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.
I’m tired of being told that I have somehow imagined racism in fandom.
Whether it’s an interaction between myself and someone else, a subtweet thread I come across, a cosplayer in Blackface condescending at everyone, or racism in a piece of fanwork or fandom itself… I am sick to death of being told I’ve somehow managed to exercise my imagination in a way that has “made up” racism in fandom and/or from the source media.
And so are a lot of other people of color across fandom.
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?
Content Notes: descriptions of police brutality and violence from law enforcement that includes sexual violence and violence against vulnerable people like children. Screenshots that mention harassment that include racism, threats, harassers urging people to self harm, and doxxing.
I also swear a lot and in a way that can be read as “at” the people who pull the nonsense I’m talking about.
Genuinely, I can hardly think of a clearer example of what fandom brain rot does to a person than the repeated insistence across multiple fandoms that ACAB – “All Cops Are Bastards” – somehow includes people on the internet who are critical of fandom at any level including just… being critical of racism in fandom and media in public.
The thing is that yes, ACAB as a term existed well before the horrific events of Summer 2020, the time period when lots of people on your social media feeds decided to put the acronym in their bios and display names for the first time… But it has never revolved around anything other than rejecting the violence that law enforcement/policing does as a system.
Something is very, very wrong in American police culture. This is why the saying “ACAB” — or “All cops are b*ds” — has become a popular rallying cry. It doesn’t actually mean every single cop is a bad cop, just like saying Black Lives Matter doesn’t mean white lives don’t. “ACAB” means every single police officer is complicit in a system that actively devalues the lives of people of color. Bad cops are encouraged in their harm by the silence of the ones who see themselves as “good.”
Holding one police officer accountable every time a black person is killed by police is not enough. The issue isn’t “a few bad apples”; it’s a tree that is rotting from the inside out, spreading its poison.
ACAB serves as a punchy shorthand referring to the way that there can’t be such a thing as “good cops” in a field fueled by violence including fatal antiblackness, sexual violence, theft, bigotry beyond all of that, and just… an entitlement to other people’s lives in literal cases.
I understand that with this somewhat valid fear of random people harassing others over fandom – a thing that happens no matter what you’re into – it is tempting to not just accuse people of policing your fandom experience… but to compare them to the real police.
“Fandom police” as a term has been around for ages too… but it’s the way it’s being used now to refer to fans as actual cops that’s literally the problem.
As we’ve covered, there’s a specific class of fandom weenie that I cannot stand because of how willing they are to support racists and racism in fandom using their POC-ness as a shield.
I use “PickMe POC” as a term for them – which remains not a slur despite what rabid racists in fandom insist – but they also define themselves as POC TOO. As in “I’m a POC TOO… and this isn’t racist/this other POC is actually the real problem in fandom and somehow racist against me for pointing out racism”.
In the… decade or so since I started actively speaking out against racism in fandom spaces and in media – primarily antiblackness, but I’ve talked about whitewashing, anti Native racism in fanworks, the weird way white fans can approach East Asian celebrities or characters in different fandoms , etc – who pushes back against me has shifted.
First, the loudest people were white people who prefaced everything with “I’m queer and” or “i’m a trauma survivor and”. But as people started to absorb a particular form of Tumblr social justice diss-course that hinged even more heavily on specific identity politics, it shifted to “I’m a POC and”.
That wasn’t really a thing in fandom discourses when I was growing up in fandom.
(Probably because for most of modern fandom, anytime you’d preface a conversation on racism by talking about how you were affected by racism here as a person of color, people would basically laugh you out of the room and/or gaslight you because you were “too close” to the issue and couldn’t be seeing things straight.)
You can find the original thread here but I’ve expanded and edited my own thoughts to cover more of what’s happening with DARVO because it’s something I’m super interested in talking about because it’s happening constantly and people just… don’t see it or care.
Thinking about Elle’s thread on weaponized specificity and transmisogyny as well as May‘s thread riffing off of it. I don’t want to derail so here are thoughts on how I deal with weaponized specificity here.
It’s a goalpost moving form of derailing, obviously.
It’s something that excuses what people then do to you.
And if you don’t do the things they demand of you (for some reason… but you do not know these people and they do not know you or anything about you), they will then never listen to you about what you’re actually saying… because you are bad and wrong for not listening to them about this thing.
So they won’t listen to you talk about racism in fandom. They won’t listen to you when you say that no one should be harassed in or because of fandom. They won’t accept that you can think that and also want people to understand that bigotry doesn’t belong in fandom.
I’m “cheating” this month by using a meme I didn’t create! I can’t remember who the OP is, but if you know or are that person, thanks for that, link me to the original and I’ll boost it because it rocks. One of my friends tagged me in this meme, which uses Dr. Manhattan blasting someone into stardust from Watchmen and it’s perfect because this is… my experience.
There are so many people in different fandoms who think I need to take their wild and absolutely incorrect interpretation of my work seriously and… I don’t think I will.
You literally do not know me or anything I’ve been up to in the Teen Wolf fandom – because if you did know as much about me as you claim, you’d know that my actual OTP in the show was Sterek (followed by Scott/Danny and Allison/Scott/Isaac, to be clear) and you wouldn’t all keep insisting I was somehow jealous of my own favorite ship’s popularity.
If you have something you think I need to see/know because you think I don’t have an informed opinion about it in any of these situations, there are better ways to get that information to me than leaving an essay-length comment insulting me, making up things I’ve said or engagement I’ve had over a decade, and aggressively insulting Tyler Posey or Scott McCall.
If you’re marginalized in some way – queer, a person of color, not a cis dude – you can expect to be subject to months or even years of online harassment from people who insist that you deserved it. Mind you, you will deserve this unending harassment solely because your presence on social media, in a given fandom, writing for any platform at all, or your appearance in a show they like angers them so much that they need to punish you for it.
People will doctor screenshots, lie about their online behavior and yours, forge evidence, and just… make shit up to punish us for being in “their” spaces or in “their” way.
In September, Teen Wolf will have been off the air for four years. In December, it will have been two years since the premiere of The Rise of Skywalker. The first episode of The Flash aired in 2014. May of this year marked three years since I left Tumblr for good and three months since I permanently locked my main Twitter account after the latest escalations from a multi-fandom disinfo and harassment campaign.
Tyler Posey, John Boyega, Candice Patton, and myself.
Years of harassment.
All for being inconvenient, for being in the way (of a ship), not playing ball, and speaking out about racism and other firms of harassment in the spaces they’re in.
No one is more surprised than I am that I’ve been able to get to ten memes in this series. While I’m genuinely hilarious and my meme game is on point, there are only so many memes in the world that work with the concept of “hey fandom is super racist and more attached to that than anything else”. But hey, here’s one more.
I have talked on end about how absolutely irrational people are when faced with my work.
In the sidebar for my website, I have the following block of text and a link to a resource on Adult Literacy:
Struggling with selective reading comprehension issues and think I’ve said something I clearly haven’t? Use this resource to brush up on your lackluster reading comprehension skills and consider leaving me out of your journey!
I am always very fascinated by how many of the people online who claim to be “radically anti censorship” and who appear to be very strong advocates for freedom of speech also… actively work to silence other people and censor them.
Most often, as we’ve seen lately, via constant and successful attempts at silencing Black and brown people who write and teach about anti-racism in any space they (these white anti-censorship advocates) consider their own.
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