You Don’t Owe Them

Originally published May 8, 2019, but re-posted here today.

No photo description available.

My friends: this is one of the best things I’ve seen on any social media platform. We ALL would benefit from this. ESPECIALLY ME. So I will try to do it if you will try as well!

We all move through life in the middle of a blob. As we do, people enter our blob. Most of them pass right out of the blob in a few minutes. Sometimes they hang out in the blob for a while. And sometimes, they stay forever.

The people who stay in your blob are our lasting relationships. But not all relationships are good, even if that person stays in your blob for a really long time. So if you’ve got someone in your blob you don’t like, you don’t have to interact with them! Maybe you can get them to leave your blob, maybe you don’t, but YOU DO NOT OWE THEM ANYTHING.

And the thing you owe them the least is residence in your head. Sure, you can’t stop them from talking bout again YOU DO NOT OWE THEM ANYTHING — especially your attention.

If they’re not someone who’s opinion you respect enough to ask for it? They’re not someone who’s unsolicited opinion you need to listen to. Give ’em the boot! Banish them to the fringes of your blob! It’s YOUR blob, not theirs!

Happy blobbing, friends!

(h/t Davius for the meme and inspiration)

Do Better, Be Better

Originally published on May 1, 2019, but it remains 100% relevant today, especially as a peer.

Today’s morning thought:

It’s not enough to – want – to do better. Most people – want – to do better. I used to tell people I – wanted – to better. I would have an interaction, and then I would have an epiphany (or someone would shove one in my face hole).

I would apologize, even PROMISE to do better, and then within weeks even days, I’d be back to old behaviors. Old behaviors are easy. They’re comfortable. They’re painless and smooth

You have to BE better. You have to actually change your behavior.

And wow, that’s hard. It hurts, not just because you’re retraining your brain, but because as you do, you discover all the hurt and pain you’ve caused in the past to people who you either didn’t care about, didn’t know, or didn’t recognize.

Epiphanies mean nothing if you don’t act on them. Wanting is great as a motivator. You have to DO it.

#changenotapologies
#bemindful
#youhavetobebetter
#dothething

Evaluate Yourself

It’s important to realize that [people in the majority] benefit from several racist and sexist constructs of society by no direct action of your own. No one wants to blame you for the actions of others, or those of your ancestors. We just want things to get better for those who have been harmed by those same constructs.

White folks: if it’s not about you, then don’t sweat it. If someone says “white men are trash” and you know that you’re not a trash white man, it ain’t about you, let it go. If someone says “all white women clutch their pearls” but you know you don’t do that, it ain’t about you, let it go.

Our egos are literally the least important thing to be thinking about right now.

Being an ally doesn’t mean you’re perfect, but it DOES mean that when you screw up, you should be willing to listen to members of the affected minority that you’ve impacted and change your behavior to do better.

Being an ally specifically means that you’re going to work to learn from your mistakes and change how you act.

Being an ally DOES NOT MEAN saying “hey be nice to this other person who has done bad things to you and your people, because they’re a potential good ally and you don’t want to alienate them.”

That is not allyship. Allies don’t speak for other people. They support them in speaking for themselves.

This is an amalgamation of this post, this post, and this post.

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.

With Great Power…

Originally published on September 15, 2020.

Today on Andreas’ Admonitions (one in a continuing series I wish I didn’t feel compelled to write):

Just because you’ve never gotten push-back on your troublesome opinions before doesn’t make them not troublesome. It just means that either people don’t feel safe around you, or other people are trying to curry favor with you because you hold influence and power in an activity that they value. It means you need to grow as an individual. Power doesn’t make you a good person.

What you do with that power reflects what kind of person you are.

In addition, the structure and boundaries of relationships between Peers and their dependents are wholly private and unofficial and have nothing to do with the rules of the SCA. Here’s what is governed by SCA rules: a person’s conduct in accordance with the SCA’s Core Values and Code of Conduct.

