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Forums » RP Discussion » Closed Minded People: Minorities and Dom's

Hello all, Winter here.

So. I was talking to a friend of mine on Discord, who will remain nameless out of respect for privacy, and they let me know something I find a bit upsetting.

Please note: I'm not posting this to be nasty or the like, I'm seriously trying to understand why people think the way they do, concerning these two topics. Especially since this affects a close friend of mine.

Quote: Also weirdest question i got asked. Not on rpr mind you but still. Why are all your original characters...minorities?

me: wth

That comment had me wondering if that is part of the reason i have difficulty getting rp partners for some of them. And basically some rp'ers feel like certain races don't make sense in rp's of certain times and locations

Which made me say, to my friend: Idk why it should matter. Heck there are different races and nationalities throughout history...so why the heck should it matter for rp?

My friend said: There is a belief that certain races just weren't in certain time periods which of course is inaccurate. and i ran into people treating my female characters like w***es and the male ones like they were....extremely dominating.

Why is it that people think the way they do about these topics?

For example: Not ever character, male, female, or other wise, are top for smut. I've lost count over the years how many times I've had to have my muse be top/dominate. No one ever asks anymore, they just assume. Has no one heard: "Assuming makes an a** out of you and me".

Also.

Why is it that people believe minorities do not belong in certain time periods? Is it really that difficult to pull up, say Google, and look up information on that time period?

I asked my friend to give me a time period they have most issues with people questioning them, about minorities for rp.

My friend said: Medieval is the main one.

Google question I just did: Were there minorities in the Medieval era

Answer 1: Medieval times are, without question, one of the most recognizable periods in human history. Old England instantly comes to mind. The folklore of Robin Hood, King Arthur, and Merlin the magician are rapidly called to memory. Thoughts of knights clad in battle armor while jousting on horseback easily recalled. We think of stone castles with moats, stained glass windowed monasteries, straw roofed villages, and brilliantly green pastures. Kings, queens, ladies, lords, monks, friars, musketeers, knights and thespians, and peasants. All highlighted by themes of heroism, bravery, chivalry and romance.

We see these images clear as crystal. Yet, there is something of which many of us are blindly unaware— there were black people in medieval Europe.

Think of the last time you watched a period movie set in England during the middle ages. Most likely people of color were noticeably absent. But, like the unseen 92 percent of the iceberg that lies below ocean’s water, there was more diversity in medieval Europe than meets the eye.

A DIVERSE WORLD

Contrary to popular belief, there were black people and others from around the world seen in every corner and nook of society.
They were generals, knights, saints, cardinals, nobility, conquistadors, mercenaries, musicians, cooks, housekeepers, and dock workers, slaves and assistants.They worked in Europe’s medical buildings, kitchens, gardens, and stables. Living in Portugal, Spain, Austria, the Netherlands, France, Germany, Italy, and England. International trading cities such as Venice were multicultural magnets. It’s time to rethink everything we know about the presence of black people in Europe during this time period. The picture of the middle ages isn’t accurate without them.

Source: Black People Medieval Europe

Answer 2: Breaking news: There were black and brown people living in medieval Europe! Many of them were full members of society, though others were marginalized, enslaved, or otherwise excluded. This shouldn't actually be news, but it's the kind of realization that's been missing from too many movies, novels, games, and even scholarly textbooks for too long.

The online activist "MedievalPOC" (Medieval People of Color) is pushing back against the myth that everyone in the medieval past was white. They've been educating the public about race in European history since 2012, when they started Tumblr and Twitter accounts with a simple mission: Show the presence of people of color in pre-modern European art. Today, MedievalPOC enjoys a reputation for excellent work, a thriving base of subscribers on Patreon, and an inbox full of hate-mail from white supremacists who want to claim the Middle Ages for their own.

Source: YES, THERE WERE PEOPLE OF COLOR IN PRE-MODERN EUROPE

So. Would someone, or a couple of someone(s), please explain to me why it is others think the way they do, and don't seem to want to change their mind, look stuff up, or even ask questions?
It comes down to racism--and not necessarily at a malicious or individual level. But when you are white and all the media you consume is filled with white people, it's hard to realize there's more to the story. It's brainwashing--white washing if you will, lol. So if you grow up seeing all this white then one day discover that these ~minorities~ lived alongside white people and even held prominent roles, it's hard to process. It literally runs opposite to everything you've learned and seen for yourself. It's not like you learn about the racial demographics of Medieval Europe in high school--especially as an American. You just assume it's white because of media and the prominent white figures you learn about.

I do think it's becoming more digestible for people as media becomes more diverse, though. For example, Bridgerton on Netflix. It's a breath of fresh air and, while not perfect, black and bi-racial actors play leading roles in a Victorian England setting. I think it's Victorian anyway...Maybe Elizabethan? I don't know my English eras/periods, lol.

