Why people racebend

When it comes to seeking representation, the fact that for most of the time POC representation is either minimal or stereotypical or both says a lot about why some people racebend existing white characters. Personally I see Valentina Vostok as Yakut, if because it’s the Yakut themselves are interesting as they’re an ethnic minority in Russia. Similar to her usual presentation, she works as a pilot but is now a member of a longstanding ethnic minority.

Likewise I see Felicity Smoak as an Anglo-Indian seamstress, admittedly that’s because I listen to Indian music myself and I sew. This would anger some of her fans, especially if they’re into the Arrow version of her, where I could imagine them saying that Jews in the garment industry also exist and that Judaism is essential to her nature. But then again I think an Indian who works in the fashion industry might be less stereotypical than a Jew working in STEM.

Perhaps other than Bollywood and the general Indian media industries, we don’t see these kinds of characters that often. It could be argued that Jews who don’t fit stereotypes are also underrepresented, but I feel an Anglo-Indian seamstress Felicity Smoak would break stereotypes better than a Jewish hacker Felicity Smoak has ever done. Not to mention, it’s even said that the Felicity Smoak who appears in Arrow is a retread of Smallville’s Chloe Sullivan.

An Anglo-Indian Felicity Smoak would be less derivative of that, especially when you realise how unprecedented this portrayal is within the wider DC media. There’s no shortage of blonde white hackers, scientists and martial artists but honestly I can’t name any prominent Indian DC character other than Solstice, Jinx and Celsius. Even then, these two haven’t appeared outside of comics well to my knowledge and that’s still pretty telling when it comes to representation.

Jinx might be the most prominent Indian DC character, but due to her appearance in the Teen Titans animation she’s been whitewashed. Making Felicity Smoak Anglo-Indian might actually make her DC’s most prominent Indian character to date, since she was already well-known in Arrow and yes this would be controversial as she’s portrayed as Jewish in the Arrow programme. But even then, there are people who do see her as anything other than white.

Hence some even racebend her as black, so making her Anglo-Indian wouldn’t be much of a stretch in this regard. I even know one Native American woman who racebends Poison Ivy to be indigenous, especially when it comes to some indigenous communities having a strong closeness to nature that Poison Ivy weaponising this association wouldn’t be much of a stretch either.

Since Poison Ivy herself is a scientist, there are indigenous scientists and especially indigenous conservationists who feel similarly about the environment despite not indulging in the same ruthless tactics as she does. I also think indigenous people involved in STEM as well as geeky indigenous people are pretty underrepresented in the media, in fact they’re more underrepresented in the media than blacks are.

We have Urkel, Baxter Stockman from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Shuri, Riri Willliams and Lunella LaFayette and most of them are involved in STEM in one way or another. There’s only one indigenous character involved in STEM and that’s Marvel’s Forge, so making Poison Ivy indigenous might alleviate this problem. Likewise, I could say similar things about South Asian representation in the media.

When they do show up at all, they often fall into stereotypes. This may not always be the case for all portrayals, but it does get telling when there’s a repetitive portrayal of them that change must occur to minimise this. I also think some people racebend isn’t just that the idea of making a white character nonwhite interesting but also because they can’t see themselves at times.

Actually they’re unable to find anything that can break the stereotype so they racebend existing characters instead, perhaps outside of Russian media there’s really not a single portrayal of Evenki and Yakut people in fiction. They get a mention in Farley Mowat’s book and some nonfiction, but your best chance of finding more of that’s in Russian language media and I know this from experience. I still think making Valentina Vostok Yakut would inject actual diversity in non-Russian portrayals of Russia.

Okay Russian media might not be any better, whether if it’s the underrepresentation of Yakut and Evenki people or stereotypes of them. But Valentina Vostok being Yakut would actually be the best thing to ever happen to her, in that we get to see more nonwhite Russians. Bonus points if she’s also not a stereotype. When it comes to making Felicity Smoak either Indian or black, it serves a similar purpose in that it creates representation when there’s none.

It’s also no different from making Poison Ivy indigenous because it also addresses the historic lack of representation by racebending or reimagining an existing character, maybe DC and Marvel are already doing this to some characters. I still think a Yakut Negative Woman or a Desi Felicity Smoak would open doors for something, especially if these are characters you often don’t see in the media. Let alone outside of Russian and Indian media, where in Felicity’s case she’s a seamstress or in Valentina’s case she’s a pilot.

I think racebending existing white characters has an advantage here in the sense that while this isn’t always the case, it can help break stereotypes about ethnic minorities. In Felicity’s and Valentina’s cases, this can open up to unheard of communities, well unheard of outside of Russia and India. (Actually even then, they might be either underrepresented or stereotyped in those countries.)

If some people racebend Poison Ivy as Native American (well one does), I am justified in racebending Valentina Vostok as Yakut and Felicity Smoak as Indian. Racebending can help undo racist stereotypes, especially if used properly and to the fullest. Surely, people will get mad if Felicity’s portrayed as Anglo-Indian or Valentina Vostok as Yakut. But I also think it creates representation for certain demographics, in fact some will defend these.

