids have older friends in the hobby. Kids should have friends who are not white and middle class (or who are!) and are aware of the problems here, and say, hey, wait, dumbass. But these weren't kids, anyway. They're adults who --as you've said-- are selecting against investigating the historical and social circumstances of people who aren't them, and are therefore getting a pass on the kind of education that would have introduced blackface.

So, we're back to: no excuse, either for these people wearing blackface, or for (white) others in the community not educating them with a clue-by-four.

I'm sorry y(our) hobby does this, to you and to so many others. And I hope this comment doesn't compound the problem; you've made me think and reevaluate when you were under no obligation, and much cost, to do either.

I guess I've found that the myth of SF/Fantasy liberalism is half the problem; genre-members are so imaginative and enlightened they can't be wrong.

Date: 2009-03-24 05:12 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] yeloson.livejournal.com
The cosplayers were in their 20's. But regardless of age, there's enough people at that convention who could have applied some kind of social pressure to say, "This is not cool" to make it something people don't do.

I went up to the girl and asked, "Have you ever heard of the history of blackface?" And she sheepishly nodded and I was so pissed off that she couldn't even say shit that I just stormed off.

So, again, this is not people not knowing, this is people choosing to not know.

Date: 2009-03-24 05:21 am (UTC)
ext_2721: original art by james jean (jamesjean.com) (Default)
From: [identity profile] skywardprodigal.livejournal.com
Hey. Thanks for this post. I'm with you on the willfully not getting it. Earlier today I messed up and addressed someone who'd followed a link from a locked post to this one. They were all, "Nice, but, overreacting" bullshit and I went off -- which was a waste of my time, but, it's impressive to me just how... Anyway. I'm grateful for you.

You rock.

Date: 2009-03-24 05:34 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] yeloson.livejournal.com
That's why this post is addressed to us. It's not only not our responsibility to teach them, it's time we walk away and do for us. It's literally an abusive relationship, and the only way to win is to leave. We imagine if we heal them we can heal ourselves, and it's not true at all. We can heal ourselves and only they can heal theirselves.

It's past time for them to do their own work.

And yeah, they're going to rage. All abusers do. The thing the abuser can't stand is the person walking away, being free of their control, of simply -not- mattering, not being the center of the universe. Not being the authority.

It's not much. A few places online. A few stories of escapism. But that's more than we've ever had. And if imagining things is the first step to creating them, us making places to do that, taking back the power of authorship of our stories, histories, dreams, and histories to be?

This a step in our healing.

And they will rage and flip out, and scream about how irrational and violent we are, because they cannot imagine a world beyond themselves. When they can, perhaps they can start their healing.

Date: 2009-03-27 03:35 am (UTC)
ext_2721: original art by james jean (jamesjean.com) (Default)
From: [identity profile] skywardprodigal.livejournal.com
That's why this post is addressed to us.

Hello, us!

It's not only not our responsibility to teach them, it's time we walk away and do for us.

Which I need to keep doing. Ah, the length of my bl-list.

We imagine if we heal them we can heal ourselves, and it's not true at all.

No, it really isn't. Two skinny fish won't fry.

We can heal ourselves and only they can heal theirselves.

I think this is what drives the comparisons to Bull Connor, or the insistence that those of us who don't maintain 'polite' tones when addressing racism-- what happens if they get healed? What happens if we get free. Health is scary if you've never seen it. Also, headgames don't work as well.


And yeah, they're going to rage. All abusers do. The thing the abuser can't stand is the person walking away, being free of their control, of simply -not- mattering, not being the center of the universe. Not being the authority.


You know I know.

And if imagining things is the first step to creating them, us making places to do that, taking back the power of authorship of our stories, histories, dreams, and histories to be?

No longer trying to reason with or appeal to them but get busy with this party called joy.


And they will rage and flip out, and scream about how irrational and violent we are, because they cannot imagine a world beyond themselves.


Or they will say, "You're too angry." Or, "You're debating wrong." Or "The rhetorical device you're using isn't suitable to the aims." Or, "You are a reverse racist." Or, "You insulted me, so I insulted you." Or, "You are an elitist." Or, "You are uneducated." Or, "You are passionate." Or, "You are manipulative." Or, "The number of blacks lynched was not X-Y but X-N." Or. Or. Or.


Date: 2009-03-24 07:13 am (UTC)
ext_6167: (Default)
From: [identity profile] delux-vivens.livejournal.com
"Why does this person with this level of intelligence not understand already?"

This is what I want to know, but you know how "angry" I am...

Date: 2009-03-24 12:37 pm (UTC)
ext_6487: (Default)
From: [identity profile] leana106.livejournal.com
I like your icon.

Date: 2009-03-24 02:37 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] yeloson.livejournal.com
Well, you know, it's SO HARD to understand when we don't provide the burden of proof which is all encompassing AND comfortable and friendly in talking about genocide. It's SO HARD to understand without a friendly white person to translate our history of blood and tears into a fun after-school special with hugs, cookies and sparkly text at the end.

It's SO HARD to understand when it requires dislodging a core belief of white supremacy.

Why are we sooo meeeen?!?

Date: 2009-03-24 12:36 pm (UTC)
ext_6487: (Default)
From: [identity profile] leana106.livejournal.com
Excellent post, although it makes the tiny optimist in my heart sad.

