Emotional Labor, OT edition for POC, LGBTIQIA & others — Fandom edition
Ok, so because of conversations I keep seeing over, and over, and over especially in my fandom of choice (Dragon Age in this instance), let me tell you a thing about emotional labor and the OT marginalized folks are expected to put in.
The conversation lately has been about playing with Brown Paper Dolls (tm) as my friend cassandrashipsit on tumblr has said. IE non-POC players getting their aesthetic on by playing POC characters, or OC’s [Original Characters]. The thrust of a lot of POC fans displeasure with this practice and the discourse around it is you, non-POC person gets to play with brown skin when you please, how you please, on your terms with none of the risk. You turn off the game and go about your way. POC fans don’t get that luxury. We still could get killed for going outside, minding our business, going to work, what have you.
No, I’m not being hyperbolic either. Google Black Lives Matter, Say Her Name for more. I’m not Google. So, this discourse is going on and without fail there’s the call for people to hand hold, to guide people to the light of knowing how they fucked up and shuttle them to understanding. That’s emotional labor y’all. That is asking us to do the heavy lifting so you can eventually get to “getting it” without the homework.
It also comes back to WHY Y’ALL SO MEAN? Why can’t you just be nicer about it? I just want to learn, why can’t you EDUCATE ME?! Cause it’s not our fucking responsibility to educate you on your failure to understand concepts. Go back to college, oh wait but if you did that you’d have to pay someone to educate you, which many do to the tune of eternal student debt. Let a POC say no, not for free or just no? See how fast that desire to learn flips to fuck y’all, that’s why no one likes you, you’re so angry all the time?
To clarify, also to cut down on the OMG white guilt replies this might get. If you are making POC OC’s and it’s not about the pretty brown skin, playing with digital blackface for you? GREAT, this post and other discourse happening online wasn’t aimed at you, don’t make it about your or white knighting for your friend. If someone sees this, other discourse happening online and feels angry? Step back and wonder why you feel attacked, why you might feel like this is aimed at you. Walk away for a bit, come back to this, and if you’re still angry, repeat until you get it.
So here’s a few pro-tips for the people who expect us to educate you, often for free and with time we don’t have.
- Use Google, it’s free. google.com
- Listen to POC telling you that your Brown Paper Doll OC is harming them. Especially when you admit to making them for more notes, for aesthetic reasons or because you just looooooove pretty brown skin.
- Don’t immediately go into OMG I AM SO SORRY, self-flagellation mode about your OC’s. Offering to delete them means nothing actually, at least for me. I don’t care about your characters being deleted, or your tearful posts. Damage has been done.
- Don’t roll into POC’s in-boxes or reblogs with HOW DARE YOU I am special snowflake #165464131313 that would never harm my POC friends like that, and I had a brown friend and they’ll tell you I’m not racist! Yeah, save it.
- Don’t run and jump on the omg those meen brown people are bullying me train either. Someone saying your OC is offensive or harmful when it’s clear you’re making characters for brownie points isn’t bullying. It’s telling you about yourself, it sucks, it’s not fun to be told but hopefully you’ll listen and learn.
- If someone is nice enough to explain it to you and you don’t listen? Don’t be surprised when they get fed entirely the fuck up with you and bounce, block you, ignore your or call you out if you won’t stop whining.
So all this was aimed at the DA fandom, but it can apply to other fandoms too. POC and other marginalized fans aren’t your get out of doing the work free card.