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Liz C @Gogglor_Smash
, 18 tweets, 4 min read Read on Twitter
Ok! Getting a lot of feedback here, none of it diving into race theory as it pertains to fantasy settings or fictive creation, so that’s what I’m gonna do now!

Buckle up, folks, it’s time for a thread.
First, I am NOT the first person who’s pointed out problems with fantasy racism. Some reading from literally the first page of Google on “fantasy racism”:………
Second, to clarify: I never said “pretending to be racist automatically means you are racist” (surprised how many people thought that’s what I said).

I *did* say if you’re choosing to pretend to be racist, you should ask yourself why. Because it might be for racist reasons.
Part of being a good person is continuously interrogating your choices and preferences for bigotry, since bigotry of all kinds, including racism, has infected every person and culture on earth, and it’s our responsibility to root it out of ourselves and our societies.
It is particularly important to self-examine when it comes to engaging in media that portrays harm to other people.

Do you like horror movies because the violence in them helps you process your own fear of death and dismemberment, or because you like watching women get hurt?
Now, here’s the thing about the example above – either one could be true! You won’t know until you think hard about it! And there definitely, definitely are people out there who like horror for that reason. Are you one of them? It’s your responsibility to ask that of yourself.
(To be clear I don't think liking horror because of enjoying seeing women hurt is particularly common among horror fans, and many people have written about how horror helps them process trauma, sometimes even sexist trauma. That's rad! I was just giving an example)
Now, maybe you’re pretending to be a racist person because it helps you process racism done to you. Maybe you’re trying to interrogate your own racism.

Or maybe it’s because fantasy racism is fun for you. Is it? I don’t know you. But it is your responsibility to think about it.
What I DO know is I’ve played D&D with people who engaged in D&D racism because they thought of it as a fun character flaw to have, like being too ambitious, or too talkative. They didn’t want a redemption arc either, just a fun new way to be mean.

And that is outright dangerous
And now we need to start talking about biases ingrained in popular fantasy, because seeing racism as nothing more than a flaw in character is a very white perspective of racism that is reinforced by most fantasy worldbuilding with fantasy racism.
Real world racism is not just personal animus. It is a system of violence and oppression encoded into schools, prisons, governments, entertainment, advertisement, city planning, health care, the work place, our system of commerce...

It is literally everywhere and in all of us.
But D&D almost never portrays racism for the complicated thing it is. High elves hate wood elves because they think wood elves are inferior. Or maybe because of an ancient grudge, not because of a violent history of dehumanization to justify colonization and slavery.
D&D has racism that is easy to distance ourselves from, because real world racism is seldom laid out in such simplistic ways
It does this in a few ways: first, “We’re not talking about *black* people, we’re talking about drow! A dark-skinned race who are dirty and uneducated and intrinsically evil. Sure, maybe there are ‘good ones,’ but what’s important is they as a whole are BAD and we are GOOD.”
Drow are the extreme example, but there is no such thing as a 100% fictional race. People write fiction to process how we think about other people and ourselves, and often people of other races.

Yes, especially Tolkein.
To quote from an article above, “[Gondor] gave the Dunlendings' land to the Rohirrim ... and that is constructed as having been right and unproblematic.” Tolkein was a man of his time who didn’t think of European colonization as the racist violence it was.
Add on top of that you don’t *have* to have racism in your fantasy setting. There are dragons and goblins but elves and dwarves who get on fine is a bridge too far? You absolutely can build a world with racism, but what narrative purpose is it serving?
I'll end with this: Race is complicated. There’s a reason people get PhD’s studying it. Engaging with race in fiction should also be complicated. So even if you don’t find my arguments here convincing, maybe just try to think a little more about it.

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