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Leanan

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PostSubject: Re: Skin color- how much does it matter?   Fri Apr 17, 2015 2:48 pm

The reason I haven't replied here is my own ignorance embarrasses me... Rainsong

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PostSubject: Re: Skin color- how much does it matter?   Fri Apr 17, 2015 2:57 pm

One thing I couldn't help noticing when reading issue 8 was that this time they talked only about the getting taller bit about living in the Palace, not the getting paler bit.
Besides; if Skywise and Leetah could fight the Palace's magic to stay short, couldn't others fight the magic to stay dark-skinned? I could easily imagine several of them go "I look awesome with this skin colour, I like my skin colour!"

And I'm still looking forward to having rainbow-coloured naked elves all over the place!
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manga

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PostSubject: Re: Skin color- how much does it matter?   Fri Apr 17, 2015 3:17 pm

Well maybe they heard what we were trying to say after all.
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PostSubject: Re: Skin color- how much does it matter?   Fri Apr 17, 2015 5:14 pm

More likely, they just wanted to avoid potential controversy.
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PostSubject: Re: Skin color- how much does it matter?   Fri Apr 17, 2015 5:16 pm

Leanan wrote:
The reason I haven't replied here is my own ignorance embarrasses me... Rainsong

Don't worry, Leanan. You live kind of far away from these issues, I think-- or is there a population of people of color in Finland? See, here's where my ignorance shows....

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PostSubject: Re: Skin color- how much does it matter?   Fri Apr 17, 2015 5:18 pm

Redhead Ember wrote:
One thing I couldn't help noticing when reading issue 8 was that this time they talked only about the getting taller bit about living in the Palace, not the getting paler bit.
Besides; if Skywise and Leetah could fight the Palace's magic to stay short, couldn't others fight the magic to stay dark-skinned? I could easily imagine several of them go "I look awesome with this skin colour, I like my skin colour!"

And I'm still looking forward to having rainbow-coloured naked elves all over the place!

Good point.  I've been thinking about the fact that Savah is still tall.  That means she comes from a time before the Sun Villagers began shrinking; in fact, we know that she and her lifemate founded the tribe-- so at some point she must have chosen to darken her own skin.  Maybe because her children's children were darkening, and she wanted to match. Maybe because she needed protection from ultraviolet rays too.  Or maybe she liked the color-- it's very beautiful, after all.

Or all three.

Edited to actually make the point I wanted to make! I can easily picture Savah refusing to go lighter, because she likes the way she looks.

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PostSubject: Re: Skin color- how much does it matter?   Fri Apr 17, 2015 7:02 pm

She does look good. That's entirely plausible! Or maybe it just happened naturally over hundreds of years?

Yeah... the Sunfolk need to stay dark- or what my sister said will be true.

I told her that some controversy over racial issues had cropped up in some internet discussions about this comic book I liked. And she said "What? That one with the elves? How can there be any racial issues in that? It's about elves- and they're all white! How can you have conflict over race if the characters are all white?"

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PostSubject: Re: Skin color- how much does it matter?   Sat Apr 18, 2015 4:15 am

I think this is a useful and somewhat uncomfortable discussion to which I would like to add something as a European.

Racism definitely exists in Europe and it is an insidious evil that denies large sections of the population chances in life. But I think it works a little differently than it does in the US. This is because the history of slavery does not play a role, and there is no history of Black Minstrel shows.
This may help explain why the taboo on black-face does not exist much. I accept that dressing up as a character from a different race is unacceptable in America, but it is dangerous to apply an American moral taboo to people on a different continent with a different historic background.

An African American descended from slaves will be discriminated because of his or her color of skin, but I don't think anyone is denying the "American" bit.
Whereas in Europe, people are undoubtedly discriminated because of skin color- but the thing that really matters in treatment is the (perceived) ethnic and religious background of the person. So, if you are a dark skinned person of mixed Belgian/Congolese descent and your name is Paul you will meet a few bigots, but you will in general be accepted as a Belgian. But god help you if your name is Mohammed, even if you are lily white and your ancestors have lived here for generations.  You will have a much harder time getting a job or finding a house; many potential employers will throw away your letter without ever looking at you. And this simply based on the assumption that you are a Muslim and therefore part of an invasion force that is a threat to Western values.

