Once upon a time on a planet called earth, in a land called Fandom, there were an assembly of tribes. One of those tribes consisted of people who called themselves Black. Truthfully they came in all shades; mahogany, coffee, cafe au lait, caramel, milk chocolate, ebony...the list goes on. The Black people weren't the only tribe of color. There were also Yellow People (who weren't really yellow), and the Red People (who weren't really redder than a lovely deep coppery-bronze). Another tribe was the White people.
The people of Fandom were storytellers and they found one another and supported one another and shared interest in the same tales and the same heroic characters. The Black and Yellow and Red tribes all wrote about any kind of hero as long as they liked them. The White tribe, however, lived in deadly fear that should they ever try to write a story about a Black or Yellow or Red hero, the members of that tribe would descend upon them like a pack of ravaging dinosaurs after fresh meat.
The White tribe tread carefully whenever they noticed a particular hero had skin that was not as pale as theirs. It didn't matter to them if the hero was interesting or if the tale was tempting to weave into something of their own. If the hero was not White, there was no way they could ever know what the hero felt, what he or she ate, liked, loved, looked at, spoke like, spoke to, dreamed of, listened to, enjoyed, befriended, feared, hated or felt numbed by. The not White tribes were a mystery. They had struggles in their past, they had legacies of battles for freedom and respect and most of all equality.
The non White tribes were saddened that even though all that had happened, there were still members of the White tribe who felt they were so foreign, so strange, so uniquely different, they couldn't be understood and that any attempt to represent them in tale was prelude to an act of war.
Does this story have a happy ending?
Black people are not aliens. Latino people are not more alien than actual fictional aliens. Asian people are not more mysterious that Kryptonian or Vulcan or Klingon mating rituals. People of color do not all speak a language that cannot be understood; they speak English, French, Spanish or whatever the language is in the country where they live.
Are you kidding me? Are you serious? Are you out there in fandom not writing people of color because in all the hours you spend watching a show, playing an episode, going over the transcripts, dissecting the meaning of a show and all the other characters - you don't have the voice of the character of color on your show?
Seriously for real??
You call that respect?
If there was a male fanfiction writer who only wrote about the male characters on a television show and when you said 'But so and so is his direct officer' - his response was 'But I can't begin to understand the feminine mystique so I don't write her, even though all the characters I do write interact with her every week on the show' - would you not say 'Bitch Please'?
Would you not call it a cop out if he said 'But I can get something wrong. And then a horde of screaming fandom women would descend upon me and rip me virtually limb from limb' - would you not be offended? Would you not think he was severely biased against women? Would you not think his excuse about respecting women too much to write them wrong to be utter hogwash? Would you not accuse him of chauvinism and misogyny? Would you not say that his fear was irrational? Would you not confront him and demand a better explanation?
And if he said 'But I had a bad experience with a jackass bitch woman once and....'
Would you not try to hammer home the point that women are individuals and his fear was condemning fictional women to invisibility and that wouldn't solve the problem of the fact that one time at band camp some girl went off on him?
I read this and as you can tell I'm still furious. I'm also oddly amused. A lot. The polite racism. The polite 'But I want to respect the powerful history of your people'. The polite bullshit.
People of color, characters of color are not spiders. We're not sharks. We're not phobias you never confront because the fear in your mind is irrational and cannot be helped without causing extreme pain and panic. It's a situation you're not used to. So get up when the bike falls, if it falls and keep on trucking. Dust your ass off, grab a partner's hand and try for another whirl around the dance floor.
Aliens - ALIENS, elves, dwarfs, emotionless androids, life sucking parasitic otherworldly blue fuckers are closer to home that people of color?
What, those slave ships were space ships? We're fucking Tectonese and don't know it?
I want a cabal. I really do. I want chum in the water. Because when any of us first started writing, we made mistakes. Whether or not our first writing happened in fandom, or online etc... What's wrong with making a mistake? What's wrong with asking for help?
I've been ranting all through this entry and I just realized what bothers me about this. That poster and everyone like her who doesn't write characters of color - is crossing the street. If you're someone of color you know what I'm talking about. You're walking down the street and a white woman notices you, and clings to her purse a little tighter, or crosses the street. If you're a black man you see it all the time, men and women who either suddenly get submissive or overly aggressive, just in body language, until you pass on by.
She crossed the street. She sits there and talks about knowing black people and not being racist and having respect and not wanting to get things wrong. But she crossed the street. She made an assumption. A fear based assumption. She made the assumption that people of color would. hurt. her. She made the assumption that we are people to be scared of and that we need to be pacified and it's easier not to engage at all. She's part of a unique community, a group of people who share writing love and show love and character love, but despite all that - one of us, or a character from that show comes walking down the street and she grabbed her purse and crossed to the streetlight and hoped for the best.
I am offended. I'm hurt and offended and nothing is going to make that go away.