Thread Collection: Antiblackness in the Archive (6/14)

I just did a thread on Twitter about the specific ways that antiblackness manifests in fandom via fanworks on the Archive of Our Own (or any other hosting site, to be fair) revolving around punishing, harming, killing, etc Black characters and since some of y’all aren’t on Twitter or in the event that you’re blocked on my main… I turned it into a blog post lightly edited since I don’t have to abbreviate points for Twitter’s character count.


There’s a thing about the Racism on the Archive of Our Own that i wanted to mention.

The racism specifically directed at Black characters (and sometimes fans and performers) in some fanworks on the archive does diverge somewhat from racism aimed at non-Black East Asian or Latinx characters for example:

All characters of color get fanworks that are full of mild to major racist stereotypes and that is definitely a thing I don’t know how to fix via reporting or tagging.

But Black characters get that and abusive fan content to tear them down, dehumanize them, or put them in their place.

(Black fans/performers to an extent get this, like stories where Black fans are turned into angry mobs in meta-y fanfiction [like the Black Panther fan fics that spawned my What Fandom Racism Looks Like series] or Black performers are vilified in RPF, but it is less often.)

In a very large portion of fandoms, Black characters who have nothing in common aside from their blackness receive similarly horrifying treatment in fanworks that are not called out by the majority of that fandom.

They are harmed, vilified, enslaved, tortured, killed, etc by creators who will say in the notes that they did so because they don’t like the character because of [truly fake] reasons.

The way that many non-black fans have, over the years, clearly used fanworks to work out their rage at Black characters in their fandoms is something that not a lot of people clock or talk about but it’s a very specific kind of racist fanworks that seeks to wound.

Vivienne from Dragon Age Inquisition, Sam and T’challa (and sometimes Shuri) from the MCU, Finn from Star Wars, James Olsen from Supergirl, Guinevere from Merlin… These are just a handful of characters whose fandoms DO have obvious grudge holding racists writing fic about them.

(I need y’all to know that it was so bad with Vivienne that I didn’t even bother to try getting into the DA fandom because folks were writing fanworks where she was tortured for being uppity and not knowing her place but then saying she wasn’t actually Black so it wasn’t racist.)

(Vivienne is CLEARLY Black as the game and the fandom treats her as such…

Actually Mass Effect does this with their Black characters too…)

Anyway, this is the kind of racist fanwork we should be able to do something about. Because it is born out of hatred of Black characters and not out of clumsy ignorance over how to write them [like the stereotypes can be half of the time].)

People writing stories where Black characters are literally tortured, abused, or assaulted as a form of penance for not pleasing the author in canon aren’t doing it because they can’t possibly know it’s racist.

They’re doing it because they don’t care.

And these stories are actually way more popular than you’d think and span countless fandoms across decades. Punishing Black characters in fanworks for existing in canon is a thing that fandom has always done and it is clearly racist.

That’s something that should be stopped.

About Zeenah

Zina writes about comics, nerd history, and ridiculous romance novels when not working frantically on her first collection of short stories and complaining about stuff. One day, she'll settle down and write that novel.
This entry was posted in A Catch All, What Fandom Racism Looks Like and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Thread Collection: Antiblackness in the Archive (6/14)

  1. geeenawrites says:

    I read so little fanfic now because of this. I’m at the point with fandom that I’m hoping Black fans start divesting themselves from predominantly white spaces and start consolidate their own spaces (I want to make fanfic and fandom history archive for Black fans specifically, eventually). But I’m also realizing that doesn’t necessarily solve the issue discussed in or outside that space (what with internalized anti-Blackness and all). But I am a pessimist, so I acknowledge that it’s just me.

    Liked by 2 people

    • lkeke35 says:

      No, no, it’s not just you! This is one of the major reasons I’ve divested myself from a lot of fandoms and hobbies. White spaces are not safe spaces for Black people! They just aren’t! We cannot comfortably be in those spaces because the white ppl in those spaces only care about their own comfort and emotional safety, and to hell with ours. They often seem to use such spaces to express the anti-blackness they can’t express in real life (and still delude themselves that they’re “good or progressive”.)

      I don’t think you’re being pessimistic. I think you’re being realistic about the anti-blackness in fandom. If there were fandom communities solely for black people, I’d engage with fandom much more frequently.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Thread Collection: Antiblackness in the Archive (6/14) — Stitch’s Media Mix – Geeking Out about It

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