End of 2021: How Did This Year Compare?

Back at the end of 2020, I did a lengthy piece looking back at everything I’d done before looking forward to what I hoped 2021 would bring me. As we’re at the end of the year, I wanted to look back and think about:

  • how much of my 2021 trajectory matched the goals and desires I had for it in 2020
  • the stuff I did that wasn’t necessarily part of my Goals list

2021 was very busy. So busy that I’m still kind of trying to figure out everything I planned to do for December because there’s so much left undone and 2021 is just a little over a week from ending. I took most of December off and if you’re wondering how scary my backlog is… it’s a whole nightmare.

And I still have another video – this one on the state of racism in fandom in 2021 – left to plan, record, and upload next week on top of planning content on like four different fronts for the first quarter of 2022! Argh!

Below the cut is a version of my script for this, but it’s not a 1:1 ratio, some things I adlibbed in the process of recording and while I love talking, I also cannot stand the sound of my own voice so… I cannot go back through and add what’s missing. Sorry! Youtube has subtitles but they’re auto-subtitled so that might not work well… Hopefully in 2022 I’ll get a job that’ll allow me to afford to pay for subtitles and transcripts regularly but since I don’t have a job at all… lol

Rough Script

The best way to get into what 2021 brought me is to go back and look through my list at the end of 2020 where I listed what I wanted 2021 to bring me. Let’s see how many of those things actually happened

An agent – nope, not yet.

Twitter verification – yes! I thanked my haters for this on twitter and it’s actually their fault because their harassment, including impersonation and slander and making up things I supposedly said, proved to twitter that beyond me being a published author and public figure… my “brand” is at risk from trolls and creeps so I needed a little extra OOMPH. So I’m verified now and that’s like… functionally meaningless because the features aren’t super great beyond apparently how I probably can’t be easily suspended on the platform, but it does mean that I can further lock down my notifications to only see fellow blue check media peeps in my notifications… So that’s nice.

A regular writing gig somewhere – the latest Fan Service column went up on the seventeenth and I’ve been writing for Teen Vogue for the entire year. My editor Claire and I just had our meeting for 2022 plans and we even have a theme planned for Fan Service for next year (more on that in the future). I didn’t expect to have a column anywhere, much less one that’s largely been well received outside of the unhinged racist haters who aren’t… actually reading what I’ve written. I write a lot, I work hard, and it’s amazing to see my dedication pay off in this way. I’ve gotten to interview celebrities who are super cool, like Kelly Marie Tran, Zendaya, Junji Ito, and Lil Nas X. I talked about TikTok trends, RPF, “dark fic”, and a bunch of other amazing things. And that’s led to me getting opportunities elsewhere like The Verge and Mashable. So that’s fucking amazing. I also did music reviews at Everything and the Kitchen Sink, but as 2021 get more and more intense, I had to pull back. 2022 should bring me back to that platform! Fingers crossed!

A better job – literally the week after I wrote the original post in 2020, I got let go from my day job in marketing. I have yet to be able to find full time work despite my best efforts. So I mean… I don’t work there anymore and that’s fine because they were awful people and shady as shit… but it still sucks to lose employment during a pandemic and lose my health insurance too. Because I wanted to continue doing my job at home and they wanted me to come work in a single office room – like they took my actual office and turned it into a storage room – with no mask mandates and anti vaxx coworkers.

An apartment of my own – see the above “loss of job” thing to explain why that sure as hell didn’t happen.

The chance to ask BTS (or their rapline specifically) about the way their understanding and performance of hip hop has evolved – obviously I didn’t get to interview BTS in 2021. Maybe next year? The thing is that even though my question is brilliant, it’s not the question someone like me – freelancer, largely unknown, etc. – would get to ask BTS even if I did get a chance to interview them. So I just have to bide my time, get more and more famous, and finally get Namjoon specifically on my podcast so we can talk about hip hop together and I get him to spill his true thoughts on Show Me The Money and the current state of Korean hip hop and where BTS falls in the field.