I’ve written before about how social media has changed the SCA both for the better and the worse. There are people I consider good friends that I never would have gotten to know without Facebook. There are also people who I have let go of because they showed us who they really are. It is my personal choice who I directly associate with; the SCA has no authority over that.

I do not believe that you can be a racist and be a good peer. I do not believe that you can be a homophobe “in real life” and leave your bigotry at the gate. I do not believe that 1000+ word screeds about how BLM is a group of communist terrorists, or refusing to recognize someone’s gender identity, or their marriage, are “closely held opinions”. Indeed, when they’re posted publicly on Facebook, it’s no different than broadcasting them over the radio, shouting them through a megaphone, or putting them up on a billboard. These are not simply speech.

They are an action.

And when someone who espouses these beliefs repeatedly is called on it by people who are no longer willing to be cowed or tone-policed, that’s not doxing; that’s simply consequences. Words mean things. Doxing has a specific definition.

Reporting bad behavior with supporting screenshots is not doxing.

The SCA is a private organization, and as such is not only allowed to decide who may participate but is required to adhere to certain standards. The membership cannot ignore the fact that the SCA Inc is a US Not For Profit organization, subject to modern laws and regulations that also govern conduct.

If the SCA stands for Chivalry, Honor, and Integrity, then it must stand for Inclusion, Equity and Diversity, and it cannot stand for Prejudice, Exclusivity, and Homogeneity.

We all need to examine our internal biases. We all need to apologize for the harms we have done. We all need to strive to do better. We all need to lift each other up.

Write to the Board in support of our progress, be kind, and be safe.

See you next time, on Andreas’ Admonitions! 😕😕😕

Do Better, Be Better

Originally published August 21, 2020.

This letter took me a LONG time to write. I even did research! Unfortunately, I can’t point you at the “Revolution for the Dream” FB group, because it’s become private, hidden, invite only. The person behind it, who was Queen of Trimaris, wrote this letter found here: https://www.facebook. com/notes/ogier-larmurier/letter-to-the-bod/163344672055105/ (take the space out between the dot and the com, because I’m not linking to it. This post was written before their letter, but it demonstrates the lack of personal accountability and inability to see their own privilege that I talk about all the time.

Another day, another letter to the BoD…

——————

To the Board of Directors,

My name is Drew Nicholson. In the SCA, I am known as Andreas Blacwode. I live in the MidRealm, and I have been an SCA member for over 30 years.

I know that you have been receiving a lot of letters about the recent changes made in collaboration with the Corporate DEI Officer, Jessica Van Hattem, (who, by the way, is doing an amazing job, along with John Fulton and Lis Schraer) and that many of the letters are being sent by members of the SCA who are unhappy with this direction of the SCA towards inclusion, equity, and diversity.

My letter today is written to urge you to continue to support the DEI Office, and indeed, to expand its scope and mandate. But even more so, I am writing today to urge the Board of Directors, specifically, to hold the line, and to continue to expel those who have consistently and continually shown that they are unable to abide by the SCA Statement of Core Values. Rather than name specific individuals, I am going to talk about two specific concepts that I want to focus on as recommendations to the Board to consider in all deliberations:

1. The recognition of Speech Acts
2. Separating Rank from Sanctionable Actions

All SCA participants are called to conduct themselves in accordance with the SCA’s Statement of Core Values[1]. These values do not place one set of political views over another, nor do they require someone to give up their personal opinions on anything. What they do establish is a Code of Conduct – IE, all SCA participants are expected to act in certain ways.

1. Speech Acts

I submit to the Board that having a personally held belief is not the same thing as making that belief known – especially on social media, where statements can be shared, in their entirety, with hundreds or thousands of people.

