A friend sent me a Reddit post in the r/FanFiction subreddit made by a Black fan venting (it’s literally tagged as such) about how it feels for her to read fan fiction while Black and essentially looking for support. Fandom being fandom – aka “racist as hell” – the most highly upvoted comments in the sub on her comment are from people insulting her, insisting that she’s an entitled “Black American” for venting, and complaining about “wokeness” in fandom (and some that even wind up getting in digs at people like myself apparently leading the charge).
A common thread across many of the comments? They’re not just telling the OP to “make your own” – especially in the case of Reader Inserts, but they’re also assuming she doesn’t contribute anything to fandom at all in the first place. If she’s “just” complaining without contributing – even though she says she’s a writer and has a clear history of engaging on the sub and other parts of reddit as a writer -, then it’s not her place to complain.
In the post (archived here in case OP or the mods eventually take it down), the OP isn’t actually asking for much or demanding anything from fandom. The original piece before edits – bolded at the source – says in part:
Am I the only one getting frustrated towards fanfiction???? I mean, of course not – am I the only one getting frustrated for these following things I’m venting about???? Feels as if I’m extremely the minority because barely anyone dares to talk about these things!
I’d love to read more fanfiction, especially when it comes to reading more oc or xreader fics but oh my god. I love fanfiction and could have more toleration for oc or xreader fics but it just feels as if so many of oc and xreader stories are just… typical when it comes to physical descriptions. So many ocs are either just white or asian (when I say ‘asian’, I mean east asian. South asian OCs are more underrepresented than east asains ones), which is fine but there are so many opportunities for black or poc ocs yet nobody takes the chance, instead many ocs are just typical blue eyes, brown eyes, straight hair, wavy hair, light skin – to put it short, so many ocs are just basically white people fitting the typical western or eastern beauty standards and it actually annoys me.
And it’s the same for reader fics, too! Do you know how many times i’ve gotten so turned off because apparently I was ‘white’ or ‘east asian’ in the story???? Way too many times. I still remember this one good book yet the author ruined it with the ‘pale skin’ parts that just randomly popped in when things started to get more interesting in the fic. Oh yeah – sometimes I have lovely flowing brown waves that dance in the wind whilst my blue eyes sparkle in the sun’s gleam! Like, it feels like not many authors even consider that black or brown people exist? wtf?
Black OCs can’t be the main character, apparently – because a majority of the time when there is black ocs, they’re the side kick! I’d especially love more black OCs to be a love interest but it’s been proven many times that there’s way too much people that don’t see an actual black person being a love interest.
If you’re Black and in fandom, nothing about this – neither the feelings expressed in the post nor the ridiculously condescending, aggressive, and yes, antiblack responses it has garnered – will be new to you.
You already know what it can feel like to be Black in fandom and trying to find and read fics about people that look like you. You know that even in fandoms that have zero Black people in the source media (like most anime), people will find a way to insert antiblack microaggressions (or worse!).
And when we’re the main characters like with Black Panther, people go out of their way to decenter us and write horrifically racist things about the Black characters for a variety of reasons. You already know what happens when you speak up about racism on any level in your fandoms: the shunning, the abusive anons, the insults from people who liked you last week, etc.
You already know, because of a lifetime of being Black and any amount of time spent in fandom spaces, that the Nice White Women and Queers (and of course, some overlap is happening there) aren’t so nice. In fact, they will be openly and aggressively racist in the name of fandom freedom while calling us, Black people they don’t know and have never spoken to, “toxic”. Or “aggressive”. I get that one a lot from strangers who’ve never even exchanged a word with me.
The least we get to do, as Black people subject to antiblackness in our offline lives, is ventpost or rant about how the lack of love for Black characters – or worse, open active racism in fanworks about Black characters – makes us feel… Because fandom is supposed to be a safe space, right?
Fans of color simply aren’t allowed any spaces of our own, any room to complain or criticize fandom or media. If we complain – about anything – we are told to suck it up and make our own. But when we do, these people actually shove themselves into our way in order to make our attempt at time-and-space saving problematic.
If we make discord servers “just” for POC, we’re segregationists cutting out white fans – even if the server is specifically a space for us to exist without dealing with racism.. If we write Black or Brown Reader Inserts, we’re accused of hating interracial relationships or white women because they can’t see themselves – and apparently, they deserve to despite not writing Reader Inserts that we can see ourselves in. If we make media criticism on any level, we’re “antis” who want to destroy fun – but for the most part, white fans can say and do whatever they want without pushback even when they’re harmful.
We are told to curate our social media spaces, to make our own fandom spaces –
But we’re also mercilessly mocked and punished for doing just that. People invade our spaces, spread rumors or lies about our behavior, and stalk us for years for doing exactly what we’re told will save us from seeing or experiencing racism in fandom done by our fellow fans.
Kind of makes you think that what racist people in fandom want from POC is… for us not to be here at all if we won’t say anything “nice”.
In September and October, there was an increased wave of snotty white fans – and their token POC TOO – actively defending their right to racism and racist fanworks in the AO3 and other fandom spaces. Not reader insert stories where the author doesn’t think to write inclusively for all readers or literally not knowing how to write characters of color: those fans were openly defending racist content that ultimately uplifts and spreads white supremacist ideologies and beliefs about the intelligence, histories, and sexual proclivities of people of color.
