What Fandom Racism Looks Like: Revisiting “POC Coded” White Villains/Anti-Heroes

Recently, Shafira Jordan’s sharp and insightful article “How White Fandom is Colonizing “Character-Coding”” has been making the rounds around fanwork creating & consuming social media. It’s a piece that speaks to something that I also have talked about (a few years ago): the way that white fandom will code white male characters as POC while also hating the hell out of characters of color in the source media/dismissing them entirely. 

This ranges from deciding that a character oppressed racially in-universe like Loki being Jotun was directly paralleling an experience/existence of color to claiming they are “actually” of a marginalized identity like Kylo being Space Jewish because the actors playing Han and Leia are.

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Quick Coverage: ENGENES… A New and Surprisingly Antiblack Idol Fandom

I’ve been keeping up with what’s been going on with ENGENES (the fandom for BE:Lift’s flagship boy group Enhypen) for a hot minute. The most concise description of what is ongoing is here at @ENbackup on Twitter, the first three tweets in a thread detailing the issue with one member of the group and multiple members of the fandom on Twitter and fandom platform Weverse:

On 25th June 2021, the video [EN-CORE] ‘BORDER CARNIVAL’ MUSIC SHOW BEHIND EP.4 was released on ENHYPEN’s YouTube channel. At the 10:50 mark, a member is heard saying a racial slur. This has caused disappointment, offense and shock amongst ENHYPEN’s international fanbase.

ENGENE has demanded a statement from BELIFT, ENHYPEN’s label to clarify this situation. However, BELIFT does not have a public email address for fans to contact them in case of such situations. This neglect has forced fans to take to social media to voice their concerns.

Concequently, BELIFT continued failure to act has exposed ENGENE to harassment, slurs, death threats and violent images on all social media. Posts and hashtags demanding for the label’s actions have been suppressed on Weverse while vile racism roams on the feed unsupervised:

@ENbackup goes on to showcase several examples of extreme antiblack racism on fandom platform Weverse in that thread:fw

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What Fandom Racism Looks Like: No Safe Space/”Curate Your Space”

I currently have almost three hundred thousand people blocked on my main (still locked) Twitter. 

Half of them aren’t because of any specific fandom thing (once, I chainblocked a massive “Report for [SPECIFIC IDOL]” account to see if it’d work in early 2020 and… it did, but now I can never undo it).

However, a huge portion of my blocks are because I ran RedBlock or some other browser extension on accounts I didn’t like, that were harassing me, or that were harassing others. (The other account, for my website, has about 150k people blocked, maybe. Because I exported my blocklist from main to that account in 2018 in the middle of a harassment campaign from the most annoying Star Wars shippers.)

So yes, I block freely.

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Facing Backlash For Anti-Racism… It’s More Common Than You’d Think

When people of color talk about racism in a given space, we are always met with a truly disproportionate amount of anger. We are harassed, made into harassers, and essentially “policed” into silence, often by people who are publicly progressive at some level.

Back when I was working on #StitchProcesses Blackface, one of the things that stood out to me was about the inciting event. Sam Okyere is a man known for gently and graciously being “Korea’s Black Friend”. He’s also been someone that spoke candidly about antiblackness he faced in Korea when he first moved to the country. In fact, one of the first times I was introduced to Okyere was because of a viral video clip of him explaining to a rapt audience of Korean people that he had experienced racism here and it was a thing that happened regularly.

That’s why the backlash to him calling out the racism of blackface from the high school students at Uijeongbu High was so shocking to me. 

Here you have a Black man literally known for talking about racism and antiblackness in Korea and him doing so, offering gently to educate others on blackface so they know how harmful it is to do it, essentially triggered a bunch of antiblack assholes into harassing him and destroying his career in Korea. 

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Meme-ing For A Reason #6 – You Used To Be Able To Hide Your Dogwhistles…

The Drake “Hotline Bling” meme where top Drake is rejecting “Making racists and racist fanworks unwelcome in fandom spaces” and the bottom Drake is totally down with “deciding that anti racism in in fandom is inherently anti fandom instead”.

In his 2019 release How To Be An Antiracist, historian Ibram X. Kendi defines an antiracist as “one who is supporting an antiracist policy or expressing an antiracist idea”.

There are few actual antiracists in fandom.

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[Thread Collection] Pro-Everything But Reading Comprehension, I see

Thread on my locked account from Jun 17, 2020.


What I wrote: Black characters get a specific kind of racist fanwork where it’s clear that the author is using fandom and their fanworks to abuse and torture them into place. Those are clearly racist fanworks and exist to harm. This should be something we can do something about.