As an obvious example, there is a difference between thinking “I don’t believe that trans women are women,” and posting it on Facebook. While I disagree with the former, it’s a personally held belief that, when not acted on, is mostly harmless. However, when the statement “I don’t believe that trans women are women” is posted on a FB account that is obviously associated with the SCA and/or an SCA participant, it violates many, if not all of the SCA’s Core Values – because once posted on Facebook, or spoken aloud at an event, for that matter, it is no longer a just a personally held belief. It is a Speech Act[2] – a statement that does not just reflect a meaning or opinion; but one that is designed to get things done.

There is an implied action in statements such as:

“I don’t believe that trans women are women [and I won’t treat them the way they think they should be].”
“I don’t believe that gay marriage is valid [and I refuse to recognize that relationship].”
“The biggest problem for black people is black-on-black crime [therefore I am going to treat black people like criminals].”

When statements like this are made public, and they have the names of senior, highly-ranked & respected SCA Peers and Royal Peers attached, they have an influence in two ways. First, we regard SCA Peers and Royal Peers as exemplars, and if an exemplar acts this way, it suggests to non-peers that they should emulate that behavior. Secondly, these statements have a Chilling Effect[3] on participation; they make the SCA unwelcoming to people who do not fit the mold of what appears to be desired. These kinds of statements actively drive potential new SCA participants away.

Once posted or spoken, these statements are no longer just personally held beliefs. Facebook is not a secret diary, or a private letter to family.

When you write something on social media, that is no different than saying it in a large group of people or putting it up on a billboard for all to see.

Doing this is an action, and the actions detailed above absolutely violate the SCA Statement of Core Values.

2. Separating Rank from Sanctionable Actions

We all have unconscious, or implicit, biases. We learn them from our families, from our communities, and from the societies in which we live. They tend to favor our own in-groups – people like us — although not always. These implicit biases become part of our perspectives, and manifest in both our verbal and non-verbal communications. They influence us even when we are unaware of them.[4]

I submit to the Board that these biases do not manifest just about race, or gender identity, or economic class; nor are they only formed when we are children. They also manifest in adults, and about other things, such as rank in the SCA. As I said above, the SCA teaches us to respect peers and people with coronets, which means many SCAdians develop favorable unconscious biases about them. This can lead us to make excuses for Knights, Pelicans, Laurels, Masters of Defense, and Royal Peers when they do something wrong. This is a version of something called the Halo Effect[5], wherein people who think highly of an individual in one way are likely to think of them highly in several other ways – i.e., if we think someone is a good fighter, we may also think they’re chivalrous, or charismatic.

The only way to challenge and change unconscious bias is with introspection and reflection, but it is difficult and takes time. In addition to that, I recommend that the Board of Directors seek to minimize unconscious bias by using more immediately applicable techniques. One method could be for the names and ranks of the offenders to be anonymized as much as possible when the BoD deliberates on the results of the investigation.

Consider: are certain actions acceptable from someone who has been in the SCA for two months or two years? Why, then, would they be acceptable from a Viscount or a Knight or a Landed Baroness?

Anonymization is used in corporations around the globe that want to reduce unconscious bias in hiring. There are applications that remove candidate names and photos to enable hiring managers to focus on skills and experience, such as Blendoor.com, or Ubias.io, a Google Chrome extension that removes faces and names from LinkedIn profiles. While there may not be specific automation or technologies that could do this for the SCA Board of Directors, the results of investigations could still be anonymized manually for the purposes of reporting to the BoD, and then vote before the names and ranks of the people being investigated are revealed. Even if you do not choose to do that, I sincerely hope that the Directors will think about unconscious bias and how it might be affecting their deliberations.

Why Does this Matter?

This matters because there is a Facebook group, called “Revolution for the Dream”, administered by a Royal Peer who reigned with someone who was sanctioned by the Board of Directors recently for poor conduct. Many of the participants of that group are Peers or Royal Peers who are unhappy with the steps the SCA has taken. They have forgotten what it is like to be young and unsure of themselves and they have forgotten how it feels to be excluded. They are mounting a concerted effort to roll back the progress that the SCA has made in the areas of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. They want to force the BoD to reverse or end the sanctions that have been implemented against some of their more problematic friends. They are unable to discern their own unconscious biases. And I believe that they think that your joint experience with them means that you will unconsciously favor them.

