my last nerve – a shitty poem

“the ao3 is a safe space for writers” 

okay but

i am a writer 

with an account on ao3

and i’m telling you

that it’s not a safe space for everyone

considering how much racism towards characters and fans of color

are present

unchecked 

and untagged

on that website

and how many people are bending over backwards to defend the status quo

and have ‘splained the ao3′s inner workings

and/or

suggested that fans of color simply hide offensive content

as if racism isn’t subtle 

or accidental

or everywhere

even in fandom

and it’s rarely fucking tagged –

because how can you tag for something you don’t know you wrote?

i am on my last nerve

with you people

and your fears of a slippery slope

and deeming everything

as part of purity wank

or callout culture

on a post talking explicitly about fandom racism.

what

the 

fuck

dudes

?

if ao3 is a safe space for writers

don’t writers of color deserve to be

safe

too?

hi, if you don’t mid me asking, what is going on with ao3? if you don’t feel like getting into that’s fine. have a nice day

Many people have been talking about how the AO3 is basically kind of terrible because of the hands-off approach to archiving and how anything is game on that site.

Many folks having these conversations are focused on criticizing the way that erotic/sexual stories involving underaged characters – either underage in canon and the story or adult in the canon and de-aged for the story (and generally written by adults, let’s be real here) – are super present in the space and how that’s just… not cool to them and probably shouldn’t be a thing we allow in fandom willy nilly.

(Several different people have created posts asking for people to report the site to the FBI because of the prevalence of this content and that’s one of the things other people are bringing up when they go to other people about AO3/fandom being censored/no longer free. I don’t think that’s going to work the way they think it will, but I’m not an expert on reporting websites to the FBI or anything.)

And a lot of people are like shouting censorship, worrying about a nonexistent slippery slope where “women and queer people will have to deal with losing their freedom”/all nsfw content will be shut down and literally saying stuff like “well this may be offensive and it makes me physically sick but i will fight for their right to write it” like I’ve seen at least two authors with a huge fandom presence outside of their own work actually share defenses or or write their own commentary on this content.

And like… my things are:

First: Why are y’all so focused on protecting people’s problematic desires in fandom instead of listening to people who are frustrated or upset by something being regular in fandom? 

Next: Why are people acting like underage characters getting boned in fic is like a necessary thing to keep fandom functioning? 

(I’m not talking about aging characters up to adulthood or teens writing teenage characters because I think that’s part and parcel of aging in fandom as a creator/consumer, like half the stuff tagged with “Underage” is like… A Lot. And yet folks aren’t allowed to get upset by how prevalent it is and how so much of the stuff tagged with “Underage” on AO3, especially once you set the rating to mature or explicit, is um…obviously for erotic purposes?)

Then there’s that whole “it makes me sick but its their right to create it” nonsense. 

If something makes you sick because it’s so offensive and hurtful to you, why are you defending its right to exist in spaces you also exist in? Like there was this Jewish person the other day who actually said to me that:

I’m Jewish, and seeing antisemitic stuff and the word Nazi make me sick to my stomach. But I still think an alt-right extremist has the right to express themselves, even if that means writing horrible stereotypical stuff on Ao3.

IN THEIR APOLOGY TO ME FOR OVERSTEPPING PREVIOUSLY.

(And PLEASE don’t engage with this person. I saw that part of their response and like my soul left my body. I stopped engaging at that. So please, just observe without interacting with them.)

But like… you realize that something is horrifically awful and actively harmful TO YOU and your first instinct is “well they get to say that”?? No they actually don’t and this “well i’m going to defend their right to write awful shit” is how we wound up with all those dapper fucking nazi posts last year. 

Oh but I forgot, fandom, reality, and fiction have NOTHING IN COMMON APPARENTLY.

And like, I want to follow this up with like folks are out here like screaming about censorship and rushing to protect the AO3 from those nasty SJWs trying to shut it down and the people going “straight up gut the AO3″ in these convos are the minimum compared to the people going “we would like to know why fandom is like this and we’d also like it to stop being like this”. But even if they weren’t? 

Why is it that some women, some queer people, and some trauma survivors are the only people whose desires and trauma matter in these conversations and only when they’re saying that they don’t mind/care?

Also, NONE OF THESE PEOPLE ARE THINKING/TALKING ABOUT RACE AND RACISM IN FANDOM (or any form of bigotry that you can find, unexplored and potentially eroticized in fandom spaces and fan works) but like… Franzeska’s whole racist ass was two years ago and fandom has gotten increasingly racist and hostile towards fans of color that don’t support the happy go lucky, “don’t like don’t read” mentality many folks have fostered.

Lastly, look, I use the AO3 as a reader and have used it as a writer. I’ve written some of the very content that people are really not okay with. I have written fucked up crap to cope and I’ve written fucked up crap because it got someone off. 

However, at the end of the day, as much as I hate being told what to do or how to do something because I am a TODDLER, I recognize that even if I’m not sure how I feel about ALL of the conversations happening or how they’re happening, the ONLY people I’m seeing being actually silenced or censored (but like… not because none of this is how censorship works) right now for this specific set of conversations about the AO3 are the ones trying to talk about how fandom is an unsafe space for them and the AO3 isn’t a great place for young fans considering some of the content.

Why does some people’s desire trump like… everyone else’s thoughts about fandom? Why aren’t people interested in talking about the ways desire can be harmful in and out of fandom?

Why aren’t we listening to other people?

Books About Roma

rrojasandribbons:

There are lots of books that have been written about Romani people. In fact, we tend to be well represented in fiction. However, that representation is often one of stereotypes, slurs, and racism. And, due to the rampant misinformation and stereotypes about us, it has been incredibly difficult for a non-Romani audience to distinguish accurate portrayals from stereotyped ones. I’m hoping this list may help that.

