From Bohny Spad's Flickr
This week's post asking if it's "racial appropriation" for white people to play as black avatars provoked much conversation on this blog and on Facebook, so I wanted to highlight this comment from Bohny Spad, a black person in real life who also has a black avatar, making her uniquely qualified to weigh in on the subject:
As a black woman IRL and typically mid to dark skinned avatar as often as possible, I do think it's cultural appropriation. For years I couldn't even find a decent black skin in SL or many other games, so I had to pick the darkest tan I could. Once I found decent black skins that didn't cost 2 to 3 times as much as many white skins, I found the level of racism ramped up by a ton. There is some kind of idea that we are cheap/easy sex, that we enjoy being talked down to, that we somehow can't be intellectual or do things that are deemed "white".
She poses some pointed questions worth asking by people who aren't black, but roleplay as black avatars in virtual worlds:
If you aren't black, the luxury of throwing on a black skin and playing black should make you think about why you want to do that? Do you know black peoples IRL? Do you think they would be ok with what you do in SL? Do you actively call out the racist thoughts and behavior people have towards a black person, or do you just [say] "LOL I'm white"? Do you think it's cool to be black, but IRL you engage in black shaming, like saying things are "ghetto" or "hood"?
I'm curious how non-black people who play black avatars would answer these questions. In fact, if you do, please post in Comments. And as always, give the NWN comment guidelines a read before posting.