“Make your own ‘anti racist’ AO3” or some variant of it, is one of the recurring rebuttals to any fan of color who spoke about wanting AO3 to make with the promised anti racism that they still haven’t done over a year after user pressure got them to say anything remotely significant about anti racism in the wake of George Floyd’s murder. (The people responsible for that platform of course couldn’t say anything as firm as “racism in fandom is bad and people of color deserve respect”, but that’s beef for another taco.)
These people are all saying, publicly, that protecting/maintaining the racism already present on the AO3 in the form of overtly, purposefully racist fan content and racists harassing creators and fans of color matters more to them than a safe(r) space for POC.
But more than that: they are telling fans of color who care about racism in fandom to make their own archive and go away… because to them that’s easier than doing anything about racism in fandom or on the AO3.
But where do we go? What happens when we go away?
It is functionally impossible to make your own AO3. The code, hosted on GitHub, is all but impossible to actually… do anything with. You literally cannot use their code to make an archive of your own.
Now, you can use eFiction to set your archive up and I think that’s actually doable and something more fans should check out if only because decentralizing where we consume content isn’t a bad thing. But then, that raises the other question: what happens when fans of color and maybe some allies who are not huge honking fans of racism pack up our toys (and our fics, and our vids, and our loving comments, and our kudos) and go somewhere where we try to have our anti-racist cake and eat it too?
Does anyone genuinely think racists in fandom will let us have that?
Especially if it looks like it’s gaining traction at any level? I’ve absolutely made my own spaces in fandom and… those spaces are what I’m mercilessly harassed for within fandom.
The people who have an issue with fans of color speaking about racism and other issues on “their” platforms – the AO3, Dreamwidth, Tumblr, and Twitter – aren’t going to just “let it go” because you moved to a different platform and took your content or complaints elsewhere.
Back in 2019, The Mary Sue hosted a petty and poorly researched article based on a site created by a troll mocking the idea of an “archive for antis”. Rather than be pleased that “finally” antis were moving to another archive and were supposedly making a space for themselves, the fake site became a place to be ridiculed and in the one day it was up, it earned tons of impressions… just from people mocking it.
Beyond the fact that it was transparently fake – you can’t host user generated content a la the AO3 or eFiction on a WordPress.com site – let’s pretend it wasn’t.
Let’s pretend that there was an archive made for and by “antis” in fandom – ranging from people sending gorespam over Genshin Impact ships to people like me who pretty much just talk about racism in fandom. Let’s say that archive was real.
It immediately became a “main character” of fandom twitter the way that things like fandom events with Rules about content like “no underage, no rape, no omegaverse” get turned into mockable events from people across fandoms. Remember how I pointed out in “What Fandom Racism Looks Like: No Safe Space/”Curate Your Space” that no matter what fans of color did to protect themselves from seeing racist content or interacting with racists, those people seek them out or the content pops up.
If you see an “Archive of Antis” crop up and you are not an anti or someone with content that’d fit, why engage?
Why quote it to dunk?
Why mock people for appearing to do exactly what you told them to do?
If that archive was real – but again, it wasn’t – what is the point of harassing the people that made it? Or mocking them?
Every time I point out specific issues with AO3/OTW moderation policies or the way the abuse team handles reports of racism or racist content, someone always show up like “oh but you have an AO3 account yes? Why are you here if you hate it so much? Just leave” and beyond how well… actually I don’t hate the AO3, OTW or most of the people I know who are involved with it past and present –
Imagine what would happen if I did make my own archive for my fic and those of other people of color who aren’t about racism – as opposed to the site I’ve just moved my fic to since my main site is mostly “Safe For Work”.
How many comments would I get insulting the characters I write – who are largely characters of color?
How many people would accuse me of some unspecified harm in my writing?
How many people would take an attempt at me making my own as a direct, violent blow to fandom that needed to be put down? Would The Mary Sue’s fandom-pilled wonks (they know who they are) write about my hypothetical personal archive as Attack on Fandom? Would it be DDOS’d?
What would be allowed and accepted in the quest to take down an “anti” trying to make their own?
Across the past few years, queer and supposedly feminist fandom have made it clear that they think whiteness reigns supreme in these spaces. They may be shared spaces where we all use the same social media, many of us use the AO3, we read articles on the same websites, and some of us are even in the same Discord servers –
But fandom isn’t equally for us all. We don’t all have the same freedom in fandom.
The second fans of color or people who support us not dealing with racism go “perhaps fandom could be a little less racist”, we’re told to get out of fandom and that we should just make our own.
People in fandom actively go out of their way in order to protect racists from POC speaking on racism in fandom or fanworks, including comparing us to TERFs and other fascist bigots for speaking about racism. They do this all while portraying racists in fandom as innocent people who aren’t doing anything wrong and deserve protection from “antis”.
But when we listen to them, for once, follow their orders to make our own and therefore leave “their” space alone, what we make is mocked and we get harassed for years.