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Sleepy Hollow Farm Road VT 2014 by Sarah Jo 3

Smoke Screen: Racism in fandom

[The following is a modified/corrected transcript of my tweets, found here.]

Do we have a word for white people making fun/targeting other white people in order to get ally cookies and avoid self examination?

I’m working on a post about racism in a fandom and I want to address how often supposed allies do the most direct damage to people of color because they truly believe that liking and shipping characters of color means they aren’t racist and can’t do anything to perpetuate racism.

Meanwhile it is hard work, as a fan of color, trying to find fan fiction featuring characters of color as leads that isn’t riddled with racist micro and macroaggressions. 

The ugly truth is sometimes I read fan fiction about white characters to escape overt racism and “issues stories.” Because even well written and thoughtfully constructed fan fiction about characters of color often still focuses on racism or fetishizes the characters of color. At least I know what I’m getting into with a blatantly white supremacist romances.

In fandom, especially when white fans write about or ship characters of color they elect themselves as saviors and authorities. 

They often deflect any criticism of their work or nuanced discussions about racism in the fandom by rallying people against white ships. “Look how racist they are. Ugh they’re the worst.”

Please note: Straight authors who write slash fan fiction do the exact same thing, even calling gay fans homophobic for not shipping their fave slash ships.

What’s even more telling is how fandom predominately ships men of color, while women of color are largely ignored or sidelined. Or worse, ships with women of color and white men are called homophobic. 

To say nothing of the woeful lack of any ships who don’t involve any white characters. Or how even when there is a ship with only characters of color they’re rarely relationships between only black characters. 

White supremacy is in every fandom, even when they’re writing about people of color. Colorism is especially a prevalent issue in fan fiction centered on characters of color. Where lighter skinned/non-black people of color are defaulted into the dominate, lead role a white character would typically inhabit. They’re the hero, superior, and savior to a darker skinned and/or black character. 

I hate how factual statements about how racism informs shipping and character popularity in fandoms are used to dilute important specific conversations that could be happening. Because, yes, racism is why white characters and white ships are more popular and accessible to fans. Yes, racism informs everyone’s choices in fandom and reactions to the source material, but I’m tired of the conversation ending there.

This discourse is usually just “that’s racist.” The end. Which is fair for fans of color to do. Venting is an important cope mechanism for all of us. I’m doing it right now in this post. 

However, now white fans are using this as an cheat code. Appropriating the pain and experiences of fans of color as ammunition to insult other white fans, and deflect their own responsibility for how they’re complicit. 

Conversations about racism that only discuss fan fiction about white characters, started and steered by white fans is centering discussions of racism on white people. Sidelining and silencing people of color, real or fictional. That’s not progress that’s business as usually for white supremacy. 

So we get mired in the sam old white dominate circular self serving argument. When we could be discussing all the ways we treat, mistreat characters of colors. Or discuss how much less attention and appreciation is given fan works about characters of color, and fan works BY fans of color get verse white fans. 

That’s a real significant issue that none of these white savior fans seem interested in exploring or even owning their privilege as white fans writing about characters of color. 

Don’t even get me started on the horror of being a queer woman of color navigating femslash featuring women of color with white women. The woman of color is always cast as the “butch,” which in most heteronormative femslash means she’s written like a hetero white cis-man often with jealous, sometimes violent rages. While the white woman is the epitome of idealized white femininity with a heavy helping of innocent purity. 

This happens even when canonically the white woman is anything but passive or innocent. In fan fic she is transformed into a lily white ingenue, not unlike how m/f fan fiction traditionally treat white girls. Which is also a feature of white supremacy and misogyny. 

So while all these white fans pat themselves on the back for being so progressive for literally doing the most basic thing anyone could do, see a person of color as lovable, people of color in their fandoms don’t even rate this much consideration. 

"BUT! We don't try to make Ichabbie romantic.."

-literally moments later shows a clip of banker hinting at Ichabod buying an engagement ring for Abbie-

-Ichabod literally in the woods talking about the only necessity of lighting candles is to set the mood-

Uh-huh. 

Spur of The Moment Ghost Adventures.

Six of us piled into my moms Saturn and went on a very spontaneous ghost adventure tonight. Half of the time we had no idea where we were going; following directions from our phones to places where we thought things were.

First up was Sleepy Hollow Road, but on a windy road with zero light, it was hard to find. I also got some grief from not turning down a road we suspected to be it, but being that the car was not mine and there was a gate, I thought better of accidentally trespassing.

Second was Cry Baby Bridge… Which we definitely never found. Following limited directions we found ourselves thinking we were on the right track but never found the supposed bypass and subsequent left turn to said bridge. 

