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laplacetransformation

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A little backstory until now
« on: February 11, 2016, 12:28:59 AM »

Hey Guys, I've been going to fanime since 07, its almost been 10 years straight (Staffed 2 years in a row)!...I originally went to fanime (besides being an anime fan) because a girl I use to like a lot was going and she didnt have a place to stay. So i mustered as much money as I could in high school and with a couple of friends we came down and boy did I have a blast. My first year I only went for 2 days but I got chased and almost robbed over by the pizza hut. Great times, every year I've been going back and there has been so many great memories. I brought my girlfriend and her family 5 years ago and they've loved it every year but they mainly go to clockwork. 

But now days I just feel more and more distant from fanime and the audience. You see I am a black guy and not just for me but for some of my friends we constantly have to deal with people grabbing their purses or walking away from us as if we are going to do things. Always accusing us of something we probably aren't even thinking about. *Sigh* I really hate bringing this up because I dont feel entitled to anything but I feel like when I am working the day to day and I come home play my RPG's and watch Anime/Read manga. I used to believe it was probably just my paranoia, but I bumped into a girl one year and I turned to say sorry(it was a light bump/not used to the crowded hallways) and when I turned to say sorry she was already on the ground going through her bag looking to see if I stole anything...Seriously she thinks people steal like they do in anime...
But anyways.


I just feel that if I went to a convention with other like minds I should feel respected and welcomed. To those who this post may apply to I think I understand where you are coming from....I think.

For those who are in the same situation as me(you dont have to be black/male) care to share some stories?


For those who probably have done what I brought up, or have seen/know someone do it how do you feel you can be honest and share even bad experiences?


The conventions coming up lets all come together ~ :D
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echoshadow

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Re: A little backstory until now
« Reply #1 on: February 11, 2016, 07:13:09 AM »

Dude, it's ok. As much as I like fanime, it's the only con that has a weird vibe when it comes to the people. Any other con I been to I felt right at home, here it seems like someone was giving me the stink eye.  Not all the time but you know what I mean.

Maybe cause most of the attendees are young and this is their first big con, but the general vibe I get from fanime is very cliquey.

Maybe cause I been spoiled by the amazing times I had at AX's 21+ meet and greets that fanime seems... Well you know.....

 First time I tried to invite random people I meet at panels for a room party the all had the "stranger danger" look after I told them. I would just laugh cause it was comical.  Not everyone is like that but I say the 75% of people I asked said no. It's wasn't like I just went up to the crowd and ask a random, it was after we chatted in line for a while or at a panel of even friends of friends.

But meh, maybe the look of my mug, or not an active cosplayer or what ever, but eh. Some people are just not that social. Guess you have to find like minded people.
Oh snap! see that's the cliquey thing right there.
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Melphina

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Re: A little backstory until now
« Reply #2 on: February 11, 2016, 08:13:35 AM »

It also seems to be that what the media has been making people paranoid about large gatherings of people. Speaking for myself i am a very shy person till i get to know someone. So going to cons i have to remember that everyone is here for the fandoms and to enjoy being around like minded people. It also seem to be that anime has been becoming more popular with younger people like Echoshadow mentioned. So for some of us who have been watching anime longer that some attendees have been alive we look weird. Hope im not off point but this is my take on it.
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Kuudere

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Re: A little backstory until now
« Reply #3 on: February 11, 2016, 02:47:45 PM »

Oh believe me, I can get ranty on this subject, too.

Ultimately, Fanime, like any other place, is filled with some great people and some crappy people. I'm a white female, so the amount of discrimination I face is negligible in comparison to the first poster, but even I have some negative experiences regarding con-goers and race. I dressed as Celty a few years back, and if you're unfamiliar with the character, the cosplay is a tight leather one-piece with a large helmet. It shows no skin, and I painted my neck to add to the "headless" look. As I was running to get somewhere, this guy approaches me and asks, "What race are you?" This is a question POCs may get all the time, but as an obvious white girl, I stood there confused at the question until he saw my wrist peeking through above my glove and said, "oh, you're white. Never mind." To this day, this is the weirdest interaction I've had in cosplay. Why my race matters at all, and why he felt it appropriate to ask a stranger that, is something I still don't understand. Likewise, my boyfriend (who's Cambodian and actually does get the "what race are you?" question all the time) dressed as the original Black Power Ranger one year. He lost count of the amount of times people asked if he was "really black" behind the helmet, and even more inappropriately, if he was "black down there" also. What the hell, people?

