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If your allyship only extends as far as your comfort, you are not an ally.

John Brown was an abolitionist who died in 1859. He was hanged after a failed attempt to attack a federal arsenal to provide arms to a future slave rebellion. He was a flawed human being but he lived by his principles and died by them. And in 2018, that's the kind of energy allies really need to have. I'm not saying you need to attack the government (but that's absolutely an option that is open to you, put a pin in it), but I am saying that you need to sacrifice your own privilege in order to fully combat oppression and make a real change in the world. And if you're not willing to do that, fuck you then. You read that right. In 2018, in a world where rapists are being voted to the Supreme Court and there are literal Nazis in the street, we just don't have time for platitudes. We just don't have space for people who are merely paying lip service to a cause without fully investing themselves in the cause.   This message is specifically going out to white people and men. In 2018, you need to do way better than you are. You need to engage. You know it's bad out there, you know that people who have far less privilege are taking the brunt of the abuse while still fighting against oppression every day. As a real ally, you should be engaging those systems in conflict from the door. In Brown's time, he saw what the pro-slavery group was doing and imitated their tactics to further his side. He rejected his own privilege. He helped slaves escape, he formulated plans to create a stronger system of safety and escape and fought for full-scale end to slavery. We can find people like Brown throughout history, many have been turned into memes that we share because we love a good hero. People who rode bikes through war zones to deliver coded messages, women who seduced Nazis to shoot them in the head. Sometime in the last few years the title of ally has been co-opted. It has come to mean a person who is just not a flaming a bigot. But go into any ally group and you'll see, quite quickly, that there are lines to how far they'll go. They believe in equal rights but won't step to their dad when he makes a sexist joke. They're not racist but won't confront their neighbor on their “all lives matter” sign.

Fascism isn’t on the way. It’s already here.

[TW: This essay contains discussion of racist and anti-Semitic violences, including assault, arson, and murder] They have something to say to every politician who has fed his constituents with the stale bread of hatred and the spoiled meat of racism... They say to us that we must be concerned not merely about who murdered them, but about the system, the way of life, the philosophy which produced the murderers. –Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.   The bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church was a white terrorist attack that killed four Black girls in September of 1963. In his eulogy for two of the girls, Dr. King called the congregation and all who would listen to examine the very system of white supremacy, not just the terrorists that it produces. In examining the system, and its emissaries, we reject the scapegoating “lone wolf” claims because we recognize that the entire system is a ravenous beast with a multitude of arms. Three separate instances of white supremacist terrorist violence made headlines last week: a man declared “All Jews must die” before opening fire and killing 11 people in a Jewish Synagogue, a man killed two random Black shoppers at a Kroger––“Whites don't shoot whites,” he allegedly told a witness––after he first tried to enter a Black church and found the doors locked, and a rabid Trump supporter mailed at least 14 pipe bombs to prominent Democrats and vocal Trump critics, but his entire kill list included over 100 potential targets––political figures, entertainers, and journalists. These are not unrelated incidents because they are all acts carried out in service of the beast that is white supremacy, and in the U.S., Trump is its most emblematic ambassador. Trump has run a campaign and maintained a platform built entirely on the strength of what I termed as apocalyptic whiteness in an essay on the racial implications of “The Girl With All The Gifts”. I call this panic apocalyptic whiteness––a compulsory obsession with the white genocide mythos that is rooted in racism, xenophobia, and nationalism, often with violent retaliation against the idea of ‘diversity'." Apocalyptic whiteness actively seeks to hinder, not only the prosperity, but survival of non-white people for fear of their own extinction; from ethnic cleansing and forced sterilization, to enslavement and concentration camps, to immigration bans and deportation. Borders are a tool of apocalyptic whiteness. As are prisons and immigrant detention centers. As are gerrymandered school districts. As are the suburbs. As is gentrification.” As are voter suppression tactics. As are acts of white terrorism. As is the rhetoric that provokes this terrorism. White American conservatives and those who theorize about them may call it economic anxiety, or patriotism, but it is undoubtedly a fear of losing power and status, and their reaction to that visceral fear is apocalyptic whiteness, an effort to stall or completely derail what they see as the end of the world and the end of whiteness as they know it.

Commitment to diversity and to examining what it looks like to have more Black people at cons isn’t just a numbers game.

This weekend, GeekGirlCon will convene in Seattle. Two days of women coming together to celebrate and revel in their geeky passions in STEM, gaming, comics, literature, film, arts, cosplay, and more. Many conventions like this exist, but this is one of the few that centers women. In spaces like these, racism can and often does rear its ugly head, making them into hostile spaces for people of color, especially Black participants. Leslie Mac, a self-described “activist, organizer, and dope Black woman,” and TaLynn Kel, a cosplayer of over thirteen years, plan to address this with their new workshop, “Allyship in Fandom”, calling for white people who consider themselves or aim to be “allies” to examine how they contribute to these harms, how to identify when they take place, and use their voice to stand up against them. I had the opportunity to have a conversation with these two talented women and get a sneak preview of what the workshop will entail and some insight on how it came to be. What is your relationship to geekiness and fandom communities? Leslie: I’ve been on the geeky, nerdy, Blerdy side of things my entire life. I spend a lot of time talking about movies, television shows, pop culture, generally speaking. I’m a huge Trekker, I love superhero movies, and I love comic books. I’m just a participant of fandom culture. TaLynn: I’ve been doing geek stuff for over a decade. I never really considered myself to be a geek, I just really liked dressing up and comic book stuff always had costumes! But it’s a great entry point to figuring out who you like and why you like them. Being in it for so long, you get used to some things, but you change with the fandom and then you also change on an individual level. So, the way that I interact with it has changed from just being a participant to being a content creator to also examining it and scoping in and out of the culture. Could you give me a snapshot of your workshop and what it will cover? T: It will be a Black-centered space in the middle of a geek event, which is usually a white-centered space, and it’s an opportunity for white people to interact in the space and not be the focus of it, not be the priority, not even have a voice in it. A lot of times what happen is—and this is a safety thing for Black people—we aren’t completely honest about what racism is like, about how it is to experience it, what it is to be immersed in it. We don’t tell them the truth because we know it’s dangerous for us. This is a chance for us to create a safe space for Black people to attend, to talk about the real shit that happens and not be penalized for it in the way they might be socially. So, it’s two-fold—it’s going to have a white audience and non-Black people of color who want to be more engaged, but we’re going to be showing them how to be more engaged without being the focus of that engagement. L: There’s this really strange thing in fandom spaces, because so much of it is positioned as ‘counter culture’, and so— T: But it’s not! L: No, it’s not, but I’m just talking about this idea, right? The idea behind being a nerd, a geek, all of those kinds of things, and so what you’ll find is that white people often retreat to fandom spaces because they feel safe there. So, part of what the goal of the workshop is would be to show them how this ‘safe space’ created for themselves is incredibly harmful to non-white people, and what they means, and what the responsibility of showing up differently in those spaces should look like.

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