Fellowship and camaraderie in the SCA

Originally published on June 30, 2020.

SCA Fighting is the physical manifestation of the concepts of chivalry and honor, perceived through the filter of children’s logic. I don’t mean that as a diminishment. Children see the purity of things in a way adults don’t, because (many) children lack cynicism.

There was a series of books that I’m trying to remember what they were called. A bunch of kids are living in an old house, and they find… lead figgers? Chess pieces? That come to life, and they tell sort of wacky versions of Ivanhoe and Robin Hood and the Revolutionary War and other stuff all mashed together. Much of it makes no sense, and it’s all wonderful, and that’s what the SCA fighting is. (note: the series is Knights Castle, by Edward Eager.)

The SCA as a not-for-profit corporation might survive if heavy fighting and the Order of Chivalry “went away.” But I think that the SCA as the group of people who get together at a dozen or more events every weekend (before the dark times… before the COVID) and chatter on the phone and social media all the rest of the time would not. Rattan combat is part of the SCA’s DNA in a way that almost nothing else is.

It took me a long time to figure out how to be an armored combatant in the SCA. It’s more than just buckling on plastic or metal bits to your body and dealing with the ache of a heavy helmet, and bruises. At its best, there’s a fellowship to it, a camaraderie that binds people together.

Fellowship and camaraderie exist in other parts of the SCA. Just different fellowship and camaradaerie.

To me, it is the best of the Peerage who embody the fullness of what the SCA has to offer. People like Hiram and Nikolai, Lanea and Ynes, Brennan and William, Hillary and Eleanor, Ragnvaldr and Jaime, Maggie and Elianor, Seto and Sigenandus, Gwyneth and Isolde, among many others who, be they quiet or outspoken, tanks or acrobats, represent the complete package.

Secure in their Franchise, always looking to do better, taking responsibility and accountability for their mistakes, and demonstrating their way to walk the Path, these folks are the Exemplars that, when I bring a new person into the SCA, I point and say “see that person over there? Be like them.”

We talk a lot in the SCA about what’s broken. I’m not going to stop working to address the problems — and problem children — that face the organization, but it’s also important to recognize the good stuff too.

How You Treat People Matters

Originally posted on July 28, 2020.

All y’all SCAdians, come listen to me now.

How I see you treat people, whether in the SCA or in modern-day settings, is 100% gonna affect my counsel to the Crown and my fellow pelicans.

How I see you react to how other people are treated, whether in the SCA or in modern-day settings is 100% gonna affect my counsel to the Crown and my fellow pelicans.

I get that there was a time when folks were more successful in separating their modern lives from their SCA lives. That time doesn’t exist anymore.

And let me tell you something:

You really weren’t fooling anyone anyway. You are who you tell us you are, and you always have done.

So, carry on, as you will.

All (gestures at 2020) this.

Originally published on Facebook June 26, 2020.

I am a relentlessly optimistic person. I believe that with hard work and direct, open conversations and actions, most of the goals we as a species can happen.

My feed right now is full of articles about fascist, bullying cops, selfish people refusing to wear masks or even believe in the Covid as US cases soar, Russian and Chinese aggression, oppression of BIPOC and LGBTQIAA+ people, ongoing mistreatment of immigrant children in concentration camps, outright derision in the SCA at the concept of making moderate changes to be more welcoming and inclusive, and the ongoing destruction of the US Government as a force for freedom and human rights.

Also, my kids are definitely struggling, and I feel bad that I’m not better with them about it.

And for just a few seconds, I just sat at my desk and put my head in my hands and stopped holding the despair at bay. I fucking wallowed in it. Five seconds. Ten. Twenty.

And then I took a deep breath and picked up my head and I’m ready to keep fighting for the world I believe in.

What’s my point?

It’s ok to take a break. Even if it’s just for a few seconds, even if it’s for days and weeks. We have a long way to go, and we need everyone to be doing the best they can.

Love y’all.

Now, listen to this Gen-X song and pretend that it’s Zygmunt Nadratowski. (I am not sure that’s NOT Zygmunt Nadratowski. He’s older than me.  )

[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5PZxhOtO01g](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5PZxhOtO01g)

Recognize Racism

Originally posted June 22, 2020.

Too many people believe that Racism begins and ends with Obvious Racism. Instead, the other two entries have just as much of an impact, across a far broader and subtle swath of life.

It’s not enough to stand up to Klansmen and Skinheads (although that is also to be praised). True equity comes from rooting out racism in all its forms.

