This is a signal boost. Supernatural and J2 fandom, this is for you. Pay attention.
Recently, a fic titled Caught Between the Earth and Sky was posted to spn_j2_bigbang. The fic was written by asteroidbuckle and illustrated by mementis.
Here is the summary:
Right. So. Never mind the actual tragedy that devastated an entire country less than six months ago; never mind the hundreds of thousands of black people -- black children -- that died or were hurt or who lost people they loved or who lost their homes or who had their entire lives torn apart. No, what's REALLY important is the romance between two beautiful white men, and how they learn and grow and become better people because of their condescending to help these noble, gentle black folk.
Excuse me while I throw up in my mouth a little.
Via lovehateapathy, bossymarmalade has collected some of the choice failtastic quotes. If you're looking for a quiet, calm, feel-good evening at home, this is not for you.
I am also given to understand that the original art created for this fic featured photos of actual survivors of the earthquake in Haiti, but that this has since been remedied. Tell me this: why would you ever think this was okay in the first place?
Here is the thing, if you will allow me, just for a change of pace, to be totally frank with you. I DO NOT CARE WHAT THE AUTHOR'S/ARTIST'S INTENTIONS WERE. Here is the first direct comment objecting to the author's post; as so many people who do racist things like to do, the author falls back on what she meant. Here is me taking a stand and saying I DON'T CARE. I mean, I guess it's nice that she didn't think, "Oh, yes, I think I'll write eighty thousand words taking advantage of the pain of people of color today!" But I don't think that deserves a reward and I don't think it deserves sympathy.
The nonnies at spnpermanon are handling this whole thing like champions (when it comes down to serious topics, they totally impress me); here is the whole thread, if you are interested.
One anon said, in response to a comment suggesting that we ought to think more about how bad the author must be feeling,
You know who I never, ever feel sorry for? People who whine about how hurtful it is when they get called on their shady privileged bullshit.
"Hey brown people, when you call me a racist it hurts my feelings! You can't possibly know how awful it feels to be called a racist! Pity me! Take it back!"
No. No, no, no. No.
Schooled the hard way is what this situation calls for.
I do not care whether or not an author has a sterling reputation or whether or not they have written excellent fic in the past. Actually I think that tends to make it all worse because people love to use that as an excuse to smooth things over, and I am really tired of the idea that a story's being technically well-written makes its being racist and exploitative and braised in privilege okay. Okay?
Now, here are my last little thoughts. I think that when things like this -- issues of oppression, issues that hurt people like this one hurts me -- rock our fandoms, we should practice not being silent. If you think that I, or that any of the other people I am linking you to, have said it all, you are mistaken. If you think that your silence -- boycotting the fic, for example, but not saying anything -- is helpful, you are mistaken.
Comment here, or leave a comment with the author or the artist to let them know that you do not think what they have done is okay. You can be polite about it, even. Or leave a comment at any of the posts I'm linking you to, so those people know that they are heard and acknowledged. If you're moved to do it, write your own post to boost the signal, or provide a link as an addendum to your regular post if you don't want to make a post only about this. YOU HAVE SO MANY OPTIONS. You do not need to be a person of color to feel angry or hurt or disgusted or any other way; you only need to be a person who doesn't like racism and doesn't want to help other people profit from it. (Actually I have a secret for you: if you are white, you are more likely to be taken seriously about this sort of thing.)
There is nothing quite like experiencing racism and having the world around you ignore it. That is some damn hurtful silence. SO DON'T BE SILENT.
solvent wrote Perhaps the most depressing sentence I've read in years (or on LJ)
nyoka wrote think before you write
Original anonymous comment at Wank Report, here
gloss wrote omfg
22by7 wrote What. the. FUCK. is. this?
gabby_silang wrote the do not watch list
minim_calibre wrote Fandom, do we have to learn the same lessons again and again?
via elanurel, july_july_july wrote here's the story, morning glory.
