when i wander outside of tumblr and read comments on any topic about race i feel so anxious and tiny. like there are so many voices that HATE people like me. and who aren’t afraid to say it. especially on the internet.
and it makes me laugh when i see white people on this site talking about how not-safe they feel on tumblr. like imagine what you MAYBE feel on tumblr, magnified, and then apply it to almost every facet of your life.
it’s overwhelming and terrifying
[image description: tweet from Khaled Bey @KhaledBeydoun: “Non-Black People of Color owe so much to the civil rights struggles & strides of our Black brothers & sisters. #BlackHistoryMonth”]
Say it loud and say it proud before coming at us with more antiblack bullshit, non-black POC. This also goes for recent black immigrants too, lest we forget the people who make our very presence in this country possible in the first place. All of us POC and immigrants owe a tremendous debt to African-Americans, their history and their struggle, and that should be something that none of us forget. End of Story.
Source: via, source
Filed under: #THIS #Something that too many people don't understand #Black people started the civil rights movement #White supremacy is based on anti blackness #which is why fighting anti blackness is our primary way of fighting and dismantling white supremacy #and that means standing by black people #POC solidarity #African American #Black History
if you find terms for queer identities confusing, arbitrary or unimportant then you’ve probably never had to experience how terrifying it is to not understand your own identity, or the relief of finding a term that helps describe you
(Some of my personal rough thoughts about Bryan Konietzko’s blog post on skin color and Avatar characters…excuse the stream of consciousness here)
First of all, this was an incredible post for a creator of any television series to make; it shows how much attention the the production places on fan feedback. Not all productions are that conscientious. Nor do all creators prioritize diversity or state that they are “all for social justice” (these are actually very controversial positions.) The post was thorough in providing resources to fan artists and explanations of color theory and how the show approaches contrast and lighting.
I am really thankful for this post, particularly since I’ve been in this fandom for a long time and experienced a lot of the stress and heartbreak around advocacy for diversity in this franchise. Particularly since Mr. Konietzko is so high profile, being willing to publicly write about these things (from the timestamp it looks like he finished at 2:30am)—especially in an interactive forum like tumblr— takes a huge amount of courage and willingness to be vulnerable, and to be open.
I definitely felt a swell of emotion when reading his post because like many Avatar fans, and like many people of color who consume media, I’ve learned to be hypervigilant about whitewashing in media and all the different forms it can show up in, from magazine covers lightening celebrities, to misrepresentative book covers, to the Banes, Khans, Tontos, Shredders, and Ongs in Big Hollywood.
The sting of whitewashing doesn’t come from the act itself but from the context in which these acts thrive in: colorism, shadeism, racism, etc. and all of it’s histories, legacies, and current manifestations.
I trudge all this up because I think Mr. Konietzko’s call to “inform, educate, open minds, and promote empathy and equality” is an important one! It’s definitely something I strive for in my personal, professional, and fandom life. There’s a ton of negative energy around jumping to false conclusions and around self-righteous condemnation. But I think where I personally fall short, and where I think many people probably fall short, is the “before you get your feelings hurt" part of the post.
That’s something I’m not able to control. Put me in an MRI scan or swab my cheek for cortisol and I’m sure my brain will light up.
Microaggressions like whitewashing are painful. It may be just a thrown pebble, or maybe just a pebble carelessly kicked up in the wake of someone else’s excitement, but those pebbles can still sting and I still flinch. Maybe not everyone else does—people can numb themselves or acclimate themselves from that sting. (I’d like to see how it looks in an MRI!)
I can’t control that part. I can choose how to react.
I can’t control how I feel about perceiving—because this is about perception—whitewashing. I can choose how to react.
How I’ve chosen to react has been very deliberate. I know how easy it is to come off as an extremist or to be dismissed over tone. The way I try to approach people is not dissimilar from what Mr. Konietzko is advocating for. But people express hurt and pain in a number of different ways, and over and over again people of color and their allies have been told how to express that pain in ways deemed appropriate for the very people who did the thing that hurt them…
I can’t suppress that sting I experience when I see whitewashing. I can only stifle my response. But sometimes no matter how friendly, no matter how educational, how enlightening you want to be, you still get called a racial slur or a gendered slur or both or all at once. How do you choose to react to that? When does the other person also share accountability?