Date: 2009-03-24 02:38 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] yeloson.livejournal.com
My optimist is doing fine. When there's a road to a better place and you're taking it, is much more optimism producing than no road at all.

Date: 2009-03-25 12:53 pm (UTC)
ext_6487: (Default)
From: [identity profile] leana106.livejournal.com
This is very true--a lot of the stuff coming out of this is really good, and I'm so excited by [community profile] verb_noire I really don't know what to do. I guess the willful ignorance is irritating--I mean, if someone tells me I'm making them feel bad, I want to see where I went wrong so I don't do it again, not tell them that they're silly for feeling bad.

Date: 2009-03-25 03:06 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] yeloson.livejournal.com
There's plenty of self-education material out there for people to read up on, or workshops to attend.

What drives people away from these things is not one person, but a group of people, and then the rest of everyone else standing around, doing nothing to object to that behavior.

Date: 2009-03-24 07:02 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] brand-of-amber.livejournal.com
I've hated losing a lot of people I respected from the places where I talk about stuff most regularly. It sucks.

But, I can't blame you for going. I've seen, again and again, people get crushed and pissed on and targeted and man... I can't believe anyone would put up with that shit.

So I'm glad you're building things that work for you now. Whatever suck or missing or white-liberal-bullshit I've got in me, that's my problem. Do your thing, have fun, and I wish you all the best.

Date: 2009-03-24 07:12 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] yeloson.livejournal.com
You know, specifically with that scene, it was the blatant way in which I would say things, crickets, then someone else would say the same thing and then get responded to.

Even in the same threads.

And then 3 months later self congrats at a progressive community.

Date: 2009-03-24 07:32 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] brand-of-amber.livejournal.com
Yep.

I remember this one thread a year or so back where two GoC said something, a woman said something, and there was either no reply or the semi-hostile questioning that so often happens. I came on, white male that I am, said the exact same thing, and got wide scale approval and support.

I sat there thinking about how fucked it was. I mean, I'm proud of my communication abilities -- but here I was staring in the face of near absolute proof that a large part of my ability to convince people isn't because I'm all slick with the language, but because I'm white, and male, and thus "right" by default.

And then I realize that I'm thinking about -my discomfort- in a thread where I'm the one who got heard. How fucked is that? Like, four people get pissed on, I get heard for unfair reasons, and my first reaction is about how it sucks for me?

Jesus.

Date: 2009-03-24 08:01 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] yeloson.livejournal.com
At least you're thinking about it.

Date: 2009-03-24 11:05 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] brand-of-amber.livejournal.com
Sure, but that's rather the point isn't it?

Why should you have to stick around and have your fun and humanity punched in the face while I work on my own shit?

There are people who deliberately won't get it, and there are people who are working on it. The two may not be the same in the long term, but I have to think we do pretty much the same thing in the short term. And you shouldn't have to deal with it all the damn time, either way.

Date: 2009-03-24 11:21 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] yeloson.livejournal.com
Yes, exactly. But my point is, you're lightyears ahead because you're not demanding me to be your teacher.

Date: 2009-03-28 04:30 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] cindy-pon.livejournal.com
got directed here via shawn.
thanks for this post. it's sad that
you were made to feel like an outsider
and so angry going to something you thought
you loved.

Date: 2009-04-03 05:06 pm (UTC)
ext_6366: Red haired, dark skinned, lollipop girl (Default)
From: [identity profile] the-willow.insanejournal.com (from livejournal.com)
DV linked this letter by Zora Neale Hurston (http://www.lewrockwell.com/epstein/epstein15.html) a while back. And it turned my head for a loop, but I found myself nodding some. These days I'm nodding far more enthusiastically.

We haven't been wanted or accepted, but heaven forbid there's a widespread realization that all our attempts to teach and explain have been nothing but chasing after the white mare (either in reality, or as viewed by those we were attempting to reach).

Since about mid February, every time I sat down to write, the Nguzo Saba have been dancing through my head - particularly Kujichagulia and Ujamaa and Ujima.

When I met Dr. Karenga, I thought the man was full of hot air. I don't know how valid an opinion many years old and skewed might be; But the Nguzo Saba, which were a confusing concept in high school and seemed somewhat isolating to me in college, have jumped into independent meaning for me now

Date: 2009-04-03 06:05 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] yeloson.livejournal.com
Yeah. It's really interesting the ways in which when they want to "find themselves" they can stomp all over our cultures and remake them, but when we go and redefine our own, we're just "loopy and ethnocentric".

All of it comes back to the fact that collectively, we're deprogramming abuse. There's a period of hyper pride, that's not the same as real self respect or self esteem, but it's a necessary stepping stone to getting there. It's really easy to fall into missing the messages we often tell ourselves during these periods that we have not yet realized.

(Thinking especially of the folks I knew growing up who used the tools of the 5 Percent/Nation of Gods & Earths or the Kemetic Temple stuff to reorganize their self-esteem systems. While the systems as a whole have a lot of problematic stuff, when I view it through that lens, I have an easier time thinking about the useful lessons without getting caught up on the issues).

But at the heart of it is: We'll never know who we are, if we're not allowed to speak and listen to ourselves, even if it's stumbling starts.

Profile

yeloson: (Default)
yeloson

November 2012

S M T W T F S
    123
45678910
11121314151617
18192021222324
252627282930 

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Oct. 22nd, 2017 10:04 am
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios