He’s back! After an eye-opening piece on the experiences of Black Pokémon Go! players, Javon Goard is now calling for fellow Black gamers and nerds (blerds) to share their experiences with racism in the gaming community. He hopes starting this dialogue will be a strong first step in addressing an issue the gaming community is notorious for avoiding.
The original publication of this article can be found at Javon’s blog here.
From the title, you are probably wondering why I am shouting. Specifically, why am I calling for those who identify in someway with the African Diaspora? Well, it is for a variety of reasons.
The first reason is that the state of Black America is still going through a rough time. I, as a 22-year-old black male, have never questioned my safety as a person of color more than in the past four or so years. Yes, unfortunately I am used to the rhetoric that blacks are less than whites, and we have been—and still are—systematically displaced and segregated in the sectors of public health, housing, education, and politics. I grew up hearing that and I never questioned it until I started college. I ask every so often when I leave for school: will I return to my room that night? I am uncomfortable seeing my people headlining the news almost every month, and knowing for a fact that it is not something positive.
Secondly, blacks are already a marginalized group. But those of us who try our best to enjoy life in a state of chaos end up even more ostracized at times because of our interests. I grew up watching Yu-Gi-Oh!, Digimon, Dragon Ball Z, Yu Yu Hakusho, Bleach, Naruto, One Piece, and many more anime series that were on Toonami. However, I have noticed over the years that some people are still surprised that black people are into anime and comic books. The majority of people assume that others from different backgrounds may have seen, heard, and watched anime. However, when it comes to black people, the assumption is that it’s only mainstream anime. Now honestly, I watched mainly mainstream anime, but I have several friends who are also nerds of color that talk about anime I have never heard! I have colleagues who read manga everyday that span a variety of different kinds of anime. I personally never heavily watched anime growing up and I still do not, but I am not representative of those who do.
There are bigoted people everywhere, and the gaming community is no different. Online chats are the gateway to disseminating hatred, racial slurs, and overall stupidity. I am pretty confident in saying blacks have been playing videogames as long as any other group of people. Still, online harassment based on someone’s skin color occurs. Here is one of many examples that other black gamers may identify with on some level. Personally, something of this magnitude has never happened to me, but hearing and being called certain racial slurs and micro-aggressions has happened to me through the public chat on Xbox Live.
This is all to say I am very interested to see if the experiences I listed are common among black gamers. Maybe I was just unlucky on having to run into those kinds of experiences. Maybe, the overwhelming population of black gamers and nerds have felt nothing but positivity and comfortability, which is great. I don’t know. I can only speak from my experience.
I would like to write a blog post synthesizing the experiences that are shared with me. This will add to an ongoing conversation about the feelings and attitudes of being a black gamer and/or nerd, and broadly about the feelings and behaviors within a society that deems black people than less than human at times. Some of you may want to privately share your story with me, which is perfectly fine. Follow me on Twitter (@JavonOnThePrgm), and message me saying you read this post so we can DM (please no crazy stuff people. This is for research purposes only). You can also send an email to me as well at firstname.lastname@example.org, with the title of this article as the subject line.
Please! This is a conversation that needs to happen and your voice is important. I will do my due diligence to synthesize the experiences shared with me to create a representative article. In the meantime, take time for self-healing. We all need it!