gavagai wrote er, somebody think of a snappy subject line (or on LJ)
via gavagai, kanata wrote OH FANDOM NO
via gavagai, impertinence wrote YET ANOTHER SIGNAL BOOST (or on LJ)
via kanata, cofax7 wrote ::facepalm:: (or on LJ)
via kanata, ephemere wrote Silly matters
eviinsanemonkey wrote Please forgive any incoherence
*** maerhys47 wrote Same racism, different fandom
newredshoes wrote The constant refrain: How did she think this was a good idea? (or on LJ)
via xsnarkasaurus, exsequar wrote SPN fandom is at it again
azephirin wrote an untitled post
via azephirin, deirdre_c wrote Owning up to our mistakes
via gloss, schmevil wrote J2 story set in post-earthquake Haiti. (Note: from what I can tell, this is the first public post made regarding the fic in question.)
heather wrote oh james cameron no, etc (or on DW)
via cosmicbiscuit, tetradecimal posted an entry in UnFunny Business
via cosmicbiscuit, tinylegacies wrote "the best idea ever" in sf_drama
elynross wrote J2 Haitian fail: every time I thought it couldn't get worse... (or on LJ)
meiface wrote signal boost: racism in post-earthquake Haiti fic
via meiface, bookshop wrote Signal boost. (or on DW)
via elements, merryish wrote Epic fail (or on LJ)
withdiamonds wrote an untitled post
faunaana wrote What is this, I can't even... (or on LJ)
*** mardia wrote throw my head back and shout, come on now.
*** alasse wrote putting people in boxes, turning lives into tropes...
the_grynne wrote We write about the world we want to live in (and we're doing a pretty shitty job of it today)
amonitrate wrote like clockwork.
*** lookninjas wrote And Now Racefail! (AGAIN!) in fandom_stupid
lesson_in_love wrote signal boosting
used_songs wrote paternalism (or on LJ)
misscam wrote When bad ideas are badly realized, too (that post-earthquake Haiti fic) (or on DW)
*** via ninhursag, facetofcathy wrote How could they? How could anyone?
via unusualmusic, medie wrote I'm sorry, what with the where with the fucking what?
*** ephemere wrote Itys
logophilos/Ann Somerville wrote Walking around in our fluffy clouds, we forget to think
datenshiblue wrote stop walking on the bones of my brothers and sisters (or on DW)
*** muccamukk wrote This is NOT Just about Writing Characters of Color (I find the subject line misleading)
drvsilla wrote You've been on a road that just don't seem to end
aldehyde wrote racefail strikes again
via aldehyde, furiosity wrote idefk
walkawayslowly wrote boost the signal
barkinmad wrote If You Ever Wanted to Seriously Discuss Something With Me, This Would Be the Time
poisontaster wrote But Trust Me On the Sunscreen (or on LJ)
13chapters wrote Deep thoughts, by 13chapters.
*** jazzypom wrote On Nation Language, Jibberish and Why Both Aren't the Same
*** via jazzypom, 2_perseph wrote Classic racism (an open letter to gatorgrrrl) (or on DW)
via wistfuljane, glass_icarus wrote Dear SPN fandom, NO is spelled N-O
*** glockgal wrote signal boost - not meme and then One last thing about Supernatural fanwork (artwork)
*** ninhursag wrote Culture and confessionals (or on DW)
tanndell wrote Let's talk privilege
hesychasm wrote the continuing conversation
ted wrote Signal Boost (or on LJ)
meresy wrote Oh, wow, no.
that_september wrote ignorance is not an excuse. ever.
reddwarfer wrote Those were the days...
silvr_dagger wrote Racefail
*** jlh wrote i haven't had this much fun since the last time fandom was unfathomably callous and racist (or on LJ)
*** nestra wrote an untitled post (or on LJ) (a translation of the author's second apology)
tevere wrote Fanfiction as vehicle (or on LJ)
chaila wrote Just a little practice in not being silent
*** bethbethbeth wrote About Silence... (or on LJ)
littlemousling wrote Warnings and fail, fail and warnings
whynot wrote why are you hitting yourself stop hitting yourself
eviinsanemonkey wrote "This is uncomfortable, I don't want to talk about it."
justhuman wrote Signal Boost: RL Tradgedy /Race!Fail
*** via via_ostiense, hackthis wrote Goddamn, that was racist.
*** penguinparity wrote Racism is more than a hat you put on in the morning.
ravenstar84 wrote Racefail/WTF is going on with SPN fandom?
mercilynn wrote signal boost and my own thoughts
*** onelittlesleep wrote Racefail: same shit, different day
maychorian wrote with their crooked stares
such_heights wrote Activism, solidarity and My Stuff
lookninjas wrote When is a "Lynch Mob" Not Actually A Lynch Mob? in ffrantsrants
lookninjas wrote Just
redsnake05 wrote Difference. Yeah, that.