What someone conveniently ignoring what I’m literally and CLEARLY saying got out of it: Stitch wants all stories with violence against Black characters taken down because she is an ANTI

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A Thought Exercise On Antiblack Microaggressions In Fandom, I Suppose

I just want to talk about how people purposefully misrepresent my work/tweets and assign meanings to it that are actually entirely absent. Because I need to walk through the weirdness to see if I can make it make sense to any of us and just so I can express my feelings in my own space.

If I write a piece, like this one on queer coding villains and the Kylo/Hux fandom from 2018 (brought up because it’s one of the most recent times this misreading/misrepresentation has happened to me), I would think that the meaning is clear.

That piece uses the fandoms for Kylo and Hux (as a pair, but also as individuals) as a way to talk about how queer coded villains were created often hinging on stereotypes and who gets to be coded (or understood as such) within fandom. It provides examples of two social media posts about this POV on a queer (coded) Hux that I felt exemplified what the fandom at the time (in 2018) was saying, talked about historical queer-coding, explains what representation actually is in these cases, and quotes queer critical theorist Alexander Doty’s POV on queer-coding and what it’s bound up in it.

And what does wider fandom get from the post?

What they’ve gotten every single time they’ve interacted with or seen not the actual post but the combination of a quote from the article and the “Dark Side Trio” in the header with the title “Queer Coded Villains Aren’t That Awesome” this past Tuesday?

They complain that I am an “anti” of that ship or that I, noted Thrawn fancier and villain stan on main, hate villains.

They get that I hate Kylo/Hux as a ship. They get that I still hate it. (Even though, I have never really expressed an opinion on the pairings I talk about beyond expressing dislike of how the fandom for that ship and those characters woobifies those men, turning them into villains and actively pretending they’re not fash as fuck and hyping them in a way they straight up don’t do for anyone that’s not a white man in canon.)

None of what those fans believe of me or my work is true, of course, but as we covered in February… none of it has to be.

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What Fandom Racism Looks Like: “You’re Silencing Meeeee (Feat. Determined Derailers)”

Back in August, I tweeted (as part of a thread) how:

A recurring “fandom vs Me” thing is “Stitch is silencing us” and like… How? How on Earth am I silencing fans of color who are CHOOSING not just to be silent about racism in their fandoms but to support & create horrifying lies about other BIPOC in fandom who are critical?

It’s a recurring theme that I am somehow silencing other BIPOC fans by… having and using my own website, twitter account, and the rare external platforms I’ve been offered across the past six years.

I am silencing others, you see, by having work out in public that people read and share because it is accurate and speaks to experiences that they have had or witnessed in their fandoms. I am silencing BIPOC in fandom, you see, just by existing and talking about what I experience and witness in fandom in a relatable way.

My, how powerful must that make me –

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WHEN CAN WE TALK ABOUT RACISM IN FANDOM?

Originally this thread on Twitter.


For the purposes of this thread/post: fandom = generative/transformative fanwork creating spaces including the hybrid music fandom spaces of idol fandom AND to a lesser extent gaming/cosplay fandoms which are seen as Outside Communities


CAN WE TALK ABOUT RACISM IN FANDOM AFTER A COUP ATTEMPT IN THE US?

No.

Because while the people involved WERE racist, connecting their online radicalization with the radicalization possible in fandom spaces is WRONG and trivializes real issues. After all, it’s not like there are real racists in fandom who seem to enjoy harming POC in fandom… They’re not looking to recruit or anything… Right?

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Stitch Wraps Up 2020

A lot happened in 2020. While it’s been one stressful year, it’s also been a year where I’ve pretty much stayed booked and busy and writing. So for those of you who aren’t super duper online, here’s what you’ve missed in terms of content, milestones, and strange or stressful things.


January

Best Website Content:

Quick Coverage: John Boyega Ends 2019 With a Bang (And a Hearty ‘Fuck You’ To Rey/Kylo Shippers)

Aside from the kiss-and-dissolve, the majority of their intimate moments are fight scenes. Which is fine if you personally view fighting as foreplay but the whiteness leaps out about a fandom that sees violence – including kidnapping and the threat of torture – as a precursor of romance, but clearly reciprocated affection between Finn and Rey as uncomfortable… for her and for them.

Rey/Kylo Shippers: A New Look At An Old Face of Fannish Entitlement

It doesn’t matter that for Rey/Kylo shippers, The Rise of Skywalker provides more fanservice than an A.C.E. concert.

Because while they’ve gotten ninety nine percent of what they wanted from the franchise, they didn’t get the big thing that they really 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 to perpetuate the Skywalker family’s genetics and their shitty legacy.