As for a Native American Poison Ivy, they are very underrepresented in television. As I said before, Native Americans in STEM (in the media) are even more underrepresented so while an indigenous Poison Ivy would be controversial it would also provide representation in a way a white Poison Ivy wouldn’t. According to the same study, white characters get 88% screen time even though white people currently appear at 60% of the American population.

A cursory glance at the Arrow cast shows that perhaps other than cameos, there’s not a single Asian character and Asian actor among them. A Desi seamstress Felicity Smoak would be rather interesting to portray and explore, even if it’s going to be a controversial decision. A Yakut Valentina Vostok would be just as controversial, though her existence is proof that nonwhite people exist in Russia.

There’s a reason why people racebend, I racebend Valentina Vostok because I find Yakut people interesting and that Yakut people are practically unheard of in non-Western, fictional portrayals. They racebend to create the representation they don’t get while consuming such media, so it’s only fair that they get the representation they needed and wanted.

You may not like it, but people will racebend characters to create the representation they wanted.

Turning the stereotype on its head

When it comes to stereotypes, there’s the cliche that black men are well-endowed and get objectified for this. However there’s some evidence that’s contrary to this, there are at least two studies in East Africa (Kenya and Tanzania) where there’s evidence of less-endowed black men. Likewise, two of the world’s most well-endowed men aren’t black themselves. Jonah Falcon is so well-endowed he makes some black bodybuilders look puny, if you don’t believe me I’m giving you photographs of this man and the other three (Melvin Wells and George Paine by Lon of New York and an unknown bodybuilder by Dianora Niccolini).

Perhaps evidence is proof that not all black men are necessarily this well-endowed, with evidence of less endowed black men out there in Kenya and Uganda. Nonetheless, despite whatever evidence that points to the contrary, black men are still stereotyped as well-endowed and get objectified for this. So much so this goes hand in hand with expecting them to be tops, that’s the person who penetrates the other, even if there are gay black men who say they are bottoms or don’t do penetrative sex at all.

If not all black men are well-endowed, then it’s a stereotype that not only gets refuted by some scientific evidence but also by anecdotes where you have some black people who say that they’re not that well-endowed. Conversely speaking, some of the world’s most well-endowed men aren’t black at all. Jonah Falcon, though not naked in this photograph, is evidently more well-endowed than the latter three black men I showed you. It’s evident in the tight trousers he wears.

If the big black penis is a stereotype that not many or even most black men fulfill, then it’s a form of sexual racism that others black men a lot. As if they can’t be average or less endowed than that. This essay should put the stereotype to rest, though who knows how many people will react to this but hopefully it would change some minds.

Obscured inspirations and topics

It’s been said that when it comes to the X-Men, for all its anti-prejudice message, has a history of fumbling a lot when it comes to nonwhite characters. Characters like John Proudstar and Dust are stereotypical, Elizabeth Braddock being bodyswapped with a Japanese woman to get ninja skills (until recently when it got undone) and that Dazzler was going to be black as she was based on Grace Jones. Grace Jones was certainly a big name celebrity in her time, but Dazzler got racially whitewashed half-way.

Comes to think of it, this kind of tampering might not be unique to superhero stories as this also affects other kinds of stories. In the case with romance novels, there could’ve been romance stories that tackled abortion, getting one’s tubes tied, miscarriage, STDs and the like with a likely number of romance novel heroes being based off of somebody else. Somebody who doesn’t fit the romance hero mold, so there’s a good (and weird) chance that one romance hero may’ve been based off of somebody like Nick Rhodes. He may not have a great body, but he and his band Duran Duran were pretty popular in the 1980s with girls having crushes on them.

So it’s likely some romance novelists and readers grew up with Duran Duran, though it could be said that one’s preferences change over time. But for others, there’s bound to be those whose preferences aren’t beholden to the stereotypical norm. There are even romance readers and possibly romance novelists who’re turned off by muscles, that their own romance heroes were at some point not the typical romance novel hero. They could’ve been thin or chubby, they could even be middle class or working class.

Romance novels might be changing for the better, but the fact that muscular rich men are very popular stereotypes remain. Same goes for bad boys, while not all romance novels have them as heroes, it’s likely some novelists are pressured to keep writing these kinds of characters even if they’re not really interested in or attracted to them as they would in real life. I also think there are romance novelists who likely have less stereotypical Latin or Arab heroes, less stereotypical in the sense that they’re not rich sheikhs or Latin Lovers.

Even if these characters may have at some point more closely resembled what other Latin or Arab men are actually like, they got changed halfway to meet editorial and sales expectations. This could’ve been to the chagrin of novelists who either go against the grain or create characters based on the people they know so well that we never get an opportunity to read them as they actually were. Or rather were going to be, since other than any possible surviving draft we don’t get to see them as what their authors intended them to be.