I don’t know if fans will actually use the hex color for Korra to “police” other fans about their artwork; I’d rather that didn’t have to happen because I’d rather people fight the tendency to whitewash to begin with.
I look back at all of the sketchbooks I doodled in and I realize that about 60% of the characters I drew were white, 30% were Asian (I’m Asian American) and maybe 10% were other people of color. I reflect on the art classes I took when I was a kid and realized that not once were we assigned to draw a person of color; all of the models we were asked to practice on were white, all of the paintings of people we drew were white. As a result, I’m probably better at drawing white people than I am at drawing Asian people. I think about all of the coloring books I had as a kid and that perhaps aside from any Aladdin stuff the characters we colored were white. I remember being six years old and angry that my new marker set did not have a “skin” tone to color with even though there were 72 different markers including 4 different shades of brown.
And that’s just the art classes and art supplies and art education (which I was privileged enough to have at all), it’s not my grandmother yelling at me to put on a hat so I don’t turn “too dark”, it’s not being told I’m too dark for my ethnicity, it’s not the skin bleaching creams, and not the “color-corrected” glamour shots I took at the local mall, and it’s not wanting to look porcelain even though porcelain is fragile. That’s just the art skill set.
This shows up subconsciously when I doodle and color self portraits. Even when I’m consciously trying to be accurate to my skin tone (and really there is no excuse—my hand is like right next to the canvas/iPad/etc.!) I inevitably end up making myself a couple of shades lighter in a way that is completely subconscious. These internalized attitudes about skin tone are hard to shake. Which is why it is so important to recognize it.
So there’s the other side of it, the side where as a artist I also have to acknowledge my own shortcomings and my own tendencies to whitewash. (These resources suddenly become invaluable for creating Korra art.) No one likes to be called “a racist” because in our society we equate racism with being a bad person; if we don’t feel we are bad people, the instinct is to automatically resist such an allegation.
If someone tells you meekly…or screeches at you…that you’ve kicked pebbles at them in your excited race to create art, you can’t control that awful feeling that comes with being accused of perpetuating racism (something that may be against your belief system) but you can control how you respond.
If there’s anything I’d want to add to Mr. Konietzko’s post, it’s that.
If someone is trying to communicate with you that your art or your decisions are hurtful, no matter how they are going about doing it, they are coming from a position of vulnerability. Societal mores totally dump on people who raise concerns about things like sexism and racism, particularly more so when it’s viewed as something “trivial” like fan art. Starting this conversation about whitewashing and art is hard! Whatever way they’re trying to communicate, please try and approach what they are saying with empathy and an open heart. You may feel it is important to defend your art, but for them there may be something more at stake—they may be fighting for the right to be seen at all, to be represented, to not have their experiences with their skin tone invalidated. There’s so much to learn and so many things that still need to be bridged. Do this, and it becomes so much easier for people who are concerned about whitewashing to to do what Mr. Konietzko is advocating for.
(ABC = American-born Chinese)
1. Don’t be that douchebag.
2. Chances are you’re dead-ass wrong or partially wrong.
3. You’re forgetting to take regional variations into account, and most of us take on those regional variations without knowing any different.
4. Don’t be the dumbass who pits your “proper” knowledge from books and ~studying abroad in China for six months~ against experiences we’ve lived for our entire lives. That just makes you a) stupid, b) a terrible critical thinker, and c) racist. If you insist on fancy academic articles to justify this, read up on anthropos and humanitas and the dislocation of the West.
5. If our knowledge of China and all things Chinese is spotty, it’s because we’re children of diaspora. We are the living, breathing proof of our motherland’s painful history. We are the living, breathing examples of the terrible shit white people did to China. Our parents had to book it out because your people decided to exploit and carve up China, and you’re still exploiting China.
6. So just don’t.
Here’s a comic I made a long time ago and never published. The text is from the introduction to A New Queer Agenda by Joseph N. DeFilippis.
This is really good and full of important, sad truths.