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Meme-ing For A Reason #3 – Fandom’s Amy Coopers

It’s the “they’re the same picture” meme with the panel on the left saying “Amy Cooper lying and saying that Christian Cooper threatened//tried to assault her in her two 911 calls” and the right panel saying “white women in fandom saying that Black people in fandom talking about racism in fandom are abusive/toxic/bullies who have actually harmed them by having these convos” over yellow text that reads “corporate needs you to find the differences between this picture and this picture” with the bottom panel saying: “they’re the same picture”.

I already made the Amy Cooper comparison back in June in Why Write About Fandom Racism At A Time Like This? where I talked about what the racism in the supposedly progressive queer/women run fandom spaces looks like:

It looks a lot like… Amy Cooper calling the cops on Christian Cooper and pretending that her life was in danger when all he wanted her to do was leash her damn dog, actually.

(And before you accuse me of “trivializing real racism” or whatever the actual fake woke set is calling it these days, understand that what Amy did and what the nice white women of fandom do are the same kind of behavior and they all weaponize their white womanhood for the same end: a permanent silencing of Black voices that they don’t like or agree with. I get to make comparisons like that considering that I’m subject to Amy Coopers in and out of fandom.)

I was right then and I am right now: there are white women and queer people in fandom who utilize their marginalization (womanhood or queerness, sometimes a blend of both with a splash of mental health issues and claims of trauma inspiring totes valid lashing out thrown in) in fandom.

They use their ability to inspire ATTACK-PROTECT urges in folks in the same way that Amy Cooper tried to utilize her white womanhood to get the cops to come in guns ablaze to protect her from… Christian Cooper’s nerdy ass asking her to put her dog on a leash.

The goal in fandom, as with Amy Cooper and various other cop-calling, hysteria weaponizing Karens, is to control who gets to speak, who is listened to, who is taken as an inherent threatening presence trying to control or harm others… and who should be.

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Thread Collection: Scapegoats (6/6/2019)

Originally posted as a thread on Twitter on June 6, 2019


Can we all agree that it’s beyond fucked up that across multiple fandom spaces, Black people IN fandom, when critical OF fandom (usually for racism/racist fan works), are seen/portrayed as ATTACKING or POLICING “real members of fandom” and ruining fandom for THEM?

I got accused of attacking people when I was nice, when I was actually mean (mocking folks who were missing the point on my posts), and even now when I don’t engage.

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Thread Collection: FFA Racism Instance (7/22/20)

Originally a thread on Twitter. Collecting threads to make things more accessible since I essay there too for folks off of twitter.


Oh sorry not gone because guess what, people keep lying on me (and Rukmini) in this whole AO3 thing amd like I actually state clearly what I’m about but these smooth brained racist mother fuckers turn off their reading abilities when they see me referenced (ffa.rocks/?t=2609548751)

(Aside from the fact that even if the OTW reached out to ask me if I could come on as a consultant, I wouldn’t do it because

a) full time job where I’m valued and

b) I’m not willing to fling myself into THAT racist fire, the anger at the idea that people could pay me for anti racism training is one that is actually been going on as long as I’ve had a patreon.

Nevermind, again, that 90% of my content on racism in fandom is free and either here or on my site. Or that the people who hate me won’t read it anyway. I’m apparently the only person in fandom who cannot charge for my work in fandom – which I’m already NOT ACTUALLY DOING.)

Anyway: I wonder how many of those racist little worms still have blm in their Twitter bios? (That link is a fail fandom anon mobile version which means that anons can and will say all kinds of nasty shit they want about fans of color like me, Holly, and Rukmini even as they pretend they care about anti racism in fandom. Tagging won’t solve this shit either. Like these people don’t know me and they apparently can’t read and yet… Here they are.)

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Short, Sharp, and Simple: I’m Tired of White Fragility in Fandom

Please understand how funny it is to see someone (who I don’t know and who certainly does not know me considering how much they’re lying about me in that tweet alone) publicly admit that the reason they don’t like my work is because they have decided my goal is to make them feel bad to be white.

That’s what happened at the start of August when a twitter user I have had blocked for months started going off on a tear because I made fun of her “I write smut so edgy that Prince would’ve loved it” tweet: she actually went mask off-hood on and said that she didn’t like my articles because  “it became implicit that whiteness was a born sin in most of her tweets and articles“.

Like that’s what scared her away from my work… the idea that I, a Black person growing up in a world that makes it clear that we do not matter no matter what we do and writing at a time in history where Black people are being maimed and killed by features of whyte supremacy at really high rates, might not love whiteness right about now.

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