Make Sure They Have Enough

Originally posted December 23, 2019. I’m publishing it now, because whoa, relevant.

Louis CK turned out to be a burning trash dumpster of a person, but this sentiment still stands, and I tell my boys this all the time. You only worry about your neighbor’s bowl to make sure that they have enough.

Image may contain: 4 people, meme and text

As Jadwiga said on the original post, “Don’t discount a truth just because you don’t like the person saying it.”

(Offer not valid for Orson Scott Card & JK Rowling.)

Anti-Racism Resources

It’s not enough to just be not racist. We have to be anti-racist. That means constant self-evaluation and work. While not exclusive to people who look like me, it is the work of majority to make sure that minorities are not excluded.

To that end, I have created a List of Anti-racism Resources (google docs) that I update on the regular. Feel free to peruse, use, and share.

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.

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.

You Can’t Run From the Things You’ve Done

Originally published April 18, 2019.

So I have a fair number of SCA friends who have two Facebook profiles. They do it for a variety of reasons: their job, their desire to keep groups of friends separated, their family doesn’t care for the SCA, and far be it from me to ever tell someone that they’re doing the SCA or Facebook wrong — you do you boo.

But there are some people who keep separate profiles because they say that “Bob Smith” is a different person from “Robert the Smith”. And, again, if that’s what you want, go for it, but I don’t, personally, think that it works. And it has to do with a fundamental belief and a fundamental part of my SCA philosophy.

People are who they show you they are.

There is no SCA life vs Real life, there’s just Life, and you are accountable for your choices.

The vast majority of my friends are in the SCA. I barely dated outside the SCA. I met my first wife in the SCA, and I met my second wife through an SCA friend. I go to something like 20-26 SCA events a year. I used to schedule my vacation time around the SCA. Heck, when I was in college, I’d quit my summer jobs in July because I knew I was going to go to Pennsic. For almost all of us, the SCA is a permanent, intertwined part of our lives. People like to say that it’s “just a hobby” but it’s really not. It’s our social universe. It’s our place to be. It’s our chosen family. And we are who we show people we are.

So if you’re a good person in the world of computers and electric stoves and carbon fiber, you’re likely to be a good person in the world of spears, vikings, madrigals. If you’re a shitty person in the world of banks and cars and televisions, you’re likely to be a shitty person in the world of catapults and pavilions and scrolls. And if you need to change the way people look at you, it’s probably going to take decades of work and disappointment. Ask me how I know.

In the end, you can’t run from the things you’ve done by creating a new Facebook profile for yourself. In the end, the truth comes out.

People are who they show you they are. And Life is just Life.

How Can the SCA Do Better?

Originally published January 1, 2019.

So it seems to me that there are two big issues facing the SCA right now:

1) problematic behavior, such as but not exclusively: sexual harassment and bigotry related to race, gender, orientation, gaslighting, etc.
2) the behavior we see when someone’s problematic behavior is called out – IE, calling a POC a bigot when they call for the SCA to boycott a hotel that promotes or allows racist behavior from its staff.

I am generally an in your face kind of guy about both of these kinds of behaviors. But a good worker has lots of tools in the toolbox. So many of you here on my friends list don’t like it that the SCA doesn’t seem to have a good plan for combating racism or gaslighting. The anti-discrimination policy doesn’t appear to have much by way of teeth.

What are ways we can push the SCA to take a more enlightened stance on these issues? How do we enable the SCA to do better?

The Person I’m Working On the Most is Me

Originally published December 9, 2018.

Folks. If you exit from a conversation with me claiming that it’s not worth it because all I want to do is prove I’m more “woke” than you on something you suddenly decide is unimportant, then you’re seriously missing the point, just like calling me an SJW in a pejorative manner misses the point.

Being woke isn’t a victory. Mostly it’s horrifying. And I don’t work at being socially aware to claim superiority. I do it for two reasons:

I do it because the person I’m working on the most is me. None of us is perfect, and as a cis-het-presenting white male, I need to be constantly evaluating myself, discovering my own problematic behaviors, and striving to do better. For a long time I’ve concentrated on moderating how I speak in the SCA; this is just an extension of that.