But yeah, overall, it comes down to racism and the way a lot of white people grow to see the world. And I think people will get defensive about me saying that. However, I don't think it's malicious in most cases--just ignorant.
Winters_Fury Topic Starter

Kidd wrote:
It comes down to racism--and not necessarily at a malicious or individual level. But when you are white and all the media you consume is filled with white people, it's hard to realize there's more to the story. It's brainwashing--white washing if you will, lol. So if you grow up seeing all this white then one day discover that these ~minorities~ lived alongside white people and even held prominent roles, it's hard to process. It literally runs opposite to everything you've learned and seen for yourself. It's not like you learn about the racial demographics of Medieval Europe in high school--especially as an American. You just assume it's white because of media and the prominent white figures you learn about.

I do think it's becoming more digestible for people as media becomes more diverse, though. For example, Bridgerton on Netflix. It's a breath of fresh air and, while not perfect, black and bi-racial actors play leading roles in a Victorian England setting. I think it's Victorian anyway...Maybe Elizabethan? I don't know my English eras/periods, lol.

But yeah, overall, it comes down to racism and the way a lot of white people grow to see the world. And I think people will get defensive about me saying that. However, I don't think it's malicious in most cases--just ignorant.

I agree with you fully. It just baffles me that when it comes to rp, people are like this. I mean...doesn't Marvel have the Black Panther, who has minority people of power and such?

But you are right, it will take time.

Something else my friend told me about: Another weird thing is when the describe my character with a lack of skin tone when the touch or look at them and i'm like uh...what?

I said: I agree, what?

Friend then said: yeah it is weird as all get out

like her smooth ivory skin felt like velvet

i broke rp and was like caramel

them: What?

Me: her skin is caramel colored

Them: Oh accident

-happens a few more times-

me: So you still forgetting what she looks like

them: well it's just easier to imagine her that way



I admit that I myself have not interacted in rp with minorities, but if I didn't I would do my best and hardest to not be disrespectful to someone's OC like that. Maybe the person really didn't mean to upset my friend, but it just baffles me.
That's insanely disrespectful to the role player!! They don't even care enough to pay attention to the way the character looks and/or they're just pushing assumptions on them. Or worse, they don't care and rather be RPing with a lighter skinned OC. I haven't experienced someone making a mistake like that, but it would put me off to playing with them.
Winters_Fury Topic Starter

Kidd wrote:
That's insanely disrespectful to the role player!! They don't even care enough to pay attention to the way the character looks and/or they're just pushing assumptions on them. Or worse, they don't care and rather be RPing with a lighter skinned OC. I haven't experienced someone making a mistake like that, but it would put me off to playing with them.

Exactly!

People put their hard work into an OC, and I bet a fair amount of time people will not look over a person's muse profile. Or if they do they skim it at best if that.

It's just sad the way things go these days.
I pretty solidly agree with what Kidd's said, and I'd like to add some to it, and to examples you provided to prove that POC really were there.

We've all been sold a very specific narrative, and we've been sold it by people on multiple sides of various issues. We've been given all this whitewashed media, presented in either a romanticized "men are brave knights and women are beautiful maidens for whom battles should be fought" idea, or a more stark "everyone was filthy and suffering, and you only had any power if you were the male head of household, and bigotry reigned supreme" criticism. Even trying to balance these ideas still leaves a lot out.

Since the portrayal has already been pointed out (and those portrayals define our idea of what things must be like), I'm going to focus on the problem from the criticism side. It tends to focus around what was wrong then compared to now, or be used to illustrate modern issues through a presumptive classical lens, and specific examples of many things to support those criticisms do exist and can be cited. And a lot of that can make the more varied reality harder to swallow even from a moral standpoint.

(I'm also going to be speaking from a US standpoint, since we're really bad at recognizing that other countries exist a lot of the time and I'm not sure how things might compare. And I can only speak from a white perspective.)

Warning, topic of black slavery within
Consider: You have someone who has relied on blaming xenophobia for so much of the past's problems, and feels sure that acceptance and inclusivity is the way forward and that it will help eliminate the issues we still have; or even more generally, someone who believes that the march forward through time has been an overall progressive one, socially. Now tell them that prior to the black slavery issue in America (which gets tied to colonialism and, in turn, to Britain and to Europe in general as its "source"), there were respected POC in positions of power in Europe. This implies that we made a huge leap backwards at some point and people are even more horrible to the point it could jar hope of things getting better, and/or could feel like it delegitimizes the concept of racism or white people's hand in it. For example, one of the arguments used to try to remove responsibility for the slave trade from whites is that a lot of the initial catching and selling of black people was done by other black people; while the issue there is a lot more complex, it can still be jarring to many, and others may learn to associate any claim that black people were ever anything but victims with deceptive apologetics arguments. So there are people who think that including POC in positions of power in anything in the past is just a hand wave, as if you're trying to pretend the problem never existed.


