“See, I’ve had a lot of people talking at me in the last few days. Everyone just lining up to tell me how unimportant I am. And I’ve finally figured out why. Power. I have it. They don’t. This bothers them.”
Buffy Summers, you have yet to bear false witness.
It’s not easy being a minority in this world, particularly a person of color. This is especially true when it comes to fandom and geek culture.
I’m always fascinated when white geeks go on and on about how accepting and wonderful geek culture is. I don’t question their experience, I just can’t personally relate. For me, I have to be cautious of what venues of fandom I venture in, because it’s not unlike walking through gen pop, where you constantly have to look over your shoulder to make sure an inmate or warden doesn’t attempt to shank you. Or a better analogy would be making sure that while you’re always outnumbered, that you’re never outgunned like my man Midnighter here:
Because see everyone is down with equality in theory, until it requires people to come out of their comfort zone or treat “inferiors” like human beings or minorities gain power and well that’s when the gates of hell are opened.
This is especially true on diversity forums, as I got a sobering reminder from two individuals who up until last Tuesday I considered friends.
I met Satyros Phil Brucato at Norwescon about two years ago during a signing. We hit it off and I shared with him my work not only as an author but a social justice and equal rights activist.
Inspired by our discussion, he launched the New Millennium Diverse Fantasy on Facebook. The purpose of the community was for marginalized voices to come together pool resources and aid in the ongoing effort of dismantling the old guard that attempts to keep speculative fiction straight, white and heterosexual and male.
The group ran pretty smoothly for the most part until December when I made a post which touched on the denigration queer people of color endure and how PoCs are falsely blamed for being more homophobic than whites. To say Brucato flipped his shit was an understatement. Because how dare I call out racism and white supremacy. Eventually when he realized he was factually wrong and it was repeatedly pointed out to him that whitesplaining to a queer person of color is 50 shades of effed up, he apologized.
And all seemed well. Until March. As many of you may recall, I did a guest post At The Bar entitled The Myth Of Black Homophobia: Why I’m Not Feeling Macklemore And Why White Saviors Are Anything But.
Shortly thereafter Brucato came trolling for an argument. When I didn’t take the bait, he flipped his shit yet again. At this point, I was noticing a pattern, specifically on the same issue.
As more members joined the group, we began noticing a trend of derailing on primarily posts dealing with race. Members of color would speak on their experiences and white members would derail the discussion, claiming that racism didn’t occur or it was the job of the PoC’s to convince the white members.
After teaching moment after teaching moment and watching the same white members engage in the same racism, I had no alternative but to don the mod hat.
Suddenly the racist derailing white folks had an issue with my “tone” and I was too “angry” or whatever coded racist phrase they wanted to prop up. The real problem was that I wouldn’t allow them to bulldoze me and others like they were no doubt used to doing to others and I spoke to them like equals.
The same white members who were nowhere to be found when queer women of color and trans members were being bullied and attacked on posts, now suddenly had a problem with a PoC mod holding white members accountable for their racism and homophobia.
And that’s when all hell broke loose last Tuesday.
Unbeknownst to me, Brucato and Blackwelder decided to plot a way to attack me in the most disgusting way possible. Blackwelder made a trolling post where he began to assert that blacks are more homophobic than whites. Of course I explained to him why that was completely bogus and that’s long since proven to be factually inaccurate. But Blackwelder continued to argue that blacks were more homophobic and it was my job to change his opinion. When I explained to him that I wasn’t going to be doing that and while he’s entitled to his opinion as a white person, it doesn’t rank in comparison to history, facts, data and firsthand experience of a queer black individual.
Blackwelder became incensed. It didn’t take me long to realize that this post was an ambush and I knew exactly who put him up to it. After all, of all the topics Blackwelder could’ve used as bait, it was interesting that he kept pushing the black homophobe meme yet again. Brucato tried it twice himself, and twice he got his ass kicked by yours truly.
Blackwelder continued to engage in the most deplorable forms of racism and homophobia and I cooly countered every point. And each time I did, he cried foul and attempted to dictate to me how I would converse with him. I then reminded Kraig of this little document known as the Emancipation Proclamation which dictates that I’m under no obligation to allow any caucasian to dictate my speech.
Or as one member so eloquently put it, “There wasn’t any civil discussion here to begin with. This was the discursive analogue to slapping someone across the face with your glove, then Kraig got all upset when Denny didn’t play along with his White protocols of honor.”
And when that didn’t take, Blackwelder blocked me from his own post. After all, if you can’t control a minority’s speech, you’ll silence them by whatever ploy.
It was at this point Brucato decided to step in and defend Blackwelder’s actions. When Brucato insisted on having a one-on-one offline, I wasn’t having it. It was clear this was a setup and it was past time for dirt to be exposed.
In the course of the discussion and being called out by other members, Brucato admitted that he was in cahoots with Blackwelder and the troll post was some form of retaliation. And while other members continued to call Brucato out on his racism, homophobia, and white privilege, he had an almost obsessive focus to keep blaming me. He couldn’t rest until it was established that I was wrong or evil in some capacity.