Indeed, we need to even look at our lives and see which of these we are, perhaps unknowingly, doing ourselves.

If you were born and educated in this country, you have been steeped in racism and bigotry since the day you were born. It takes self-assessment and awareness to change yourself.

Tell the BoD You Support Diversity!

Originally published on Facebook June 17, 2020.

It’s hard to think that some day, people might not know the context of this post, but I suppose it’s possible, so: I wrote this to encourage the BoD to recognize the good that the DEI office was doing during a time of upheaval in the SCA. A highly respected and decorated SCA peer had been banished for, among other things, publishing a long screed about how “politics” (such as the Black Lives Matter movement, and increased acceptance of LGBTQIAA+ lives) was ruining the SCA. He outed himself as a bigot, and got into a fair amount of trouble for it. There’s another post chronologically before this one that talks about it.

Have you written to the BOD of the SCA to share your opinions yet? If you are so inclined, it’s easy.

Just drop a line to: directors@sca.org, sca-comments@lists.sca.org, and cc’d president@lists.sca.org, seneschal@sca.org, equity@sca.org, but either email works). You can find the direct emails for all the BoD members here, to look up your Kingdom’s Ombudsman: https://www.sca.org/about/officers/

Here’s mine:

————-

To the Board of Directors:

My name is Andreas Blacwode, and I have been a member of the SCA for over 30 years, all of them in the MidRealm.

As someone who has done a great deal of behind the scenes work for various offices, initiatives, and reigns, I know how rarely words of thanks are sent along to the people doing that work.

Today, I want to change that, as I hope many members of the SCA are. The work that the Board of Directors, Duke John the President of the SCA, Baron Alwyn the Society Seneschal, and Baroness Zahra the Corporate Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion officer are all doing to make the SCA more inclusive, as well as ridding us of racists, bigots, and fascists is deeply appreciated by myself and many others.

I know it is likely that there are many people in the SCA, likely of high rank and up till now considered of high merit, who are deeply uncomfortable with the direction the SCA has taken. “You’re tearing the SCA apart,” they cry. To that, I say “Perhaps . But we cannot ignore a cancer away. It must be cut out, excised.”

Please do not be swayed by polite, genteel appeals from those who would defend the prejudiced because of their rank. We are better off without them, and with them gone, we will truly and fairly be able to invite so many more people in to add to the rich and varied tapestry that the SCA can become.

And again, thank you for the work you have already done.

In affirmation of the SCA’s Core Principles, I am:

Magister Andreas Blacwode, OP
blah-blah-blah

It’s Everyone’s Job

Originally published June 16, 2020.

Remember, folks: it’s not just the Peers of the realm who need to support diversity, equity and inclusion in the SCA. We need all of you. We cannot do it alone.

And if we’re being honest, YOU told US to do it with your own actions already.

We’re all in this together. This fight isn’t won by rank.

It’s all our job to lift people up.

On Speaking Out

Originally published on Facebook June 16, 2020.

During 2019 and 2020, the SCA was going through a particularly difficult existential crisis related to the Covid19 pandemic, which closed down all in-person activities, and a series of prejudiced and bigoted acts by well-known members of the SCA that prompted backlashes and outcry against the backdrop of the 2020 Election and the depredations of the Trump Administration. A chain letter started circulating, posted and/or signed by Peers who stood against this, but as often happens, the interpretation of this crossed over from “I support this, so I signed it” to “Hey, you haven’t signed this, why don’t you support it”. While I recognize that Silence supports the Oppressor, I felt it was important to make it clear that not everyone is in a position to speak up, and because Facebook gonna Facebook, not everyone is going to see every post. This post came from that feeling.

I have been gratified to see many MidRealm Peers (and Peers from other kingdoms) making a statement rejecting bigotry, homophobia, sexism, racism, and prejudice. It makes me happy that so many of our leaders are ready to step up. When a bigot comes to an event and sees a dozen knights, for example, wearing rainbow chains, that’s not just words; that’s a strong statement and action.

I do want to point out, however, that just because a Peer does not post the statement on their Facebook wall, that does not mean that they do not agree with it. Some people are posting their own statements. Some people are reluctant standing up in front of a group of people they may not feel they know particularly well and saying, “this is what I believe.” And some people take their oaths very seriously but consider them to be a private matter and are willing to discuss them as individuals.

And in some cases, you may not see a peer make the statement because FB algorithms are wonky, and it never shows up on your feed.

