America's Whiteness Problem is Part of Your Fandom
Hey, white people. Yeah, all of you. Your fandoms are racist.
No, don’t argue. This isn’t a question. I’m telling you that your fandoms are racist because your shows are racist and the show identity you want to preserve is rooted in white supremacy and Black erasure.
Dr. Who, the show that reluctantly casts Black women only to ignore and marginalize them? The show who booted Pearl Mackie before her episodes even aired, and when reported upon, never mentioned her Blackness, just that her character is gay. Stop pretending you don’t see color and that her treatment had nothing to do with her race. We know her Blackness mattered.
How about the gaming fandoms with their openly racist players and streamers? We currently have PewDiePie apologizing for casually using the N-word again and too many people defending him. He was defended when Disney dropped him and he’s being defended as another developer seeks to ban him. He’s trash but he’s white so he “deserves” another chance, right? No. He doesn’t. Stop protecting racists.
The racism in cosplay is off the rails. From the Overwatch cosplayer who was attacked online for having the audacity to cosplay D.Va to cosplay Blackface, and how being Black is used to exclude you from cosplay photo shoots, the racism and its effects are felt everywhere. Then, when we form our own cosplay communities and conventions, suddenly we’re the ones being racist for wanting to feel safe in our hobby. You can’t win.
And this isn’t limited to con participation. When the organizers of conventions are all white, inclusion stops being an option. Look at the controversy with the all-white leadership of GeekGirlCon, where several members chose to quit and publicly accuse the organization of “reverse racism,” sexism, and fraud rather than include anti-racism content. They felt the content was too offensive and then were offended at their allyship being called into question.
GeekGirlCon is an obvious example of racist leadership. I attend conventions, mostly in the southeast and have found that the more my panel centers Blackness, the less likely it is to be approved by “mainstream” conventions. For example, DragonCon, a huge convention here in Atlanta refused several panels that talked about racism, discrimination, and diversity in fandom, citing lack of interest. One of the reasons why BlerDCon remained attractive despite their leanings toward erasure, was the focus on Black experiences in fandom. Much of the content was led by Black creators in a way I’d never experienced before, something I haven’t seen at larger, “mainstream” conventions and I believe lack of diversity in the leadership creates this lack, as comics have historically been racist.
The status quo of the comics industry is to pander to white, cisgender, heterosexual men. This decision is so hardwired into geek culture that the hint of characters that don’t center them causes screams of “social justice warrior” and “PC police” to reverberate across the forums of reddit. The norm is white male creators all the time, writing Black characters, women characters, every character. This decision impacts the entire industry, from what movies are made to what toys are sold.
And the racism never ceases: there’s whitewashing in movies and television shows, racist depictions of comic characters, and rampant anti-Blackness. Fandom is a shit-show of epic proportions for Black people. And yet, here we are, fully invested in participating in this medium that has told us repeatedly it does not want us there.
Actually, it’s the white people who say they don’t want us there. And they keep saying it. Sometimes they say it explicitly, as when white supremacist Supergirl marched in Charlottesville, Virginia with the would-be Nazis. To this day, she claims that she’s not racist and was only marching with her husband, who is much more honest about his feelings. Her friends claim they had no idea, but white supremacist language is so normal for white people…well, it’s just normal. The fact that the red flag for many people was her participating in that march is telling.
I keep being reminded white people don’t care. At least, they don’t until they get caught. Then they want to prove to everyone that they aren’t racist. That even though they have racist friends, they are different. FYI – you’re not. Then they harass the fuck out of their Black “friends” for some way to atone for the evils of whiteness, because Google requires too much effort and words are confusing. In the meantime, they are still engaging in conversations on how making Johnny Storm a Black man is racist and that Black Panther doesn’t have enough white people in it.
Whiteness begets whiteness. And heaven forbid anything center Blackness or exclude whiteness in any way. Cuz white supremacy is the law of the land and if you forget, they got some tiki torches to remind you. Or they can just make up a new white character like they did with the Aladdin movie because, again, can’t have shit in amerikkka without white people. Except crime, which gets redefined when white people do it. And drug abuse, which again gets reframed as an epidemic that deserves compassion, not harsher drug laws and sentencing. The only thing that gets to be as Black as possible is prison. White people seem okay with that.
Amerikkka has a fucking whiteness problem and it’s killing this country. It’s killing us with its lies and its refusal to correct itself. We now have the least qualified administration in history grabbing brown people off the streets and detaining them indefinitely before shipping them to parts unknown. We have laws being enacted on LGBTQIA rights and freedoms. We have non-Black People of Color (NBPOCs) having their citizenship questioned at will and Black people being murdered by white men who cannot accept their own mediocrity.
And still white people struggle to tell their shitty comic-con friend that they said some racist shit. They still won’t eject racist people from their circles. They still interact with their racist relatives and try to explain how some fucked up remark was actually harmless. They still support the police. And they still protect whiteness at the cost of Black people’s and NBPOC’s lives.
So, don’t question me when I opt out of your fandom gatherings, your watch parties, your cosplay events, or whatever fan event you’re planning. I can’t trust you. Unless you are willing to confront and actively dismantle white supremacy, your whiteness put me in danger. And when you take a moment and realize that you live in a homogeneous echo chamber of bullshit, maybe then you’ll realize you haven’t been doing the work to make this country better. Maybe then you’ll realize you are the problem and actually do something to change it.