Whatever technologies, models, and organizational structures we develop, to orient ourselves toward social and economic justice, we must also make space for the unwilling and the unable to be independent, self-determined, and safe. This means insulating them against the violent death throes of our system of capitalism, white supremacy, and imperialism, as we replace it with something better. Many things better. Institutions and new relationships at the local, regional, national, and global levels that cultivate enough trust and build enough capacity for everyone to participate equitably.
The moment demands a mass mobilization of people and collective will. Which means bridging gaps: in knowledge, resources, understanding, and empathy. In our conversations, and in our work around sustainability, we have to integrate those things which support and affirm our rights to healthy, dignified lives, so we even have the capacity to take on something so grandiose as “saving the planet”.
Those who benefit from the status quo (and those who aspire to) — by virtue of social, economic, or political power and privilege — would really quite like it, if the rest of you wouldn’t much mind, if we could just keep things “civil”. A premium is placed on preserving the appearance, not just of civility, but of the fundamental “goodness” of those in power.
That whole time, there were other voices, on the margins of academia and the political sphere – pushed there by the relentless power of the status quo and those who uphold it – who were already making the case Nick and Diane only just came to understand. There were teachers who understood it, even if they didn’t have the vocabulary or the platform to make the case, or of they did, were quickly buried by the neoliberal demands of the system and punished for noncompliance.
So I find myself thinking about all the “Never Books”, the books I will never write, not because of stagnation, but because for any given project I have to draw the line somewhere and finish it. There are infinite variations of any book I might write, given enough time to ruminate and to appropriate any and everything that captures my attention, stirs my devotion, or inspires my revolt. Truly, what would UTMC become if I gave it another twenty years?
This whole Virginia drama is revealing something important about the current Democratic establishment, something which has implications for both past and future, including the election of Donald Trump. That something is that Democrats are symbolic politicians, concerned more with the image of doing the right thing, than actually doing it. Where they effect policies that actually make a positive difference in people’s lives, it is usually reactive, a case of them “holding the line” against the worst abuses of the Republicans.
There has undoubtedly been one person, or ten, or even one thousand black people who have gone through their lives with little to no observable experience with racism, don’t consciously feel its impact, and for that manage to gain some degree of success or wealth or high quality of life. Their experiences do not invalidate the very real existence of systems that make such outcomes more unlikely for the rest of us. Systems that privilege white people at the expense of people of color.
I thought about the implications of this AI Overseer guiding thoughts, emotions, opinions, consumer habits, politics, public policy, among many other things, including the very modes of human interaction and our reasons for doing anything at all. It sounded like a “benevolent” dictator, but one with far more insight into and power over people on an individual and collective level than any human or their administration could ever manage.
It sounded like a god.
The recent accusations against Quantic Dream founder David Cage do not exist in a vacuum, nor without precedent. He wants to be judged by his work, and indeed if one looks critically at his games, a theme emerges. People of color are reduced to caricatures, invoke harmful stereotypes, and should remain at the margins, if they appear at all. Even if that means literally erasing them from settings where they predominate. This is not the cross-burning of the past or the anger-marching racism so en vogue these days, but the more deeply entrenched racism underlying all of our media institutions.
Diverse representations of black people in media has nothing to do with “political correctness”. It has little to do with fairness, either. This is not a zero-sum game by which black gain equals white loss. What it concerns, most significantly, is the acceptance of this proposal that Black Lives Matter. That Black People Matter. Black representations are a matter of survival. Of casting us as fully-realized human beings with thoughts, feelings, dreams, aspirations, complexity, agency — against a backdrop that explicitly shows and tells us (everyone) that the opposite is true.
Fear Effect is coming back. Have you heard? After the heartbreak of Inferno’s cancellation, and a 15 year wait with no new game in sight, French indie studio Sushee Games is creating Fear Effect: Sedna. Concerned about representations of Inuit peoples in the game, I decided to contact Sushee Games about how they would handle the use of Inuit aesthetic, cultural stories and history.
Sometimes it’s tucked away, hidden just beneath the tongue, or in the sly twist of the mouth…
Anti-blackness is so pervasive that I think media creators aren’t even aware of how they present it on a regular basis. That’s me giving them the benefit of the doubt, in spite of all the evidence that suggests it’s intentional.
