Image A: The “Don’t make me tap the sign” meme with bottom text that reads: “Declaring that the real problem with how we talk about racism is “angry” POC and not racists harming and harassing them is… racist. Bitch.”
Image B: The “Don’t make me tap the sign” mtoeme with bottom text that reads: “If you’re angrier at POC in any fandom for being “mean” – cussing, snarking, etc. – when speaking about racism in fandom than you are at racists for BEING RACIST IN FANDOM… you’re a fucking racist.
Why do racists keep getting to define the rules of engagement? Why do they get to position themselves as neutral and unbiased, when they’re clearly biased in favor of white supremacy in a given space? Why is it that racists get to declare POC “too angry” to listen to and have people listen to them instead… As they angrily insult the “too mean” POC simply asking people to stop being less racist. Do people think this isn’t their entire goal? To make listening to anti racists/stopping racism in any space or capacity too hard or scary to do.
It’s wild that we have to be nice to racists… or else they won’t listen to us? Because kindness is so important to them.
Except… have you ever noticed that the people who insist that conversations about racism just have to be done at their tone and in a way that they’ve previously signed off… are some of the nastiest assholes on the internet?
To this day, I think the most astounding thing about how angry people in fandom get at me is… Well: they’re never this angry about racism in fandom.
They’re not mad about the slur-users, the serial harassers, the bullies. They’re not angry at the people harassing Candice Patton for seven years, John Boyega for five years, and Tyler Posey for a fucking decade. Nah… Those people are just having heated fandom moments or they were raised in the Deep South TM and couldn’t be expected to know any better.
No, all the anger in fandom, in the world at times… That’s reserved for me and other people of color who talk about racism in fandom with a swear and a smile. Because we talk about racism in fandom.
I’ve talked on end about “tone policing” in fandom and how it functions as a feature of white supremacy here as it does elsewhere.
It’s fascinating how people who are willing to publicly call me a “bitch” or a “whore” and try to get me fired and come up with insults based on my name… suddenly shrink into a ball when I use a sharp tone. How they suddenly realize that cussing is “bad” when I do it and decide to frame it as something that makes me dangerous to children and… wildly, somehow racist towards biracial/mixed people of color.
I will never let go of the amusement I feel from that clearly unhinged person who responded to me talking on my own site about issues I saw… by comparing me to her abusive father. How racist must you be to see me talking about racism – and racists actively trying to harm me – with the tone that sort of action requires and then choose to go “this is exactly like my father abusing me”? What the fuck is wrong with that person? Can someone please find them and ask them? Because that’s ridiculous.
No one in fandom who is violently angry at me for how/why I talk about racism… can ever manage even a single-digit percentage of that anger for racists.
Sure, they did their little lip service rage performance back in June 2020 when everyone around the world was busy pretending that they gave a shit about Black people and anti racism after George Floyd was murdered –
But they don’t actually care.
I know that’s a stunner because one thing they keep insisting is that they do care. They care so much that they’re actually even better antiracists than Black people and other people of color just trying to talk about what they are experiencing in fandom spaces. After all, they donate to the ACLU and they hate hate speech laws – for the safety of POC, of course, somehow – look at that instead of their embarrassingly transparent and racist responses to fans of color in fandom who try to talk amongst ourselves about racism in fandom.
But again, these people aren’t anti racists.
They’re racists in fandom gear with their little ugly pins and t-shirts and the fandom lingo they’ve copped over the years. While I balk at the idea of white supremacists at large being part of some “white supremacist fandom” a la Dr. CarrieLynn D. Reinhard or Mel Stanfill, I do think that these white supremacists in queer/women’s fandom… are part of that in truth.
Because what else do they got going on? They’re not cosplayers. They don’t create art. Their fic is mediocre at best. They can’t vid. They don’t do podfic. Their timelines, when you go for a scroll, are filled with incoherent screeching meant to shore up their persecution complexes.
They co-opt every single political and social issue for themselves and in defense of their particular brand of white supremacy – from anti CRT bans to OnlyFans trying to boot sex workers and China’s ongoing attempt at controlling public perception by banning “effeminate” men on television and in games. It all becomes about their entirely unrelated fandom crusades…, and yet they’re not actually doing anything in/for fandom.
They contribute nothing to fandom except discourse and increasingly, that discourse is the sort of blatantly racist shit that Talia Lavin writes about. But it’s okay, we’re assured, because they’re not mean.
They don’t swear – at people they like in fandom.
They don’t insult people – except in defense of fandom.
They don’t use slurs – except when they’re fighting someone who deserves it.