Thus these characters get rewritten in the interim to meet romance expectations, that’s to fulfill a stereotype. While the Duran Duran example is only hypothetical, it does make you wonder why there isn’t more room for romance heroes who’re openly based on what some romance novelists are actually into or inspired by. Likewise for Arab and Mediterranean men, there could’ve been stories where these characters differed greatly from the stereotypical depiction but were made into stereotypes halfway.

There could’ve been romance novels that tackled the topic of infertility and to some extent, they already have but when it comes to meeting market and editorial expectations authorial desires are compromised or altered to meet such demands.

It already panders to a narrow audience

When it comes to Comicsgaters complaining about comics pandering to people who don’t read comics, statistically speaking most people don’t read comics that regularly and the sort of comics they’d read (if they ever did at all) would most likely be newspaper cartoons. I actually think some superhero comics readers are pretty spoilt in that there’s already an industry that caters to their every whim since the 1960s up to now. If it’s true, then it’s like a spoilt child complaining about somebody giving something to other people who also want it.

As I said before, a good number of superhero readers (and superhero fans in general) are pretty spoilt as the industry has already catered to them for several decades now. It’s only now that superhero publishers like DC and Marvel are taking a more active role in attracting people who aren’t big comic book readers, perhaps due to the popularity of superhero films. Especially with Marvel, given the success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But I still think what I said bears a lot in that many superhero fans are pretty spoilt, superhero comics have nods to prior continuity in every way and that the characters they think are relatable tend to be fellow superhero fans themselves.

Superhero comics have already humoured these characters a lot, something the more mainstream newspaper cartoons have barely ever done (well not to the same degree). I wouldn’t say that white fanboy characters necessarily overrun superhero comics and superhero media in general, they’re better represented than say Asian hunters, farmers and pet owners, African pet owners, hunters and farmers, and black veterinarians. The latter three exist in the real world, but from my reading experience they’re not that widely represented.

Especially when compared to their white counterparts and perhaps nearly nonexistent compared to the preponderance of white superhero fanboys, actually I also think Asian athletes (despite being a thing in the real world) are also pretty underrepresented in superhero comics. Especially given unfavourable stereotypes of Asian people being unathletic, even if Takumi Minamino plays for Liverpool and Son Heung-min plays for Tottenham Spur. There’s even a Philippine football team called Azkals and our very own Kai Sotto’s aiming for NBA membership.

That’s why representation matters, if there’s a character a reader’s interested in finding but can’t find that character anywhere and everywhere then they get left out. Take India for instance, outside of Indian comics (yes they do exist) there’s not a single Indian character who plays sports like cricket in either DC or Marvel despite its popularity in that country. While it would be expecting too much, it does matter when it comes to looking for characters some readers would be interested in.

If white superhero fans are rather spoilt in terms of representation in that they got what they wanted, those seeking characters they want to see are often out on a limb. When I mean by that, it could be black characters, Asian characters, indigenous characters or Latinx characters who aren’t massive stereotypes. I for one would be interested in an Indian Felicity Smoak who’s a seamstress, that’s my preference but that’s one example of somebody seeking representation of characters they want to see in superhero media.

I do know one woman who’s interested in a Native American Poison Ivy, that’s another example of somebody seeking representation in superhero media and it shouldn’t be dismissed. Surely, an Indian Felicity Smoak wouldn’t be to everybody’s tastes but I’m interested in a Felicity Smoak who isn’t involved in IT and is Anglo-Indian. Being Indian and IT are mutually exclusive for other people, just as being Jewish and IT are mutually exclusive (Donna Karan is a Jewish-American fashion designer).

But that’s my preference that I want a Felicity Smoak who’s Indian and involved in the garment industry, you really don’t get much of these characters in Western pop culture the way you do probably with Indian pop culture. It’s like this stereotype of South Asian people in the West where they’re expected to work in information technology, it leaves little room for South Asians who are involved in other things be it sports (the existence of Indian cricketers should attest to it), cinema (Bollywood especially) or fashion in Felicity Smoak’s case.

Not many people consider the idea of Felicity Smoak as Anglo-Indian, even if people like Ben Kingsley exist. As I said before, superhero comics and to an extent superhero media already panders to a narrow audience. A narrow audience that’s very spoilt at the expense of others, not just ethnic minorities but also anybody who don’t read comics or enjoy superheroes that often. That is pandering, which superhero media has done for a long time and have come to perfect this method.

Many white superhero fans are pretty spoilt, they got an entire industry to bend on its knees. They got an industry to pander to them, sometimes at the expense of not only ethnic minorities but also anybody who aren’t big superhero fans. Okay, this isn’t always true but it still rings true most of the time.

Dismissing the pain of others

While not all white people dismiss the troubles black people (and any other person of colour) go through, it’s not uncommon for them to make statements like black people have it easier. When it comes to statistics, there is evidence that black people do have it harder. For instance in Britain, black headed households are likelier to be poorer than white households, black people are also much likelier to be unemployed. If black people tend to be unemployed, the unfortunate mindset some white people have is that they think it’s black people’s fault even when there are legitimate reasons for them being unable to land a job.

