Back in August, I tweeted (as part of a thread) how:
A recurring “fandom vs Me” thing is “Stitch is silencing us” and like… How? How on Earth am I silencing fans of color who are CHOOSING not just to be silent about racism in their fandoms but to support & create horrifying lies about other BIPOC in fandom who are critical?
It’s a recurring theme that I am somehow silencing other BIPOC fans by… having and using my own website, twitter account, and the rare external platforms I’ve been offered across the past six years.
I am silencing others, you see, by having work out in public that people read and share because it is accurate and speaks to experiences that they have had or witnessed in their fandoms. I am silencing BIPOC in fandom, you see, just by existing and talking about what I experience and witness in fandom in a relatable way.
My, how powerful must that make me –
In this piece written for The Bias back in 2016, the author Natalie writes that:
Silencing is a type of verbal harassment or intimidation intended to distract, minimize, or discourage you from speaking out. The ultimate goal is to control the larger conversation by ensuring that not all voices are heard or are able to speak.
She goes on to say that while silencing tactics “are most often deployed by members of dominant groups to quash dissent,” they are “also used to establish hierarchies at the intersections of different marginalizations and oppressions”.
Silencing is a real issue, let’s get that straight.
But silencing is just not actually happening the way folks think it does in fandom?
The way that Natalie describes silencing is actually how it’s used in fandom because the dominant groups in fandom are marginalized themselves and are willing to weaponize other people’s marginalized identities when theirs won’t do in a pinch.
Think about the person in the featured image at the top of What Fandom Racism Looks Like – Misogynoir: Black Fans on the Defensive.
That’s someone I don’t know and have never spoken to at all or about beyond that post… And yet, despite us never speaking, she has chosen to use her identity as an unspecified WOC to excuse lying on me and accusing me of racism… specifically so that the people exposed to my work would reject it and me. It worked then and it works now because she is “also” a WOC and the hierarchy in fandom privileges unspecified bootlickers of color over Black people with an ounce of critical thought in their heads.
As you can see –
Silencing tactics are actually successfully used against people who don’t actually go with the established fandom order – and if you think talking about racism in fandom aligns with what fandom wants… I can only assume that you’re a goofy and gullible one.
In fandom, silencing techniques that get used to silence BIPOC who talk, write, and think about race and racism in fandom are pretty easy to see because, in part, they look just like the established techniques that bullies around the internet have used forever.
Dogpiling – Once you’re an enemy of fandom, everything’s fair game. Including people sending their followers to camp in your mentions interacting with your tweets to bury you in bad faith arguments and claims that you’re the problem. After all, it’s hard to talk about your regular work when you have to wade through tons of people insulting you and accusing you of weird shit out of nowhere, right? If you’re being inundated by strangers reacting to misinformation – or what sems like it – you’re going to want to correct them, right? But when it’s some weirdo’s followers showing up because they hate that you write about racism… well.
Thankfully, with Twitter’s notification controls, you can mitigate this by keeping your notifications locked down to just your followers, your tweet replies only for people you follow, and then never searching your name again. Sucks, but… such is fandom life apparently.
(Because Twitter’s controls don’t actually provide a way for you to avoid the dreaded ratio like what you see in the faked tweet above because even if you cut off who can reply to a post… anyone can quote tweet you and ratio that way. Even people you have blocked if they’re determined enough.
They Lie About What You’ve Said – Imagine having a tweet about how because a website doesn’t have a clear offensive content policy, fans of color have to badger racists into taking down racist work get turned into dozens if not hundreds of people saying with all sincerity that you’re advocating for harassment or that you’re actually an abuser yourself.
That’s what happened to me back in June… and then in August… and then in October. The same tweet taken out of context by different racists in fandom to accuse me of harm… even as they tried to do me/my reputation harm.
The goal of such purposeful misrepresentation is to cut down on who engages and who pays attention to what’s being said. Now, when people share my work, folks can and do hand them this tweet taken out of context on purpose and go “oh sure this person seems to have good opinions on racism, but they’re actually abusive and toxic”.
And folks always listen and go “ohh, I didn’t know this person was problematic” and never do their own research about how purposeful this reputation ruin is or how out of character it would be for me to harm others in any context.
They Contact Your Job – Back when Ashley Reese wrote her piece on the Snapewives of the early era of Harry Potter fandom, Rey/Kylo fans who suck at both feminism and basic reading comprehension lost their everloving minds and tried to actually get her written up at best (but it’s obvious from this Karen’s “Can I talk to the manager?” tweet @-ing Jezebel, that she wanted Ashley to lose her job a la Patton losing his command.) (ETA 4/6/2021 with DIRECT LINK TO SCREENSHOT)
Contacting someone’s job – or their editor, publisher, or agent – is a way to basically try to speak to the manager and get the target of ire smacked back into what these bullies feel is “their” place. Freedom of speech advocates – and these are always the people who get angry enough that they rush to silence others’ speech – absolutely get a kick out of reminding you that they know where you work and they’re willing to make sure you don’t work there anymore… usually because you’ve written about racism in a thing/from a person they like.