They’re just so nice – except if you’re an ideological enemy of fandom.
It’s that goalpost-moving to excuse abuse… That’s the thing that gets me.
When fans of color who are fighting racism call other fans of color “PickMes” for clearly defending racists/racism in fandom, that’s positioned as a damning offense. We should be harmed for this and aren’t worth listening to because it’s just so… mean.
But any other fan – and they don’t have to be fans of color themselves, either – can call us slurs, threaten to dox us, harass us for years. That’s okay, though, because they’re doing this the name of “radical anti censorship” or because they’re “free speech absolutists”, not because of ships.
(Except, they are.)
I’ve talked about this before, but it is absolutely fascinating to me how so many people in fandom miss that the “free speech absolutists” among us only actually care about free speech and free expression for themselves. Not for people who oppose them by like… being anti racist. Or existing as POC who aren’t bootlickers.
By presenting themselves as warriors nobly fighting for your right to Omegaverse and racists’ nasty bigoted ideas to get the same air time, they get people in fandom to accept that “some things just have to be allowed in fandom”. It’s why all of the conversations about the racism done on and in defense of the AO3 boil down to a misunderstanding of free speech rights that hinge on racists getting to say/create whatever the hell they want… while POC who talk about racism can expect to be harassed and stalked for months or even years. We, wildly, do not get to speak ourselves.
As this article about the gullibility of free speech absolutists shows, this is all part of the con:
I’ve said before that the free speech issue has been hijacked by the right wing. This is different from marginalized communities mobilizing to get their voices included in our society’s discourse. What “free speech” does in 2019 is consolidate the privilege and power of the white, straight male majority by allowing bigots to demand that universities and media outlets provide them a platform for hatemongering and intimidation.
And free speech absolutists, who consider their commitment to free speech noble, and principled, are playing right into the hands of Trump and his bigoted sponsors.
Of course, fandom isn’t a 1:1 ratio to offline life. Duh.
There are people already getting ready to do a cute little Twitter poll to “debunk” my usage this quote by making sure it’s weighted in a way that shows how little “white, straight, men” are present in fandom. There are folks who think the Trump reference in the quote is me comparing them to him. The response to just me quoting this dude’s piece will overwhelm the amount of people who actually click through to learn more about how the concept of “free speech” has been colonized/is being co-opted by white racists.
And that’s part of what I’m talking about.
I have talked about how Foz Meadows’ piece about racism in fandom got the same people coming for my throat and job hyping it up. They even compare these folks to Bronies. Consider how I mentioned that Rey/Kylo shippers wanted “Kylo Ren’s redemption in the form of an utterly unearned Happily Ever After where ben and his tradwife Rey pop out little Skywalker spawn” in Rey/Kylo Shippers: A New Look At An Old Face of Fannish Entitlement… and that got mutated (on purpose) to “Stitch says we’re all tradwives”.
Because, they’re pro free speech and free expression…
Unless it harshes their squee or messes with their vibe.
There is nothing that people of color can say to make racists like us pointing out racism. We can modulate our tone, stop using swears, and even pull out a cutesy puppet show softly explaining complex concepts like “racism is bad” and they’ll still complain.
After all, this is the nicest I’ve ever been about racism in fandom and people still treat it like it’s violence.
The very fact that we’re speaking about racism in fandom in any capacity as people of color is what makes us mean to any of them. Because their idea of us being nice is us being quiet.
That’s why they snuff out resistance from their friends of color. That’s why they harass their POC TOO off the internet and into tearfully apologizing even for trying to have their own spaces in fandom. (They tear into them extra hard when they dare to suggest doing something about racism in fandom, often utilizing extra invested POC TOO who come, slurs a blazing, to take down their former peers.) These people aren’t nice even as they demand niceness from people of color – including their own friends – while holding “humane treatment” hostage.
They come across as “thoughtful” and “reasonable” opposite POC dealing with racism and pushing back against it only because… they’re upholding the racist status quo and they can pretend to be cool and collected in the face of racism in fandom. It doesn’t affect them the way it does the people they’re reframing as nasty monsters.
Because silence is the only way to do anti racism for racists. They want people to think about it and never actually do anything… They want people to be so defeated by the idea of racism in fandom and so afraid of being “mean” – and therefore unworthy of being treated like a human and respected – that they just zip their lips about racism and do nothing to shut it down even in their own smaller fandom spaces.
Think about that when you see another tone policing argument that POC just have to be nice to racists/about racism to be taken seriously.
The thing racists in and out of fandom actually want is our silence.
So shout louder.