One of my bigger research projects for my Master’s degree was about racism on campus. I kept the resulting paper to myself, but it was titled “Background Radiation of Racism” and it had about 90 pages of appendices–interviews with black students and polling data–which found two things. Overwhelmingly, the black students I interviewed had all been called a racist slur by white people in the town around campus or on campus itself. And overwhelmingly, white people on campus didn’t see racism as a problem. The conflicting worlds opened my eyes to a concept called white silence, and especially in light of Ferguson and Eric Garner, it is, as a concept, some pretty heavy shit.
One of the things that I learned is that– and I generalize here, but I think it’s largely true–black people are downright academic when it comes to issues of race. They know byzantine arcana about the problem. And there is arcana–racism has a long, rooted history in the country that most white people are oblivious about, and this grounding of deep knowledge is, I suspect, elemental to black American culture. As a white person researching racism, I expected to learn that there wasn’t much of a problem, and what I learned is that black people and white people live in different worlds.
So I made a story problem that touches on these different worlds. Sera is, perhaps, a little too oblivious, but the reaction she’s having is on par with reactions I got in the real world just by asking white people about racism.
This is only tangentially about racism, and there’s a nerve there, raw and open, that I want the subject material to step through.
The blog’s gonna be about race for a while. And then it’s gonna be about sex and gender issues. And then I’m gonna jump directly into reviewing entertainment that I like, because it’s my blog and I’ll non-sequitur wherever I damn well want.
@ and a few others on Twitter criticized this roundly for the use of the word “Trannie.” It’s a slur, apparently. This is knowledge I did not have. I thought about editing the comic, but I think that this is also knowledge Skyler wouldn’t have. Between this and my absolute hatred for editing these post-mortem, I’m leaving it as-is. I think that records of imperfections are more valuable than trying to create some imaginary, perfect gestalt of omnicultural acceptance.
Other things I’m not fixing: the leading problem in panel one, the artifacting & aliasing in panel 2, and the fact that Sera’s hair changed colors at an impossible time a million strips ago. I’m self-aware. I’m not self-censoring after the fact.
Sooo, I was editing all the old comics for the upcoming book, and I completely forgot about this post. I’ve fixed all the things I said I wasn’t going to fix. Behold, I am shitlord. But also, I’d forgotten all about the twitter drama. If someone really, really wants to see the old version of the comic, poke me and I’ll share it to you, but I promise it’s not incredibly different–just a bit uglier on the eyes.