There are several responses one can have when lack of diversity is called out.
- Apologize. Acknowledge issue.
- Apologize. Ackowledge issue. Promise to be more inclusive.
- Shrug. Move on.
- Deny problem. Move on.
- Deny problem. Attack.
Let’s take a guess at how a certain Star Wars podcast reacted when fandom correctly stated that they replaced their gender diverse cast with two white dudes.
<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” data-lang=”en”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>It's back. And oh god, it even includes a shot at "tumblr attitude" <a href=”https://t.co/ZLD9HtA7UB”>https://t.co/ZLD9HtA7UB</a> <a href=”https://t.co/3kiu44txTr”>pic.twitter.com/3kiu44txTr</a></p>— Brian (@LaneWinree) <a href=”https://twitter.com/LaneWinree/status/708682381281075200″>March 12, 2016</a></blockquote>
The response is very damning and somewhere in there is a promise for more diversity but surrounded by all that derailing and vitriol its seems like a very “well actually” move rather than a desire to have different voices.
The thing about callouts is they seem very personal to the subject when in reality they are about systemic problems and the subject is just the most recent example. Leslie Jones was understandably upset when The Internet looked at the trailer for the new Ghostbusters movie and questioned her role as sassy black woman because to her this is a breakout role that she’s thrilled about whereas viewers are seeing another in a long line of smart white group with single streetwise black person.
We’re hoping the movie turns this convention on it’s head (here’s hoping there’s something to the original promo materials saying municipal historian even though everything says MTA employee now. Both is certainly a possibility!) but that doesn’t mean this conversation wouldn’t take place. Without a push for change nothing will ever change. None of this has anything to do with Leslie Jones as a person or as an actor but as a visible figure representing the current problem she is part of the narrative.
As are the new hosts for said podcast. I haven’t listened to their first ep and I’m very much isolated from the Star Wars fandom at large preferring to stay in my little twitter bubble so I can’t comment on the quality or them personally but it’s still a fact that a fandom with a large white male population has another platform for white male fans to speak their minds. If that’s what you want to listen to, if their show is fabulous and exactly what you want, great, I’m glad you have that and I hope you keep listening and they keep delivering but that doesn’t mean the conversation is over.
The fact is is this podcast doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It is always going to be easier for a white man to have a voice if no one is challenging the lack of other voices. I’ve seen a lot of posts that are essentially “why are we fighting, sit down and chill and enjoy Star Wars” and those almost make me angrier than the ones retaliating negatively to the criticism of “hey more white guys yay?” because it’s an attempt to make those holding the conversation seem unreasonable for wanting to work towards a community with more diverse voices. The above response is more proof that these are conversations that need to be had.
In conclusion, dear white people, please never talk about the colour of your skin being brought up as a problem. I know it’s rough when society values your skin colour above all and that’s all they can see so they decide to treat you better but just don’t.