This is so true for a whole assortment of things but I’ve never been able to put it into words. Like when people find out I’m queer and they suddenly act less homophobic. I have relatives who magically stop showing their racist tendencies around people of color. Just because you don’t display your prejudice around the people you’re prejudiced against doesn’t make you a good person - it still means you’re shitty, but also extra shitty because you realize your behavior is offensive and you only display it around people who won’t be immediately harmed.
Goldie Taylor, Real Time with Bill Maher (October 19, 2012)
Goldie, laying it down on Boris Epshteyn and John Fund over Voter ID laws.
Dear Parents of White Children,
I vote that we strike the following from our parental lexicon:
1. “Everybody is equal.”
2. “We’re all the same underneath our skin.”
I realize this is counterintuitive. But I’m completely serious.
These statements are so abstract they’re mostly meaningless when handed to a 7- (or even 17) year-old. That’s at best. At worst, they’re empty filler — stand-ins for the actual conversations about race, racial difference and racism we need to be having with our kids.
Sugar when our kids need protein.
Yet, if white college students are to be believed, these statements are standard in many white households.
My students write racial autobiography papers. It’s a pretty straightforward assignment: describe the impact of racial identity in your life — not race generally, but your race and any significant experiences, teachings and thoughts pertaining to that identity at various life stages. I require that they interview two family members about their experiences of and beliefs about being “x.” (As it turns out, this is a really hard assignment for white students for reasons that are important and revealing. More on that in another venue.)
Time and again, my white students write that “everybody’s equal” is the “most important” thing their parents taught them about race. Time and again, a not-insignificant number of them then proceed to describe their present trepidation about a.) telling their parents they date interracially; b.) bringing home a Latino/a or black classmate; c.) Thanksgiving break, when everyone will silently tolerate the family member who makes racist comments; or d.) something else that reveals how deeply and clearly these students know this “most important teaching” doesn’t mean a hell of a lot to their actual white experience.
Few notice the contradiction they have themselves managed to describe in the space of only four pages.
I struggled to make sense of these papers for a long time. Then, Nurture Shock (not a book about race) gave me some help. It reports on social scientists’ studies to figure out why so many white kids have such poor facility in engaging racial difference and challenging racism despite their exposure to (liberalish) white culture’s “everybody’s equal” mantras. Turns out our kids, literally, don’t know what “everybody is equal” means. It’s an empty phrase. A numbed out flourish. (Sugar.)
Meanwhile, they are daily assailed by a relentless barrage of anti-black imagery, Native American stereotypes, slurs against dark-skinned non-native English speakers and on and on.
Our happy equality and shared humanity platitudes just don’t stand a chance. It’s sort of like putting your kid in front of a 30-minute television show. The first 28 minutes show children bullying and generally treating each other like crap. The last two resolve into a nice, moral lesson on kindness. Guess which part of the show kids absorb and imitate? (Another amazing study reported in Nurture Shock.)
Note: This is aside from whatever’s going on in families which have somehow simultaneously taught “we’re all equal” while making clear interracial dating is a no-no. Eduardo Bonilla-Silva documents something similar among individuals. Liberal, conservative, or moderate, whites interviewed insist they don’t see color only to say something overtly anti-black/brown/etc. mere moments later. Incoherence is, apparently, pervasive in white culture. But, even if we’re assuredly not the parents who convey negative views of interracial dating, there is urgency here. We must figure out what these findings — Nurture Shock’s and my own — mean for how we talk (and don’t and should talk) to white kids.
I know “everybody’s equal” means “we all deserve to be treated with fairness.” And when we tell kids we’re all the same underneath skin, gender, sexuaity, physical abilities and other differences we’re trying to tell them we share human dignity and worth.
Obviously, I believe these things.
But, have you ever actually met a “generic” human? Someone without a race or a gender?
Well, guess what? Neither has your child.
And by the age of 3, our kids are aware of this fact, even though they don’t yet use adult categories to talk about it. If you don’t believe me, pick up The First ‘R.’ You will be stunned by what preschool children know and do in regard to race.
Assailed. Every day.
Platitudes are not enough.
One more “stat.” I read a study some time ago comparing white and black families. It found that on average, African-American parents start talking about race with their African-American children by age 3. White parents with white kids? Age 13.
