Thread Collection: Racefail A Decade Later (1/17/2019)

Thread originally from 1/17/2019 and was lightly edited for clarity here.

Ten years out from Racefail 09 and I don’t think (SFF/curatorial/transformative) fandom has gotten better about race.

In fact, the only thing they’ve really gotten better about is masking their racism in these spaces.

And that’s not a high bar to clear.

I’ve been in fandom for ages (mostly as a lurker but within the past 10 years as an active “look at me, I’m here” participant), and I can tell y’all flat out that what I’ve observed 10 years post-Racefail is fandom finding new ways to reinforce the old ways fans were racist.

Folks keep trying to split fandom into pieces (individual fandoms/”not your fandom, not your problem”/ curatorial vs transformative) so they don’t have to acknowledge that all of fandom is and has always been racist but like…

That’s not a clever strategy.

It doesn’t work.

Take the star wars fandom:

Media blames the dudes in the Star Wars fandom for the fandom’s awfulness.

If you’re black and in transformative fandom, you know that nonblack women, esp Kylo Ren stans, have made fandom hell AND pit black people against each other over discourse.

People of color in that fandom can expect to be welded against one another as weapons by white women who will flat out use the language of social justice and sociology as a shield to hide behind as they ignore their fandom’s endless racism.

It’s transparent.

Ten years after Racefail 09, fandom isn’t better about race.

Many of the white people directly involved are still super racist to creators, characters, and fans of color in the SFF fandom. And the SFF fandom is just a tiny chunk. Transformative fandom learned NOTHING.

I lied, transformative fandom DID learn something:

It learned how to hide behind/within the discourses about race & social justice (and sociology) as well as similar minded/conservative fans of color [who are okay with racism but actually progressive everywhere else] in order to stop any critical discussions of fandom and racism from happening.

It learned that racism “blows over” and doesn’t affect creators’ careers.

After all, if published authors can show their racist asses and be fine a decade later, fandom creators who are racist (to fans/performers of color & in their work about characters of color) will be fine too.

(SFF/curatorial/transformative) fandom has not and CANNOT get better about race before yall have a whole ass conversation about personal responsibility and prejudice in these spaces and y’all… listen instead of throwing tantrums about having your sacred squee spaces shattered.

It’s not just that fandom DOESN’T talk about race, but that fandom doesn’t ALLOW people of color to talk about race in these spaces.

Talking about race – even positively as POC celebrating characters that remind us of ourselves – leads to harassment, shunning, cruelty. POC that talk about race and racism in these fandom spaces get harassed.


Name a fandom and I can probably find at least 3 incidents of harassment linked to POC talking about race or calling out racism.

(Big fandoms – mcu, star wars, popular TV series – are worse.)

Fandom spaces are presented via the idea that they’re progressive safe spaces for queer people and women – but not too safe/safe for everyone, of course, because many marginalized people AREN’T safe or protected in fandom and neither are our squees.

And until y’all force your friends to have conversations they’ve been dodging for YEARS (like a decade or more for some of y’all) and provide consequences for racism, nothing will change and a post-Racefail world will continue to under/de-value people of color 100%.

I’ve been actively talking about racism in fandom for like… At least 6 years.
I have a #WhatFandomRacismLooksLike hashtag I use infrequently and a whole website where I cover fandom racism issues. (…) 

I’m not the only fan of color slogging through this. 

And, before I end this long and faintly meandering thread, I want to point out that antiblackness has been a huge issue in fandom from the time of Racefail 09 (many fans/creators harassed and dismissed by fandom were black) and continues on to this day.

Racism in fandom is bad. Duh.

Antiblackness in fandom is… present to the point that outside of the communities we forge in our groups, many black people dip from those aforementioned spaces real quick.

Because we’re not valued and are constantly reminded that we’re hated.

AND we’re constantly pitted against other black people to make sure non-Black fans can be secure that their treatment of Black characters/performers/fans “isn’t racist” even when it obviously is.

Ten years post Racefail 09 and fandom has not gotten better about race and is even actively against being better about race/caring about people of color.

And not enough white people with big (enough) audiences in fandom are using their clout to shout this shit out.


I’m trying, but y’all… I do NOT have that many followers and I [am] just one barely known but weirdly hated person.

Tons of people in fandom just flat out hate me because I’m a black person talking about fandom racism/antiblackness in a way that doesn’t cater to them

Until everyone tries to change what fandom accepts… Nothing in fandom will change.

And tipping your hat to Racefail 09 without acknowledging what came (or didn’t come) next in fandom isn’t helping.