I just finished writing an article that will be the first of many articles I will write for The SL Parade. However, what makes this article different is that it discusses institutional racism that not only exist in SL, but in RL too…and it was not an easy article for me to write by any means.
Yet, what made it so hard? Well, I first struggled to find people open enough to dialog about the challenges within the Black SL Community; specifically, there were not a lot of people willing to talk about–let alone acknowledge that–there are some serious disparities within the Black SL community. It took me some time, but I eventually found some souls brave enough to discuss this issue; to them, I want to express a heartfelt thanks because you helped me write an article worthy of discussion and reflection.
Another challenge I had in writing this article involved getting others to directly comment about the Black Girls Rocking The SL Grid! Campaign. There were so many people that told me “No,” when I asked them about their opinion pertaining to this important campaign. And while it is in all of our rights to say “No,” the reasons behind the “No” was enough to personally make my head spin. Specifically, many were afraid to comment on this campaign because they did not wish to offend the campaign’s CEO; in fact, many thought that by commenting, they were directly taking her ideas as their own, rather than view it as an opportunity to contribute to SL’s (and perhaps RL’s) Diaspora.
By the time I was able to actually sit down and write the article, I was already mentally exhausted from the constant runarounds I had received. I just wanted to get the article done and out there for the masses to read, pool over and consume. I wanted to simply be done with it and move on to something else cause I was mentally WORE OUT.
But what happened next astounded even me…my mind began to click into place and really reflect on the nature of racism not only in RL, but in SL too. In a world where we can seemingly be and do whatever we want, SL cannot escape the cloaked nature of racism. This racism is not only intrinsic in the mainstream SL community, but also deeply embedded in ours. In fact, it is this racism that not only allows the work of people of color to be ignored, but for the men of color to behave in a poor, emasculated way toward the women within our SL community. It also allows women…rather women of color or no…to do whatever they can to sabotage one another in either a passive aggressive fashion on Facebook, or inworld at various venues and events.
And yes, while I learned something, I also learned something else…that writers in the SL community are not appreciated for their talent, nor for the lengths they will go to write an article that may express–as well as reveal–some hard truths. This lack of appreciation makes many of them unwilling to pursue a story that is worth writing about, and often encourages them to leave their talent in a dormant state.
All racism, sexism, and other isms aside, it takes a special person to be a writer. In fact, there are not a lot of people out there that are blessed with the ability to write. Yet, in a world where we all rely on the written word to better understand even the simplest math problem, those that write are viewed as disposable and as servants to the community they serve. And, while there is nothing wrong with being a servant to your community, the stigma that goes along with this label is hurtful, and keenly demonstrates just how undervalued writers are.
This is why I created The SL Parade: to provide a voice to writers that may be mistreated by other publications, as well as by the general masses that rely on writing, but fail to acknowledge just how important it is. I also created The SL Parade to uncover things that are rarely talked about inworld: the racism that enshrouds us not only in the SL world, but in the RL world too.
In fact, I plan to write more articles that will uncover some very hard truths; hard truths like SL DJ’s who allow their dancers to work without sufficient pay and/or force their dancers to pay dues in order to stay in their dance troupe; dancers who sabotage a DJ’s ability to make long-lasting friendships, all because they seek to covet the DJ’s attention for themselves; and DJ’s who allow themselves to become emasculated because they are too afraid to take a stance against any kinds of problematic behavior, specifically as it relates to online bullying as well as to directly acknowledging their failure to appropriately address the drama that surrounds them. Yes, I will be talking about all of this and more, and I invite you to join me in these discussions so we can really get to the crux of the issue.
When it is all said and done, there is dishonesty, racism, and a hosts of other challenges–even in SL. Yet, rather than sweep it under the rug, I say we yank it out and expose it. Perhaps by exposing it, it can potentially be eradicated.
I also want to say this: Appreciate your writers…not only those that choose to work for The SL Parade, but those that work for other publications, as well as those that continuously blog on various websites and other outlets. The Higher Powers put writers on this Earth for a reason; it is up to us to duly appreciate them, and the blessings they bring forth…
ReRe Sandalwood, Editor of The SL Parade