*** cimorene wrote racist fiction is institutionalized racism. institutionalized racism is bad.
the_grynne wrote Not a wrap-up, but hopefully a beginning. (or on LJ)
fiercynn wrote and the taste of dried up hopes in my mouth
*** tiferet wrote So, about that J2 fic
tikiaceae wrote I feel... safer...
onelittlesleep wrote Oh, boo-hoo, censorship! My smutfic is more important than your dignity!
*** via onelittlesleep, poisontaster wrote One Last Rant Before Bedtime (or on DW)
*** via onelittlesleep, giandujakiss wrote It's been said a few times (or on LJ)
mercilynn wrote So You Want To Write A [Natural Disaster/Delicate Time Period/Touchy Subject] Fanfic?
*** bossymarmalade wrote past instances in which i professed to like you were fraudulent
Something to keep in mind when you're following up these links -- even if a post is short, there is often further discussion and unpacking in the comments.
Notes on these links, 6/16/10 @ 1:45 AM:
I have put the links up in the order I found them separated roughly into the batches in which they were updated. As I ETA'd at the end of this post, I hope later to organize them by timeline (and maybe alphabetically by author, too, because I like that sort of thing. WHO KNOWS).
I have not linked to any posts that are not anti-racist, because though I am glad to provide this resource for fandom, I am not interested in supporting racist apologetics on my own journal.
I have added asterisks (***) in front of the posts that left a particular impression on me. This is more an indicator of what I, personally, find most valuable to my own journey as an anti-racist person of color at the moment than any sort of rating system. I have not linked to anything that I think is irrelevant, boring or unhelpful. I have read every post I have linked to, and if I could, all the comments that were there at the time I linked.
I am pretty sure that I have notified everyone I have linked to. However, if I somehow missed you, and/or if your post is up here and you would rather I take it down, please let me know and I will do that as soon as I can.
ETA - news, 6/14/10 @ 10:30 PM:
Further news on the asteroidbuckle front, via ninhursag and aldehyde:
She has disabled all comments to the story posts, which also erases all comments, and issued this long-winded apology.
I just want it on the record that I deeply, deeply despise it when people erase things. I can understand freezing a comment thread if something trollish gets out of hand, but actual deletion is so cowardly and is such a privileged action that I have trouble dealing.
Deletion says to me, "I don't like this conversation anymore now that it's not under my control -- so I'll stop you all talking and we'll just pretend this never happened." Oh, man, do I hate that. Oh, it makes me so mad.
My comment to the author's apology, just in case she decides to delete those comments, too:
Erasing comments seems both extremely cowardly and extremely privileged. I imagine the traffic must have been overwhelming and the feedback not at all what you had hoped for. But your apology, while long and carefully-worded, loses a lot of its potential impact when you demonstrate that you've had enough of hearing what people have to say and shut them all down. It also comes across as a heavy-handed attempt to rewrite history by erasing the evidence of your own missteps.
Though this was your story and your mistake, the discussion and reaction is not actually about you, but about what your words and actions represent -- modern racism and exploitation, and racism in fandom, which are huge, hurtful and important issues. A better way of demonstrating your regret and/or attempting to make amends would have been to allow people to continue to use those entries as forums for discussion, debate and education, even though the conversations made you uncomfortable.
If any of you run across screencaps of the original conversations on the story posts, please do let me know and give a girl a link!
ETA - further news, 6/14/10 @ 11:25 PM:
Via xbeax, the author has disabled all further comments to her apology but kept the existing comments, and has restored the comments to her original Big Bang post.
ETA - further news, 6/15/10 @ 10:30 AM:
I have heard from a number of different sources, though I can't confirm it myself, that critical and not abusive comments were left on the original story post at spn_j2_bigbang and deleted. I'll update if/when I find out more.
