I spend a LOT of time discussing discrimination and equality in geek and gaming culture (more so; this past weekend amid conversations of sexism in fandom and the lack of playable females or characters of differing race or ethnicity in gaming). I have been hearing the same statement again and again: “Nobody is talking about…”
1.) Please do not say this TO ME. As a bi-racial woman, these are issues I deal with in every aspect of my life. I am having these conversations on a daily basis.
2.) Ask yourself, honestly: are making yourself aware of the conversation? Each of us is surrounded by people of a different gender, race, ethnicity, sexual preference, capacity, and/or religious background. I assure you these issues are being discussed.
3.) If you are not hearing the discussion, START THE CONVERSATION YOURSELF! If you are not willing to stand up, neither can you expect anyone else to do so. No one wants to be met with confrontation, derision or be dismissed off hand. It takes a certain amount of strength and courage to raise your voice amid silence.
4.) REMEMBER, SILENCE HAS POWER. To paraphrase an audience member in a panel on which I participated at Arisia this year, “everyone hears silence differently.” You may remain silent out due to a fear of opposition or because you feel it isn’t your place to speak up. Silence communicates no intention and can often be seen as acquiescence or an excuse to marginalize the need for social progress – if people do not voice opposition, it must not be an issue of concern.
While discrimination exists in our society, there is no excuse for anyone to say they are not aware. If you are feeling underrepresented, misrepresented, especially if you are feeling discriminated against, RAISE YOUR VOICE! Do not allow your silence to lend credence to the belief that no problem exists. As the saying goes, “if you aren’t part of the solution, you are part of the problem.”