Days before the inauguration of Barack Obama, this is a vexing post to read: After a year of holding back from writing it ("because I felt I was overreacting") Nexeus Fatale discusses his frustrations in finding good ethnic avatar skins and accessories. African-American and Hispanic in real life, Nexeus is one of Second Life's oldest Residents, an established live music DJ, and a lead organizer of the SL Community Convention. Despite that, he recounts fruitless searches in top SL fashion emporiums, finding skins that are just darkened versions of light ones, or come without hair selections popular in black/Latino communities.
"I’m not claiming racism" he notes up front; instead, he sees the problem as a lack of research among the SL fashion community. "I believe designers need to re-evaluate what they have and work on creating more items and content that is more diverse and of equal quality or don’t do it at all." It's a post well-worth reading, including the extensive (and sometimes heated) comment thread. I personally suspect a chief culprit is lack of market demand; nightlcub owner Eboni Khan, for example, once told me that most fellow African-Americans she knows prefer lighter skin avatars. The solution may require crossing the language barrier. You have to believe Brazil's extremely large Second Life community are doing a much better job at creating and selling ethnically varied avatars-- but if they are, it's difficult for the non-Portuguese speaking world to learn about them.