I’m returning to my Book Blogger roots for one of my favorite writers in the history of my reading life!
Matt Wallace’s latest book, the epic (in all forms) Savage Legion, is out July 21st and my little site is one of the stops on the book tour. Take a second to pop on over to Amazon or Bookshop to preorder your copy and then dive right into his guest post about two of our shared most-favorite things in the world: worldbuilding and booze!
Warriors drink ale. Nobles drink wine. That’s the way it always was and for twenty-plus years I never questioned it.
I read my first stabby magic novel (or epic fantasy, or swords and sorcery, or whatever the hell you want to call it) when I was eleven, and I never looked back. Throughout my formative years, I read whatever was on the fantasy shelf of the nearest big chain bookstore. For a long time I didn’t know enough to look beyond that shelf, or understand why it was important and incumbent upon me to do that work, especially if I ever hoped to write this stuff myself.
Realizing now how homogenized and whitewashed fantasy, like all genre fiction, has been in mainstream American publishing for so long, I see all the cracks in those piles of books and endless fantasy series I grew up reading. Millions of cracks, an endless spiderweb of them in a mirror reflecting my own faulty hardwiring and false and persistent centering.
Right now I just want to talk about the booze, though.
So, I started watching Korean’s Honest Drunk Opinions on Black Lives Matter, Dreads and the N-word with a Black American on YouTube.
This is Daniel – Danny from DKDKTV. And so it has this introduction where he’s like talking to Mike, who is the black American.
And it’s like, the introduction already rubs me the wrong way, because it’s like, “should Koreans be expected to educate themselves” and it’s like Koreans aren’t infants.
Y’all need to stop infantilizing yourselves and your peers because y’all aren’t babies. Like, we should all be expected to educate ourselves about cultural sensitivities about complicated subjects.
Like if you’re going to have a platform, especially like DKDKTV does you should definitely be expected educate yourself and those guys really haven’t across the years. It’s been very like this – they have yet to do a video on blackness specifically and like anti blackness that hasn’t been kind of like shit.
And like when they brought it up in the past like when with Amber they called Amber’s like moments of anti blackness about the cops harassing that black man in the California train station. They call it a mistake her saying that he deserved what happened to him. And so these aren’t – these aren’t people that I really want talking about race, anti blackness, whatever, in general, but especially if at least one of the two is coming into it from this position of like we shouldn’t really be expected to care and like and like their their past has just been not great.
And so like, we are not even a minute in and I’m like *heavy sigh*
How does fandom’s empathy gap come into play when the trauma of POC is on the table? Why does the empathy that fans extend to white characters, fans, and performers, hit a hard wall at POC – especially when it comes to Black characters, fans, and performers in my direct experience?
In the Slate.com article “I Don’t Feel Your Pain”, author Jason Silverstein uses the following example as he describes the racial empathy gap:
Let’s do a quick experiment. You watch a needle pierce someone’s skin. Do you feel this person’s pain? Does it matter if the person’s skin is white or black?
For many people, race does matter, even if they don’t know it. They feel more empathy when they see white skin pierced than black. This is known as the racial empathy gap.
The way that non-Black people literally do not believe that Black people feel the same levels of physical pain – documented through over a century of studies – is one way that we see the empathy gap play out. However, this isn’t the way that it tends to play out in fandom because there’s no one out there pricking fans of color with pins to see if we bleed the same color and amount. (Yet.)
But what they do is constantly privilege white feelings over Black ones.
To be entirely honest here, June was probably the busiest I’ve been aside from the first two weeks of January where I was documenting the racism Rey/Kylo fans were slinging John Boyega’s way. June was ALSO (I mean, like January) a very racist month. I mean, my god, I basically didn’t get to do what I wanted to do with my site content because I had to deal with the fact that racists in fandom haven’t figured out that they can just ignore me instead of shit talking and slandering me endlessly.
And I’m trying to work as much as I can because again, I’m basically my family’s breadwinner and that is… a lot, so my hierarchy of writing (and reading) goes a little something like Day Job > (Freelance if I Can Get It >) Patreon > Website.
July is already looking like it’ll be busy, but I’ve whipped out my Happy Planner for the first time in about two months and I plan to get shit done – barring a hurricane or a massive terrible political moment, of course.
As always, if you don’t like when things you like get criticized on any level… skip this post, beloveds!
My friend K got me into Hamilton.
K and I met in our senior seminar in the history department at our alma mater. She went on to get her MA in History and I went to English Literature. When Hamilton was getting popular and she’d already traveled to see the show once before, she introduced me to what was (and remains) a stellar musical experience at the height of its early popularity. If not for K, I don’t think I would’ve cared as much as I actually do about Hamilton –
Nor would I have a framework to build any critical thoughts.
Fast forward to July 2020 and well, I actually still think it’s a great musical.
However, I also have… thoughts on Hamilton after what feels like an eternity.
I think people need to get comfortable with the idea of being uncomfortable. Unlearning racism isn’t easy. It’s not fun. If you go into it expecting that folks will hold your hand through it, you’re not going to get anywhere but frustrated.
So this is episode – officially, Episode Six- of Stitch Talks Ish. In the timeline, it’s Episode Seven because we had a bonus episode last month, I believe to celebrate the release of Yoongi’s second mixtape as Agust D, D-2. So, if you haven’t listened to that episode already please go check it out.
So this episode is called when “Black Lives Matter, but Black Opinions Don’t” because I have spent pretty much all of June and part of May realizing that for a lot of people, you know hashtagging, sharing petitions, and donating that is really all They think they have to do to be antiracist whether in fandom, in public, in their day to day lives, whatever.
They do the bare minimum, which is publicly perform antiracism.
