Today I ended up leaving a page I had previously enjoyed very much. It was a D&D meme sort of page, and I’d seen a lot of funny things there.
But today the moderators decided to post a photo of a dead man wearing a goblin mask with a caption: “Every day goblins are killed by adventurers. Stop the murder! #goblinlivesmatter.”
I posted the following comment: Not at all funny.
That was all I said. I felt like it conveyed most everything that needed saying, a sort of quiet, “Not cool, bro” that might make people think a little bit.
I have been roasted and flamed for this. People have posted a ton of increasingly snarky memes in response, all to let me know things like: I’m too politically correct (try basic respect here) and: It’s “just a joke.” (The cry of bullies everywhere). I also got some “likes” from people who immediately got it.
Enough is enough. It is not just a joke. If you can’t understand that there’s still a vast swath of systemic racism in this country, I feel like you’re not paying attention. #blacklivesmatter is not saying that white lives don’t matter. It’s bringing attention to a problem…the vast disparity between how some races are treated by the justice system and the media vs. how other races are treated.
Look, MOST cops do a great job and are wonderful people. SOME are criminals who dishonor their uniforms. Those criminals should be held accountable.
With those things said:
It’s appalling to me that anyone would compare black people to goblins and think that’s high good humor. It’s appalling to me that people would believe their need to make a cheap joke at someone else’s expense is more important than people who have actually died, been injured, or been irrevocably changed for minor traffic infractions, for being too loud at a party, for just walking around. In at least one case, for being a baby in a crib. For being in your own home and being taken for a robber.
The issue is complex–very complex. I don’t even feel capable of diving into all the nuances. But I know people are hurting. And I know that hurt deserves a little bit more than a bunch of white gamers snickering over it in a public forum. At the very least, you’re making sure the group looks unwelcoming to any black gamer, and since it IS a public forum you can be sure plenty of black gamers saw it, and were probably made to feel just a little worse as a result.
Gamers are my tribe. My folks. My people. The gamers, the dreamers, the fiction lovers, the nerds with the Magic Cards, the folks who can quote every line of dialogue from Mass Effect, the people who secretly want to dress up in tights and fly around saving the world.
One thing that CAN make geeks such a great “tribe” to be a part of us we live in fictional worlds. This means we routinely encounter situations where we make contact with an “Other” and we see how that Other lives and feels without being threatened by it.
This SHOULD teach us basic empathy and an ability to extend that empathy out to people who are different from us in the real world. It should teach us a sense of wonder when encountering other people’s stories, a sense of compassion, a sense of caring.
I am disappointed that so many of our tribe would rather turn it into an exclusive club: for white people only, for men only, whatever. We can accept a mixed party with an elf, a dwarf, a Drow, a half-demon and a minotaur, but heaven forbid we accept the people right here on our own planet who look, act, and think differently from us. And for god’s sake, heaven forbid we put ourselves in their shoes for half a fucking minute and think before we post, right?
There are so many funny things we can post and say and bond over that don’t require us to go trampling all over other people’s painful experiences. There are so many jokes we can tell that don’t require us to hurt or denigrate other people. The page in question excelled in posting those before today.