Now, backing up to more typical issues with portrayal and such... You've still got all the people who like to think that things were "simpler" in the past. People who presume, on some level, that all these different minority groups have just been springing into existence in recent years, because they never saw anything about them before and anything that includes them, especially in the past, must surely have some nefarious "agenda." And yeah, some of these claims of "agenda!" are depressingly laughable.

But beyond all that, there's something that I think was addressed well in a set of Weregeek comics awhile back that didn't even talk about people. I don't feel up to digging it up right now, but it features characters at a ren faire, and some random guy in the comic criticizes one of the primary characters on the style of his belt being off period. It quickly turns into an argument, and the guy with the belt points out that the turkey leg the original critic is eating makes no sense because Europe didn't have turkeys - those are American. As the argument proceeds, one of the other primary characters - a black girl who is wearing ear prosthetics in that moment - gets frustrated and shouts over the both of them, "I'M AN ELF!"

Playing with the restrictions common to specific settings can make for interesting thoughts and issues for the characters to get through, but these are still fictions that usually aren't taking place in our real world Europe or even on real world Earth. What may or may not have been true of real world history doesn't matter beyond how it might add to a setting to improve the experience of all the players - and that's pretty much limited to aesthetics, because usually people don't want to play in a setting where everyone smells like dirt, poop, and disease, where most people have some number of missing teeth, where a whole family had to share one bed that was just straw or something piled higher than the rest of the straw across the floor ("threshold"), where bathing was usually everyone sharing the same increasingly filthy water in turn ("don't throw the baby out with the bath water"), etc. And no, a lot of this was not limited to the poor, especially regarding diseases; some historical fashions, like some weird cod pieces, actually even may have revolved around dealing with certain diseases. That last example is getting into later periods, but... that's just another point, most people who say "medieval" are including things from the fall of Rome to the beginnings of steam power, while also having no idea when various developments were made or concepts already known.

If you're not an expert historian who expects to only play with expert historians, on Earth with exclusively real world history, and only maybe making exceptions for fantasy elements that were part of the contemporary lore in that specific region... then "historically accurate" shouldn't matter if someone wants to (respectfully) play any minority. Xenophobia can play into things as a result if the settings is set up that way and the players involved are in favor of that, especially the one actually playing that character and multiple-especially anyone involved who might IRL have extra reason to associate with that character (POCs if the character is POC or similarly presented; queer folk if the character is queer or obviously queer-coded, etc), but sometimes people want to play in settings where the issues they face in reality just don't exist.

As for the repeatedly describing a character incorrectly... I'm certain that people failing to properly put in the effort to note a character's description instead of running with their own initial idea definitely plays into that, especially considering how so many people got mad about Rue's depiction when The Hunger Games got made into a movie (I seriously saw people sharing images highlighting where the book describes her to counter all the folks whining that she didn't match their very white mental images). So that's definitely a thing. I also want to extend into a quirk I've long seen in writing amateur/casual though, especially in RP (if only because it's what I've seen the most).

We all learn from each other as we write together, and much of that happens by or is expressed through varying degrees of mimicry. There is plenty of value in this. Mimicry is not only valid for learning and spreading ideas, it's really one of the key ways we do that at all. The down side is that context isn't always there, and/or there's too much of a single concept that gets replicated too frequently. Descriptions are a big one on this, especially descriptions of people, and more especially descriptions meant to evoke a particular mood.

In so many cases, I've seen basically the same phrases used over and over, particularly ones that include words that aren't part of the common vernacular. In some cases, I've seen certain things repeated so much that for example, I have developed an aversion to the word "ample." For years, I'd pretty much only ever see it used in one, specific way, and it was everywhere, and I'm probably still going to rant about it when I'm old and going senile.

"Ivory" is one of those words. If you actually think about it, most of the time, it doesn't even make sense to apply it to a white person. Ivory isn't just "white" or "pale." Ivory is literally bone white. You'd be hard pressed to find someone actually that pale outside of, like, Asia and the right circumstances even then. It's usage with skin, however, has gotten tied to ideas of softness, richness/being well cared-for, something indeed to be cared for, gracefulness, etc (and all this has other problems, too). It's not like it should be forbidden or anything, but this is among the words that, very often, immediately take me to, "You keep using that word. I don't think it means what you think it means." It... tends to feel like the other person is on "poetic" or "fancy words" autopilot.

...I swear I didn't intend to type this long of a thing.
Winters_Fury Topic Starter

@Zelphyr: First. LOL! It's alright. When we get on a specific topic, we can end up typing a lot.

I had thought about mentioning the collapse tab topic you posted, but I thought against it.

You do make some valid points, as Kidd did.
Zelphyr wrote:
...I swear I didn't intend to type this long of a thing.
I’m glad you did write all this out. Worth reading it all.... this whole thread too. Thanks for sharing Winters Fury. This kind of addresses some things of perceptions of historical context in roleplaying historical character, but also touches on the attention to detail aspect of roleplay. I must have missed this when it was posted.

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