I'm also sick of the term "black version" of a cosplay. If an African American girl dresses as Sailor Moon, regardless of if she uses a blonde wig or her natural hair, she is SAILOR MOON, not a "black version of Sailor Moon." It's just straight-up disrespectful to the time and energy that she put into her cosplay to categorize it like that. I don't see us white people being called the "white version" of whatever Japanese character we're cosplaying, so why does it happen to another race?

One last thing regarding race that I've seen around conventions is the idea that "only X race can cosplay Y character." I love Garnet from Steven Universe (who, to be clear, is an alien gem and thus race-less), but I will never, ever cosplay her because I've seen people online tear apart white cosplayers for daring to cosplay her, equating them to racists for their way of showing appreciation for an awesome character. I would understand that mentality if someone were doing offensive blackface, but that's not the case here. Also, no one is taking a character away from any other group; literally anyone can cosplay anything they want. That's kind of the point of cosplay to begin with. I know that that's a very unpopular opinion on some parts of the Internet, but I don't agree with the belief that a fictional character can "belong" to a race.

People are just really, really weird about race. Still. That doesn't stop at the convention doors, unfortunately. We may seem to be a more inclusive bunch, but there are still just as many judgmental people as there are outside the con scene.
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cutiebunny

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Re: A little backstory until now
« Reply #4 on: February 11, 2016, 03:44:17 PM »

Much of the 'stink eye' element is just due to you being an older attendee.  Once you hit the age of 25, especially if you look your age or older, you're going to get a lot of condescending looks not only from younger attendees who will bemoan that you're too old for this and you should 'go adult' somewhere else, but from their parents, many of whom are under the impression that you're out to defile their precious.  As an older attendee, I get those too along with "Which one is yours" comments from other adults.  I've heard from much older con goers (age 50+) that they not only get the parental comments, but are often mistaken for the janitor or other convention related staff.  So, there's what you young'uns have to look forward to experiencing.

Regarding "clutching the purse tighter" because of your race, while not trying to condone it, this is something that happens in society as a whole.  It is not just a Fanime element; I've seen old white women clutch their purses tighter in the mall when passing black teenage boys. I don't think most people are even aware that they do this.  I know I've realized I've clutched my bag tighter after the fact and then wondered why I did it in the first place.

I've been attending Animazement (North Carolina) in lieu of Fanime since 2013.  Unless you've gone to a southern convention, you don't have much of an idea of how bad it can get.  Black people are more or less shunned at the con, doubly so if they try to cosplay a character that is not black or masked.  Woe unto you if you happen to be disabled.  Not only is the convention center itself a horrible place to navigate in a wheelchair as there are two elevators, spaced down a long hall from each other, and one elevator will take you to the top floor and the other to the bottom floor...but not both.  Not only that, but the city itself is not designed to handle wheelchairs, with steep hills and inaccessible sidewalks.  This doesn't even include the narrow dealer hall aisles, nor the people who would smack against my friend's foot, crying "I just wanna get through!".  My friend was confined to a wheelchair due to a car accident 3 months before the convention and I was the one pushing her around the con the entire weekend.  Con staff were very callous, refusing to create a special line to accommodate people with special needs and forced them to stand with everyone.

As bad as you think Fanime is in this regard, Animazement is far worse.
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SquishyK

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Re: A little backstory until now
« Reply #5 on: February 12, 2016, 12:38:14 PM »

I feel like Fanime is slowly becoming an "older con". It's starting to garner more outside traffic as opposed to just the local high school and college kids. And many of the locals that started going to Fanime back in high school are often choosing to continue attending and not just "go adult" somewhere else. I see more and more proposals happen at fanime and people starting to bring their kids to con. That probably contributes to people's assumption that if you are older and attending the con you might have come as a family. But I think it's becoming less of a chaperoning the little ones thing and more of a whole family event. (which personally I think is really cool). It's a slow transition and I think that Fanime will always attract a younger crowd on average.

As far as people reacting to the stranger danger situations I mostly have to sympathize with the one being cautions and assuming the worst of a situations. Friends of mine have gone to cons where someone tried to follow them back the their room un-invited. Underage people were getting groped at one con. Even something as simple as a person offering my friend in a fur suit a drink of water could be a dangerous situation. So when we subconsciously judge if a situation is potentially dangerous, is race a factor? unfortunately yes. Is age a factor? you bet ya. Personally I've yet to have a bad experience with someone of color at a convention. And I have never felt paranoid or threatened by someone of color at a convention. In fact there have been a couple black cosplayers who were really awesome and made my con that year. On the other hand there is an older white guy my friends and I see at cons/gatherings on occasion and actively avoid. My point is "when you look at the world through rose colored glasses all the red flags look white". They aren't doing it to be offensive, many of them probably aren't consciously aware of it. As a woman there are many stereotypes and double standards that I have to deal with on a daily basis and it's very frustrating to say the least. So I understand where you are coming from there. However, I would be surprised if you got that attitude from the vast majority of attendees at Fanime. So do you let the attitudes of the few ruin the experience as a whole?
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Amanojaku

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Re: A little backstory until now
« Reply #6 on: February 15, 2016, 02:40:04 AM »

I've had long hair since highschool, and in the past, used to dress "metal" or "goth" depending on who you asked, so I'm familiar with sideways glances and looks of suspicion when going into stores or sitting next to strangers.  You know, because long haired men who wear black are degenerates who steal, or something. 