ETA - request, 6/15/10 @ 6:25 PM:
First, feel absolutely free to pass this link on any way you please -- you don't have to ask, though I would appreciate a link if you make a post of your own so I can link to your conversation in turn.
Second, if you are aware of any meta posts I have not collected, or of any signal-boosting posts that have spawned good conversation, please do drop me a line and let me know! I'll credit you for the link and, of course, the author for their own words. As this discussion spreads across fandom it's getting harder to keep up with on my own. Thanks!
Also, I'm considering doing another post just for links so I can organize them into a coherent timeline? This entry has become this sprawling gargantuan amoeba, and I tend to like things neater than this. But I'm not sure. A girl's got to sleep sometime. I will link here if that happens.
ETA - further news, 6/15/10 @ 10:25 PM:
Via lovehateapathy and wastetheyears, the original story post at spn_j2_bigbang has been edited to include this note:
and critical comments have indeed been deleted. I am not sure what time the A/N edit was made.
I am working on sorting all my links by time and date posted, but that is going to take a while -- why must we all live in different time zones? *fists of rage at the sky* -- and a girl's got to eat and sleep sometime. Stay posted.
ETA - further news, 6/16/10 @ 1:30 PM:
In kanata's entry OH FANDOM NO, bridgetmckennitt wrote,
My reply back from wendy? Hey Bridget! We're not going to across-the-board censor what people create. But we have talked with the author about her options.
Via tesserae_, anonymous, gail_r_birmingh and crooked, asteroidbuckle has removed her fic from the Big Bang community and from her own LJ, and issued a second announcement/apology here.
This situation has reached a level that I would never have believed if I hadn't seen it with my own eyes. It was never my intention to write a story that so many people found offensive. I have already acknowledged my mistake and severe lack of good judgment in choosing the setting for my story. As for the treatment of the characters in the story, especially the people of color, I can see now how some of the portrayals can be seen as unflattering, though as I was writing, I did my best to avoid this. I also admit to falling into the trap of stereotypes, though again, I did not see this until after the fact. Hindsight can definitely be clearer, but unfortunately, by the time it kicks in, it is usually too late to correct. [Click for the rest.]
My personal opinion? I am both glad that the story has been taken down and sorry for the conversations that were erased. Since discussion on her posts was frozen, though, we've moved our discussions elsewhere, so the comments left on her story master post and its final chapter had become a record of how all this started rather than anything evolving. I myself did not get screencaps -- though I should have done, I don't think it's a terrible excuse to point out that I've been keeping up with this behemoth of a post instead -- but if any of you enterprising folks did, or know someone who did get complete screencaps, I would greatly appreciate it if you'd drop those off so I can link them here in place of the links to the original posts.
I hope that the deletion of the story does not halt the flow of conversation we've gotten going. My main goal (which, admittedly, has changed since I first posted, when I didn't have that much of a specific goal besides making sure that I had a safe place not to be silent) was/is not necessarily the epic schooling of a thoughtlessly, hurtfully privileged fangirl, and if it were I'd be disappointed now. Her most recent apology makes it pretty clear to me that she still doesn't get it, but it would be pretty creepy of me to have making gatorgrrrl think what I think be my most important goal here. I'm not saying that it wouldn't be awesome if she suddenly understood that her actions are bigger than she is and that she's hurt a lot of people and it's not just what she does that needs examination but the thoughts that lead her to do what she does. That would be cool, but who the hell knows when/if that will ever happen?
This is linked up above somewhere, but facetofcathy does a fantastic job of explaining what I mean in her post How could they? How could anyone? Gatorgrrl -- her individual thoughts and actions -- are not the main problem, but an example, a symptom of a shared worldview that lets somebody grow up to not even consider that there might be problems with the kind of story she wrote, that lets 80K words of privilege, racism and appropriation make it through inception, through betas and mods and an artist and a whole bunch of first readers without anybody raising an eyebrow.