Romani Portrayals of Roma in Literature | Good Reads:

The Roads of the Roma: A PEN Anthology of Gypsy Writers

American Gypsy by Oksana Marafioti 

The Lost Country by

Luminiţa Mihai Cioabă

The Birch Grove by

Luminiţa Mihai Cioabă

Queen of the Night and Stone Flower by

Luminiţa Mihai Cioabă

Meralda by

Luminiţa Mihai Cioabă 

Katitzi by Katarina Taikon

We Live in Seclusion: The Memoirs of a Romni by Ceija Stojka
Travellers on this World by Ceija Stojka
Träume ich, dass ich lebe by Ceija Stojka

Auf der ganzen Welt zu Hause by Karl Stojka

Papierene Kinder: Gluck, Zerstorung und Neubeginn einer Roma-Femilie in Osterreich

by Mongo Stojka

Zwischen Liebe und Hass. Ein Zigeunerleben

by Philomena Franz
Zigeunermärchen

by Philomena Franz

Gipsy: Die Geschichte einer großen Sinti Familie

by Dotschy Reinhardt
Everybody’s Gypsy.  Popkultur zwischen Ausgrenzung und Respekt

by Dotschy Reinhardt

Devla, devla! by Irena Eliasova

Frosted Mirror by Erika Olahova

Sar o Paj by
Hedina Tahirović Sijerčić
Romani Women in Canada: Spectrum of the Blue Water by
Hedina Tahirović Sijerčić

Rromane Paramicha by
Hedina Tahirović Sijerčić

Dukh by
Hedina Tahirović Sijerčić

Romani Prince Penga by
Hedina Tahirović Sijerčić

An Unusual Family by
Hedina Tahirović Sijerčić

Karankochi-Kochi by
Hedina Tahirović Sijerčić

How God Made the Roma by
Hedina Tahirović Sijerčić

The Fish by
Hedina Tahirović Sijerčić

Four Brothers by
Hedina Tahirović Sijerčić

Romany Legends by
Hedina Tahirović Sijerčić

ROM Like Thunder by
Hedina Tahirović Sijerčić

Roads Without Caravans by Mateo Maximoff

Eve’s Garden by Glenda Bailey-Mershon

Polttava tie

by Veijo Baltzar

Disrupting the Nation by Ethel Brooks

The Color of Smoke by
Menyhert Lakatos

Fires in the Dark by Louise Doughty
Stone Cradle by Louise Doughty

The Living Fire by Ronald Lee
Goddam Gypsy by Ronald Lee

We Are the Romani People by Ian Hancock
Danger! Educated Gypsy by Ian Hancock
A History of the Romani People by Ian Hancock & Hristo Kyuchukov
The Heroic Present by Ian Hancock & Jan Yoors

We are the Roma! by Valeriu Nicolae


Informative Literature by non-Roma:

All Change!: Romani Studies through Romani Eyes by Damian Le Bas

Gypsy Law by Walter Otto Weyrauch

Romani Routes by Carol Silverman

The Gypsies by Jan Yoors

And the Violins Stopped Playing by Alexander Ramati

Journeys into Memory: Romani Identity and the Holocaust in Autobiographical Writing by German and Austrian Romanies by Marianne Christine Zwicker


Mediocre Portrayals of Roma in Literature:

Bury Me Standing by Isabel Fonseca

The Nazi Persecution of the Gypsies by Guenter Lewy

I Met Lucky People by Yaron Matras
The Romani Gypsies by Yaron Matras

Between Two Fires by Alaina Lemon

A History of the Gypsies by David Crowe

The Gypsies by Angus Fraser

Gypsies: Wanderers of the World by Bart McDowell

The Roma Cafe by Istvan Pogany

Gypsy Boy by Mikey Walsh

Dosha by Sonia Meyer

Yokki and the Parno Gry by Katherine Quarmby & Richard O’Neill
No Place to Call Home by Katherine Quarmby
Romani Pilgrims by Katherine Quarmby

Romani Culture and Gypsy Identity by Thomas Acton


Bad, Racist, & Outright Inaccurate Portrayals of Roma in Literature:

Gypsy Wisdom, Spells, Charms & Folklore by Denise Alvarado

The Gypsies by Charles Leland
Gypsy Sorcery and Fortune Telling by Charles Leland

The Gypsy Lifestyle by John McLaughlin

The Rom: Walking in the Paths of the Gypsies by Roger Moreau
Your Ancient Gypsy Guide to Wild Sex by Roger Moreau

Gypsy Talk by Dennis Marlock

Zoli by Column McCann

Guy Mannering by Sir Walter Scott

Gypsy Feast by Carol Wilson

Gypsy Folk Tales by Diane Tong
Gypsies by Diane Tong

The Diddakoi by Rumer Godden

The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo

Along the Enchanted Way by William Blacker

Thinner by Stephen King

Little Money Street by Fernanda Eberstadt

The Romany Rye by George Henry Borrow
Lavengro by George Henry Borrow
Romano Lavo-lil by George Henry Borrow

Mulengro by Charles de Lint

Romani Ways by G.E.C. Webb

Gypsy at Heart by Ellen Dugan

Gypsy by Trisha Leigh

The Gipsies by Francis Hindes Groome
In Gipsy Tents by
Francis Hindes Groome

Gypsy Folk Tales by
Francis Hindes Groome

Gipsy Folk Tales: A Missing Link by
Francis Hindes Groome

The Influence of the Gypsies on the Superstitions of the English Folk by
Francis Hindes Groome

Poor Janos: A Tale of Hungarian Gipsy Life by Frank Elemeny

Coffee, Tea, the Gypsy & Me by Caroline James

The Gypsies: Wanderers in Time by Katherine Esty

Sarah of the Romani: A Thriller by Tom Calen

Secrets of the Gypsies by Pierre Derlon

Les Tziganes by J. Clebert

The European by John Geipel

Acquittal by Serenity Valle


Books Written by non-Romani Fraudsters:

Gypsy Energy Secrets by Milana Perepyolkina

Gypsy Magic by Patrinella Cooper*

Dogstown by Lee Fuhler

Romany by Gypsy Putelengro
A Romany Life by Gypsy Putelengro

The Roots of Health by Leon Putelengro
Romany Boy by Leon Putelengro

Buckland’s Book of Gypsy Magic by Raymond Buckland
Gypsy Witchcraft by Raymond Buckland
Secrets of Gypsy Fortune Telling by Raymond Buckland
Secrets of Gypsy Love Magick by Raymond Buckland
The Buckland Romani Tarot by Raymond Buckland
Gypsy Dream Reading by Raymond Buckland
Gypsy Dream Dictionary by Raymond Buckland

Gypsy Magic: For the Prosperity’s Soul by Allie Theiss
Gypsy Magic: For the Lover’s Soul by Allie Theiss

Drab Lil: A Gypsy’s Medicine Book by Clarissa Simmens
Madame Sosostris Explains by Clarissa Simmens

*Patrinella Cooper actually does have direct ties to Romani culture and
is said to be ethnically Roma, but completely fabricated the information
in her book.


