I'm ashamed to say that my reaction was the same reaction that annoys the Hells out of me in other people: to toss my head and deny it with "but I'm not racist! There must be some mistake!" And the mistake, clearly, was with the person making that accusation - and doesn't it annoy the Hells out of you when you call someone out on their bigoted shit only to get that reaction?
Anyway, without any discussion, it was up to me to decide whether I had done something with that picpsm that wasn't the most skilful thing in the world, and I'm not so good at checking my own privilege. Fortunately, this morning, Cheryl Lynn came to my rescue by detailing her own issues with the Chromatic Fandom meme:
Y'know what would be nice? For POC characters to get the same promotion and devotion that white characters get so people don't have to think of POC actors they'd like in the "important" (white) characters' roles.
And just like I'm not just a color, that white kid isn't just a blank slate. He isn't the default. And acting like he is the default hurts both him and me. My stories get shunted to the side because they aren't considered the norm and his stories are considered meaningless. Something that can be easily divorced from his culture and handed to someone of another background for cheap grab at diversity. An empty canvas to hang someone else's image on. I get to be seen and not heard. He gets to be heard and not seen. And neither of us is honored that way.
And over on 4thLetter.net, David Brothers agrees with her
Chromatic Comics is tokenism, or maybe lip service. Either way, it’s not powerful. It’s not respectful. It’s not even anti-racist. It ignores what we already have in favor of continuing to worship exclusively white characters as if they were the end-all, be-all of comics. Hey- Marvel and DC already do that. We should do better than flipping a switch or using the paint bucket in Photoshop and calling it a day. We’ve got some diamonds in all this rough. Let’s act like it.
OK, so. I think they both have points. They both have very good points, and I'd like to say that I'm sorry - I'm not retracting my participation in the meme, and I'm not taking down or locking the post or anything, but I do regret that I took part in tokenism - that I took characters and plonked chromatic people next to the names without showing enough respect for the characters or the entertainers.
There is some rambling I'm going to do here, and I do so in the full knowledge that it probably pisses on my statement of apology a little bit. Bear with me.
The meme started with handyhunter discussing this article about Will Smith possibly playing Captain America, and basically saying 'well, why not'? There are reasons why not, but the biggest one I could see, tying into the points made above, is that it not only rewrites Steve Rogers' personal history, but it kind of pisses on the character of Isaiah Bradley (I'm not a Marvel fan, but I knew who he was, do I get points?) If they made a Captain America (Steve Rogers) movie with a black actor (any black actor) they wouldn't be telling Isaish Bradley's story and he'd get pushed to the sidelines.
Movie verse isn't comicsverse in any case. Stories are re-made, characters shuffled around and sometimes butlers are turned into computers. It would be awesome if Jubilee had a bigger role in the X-Men movies, or Renee Montoya hadn't been rewritten into a mob informant or someone actually thought do a movie with Isaiah Bradley, and I am not going to fall into the trap of saying "but Hollywod doesn't work like that!" because I think that's bullcrap, and good movies about characters of colour can and will be made and be a big hit with everyone (Hello, Blade).
What I was thinking about when I posted Chromatic Discworld was how betrayed as a fan I felt when Sean Astin was cast as Twoflower, and I was told "but the Discworld doesn't have races!" and that it's OK for a white man to play a person from the "Aurient" because it's Fantasy, dontcha know? I was thinking of a conversation I had once with silveronthetree, about how she saw Denzel Washington in Much Ado About Nothing and realised that chromatic actors could play high status characters that were traditionally white, and the positive effect she felt that had on her. When I saw chromatic castings for other, Earth-based fandoms, I was rewriting the characters' histories into an AU, not painting existing characters with the 'diversity' brush... but that was just in my head.
That's what I was thinking, and the thought, I don't really take back.
But I do apologise for the fact that in doing so, I participated in a meme that, as presented, as a list of names and pictures, was just painting existing characters with the 'diversity' brush. My intentions were true, but the act was crude. And for that, I apologise.
ETA: Please don't comment to say "what, you? Never!" That's not why I shared.