taylor swift’s playlist is truly so eclectic, yet it’s underpinned by such ethereal, soothing sounds and hauntingly slow tempos. it’s fitting to listen to whilst sitting by ocean shores under endless pastel skies, for afternoons spent amidst rolling countrysides and for crisp autumn nights spent peacefully alone by candlelight. this list evokes an unparalleled sense of comfort, uplifting bliss and warmth. to reveal the music we love can be soul baring, and it’s so special that taylor keeps sharing intimate, thoughtful things like this with us that uniquely strengthen our connection. we genuinely have an unbreakable, powerful bond with her.
I’ve seen several posts circulating today about racism in multiple fandoms. The arguments and counterpoints I’ve seen are not unexpected. For background: I am writing instructor and I devote a significant portion of my classes to discussions of media representation. Why? Because I realized I was doing everything that these posts talk about: Ignoring characters of color, sidelining them for white villains or sidekicks with far less screen time, ignoring women of color entirely, etc. And all the while, like so many of you, I said, “I’m not racist.” I had in-universe explanations for why I liked this ‘ship over that one, this character more than that. I could defend and explain everything.
Racism is not who you are. It is what you do. And here’s a fact: All white people do racist things. We’ve been trained to, taught to. It’s in our culture, all around us. If you’re white, our culture has allowed most racism to be entirely invisible to us. Racism isn’t just yelled slurs and burning crosses. Often, racism is simply *not caring* about people who aren’t white. Racism is an inability to empathize with or care about the story of someone who is not white.
IF YOU’RE FEELING DEFENSIVE, PLEASE KEEP READING. I beg you. That’s exactly the feeling we have to push through. I’m going to give you a brief list of actions we can take. And I know these are important because I have to do them, all the time. Because the poison is in me, too.
If you truly believe in equality and want to be a better person, then here’s what we, as white fans, have to do:
1. BE BRAVE ENOUGH TO BE UNCOMFORTABLE. It absolutely sucks to realize you may have hurt someone, or that you might be wrong. Realizing you’ve done something racist is a stomach-churning reality check. Have the courage to face it. Don’t run from it.
2. INSTEAD OF LOOKING FOR WAYS YOU’RE NOT RACIST, LOOK FOR WAYS THAT YOU *ARE*. It’s comforting and tempting to itemize the ways in which we’re open-minded. See #1 again. Don’t let yourself be comfortable. Instead, look for what you do and ways you contribute to fandom racism. Maybe it’s reblogging or creating gif sets that leave out main characters of color. Maybe it’s forgetting to include them in your fanfiction, even when they would rightfully be there. Maybe it’s reducing them to stereotypes or caretakers for white characters. Maybe it’s ‘shipping the white leads with anyone but the POC around them. Maybe it’s accusing POC fans of “starting drama” when they discuss racism. Look at your actions and be honest with yourself.
3. PUT IN THE EFFORT TO FALL IN LOVE WITH POC CHARACTERS. Here’s the thing: It’s easy for us to fall in love with white male heroes and villains. It’s what we’ve been training for all our lives, with every movie, television show, and book we’ve ever enjoyed. Media *encourages* us to love white men. So yes, falling in love with a character of color will be harder, and it probably won’t “just happen.” So, truly look at Finn and Poe, at Cassian Andor and Bodhi. Truly look at Luke Garroway and Magnus Bane, at Luke Cage, at Iris West and James Olsen, at Michonne. Seek out ways to connect with their feelings and their stories. Look at them as full-hearted, three-dimensional human beings. Force yourself to become obsessed with them. If you do this, I would be absolutely shocked if you don’t fall in love with one of them.
4. LISTEN TO POC FANS. Yes, even if they’re angry and call you names. For my research, I spend a lot of time on blogs that talk about hating white people, hating white fans, hating white feminists. The language is furious and vitriolic. So what? They have every right to be angry. Instead of judging their anger, LISTEN to it. Try to be better. Don’t say “not all white fans,” or “not all white people.” Instead, try to be a better white person. Be a better white fan. Be a white fan who is brave enough to look at themselves and truly be an ally. Do not silence POC fans. I promise you: Listen, and you’ll realize they’re not overreacting.
5. REMEMBER THAT “ALLY” IS A VERB. Our thoughts count for nothing. It’s our actions that speak for us. Maybe you’ve read all this and you still want to insist that you’re not racist. Okay. But your actions might be. Challenge the stereotypes that exist in your head, learn to identify them as stereotypes and be willing to hold yourself and other white fans accountable.
6. REPEAT STEPS 1-5 FOREVER. We cannot cure our internalized white supremacy in a weekend. This is a forever gig. But it’s one of the most worthwhile tasks you can ever give yourself. Want to feel like you’re changing the world? Here’s where it starts.
Inevitably there’s more to add to this list. I’m always learning, but I thought it might be useful to share a few of these steps I’ve learned along the way. I love fandom. I believe profoundly in the transformative power of fanfiction, fan creations, and the friendships forged through our shared love of media.
I believe we can become BETTER PEOPLE through fandom. But it will not happen without our willingness to be transformed.
AU where Faramir went to Rivendell instead of Boromir?
Everything turns out okay.
That sounds flippant but imagine Denethor sending the right son to do the right job.
Faramir goes to the cool green glade of Elrond, where he speaks of dreams and waves, and the elves whisper that the blood of Numenor runs true in the House of Hurin; Boromir spends his time riding like hell between Ithilien and Osgiliath, speaking with men around smoky fires, embracing his captains and saying to them, take heart, gather your strength, these are the times which test a man’s soul and lift it to glory, but we will see dawn come, we will keep Gondor free.
Though they are cut from different cloth, this is something Boromir and Faramir have always shared–they are men deserving of leadership, they would be followed under the shadow of the East. Boromir aches for every one of his countrymen cut down, screams his defiance to the orc armies and rallies his arms; Faramir listens to the words of wisdom Aragorn offers, is gentle and kindly with the hobbits, greets Legolas in his mother tongue, offers Master Gimli praise.
Wandering with the Fellowship below the empty sky, Faramir looks up at Maethor, the Warrior constellation, and thinks of his brother, prays that he is well, that he is safe, that he is still a little pompous, stilted, honest.
Boromir spends another sleepless night playing with the chain at his neck, the small portraits of his mother and brother. (I cannot lose you too, I cannot–come back hale and whole, come back angry and proud and cunning and defiant of our father–)
Faramir has never known the weight of all Gondor on his shoulders, and so is not tempted by the power the Ring offers.
Boromir has always known the love of his father, and so never bears the scorn of Denethor when Osgiliath must be abandoned as too tenuous a position to hold.
The day that Faramir comes striding into the Citadel, a child and wizard at his heels, Boromir cries out with joy as he has not for more years than counting, and they nearly bruise one another with their embrace.
“You are almost skeletal, little brother,” Boromir laughs, though it is not true–Faramir looks touched with strangeness and greatness, as one whom the Witch-Queen of Lorien found favor in, whose nobility of form and face had ensnared the heart of the White Princess of Rohan.
“And you look at least two-stone heavier, elder brother,” Faramir says, though it is false, Boromir is hollowed out and worn thin, deep shadows beneath his eyes and hunger-starved cheeks; in a glance, Faramir knows he neither eats nor sleeps nor laughs, nor feels–and Faramir, wiser and older than when he left, can see the weight his brother has always carried, and how lightly–all the stone of Minas Tirith on his shoulders, and still–