Lastly, going all the way across town, and into the neighboring state, our last goal for the night was a Hanging Tree behind an old cemetery. We thought we were on the right road, but with the help of the people in the backseat, ( which included glencresc, arcampbell94, John, and Grant) elizabethwilder managed to direct me to the right place. With an impressive church perched a top a hill, we found the cemetery next to it and explored a little before a phantom car (of which only about half of our group actually saw) chased us away. Funniest thing about this place was that the cemetery wasn’t the scary part… The scary part was the surrounding neighborhood. At any moment it seemed like rednecks with shotguns were going to step onto their front porches, shine a light our way, and fire. 

All in all the night was technically a bust for seeing anything of a spooky nature, but driving around across two states for three hours with my best friends was pretty great.

That synopsis.

This synopsis, you guys.

What if.

Abbie is at a crossroads looking for her next challenge. We know that isn’t likely to come in Sleepy Hollow. Maybe that road leads back to Quantico. Or, with the power vacuum created by Irving’s departure, maybe it is in Sleepy Hollow. Maybe she moves up the ranks and throws herself into that work, devotes herself fully to it.

Then you’ve got Crane, who suddenly can allow himself to be driven by the passion and curiosity that defined his life before the Big Nap. He wants to go on the Great American Road Trip and find himself, figure out who he is now.

They are both trying to reassert independence, find out who they are as individuals after so long as a unit. They’re trying to pull apart and stand on their own.

They are trying. And they are trying. But…

They don’t have to see each other every day now. They could just be casual drinks every other Friday and the occasional movie friends. They could just be former comrades at arms; Ichabod’s had many of them before. Once the fog of war wears off, tight bonds loosen.

But they can’t.

They miss each other. They’re okay apart; they’re still both good, strong people. But they aren’t as good. They aren’t as strong.

They aren’t as happy.

This could give them a fascinating chance to explore the fact that their connection is not just in the Bible – it’s real. It’s palpable. It’s important not just to the world, but to each other.

And even if that next big evil never comes, their fates are still entwined. But this time, by choice.

I know a lot of sleepy hollow fans are mad, but lets try to get some perspective and see positives in this darkness.

Yes, this has been a dull season and the way writers have handled characters is shitty, but I’m trying to see it as unlocking the characters and furthering storylines. Also, I just want to state something, every tv show ever, has a bad season, and compared to other tv shows, this season is still miles better than whole series of tv shows which have like 6 seasons, so don’t give up sleepy hollow!

Anyway, these are my thoughts on sleepy hollow.

1. I’ve seen a lot of people say abbie is the voice of the fandom and reason, and people say this when something bad happens. which is true in a lot of ways. And I don’t think this is unintentionally, in fact, I think this is demonstrating abbie is the most is important, intelligent character and their showing it. A lot of people should try to see it as a positive as the story progresses.

2. It is quite obvious their going to make Katrina betray ichabod, with the way their writing her and the storyline with Abraham, its obvious she won’t part of the gang. They’ve been setting it up all season and I know its been boring to watch, but they’ve needed to show us that so we’ll believe it when the time comes.

3. I am really upset about frank, but honestly, I don’t think he is ‘gone’ as such. I have a very strong feeling he’ll be back, espicially from what I heard. Franks sacrfrice showed us why we love him and how much of a great character he is. I FIRMLY BELIEVE HE’LL BE BACK. Also, I think that will have a big impact on ichabod and abbies relationship, which could be interesting(I love angst in ships)

4. Henry, well henry is just a mess. And this goes back to s1 finale. I was iffy from the start about him being the cranes son, a) because I don’t think the writers thought it through and then realized how messy the storyline would be in s2, and b) I don’t know about everyone else, but its just weird to me, and I think the writers started to realize so thats why they went with the 'redeeming storyline’ I think he’ll probably die in the s2 final or just piss off because there is no way the writers can integrate him in the gang, and I think they know that, so there trying to fix it but failing.

5. Ichabod and Abbie. It is not the same relationship as s1, but that doesn’t mean its necessarily a bad thing. They premièred ichabod going to hell and back (literally) to save abbie, numerous times ichabod has basically said he can only trust abbie on numerous occasions. They might not have many 'cute’ moments, but thats because their relationship is evolving into something deeper. The bump in the road is though, ichabod and katrinas relationship, and testing ichabod (which has caused people to get pissy at him for not knowing how he feels) But honestly, in reality he has handled it well compared to men I know in real life. Its messy because relationships and feelings are messy. Of course their not going to make Ichabod give up on Katrina, otherwise he would just seem like such a player and not the ichabod we know. Ichabod is confused, and it is confusing having feelings for two people, while I think ichabod has been a bit arrogant (which is no excuse) i think some people should just try to see it from where ichabod is feeling, they are human beings after all. GIVE IT TIME, WE ALL KNOW THEIR GOING DOWN THE ICHABBIE ROAD.