My real goal, which is one that I hope you guys can share with me, is to keep talking about this -- about the kind of not-ill-intentioned privilege that leads to causing lots of people lots of pain; about what it means not to think like a grown-up about what we create; about popular tropes in media that we silently buy into; about the many disguises racism wears. I want to feel safe, and I want all of you to feel safe, expressing anger or shock or hurt or sadness or resignation or whatever else comes up when people do or say or write racist things. I want to help make it safe for all of us to call out racism when we see it, rather than talking ourselves in circles or deciding it's not worth it. I want to be part of the effort to teach fandom how not to be racist, and to teach privileged fen how to react with empathy rather than defensiveness when it happens anyway.
So. As long as you comment here, I will reply (though not always instantly. I am only human). I welcome my friends and I welcome people I have never met before and I welcome anons. If you drop me links to meta/conversation, I will follow the links and, if they're relevant to this particular discussion, I will put them up. I'm not interested in personal attacks on the people who helped perpetuate this instance of racefail and appropriation, but I do encourage you all to make liberal use of your LJ Notes feature -- I know I am.
That's it for now, really. Thanks, all of you, for being open-minded and thoughtful and for boosting the signal and for REFUSING TO BE SILENT. Thank you for reading and commenting and following links and for letting me be one of your round-up people.
Further bulletins as events warrant.
ETA - further news, 6/17/10 @ 4:55 PM:
Yesterday, mementis, the artist for the original story, altered her art post and issued an apology:
I deeply regret my actions with respect to this story. I should not have chosen this story to illustrate. I should not have produced these graphics. I should not have chosen actual photographs of the earthquake's aftermath as elements in the graphics I produced. I should not have published the graphics without appropriate warnings. I knew better at each step, and the fact that I went ahead and did these things represents a shameful and complete failure of judgment on my part. There are reasons and circumstances and backgrounds, but those reasons have no place in an apology.
I deeply regret having done these things, and I am sorry for the hurt, offense and pain I have caused even one of you, even indirectly.
I have a lot of respect both for the artist's apology and for the thoughtfulness with which she replied to comments after people first began objecting to both the story and the art. I've brought this up for both archiving purposes and to point out that participating in fail on the Internet does not always have to be terminal.
Most anti-oppression discussion I've seen, when it starts in response to a particular offense, does not resolve entirely cleanly because the original offender/perpetrator is so unwilling to take responsibility for having hurt other people. I am pleased to have proof that this is not always the case: it is possible to unintentionally hurt people, have this pointed out, think about it, and then say "I'm sorry" and take action in a way that is actually meaningful. I look forward to a time when this is not extraordinary.
In other news, I wanted to clarify some things about how I choose which links to add to this post, as I have been responding to a number of comments individually and this might simplify things.
I absolutely welcome you to post links to any posts you think might be relevant to the current fandom discussion, especially since, as we start recovering from the initial rage-shock-hurt, people are moving to talk more abstractly about anti-racism, fandom, and characters of color. People read not only the text of this post but also browse the discussion in the comments, so even if I don't post your link, it may still get clicked on.
I have chosen not to post educational links about anti-racism generally and white privilege specifically. This is not, as I hope you understand, because I don't find them interesting or important, but because I've got to put some boundaries on this post somehow. This entry used to only be slightly longer than my screen, and now there's a mile of links and updates to scroll past and more than three hundred comments. Also, I'm happy to collate, to the best of my ability, posts about this particular fandom incident, to help all of us keep track of conversations as they expand and evolve. I am not so interested, though, in doing anybody's homework for them, and reading up on white privilege and Racism 101 is homework that is not hard to do. Search Google or LJ or Delicious -- it is not even remotely difficult to find information and/or support. If you have suggestions for general anti-racist resources, you are welcome to post them in the comments for people to click and follow as they will.
I am also trying to make sure these links lead to posts that are healthy and safe for, focused on, and supportive of people of color. What this means is, if you are white and the post you have written is focused on your journey of self-awareness and anti-racism, I will probably not be linking to you. I believe that white anti-racist allies absolutely have the right to talk about their experiences and have their voices heard. I don't think this is the time or place, though, to split my energy to promote more conversations that privilege white people, especially since I've seen a lot of white anti-racist discussions turn self-congratulatory. Also, speaking personally, I do not find it emotionally healthy, safe or enjoyable to read about the trials and tribulations of white people learning not to be racist.