A contemplation of the revolutionary potential of teaching black kids Mandarin. Beyond allowing black people to have more mobility within a new power structure, fluency in Mandarin would allow us to spread our own influence. Our revolutionary spirit writ large to resonate with people around the world…
When you hear the name Thomas Jefferson, it is likely followed by “founding father”, “hero”, “patriot”, and other such reverent terms. But he should also be considered one of the Founding Fathers of white supremacy. Nearly every white supremacist idea, claim, or rationale, can be found in Jefferson’s Notes on the State of Virginia…
What does any black person stand to gain from sitting in a dark movie theater—more than likely surrounded by white people—and being psychologically assaulted for two hours? Will we then turn to those white audience members and discuss how horrible it all was, how many tears they shed, and eventually breathe a collective sigh of relief that all that was in the past, and thank God that we’ve come so far?
An examination of how Butler challenges sexual norms, from the incest taboo in the Patternist series, to interspecies sex in the Lilith’s Brood trilogy, to pedophilia and rape in Fledgling, and arguably all three of these in her short story Bloodchild. These stories show us how norms, particularly sexual ones, are flexible between worlds, cultures, and especially individuals.
The obvious reason for more diversity and inclusion in comics is to allow marginalized people to better identify with the characters. For white fans, whether they are willing to accept it or not, the white default actually makes characters less interesting. A bold claim, I know, but bear with me. Superheroes, I think, are more interesting for being more human, for having trauma, hardship, and conflict. To the great extent that white folks – particularly cisgendered heterosexual men – have privilege and power, it further insulates them against the kinds of scenarios that give birth to heroes.
…are condemned to repeat it:
The following passage is from The Principle of the Mercantile System, written in 1776 by Adam Smith, who ironically, has become a sort of symbol of the same type of “free market” capitalists who Smith seems to be criticizing here. More striking than any of that, though, is how much this passage so precisely reflects our current situation.
I take issue with the very idea that it need be some sort of marketing or political strategy, some sort of acquiescence to irrational demands that someone represent or treat people of color with sensitivity and respect. Yet in the case of Tithe, I am left wondering if that was not exactly the point.
We take it for granted that our perception of reality is grounded in some objective truth. We do not even consider the possibility that there is no such thing, that instead “reality” is composed of a multitude of overlapping spheres of perception, the shared spaces together making up those aspects of reality that we agree upon – the collective consciousness, to give it another name…
It is one of the oldest clichés that the “forces of darkness” will set upon that which is good and “light”. In a medium where the heroes are most often white and characters of color – especially black characters – are reduced to plot devices, and in a society where power is designated along lines of “light” and “dark”, the old trope is necessarily racialized…
An analysis of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods — As the battle for “brain space” rages on, with each new scientific innovation, new interpretations of history, shifts in culture and society, we must reconcile these changes with the deep-seated desire in all of us to hold on to some part of our pasts…
I have argued in the past that video games are the ultimate form of expression, and what is art if not expression? Indeed video games are a convergence of art from just about every medium – audio, visual, literary – and their social impact is ever-increasing. Ebert makes his statement by observing video footage of a few games offered up as art, already prepared to deny the possibility. Aside from the sheer fallacy of denying art as a form of expression, there is also the matter of his evaluation not being made from the proper standpoint.
As technology improves, and as the content of games expands in terms of breadth and depth, opportunities only increase for representing diversity. In the future, it will not be enough for a character to have darker skin, thicker lips, or a different eye shape. We will have to see different cultures and experiences represented as well.
Those of us who are not white, but hope to identify with the characters we play in games the same as anyone, find the industry to be deficient. At best we have had to settle for ethnically ambiguous characters, often in non-Earth settings, which while fulfilling an aesthetic need still leave players wanting for a more substantial connection. When characters of non-European ethnicities are depicted in video games, it is true that they are often stereotypes.
Even in accepting the apologists’ arguments, that Islam was essentially a peaceful religion, and it was only through a myopic and agenda-driven misinterpretation of the holy texts that the “Islamist” perspective emerged, there was still a problem. It seemed to me that all around the world, where there were “insurgencies” or other forms of violent conflict, at least one side was Muslim. The separatists in Chechnya, the Abu Sayyaf in the Philippines, the Jemaah Islamiyah in Indonesia, the Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group in Spain, and last but not least, Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda – active in multiple places.
Gender inequality, even where it takes on a distinctly “Islamic” character, is not specific to Islam as a religion, or Muslim society. Rather, it is a consequence of patriarchy – a phenomenon that knows no religious or cultural boundaries. How patriarchy manifests in any given society, the ways that people – particularly women – respond to it, are simply different. We must be careful not to presume that these differences are qualitative.