More (any) respect from people in fandom/fan studies – this is always hard to measure but also like… it’s hard to figure out whose respect or attention matters (I know objectively who I’m writing for but my brain is just… unhelpful).

I’ve seen the numbers for my column, Fan Service, and it’s clearly doing well. I have lots of new followers and people who come to me to talk about fandom stuff.

At the same time, it does feel like I’m being treated worse than someone like Aja Romano seems to be by queer fandom – bless their heart and I do think they can do great work, but I have issues with Aja that Aja has never quite grasped even though they know my issues do exist.

People show up in my inbox, in my comment section, and in my mentions to harass me – like recently some proshipper chuds – and if you don’t know what that’s about check out Princess Weekes and Sarah Zed’s videos on the subject – have graduated to accusing me of heinous things based on other people’s bookmarks on AO3 and… blaming me for the Isabell Fall situation somehow. But even outside of that, loads of people just deem me proshipper or anti – and we’re going to talk more in 2022 about how bananapants that binary is considering both arms of it are saying I belong to or am working for their enemy – and that’s then turned into an excuse to not engage with my work in good faith.

Fan studies… Aside from the people who I already know and engage with, I think the field especially as it revolves around transformative fandom, still doesn’t recognize me and I mean… it is what it is. I’ve been doing this for seven years and I have academic expertise to back this all up on top of my lifetime in fandom as a Black fan… and it’ll never really matter to the majority of people who come across my work out of dislike or hate or who think it’s taking away from their own work. Because for some of them it’s too academic and dense, for others it’s too lowbrow and profanity-laden.

However… You can’t please everyone and you especially can’t please racists! So I have stopped really expecting respect from people who don’t… actually deserve any of my serious thoughts.

What has shifted though, is how many fans of color reach out and seek me out to speak to me. We don’t all agree on everything… but we don’t have to. It’s been great to have conversations in emails and DMs with people who are like “oh thank god you exist and you’re saying the shit I have been afraid to say”. People are talking and thinking critically about fandom as people of color and they’re nodding to my work as what got them started.

A Hugo Award – 2021 was actually the year I decided to let go of my pipe dream of getting a Hugo Award. I write about fandoms the Hugo Awards aren’t concerned by and because I cover lots of different areas linked with things modern SFF fandom doesn’t really care about unless pressed (like uh… race and racism) I kind of get passed over there. So I was like “award season will happen without me” and then… I was announced as a finalist for Fiyahcon’s second Ignyte Awards for their Critics Awards. You can check my video out about that after this but I was not expecting to be nominated and I definitely was not expecting to win considering the volume of violence and harassment aimed my way for daring to be Black and critical of media and fandom in 2021 alone. This means so much more to me than a Hugo ever could because these were my peers. My people. They chose me for this in the midst of hundreds or thousands of people lying on me for clout and social capital. Wow.

More socializing – well I mean… I went on an out-of-state vacation earlier this month and got to spend time with people I’d only known from Twitter (like Ashley, Lala, Ash, Julia, and Lilah) – and missed out on seeing OTHER people that I love from that hellsite – but beyond that, I actually have succeeded in my goal to do more socializing. I zoom with friends and we watch BTS content together, I text people regularly (ish), I have even played animal crossing with friends while we talk on the phone. It’s not the same as seeing people offline, but it’s okay. It’s helped keep me going.

More time to read – so technically… I did have more time to read in 2021… did I actually read a lot though? Kind of not sure? Lots of fan fiction, for sure. Lots of omegaverse. I think webtoons were the thing I read the most in 2021 and that was great. I’ll definitely be doing more of that in 2022!

A better grasp of Korean – so I can sound out hangul now and once I read the thing aloud I can usually clock the loanwords and pronouns and figure out like if this is a conversation about food and while that’s Way better than it was in Dec 2020… it’s not quite where I want to be? But I’m not giving up.

Ideas to build and use my brand more effectively – I mean… I think my brand is now “likes omegaverse and RPF a lot but also hates racism in fandom” so I guess it’s a solid brand even though I’ve done nothing with it? I made one piece of merch on a lark and I don’t think I told more than 2 people because it’s just so silly. So I guess I failed here.

