Sunday, June 19, 2011

Racism in a virtual world

Well, since I am the poster-child for fuming posts this week, I might as well make good use of that for something that has offended me deeply and to the core.


A friend in a VW (not SL) and I have just had a conversation in that world. This person is a person of color; I wouldn't have known this except that I met them in RL. And to me, in RL, such things are minor artistic details as far as I am concerned; as relevant to me personally as hair or eye color, height or weight, age or sex or gender. A detail of a surface shape that is mere wrapping over a human soul.

Now I am not blind to the political repercussions of these things. Such things affect how people are treated, which affects their outlook and their beliefs; they are part of their political reality I will never be able to encompass.

Like the following, as told to me:

My friend had a partner inworld (The Builder) who she has generously given free land, workspace and tier to for months and months. She has supported his business. She has supported him at her own cost through her generous spirit. And they were personally involved.


The Builder was in contact with someone who is supposedly "a big name" in sim owners inworld. This Big Name had for weeks been expressing nasty racism to the Builder about his partner, my friend. He let that go on for weeks without telling my friend about it because he was courting the business opportunities that Big Name could give.

This Builder packed up his stuff from my friend's sims in the middle of the night and went with the business opportunity after informing my friend of all these previous conversations and IMs to him littered with these racist comments. He's stupid too, because now Big Name wants him to pay 50% of the tier fee monthly. Good. My concern is not with Mr Builder but Big Name.


Pixels have no color (or all colors)

Big Name was reportedly making racist statements for weeks, cultivating Builder for her own purpose; to snatch him away from my friend as a moneymaker. Big Name actually had one of the Big Cheeses of the World move her sims so they wouldn't be next to my friend's.

As if that matters in a virtual world. Physical locality. Does Big Name realize that they may still be on the same server? Probably not; this Name is such a low mind that a complex realization like that may be beyond her.

I cannot express my outrage, distaste, horror and fury at such an attitude or conduct from a pesron supposedly intelligent enough to use a computer to access virtual worlds better than I did in a notecard sent to Big Name inworld:


[BIG NAME],

I am a friend of [my friend]. What she has told me regarding your conduct, your words to her and your blatant racism is an affront to any person with intelligence. It is also insanity to believe that gender, sex, color or orientation mean anything in a world made of pixels.

I do not believe people like you belong in these new worlds. I don't care who you are, what pitiful power you think you wield in a virtual world or what you think of me; your opinion would be less than useless to me given your own narrowminded and provincial views.

I've never encountered you inworld and I thank God for that.

Don't bother to respond; you are blocked and muted as suitable to one of your low mentality and ugly personal views on race.

Miso Susanowa
Artist


I will never rent a shop on her sims or allow her to purchase a single piece of my own work no matter what incentives are offered. I will never buy a product from any merchant on those sims. Yes, it is unfair to the merchants who may have no idea of this type of behaviour and outlook. But I will in no way give or funnel a single penny to such a person nor take a single spacebuck from such a person. I do not care what such a person will say about me, my work or anything else. My reputation will not be built on tacit aggreement or approval of such bigotry and ugliness, no matter what it might cost me in sales, talk or anything else tangible. If I sell my soul for such material gain I am nothing.


What is more insane to me is that Big Name is in a world made of pixels. There are no colors here. There's no height, weight, age, skin color, racial background or any of the other surface shapes of life. All that is here is your mind and what you bring with you.

And narrowminded bigotry has no place here.

23 comments:

Apmel said...

Couldn´t agree more!!

Miso Susanowa said...

ty Apmel; it's just astonishing to me.

AlexHayden Junibalya said...

"I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”

Dr.Martin Luther King - August 28th 1963

Its rather disheartening that nearly fifty years later we still have so far to go...

Leanna Caerndow said...

This is outrageous. I'm fuming with you and your friend.
Big Name should be AR'd ASAP.

Leanna Caerndow said...

Thinking (yeah, I know). Does Big Name know there could be a coloured person behind a snow white pixel avatar?

Brinda said...

All I can say is that I'm of a generation in the USA that personally saw separate (and unequal) facilities. There aren't many of us left that actually saw legal goverment racism... the racism we see today is tacit, typically hidden as in the story you told.
I do wonder if the "Big Cheese" was told the real story for the requested sim move? It would leave a terrible taste to imagine that to be true.
The sad truth is that many of color in virtual worlds don't advertise that part of their lives.
My telehub at Benares has flags displayed around it from a lot of different countries. I do that as a way to assure my residents that all are accepted and welcomed.

You keep on being the poster-bunny for fuming posts.
I'm reminded of that statement...
"If not now, when?
And if not you, then who?"

Brinda said...

BTW, "genderism" (is there such a word?) is alive and well.

Mera Kranfel said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Miso Susanowa said...

Thx all, i know you are the kind of people I want to know (and I don't give a damn about accidents-of-nature).

The whole point for me of these worlds is that I am not distracted by these piddling details. I am an artist; to me, such variations of a genetic makeup are fascinating, interesting and indicative of the beauty of biology, adaptation and life.

