THE MOVEMENT MATTERS
I spent most of my youth playing tabletop games. My all-time favorites came from a company called R. Talsorian Games, which included titles like Mekton Zeta and Cyberpunk 2020, the latter receiving recent attention given its modern update in the video game, Cyberpunk 2077. The architect of those old games was Mike Pondsmith, and I loved his work. In 2012, when CD Project Red announced the development of Cyberpunk 2077 (yes, it has been that long), they brought Mike Pondsmith on stage to pay tribute to its original creator.
It was only then did I realize that Mike Pondsmith was black.
He also had the voice of an angel, but that's not what this is about.
As a famous stand-up comedian once claimed, this amounts to very mild racism—the fact that I even took notice, regardless if I appreciated the revelation or not. I did notice because I had made incorrect assumptions of the individual based upon my own preconceptions and assumptions, but when corrected, my opinion of the man in no way changed.
One aspect of being a game designer, especially before the onset of social media, was that we were blank slates. We know what actors and musicians look like, and even authors have their photos emblazoned on the inside of their books. But game designers are rarely that inflated. Now, it's unavoidable, and thanks to social media and the permanent memory of the internet, it's easy to find the political or ethical views of anyone of prominence, allowing followers to judge someone based on current and past announcements.
Admittedly, I am the cliché. I am a heterosexual white male over the age of forty. I have nothing to complain about. I can't confirm any privilege, though, after twenty-five years in retail before becoming a professional writer, I am confident it must have happened on more than one occasion. That's how it works…those with privilege rarely notice. Do I believe everyone is capable of some form of prejudice? Yes, but in North America, one side of this crisis possesses significant power over the others. To admit otherwise is ignorant and naïve. By deflecting attention away from the struggles of these people by hiding behind the semblance of civility, we inflict more damage than we think. By avoiding a political stance, our abstinence—our ignorance—hurts those that need our support.
The one takeaway from the recent events is that specific individuals, groups, and companies are realizing that apathy is no longer a virtue, that silence can be louder than a scream. Some people observed that we had been doing so well, that social, ethnic, and racial acceptances were on the rise. What we didn't know was that a shrinking and massing silent proportion of the population was about to explode.
This is a good thing. For decades, this assortment of people (who are, by a majority, white and heterosexual, let's just admit that) kept quiet and instigated hidden measures to marginalize and suppress the rights of those that neither looked nor acted like them. They employed flimsy excuses—capitalism, crime, family values, religion—to enforce their hate legally without having to admit their faults publicly.
When the Berlin Wall fell in November of 1991, many historians felt that in time, it would only be regarded as an anecdote of the Second World War. The recent riots and calls to action may be viewed in the future as anecdotes of a conflict that's nearly 200 years old, a fight that never fully resolved. Generally, the last battles are the hardest fought with the greatest toll on its people. But it's a fight that must be had. And when I said, this is a good thing, it is because those that tried to marginalize or suppress others recently found a false sense of security that they could expose their opinions without repercussion. Now we know who they are, and unfortunately, some of them are our families and friends. And just as Germany did after World War II, we as a society need to carve out these tumors before they grow. But to do so, we need to see them. We fight them with enlightenment, with education, with awareness, and when necessary, with anger.
I have avoided directly addressing this because I had been too outraged to form an educated response. The most important step we can take is to admit that we possess these imperfections, that even those that claim innocence might exhibit moments of weakness. Only then can everyone move forward.
Black Lives Matter