There’s something that I’ve learned about what fandom racism looks like across 2019.
Something that makes me think about the future of fandom and my input/output as we inch towards 2020.
Fans of color – especially Black fans – who talk about racism and race in fandom are systematically rewritten in and excised from fandom in order to reframe conversations about race/race in fandom until the only people who are allowed to discuss race and racism in fandom are PIckMe POC who bend the knee to whiteness in fandom and white people who aren’t staying in their lane either way .
Yesterday, I saw one of my (white) mutuals talking about racism in fandom and the importance of listening to fans of color with someone (possibly a fan of color themselves) who seemed receptive to an extent. Thing is? I couldn’t see the tweet… because the person my mutual was talking with had me blocked.
I’d never once interacted with this person. I don’t know this person.
They definitely don’t know me.
But they know about me –
Enough to block me without actually ever bother engaging with me or my work outside of someone else’s screenshots – probably.
This happens literally all the time these days. People will block me in droves – usually because I am critical about racism in fandom, but one time when I said that it wasn’t racist to affectionately refer to Yoongi from BTS as a goblin or gremlin – without me ever once interacting with them.
And the thing is that I don’t expect anyone to let me run roughshod across their timelines. Half of the time, if I’m on one of my other accounts and I see my own content, I find myself getting annoyed. And I wrote those damn tweets.
If you’re out here claiming that you really care about racism in fandom but you and your friends have all knowingly blocked and/or constantly subtweet me, the most vocal Black voices in transformative fandom talking about racism in fandom and you pretty much only listen to sycophants of color who want to cling to their space in your orbit, –
How solid is your anti-racism stance in fandom?
It’s not that I think I am owed anything when it comes to other people having me on their timeline. In fact, I don’t want anyone following me that doesn’t like me. You don’t need to agree with me 100%, but if you literally don’t like me or my work –
You have zero business following me or engaging with my work or tweets.
But I have to say that there’s something supremely sketchy about seeing the tide of fannish discourse where I – and other critical fans of color in any fandom – are blocked by dozens if not hundreds of people who fancy themselves against “fandom purity politics” or “gatekeeping” or whatever they’ve decided I’m actually doing –
Only to turn around and decide that they’re actually the real anti-racism activists in fandom.
Only to solely boost the voices of their friends of color that a) agree with them and b) allow themselves to be used to shut down critical fannish conversations.
Only to turn the tide of fannish discourse against fans of color who are critical of racism.
Only to decide that the real problem in fandom isn’t the racism built into transformative and collective fandom (or however you’re labeling the dudebro fandom for the binary these days) – but fans of color who can’t be bothered to handhold through yet another round of Fandom Racism 101 on Twitter.
Back on December 18th, I wrote a thread on my secondary account (the one for this website) about how people will straight up block all the Black people frequently critical of antiblackness in your fandom only to turn around and be like “no actual Black fans in our fandom see a problem here” when a situation comes up:
An unpleasant reminder:
If you block all the Black people that are frequently critical of “minor” and major antiblackness in a piece of media, from a celebrity, or in a fandom only to turn around and say that “no real black people in our fandom care about this”
You’re an ass.
Because you’re curating critical Black fans right out of the fandom and making it so that the only “real” Black fans are the ones who’ll let everything slide and come up with excuses upon excuses as to why things can’t be antiblack and your fandom is FINE.
If you only listen to Black fans – in the Star Wars fandom, who are part of ARMY, in slash shipping fandom spaces – who make a point of their fannish experience to shut down other Black fans uncomfortable with what they see as antiblackness at any point… You’re not an ally.
There are so many people who I’ve never once interacted with across a whole host of different fandoms who have me blocked specifically because I am critical of antiblackness from their favorite celebs or in their fandom…
And they’ll be like “No Black fan actually cares”
The Black fans that DO care about antiblackness in their fandoms get ignored, silenced, blockchained, harassed, and forced to lock their accounts for talking about it and so the Black fans you see “not caring” are left to represent Blackness in your fandom spaces.
It’s not that “real” Black fans – of comics, of Korean hip hop, of Star Wars, of BTS – don’t care about antiblackness in these spaces/from these things –
But that your fandoms have decided which Black opinions matter and to minimize the critical ones/fans.
I don’t feel entitled to other people’s time or to them seeing me on their timelines, but it is incredibly frustrating to see people literally decide to block ANY black fan that’s even a tiny bit critical of fandom or a celebrity or a piece of media –
While holding up their PickMes in the fandom (who have a reason not to critique the thing, they see how y’all handle critique & critical Black fans) as an example of what real fans look/behave like and why Those Black Fans Talking About Antiblackness couldn’t be/aren’t real fans
I don’t care why someone might have me blocked on main, lord knows I block people for all kinds of nonsense on there –
But I do care when I see people I know have blocked every single vocal Black person in their fandom that’s expressed a critical thought about fandom…
It’s frustrating to see people block literally every single person of color critical of the antiblackness in a fandom or by a performer/celebrity and then turn around to be like “oh well none of our Black/Brown people are complaining so it’s just outsiders”.