There are even that rare person who… isn’t -on- Facebook. <GASP!> I know, I know, but it does happen. 

All of which is to point out that if you have a question, it’s best to ask, and if you are uncomfortable asking, ask a Peer you know to help you out.

Like me.

I am Andreas Blacwode. I am a Peer of the Society for Creative Anachronism, and in all things, I stand for Justice and the Inherent Dignity of all Humans, and if you don’t know that by now, another statement isn’t going to change your mind.

My goal, my intent, and my personal obligation is to help all people – and especially people in the SCA – achieve that Justice and Inherent Dignity. I reject Intolerance and the ideologies of Intolerance. I stand for Inclusion, and Equity, and Diversity.

I stand with all of my fellow Peers who have made the statement, and all those who have not, but agree with it nonetheless.

If you need help, if you want to ask a sensitive question, if you are looking for information, or education, or direction, or assistance, I am here. I will put my privilege to your purpose. I will labor with you as you figure things out. My email is baronandreas AT midrealm DOT org and my DMs are always open.

I believe that my Oath of Fealty demands all of this. It is the duty of the Honest Minister.

Magister Andreas Blacwode, OP
CB, ODH, CBR, OE, OW, ODGx3, OCK, ORV, RAAx3

The Missing Stair

Originally published on June 13th, 2020.

When Galen of Bristol posted his manifesto, it triggered a massive reaction. Galen had been held up as a paragon of virtue and peerage for decades, and all along, he had been excluding people, hurting them, denigrating them, and when he exposed himself and his views, a lot of pent-up anger was unleashed. I had only heard of Galen in glowing terms, and when this happened, I was disappointed.

A lot of people insisted that his letter was “just closely held opinion” and argued it wasn’t relevant to SCA conduct. Problem is, that’s bullshit – racists can’t drop their racism when they walk through the gate of an event, and that was proved when evidence came out that Galen had argued against elevating candidates to knighthood because they “supported the gay agenda.” I was also really disappointed in the displayed privilege of so many SCAdians who insisted that while what Galen had written was terrible, they “knew” he was a good dude underneath.

No, he wasn’t.

Because Galen scrubbed his entire facebook profile after he was banished by the King and Queen of Ansteorra, screenshots of his entire letter is included at the bottom of this post, so Content Warning: there’s language that may be offensive and triggering for trans people, queer people, and BIPOC.

When I first wrote this letter, I wasn’t sure that it actually violated the SCA Code of Conduct, but over the course of a day or so, I changed my mine, and ended up writing the letter that’s elsewhere in this blog.

HUMAN RIGHTS ARE NOT POLITICS.

**EDIT:** I’ve had some more time to think, and some conversations, and I will be writing a letter to the Royalty of Ansteorra, the Ansteorran Kingdom Seneschal, and the Board of Directors. A man who makes people so uncomfortable that they don’t want to make him a seneschal in a time when we are begging for volunteers needs a closer look.

————————

I am dismayed at the number of people [on the post in the pictures] who keep saying “I don’t agree with you, Galen, but you’ve always been good to me, so I will defend you and your place in the SCA.”

That’s the same thing as saying “fuck you Jack, I got mine.” It’s a demonstrated lack of compassion. For those who are peers, it’s a abrogation of your obligations as a peer and your oath of fealty.

These are not political issues. They are moral ones.

The SCA is not obligated to accept or tolerate opinions promoting the supremacy of one kind of individual over another.

No one is trying to force Galen to wear a BLM favor, or enthusiastically endorse the marriage of one man to another. But for him to vocally and vociferously advocate that the SCA is not a place for those things is shameful, even if it’s not a violation of the SCA Code of Conduct.

The SCA may or may not Sanction Galen; I am not on the BoD, and it’s not my decision, and I don’t think these statements rise to the level of deserving official Sanction. But it IS my decision, and my obligation as a fellow Peer of the Society, to immediate, and publicly gainsay his statement. Galen of Bristol does NOT speak for me, and I do not believe that his beliefs belong in the SCA that I love and most of my friends are part of.

Black Live Matter.

Transwomen are women.

Transmen are men.

Marraige between two people of the same gender identity is no less valid than marraige between two people of different gender identities.

Antifa is not an organization, it is a state of being opposite to being pro-fascist.

The SCA must stand for diversity and inclusivity and equity.

There is racism in the SCA.

There is sexism in the SCA.

There is transphobia in the SCA.

There is homophobia in the SCA.

These are things to oppose, not embrace.