It could be discrimination, which’s very likely if racism is to be found as well as barriers to finding a stable job like say one job doesn’t last for long (I’ve been through this myself) as well as people not supporting the job you’ve always wanted (I experienced this as well). These could intersect very well with racism. It’s not always a matter of victim mentality, but also a matter of legitimate and real barriers they face when seeking something they wanted or needed to do. Racism could and may influence the inability to support somebody of a certain ethnicity, which’s pretty likely though I’m talking from my own experience sans racism.

It doesn’t help that it’s not uncommon for white people to dismiss black people’s physical pain that they could also dismiss their mental pain as well, I also think white people have a habit of condescending to black people and anybody who aren’t white in general when it comes to certain things. There’s a study somewhere stating that white people do have a habit of talking down to blacks, infantilising or patronising them in the process. Some white people are really ignorant of nonwhite, nonwestern countries as it shows whenever they think China doesn’t have diversity.

In reality, China does when it comes to actual ethnic minorities such as Tibetans, Uyghur, Mosuo and Manchu people. The last one even influenced Chinese fashion greatly, especially when some of them came to power. Japan also has two ethnic minorities to my knowledge: Ryukyuans and Ainu. South Korea might as well be the least ethnically diverse East Asian country for years, since immigrants like Filipinos and Ghanaians came very recently. Then again, China and Japan also attract immigrants (Brazilians, Filipinos, Taiwanese, Koreans and Vietnamese).

That proves how ignorant certain white Westerners are whenever they do talk about nonwhite, nonwestern countries at all. While there are white people who do genuinely empathise with nonwhite people, there are those with certain mentalities that leads them to dismiss, patronise, infantilise or harass nonwhite people a lot. Some white people have a habit of pitting ethnic minorities against one another, they can even pit certain black ethnicities against one another as well. This gets internalised by some BIPOC, though solidarity does exist among others.

While not all white people dismiss the pain nonwhite people go through, it’s unfortunate to see those dismissing whatever others go through. They resort to victim blaming, spread misinformation and the like. Evidence doesn’t support their claims of black people having it better than they do, in fact it points out the opposite when it comes to things like unemployment and poverty.

Racist white people

When it comes to racist white people, it doesn’t have to be outright discrimination in order to be racist. Sometimes it can appear as innocuous as wondering why don’t black people not write about being black when in reality they already have, some black people have written about cats for instance. That’s how ignorant they really are when it comes to things they talk about, which says a lot about how little they know when they’re talking about something.

Imagine if somebody said why don’t women not write about relationships, when in reality they already have. It would be widely regarded as sexist, but when it comes to racism it’s easier for white men and women to unite together to relate to each others’ dismissal and ignorance of what black people go through and are concerned about. If it’s ignorant, stupid and sexist to dismiss women’s writing as centred on relationships, it’s just as bad to dismiss black people’s writing as centred on blackness.

Black people have written about dogs for instance. It’s so evident to me this man has never read anything written by a black person, let alone on subjects he wants to know about. Black people have already written about things like football and fashion for instance, it’s actually not that hard to find. This ignorance is also patronising in that these white people think black people can’t write about anything else when they do.

If it’s racist for white people to outrightly fear and hate black people (or anybody who isn’t white), it’s just as racist for them to patronise the people they’re talking about. As if they see them as inferior, deep down inside whether if they’re aware or not. That’s another kind of racism we need to be alert to, especially if it involves a condescending attitude towards those they want to talk about. It’s like if you think black people only write about being black, chances are you’ve never read anything by a black person.

Likewise, it’s like being horrified and surprised that black people can like and own cats. I myself am part of a Facebook group about Kenyan cat owners, so if some black people like cats they already do. I could go on saying the same thing about Native American and Indigenous cat owners, they already exist and they only seem surprising to those who have stereotypical ideas of what an indigenous person should be.

It’s clear these people know so little about the things they want to do talk about, so little they might as well be talking nonsense. It’s like wondering where are all the black cat owners, the thing is they already exist and they exist in large numbers in countries like Ghana, Togo and Cameroon for instance. Okay, I’m being harsh on people who are ignorant but the thing here is that there will always be black people who don’t fit your idea and knowledge of black people.

There are Asians and indigenous people who don’t fit said stereotypes and preconceptions either, whether scientifically or through actual experiences with them. This kind of ignorance poisons the well, especially when it comes to the subjects they want to talk about it which reveals how little they know about it. Here’s the thing: I’m not black, I’m Filipina and I write this because this man knows so little about black people.

So little he might as well never read anything by a black person, not all black people are fixated on slavery and/or being black. There are black people who fixate on or write about anime, cats, dogs, goats and other stuff. It shouldn’t be this hard to find stuff like ADHD in Kenya, it’s not that hard at all. Black people are perfectly capable of and already have written stuff about anything else, it’s shouldn’t be hard to find stuff by black people on academic websites like Scielo, Hindawi and Plos One. They write about goats even.