Just a Note:

I have intentionally left out quite a few books written by non-Roma about Roma during the Holocaust because I have not read many such books, and do not feel I could judge their accuracy or objectivity without actually reading them.

However, I will gladly take suggestions for any listed categories if anyone has read a book not listed above.

Writing Chicago

makochosen:

okay, so i saw this reference post a long time ago that was all about new york city to help people who write about it but don’t really know about it. and i haven’t seen one about chicago, my home city, so i thought i’d make one!!

you are allowed to like this, reblog this, etc. this is for everyone to use as a reference!! i might add more information if i missed something!! if you think something is wrong or should be changed, please let me know!! this is just some general knowledge you should have about chicago from a native that you can’t really get from wikipedia. i hope you find this useful!

Linguistics

  • No, we do not talk like Mike Ditka. At all.
  • Soda is called pop.
  • People say “you guys.” “Y’all” is used more in southern Illinois.
  • Chicagoland area = Chicago + the surrounding suburbs + Northwest Indiana
  • The Lake Effect: a term often used, especially on the weather report. This term describes the effects the lake, Lake Michigan, have on the weather. Basically, it keeps it cool during the summer and warmer during the winter. But it’s not like you notice it in the winter because temperatures easily remain under 20 degrees from November to April.
  • Chicagoans will always and forever call the Willis Tower the Sears Tower. If you hear somebody say that, they either work there or they’re not from around there. And if you say it to somebody from Chicago, you’re going to get a funny look.
  • “The Lake” = Lake Michigan. Referenced often.
  • While this may not come up in writing, we say caramel like “car-mel” not “car-a-mel.”
  • We say “you guys” instead of “y’all.”
  • When people say “the city,” they mean Chicago. You often hear this in the suburbs.
  • CTA = Chicago Transit Authority. It is comprised of train lines and bus lines.

Transportation

  • Sometimes you might hear something called the “skyway.” It’s Interstate 90 and it connects Chicago to Indiana. What’s noticeable about it is that it’s this giant, tollway on a giant bridge over the Calumet River. And there’s a McDonald’s right smack dab in the middle of it.
  • O’Hare is one of the biggest airports in the country and pretty much the primary airport of Chicago. However, there is also Chicago Midway International Airport (just called Midway). O’Hare is in northwest Chicago and Midway is closer to the Loop and Chicago’s south side.
  • Chicago does not have a “subway system.” Like, trains that run underground. Instead, Chicago’s subway is above ground and goes above traffic. It’s called the “L” which is short for elevated. There are 8 lines, each one named by color (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, brown, and pink). The Red Line is the longest one, going from north to south. And it is the only one that does actually go underground in downtown Chicago. Nobody uses the Yellow Line because it only goes from Northern Chicago to Skokie, one of the northwest suburbs of Chicago. People who use the Yellow Line are commuters between Chicago and Skokie. The only other Line that goes outside of Chicago is the Purple Line, which goes to Wilmett and Evanston, two suburbs literally right outside of Chicago.
  • The Loop is Chicago’s downtown. It’s called the loop because majority of the CTA lines have stations that circle around the downtown. So it’s called the loop because of it. People say “the Loop” when they’re talking about downtown or taking the CTA. Some lines of the CTA only circle the loop.
  • Metra vs. Amtrak. The Metra is a train that connects Chicago to the suburbs. The L is more like a subway that arrives at every station in ten-minute intervals. The Metra is more like a train with more scheduled times. The L takes you around Chicago. The Metra takes you out of it. The Amtrak takes you out of Chicago to the rest of the country. Some stops are in the suburbs. But if you’re taking the Amtrak to the suburbs, chances are, Chicago was not your starting point. You’d be coming from another city, such as Springfield, and stopping in Chicago before going out to the suburbs. The Metra is for commuters.There are two stations for the Metra and Amtrak, Union Station and Ogilvie Transportation Center (OTC), both located a block apart from each other, both in downtown. 
  • You don’t drive in the city. It’s a nightmare. Road rage is everywhere. Most people take the L, the bus, cabs, or Uber. People only drive in the city if they’re coming from outside or going outside of the city. 
  • Here is the CTA map just for shits and giggles. 

Weather

  • It’s so unpredictable. It will be 50 degrees in the morning and snow by 3 pm.
  • Also, 50 degrees is considered warm in Chicago. People are wearing shorts even at 40 degrees tbh. Also, it is always colder in Chicago than in the suburbs. And the suburbs are colder than central Illinois. You can tell the difference when you are traveling. 
  • Chicago is a very windy city. And there is a big difference in temperature with the wind chill. 
  • Schools will not close, even if there is a foot of snow on the ground and/or it is below zero degrees.
  • Likewise, it can be extremely hot in Chicago. Like, summers are usually well over 80 degrees. There just is no in-between. 
  • Natural disasters? Uncommon. There are occasional earthquakes that happen like once every other year and they’re usually so little that people just sleep right through them. Tornadoes are the most common, but even those are infrequent and only really occur in rural Illinois. 