Galen has abrogated his obligations and so have many other people on this thread. Not to their crown, not to the SCA, but to humanity. It is a failure of compassion. And as a member of the Order of the Pelican, I must stand up and be counted in opposition to it.

I am extremely disappointed.

Magister Andreas Blacwode

MidRealm

Words Mean Things

Originally published June 10, 2020.

I’m a bard, and more than once, I’ve said “words mean things.” Sometimes I say them because someone I’m talking to is using words in a manner I disagree with, sometimes I say it because I’m trying to get something very specific across.

Other bards say this, or something very like this, as well, including Mistress Lanea Verch Kerrigan, who inspired this post with her own.

There’s been a fair amount of fuss in SCA circles over the past week or so, because several terrible people — I’m pretty sure they’re mostly young or middle-aged white men — got banished from their kingdoms, with the BoD starting investigations that will (hopefully) result in Revocation and Denial of Membership for each. Why? Because each of them participated in bigoted and terrible conversations on social media.

There have always been some people who have stood up against racism and fascistic behavior, against normalizing sexual assault and harassment, and against bullying, but the reality is that the SCA has long had an unspoken rule that such things are private, and not to be discussed, especially when the perpetrator is a peer or a royal peer.

I’m not saying that about the SCA, Inc. The BoD has a legal responsibility to protect the Corporation, and they must act in a like manner, because if they don’t, they can actually go to jail. No, I’m saying that about the Society of people who are participants in the SCA. We’ve done it for a long time. We’ve equated this to blowing off shots, or being a weirdo with a cloven orange.

Well, that’s not gonna fly anymore. A critical mass has finally been reached in the SCA, and we are done with that. A big part of why the aforementioned men are in the process of being booted is because the people around them saw these conversations and reporting them.

In what is perhaps a related incident, the SCA Seneschal just put out a statement condemning “doxing“, said could potentially open the SCA up to litigation, and stated that doxing is a violation of the SCA Code of Conduct and the Anti-Bullying & Harassment Policy.

Doxing is gathering and publishing a person’s name, address, phone number, email address, and/or other sensitive information on the web so that people can harass them, or worse.

When I, or anyone else screenshots racist, or bigoted, or hateful, or homophobic bullshit that someone has posted on their FB page, and then report that bullshit to the SCA, that is not doxing. Nor is it censorship. It’s not anything other than your own stupid chickens coming home to roost. And if I notice that I have friends in common with someone who is saying this kind of bullshit, I will reach out to them and ask them why they’re associated with such un-noble behavior. (And it’s entirely possible that they’ve got a decent reason, which is just fine.)

In the past, I, personally, might have obscured the names of people posting such bullshit. I bought into the whole idea of “praise publicly, chastise privately.” And that still applies for some things.

But it doesn’t apply to this, not any longer. Bigotry and hatred are not part of my SCA. And in a very real way, it is my job, as a Peer of the Realm, to stand up and say, publicly, “I see you, and I’m not going to let you cover this up.” We are directly called to lift people up, to ennoble them, to help make the Society a better place.

It is no longer enough for us to shake our heads and say “how terrible” when we become aware of this kind of activity. We have to -do- something about it, even though it’s going to be uncomfortable. We may not be able to make people think differently — we’re not Thought Police — but we sure can make them think twice about espousing it publicly. Hateful actions have consequences.

This is the kind of peer — the kind of PERSON — I’m called to be. I hope it’s the kind of person we realize we’re ALL called to be. That’s the future I’m trying to give my kids, and everyone’s kids.

I hope you join me.

Andreas

Words are Hard

Originally published June 4, 2020.

At work, I’m a manager, and a portfolio lead. I do my job with words.

In my personal coaching & mentoring efforts, I do my job with words.

In the SCA, I’m a clerk, an advisor, an administrator, a mentor, and a leader. I do my job with words.

And words are so very very hard.

I messed up today, and I’m sorry. I’m not going to call the person I offended out, because that’s putting more work on them. They know who they are, and I hope they see this.

I will delete -every- comment that gets made here, because I’m not looking for absolution or encouragement from all of my friends. I know you’re supporting me. This post isn’t about me. It’s about recognition of mistakes, and trying to do better. Please respect this.

The point of this post is to say this:

Words are hard. Be careful with them. Think about how what you’re saying affects the people you’re saying them to.

I read what I’ve written above, and I already know that I’m not saying it right. It doesn’t matter. I’m sorry, and I’ll try to do better.