Black people do write about other things, it could be folk beliefs but it could also be about bullying in school. They’re not that ignorant, they’re not that fixated on their blackness well not to the same extent that this man makes it out to be. It’s telling this bloke hasn’t read a lot of stuff written by actual black people, so he projects his ignorance onto black people. If you’ve read something by a black person, an African black person in particular, they can write anything else.

Anybody who tries to contradict me will prove me right, especially when it comes to things they don’t know much about. Something like say studies on cats and dogs in Eswatini for instance. If a black African has written it, then black people are already capable of writing anything other than being black. Racist white people will project their ignorance onto the people they talk about, so much so they might as well be stupider than they’d realise.

Pardon my harsh words, but it’s telling that if you’ve never read anything by a black person you are ill-informed on what black people write about. That’s jumping onto conclusions, based on what little you know about them. So little that you don’t even know what you’re talking about. Facts hurt whether if you like it or not. It’s not hard to find what an African black has written about, it could be football for instance and that still proves my point blacks have written anything else.

White people will commiserate over their ignorance and dismissal of blacks, not all whites do but it gets telling if you find these characters in the wild. It can even happen in the vegan and animal rights world where a good number of people think Asians eat dogs. Not all Asians eat dogs, in fact it’s outrightly forbidden in Hinduism. If Buddhism forbids eating meat, well some sects do, then there were already Asians who don’t eat dog meat before the modern animal rights movement.

While these people have good intentions, they are ignorant of people who already do the things they wish they did. There are Asians who genuinely care for animals like the dog mothers in Taiwan, there are black people who write about anything other than being black (there are those who write about dogs for instance). This is a form of racism we should be alert to because of how patronising and ignorant it is. There are already Asians and blacks who do the things whites wished they did.

I don’t think dog meat’s even that popular in Asia, from personal experience most would rather eat beef, chicken and pork as dogs are more commonly kept alive for guarding. Likewise for cats, more Africans keep them alive for pest control. Even if dog meat does exist, it’s a niche thing at best. With Buddhism and Islam* keeping things in check, so you have Asians who don’t eat dog meat and with the former, they abstain from meat in general before modern veganism and vegetarianism came into being.

(There is already a good precedent for Asians avoiding meat due to Buddhism, Jainism and Hinduism.)

It’s patronising in its racism and why this should stop, Asians and black people already do things you wish they did. It’s not even that hard, if Buddhism was introduced to China in 202 BCE then you have generations of Chinese who never and don’t eat dog meat. Likewise, if you have a history of writing Arabic script in countries like Nigeria, then black people not only have a history of literacy but also a history of writing anything else.

This is why it’s racist, it assumes Asians and blacks are kind of close-minded (whether if they’re aware of it or not) or haven’t done the things whites wish they did when in fact they already have. It’s also the same reason why it’s patronising and why this has to stop.

*Dogs are considered dirty in Islam, therefore the equivalent of eating faeces.

Not a sincere interest

When it comes to cultural appropriation and cultural appreciation as well as wanting to attack racism, the keyword here is sincerity and in this case a sincere interest in a foreign, often nonwhite and minority culture. It wouldn’t be cultural appropriation if the person has a sincere interest in say African American culture, going so far to read up on African American figures, interacting with and listening to African Americans, listening to African American music, eating African American foods and having box braids.

In the case with Japan, if it includes not only learning Japanese but also being interested in other facets of Japanese culture and society like say the existence of stray dogs in the Japanese countryside in addition to dressing in kimonos and having an interest in Japanese sports then that’s a sincere interest in Japan. But if the interest in Japan only begins and ends with anime, then it’s not a sincere interest in Japan and could risk being a form of cultural appropriation in the sense of being there for only the superficial aspects of Japanese culture, not the deeper aspects of it.

Being aware of its problems is a sign of one’s sincere interest in a culture, people or country because it not only shows concern and awareness of it but also that they see them for what they really are at times without bashing them. I think Stitch’s interest in South Korea is sincere and honest, she’s not only interested in Korean pop music (KPOP) but also its problems such as the history of blackface in that country that makes me realise she really does know about the country in a way those who idealise the country don’t.

It’s like if I say that dog poisoning is a problem in Germany, I’m not demonising the country but saying like it is because a good number of Germans are affected by this if Giftkoeder Radar’s any indication. Not to mention, that would mark a sincere interest in that country’s woes in addition to other things like stray dogs and racism. While an interest in German hunting would also mark a sincere interest in the country, if it goes hand in hand with idealisation then it’s not a sincere interest in that place.

If because you don’t see its flaws, but that would involve realising it’s not what it’s cut out to be even if an awareness of its faults results in greater care and concern for it. Even then, a sincere interest in a foreign people, culture or country would involve a degree of awareness surrounding their faults and problems. Back to the subject of cultural appropriation, though one’s heart could be at the right place the interest in such a culture or people’s not always sincere if it begins and ends with just a few things.

