In a conversation a few weeks ago I posted some idea’s I had on 5th Edition D&D and it’s representation of minorities to a gaming page on Facebook. During the conversation one of the posters commented that having an organization (or group) with race in the name only contributed to the problem. I immediately dismissed the man as racist because who hasn't heard that line before? In my day to day life the only people who typically complained about race being in the name of an organization where the ones who refused to admit that there were still problems of race in this country. Such is the state of the post racial world we live in.
Then my friend Mike asked me a similar question. He felt that I couldn't be as inclusive as I wanted to be if I placed blackness first and foremost in my mind. My friend Mike is French and lives in Asia so coming from him I can understand why he didn't understand why I felt the remark was racist.
But this isn’t a post about why the comment was racist. It’s a post to explain why race figures prominently in my mind. I think when you’re a minority and you’re used to being in the out group you inherently understand how favoring your group doesn’t mean you want to exclude others. I think when you’re in the majority you tend not to find the need to be around people like you so you can draw upon a collective strength of the group as a whole when dealing with adversity.
For many minority groups, race may be a part of the name but it is far from the total objective. When I was doing my undergrad degree I was part of an Asian Students Association. They took great pride in their Asian heritage, but they were a group that was open to all. My brother used to be a member of a Mexican American student society when he was in school. They took great pride in their Mexican heritage but they were also a group open to teaching anyone about Mexican heritage and allowed anyone to join.
And this is a very common thing to see in many minority organizations. Not everyone in the NAACP is black. Furthermore the NAACP doesn’t just fight for black rights. Sure that is their primary focus but they stand in support of the rights for other minorities. NOW (National Organization for Women) primary membership is women but they don’t discriminate against men either. The organization itself has had male membership as well. Or take a look at most LGBT organizations. Their sexuality will figure into the name but these groups are not just for LGBT people, straight allies are always welcome in such groups.
So the use of your minority status is a fairly common thing. It doesn’t denote an attempt to create more problems but to acknowledge how they are different. It also helps to recruit like minded individuals. By having black in the name of my group I make it easy for other black gamers to find and identify with the group.
But also just as importantly, when I write I write from my own perspective. I can not claim to know or understand the difficulties in being an Asian gamer or a female gamer. But I can tell you what it’s like to be a black gamer. And my thoughts on gaming are in part informed by my experiences as a black man. And I think that my message will probably resonant strongly with other black gamers who can likely relate to similar experiences.
I’ll always support the efforts of other types of gamers. I may talk from the perspective of a black male, but I do 100% stand for a more inclusive gaming space for everyone regardless of skin color, gender or sexuality. But I think I do my best work when I’m writing from the places I know.
So until next time enjoy one of the best songs about names.