Attractions

  • Some popular sites in Chicago, even for natives, are Navy Pier, Millennium Park, Shedd Aquarium, Adler Planetarium, Brookfield Zoo, Sears Tower, Museum of Science and Industry, Field Museum, The Art Institute, Lake Michigan, the Chicago River, and Wrigley Field.
  • Millennium Park is extremely popular. It’s located inside the loop and every year, there’s a special Christmas tree lighting. People ice skate there all the time in the winter and there’s the Bean. The Bean is officially called the “Cloud Gate” but everybody calls it “the Bean.” It’s this giant, stainless steel sculpture that’s like looking into a mirror. This is prime selfie spot here.
  • The Field Museum is home of Sue, the most complete T-Rex skeleton in the world. She’s pretty cool. People love swimming in Lake Michigan or going to the beaches, even if it is 50 degrees out. The Polar Plunge is popular. Wrigley Field is kind of a major attraction because of the Cubs but also because it is the second oldest baseball park in America. Except for the giant screens and a brand new bullpen, the field pretty much is the same as when it opened in 1912. You can go to the top of the Sears Tower, to the 110th floor, and go on the “Sky Deck.” There are glass boxes attached to the outside of the building where you can walk on and view the city. It’s the best view in the whole city. 
  • You can also get the world’s largest ice cream sundae at Margie’s Candies, or so they say. I’ve had it, it is absolutely enormous, and it tastes incredible.
  • Lollapalooza. This is the biggest event in Chicago every single year. It is this giant music festival. It is filled with young adults, drugs, cops, and booze. It’s the Coachella of Chicago. Tickets sell out within hours of going on sale. When I was in high school, people honestly skipped school so they can stay home and buy their Lolla tickets. People do not fuck around when it comes to this.

Population

  • Very Polish. You see it in the street names.
  • Very democratic. Illinois is a democratic state because of Chicago’s population. Rural Illinois is way more Republican.
  • The main ethnic groups of Chicago are Irish, German, Latinx (especially Mexican), Assyrian, Arab, Jewish, English, Black, Korean, Chinese, Filipino, Puerto Rican, Indian, Italian, Cuban, and Polish. The suburbs tend to have a higher population of white people with low populations of people of color.

Sports

  • It’s a major thing in Chicago. Home of the Bulls (basketball), Bears (football), Blackhawks (hockey), Cubs (baseball), and White Sox (baseball).
  • The Bulls and the Blackhawks are Chicago’s most successful teams and the most popular.
  • Everyone is a Bears fan and everyone hates the Bears. They have been extremely unsuccessful the past like 7 seasons. People care a lot about the Bears. Most Bears fans really hate the Green Bay Packers.
  • The north side of Chicago belongs to the Cubs. The south side belongs to the White Sox. The city is very divided on this one and fans of either team don’t really get along with fans from the other team. However, everyone can agree that the Cubs winning the World Series was amazing. The Cubs have an intense rivalry with the St. Louis Cardinals, and the fans hate the Cardinals like the Bears hate the Packers. 

Food

  • So you’ll mostly find your average food chains around Chicago. McDonald’s, Starbucks, etc. However, Chicago is also known for its Chicago-style hot dogs, Maxwell Street Polishes, and the deep dish pizza. Chicagoans will always tell you that their pizza is better than New York’s.
  • However, the most popular food chains are local ones: Portillo’s, Giordano’s, Oberweis, Steak ‘n Shake. Portillo’s is famous for their beef (hot dogs, Italian beef, burgers) and their chocolate cake shakes. Portillo’s is Chicago’s In-N-Out Burger. If you are looking for the most Chicago pizza ever, Giordano’s is the place to go. Oberweis sells ice cream, milkshakes, and milk. And Steak ‘n Shake is crazy popular because of their steakburgers, shakes, and for their ridiculously low prices.

Other Notes

  • Illinois south of Bloomington is like a whole different state. Northern Illinois is dominated by Chicago. Outside of the Chicagoland area, it’s completely rural and extremely different. People even talk differently in some places!
  • The Chicago River is dyed green every St. Patrick’s Day. Like, it is legit green. St. Patrick’s Day is one of the biggest celebrations in Chicago, even if you aren’t Irish. There’s the huge parade and people just like to see a bright green river. People get so lit for this. 
  • Ferris Bueller’s Day off was known as “John Hughes’ love letter to Chicago.” Regardless of your opinions on the plot, characters, actors, director, etc., this film really is all about Chicago and will give you great insight on what it’s like. 

If you have any questions, comments, concerns, feel free to ask me!! Happy writing!!! 

This tumblr user shows up (and shows their ass) on so many posts that talk about Finn breaking free from his brainwashing because they ~just don’t get how Finn could leave the only family he had~ and it’s beyond obnoxious. 

(For one thing, the First Order isn’t his family. It’s not A family. It’s a fascist organization with an army of soldiers they’ve kidnapped and brainwashed. Calling it a family in general, much less in the process of shaming Finn for betraying them, is so fucked up I can’t even –)

They do it on any post talking about how fandom gives Kylo Finn’s backstory (and calls him brave/selfless/a poor abused widdle baby for stuff they gloss over when/even though it happens to Finn) that gets more than a handful of notes as if to pop our bubbles and let us know that they don’t care about Finn and that he’s not that special because KYLO blah blah blah.

I gave them examples of Finn CLEARLY showing that he broke free from brainwashing because he doesn’t want to hurt people in a previous instance of this shit and they ignored my response only to show up weeks later to try and “Um… Finn choosing to be good doesn’t make sense” all over one of my original posts.

And now this shit on this post where they say things like. 

“In many ways, Finn did Kylo’s defection in reverse. But with Kylo, we learn he had a good reason.”

This just in folks: Finn seeing his teammate die and a village get massacred for defending itself isn’t a good reason to leave the fascist organization responsible for both things. The only “good reason” to defect or join an organization is whatever folks are claiming makes Kylo a poor widdle baby who we need to have sympathy for or whatever.

This specific tumblr user does this absolutely obtuse shit on purpose and I’m sick of seeing it. 

[Image description:

A message from an anonymous user that reads:

Nobody needs to pay you or any of the gross cohorts that you have in the Finn/Rey fandom to see how racist you can be towards Rose. Go write 600 words of anger about the white girl beating the black man with a stick and then you might have the right and not just be exercising old, tired and gross Anti-Asian horseshit. You want to be “critical,” start with yourself. You’re peddling racism to excuse butthurt shipper feelings and dressing it up as justice. It’s NOT.

]

I just got an anon that got mad at the Patreon link I posted about my post in progress about Rose and Finn’s relationship and how the novelization makes it even harder for me to even want to enjoy her character/ization and relationship with Finn.

This anon is accusing me of anti Asian racism and I mean, that’d be something I’d rush to correct and apologize for if… the person had read what I actually wrote on Patreon (it’s only a dollar a month for that tier) and had a problem with the post in progress rather than the fact that I was writing something critical about Rose in general.