It’s like saying you’re not racist because you don’t say mean things to other people but when you believe certain cultures are inferior if they do something, in addition to a superficial interest in nonwhite people and cultures involve both the risk for cultural appropriation and outright stereotypical racism. It’s like saying you are against racism but single out a certain ethnicity for a bad trait they have, when others do something similar. It would be like claiming to have a spirit animal but have no real interest in the cultures that have those.

It’s not just cultural appropriation but also racism as you know it is (but don’t realise it as such). You can’t say you’re not racist if you continue to be racist in some way or another, whether if it’s bashing somebody for belonging to a certain culture and doing something you don’t like when others have done something similar (Germans and dog poisoning). You can’t claim you don’t support racism when you do in some way or another. You are still racist if you do cultural appropriation, say certain people’s cultures are inferior and the like. That’s not a sincere interest, that’s dishonesty.

And that’s why we have to be more aware of what racism and cultural appropriation are and what they do to others.

Racist white women

When it comes to white women, while there are those who’re genuinely anti-racist and nonracist (like their male counterparts) there are others who are really racist. Like how they dismiss the pain of nonwhite ethnicities, believe in racist stereotypes and preconceptions (things said ethnic minority will always never universally live up to) and cry if somebody calls out on their racism. They’re preoccupied with ending sexism and ageism, but not racism when it comes to intersectionality.

In the sense that with nonwhite women, race and gender do intersect in various ways and sometimes specific for certain demographics. Black women are often dehumanised and defeminised, even if they can be just as girly as their white counterparts are (check out BellaNaijaStyle for that one). Asian women are made more feminine than some of them really are, not saying that being girly is wrong but the tendency to emasculate Asians is really annoying. A good number of white women I know are mostly preoccupied with fighting and highlighting sexism.

They surely want to fight sexism, but some are unwilling to fight and recognise racism for what it is. It’s like they defend being white and become vulnerable if their racism is ever highlighted at all, not to mention it’s not uncommon for them to hold nonwhite ethnicities up to different standards. With the animal rights movement, it’s mostly populated by women and presumably white women in Western world they repeatedly single out Asians for eating dogs but don’t chastise Germans, Dutch and Austrians for poisoning dogs even if dog poisoning’s a big deal in those countries.

It is racist in that they treat Asians as if we’re a dog-eating monolith, whilst ignoring animal abuse as done by Germans unless if they’re Germans themselves. See how racist this is, always shaming one whole ethnicity or race for animal abuse but never shaming those white ethnicities and nationalities for their own animal abuse. If white men are racist, so are white women if the animal rights movement and white feminism are any indication. There’s a tendency to dismiss the pain nonwhite ethnicities go through, ignoring what they’ve gone through and why this has to stop.

Actually, I even think some white women don’t really see nonwhite women as people, especially as people who face dual discrimination for being female and of another ethnicity. Almost all that they care about is fighting sexism and fighting sexism alone, which’s what I realised from following a certain white woman online. As I said before, there are genuinely nonracist white people out there in the world (this includes white women). But then again, it can be argued that white women are generally better off than their nonwhite counterparts are.

Not just because they’re relatively treated better, they have higher literacy rates than their African and Middle Eastern counterparts do, less likely to be killed at birth or in the womb for being of a different gender (as it befell Chinese and Indian women and girls) and less likely to be made missing than indigenous American (both North and South) women do. On average, I’d say that white European and American (both North and South) women are luckier than South Asian women are.

Especially in that they’re completely free to choose the ones they love, whereas if arranged marriage’s the norm in South Asia there’s always the threat of forced marriages. Not to mention in South Asia, dowry always goes hand in hand with having a daughter which means if they don’t want to invest in one’s dowry they not only deprive some daughters’ education but also get them killed. It’s a fate that doesn’t befall contemporary European women as it would centuries ago when arranged marriage was the norm back then.

Love marriage’s the default model in Europe nowadays, so white women are very lucky in this regard. Then there’s cultural appropriation, that’s taking aspects of a certain culture without respecting or loving the people sincerely. Okay, my definition’s a little off but it’s to give you an idea of how bad it is. It’s like saying you have a spirit animal but have no real interactions with or interest in certain Native American cultures, which have these spirit animals you covet so much.

Whatever interest in Native American cultures and experiences with Native American people would ultimately be rather passing, if that person expresses more interest in dogs than they do with actual Native Americans and their respective beliefs and cultures. They may think they know about foreign cultures and nonwesterners, but when much of what they talk about are dogs then it’s telling they know dogs better than they do with nonwesterners. Much better, if it’s what their blogs are about and if laced with racism at nonwhites then their attraction to nonwhites might be insincere.

In the sense that their interest in nonwhites is either patronising, fetishising (like always thinking black men have big penises, ignoring those who don’t), condemning in some regards (especially if they condemn certain cultures for not fitting their preferences and standards) or superficial. The last one would indicate cultural appropriation, if they claim to have a spirit animal but have no real interest in Native American cultures and have no experience with Native Americans either.

