Inclusion Must Be Intentional
If there is one word I’m tired of hearing, it’s “pandering.”
That has become the buzzword of people irritated by the idea that they are not being centered in every narrative, i.e. cis-het white men who think the universe and everyone’s imagination is meant to revolve around them. Every time a movie or a fandom centers someone who is Black or a person of color, female, larger bodied, differently abled, any religion other than christian, or identifies as LGBTQIA+, white capitalist, patriarchal supremacists and their supporters start raging about how this wasn’t what the creator envisioned, as though creations aren’t re-imagined all the time. It has become the most boring conversation in fandom, especially considering how little change there has been in the media landscape. We get buzzwords and jargon from the white men who have adapted to the language of inclusion, but the implementation of diverse content continues to be minimal – very often tokens assuaging the egos of the easily satisfied and the checklist of the white men sitting at the table. Thing is, if we’re not sitting at the table, we’re what’s being served on it. So, yes, while it is nice seeing people who somewhat look like me on the screen, it’s still not our storytellers sharing our stories and our experiences.
I want to see more people like me. I want to see Black womxn, fat, Black womxn. I want to see people fucking up and figuring it out. I want to see stories where we are not caricatures or comic relief or the sassy friend or belligerent employee. I don’t want to see people like me as the sidekick or the sidechick anymore. I’m not interested in portrayed as the mistake. And if wanting to see stories that reflect my experience is pandering, then pander the fuck away. I’ll be damned if I’m going to sit here and have these white boys demand the market continue to pander to them while silencing me for wanting the same type of visibility and representation.
I know I’ve said this before but I will continue to say it until it’s no longer relevant or I die – in a society that twisted itself into knots erasing Black people from its narratives while simultaneously thriving specifically because of the ways it exploited Black people, inclusion has to be intentional.
Inclusion must be deliberate.
Inclusion must be planned, calculated, premeditated, strategic, thoughtful. It must be done with purpose and care and it has to happen in both the background and the foreground.
White supremacist patriarchal capitalism aka whiteness is so pervasive and erasing, a trait that was carefully nurtured and disseminated, that I intentionally seek to create spaces that don’t include it. I intentionally choose to create spaces that are fat, Black, and full of womxn. I create the spaces I want to see because I want to see me. I am tired of being hidden and told that my existence, my visibility promote negative behaviors and ideas. I’m tired of being told, both through words and actions that I do not belong in this society. In any of these spaces. I am tired of my likability and visibility being contingent on fitting into whatever role someone else has created for me. That is no way to live and I refuse to co-sign on that shit.
I choose to center people like me. I’m not good at it. I’m learning. The ways I access the world and interact with people still co-sign on bullshit ideologies I’m constantly having to unlearn. Our media is propaganda designed to program us with images of who deserves respect and who doesn’t. We are taught a hierarchy of humanity from birth and none of us are exempt. Whiteness has dictated the narrative under the penalty of death but too many of us are dying regardless. So rather than die a victim, I’m gonna die the hero of my story and continue pushing the humanity of those whiteness has deemed sub-human.
My inclusion doesn’t include whiteness and if that makes you uncomfortable, so be it.
I choose to live intentionally, not incidentally and my intentions are Black and fat and womxn-centered. It will include various ages, abilities, genders, and sexual identities. It will be pro-sex, pro-abortion, pro-immigration, pro-humanity. But, mainly, it will include and represent me.
Choose your intent and live your truth. It is the only way to build the change you want to see.