You A Whole Ass Black Womxn - They Not Gonna Let You Be Great
I am a fat Black womxn. And a geek. And I question my place in this world all the time.
I question whether I belong. I wonder if I’m immersed enough in the culture. I don’t read many comics. I’m not an illustrator. I don’t write science fiction or fantasy. I HATE almost all board (bored) games. I like the low-bar pop culture stuff like casual gaming, cartoons, movies, books, and cosplay. I fucking adore cosplay. But does any of this give me geek cred?
A lot of people, the gate keepers, the line makers, the traditionalists, and the rule creators would say no. Fourteen years of attending conventions, dressing up as fictional characters that speak to and for me on some level doesn’t matter because I don’t always know the ins and outs of the characters I cosplay as or because I don’t try to look exactly like them. Fourteen years but I haven’t read the comics of the characters I cosplay, so my interest is fake. Fourteen years and I cosplay thin, white characters which means I hate myself and idolize whiteness and its creations. Fourteen years of me being an inauthentic wanna-be in a culture that has made no bones about my intrusion into a space not created for people like me.
And still I go. I buy my tickets, rent my hotel rooms, attend photoshoots, wander the con floor, and look for spaces and opportunities for me to bring my full self to these events. I tried traditional routes, applying, asking for space. Networking with people in hopes of creating opportunities for myself and others…
I went to Black owned conventions in hopes of finding people like me and succeeded in finding Black creators – mainly Black male creators, and very few Black womxn doing more than support roles with almost none of them in cosplay. I went to white run conventions in hopes of finding people like me and met anti-Blackness, fatphobia, and gatekeeping in any infinite number of ways. And year after year I attended, pitched content, and did interviews as I tried to carve out a space for Black womxn like myself.
I’ve had a modicum of success, but not without losses. I’ve seen some progress, but not without cost. I can be me, but I’m not supposed to call attention to it. I can center Blackness, as long as I don’t state that’s what I’m doing. I am allowed to exist as long as I remember my place and make space for those who historically and currently do not make space for me. As long as I remember whose sandbox I’m playing in, and act in ways they approve, I can stay.
But your sandbox is really a litter box and I don’t want to play in your shitty sand anymore.
There is a self-perpetuating toxicity in american culture, one that deifies power and seeks to destroy anyone who says anything unfavorable about it. I struggle with this constantly – I’ve met people who were shitty in innumerable ways, who overtly and badly play power games with those around them. I watch people ignore all their problematic shit and support them anyway. I watch people who I respect align with them because they appear to tick the right boxes while ignoring the existence of the wrong boxes. And I watch toxic shit grow and thrive and get even more traction and more power without anyone holding them accountable for the harm they’ve caused. The harm they’ll continue to do because they have gotten away with it in the past. They will become a bigger monster and when they cause mass harm, you, the people who chose to continue supporting them, will ask “how did they get away with this” while never owning your role in the horror.
You cosign on being garbage and then pretend you don’t stink. You become the gatekeepers, the line holders, the traditionalists and the rule makers because it give you power today and not enough people are willing to risk that to make the world better for others. You live as the horror you claim to fight while steadily denying who and what you are.
And I watch. And I speak. And I fail to change anything again and again. I fail because power matters and people don’t. I fail because too many people believe that power will protect them rather than rotting them from the inside out. I fail because the system is corrupt and to thrive, you must corrupt yourself too and not enough of you have a problem with that.
My choice in the face of all this remains the same: fuck their rules and fuck their litter box. I refuse to tie myself to those who only acknowledge my humanity in my usefulness to them. I choose not to align with corrupt forces. I choose to walk away. That doesn’t mean I’m not afraid because I am. But I also know that walking away will save me in more ways than I can list.
People want you to believe they have power over you. They want you to believe you need them. I’m here to tell you that’s a fucking lie. That’s not to say they can’t wreck your shit, because they can. Having had my shit wrecked numerous times, I can speak to that. I’ve learned this lesson and the true lesson is that unless they kill me, I can and will always get back up and try again. Whether it’s rebuild or create something completely new, I will keep pushing without them because I DON’T NEED THEM. And neither do you. Anyone who says the opposite advocates for them, not for you.
You do not need them.
The world ain’t gonna let you be great. The systems in play ain’t gonna let you be great nor will the people who ascribe to them. You become great by staring those obstacles in the face, giving them the finger, and building your own fucking road. Because those with power don’t share power unless there is something for them to gain at your expense. But there are enough of us out here looking for something better, something new to support and we’re here looking for those brave enough to do it.
I don’t want the now; I want the new. Make that new shit with no apologies.
Take your greatness and fly.
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