That may not always indicate cultural appropriation, but it’s a sign that can tell how superficial their interest in nonwhite cultures is and when coupled with a dismissive attitude that’s going to indicate not only ethnocentrism but also the possibility of racism whether if they admit it or not. Gwen Stefani is somebody who has a rather superficial interest in Indian culture, she had the red dot but that’s about it. Likewise, when it comes to Japanese culture it’s like she only went for the Harajuku Girls but never developed a deeper interest in Japan itself.

It’s like going to Japan only for anime and anime alone, that’s not an admiration for Japan that’s only a superficial interest based on a stereotype you have of the Japanese. If a white person’s interest in Japan only ends in anime, not so much with the problems there (racism, sexism and even stray dogs) then their interest in Japan is very superficial. Likewise for those who do blaccents and/or do cornrows, it’s like if it ends with a blaccent or a cornrow but not a deeper interest in African and African American cultures then it’s superficial and a form of cultural appropriation.

It might not be unique to white people, but it’s telling that it can be racist in that their interest in nonwhite cultures is superficial if it begins and ends in just a few things. To put it this way, it’s not cultural appropriation if their interest in a foreign culture were sincere. In the case with many Filipinos, their interest in Korean culture’s sincere in that they not only watch Korean programmes, listen to Korean music and eat Korean foods but also learn the Korean language themselves. That’s not cultural appropriation, that’s proper admiration.

Okay, it may not be true for all Filipinos but that’s how cultural appreciation differs from cultural appropriation. Perhaps another form of racism would fetishisation, that’s desiring an ethnicity for traits not all members have. As I pointed out before, not all black men have big penises and there are cases where some black men have the opposite. Others have regular sized penises, which means the romanticisation of the big black penis is something that’s mostly rooted in fiction.

In the sense that it’s something most black men don’t have and gay black men take offence to this, this is also likely the reason why so many black male-white female marriages end in divorce. Chasing after a fantasy, only to confronted by the cold, harsh reality. (For those who think black men are more attentive to women, there are black men who really are misogynistic and I know one who’s like this.) For another matter, it’s like fetishising Latino men for being promiscuous and attentive to women but there are those who’re miosgynistic and those who’re never this randy.

As said before, this is the racism that leads to high divorce rates due to romanticisation and high expectations that their partners can’t fulfill. Nobody deserves the pedestal, idealisation and fetishisation. These are expectations based on racist stereotypes, things they can’t fulfill entirely. You could be a tall black man but not well-endowed, thuggish and be rather quiet and timid. I could go on saying that John Boyega might not be as well-endowed as Adam Driver is, while it makes him better able to defy beauty standards and racist stereotypes better sadly he’s never going to be a fandom sex symbol the way Driver is.

Which’s again white privilege. White privilege of living outside of stereotypes the way nonwhite ethnicities are subjected to, not subjected to microaggressions and cultural appropriation the way they’re subjected to and the like. Thus many white women have white privilege, they don’t have to go through things their nonwhite counterparts are subjected to. Their pain’s well-attended to, compared to what black women get in the West. They don’t have to face high rates of infant mortality the way their black counterparts do, they’re on average (globally speaking) more literate and well-educated than many black and Middle Eastern women are.

I think I brought this up before, but it’s telling that white women have it better than their nonwhite counterparts do. That’s why they get defensive if one ever brings up racism, it’s evident in how they think about nonwhite people regardless of the struggles they go through. Let’s not also forget that in Asian countries like the Philippines, the spectre of poverty lingers with a substantial number of them being poor in some way. Not that there’s no poverty in Western countries, but when it comes to Asians some of them ignore that they still ignore in some way.

In some sense, Asians are unsuccessful. Not so much in a pitying way, but that they can’t assimilate into Western society without adding stereotypes to them. This goes hand in hand with stereotypes that aren’t true for all Asians, like not being athletic despite the existence of Yao Ming in basketball, Son Heung-min in football and Eddie Jones in rugby. Or black people not intelligent despite their existence as academics, especially if you read studies written by black people themselves.

It’s like wondering why don’t more black writers not write about being black, even if they’re perfectly and already capable of doing this whenever they do write about mental health issues, bullying and even pets like cats and dogs. It speaks to the ignorance and racism these white people have towards black people. This is why we need to discuss racism, especially if it’s something that not only negatively affects people but also speaks to one’s ignorance and idiotic preconceptions of people who aren’t white.

While some of the people I’m talking about aren’t white women, it can be applied to them given they also have similar sentiments and share an inability to empathise with what nonwhite people go through. This is what you get if white people are confronted with the possibility that racism exists as well as their inability to think of nonwhite people other than racist preconceptions.

They can write anything other than being black

This video

From my own experience, black people especially those in Africa do write about anything other than being black. They do write about fashion, pets, mental health, sports, anime, faith, nursing, bullying and family, especially from going to African websites and academia over the years. I get the impression that those who think black writers only write about being black aren’t that exposed to black people, let alone African blacks especially in countries where they’re the majority group.