Is it any wonder my white students are so racially baffled and behind? That they look like deer in headlights when I tell them we’re going to talk about race in their actual lives? It’s not just the fact of being white, and thus insulated from the negative affects of racism (though I believe white children are deeply harmed as well — in different ways), that works against their developing aptitude about race and anti-racism. We, their parents, are working against them too!
Worse, imagine what happens in my classes when students of color describe their experiences of racism, and their white peers stare at them numbly, repeating: “everybody is equal,” “we’re all the same underneath our skin.” Let’s just say nothing about this exchange inspires robust interracial friendship to develop. Nor does it provide students of color reason to think they’ve found the allies they’ve been hoping for: Interested peers prepared to help build a more just racial future.
I vote that we strike. Turns out these aren’t teachings at all.
So, if it’s your 4-year-old starting to notice darker skin (which happens when we raise our kids in predominantly white environments), the platitude “we’re all the same underneath” implies they’re noticing something they shouldn’t and insinuates there’s something wrong with darker skin we must need to overlook (meanwhile, your child hears remarks about beautiful blue eyes and blonde hair all the time). How about discussions about and images of the many different beautiful shades of dark skin instead?
If it’s your 8-year-old describing a racially-tinged encounter at school, to respond “everybody’s equal” is to hand her/him a passive belief where active, imaginative, strategic thinking about an empowered action is what she/he needs. “How did you feel when that happened? What do you want to do if it happens again? How can I support you in trying that?”
Unfortunately, I don’t have a list of pat answers on what we should be teaching. But, that’s not a cop out. That, in fact, is the point.
We don’t assume pat answers are adequate for enabling our children to learn to navigate relationships, nutrition, sexuality, religion, emotions, or any other challenging reality. Nor do we leave them alone to figure it out.
We equip ourselves so we can enable them.
Why should race and racism be any different?
Pat answers may be evidence of how many parents haven’t yet developed the very facility we need to help our children build. As a result their questions, observations and experiences launch us into terrain we haven’t learned to navigate. They make us deeply uncomfortable.
But again, we are able and willing to develop facility and work through discomfort in so many areas parenting springs on us. Race is no different.
So, try this. Imagine the conversations that may have taken place between parents and their black or Latino/a children after Trayvon Martin was killed and George Zimmerman walked. I’d be willing to bet that pat answers were nowhere in site.
This thought experiment doesn’t give us the content, but it does show us the standard for the caliber of conversation required of us. If we want our white children to live in a world with more racial justice than the one we live in now, we need to figure out how to have conversations with them as real, thick, painful, resilient, strategic and authentic as the conversations those parents had to have. So that our kids can help build that world.
As much as we love our kids, we can not only want to figure this out. We can figure it out.
Yours in search of substance over sugar,
A Fellow Parent with White Kids
This is something that I think might be worth noting out loud: At a largely female-oriented convention, as a man, I was never excluded, resented or made to feel unwelcome. There were folks who were surprised I was there, but that surprise was always “Oh! Cool! You’re here!” rather than “Why are you here?” And that, of course, is a salient difference. No one questioned my reasoning for being there, or suggested, say, that I was a Fake Romance Boy, or quizzed me about who my favorite romance author was or if I could recite that author’s bibliography to their satisfaction. I certainly wasn’t skeezed on. On the contrary, people went out of their way to ask me if I was enjoying myself and to let me know they were glad I was there. When I admitted ignorance about certain writers or genre details they were happy to expand my knowledge, and they wanted to know more about what I did and my own experiences as a writer. I met lots of new people and made new friends and in many ways it was one of the best convention experiences I’ve had in a long time.
This leaves wide open and hanging the question of why was it so easy for the folks at the RT Booklovers’ Convention, fans and creators both, to welcome a stranger of the opposite gender into their midst, while other enthusiast communities that skew male still have creators and fans who blow a gasket about women doing their thing in that genre. It’s not difficult to be welcoming and friendly.
The show as it will be if it is ultimately revealed that Zuko is not Ozai’s son, and that Ozai knew about it all along.
I need you to ask yourselves, Bryke: is this WORTH a shock factor? Is the corruption and destruction of one of the most psychologically well-structured stories on television REALLY worth a “stunning twist”?