I also do it because as a cis-het-presenting white male, I consider it my job to be on the front lines, fighting sexism, transpbobia, homophobia, racism, classism, etc, and it’s my job to support minorities of all kinds in their fight as well. I pull aggro. I speak up. I make myself a target. And I do it on purpose.

Personally, I don’t feel that I can choose a type of systemic oppression to fight; I feel that I have to try and eradicate them all. That’s me; I don’t make choices for other people, but suggesting to me that all I’m trying to do is score points on something that’s “not important” doesn’t make me feel any worse than when you call me a social justice warrior. As if that’s a bad thing. All justice is social justice, folks. We are all called to fight for it. I’m proud to say I do.

Now, the point of this post is not to discuss problematic Christmas songs, but I’ll say this: I love the the music of “Baby it’s cold outside”, especially the covers that evoke the big-band heritage it comes from. Tom Jones & Cerys Matthews, belting it out in front of a few dozen horns, some saxaphones and clarinets, and a drummer, and it’s fantastic. I love it. I’m transported.

But only provided I ignore the words. Because there’s only two contexts the lyrics belong in: the historical one, and the modern one.

Historically, it’s about a woman who has to pretend that she’s being coerced into staying at her gentleman friend’s apartment, because in the culture of the time, she’s not allowed to have her own sexual agency. 1944 was not a time when most women could openly choose to sleep with whomever they chose.

And let’s be clear – 1944 isn’t that long ago. My father was alive in 1944. It’s barely been in my lifetime that people generally stopped thinking that husbands were allowed to force their wives to have sex with them.

And modernly, it’s a description of sexual harassment, at best, and rape at worst.

Either way, the woman in this song is subjected to the Patriarchy inflicting harm.

We need to be aware of these problems. We must evaluate such things critically, in our current context, because, well, that’s the context we live in. Why should sexual mores of the 1940s be treated one way, and the Confederate soldier memorials of the Jim Crow era be treated differently?

Because, remember folks – Jim Crow didn’t end till at – least – ten years after this song debuted.

We’re not talking ancient history here. And maybe that’s why it’s so hard.

Read this. It’s important. This kind of behavior didn’t suddenly become problematic. It’s always been a problem.

Don’t Leave it to Beaver

Originally published October 9, 2018. This seems a little pollyana now, looking back almost two years later. The conclusion isn’t wrong, exactly, but it’s incomplete. Sure, you can be in the SCA and never discuss modern politics, but what you can’t do is leave your biases at at Gate. They’re too ingrained. And a whole lotta people chose to insist on exposing themselves.

A post made from a slightly edited comment on another thread talking about nostalgia in the context of conservatives trying to make America “what it was”:

So here’s the thing: this kind of BS leave it to beaver father knows best nostalgia is NOT what the SCA is about. The SCA is the Middle Ages as they should have been. That means celebrating the good in anyone and leaving all the old prejudices behind. There’s no burning of witches, no stoning of polyamorous people, no torture of heathens or apostates.

There’s same sex consorts in crown tournament, Baronies run by two Baronesses, non-gendered persona titles, and women Knights.

If that’s what you’re interested (and there’s still room for cishet-presenting white dudes with wives and children like you and me) then great.

You can be in the SCA and never reveal or discuss modern politics. But you’re going to have to choose to not reveal or discuss modern politics.

Make Yourself Pay Attention

Originally published on September 5, 2018.

Here is a Twitter thread that I feel illustrates pretty well what a lot of my white liberal SCA friends have been going through.

Just because you don’t see something happen, doesn’t mean it’s not happening. It’s possible it’s not happening in front of you. It’s possible you don’t recognize it. And it’s possible you’re just unconsciously ignoring it.

None of those things make you a bad person – but now that you know what’s going on, you have to decide what you’re going to DO about it. Because you can no longer unconsciously ignore it.

So what’s it gonna be?