Monday, January 15, 2007


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Marion Rickenbacker

As a relative newcomer to SL, I can't say I've noticed that race is "fluid" - although avatar change is easy, skin colour remains constant. In the two - three months since joining, I have met just one non-white avatar (excluding furries and samurai and assorted monsters), and she is black in RL! Maybe I need to get around more, but my impression is that in this respect SL pretty much mirrors RL society, and in public areas is considerably less mixed than my home city of London.

Trevor Russell

My comment is a bit more technical and shallow.

Normally, the Sun in SL has no definite altitude, and you will never get to it, no matter how high or far you fly(ive tried, using a flight boost that travels at 4000m/s).

Today, however, as the sun is in a special mode, you can reach the sun, at 980 m, to be precise.

To get these results:
*push Ctrl-Shift-Y(Force sun to the Noon position).
*Fly to an altitude of 975 m. (you need a flight boost to reach this height, if anyone wants one, IM me in-game at Trevor Russell)
*Fly horizontally towards the sun(my experience is that it is at the NW corner of the sim)

Following these steps should give you a close and personal look with Martin Luther King Jr.

Strange, no?

Jenny Edwards

I changed my appearance on 14th after reading the thoughts about SL being so white focused. I've found only positive responses so far and discussed a bit about the reason with people. But I found it impossible to find a realistic black skin for sale. Simply darkening the shade leads to a flat appearance which is not so realistic. We need some good designs for skins, hair, fashion that reflect the cultural diversity of our world (and my city, London).

It is a good experience tho and I intend to switch SL ethnic identities regularly from now on.

bryan campen

I do find it interesting that in a world where anyone can be anything, almost no Americans choose to be African American (a la Chris Rock's observation that we whites would not even want to be Michael Jordan if we could), and that the community, its concerns, needs and destiny are so poorly represented.

bryan campen

I also find the metaphor of the sun quite odd, considering that the only myth in the western world worth relating to it is Icarus.
Two years ago I spoke with a subject of Studs Terkel's Race, and as an African American man who lived throught the tumult of the civil rights movement in Chicago was very annoyed to find I was doing a documentary on black church. "I am sick of singing 'We Shall Overcome', and you should do something on the fact that the founders of this country were all slaveowners.'" Somehow I find that relevant to this discussion.
I think we as whites in America right now rule sl, really, and we are doing a poor job in the states--and sl--of bridging the digital divide, especially in terms of race. Dressing as African American for a day comes nowhere near what we need to be doing and sounds incredibly naive to me. I understand the gesture, but just once a year?
I *would* be down for anyone who wants to get together in the "Congress" sponsored by a corporation and singing the black national anthem "Lift Every Voice and Sing"
*That* would be awesome.

Miriel Enfield

I'm white in RL, and I change my avatar's race the way I change her hair -- and for the same reason. So far, I've wandered around the grid as... oh, five different races, and yes, that includes a black avatar. Nobody's ever said anything, though I don't get out much.

And while I realize this is different from the proposed exercise, I have a feeling many of the same people objecting to the exercise would object to my practices. Frankly, I find any assertion that what I'm doing is harmful and offensive to be itself harmful and offensive. Smacking white players on the wrist for wanting to be a different skin color seems to do nothing but bring rigid racial divisions into SL and offend those players. (Personally, I'm not thrilled at the idea that my RL skin color locks me into only being able to explore a certain kind of beauty with my avatar.)

P.S. Jenny, have you tried Robin Sojourner's Yummy skins? She has a really nice black skin.

bryan campen

Never thought it was harmful and offensive, and I never said that. Sorry that perhaps my tone was such that you took it away from what I wrote, but I never meant or said that. I said it is far, far short of what people need to be doing, and that is the truth. To be black for a day is, to my mind, a little glib.

Miriel Enfield

Your remarks didn't offend me, bryan, for the record. I was more referring to the assertions that having an avatar of a different race (at least if you're white) is basically blackface.

bryan campen

I never meant or said that. What I meant was that to be in a skin for a day is a little, well, too easy. I think it is sincere, though, and not blackface (I'm not sure how that was inferred from what I said). Anyway! Would be great to celebrate MLK day in sl.

Miriel Enfield

Sorry, I wasn't clear. I wasn't referring to your remarks at all, but rather to my understanding of Moriah Moreau's comments.

bryan campen

lol sorry! I was not paying enough attention myself. Hehehe. Scuse the miscommunication on my part, too.

dga Kyomoon

I have posted a longer note on Moriash's blog addressing the "empathy" and blackface issues so I'm only going to mention the last two paragraphs of that comment here. If you are interested, please go back to his blog. A later comment to my note has also been posted so there are two reasons to do that.

My intention was very simple. It was a numbers game, in a sense, the SL equivalent of marching in an MLK Day parade. My thought was, imagine “an announcement by the Lindens of a concurrency of 20,000+ non-whites” from an avatar world that is decidedly, on a day to day basis, white. In an environment where changes in gender, species and even into non-existent forms are lauded, why is race change so revolutionary? It's obvious there's an RL crossover here that's deeper than we've acknowledged.

I also felt that doing this once was not enough. I suggested the 15th of every month thereafter. I felt this would be necessary to build an ongoing consciousness of diversity, a diversity that does not seem to be served by fairies and bunnies and the current manifestations of avatars. I think, perhaps, only in this way can SL be truly about breaking barriers, be made something more than “just another costume-fest”.

For the time being, I'm keeping my new skin.

True to The Game

I am a black female in sl and in rl. I rarely see other black av's. My av looks a lot like me, big booty and all. I get a lot of attn, especially from the French males. I have been treated rudely by white female av's. Most of the friends i have made that appear as white av's are black in real life, just as a lot of the white women av's are really black men in rl...I guess you never know....and i guess it doesnt matter. One day I walked around in one of my white skins and it just felt un natural to me so I changed back... SL allows you to totally express your inner self...My blackness is within me, so I choose to be what i really am...I created my own shade and paired it with a modify -able skin and i think she looks pretty good. It was hard to find black hair though, and some of the black skins that i did find were not very attractive...there are some out there though. I appreciate your effort to do something for the King Holiday in SL.

In Kenzo


I was a gnu tree, all barky and dark brown.
People didn't quite know what to make of it.


just register

just register

Aliasi Stonebender

Full disclosure: I'm not just white; until I moved to the southern US I was pale enough to blind casual onlookers.

I do have a black avatar, although the character it is meant to represent is not "African-American", but from the Southern lands of a fictional world where 'human' includes everything from people that look Just Like You to bald, panda-skinned pygmies and snakemen, so she doesn't count. And, to be fair, when I'm in a mood to be something "else", I start a fair ways away from human.

So, true, you aren't finding a lot of white people who want to be black. But I'm curious, given the huge furry/robot/monster 'population', how much of this just means there's a lot of people who don't care to be HUMAN, and if it's simply the case someone who's inclined to be straight-up human is also more inclined to stick close to their RL qualities. And if that means anything at all.


Interesting place :) Like it.

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