It’s been a while since we had a fandom racism bingo card. Last time, it was my partially tongue-in-cheek one about the fandoms for Korean pop and hip hop with a heavy tilt towards cultural appropriation and antiblackness. This time, like it says on the label, it’s about misogynoir in fandom.
As always, I do look towards my fannish past with this, and I recommend people learn their fandom history about the nature of bingo cards to deliver understanding of/clown on tough topics… like this one about racism in the immediate aftermath of racefail 09. It’s not an inherently “anti” thing unless you’re one of the extremely fandom-minded individuals that believes criticism of fandom at any any level or with any sharpness is automatically “anti fandom” in action and if you think that… well.
Anyway, one statement that lives in my mind on the regular comes from a speech Malcolm X gave in 1962 at Ronald Stokes’ funeral where he said that
“The most disrespected woman in America, is the black woman. The most un-protected person in America is the black woman. The most neglected person in America, is the black woman.”
Fandom, especially when it comes to antiblackness, is not exempt from the issues that plague the wider world.
In fandom, misogynoir is accepted as a thing people do and it always has been acceptable in fandom at large regardless of how much people claim fandom as a space for women. Despite the perception that queer/women’s fandom is super progressive, it’s become increasingly clear to Black fans in particular that that’s far from the case. Misogynoir – aimed at Black fans, celebrities, and characters – is an acceptable norm in fandom and something that isn’t just defended, but that has become a bonding activity on a level that even sees other Black people partaking in it to build and maintain community bonds, not just non-Black people.
Hot on the heels of Candice Patton and other Black CW superhero actresses talking about the misogynoir they experience from fandom and behind the scenes of their respective shows is… me talking once again about misogynoir: a form of anti fandom that no one but Black women/femmes seems capable of clocking or interested in stopping.
NOW BEFORE WE GET INTO THE EXPLANATIONS, PLEASE NOTE THAT IF YOU’RE SENSITIVE AND NEED PEOPLE TO BE NICE WHEN COMPLAINING ABOUT RACISM THEY SEE AND EXPERIENCE, THIS IS NOT THE POST FOR YOU.
“uppity” – So I’m using “uppity” as a catch-all here because you’re not likely to get someone racist enough to write out the word “uppity” in the middle of fandom discourse. Because, as with the use of slurs in fandom, that tends to just be an in-group thing.
As in, a Black fan might call a Black woman/femme “uppity” but the common fandom parlance is to frame it as “she’s a know it all” or “I don’t know why she’s so condescending” or “I think she thinks she’s better than [character or fan]”. Uppity – and its unsubtle approximations – is a racist term when applied to Black people because it comes from the position of being angry that a Black person would dare to think they know more/better than a non-Black person.
“I don’t know why, I just don’t like her” – It’s not that strange how fandom, a space where people fall in love with white male characters based on moments of screentime snatched in the background of a show, is also full of people who make on-the-spot declarations of hatred of Black women. But god is it annoying.
Mammy figure – I know a surprisingly large amount of POC TOO in fandom have somehow convinced other people in fandom that the mammy trope, a version of the Mammy Caricature used in media, isn’t racist (because there were real Mammies who watched white people’s children). They are wrong and that is such an unintelligent take that I won’t even seriously entertain it beyond putting it on this bingo card to roast it. Go read a book, please.
“That bitch isn’t nice” – I’ve talked about this a lot but it is such an arrogant racist mindset that people in fandom have where a Black character or person isn’t “nice” so they won’t treat them like they’re people… all while spitting curses and gendered slurs at them.
It’s a form of fandom misogynoir I deal with often, where people who will publicly demand niceness… fully call me racist, gendered, and anti-sex worker slurs while crying that my use of an unspecific f-bomb is abusive violence on-par with their abusive parent. “Well if that bitch was nicer” is literally a thing I’ve seen said about me and I mean… No one realizes that I could start being actually mean?
“I’m The Real Anti Racist” – Racist white people in fandom actually love positioning themselves as “The Real Anti Racists” opposite Black people who talk about racism in fandom. They trot out their anti censorship work, their volunteering with the ACLU (which they’re doing because the ACLU defends bigots’ right to hate speech/absolute free expression and they’ll say that on main), and the unspecified “BIPOC friends” they use to beat Black women/friends arguments back.
I have gotten so many snotty, nasty comments, messages, and subtweets from slur-using, bigot-defending racists in fandom who think that their surface level support of like 5 BIPOC who let them attack Black women/femmes in their name makes them apparently… better at anti-racism than Black people.
I’m a POC TOO/Black Too and this isn’t racist – I think so lowly of other people of color who wriggle on their bellies up to lick the boots of racists in fandom and promise them that the racist thing somehow isn’t racist. They are worms.
Of course, Black people aren’t a monolith and Black conservatives clearly exist… but it is fascinating how Black people who don’t ever believe the thing is racist are able to speak for and over other Black people. The POC TOO/Black Too contingent never rallies to say “I’m POC/Black Too and actually this person is right and this is racist”. They only show up to shut down other Black people and to insist that issues like misogynoir in fandom can’t be fixed or even managed in fandom.
