Since Arturo talked about sci-fi/fantasy conventions earlier this week, it’s a good time to let…
By Guest Contributor Chaka Cumberbatch; originally published at XOJane
So, here’s the deal: I’m a cosplayer. If you don’t already know one of us in person, (and you probably do–we’re everywhere) you’ve probably seen people like me on the news–all dolled up in a rainbow of face paint and eye-popping wigs, 50 shades of spandex, and skyscraper shoes, for the sake of expressing love for and bringing our favorite characters to life at sci-fi, comic book, video game, and anime conventions.
Since I started cosplaying in 2008, I’ve traveled the country, hitting up as many cons as financially possible, all the while making incredible friends, unforgettable memories, and lugging hard-to-get-through-airport-security props along the way. (Have you ever tried to fly with a dress made out of plastic bubbles? Fun fact: you can’t. But you can ship it to your hotel!)
Here’s the second deal: I’m also black. Which is fine by most everyone…until I have the audacity to cosplay a character who isn’t.
After my pictures started making the rounds on deviantArt, Tumblr, and 4chan, it became pretty clear that my cosplay brings all the racists to the yard, and they’re, like, white cosplay is better than yours.
By Arturo R. García We’ll have our annual two-part San Diego Comic-Con preview starting on…
By Guest Contributor Jen Wang, cross-posted from Disgrasian
I sat down to write about the fallout that’s ensued since ESPN editor Anthony Federico wrote that “Chink In The Armor” headline a little over a week ago, and I ended up with a bunch of stories about myself. In some ways though, I think these notes better articulate my frustration and anger over many of the conversations that have taken place about Jeremy Lin with regard to race than explicit words to that effect would have. Or maybe I just really like talking about myself.
For most of my life, I’ve been a sports fan. I was born and raised in Texas, so it was mandatory. More to the point, I was born and raised Chinese American in Texas. I couldn’t look like my peers, I couldn’t be accepted as an equal by many of my peers, but I could root for the same teams as my peers. And somewhere deep down, I probably figured that if I could demonstrate the same devotion to the idols of my peers, they would eventually come around to the idea that I wasn’t all that different from them, and perhaps even accept me as one of their own.
My father arrived in College Station, Texas from Taiwan in 1965 on a student visa. He was one of several students from Taiwan who went to Texas A&M to pursue graduate degrees in the sciences that year. They all lived together. They all had nothing. Only two years before my dad began his studies at A&M, the school admitted its first African American students. My dad recalls that was right around the time the school shut down its campus chapter of the Ku Klux Klan. He and my mom met a few years later when she came over from Taiwan to attend a nearby women’s college. I have to think the cultural climate of small-town Texas was what put their relationship in fast-forward. They met one Thanksgiving when all of the American students from their schools were home with their families, married a year later, had my brother less than a year after that. My mother has stories from that time of being told to sit at the back of the bus; my father, who only had a bike in those first few years, used to get run off the road by other students in cars who thought it was funny to see a Chinaman in a ditch.
By Arturo R. García
Apologies in advance: charting the number of POCs working on the DC Comics relaunch is proving to be tougher than anticipated. Best to wait on that column rather than risk factual errors.
However, other data coming in suggests at least one glaring disparity in DC’s “new, diverse” vision, and more potential trouble for some characters.
By Arturo R. García
Since there’s at least a few Doctor Who fans among our readers, I’d like to open up a space for us to remember Elisabeth Sladen, who played one of the series’ cornerstone characters, Sarah Jane Smith. Sladen, 63, died Tuesday after a battle with cancer.
Read the Post Doctor Who Open Thread: RIP Elisabeth Sladen
by Latoya Peterson
There comes a time, in every fan’s life, when you know you’re going to just shut up and take the blue pill.
For me, this normally comes up with new fantasy series. I am well aware of the dynamics of the fantasy world, and that most of the best authors generally create worlds in a certain mold: vaguely Middle Ages, super segregated European society archetypes and norms in play. The good are generally white and fair haired, the bad are at least dark haired, if not dark skinned. This is the major basis for most mainstream fantasy series (and even newer genres like urban fantasy follow this mold.) This is due to the sci-fi and fantasy world’s twist on Andrea Rubenstein’s video game based concept of the the usual amount of racism:
It starts with a primarily white universe*. If you really look at the worlds that the majority of games, even today, are set in, you’ll most likely notice a pattern: protagonists, antagonists, and random NPCs will tend to be white more often than not. You can read more about this trend, which is not confined to video games, in the post Why is the Universe full of White people? over at Angry Black Woman Blog.
The usual amount of racism doesn’t stop with the relative invisiblity of non-white characters, though. It extends to the concept that every non-white character that exists does so in a marked (versus the unmarked white) state. The marking of a character can be through comments drawing attention to the character’s race and/or through the use of clear racial stereotypes.