All that being said -- as long as y'all keep writing and talking amongst yourselves, I will keep reading, replying and linking.
ETA - further news, 6/19/10 @ 2:03 AM
As some of you may know, CON.TXT 2010 is taking place this weekend. As I understand it, there were some panel timeslots left empty for new fandom developments/hot topics; one of today's panels was "How Soon Is Too Soon?" which involved discussion of -- well -- all of this, which is pretty cool. Via merisunshine36, who helped mod the panel, the conversation went well.
In other developments, via aldehyde, the author's apologies have both disappeared! They are not entirely deleted, but are now under flock.
...I don't get it either.
What this means is that a lot of early conversation has been lost, as before this the author deleted the entire fic, losing us comments from the post to the Big Bang community, from the fic's master post on her journal, and from the final chapter of the fic. THIS IS AN OPEN CALL for any and all screencaps -- or, in the absence of screencaps, reactionary posts that include quotes from the author.
ETA - further news, 6/19/20 @ 4:25 PM
I said in an earlier update that some of the entries I had chosen not to link y'all to were entries written by white allies about their own experiences in becoming anti-racist. The reason for this, again, is not that I think such conversations should not happen; I definitely think that allies against any form of oppression should have the time and space to reflect on what they've learned and how they've changed and why, and they certainly have the right to discuss this with each other. The reason I've chosen not to link to many of these conversations is that, despite the fact that they often lead to good things (like more people thinking critically about anti-oppression and choosing to become allies), it is extremely disturbing for me, as a black woman, to read about the trials and tribulations of someone learning how to think compassionately about people like me. Such posts, though they can contribute to the goals of anti-oppression, are not safe spaces for members of the marginalized groups they discuss.
It's also healthy for me to steer clear of such conversations when I can, because often I'll end up in a teaching position answering questions that hurt me a lot. I am thankful for any allies of any kind of anti-oppression movement who are willing to engage with and teach people who ask, in earnest, the kinds of questions that make me want to go hide in a nuclear shelter and never come out. So I've thought about it, and I am going to go ahead and link everybody with questions about white privilege, and why racism is such a big deal, and why anti-racism is so important, and why colorblindess is not a laudable goal, and why reverse racism doesn't exist, and why stereotypes are bad if they're true sometimes, etc., etc., to vikki's post, whitewashing and whining.
ALSO. A number of really excellent entries have been posted recently, and though I have added them to the most recent section of links (waaaay up there ^^), I wanted to do something to encourage everybody to keep reading and responding. So, here are a couple of my favorites:
tiferet wrote, in a post titled So, about that J2 fic:
poisontaster wrote, in a post titled One Last Rant Before Bedtime (or on DW):
So if the choice is between some of us being uncomfortable while the rest of us being blissfully unaware, I say FUCK THAT SHIT. I am not invested in, nor will I buy into a system where only some of us get to be comfortable and that on the backs of other people. We can ALL be afraid and uncomfortable, as far as I'm concerned. Or we can ALL be comfortable, but either way, we're doing it together or I'm going to keep speaking out, raising hell and harshing squee. Because I'm in this too. And as much as you, I GET A SAY. [Click to read the rest.]
giandujakiss wrote, in a post titled It's been said a few times (or on LJ):
Keep linking me to relevant posts, you guys! I am mostly finding posts through links on my flist and through keyword searches on LJ and DW, but I know I'm not finding everything. If you've written a post that you think is relevant to the continuation of this discussion, or if you know of such a post, please drop me a line and let me know! I promise to go check it out.
ETA - further news, 6/20/10 @ 7:55 AM
All right, y'all, that time has come -- this post has officially gotten too long for LiveJournal, with ninety-five links and, I gather, around 10,000 words.
So feel free to keep commenting on the existing comment threads in this post -- there's a lot of conversation and linkage -- but don't forget to meander on over to the new post (or on Dreamwidth) for further discussion and links.
Thanks, everybody, for your continued attention, participation and support. ♥
Cross-posted to DreamWidth: http://amazonziti.dreamwidth.org/51