What Fandom Racism Looks Like: Apolitical/Drama Free Fandom Spaces

Another (relatively) short-and-spicy one in the style of the Fandom Wank installment, I’m here to point out that racism in fandom looks like apolitical or “drama free” fandom spaces. In discord servers, twitter group chats and other forms of fannish socializing, denoting a space as apolitical or “drama free” primarily winds up punishing marginalized people who speak up against issues in the fandom space or with fans they encounter. 

For example, if a person you’re in a “drama free” fandom server with then goes off on an anti-BLM rant or suggests that George Floyd deserved to be murdered and you bring it up… Guess who’s more likely to get run out from the fandom space or seen as a “drama monger” or even… an anti? Guess who’s going to be seen as “needlessly” political and punished as a result. Not the antiblack person spreading hatred and victim blaming. You. The (likely Black) person going “this person makes this space unsafe for me”.

It’s wild because fandom prides itself on supposedly self-regulating, but then it… doesn’t. 

None of the racists in fandom are ever regulated out and in these fandom spaces, only fans of color who speak on the harm of sharing digital space with a racist get punished.

Do you know how much it sucks to constantly see fans of color get punished for bringing up an issue while the racist that started it gets coddled?

Apolitical and drama free fandom spaces are a lie. They don’t actually exist.

In the case of racism in fandom, these are spaces that will take the side of bigots who create “good” content over that of offended/harmed/triggered people whose content is seen as less valuable or non-existent. (But sometimes the content is just racism and that says… a lot.). A person of color who goes “hey, the way you’re talking about this person or character of color hurts me/feels kind of racist, could you stop” is treated as a bully and a harasser while the person frothing at the mouth in a racist rage is… a victim.

Every single time.

There’s also no such thing as apoliticism in fandom. Because everything is political. What we like, what we dislike, who we are and who we aren’t. The most “minor” things in these fandom spaces that get brushed away as “drama” or “discourse” are still political. Making a rule against politics or “fandom drama” ignores that things like racism in fandom… have always been treated as mere drama in fandom.

So instead, I suggest actually laying out fair and balanced rules for your fandom space if you’re a moderator. Rules that let people be themselves but that also don’t let bigots run the roost. Rules that are evenly applied and that don’t let some people get away with bad behavior. (See: Organizing Inclusive Fandom Spaces: The Basics for a starter.)

And for starters, please stop punishing POC for talking about racism in fandom or in the specific fandom space you run. If a fan of color goes “this thing in/out of the space is racist”, your main response shouldn’t be to call it “fandom drama” and eject them from the space. Your main response should be to find out what happened and take care to make sure POC in the space can be safe.

If the rules of a fandom space you created or moderated punish and remove POC for talking about racism instead of the racists harming them, what you’ve created and are moderating is a racist space

Fix that shit.


4 thoughts on “What Fandom Racism Looks Like: Apolitical/Drama Free Fandom Spaces

  1. I actually get really twitchy about joining comms that have things in the rules about not mentioning politics. Because that’s not usually what they mean. (ESPECIALLY in romance circles.) They mean, “if someone says something sexist/racist/anti-Semitic/homo- or trans-phobic, we need you to let it go.” And, yeah, no.


  2. Saw your tweet recently linking to this story, and it brings up a LOT for me. I didn’t know if it even made sense to try and condense that into a tweet or two… or if it was even appropriate to share?

    At the time of George Floyd’s murder I wasn’t engaging in online fandom proper (AO3, Tumblr, etc) but I was in 2-3 Animal Crossing Facebook groups, one of those was a group for Black players. I honestly don’t remember how long it was between the story breaking and nationwide coverage/protests, but Black folks were getting reported and booted from white dominated Animal Crossing groups simply for posting BLM design codes. The online exchange for designs was also FLOODED with anti-Black submissions at that time.

    It’s exhausting AF that being anything besides a straight cis white man is considered political.


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