The same two individuals who had smiled in my face and I had still considered friends up until a week ago, had been secretly plotting to attack and why?
Neither of them ever said what I specifically did that was so unforgivable other than they didn’t like my tone. But they never stated I was wrong about what I stated.
They didn’t like the fact that a black person called them out on their white privilege that they were willing to go against the mission statement of the forum they helped create just to do harm to one Negro who they deemed too uppity.
And these two are supposed to be the liberal white allies. With allies like these, who needs the GOP.
It’s like an ex of mine who couldn’t accept the fact that I wasn’t a fan of the song Hotel California. Even though I stated I respected the Eagles as artists and musicians, that song just wasn’t my cup of tea. Of all the classy moves he could’ve made, his first one was to start screaming the N-word at me like it was going out of style. Keyword: Ex.
And this how many whites operate. If they don’t like a POC, their default is to engage in racism because it’s a weapon that’s available.
I realized afterwards, it came back to power. They were comfortable and expected accolades as long as they felt like they had the power over minorities, but the second we raised up and demanded real equality they were no different from the legions of other racist white Republicans who use President Obama as a scapegoat for all their problems.
The same ones who argued my tone were interestingly enough the same ones who threw countless hissy fits, and victim blamed and bullied and tried to silence marginalized voices.
Yes, Sidney Poitier taught me a long time ago to stay refined and flawless and to always keep that pimphand strong.
This is the evil that white people do, particularly in liberal fauxgressive circles. There’s a reason why this quote from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is a most profound one:
“First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a “more convenient season.” Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.”
And sadly this has happened before.
A few years back I was recruited to become a mod on the Livejournal/Dreamwidth group Scans Daily because of my knowledge and history in social justice. All was gravy until the other white mods began getting complaints from cis white feminists about how they didn’t like the fact that their racism/homophobia/transphobia and they wanted to be bigoted white women in peace. The other mods planned to enforce rules forcing the marginalized members to mind their tone when being attacked by the white bigots. When I realized their attempt to throw minorities under the bus, I knew it was time to move on.
You see places like Scans Daily (and the white folks involved) is the reason why #SolidarityIsForWhiteWomen is trending something fierce.
Just a year ago, a white publisher reached out to me and invited me to to submit to a Civil War anthology because he wanted more diverse voices. This was wonderful and I felt honored. Until I was instructed to make the story straight because if I included the gay, he couldn’t accept it. In other words my blackness was welcomed to bring the flavor but he had to watch his gay quota.
You see there are a number of anon forums and cesspools like SF_Drama and others that stay engaging in online stalking of PoCs and LGBTQs,. It is no secret that the majority of the members are white and yet it’s blacks who get falsely accused of being more bigoted.
And since the Myth of Black Homophobia piece has gone viral, it’s been whites who have been making with the trolling and online harassment.
Each time I’ve spoken out on the rampant homophobia and heterosexism in M/M slash genre, I’ve gotten trolled, harassed, stalked, and received death threats by rabid white fangirls. And so have other gay and queer writers.
Each time I’ve spoken out on why blacks are not innately more homophobic than whites and why gay marriage is not the most pressing issue of LGBTQs, it is whites who come out of the woodwork with this magical insight of black culture and equal rights and they just have to put me in my place. Black people are more homophobic because something something something Dan Savage something something something something market forces something something something Prop 8 something something something something something something Lee Daniels something something something something Tyler Perry something something something something something something something BET.
But you know which spaces I’ve never had to worry about this on. PoC spaces. When I have to point out heterosexual privilege on one WoC space I belong to, you know what happens, they listen and they are respectful.
PoCs tend to be more concerned about fighting for what’s right, doing the right thing rather than looking good. That isn’t to say that PoCs are infallible, we aren’t. That isn’t to say we haven’t had to have our knockdown dragouts because we have. But I’ve never had to worry about a PoC plotting to sandbag me and engaging in racism and homophobia on a diversity because they don’t like my tone.
In fact each time I’ve been attacked by racists and homophobes, it’s always been blacks and other PoCs who stood with me and protected from racist homophobic whites.
But no, lecture me again how black people are innately more homophobic.
And that ladies & gentlemen is the bitch of equality. Equality means that if I come out of pocket with a trans person, they are well within their rights to hand me my ass. Equality means that I may have every reason to despise a female co-worker but she’s still entitled to equal pay as I am if she’s doing the same job. Equality means that just because you spew some bigoted bile in a roundabout/passive aggressive manner doesn’t make it any less poisonous. Equality means that if you can’t be bothered to care about my feelings, my mental health and welfare when you engage in racism, homophobia and other forms of bigotry, I’m under no obligation to be polite when I read you for filth and call you on your BS.
During last week’s bedlam, there were whites who stood tall and did the right thing when it would’ve been easier for them to remain silent and utilize their privilege. I thank them and I think it’s important to acknowledge that. Sadly they seem to be a rarity.
And despite everything a small part of me thank the Brucatos and Blackwelders of the world. Because in spite of everything they proved one fundamental truth, when it comes to being a minority in geek culture or the rest of the world, it’s not blacks or other PoCs I have to worry about.