I’ve largely been approaching the various “don’t censor fandom/the ao3″ conversations through a lens of race because many of the people arguing in favor of what’s essentially a free-for-all because desire is like sacred also don’t get that some of the stuff fandom desires leads to the erasure, objectification, or dehumanization of characters and fans of color

and i just saw this long ass “if you don’t like the ao3, make your own it’s open source” post and it reminded me of the fact that well… what happens when fans of color make our own?

We get accused of alienating white fans, reverse racism, and of causing drama.

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I’ve been thinking about the AO3 controversy a lot, and how pointing out racism is so often categorized as “purity wank.” 

AO3 prides itself on its transparency, its warning labels making it so, in theory, no one will be caught off guard reading something triggering.

If there is no intention to cut racist fanwork on AO3, there should be a “racism” content warning, and it should be something readers can flag, not just something the author chooses (because then it would only be used in fics where racial slurs are used and nothing else).

I know the chances of AO3 allowing (especially) Black people to tag fics as racist to inform other fans is below zero. AO3 will never prohibit racist fanfic, and it will never warn readers of racist content – unlike things like sexual assault, which they strongly encourage authors to warn readers of so “everyone” can have a safe experience.

I am 100% in favor of this idea (a racism content warning, and other bigotries while we’re at it).

I was confused, because most of the fics I’ve seen with racist content are tagged, but realized those are tagged as the character or era having racist viewpoints. And from what I’ve seen, people do a good job of warning for period/fandom or character racism.

Then I realized “the writer is and of themselves racist, and posting racist content,” might be meant. Is that the case? (Because it seems like that would fall under abuse.)

Few of the racist stories I’ve seen in the archive were tagged because the author didn’t see anything racist about what they’d written.

And purposefully writing racist crap should fall under abuse but here’s the thing about that:

If the author doesn’t think what they’ve written is racist or the abuse team doesn’t think it’s racist, who’s going to take it down? Why would they?

There are truly racist stories on ao3 that will never be taken down because people with power to do anything in the archive won’t/don’t seem them as racist.

Much of the racist content on ao3 doesn’t ping as such to the author or abuse team. These include stories where characters of color are portrayed via racist stereotypes, sexual objectification, subject to racialized misogyny (look at how many black female characters in fandom are treated when fandom deigns to write them).

It’s not as obvious has hate speech inserted directly into the narrative and that’s another thing fandom is way behind about learning to recognize. Especially because it’d change the way they had to look at fanworks.

Author: Zeenah

Zina writes about comics, nerd history, and ridiculous romance novels when not working frantically on her first collection of short stories and complaining about stuff. One day, she'll settle down and write that novel.