On a racial note, I did experience some of that too during the time I spent in Japan as the tall hairy gaijin.  Wouldn't you know, it was the transgender woman on the train who moved her bag so I could sit down when nobody else was budging, but I digress.

I have experienced none of this at FanimeCon, however.  If ever there was a place where I felt like I didn't stand out, it is at the convention.  At 36, I know the age thing will catch up to me sooner than later.  Maybe its good genes, a lifetime of avoiding the sun like the plague, and the fact that my only grey hairs are in my facial hair which can be shaved away, but I have yet to feel too old or out of place yet.  People generally don't know, or don't care what my age is.  Clockwork Alchemy crossover also might help (there are some real oldies over there!)
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Nina Star 9

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Re: A little backstory until now
« Reply #7 on: February 16, 2016, 06:34:52 PM »

Sorry that you've had to deal with that. :[

I would love to be able to give people the benefit of the doubt and say "well, maybe she was already looking in her bag, or her phone was ringing...," but I also know that racism is real and that it could easily have been that she thought you may have stolen something. I'd say to not jump to conclusions as much as possible, but that kind of thing unfortunately happens all the time, so I really can't blame you at all for doing so (especially since I'm white and haven't experienced that firsthand). I agree with cutiebunny that a lot of this is probably unconscious and people might not be self-aware enough to realize that they are doing it, or that they are self aware about it afterwards but still do it almost by instinct, because society tells us that black men = dangerous.

Though, I have to say that I tend to have my guard up at this con more than other cons because I've had far more creeper experiences here than at other cons. Followed-down-the-street-and-demanded-for-personal-information or forcibly-pulled-into-a-crowd-to-be-told-how-much-someone-enjoys-masturbating-to-me creepy, not that-guy-looked-at-me-while-I'm-wearing-a-skimpy-outfit creepy. It probably has to do with the size of the con and the demographics. I haven't noticed a weird vibe generally, but it probably doesn't help that this con is increasingly becoming more of a party con (probably because they don't have a well run enough con to attract people for the actual con part of it...), so people seem to be progressively drunker each year, especially at night. Nothing against parties, but keep that shit contained and don't wake the rest of us up with your noise, yo.

I haven't gotten too much in terms of age discrimination, even though I'm over the age of 25, but I can probably pass for younger. People tend to be surprised when I say how long I've been going to cons/cosplaying, or that I know about fandom stuff from 15 years ago. I always have to be careful about the age thing because it can sometimes be hard to tell who is underage and who isn't just by looks, especially in cosplay (and heavy makeup or especially body paint). I'm not there hitting on people or anything, but it's still uncomfortable to be chatting with someone and then I find out that they're 15. I'm fine with being a bit of the fandom parent and serving as a role model and talking to younger folks, but I don't want to get close with 15 and 16 year olds, you know? (Having unsupervised 12 year olds show up at Dinnerstuck last year made me change the event to 21+. Nope. Not gonna do that.)
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laplacetransformation

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Re: A little backstory until now
« Reply #8 on: February 18, 2016, 07:23:34 AM »

Dude, it's ok. As much as I like fanime, it's the only con that has a weird vibe when it comes to the people. Any other con I been to I felt right at home, here it seems like someone was giving me the stink eye.  Not all the time but you know what I mean.

Maybe cause most of the attendees are young and this is their first big con, but the general vibe I get from fanime is very cliquey.

Maybe cause I been spoiled by the amazing times I had at AX's 21+ meet and greets that fanime seems... Well you know.....

 First time I tried to invite random people I meet at panels for a room party the all had the "stranger danger" look after I told them. I would just laugh cause it was comical.  Not everyone is like that but I say the 75% of people I asked said no. It's wasn't like I just went up to the crowd and ask a random, it was after we chatted in line for a while or at a panel of even friends of friends.

But meh, maybe the look of my mug, or not an active cosplayer or what ever, but eh. Some people are just not that social. Guess you have to find like minded people.
Oh snap! see that's the cliquey thing right there.