Why? Because the Board of Directors is made up of seven people, with one additional Director-Elect. Of those eight people, four are royal peers. Six hold a bestowed peerage. Four are double peers. Only one member of the current Board holds neither a royal nor bestowed peerage. You have all worked hard for the accolades with which you have been recognized. The average SCAdian feels that the BoD is in very rarified territory – but the people in this “Revolution” group do not understand or do not care. I urge you to recognize this, and I urge you to make a conscious decision to represent all of the SCA – especially those who are of minority populations – in your deliberations regarding the deeds that other, more popular and powerful SCAdians have committed, to make the SCA less welcoming, less diverse, and less equitable.

  • I stand in favor of the proposed revisions to the Introduction to the Governing Documents.
  • I stand in support of the Corporate Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and its mission.
  • I stand in appreciation for the work the Board of Directors has done to make the SCA a more welcoming place.

In service and in song, I am,

Magister Andreas Blacwode

Companion of the Order of the Pelican
Baron of the Court of William & Isolde
Participant of the SCA for Thirty Years.
MKA Drew Nicholson, Member #73128
______________________________

[1] https://www.sca.org/sca-code-of-conduct-core-values/
[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Speech_act
[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chilling_effect
[4] For more on Unconscious Bias, see https://www.americanbar.org/…/unconscious-bias-implicit-bi…/
[5] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halo_effect

cc:
John Fulton, President, SCA, Inc.
Lis Shraer, VP for Operations, SCA, Inc.
Jessica Van Hattem, Corporate Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer, SCA, Inc.

Peddler of Bombast, Man of Parts.
Ka is a wheel.
Haec officia officialis honesti.
Merda aspera est, eho.

On SCA Titles and Problematic Words

Originally published on July 4, 2020.

So this was spurred by a comment on a different post, and it got me to thinking about how, even though we’re trying to create cultures and environments that ended long before the enslavement of humans and the repercussions of doing so tore this country apart, the vast majority of SCAdians are living in a country subsumed in systemic racism and the consequences of it. Thus, this post.

I’m still a big fan of Caussidicus.

So for the few of you who haven’t heard, there’s an ongoing discussion about the titles “Master” and “Mistress” and how they bother people in certain ways – there’s a lot of women in general who don’t like Mistress, and Master is problematic on multiple levels.

I’ve been thinking about this on my own, and doing a bunch of 100% not guaranteed to be accurate, historical, or appropriate translating using an Old English translator, google translate, and a thesaurus to come up with potential words that could be used as titles.

I tried to think of words that indicated what I do as a pelican, and I looked for Old English and Latin because that’s what’s appropriate for my persona… I think.

I haven’t tried to do any validation of the use of these words in this manner. It’s all just very much the beginning of my thoughts on the issue. I still really like Magister, which is most frequently translated as “Teacher” – but also translates as “Master”. But maybe there are options below that will work? I don’t know. So, I’m asking for commentary.

I will point out that just like with arms or names, just because something isn’t passed by the College of Heralds doesn’t mean I can’t use it, it just means it can’t be official.

note: these are -for-me-. If any of them work for other peers, then that’s grand, but I’m not (at this point anyway) trying to make some kind of exhaustive list. I’m just looking for something I can use that I can be happy with.

Latin – Rough Translation
Consiliario – Counselor
Oraculi – Guide
Curagendarius – Overseer, Manager
Praevians – Patron
Praesul – Patron
Caussidicus – Advocate, Pleader of causes
Amicus – philanthropist

Old English – Rough Translation
þeahtere – Counselor
Hléowdryhten – Patron
þingere – Advocate
Rihtend – One who Arranges Matters
Rædesmann – Counselor, Advisor
Wicnere – Officer, Minister, Steward, Manager
Héahleornere – High Teacher
Lársmið – Teacher, Counselor

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.