And yet, somehow, they’re given more value for their vibe-free approach to misogynoir and racism in fandom than POC who literally do work? God, I hate them.
No chemistry – Claims that a Black woman doesn’t have chemistry with her non-Black love interest (or the celeb she may or may not be in a relationship with) a la Chani/Paul in Dune and TomDaya are just super annoying because fandom doesn’t actually need chemistry to make a ship between white characters work? It comes up so often with Black women characters/celebs that it’s a whole thing their fans have been able to point out from the jump and laugh at from as far back as the anti-Martha and anti-Gwen squads that attempted to make disliking those characters a suitable standin for a personality.
The second a Black woman is in proximity to a potential (usually white and male) character or celebrity that fandom thirsts after hard, folks are suddenly like “well actually they don’t have any chemistry and that’s why I ship these two characters who’ve never interacted onscreen/these actors that don’t know each other”. Clown ass behavior.
“She’s just so scary, idk why” – To quote Luvvie in this brilliant article:
“White women tears are especially potent and extra salty because they are attached to the symbol of femininity. These tears are pouring out from the eyes of the one chosen to be the prototype of womanhood; the woman who has been painted as helpless against the whims of the world. The one who gets the most protection in a world that does a shitty job overall of cherishing women. The mothers, sisters, daughters and aunties of the world’s biggest bullies (white men). But the truth is, white women have been bullies themselves because they’ve been the shadows behind the white men who get all the blame.”
Fandom is a place where white women and white queer people can violently wish harm, harass, and threaten Black women at every level of fandom without anyone caring too much. But then, when Black women/femmes speak up, establish our boundaries, and shut down this bullshit… everyone is watching. But they’re only watching because a “vulnerable” white person is at risk of being held accountable for racism they’ve done.
And they only ever come for the Black people. They only ever interrupt to protect fragile white womanhood/queerness rather than to disrupt it in action. In my direct experience, people watch placidly and quietly as people from different fandoms call me just frightening names and say vile/violent things about me… but the second I establish or reinforce a boundary for myself or clap back… I’m apparently just like their abusive stepdad or some shit.
Abusive (to a white character) – I think the most vivid example I have of this is the response from Too Many people in fandom who saw Ayo literally disarming Bucky as ableist and abusive of her. People really can’t just say “I don’t ship that” or “I don’t like that”… when it comes to Black women, they have to make it so no one can like the thing. Because it’s bad. I’m tired and they’re transparent as hell considering half of the people who do this, then go on to ship the white character they’re defending from the “mean ole Black lady”… with someone who’s actively harmed them.
#ReverseColorism – This goes out to the (usually light skinned/very ambiguous) POC TOO who think that darker skinned POC (who do not have to be dark skinned in truth, I sure as hell am not) criticizing misogynoir and other forms of racism in fandom are somehow being racist to them. I would like them to get in the nearest trashbin so they can go out with the rest of the garbage.
Go Talk About Real Racism – Antiblack bitches in fandom just love to act like the Black people talking about antiblackness in fandom are not doing anything about “real racism” anywhere. The racism in fandom is real racism – people are hurting and harassing POC in fandom because of what we are… bitch, that’s racism.
But beyond that, let’s entertain the novel concept that perhaps, all we Black people have to do, to quote Morgan Freeman’s character Joe Clark in the 1989 film Lean On Me, is “stay black and die”.
It’s super wild to watch white people (and their little POC TOO) decide that Black people talking about racism in fandom spaces somehow aren’t doing enough to stop racism offline… as they cape for racists on main and display it like a badge of dishonor. Automatically, they seem to “know” that fans of color who talk about racism in fandom are “fake woke” or “armchair activists” – because POC speaking on racism are assigned “activist” as a label that’s then used to dehumanize us.
But how do they know anything about us to know that we’re “fake” activists or that we’re doing nothing to stop racism in wider society? Is there an activism registry they have access to? Can they see the work we’ve done in our local government just by looking at our handles? Does tonguing white supremacist boot give them access to our browser histories over the decade so they can make sure we don’t do any community organizing? Interesting if so.
Black Women = Automatic AroAces – In before one of the fandom minded decides to go “ah, so stitch hates aroaces” a) please learn to practice critical thinking and b) understand that the concept of conveniently labeling only Black characters – especially Black women – as aroace to remove them from the playing field for shipping purposes is racist.
It’s also actually anti-aroace because aroace folks have relationships.
These relationships may not look like what you want them to or what you expect them to, but aros and aces have awesome relationships with partners who care deeply about them and so making Black characters aroace in some way to remove them as a “threat” to whatever white folks ship fandom wants winds up being negative for multiple groups because it dismisses the real relationships these queer folks do have.
She’s PROBLEMATIC – The way people come up with excuses to dislike Black women characters, actresses, and fans while worshiping people with documented awful histories. Let a Black woman say “fuck” or “be mean” to/about a non-Black person and they’re tarred for life as abusers and deemed problematic… but the people doing this are all like nowhere near as strict about the non-Black folks they follow and adore. (Some of whom are antiblack racists on main with slurs or blackface everywhere.)