Fuck that nonsense.
Deciding that critical fans with legitimate frustrations aren’t real fans – especially fans of color talking about racism or “racial insensitivity” from a fandom or performer – is wrong. And to be white people in fandom ignoring racism – or non-Black POC ignoring antiblackness – is also wrong.
But it’s also what fandom does.
It’s what fandom has done and it’s what fandom will keep doing as long as there are people like Twitter user mothphistopheles (from the intro image to “What Fandom Racism Looks Like – Misogynoir: Black Fans on the Defensive“) there to be like “well I’m a WOC too and that fan of color over there criticizing fandom is wrong and also problematic for reasons I have no actual proof of” and make up shit to derail our arguments in order to support their white friends and non-Black friends of color.
I’m tired of people having more patience for white fans who stray out of their lanes on conversations about fandom racism than for Black fans critical of fandom on any level.
And I’m super fucking tired of PickMe POC eagerly jumping in with their shady asses to derail every single conversation on fandom racism that they can because if they’re not offended by something, that’s what really matters…
And frankly, fuck that too.
Across 2019, one thing I realized about transformative fandom is that I am not actually writing for those people. They annoy the hell out of me and every single time I have to help myself to a handy mutual block, I seethe for a hot minute, but –
I’m not writing for them.
I’m not writing for someone that blocks me rather than read my threads, or the ones with “anti purity culture” in their bios, or the people who screenshot my tweets and subtweet me constantly despite having me blocked.
At the end of the day, I’m not writing for the people who have decided that criticism in fandom is against fandom or what fandom should be. I’m not writing for people who take my mere presence in fandom as a threat to their fun.
I’m writing for people who think that criticism is a form of love, for people who’ve grown up in fandom and who want to find a way to continue loving for fandom. I’m writing for people who want to add new layers to how they think about fandom – especially when it comes to race.
But fandom itself makes it difficult.
Because people of color – especially Black people – are always “too difficult” for fandom. No matter how we engage with fandom, if we even brush up against criticizing a fandom we’re in, folks riot. It has been a decade since Racefail ’09 and like I and a lot of people of color have spoken and written about:
Fandom is not better at race and racism.
Fandom is actually worse because now, instead of folks reverting to sticking their fingers in their ears and ignoring what we’re talking about, they’re actively blocking and dismissing what we’re saying on a level I hadn’t seen before. Even to the point of aligning fans of color with trans-exclusionary “feminists”, saying that critical fans are like real life fascists, or – and this is recent – saying that we’re “using white supremacist rhetoric”.
The first time I saw a white person in fandom smugly announce that antis (and I literally cannot stand that term because of how reductive it is and how critical fans of color are often relabeled as such) were “using white supremacist rhetoric”, I nearly crawled through her computer screen and fought her.
Because this is what fandom is. This is really what fandom has always been, but it’s more visible in this age of screenshots and shit.
When fans of color talk about racism in fandom, we’re rewritten as bullies, antis, policers, and fandom-fundamentalists… regardless of how we’re engaging with fandom or putting forward our criticism.
The same people I’ve seen say “oh, I’m not talking about the people who have legitimate criticisms of fandom, just the harassers” turn around and to a one, dismiss posts/tweets like mine as illegitimate or “bad faith” criticisms without ever actually engaging with what we’re saying. They eventually show that the issue is criticism of fandom plain and simple – not who’s doing it or how they’re doing it.
(Because as mildly unkind as I’ve been across my time in fandom, I have never harassed anyone. Not once. Because my parents raised me better than that.)
I could make a cutesy Muppet-esque video where I hold folks’ hands through conversations of what fandom racism looks like and why fandom needs to push back against accepting preferences and Polite White Ladies running smear campaigns in twitter DMs or on Discord –
And folks would still somehow manage to twist it into something terrible.
I’m realizing that there’s nothing I can do to get “antieater2049” or “fuckdiscourse22204” to understand where I’m coming from or why what I do matters.
They never will get that.
I will always be “mean” and “a bully” and policing them even though I know for a fact that I have had maybe 20 one-on-one interactions with people who outright don’t like my writing or disagree with me in the past two years.
I will always be more threatening to fandom than my white mutuals or white people in fandom (period) who share my work with a suggestion to read it or parrot ideas I’ve been working on for years. I will always be someone that folks blow up into an inhuman boogieman out to take their precious tropes away from them.
And that’s not “okay”.
I’m legitimately done trying to pretend that it is.
Thinking about 2020 resolutions, here’s one for you: I’ll be taking off the kid gloves from here on in.
I’m done being soft about how I talk about what fandom racism looks like and the actual toll racism in fandom from fans has taken on my reputation across transformative fandom, on my physical and mental health, and how it’s shaped my experiences as a Black person in fandom.
Get ready for some schoolin’ folks.
Because it’s on.