But since they felt the need to inform me that “Nobody needs to pay you or any of the gross cohorts that you have in the Finn/Rey fandom to see how racist you can be towards Rose” in their message…

They’re unlikely to read anything I’ve written – not that I expect them to turn out to be someone that’s ever read any of my work or knows who I am.

I’m writing my post from the point of view of a Black person with experience in media analysis on race and racism. Sure, I’m not Vietnamese so I know I need to be careful since she counts as significant representation to people and that doesn’t change even if I’m grouchy about how she interacts with the guy that’s MY representation, but I’m talking about how Rose is being written in interactions towards a Black character so… 

As a Black person I get to talk about the treatment of Black people in media. 

And I’m going to be real here: 

I think certain segments of the Star Wars fandom on social media have been nothing but disingenuous in shutting down critique of Rose’s interactions with Finn by calling it anti-Asian. Especially when I know that these are people who probably ignored or brushed off what Black fans call out or point out as anti-Blackness towards Finn in fandom or in the way his characterization and arc are… changed in The Last Jedi.

It’s just a little too convenient for me.

But if y’all (my friends, followers, and new random people) might be worried about the way this critique is shaping up:

Whenever I write about characters of color who aren’t Black, especially if I’m being critical of them, I try to be respectful and avoid being harmful even if I think the character/their actions might be problematic. I have folks I trust to sit with my work and call me on my crap when it’s there. I’ll reach out to any Vietnamese friends and followers that might be interested in doing a read and the post won’t go up on my site until it’s perfect.

So many Kylo (and Hux) stans like to try and clap back against criticism with “this is a film series for children, the First Order aren’t Nazis” but like… 

J. J. Abrams literally said that they were inspired by conversations about Nazis that fled to Argentina:

“That all came out of conversations about what would have happened if the Nazis all went to Argentina but then started working together again?’” Abrams said in the interview.

“What could be born of that? Could The First Order exist as a group that actually admired The Empire? Could the work of The Empire be seen as unfulfilled? And could Vader be a martyr? Could there be a need to see through what didn’t get done?”

Now, pulling up that quote also leads to these folks splitting hairs by saying “well, the didn’t say they were really Nazis, just inspired by them” and um… 

if you have to bend to make that kind of excuse for your favorite characters (that they’re not really Nazis, just… inspired by them) when arguing with people talking about 

a)

the problematics of stanning First Order members the way Hux and Kylo stans do or b) the First Order in the context of real world politics and about the human supremacy and fascism of the FO…

That’s just honestly embarrassing.

(Also, no shit the First Order aren’t literally Nazis. I mean… that’s literally impossible because there’s no space Germany running around.

That’s why we say they’re parallels or analogs. Whenever people pull that crap I want to shake them because they can see queer coding in any white male character that’s got a hint of non-normative anything going on, but they need their hands held to finish line in order to understand that the offspring of a fascist organization already inspired by Nazis will continue to be inspired by Nazis).

Seriously, this fandom is full of absolute blockheads who are purposefully ignorant in order to continue stanning what they stan and to paint any criticism as unreasonable and as a sign that the critics “don’t get fandom”, “need to chill” and are “taking things too seriously”.

The Time article that quote up there is from was the first result when I searched for the subject so um… this shit is 100% google-able. They just don’t want to expand their knowledge or challenge their interests. 

Which would be fine if they didn’t expect everyone else to be as ignorant as they are…

I can literally hold readers’ hands and lead them all the way to the conclusion of why something fandom does/is into is/appears racist (or, more specifically, antiblack) and still I get those wide eyed reactions of “um, this thing isn’t racist” from folks.

I’ve all but made a map to the conclusion, but I guess because folks still don’t see Black people as people in fandom, they’re not required to like… see when our ideas have merit or listen to us when we talk about the racism we/Black characters face in fandom.

Like I’m not using super complicated language half the time. Half the time, I’m literally like “this thing dehumanizes Black people like historically in media and its usage in fandom is also dehumanizing” and still some absolute walnut will roll up like…

“oh, well… because it’s not a problem when fandom does this to white characters, i don’t see why it’s racist here”.

When the point I’m constantly trying to make is that things that aren’t racist/wouldn’t be racist with Black characters become racist because fandom doesn’t do it to white characters or because there isn’t the same historical significance. 

The point is that the Star Wars fandom is unbelievably unsympathetic to Finn in a way they aren’t to Kylo Ren (like that one fucker who keeps showing up who basically sees him as a confusing commodity that the First Order lost).  They think Kylo deserves love (and Rey) and Finn would be better off dying in a fiery conflagration in the last fifteen minutes of The Last Jedi.

The point is that fandom doesn’t treat Sugar Daddy!T’challa as a person the way they do rich white male characters like Tony Stark or Bruce Wayne. They treat him like a fuckable ATM and Wakanda as a resource that exists solely to churn out vibranium weapons and armor for their favorite white characters (who then claim some part of the throne due to their relationship with T’challa). 

It’s really not that hard to understand.

I’m holding hands harder than I’ve ever held anyone’s hands in my life. I use small words. I provide links instead of assuming you all get what I mean. I make myself available for clarification. I don’t deep-dive into the theorists I’ve worked with my school.

And still, it’s like running up against a wall. A big ole racist wall.

Black FAQs About Kwanzaa

khalifaziz:

This post is really long, and I’m sorry about that. I didn’t think it
would get this big, but once I started, I couldn’t stop. As you’ll see, there’s
a lot of questions that Black people have about Kwanzaa, and I’m here to answer
them.

What this post IS NOT: A guide to explaining how to celebrate Kwanzaa, a guide
for non-Black people to understand Kwanzaa, a list of reasons why someone
should celebrate Kwanzaa. All these things already exist in an abundance on the
internet and are easily found via a quick Google search.

What this post IS: A list of common questions and comments that arise
whenever Black people discuss Kwanzaa, usually made by other Black people. A lot
of Black people have questions for other Black people about Kwanzaa, but there’s
very little nuanced discussion or explanation that can be easily found with a
quick Google Search. In a way, I’m trying the address the ‘dirty little secrets’
of Kwanzaa; ie, I’m trying to explain the things that aren’t often talked
about, but should be. It’s not a perfect resource, there are no formal citations,
and you’ll likely disagree with a lot of my more opinionated answers. But it’s
the best I can do, so here it is. I hope you all enjoy it, share it, and please
read the whole thing.