It's funny my friends who are pretty diverse(asian,black,white,mexican etc) attended a party next door. We didn't know the guy he was next to my suite so we came in to party. They were wearing horse mask so you couldn't tell their races. I was just walking in, and he stopped me and said if I knew anyone. Luckily I saw one of my friends on the couch talking to some people and I said "I knew her", and the horses. Then he tried to kick me out saying it was a private party. Then with a last minute resort I paused and said "Wait, I am staff at Fanime!"(Showed him my staff badge), the guy was extremely surprised and apologized and got me some drinks and let me come party for the rest of the weekend. I still laugh about how using a staff badge got me into a party.
But the point is, was this guy probably racist ? Probably not, did he probably have a stereotype of me as I walked in (yeah probably),I definitely feel that this guy thought I was a random black guy and not a Fanime staffer/attendee. I understand, I get it I definitely agree to say that its mainly the younger crowd. But the beauty of Fanime is that you can meet anyone, and be open with people (almost). It doesn't have to be perverse or anything. Sometimes you make friends from Fanime sometimes its just a one time hang out.
But thats what I love about this convention, I really hope it doesn't lose its charm. Especially with the convention rules becoming more and more strict.
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laplacetransformation

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Re: A little backstory until now
« Reply #9 on: February 18, 2016, 07:26:08 AM »

It also seems to be that what the media has been making people paranoid about large gatherings of people. Speaking for myself i am a very shy person till i get to know someone. So going to cons i have to remember that everyone is here for the fandoms and to enjoy being around like minded people. It also seem to be that anime has been becoming more popular with younger people like Echoshadow mentioned. So for some of us who have been watching anime longer that some attendees have been alive we look weird. Hope im not off point but this is my take on it.

You know I completely understand, but I was born in the UK although I was raised here in the US. My family in the UK as well as other Black people I've met (When I lived in Utah/Idaho) were not ghetto at all. I really hope people dont believe all black people are like this.
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laplacetransformation

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Re: A little backstory until now
« Reply #10 on: February 18, 2016, 07:28:14 AM »

Oh believe me, I can get ranty on this subject, too.

Ultimately, Fanime, like any other place, is filled with some great people and some crappy people. I'm a white female, so the amount of discrimination I face is negligible in comparison to the first poster, but even I have some negative experiences regarding con-goers and race. I dressed as Celty a few years back, and if you're unfamiliar with the character, the cosplay is a tight leather one-piece with a large helmet. It shows no skin, and I painted my neck to add to the "headless" look. As I was running to get somewhere, this guy approaches me and asks, "What race are you?" This is a question POCs may get all the time, but as an obvious white girl, I stood there confused at the question until he saw my wrist peeking through above my glove and said, "oh, you're white. Never mind." To this day, this is the weirdest interaction I've had in cosplay. Why my race matters at all, and why he felt it appropriate to ask a stranger that, is something I still don't understand. Likewise, my boyfriend (who's Cambodian and actually does get the "what race are you?" question all the time) dressed as the original Black Power Ranger one year. He lost count of the amount of times people asked if he was "really black" behind the helmet, and even more inappropriately, if he was "black down there" also. What the hell, people?

I'm also sick of the term "black version" of a cosplay. If an African American girl dresses as Sailor Moon, regardless of if she uses a blonde wig or her natural hair, she is SAILOR MOON, not a "black version of Sailor Moon." It's just straight-up disrespectful to the time and energy that she put into her cosplay to categorize it like that. I don't see us white people being called the "white version" of whatever Japanese character we're cosplaying, so why does it happen to another race?

One last thing regarding race that I've seen around conventions is the idea that "only X race can cosplay Y character." I love Garnet from Steven Universe (who, to be clear, is an alien gem and thus race-less), but I will never, ever cosplay her because I've seen people online tear apart white cosplayers for daring to cosplay her, equating them to racists for their way of showing appreciation for an awesome character. I would understand that mentality if someone were doing offensive blackface, but that's not the case here. Also, no one is taking a character away from any other group; literally anyone can cosplay anything they want. That's kind of the point of cosplay to begin with. I know that that's a very unpopular opinion on some parts of the Internet, but I don't agree with the belief that a fictional character can "belong" to a race.

People are just really, really weird about race. Still. That doesn't stop at the convention doors, unfortunately. We may seem to be a more inclusive bunch, but there are still just as many judgmental people as there are outside the con scene.

Yeah,
I definitely agree I used to wear full body costumes ( I was wearing gumby and then rigby[from the regular show]) people would ask me what I was? Like what does it matter. This year I wanted to do a Tokyo Ghoul cosplay, but I can only imagine the problems I'd get with it.
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