But I don't even consider them in a VW or behind a blog post or anything else. There's nothing here but your mind and soul and electrons. That is what I engage with.

Miso Susanowa said...

@Mera: no, we cannot hide in closets Mera much as we'd like to. It is our right and privilege to speak out against such things as a vote for sanity.

Mera Kranfel said...

[Minor EDIT]

This gets me really depressed. I feel so sorry for this person, I lack of words. I loose faith in ppl when I hear things like this.

My first reaction when i heard this was I wanted go and hide myself in my closet and never come out again. I dont wanna risk meeting ppl like this =(

Good post Miso that you speak up in this matter and I will follow your example.

sororNishi said...

The only heartening thing to take from this is that these dinosaurs are dying out and will eventually be such a tiny minority that all intelligent life forms will turn their backs on them.

This sort of discrimination shows an extremely low level of intelligence and hopefully their contribution to the gene pool will eventually become near to zero.

Bradd Laval said...

This builder guy is a nasty fellow too. Your friend partnered him, gave him free land, supported his business with her finances and he leaves her for a racist!!!! The racist 'big name' is totally abhorent.

Residents of a virtual world cannot be labeled with stigmas of the RL world. Only in a virtual world can a 4 horned godd fall in love with a fae.

Money can never buy you genuine love or friends.

I went on a sabbatical and was gonna be away for atleast a month, but when it dawned on me that my partner Inworldz could be worried, I cut short my lil sabbatical and came back, told her how much she means to me and dedicated a vid to her.. We love each other based on the beauty within.

Mako said...

Where ever you go, people are people,good, bad and ugly. Hope $BigName wakes up and smells the reality roses soon...

Mako

Forceme Silverspar said...

I don't entirely agree with your... 'It is also insanity to believe that gender, sex, color or orientation mean anything in a world made of pixels.' and your... 'There are no colors here. There's no height, weight, age, skin color, racial background or any of the other surface shapes of life. All that is here is your mind and what you bring with you.'

You saying that all genders, sexes, colours, orientation react exactly the same to things inworld as each other? I don't believe they do and neither do the scientists.

For me it would be a bland and dull world if all cultures and ways were blended together into one great big lump and for me to treat each avatar and therefore the person behind it the same as the next. The rich blend of cultures, beliefs, civilizations and peoples I meet in SL is one of my real pleasures and certainly does have an orientation on me. Maybe the difference is, I value the differences rather than pretend they don't exist.

Wol said...

/me stands and applauds.

Miso Susanowa said...

@forceme:

"You saying that all genders, sexes, colours, orientation react exactly the same to things inworld as each other? "

Not at all, as I said in my second paragraph. I am arguing that we have the chance to go beyond cliched interpretations of physical attributes in a place where there are none.

Brinda said...

menstruate, lactate, impregnate... these are the differences in us. None of which apply in a virtual world.

catnapkitty said...

Your cast of characters there are not at all special nor sadly even uncommon. Its pretty routine to encounter degrees of this sort of thing both in RL and 'virtual worlds'.

Its a rare day when I don't encounter some aspect of racism.

Marie Ravencrow said...

Miso,

Racism, genderism, and other sorts of "isms" are alive and well in virutal worlds. People bring themselves in here, so if they held that prejudice before, they show it here.

I am sorry this happened to your friend. I've experienced "genderism" as well as "otherkin-ism" personally, and I've seen cross-gender characters discriminated against as well.

You're right; virtual worlds have no room for prejudice. It's been my experience that those with the most blatant prejudices are "using" our worlds simply to make real money and nothing more. They couldn't understand the limitless possibilities of VR living if it was to save their lives. All they're interested in is the Almighty Dollar (or Pound, or Euro, or whatever).

I'm glad there are others around, like you, who are likewise not afraid to speak the truth. Kudos to you.

Marie

Miso Susanowa said...

@Marie:

I agree. I do separate the people I meet online into two categories: those who understand the possibilities and freedoms this medium has... and the bulk who are here merely to graze on the Commons.

I don't hold it against the Grazers; this medium is for all to use. But those kind of people don't interest me very much.

Nepherses said...

Forceme~ Yes I agree, and of course Miso, you do not negate the political realities of living with racism, among other things if one is a person of color, gay, whatever. It is a HUGE statement, however, that most avatars are white, oh maybe blue, maybe goth, maybe drow, but in a culture like the USA where the dominant assumption (by the dominant white folks, not in number, mind you) is that white is the norm, I think we project the person behind the screen to BE white even if they are blue, grey, or whatever in the pixels. This is a very sad commentary. Being Amerikan, I wonder what residents from countries where the dominant culture is not white project?

Thanks for posting on this Miso! : )

Binary Quandry said...

AlexHayden Junibalya said...

"I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”

Dr.Martin Luther King - August 28th 1963

Id like to modify it a bit:

"I have a dream that one day this world, virtual or physical, will rise up and live out the true meaning of freedom: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men and women are created equal."