 

 

Q: I still want to celebrate
Christmas. Can I do both?

A: Yes. While some would argue ‘no’, Kwanzaa was intentionally
delegated to December 26th, so as not to interfere with Christmas.
Many people that celebrate Christmas also celebrate Kwanzaa. Really, you can
celebrate any winter holiday and still celebrate Kwanzaa.

Q: Is it true that you can’t give gifts on Kwanzaa?

A: You can, actually. There’s a lot of confusion about the gifts that
can be given, and that’s understandable. See, one of the reasons Kwanzaa was
made was to move away from the capitalist notions of Western Christmas. Many
agree that it’s become more of a time for buying expensive gifts than being
with your family. Therefore, the social convention for Kwanzaa is to give gifts
that don’t reinforce the widescale marketing trends of Christmas. The “perfect”
Kwanzaa gift should meet all these requirements, but just meeting one of them
is fine as well:

1.      
Made by oneself, from the earth.

2.      
Reinforces Black culture.

3.      
Educational (though this largely applies for
children, most people get them books).

4.      
Supports a Black business, if bought.

5.      
Otherwise reinforces the Nguzo Saba and other
holiday themes.

Also, keep in mind that there’s no real rule surrounding Kwanzaa gifts.
So if you know that your friend would truly appreciate a pair of wireless
headphones, then get it. As with all holidays, personal gifts are better than
cookie cutter gifts.

Also, come on ya’ll. We’re BLACK. Food is always an acceptable gift.

Q: Is celebrating Kwanzaa a requirement
to be more ‘woke’?

A: …tricky. No, you’re not a sellout for not celebrating Kwanzaa.
However, yes, recognizing Kwanzaa actually CAN help you in your journey of ‘wokeness’.
How so?

1.      
Celebrating Kwanzaa can help you decolonize your
brain, so to speak. That’s why there’s such a large emphasis on moving away
from influences of White Supremacy.

2.      
Learning the themes and being able to apply them
to your regular life can aid you in your endeavors to aid and uplift your
global Black community, your local Black community, and your own Black ass
(lol).

3.      
Kwanzaa was birthed out of struggle. Following
discussions which arise at Kwanzaa events and in academic discussions
surrounding Kwanzaa can aid you in learning about the struggles that Black people
face.

Q: Is Kwanzaa a religious holiday?

A: It is 100000000000000% secular.

Q: But I’m religious. Can I make
it relevant to my religion and my religious community?

A: Yup. Many communal and in-home Kwanzaa celebrations are religious
and/or spiritual. I know for a fact that many Black churches and Black mosques
hold Kwanzaa celebrations, so if you’re Christian or Muslim, it shouldn’t be
too hard to find a Kwanzaa celebration with your religious community, and/or
resources indicating how to recognize your religion and your race as you light
the kinara. As for other religions and spiritualities, I’ll admit that I’m not
as well-versed. I recommend beginning online, where Black members of your faith
congregate, and seeing if there’s anything that already exists. If not, think
of ways you want to recognize Kwanzaa religiously and…do it. Maybe even share
those ideas with your community. Remember, it’s an inherently secular holiday,
so as long as you aren’t going against the central themes, you can do whatever
you want.

Q: Kwanzaa is a fake holiday!

A: You’re right. I’m a fraud. I’ve been scamming people even though
literally no one person can benefit from Kwanzaa. I’m sorry. From now on, I
promise not to recognize any day that a group of people decided was important
to them. I shall only recognize holidays that naturally have significance for
the entire human species and does not at all vary by culture. So basically, I’ll
recognize no holiday, because they’re all just as ‘made up’ as Kwanzaa. Can we
chill with the ‘made up’ holiday argument? The only made up holidays are
holidays that Twitter makes up, but even then, they’re still legitimatized by
the people that recognize them.

Q: I personally don’t celebrate
Kwanzaa after finding out about Maulana Karenga’s crimes. Is that alright?

A: Of course it is. Yes, it’s a bit unfortunate that you won’t recognize
it because of that, I recognize that the violent, misogynistic nature of his
crimes might make be an emotional trigger to many. I also recognize that
triggers are difficult to predict and control, and sometimes arise in seemingly
arbitrary ways. If Kwanzaa reminds you too much of his crimes, and those
memories inflict intense psychological pain, then go ahead. No one can or
should force you to celebrate it.

Q: No one should celebrate
Kwanzaa, because of Maulana Karenga’s crimes.

A: Please don’t advocate for a forceful social ‘ban’ on the holiday. If
this is your personal reason for not celebrating, then that is fine. However,
that alone does not invalidate it for our entire community for the following reasons:

1.      
Dr. Maulana Karenga does not inherently benefit
from Black people celebrating Kwanzaa. Many people launch this critique while
implying (and often openly stating) that the holiday is the ‘celebration of
Karenga’. That simply is not true. If you don’t use the official Kwanzaa
website, buy his books and products, or invite him to speak, then he benefits
nothing from Kwanzaa. From my own experience, it’s entirely possible to
celebrate Kwanzaa and not even know his name (I didn’t, until recently).

2.      
The core principles of Kwanzaa do not in any way
reinforce rape culture or any other social system that inherently justifies his
actions, or crimes similar to them. Kwanzaa is about the reverence of family,
community, and ancestry. That is all.

3.      
Many atrocities have been committed by religious
institutions, societal institutions, cultures, etc. that created other
holidays, and many holidays have had crimes committed in their names (which,
btw, Karenga’s wasn’t). All holidays have a negative history if you know where
to look. However, many holidays do not in any way celebrate that history, and Kwanzaa is one such holiday. Another
such holiday is Christmas, which is about the birth of Jesus, and not at all
about the numerous atrocities committed by Christians in his name (like chattel
slavery and the colonization of Africa).

4.      
It’s entirely possible to spread awareness about
Karenga without admonishing the holiday or those that celebrate it.

Q: I’m living in Africa and I don’t
celebrate Kwanzaa. In fact, no person actually living in Africa that I know
celebrates it.