They’ve bought the books. they own White Fragility. They share their few friends of colors’ GoFundMe ease and cashapps. They really do care about racism in the abstract.
And of course, they definitely don’t want Black people being killed because we’re Black, but they also don’t really care about us as people.
I can’t think of any drama that makes me happier than 2019’s Romance Is A Bonus Book does.
Written by Jung Hyun-jung and directed by Lee Jeong-hyo, this scripted romantic drama has so much going for it… and had my heart from the first few minutes of the very first episode. Like from the literal moment that Lee Jong-suk’s Cha Eun-ho sees Lee Na-young’s Kang Dan-i in her wedding dress and whispers a stunned compliment about how beautiful she looks, I was in.
Every time I rewatch Romance is a Bonus Book, I’m overwhelmed by how much fierce fondness I feel for the leads. This is my first drama experience with Lee Na-young, but my second with Lee Jong-Suk (my niece had me start W a few years back) and so I didn’t know what to expect from her Dan-i or their chemistry as a couple.
From the start though, I fell for Dan-i. I’m not being dramatic here. I fell hard for her.
I just did a thread on Twitter about the specific ways that antiblackness manifests in fandom via fanworks on the Archive of Our Own (or any other hosting site, to be fair) revolving around punishing, harming, killing, etc Black characters and since some of y’all aren’t on Twitter or in the event that you’re blocked on my main… I turned it into a blog post lightly edited since I don’t have to abbreviate points for Twitter’s character count.
There’s a thing about the Racism on the Archive of Our Own that i wanted to mention.
The racism specifically directed at Black characters (and sometimes fans and performers) in some fanworks on the archive does diverge somewhat from racism aimed at non-Black East Asian or Latinx characters for example:
All characters of color get fanworks that are full of mild to major racist stereotypes and that is definitely a thing I don’t know how to fix via reporting or tagging.
But Black characters get that and abusive fan content to tear them down, dehumanize them, or put them in their place.
Here’s an interesting fact that you might not have known before this very moment: I, the Stitch, am apparently responsible for the behavior of any white person I am friendly or friends with inside of fandom. It doesn’t matter if I’ve seen the behavior or not. It doesn’t matter if everyone involved is an adult or not.
I personally am responsible for handling my white friends.
Or at least that’s what one Hannibal fan made it their point to claim when tagging me into a thread that I demanded that I take responsibility for and handle a white friend whose opinions on racebent characters in the show aren’t my opinions on racebending and whose behavior in fandom isn’t something I can or do control.
I remember the birth of the movement, but more than that, I remember watching the news when Zimmerman was acquitted. I remember clearly feeling anger that that man killed a child only a few years older than my oldest nieceling and was going to get away with it. Because we watched as we were told once again that Black lives didn’t matter.
I say once again because the United States is one of many countries to make it clear that Black people – our lives, our opinions, and our hopes – do not truly matter to them. The United States has a history that started with the Triangle Trade, kept on going through Reconstruction Era white supremacy up to the Civil Rights movement and –
It is very difficult to create meaningful, hopeful content at a time like this when we are watching Black people around the country protest our continuing oppression and the fact that our murders can now be recorded… and ignored because somehow that’s not enough proof of wrongdoing.
We live in a country that claims to be better than everyone else even though
We have over a hundred thousand documented COVID-19 deaths specifically because the administration does not care about us and politicians do not care about us and once they saw which communities were disproportionately affected – and dying – just sort of Kanye shrugged their way out of caring or acting
Our literal infrastructure – bridges, dams, etc – is crumbling around us as I type this
Thousands of Puerto Ricans died in Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017 and the mainland has never once treated them with the respect that they deserve. As recently as February 2019, when I took off from a flight from San Juan, the island was not 100%
One in like five children in the country are either food insecure or are starving
If someone loses their job in this country, they lose their health insurance and that of their family as well
the Navajo Nation and Native communities are being left to fend for themselves during the COVID-19 crisis in another act of obvious hatred that is linked with a genocidal desire for their nonexistence
At the end of the day, it never has been better than most countries out there.
So yeah, it’s hard to create right now.
But on top of that:
It’s hard to get on social media and see anything that can truly distract me. My timeline on twitter is full of photos, videos, and texts about the protests around the country. It’s full of people showing that even in the middle of a pandemic and increasingly public antiblackness, they’re still going to find time to be antiblack on fandom/stan twitter.
It’s hard to see some of the same incredibly antiblack fandoms – and fans – who police (yes, police) how Black people in fandom can care about antiblackness in fandom and who attempt to punish us (by dogpiling us, lying on us, disrupting our fandom existence, shunning us if they can) when we speak up… tweeting about how get that #BlackLivesMatter and pretending that they give two shits about Black people and fatal police brutality and antiblackness.
(It’s been hard as hell seeing non-Black people say like outright that they “don’t have to” talk about what’s happening to us and what’s affecting the Black people in their fandoms because “fandom is my safe space” when Black people have never had a guaranteed safe space in any fandom – not from the antiblackness of the outside world and not from the antiblackness of our peers in fandom.)
It’s hard to realize that the hashtags and the online activism and the donation chains will dry up by this time next week because people really think this ends at any point other than rebellion, resistance, and rising up together.
I’m a writer in my late 20s, trying to figure out love, life, and how to get the most out of my MA in Literature. I love research and, no joke, analyzing the heck out of every single piece of media I consume – so expect a lot of that here.
I’ve got an an opinion on basically everything. If you like strong opinions, candid talk about mental/physical health and trauma, and the occasional ode to fictional characters, then you’ll probably love me.
And if you don’t… oh well!
This blog focuses on analysis of nerdy media, book reviews, and lots of commentary about race in fandom and the source media that spawns our favorite fandoms.