And, we fen of color know that generally, if we want to dip a toe in new worlds, they are going to be filled to bursting with white folks. As Angry Black Woman wrote a few years back:
12 colonies or planets filled with humans. So far I have seen exactly 2 black people (one was killed 42 minutes after he showed up on the screen), one Asian person (who isn’t even human, she’s a Cylon in disguise), one Latino person (whose son, for some crazy reason, is played by a white dude), and that’s it. The rest of the people are all white. White people everywhere. This is stupid. If you have billions of humans on 12 planets I refuse to believe that only the white people would survive. Statistics say so. Unless there weren’t many black people on the colonies to begin with. […]
White, heterosexual men have the luxury of being able to turn to 99% of the channels beamed into their TVs and see themselves portrayed in a manner that makes them comfortable and happy. Most white women, do, too. Minorities of most any stripe do not have that luxury. This is especially true of ethnic minorities. Why do we ‘bean count’? Because we can. That’s not flippancy, that’s a fact. I can look at my TV and count the number of black people I see because there are so few of them and they tend to stand out in the sea of whiteness.
When we bring up this line of reasoning, rabid fans trot out foolish justifications. My personal favorite: “Black people weren’t everywhere.”
Shakespeare wrote Othello, The Moor of Venice in the fucking 1600s. Why the hell are people still using that tired ass excuse for writers who were around for the end of segregation? Octavia Butler once said in an interview that you can confront supposedly progressive science fiction writers with their all white worlds, and many of them will be forced to admit something is wrong, just by simple logic and common sense. Yet, this madness keeps happening, even once the issue is pointed out.
Anyway, Game of Thrones is on HBO. I’ve been a fan of the series ever since a friend of mine and I swapped fantasy novels one afternoon at my apartment – he gave me A Game of Thrones, the first in George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series, and I gave him Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel’s Dart. I devoured the series, even though it isn’t my normal cup of tea, and ran straight into Martin’s bout of writer’s block. A Feast for Crows dropped in November of 2005, a few weeks after I had caught up with the other three. And after that was over, it’s been half a decade since I’ve immersed myself in that world. (How long has it been? We stopped doing the book exchange before my friend even thought about having a baby – the kid is now three. I hadn’t even heard of Mixed Media Watch then, I think it was still on Xenga. I stopped checking Martin’s blog for updates back in 2008. And Jacqueline Carey has concluded three story arcs across three generations across Terre D’Ange, Ch’in, and all points in between.)
Still, I was excited enough for the series. I had already resigned myself to whatever background noise style racism was going to be in the series, having read all the books. Swallowed my bluepill, prepared to head happily into Westero with a minimum of drama. Was it too much to ask that I would be able to enjoy the show in peace? Could I just keep my bottle of Jameson at the ready for the inevitable “Winter is Coming” reference, make my little rules for the drinking game (imps, nipples, incest are already marked), and figure out if the adaptation measures up to the books?
Nope. Instead, I got racism in my fandom (thanks to Drago and the Dothraki), and sexism from the mainstream media.
*Sigh.* Where do we even begin? Read the Post Can I Just Watch A Game of Thrones in Peace? [Brown Feminist Fan Rant]
By Guest Contributor Bao Phi, originally posted at the Star Tribune Your Voices Blog
I’ve told this story a million times: when I was young, my father kept me off the streets and saved much needed money buying me the toys I wanted by getting me a library card and teaching me to walk to the Franklin Avenue library, and there began my love of books and stories.
What I’ve written less about is the books I gravitated towards: books about mythological monsters, Greek gods and heroes, King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, Lord of the Rings, my older sister’s Elfquest collection and X-men comic books. And the secret of many a nerd of color from the ‘hood: my lifelong devotion with role playing games such as Dungeons and Dragons, and Vampire: the Masquerade (making vampire fixations embarrassing long before Stephanie Meyer).
Although I had friends in and out of the neighborhood who were also nerds, it definitely wasn’t typical. I remember one of my fellow nerds of color inviting me to a Rifts game in a tough tone of voice as if he was initiating me into a gang, all the while looking around nervously as if his street cred would be in serious jeopardy if anyone overheard him talking about how much SDC a Glitterboy had.
Nowadays of course, being a nerd can mean big money. Everything from Tolkien to comic books to video games is finding its way into mainstream America’s fast food blood stream. Along with it seems to be the rebellious streak that goes along with being the kid who gets picked on for knowing how to write in Tolkien’s Dwarven – a certain righteousness about being the odd person out, the strange smug martyrdom that comes from knowing that painting miniatures and possessing a dice bag marked you as being a freak and an outsider.
But then how do nerds of color like me fit in, and how do we deal with fellow nerds who don’t want to talk about things like race and class in comic books, video games, role playing games, and movies? I’ll be the first to admit, I got into all of that stuff for the escapism it allowed. It was invaluable to me, as a refugee from a war growing up in an economically poor urban area, to fantasize that I was someone else, somewhere else. I’d rather be a paladin with a war horse riding to battle a chimera than be the Vietnamese ghetto refugee nerd running from the dudes on my block who tried to jump me on my way to and from CUHCC clinic to get my teeth cleaned.