A: That’s because, even though it’s often referred to as a Pan-African
holiday, it’s really more of a Diaspora holiday. In many ways, Kwanzaa can be
very American centric, but those notions are easily changed in order to be
inclusive of all Black people. However, what is irremovable are the
Diaspora-centric themes and notions. The holiday’s appeal is primarily that it’s
a holiday through which Black people can feel represented as a race and
culture. If you’re living in Africa and practicing your culture, there are likely
many festivals and holidays that are wholly African (thus Black), so the need
for a holiday such as Kwanzaa isn’t as great. However, in the Diaspora, there’s
a greater need to be represented. That said, even though the holiday is
Diaspora centric, there’s no rule that African’s can’t celebrate it, and they’re
entirely encouraged to do so. Remember, the central themes are community,
culture, family and the global struggle of Black people. So long as all are
important to you, you can celebrate Kwanzaa.

Q: Why do people call it an ‘African
holiday’ if it didn’t originate in Africa?

A: Misinformation. When people that have a full understanding of the
holiday refer to it as an ‘African holiday’, they are referring to the fact
that it is a holiday for people of African descent. There is no implication of
it being a holiday from Africa, just
that it’s a holiday for African peoples, which here includes African peoples in
Diaspora. When people refer to it as an ‘African holiday’ implying that the
holiday is an established, ancient holiday in Africa…that’s pretty much a
tell-tale sign that they’ve never celebrated it, or maybe did so once a long
time ago but didn’t take the time to actually learn about it (so likely a
communal event that they reluctantly went to). Likely, many people hear others
refer to it as an African holiday and make their own assumptions. However, the
holiday has never officially been marketed as a longstanding holiday from
Africa. At most, people will draw connection between it and pre-existing
cultural trends from around the African continent and Diaspora.

Q: Okay, so here’s what I don’t
get. Kwanzaa was created by an African American for African peoples in
Diaspora, specifically those displaced by slavery. The slave trade brought
people over from WEST Africa so why does it use Swahili as it’s official
language?

A: The same reason it uses the RBG flag and not the African-American
flag; the Pan-African movement. Around the time that Kwanzaa was invented, the
push to learn and use Swahili for business was becoming more and more prevalent
in Pan-African discussions. This was due to it being viewed as a more ‘African’
language than European language (one common critique is that it’s heavily
derivative of Arabic and uses loan words from European languages). One major
event that further legitimized Swahili was Tanzania’s adoption of the language
as it’s official language. To this day, it’s one of the wider spoken
non-European languages of Africa. Karenga was a Pan-Africanist, and an ardent
supporter of the adoption of Swahili as a global language to unite all Black
people. It’s still debated even among Pan-Africanists and Afro-centrists, but it
appears that Swahili will stay, unless a newer language that’s just as
accessible and widely used is presented. If you’re upset about that, there
really isn’t anything wrong with using another African language you know or are
interested in learning for your Kwanzaa celebration. I recommend trying to use
simple phrases for the names of the themes and symbols, though. Who knows,
maybe the language you pick will become so widespread that it becomes the new “Kwanzaa
language”.

 

Q: Can white people celebrate
Kwanzaa?

A: …ya’ll just trying to get me killed with these questions, aren’t
you? *sigh*…

Short answer: No. It’s not for them. It was created, as I’m fond of saying “For
the Negro, by the Negro, of the Negro”

Long Answer: Tricky.

When I was still on the board of the Black Student Association of my
college, Kwanzaa was a one-day activity before Thanksgiving break. Because we
were primarily an educational
organization, all our events had to be open to people of all races. Which I was
cool with, because people should want to and be able to learn about our
cultures, within reason. Additionally, nothing about our Kwanzaa celebration
was traditional, so I didn’t think it really mattered that a few white kids
would show up to the feast. When I became president, however, I wanted to focus
more on addressing the Black students, which I felt there wasn’t as great a
push for as there should have been. So I extended Kwanzaa to a weeklong
activity, and designated one of those days as an all-Black meeting, in response
to talk I’d heard of Black students wanting to be able to congregate with other
Black students and only Black students. I made the activity a panel that we
could use to talk about our experiences, and issues we faced as Black people,
both in community and out of the community. Recognizing how such a conversation
would be…difficult, I decided that this day would be our Black-only event. It
was a hard sell, but we were eventually permitted to have it.

I bring up this story because I know that a lot of people would have
experienced Kwanzaa events with a large amount of white people present. What they
almost never address, though, is what goes on behind the scenes of these
events, or the context they’re created under. Kwanzaa events in which white people
are not only allowed, but expected to come tend to lean more towards educational
activity. But not educational for us, educational for them. When we want to
learn about and speak on cultural trends, activities, experiences, and issues
that are more…esoteric, those Kwanzaa events tend to be more closed. Some are
explicitly closed, while others are implicitly closed. Few cultures are 100%
accessible to outsiders, and Black culture is no different. Not everything can
be or should be understood by those whom are not part of our communities.

Additionally, people often forget the danger of open spaces. This is not pure
paranoia, there is a certain amount of danger that arises when opening a space
to outsiders. As president, I recognized that. It was my responsibility to
account for the physical and emotional safety of my members, so I was
hypervigilant for any racist activity that might occur during meeting space and
activity. In the real world, our gatherings are bombed, and shot up. Our
activists are followed by corrupt police officers attempting to frame them as
dangerous. We have to account for older individuals (and, unfortunately, not so
old individuals) whom experienced graphically traumatic, violent racism. By
keeping Kwanzaa events, and other Black gatherings closed, we can better
account for safety.

Many people argue that the themes of Kwanzaa are universal and thus
everyone should celebrate it. But the themes of Kwanzaa only become universal
when all Blackness is removed from the holiday. Yes, all communities should be
united, self-determined, share responsibility, share economics, have purpose,
and faith; but Kwanzaa is about how the BLACK community needs these things and
how the BLACK community can achieve them. It is a Black holiday. There is no
way to make it accessible to all people without first removing all of its Black
themes. Once those themes are removed, it’s not Kwanzaa, it’s something else
entirely. To argue otherwise is to hold a complete misunderstanding of the day’s
significance, and a great insult to the Pan-Africanist movement and communities
that created it.