It’s funny that while I have never even considered contacting someone’s job or editor over their treatment of me, people have been super confident lying to people who’ve expressed interest in my work and scaring them off! Other Black writers in fandom have had this experience as well including more intensive and actual doxing in the name of protecting racism in fandom.
Yikes on bikes considering that we know that this is a tactic successfully utilized by the alt right to uh… silence people.
They Tag In Other Marginalized People – I have talked to death about how annoyed I am at how entitled PickMe POC are not just to my time specifically but to their “right” to be the only people of color in fandom who can talk about racism.
These are the fans that say that me having a snarky blog/twitter account and being seen as an expert on racism in fandom – because it’s what I’ve been doing for 6+ years – is automatically silencing them… but will purposefully orient themselves so that no other fan of color can be worth listening to. Even in their own fandom friendships.
One good example of this is how Black Rey/Kylo shippers back in 2018/2019 would accuse Black fans who’d talk about racism of silencing them – by not talking to them – when tagged in to duel us (remember my Social Justice Pokemon comment in Phone A Friend of Color?).
Another would be how people have literally used real (like the user in the tweet I’m quoting here or at one point in the above video) or imagined Black people (like this helpful anonymous African American atiny) Black people in K-pop fandom to shut down conversations on cultural appropriation.
They Accuse You Of Lying On/Gaslighting/Abusing Them – To quote Gundam Wing’sDuo Maxwell: “I may run and hide, but I’ll never tell a lie.”
I am honest to a fault. Not only do I not have to lie… why would I? I’m writing about racism in fandom at a time when every fandom is chock full of racists who have been given permission to attack others in the name of their fandom. I could be blindfolded and toss a dart at a random fandom and I’d still hit some massive pool of racism.
However, one of the things I’m constantly accused of is… lying. Even though I always come with receipts and make them accessible to people caught in blockchain.
And I’m not the only one.
The reason why people accuse fans of color who talk about the racism they experience in fandom of lying is to destroy our credibility. If they can say “don’t listen to this POC who is harming us [somehow, it never comes with actual receipts of anything beyond snark or in-group beef]”, they can control the narrative of what racism in fandom looks like and who’s doing it.
Here’s a thing you may not know:
Part of why you don’t super see lots of vocal + visible Black fans in SFF/transformative fandom/even stan twt at times is because a regular experience of Fandoming While Black is abuse. Abuse so awful and so constant that people stop being vocal, hide their identities &… leave)
Silencing is successful in fandom.
But it’s not what happens to other people in fandom when Black and brown people are talking about what we experience from racist fandoms. It’s not my piece on Weaponized White Womanhood somehow “erasing” or being racist towards Black women. It’s not screenshotting someone else’s wild tweet championing the mammy trope or calling them a PickMe POC or what the hell ever. Especially in the case of people in fandom who only speak to cause trouble.
The fact is that we know what silencing looks like. It looks like dogpiling POC for writing about racism – or just merely tweeting about the racism from white people in their given fandom. It looks like people lying to others about what a Black or brown person in fandom actually said in order to isolate them from their friends and from new acquaintances. It looks like telling everyone to block “mouthy” Black people in a fandom… but telling them it’s because those fans are “antis”.
See these screenshots of a user who ended their blocklist – largely comprised of Black people in and out of ARMY who were upset or frustrated by Yoongi’s use of a Jim Jones sermon in the original version of “What Do You Think” on D-2 – by telling them to… sign petitions and support BLM.
Look at the likes and retweets on the first tweet ALONE.
But beyond that… let’s be very real here: people can and do go to my friends, to people who follow me, to people who just come across my work on their own or have had it recommended to them and just… lie. They lie about who I am, what I do, and how I do it. All to make sure that I’m not a person worth listening to in fandom.
I have had:
- at least one person impersonate me (which in this case led to racist and ableist dehumanization from someone enraged by my existence),
- people lie about me to other people who could possibly provide opportunities for me,
- vicious harassment that sparks up whenever I dare to remind people that the AO3 is bad at anti racism and so is fandom as whole,
- and perfect strangers argue passionately and, to an extent, successfully for my deplatforming.
- [Note: The tweets at the link including those from the people lying on and harassing me are to serve as examples of the lengths people go to in order to silence me specifically. Engaging with them/those users will only bring more harm/harassment to me than I’ve already gotten.]
All because I write about racism in fandom in a way they don’t like – with sharp snark and some swears.
I will never know how many opportunities I have lost as a result of people like this and how much my ability to get new readers has been stalled by people skulking around and lying on me because they know it works.
That is silencing in fandom.
And it has never been what I do or have done to anyone.
And that’s not what most people of color in fandoms are doing just by talking about racism on their own platforms and refusing to discourse duel people super obviously invested in whiteness and racism.