More organization – well I definitely was more organized across 2021! I’ll do better next year for sure!

More memes – I did fifteen memes about racism in fandom so like… that was a success.

And finally… revenge. While I haven’t gotten the chance to maim someone in revenge, I am one of the best-received fandom and media culture bloggers online. Tens of thousands of people read my teen vogue column. They link to my work when talking about racism they deal with in fandom. My website hit 200k views in 2021, 50  thousand views more than 2020 with me doing, what I felt, was significantly less actual writing for my site. I am everywhere and my haters cannot actually escape me or, apparently, successfully snatch my bag over anything I’ve done – they’ve made up stuff, but it’s debunkable and they’ve told on themselves repeatedly over the fact that this is a vendetta for them that isn’t backed up by any interaction. So I guess, for me, success has been the best revenge. But I am still open to maiming multiple people in the future if possible. Obviously.

Now I guess… there are the things that weren’t on my list for 2021 that count as accomplishments:

  • I had a novella come out In December! (In) Famous is my second novella in the Judge Dredd universe and it pulls from my background as a minor criminal in my teens and what someone would do for the chance to be famous even for a little bit!
  • I also wrote ten thousand words of incredibly self-indulgent queer polyamorous omegaverse for my birthday. I fucking love it and I hope y’all do too. I’ve got a direct sequel, a prequel, and a queer lady-featuring triad side-story in the works so more love for the main story means I’ll keep working on the others as hard as I can.
  • I saw my dad! He came to stay with us for a month in the spring and it was lovely to see him. After that I had BTS nieceling over for all of my birthmonth which was lovely because we spent it doing BTS and horror-oriented stuff. Meems, the baby was over at some point in the summer, and that was nice. I got to see family members that weren’t my mom. Excellent.
  • I ended up on ONTD as the subject of the story. So… it wasn’t great because it wasn’t the subject of a nice story, but back in may when the reylos and assorted anti harassment professional harassers and racist dipshits in multiple fandoms descended on me with a new wave of bullshit… things got so bad I ended up in ONTD? So while the reason sucked, the fact is that I did for sure end up in an online publication I grew up reading as a teen and young adult. Maybe one day it’ll be because my public relationship with a more famous celebrity ends LOUDLY and POORLY!! A stitch sure can dream!
  • I interviewed sleeq – one of the best Korean rappers in my experience – and we’ve talked and are friendly! That’s just so unexpected?? I adore her and her bright fresh outlook on the world and her powerful music. She’s also very cute and funny??!! I love her and I want to be closer friends with her!
  • The vacation I went on was a pretty huge accomplishment. I’ve never actually gone on vacation-vacation. If I’ve traveled it’s been for family or work purposes. This was the first time I went to just… do whatever. I went to LA for four days to see friends, eat good food, and do some delightful Bangtan things and then I spent two weeks at a dinky little hotel isolating because I didn’t want to risk bringing covid home to my family even though I’m vaxxed and was mostly masked. It was a great experience and while I don’t plan on doing it again until the pandemic is actually under control, I don’t regret it.

For 2022, I guess I just want more good things? But on a big scale: I want an agent, a book deal, to finish my emotional support (erotic?) romance novel, a datefriend, to spend at least one month in Korea, to get a good Korean class so I can get better at Korean, to interview Namjoon even if it’s “just” for my podcast, a staff writer gig, a full time job beyond that… I want to be booked and busy in 2022. I want to be able to take care of myself and my family but I also want to be able to live my life.

Hopefully all of this stuff happens sooner rather than later.

2021 was a tough year. I’ve never been busier, even when I was in grad school, and I’ve never been more stressed out. I couldn’t have done it without my friends and my support network and people finally getting the courage to say “what the fuck, that’s not true and that’s wrong” when they see people spreading lies and shit about me. I’ll talk more about all of this in my video on the state or racism in fandom in 2021 but for now… let me just say that I couldn’t have made it without y’all and your support.

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