“you’re harshing my squee” – It’s so fascinating that Black fans talking about antiblackness are somehow harshing other fans’ squee – a sense of just joyful fannish fun – but then no one ever actually tries to protect our squee so we don’t have to talk about this shit in the first place?
[blatant lies about a Black woman or femme] – *gestures in “proof of me being ‘abusive’ in fandom sent to Courtney Milan was two sets of screenshots where I talked to my real friends about harassment we were getting/seeing”*
Tone Policing – Someone that requires Black people be “nice” to them or when talking about misogynoir in order to take them seriously and care about what they’re saying, is a sensitive weenie of a racist. And fandom sure is flush with those.
Redhead Genocide – This is this whole thing where fans of different DC superhero shows on HBO MAX/The CW act like casting Black women as Traditionally Redhaired Characters directly equates a genocide against white women with red hair. It’s embarrassing as hell, but it’s also you know… racist. Especially because this faked fear of a genocide then allows people to violently attack these Black women actresses for years while feigning that they were harmed by this form of injecting representation into a piece of media.
“you’re advocating for censorship by talking about misogynoir” – Chances are that if someone believes that Black women/femmes talking about anti racism, urging platforms and fandom spaces to do something about racism, etc are analogous to or urging censorship, they are a racist.
These convenient free speech absolutists in fandom – many of whom actively advocate for deplatforming of POC who talk about racism in fandom and harass Black/brown fans into silence even within their fandom factions – stay silent about the ways that social media platforms already censor people of color who use them and protect racists at our direct expense. They choose to make up a guy to get mad at and then people run with it to the point where it becomes fact. In this case, they make up a Black woman/femme supposedly trying to censor fandom by speaking publicly about ways that racism in fandom hurts them and potential solutions they wish existed in some way. The fact that people keep falling for this lie is infuriating because it’s not even subtle.
Something Something Black Americans – There’s a new-ish thing where non-Black POC (and Black people) from outside of the US will be like “isn’t it wrong how Black Americans keep pretending to care about racism/speaking over other POC outside of the US” when we’re talking specifically about racism that affects us.
It’s supposed to provide cover to dodge accusations of antiblackness because ~they’re not being antiblack~, they’re just calling out American Centrism in Fandom. But it’s weird how they only seem to show up to talk about racism – and how it doesn’t exist, apparently – when Black Americans in fandom are talking about it.
(Which, by the way: I feel that their insistence on smushing us all together as Black Americans reduces us to a monolith and ignores our diasporic traditions and experiences.)
“Fans of [Black woman] are anti shippers” – Isn’t it weird that SnowBarry shippers who have harassed and slandered Candice Patton for the better part of a decade are never called antishippers? Isn’t it strange that Barbara/Dick fans harassing Anna Diop/talking shit about her Starfire aren’t called antishippers either?
But then, both Westallen and Starfire/Nightwing fans get called “antis” of those ships with shippers harassing everyone for years?
It’s almost as if “anti” and “anti shipper” are meaningless designators at this point and that bad actors in fandom utilize them endlessly to excuse harassing Black women and their fans… Interesting.
It’s Just My Preference – In 2019, I talked about The Problem With Preferences and it’s still relevant here. Fandom weaponizes desire – which conveniently always excludes or racializes Black women in a way that is peak misogynoir – in order to shut down critiques. There are (sex) negative critiques of desire that shouldn’t be entertained, to be clear, but what fandom does when Black women/femmes talk about how they treat characters that look like us… it’s the most self-absorbed understanding of desire and preference I’ve ever seen.
“Do you hate… interracial relationships?” – This was a big thing back when the Black Panther fandom liked to write white people ruling Wakanda. I hope every single person that wrote one of those stories or defended it by accusing Black women of hating interracial relationships/being pro-miscegenation later gets a nasty, super inconvenient cut on their hands that never heals and makes writing unbearable. They actually deserve it.
I’m Not Racist… But – Anyone saying that is a racist ass. The fact, by the way, that “I’m not racist, but” has its own Wikipedia page is fucking killing me. Everything after the “but” renders the statement entirely useless. It’s embarrassing. Shut up.
*abusing Black women as feminist praxis* – White feminists TM historically have weaponized harming Black women as part of their feminist practice. Fandom is no exception and the proof of it has been evident over decades of Black women/femme fans being harassed, abused, and otherwise mistreated in the name of protecting the supposed sanctity of fandom.
It is beyond unfair that Black fans literally are not allowed room to be fans. We can’t enjoy the fandom content because it’s antiblack and we can’t talk about it or the source media because that is more damaging to fandom than open bigotry and harassment. The only Black fans who can sort of escape into the fandom spaces that harm us are the ones who set themselves up as defenders of antiblackness in fandom… and even that isn’t much of an escape.
These fandom bingo cards are supposed to be cathartic. I unpack issues I’m seeing in ongoing fandoms and unspool them in a way that doesn’t let bitter emotions linger in my soul. However, these aren’t particularly good bingo cards (you cannot actually play them, I feel), but they are fun to put together. If you were to treat them as a drinking game, you’d wind up drinking every day or multiple times a day.
So don’t… actually try use them as a drinking game.