I think these folks are kind of racist in that they really don’t know what they’re talking about, evidenced by that they don’t read anything by a black person particularly if that black person’s from Africa or any of the black majority Caribbean countries. If it’s true, then it’s clear they hardly ever met anybody who’s pretty much what they talk about. Admittedly knowing black people doesn’t stop people from having racist preconceptions of them, that’s why listening to an actual black person matters. It’s like thinking all black men are well-endowed, but there are black gay men who take issue with this.

Listening to them matters, especially if it’s something that may not be true for all of them. It’s like thinking all black people rap, ignoring those who don’t rap and there are black people who do play the guitar or even the violin. This is proof that black people can do other kinds of music, just as black people are perfectly capable of writing anything other than being black. I swear these people aren’t that exposed to black people that much, let alone what they have to say.

I think these people who think black people can’t write anything other than being black haven’t read anything else by black people, if there are black people who work in academia they’re capable of writing about topics such as pest control and depression among healthcare workers and medical students. It’s like thinking Asian people can’t write anything other than themselves when in fact they do, they can write about mammalian predation, cats and dogs, sports and fashion. This is racist because it shows how ignorant they are about black people.

While these people are ignorant, they should know better whenever they do talk about black people because it shows how little they know about blacks. In some cases, they’ve never been around black people and/or don’t listen to black people at all to the point where they don’t know what they’re talking about when it involves black people at all. So listening to black people matters, especially if it’s something others know better about this subject matter at all.

The whiteness of real person fiction

As I said before in another post, even real person slash tends towards white and white passing celebrities as subjects of fan stories. There’s hardly ever a black celebrity who becomes the subject of fanfiction, well not to the same extent as white celebrities are subjected to. When it comes to vocal groups, KPop bands as well as the Backstreet Boys get the fannish treatment but not their black Motown predecessors like The Temptations and Four Tops.

When it comes to KPop, I get the feeling that whenever white slash writers do orientate themselves to nonwhite people they gravitate towards who they deem as either close to white or perhaps a model minority. I say model minority in the sense of being a minority with desirable traits, even if nobody can ever stand on a pedestal and fit the mold forever and let alone to a T. It’s not that Backstreet Boys lacks non-WASP members, but two of them are half-white (half WASP) and very white-passing so they still get registered as desirable by white slash writers.

It’s not that Four Tops and Marvin Gaye don’t receive any form of fanworks, though both of them have been subjected to fanart but that’s about it. David Bowie gets more fanfiction and fanart than both of them, which makes me think many Western real person fiction writers gravitate and orientate themselves to white celebrities a lot. You might say that Four Tops are mostly dead and one of them lived up to late senility but David Bowie was an old man and is also dead, yet he gets more fanworks than Abdul Fakir does.

It’s not that the use of black musicians, especially as inspiration for fanworks, is entirely nonexistent. I myself have used black musicians such as the Temptations and the Platters as inspiration for fanmade stands (anthropomorphic superpowers appearing in Jojo’s Bizarre Adventures). But their use in real person fiction is at best even more limited, per Archive of Our Own Michael Jackson receives about 189 fanworks while David Bowie receives about 459. Both of them have their own vices, David Bowie had sex with a teenaged lass and Michael Jackson molested preteen lads.

But Bowie’s more prominent in fanfiction than Jackson is, not that I like Michael Jackson (I like his sister more). There are only two works associated with Marvin Gaye on AO3 and 14 works with Janet Jackson, which makes me wonder whether if Michael gets a pass for being so white-passing especially with all that skin bleaching and surgery he’s taken over the years. There are 10345 works associated with Pete Wentz, who has a black relative but very white passing. (Gerard Way gets around 14271 works.)

If it’s true, then he’s one of the very few black musicians to receive a lot of fanworks. But there’s a paucity of fanfiction associated with ‘full’ or ‘pure’ black musicians, there’s not a lot of fanfiction dedicated to The Temptations and The Platters. You might say these folks are old, but The Rolling Stones and Beatles are just as old and receive a lot of fanfiction. Again real person fiction’s very white, orientating those who’re either white or white passing (Pete Wentz, Michael Jackson).

Okay, there are around 4800 stories associated with RuPaul’s Drag Race, which includes black drag queens but The Beatles receives about 5525 fanworks and that’s an all-white band we’re talking about. US Queer as Folk gets 6982 works, which is more than what Drag Race gets and that programme has a lot of white characters. Same with Schitt’s Creek, which has around 8350 works. For One Direction, there are around 62325 works. Zayn Malik gets 30856 works, his colleagues Harry Styles gets around 49415 works, Liam Payne 31750 works and Niall Horan 32598 works.

This isn’t true for all celebrities, but there’s a trend towards whiteness outside of KPop and JPop bands. In Popslash, with the possible exception of Mel C and Michael Jackson, there’s a big tendency towards whiteness. There’s a lot of attention paid to all-white boy bands or mostly white boy bands like One Direction and Backstreet Boys but the equivalent doesn’t exist for Boyz II Men, New Edition and The Temptations, despite being the inspiration for and direct precursor to boy bands.

Real Person Fiction might not be as white as I make it out to be, but there’s a trend towards whiteness whether if it’s live action, real life or not.