Does that mean that everyone will freak out if a white person appears
at a Kwanzaa event? Not necessarily. Myself, and most people I know who also
think Kwanzaa should be closed are completely open to white and otherwise
non-Black family members attending with people who cannot attend alone. Every
so often, I see an article or a post about a white single parent, or white
adoptees (adopters? Idk, the parents of an adopted kid) that want their Black
child(ren) to have access to their culture, and wonder if it’s appropriate to
attend a Kwanzaa festival with them. Well…yeah, of course. They’re a kid, and
presumably the family doesn’t have any close black friends/family that can take
the kid, so yeah, go with your kid. If anyone asks, just explain why you’re
there and most people would be happy that you did such, because we all just
want our people to have access to our cultures. Like, family usually gets a
pass at Kwanzaa events.

And finally, I ask why the question is always, “can white people celebrate
kwanzaa” but never, “can Asian people celebrate kwanzaa”. Or Native Indigenous
people. Or Latinx people. Or Jewish people. When formed as a statement, it’s
always “White people can celebrate kwanzaa, all people can celebrate kwanzaa.” Whenever
discussion about non-Black people celebrating kwanzaa is brought up, it’s
always through a white lens. Is this because as a people, we still expect to be
and are expected to be analyzed and valued in terms of our usefulness and
accessibility to the white social class? Is it because, fundamentally, everyone
not only expects the answer to be ‘no’, but also completely understands WHY the
answer is ‘no’ but is simply seeking validation? Both? Just take some time and
ask yourself why it’s so important that white people (non-Black people in
general, but specifically white people) celebrate Kwanzaa. Why would they want
to, knowing its history and the reason it was created?

Q: Do you really think it’s fair
to have a holiday that not everyone can celebrate? How can you expect our
situation to improve, or the culture to spread if we aren’t open to everyone
and inclusive?
A: Well, fundamentally, lots of holidays are closed off to outsiders,
either implicitly or explicitly. I’m not Jewish, so I don’t celebrate Yom
Kippur or Rash Hashana (I hope I didn’t misspell those). I’m not Muslim, so I
don’t celebrate Eid or Ramadan. Just because it’s not a spiritual holiday does
not mean there’s any less of a reason for it to be closed. And even if it weren’t
closed (which technically it isn’t formally closed), I again ask, why would
someone that is not part of our culture want to celebrate it? I am not South
Asian, so I do not celebrate Diwali. I am not Mexican, so I do not celebrate
Dia de Los Muertos (my keypad doesn’t have the proper characters, sorry to my
Mexican friends). If a friend invited me to one of those activities and I in no
way felt that I was intruding on a closed event, then I would go.

Secondly…we expect that our situations to improve and our cultures to spread
based on our own efforts, not someone else’s. Yeah, it’ll be difficult, but we
can do it. That’s kinda the whole point of Kwanzaa….

Also, my personal belief is that both closed and open activity is beneficial
for a social movement. Kwanzaa is but one of many closed activities. Black
History Month is but one of many open activities.

Q: Is Kwanzaa political?

A: …tricky.

Kwanzaa is political in that EVERYTHING related to Black people is
politicized. Technically, Kwanzaa
shouldn’t be political, but it is. But that’s not our fault. Affirming
ourselves and our culture and our experiences should not be politicized.
Admitting that there are problems that we as a people face both in community
and out of the community should not be politicized. Working together to fix the
problems we face should not be politicized. Being BLACK should not be
politicized. But it is, so Kwanzaa is.

Look at it this way, Kwanzaa is about as political as “Black Lives
Matter” or “Black Excellence”.

Q: Isn’t Kwanzaa just a holiday
for crazy, radical, Black Supremacists?

A: I think you already have your mind made up on that, judging from how
you phrased that question.

Q: Is it wrong to use Kwanzaa for
economic gain?

A: Yes and no. Yes it is wrong to abuse
Kwanzaa for your own gain as an individual.
Is it wrong, however, to use Kwanzaa as an opportunity to promote your
business, which you hope to use to aid our people? No, not at all.

That’s a bit tricky but here’s an example: Say you make, idk, a Christmas
themed jacket with a Black Santa on it. Christmas just ended, but you need an
excuse to keep selling it, so you market it as a “Kwanzaa” jacket, or you
market it as both from jump to appeal to both markets. The money you’re using
goes to yourself, for whatever reason, and you have no intention of using it to
build wealth that you’ll then redistribute to the community. This is wrong. You
should be ashamed of yourself.

Now say that you’re a designer that creates a Kwanzaa themed jacket that you
then advertise and promote to sell. While the money you get from these sales
does directly benefit you, you have every intention of using the wealth and
resources you build from this business to aid the Black community. This isn’t
an afterthought, though, it’s an integral part of your career plan to one day
use what you’ve gained from these sales to aid the Black community. This is not
only okay, but a great example of the Ujima principle.

It goes without saying that only Black people should seek to profit off
of Kwanzaa, regardless of whether or not they want to use that profit to help
the Black community. Additionally, even Black business owners are encouraged
and expected to support Black businesses while conducting their business (so if
you’re making a jacket, try and get your cloth from a black-owned company, or
use a black-owned bank, etc).

Q: This all sounds like
something I’d be interested in. But it’s two days before…can I do it next year?

A: Of course. I actually am unable to celebrate Kwanzaa this year
because of my living situation. However, I’m trying to do small things to still
recognize the holiday (like making this post). I hope that next year things
will be better so I can start going to the communal events, or even have my
first real in-home Kwanzaa. If you can’t do it this year, that’s fine.

And that’s all the questions I can think of right now. Sorry that this post was
so long but, as you can see, there’s a lot to unpack here. If anyone has any
questions, feel free to ask and I’ll try and answer them.

I really hope that this post makes more Black people open to
celebrating Kwanzaa either this or next year. To be honest, it makes me very
sad (and a little frustrated) that so many of our people don’t celebrate it.
Because once you really begin to learn about the holiday and it’s meaning, you
realize just how amazing it is. I’d really like to see a future where Kwanzaa
is bigger than the proverbial cookout, but I’ll need all your help to make that
a reality. So let’s all pull together on this, family. Or, as we say during
Kwanzaa, HARAMBEE!