This is a serious problem that does great damage to individuals and society, and it makes me despair sometimes. This is very hard to fight and the middle eastern news coming in day by day makes things worse.


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PostSubject: Re: Skin color- how much does it matter?   Sat Apr 18, 2015 4:22 am

manga wrote:
Well maybe they heard what we were trying to say after all.

I have a feeling issue 8 was written before that whole mess happened.
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PostSubject: Re: Skin color- how much does it matter?   Sat Apr 18, 2015 6:57 am

KR Wordgazer wrote:
Leanan wrote:
The reason I haven't replied here is my own ignorance embarrasses me... Rainsong

Don't worry, Leanan.  You live kind of far away from these issues, I think-- or is there a population of people of color in Finland?  See, here's where my ignorance shows....

There are some people of color in Finland. Most of them are of African descent. It's like Elwing said - because of their background in a different culture (real or just assumed by others because of their appearance/language/name etc.), some "extreme nationalists" are saying that they have no right to be here. Many of them, or their parents, originally arrived here as refugees or immigrants. The first large groups were refugees from Somalia, in the 90s. There was quite a culture shock, both ways.

Elwing wrote:
This is because the history of slavery does not play a role, and there is no history of Black Minstrel shows.

Actually, Britain and France did a fair share of profiting from slave trade, mostly in their colonies.

And as for Black Minstrel shows, I remember an episode in the British tv show 'Jeeves and Wooster' where Wooster and his friends (a group of privileged white British males in the 1930s) wore blackface to perform as a band of minstrels at a party.

And then there's the Dutch Christmas tradition of Saint Nicholas' helper, Svarte Piet, who wears blackface...

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PostSubject: Re: Skin color- how much does it matter?   Sat Apr 18, 2015 9:48 am



Elwing wrote:
This is because the history of slavery does not play a role, and there is no history of Black Minstrel shows.

Quote :
Actually, Britain and France did a fair share of profiting from slave trade, mostly in their colonies.
Yes, and the Dutch did too. But the slave trade itself took place outside of Europe (with some notable exceptions...) and many different groups of immigrants that arrived here were not taken from their home countries by force, but came here as economic and politically motivated migrants and refugees.



Quote :
And then there's the Dutch Christmas tradition of Saint Nicholas' helper, Svarte Piet, who wears blackface...

Interesting problem that, and a thing that only the Dutch and Flemish themselves can change. Personally, I'm in favour of replacing black Pieten by rainbow colored Pieten, but I don't think it's going to happen any time soon. It's a beloved, old, deeply ingrained and frankly rather positive practice, and changing it will take time.
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PostSubject: Re: Skin color- how much does it matter?   Sat Apr 18, 2015 10:48 am

Leanan wrote:
Actually, Britain and France did a fair share of profiting from slave trade, mostly in their colonies.

Elwing wrote:
Yes, and the Dutch did too. But the slave trade itself took place outside of Europe (with some notable exceptions...) and many different groups of immigrants that arrived here were not taken from their home countries by force, but came here as economic and politically motivated migrants and refugees

As you say, and Europe is very BIG, and have very very different countries. You can't compare Norway and Turkey for example, in culture and climate.


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PostSubject: Re: Skin color- how much does it matter?   Sat Apr 18, 2015 12:43 pm

Elwing wrote:
Personally, I'm in favour of replacing black Pieten by rainbow colored Pieten, but I don't think it's going to happen any time soon. It's a beloved, old, deeply ingrained and frankly rather positive practice, and changing it will take time.

I think a rainbow- or any other colored (green, purple, pink) pieten would be better. I get that it's a fun tradition, but the thing is- and I sort of think this speaks to the cosplay issue as well- it's probably only positive for you if you are white... or at least not black.

I haven't read any statements by black people living in countries that celebrate Pieten who say it's positive. I have read a lot of comments by people who are black about how uncomfortable it makes them feel.

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PostSubject: Re: Skin color- how much does it matter?   Sat Apr 18, 2015 12:53 pm

I've actually seen people who are black dressed up as zwarte Piet on numerous occasions. But it's clear that an increasing number of people are uncomfortable with the custom, and I think it should change. Fortunately, Sinterklaas is a very strong and lively tradition that has changed and adapted to the sensitivities of the times in the past, and will probably continue to evolve. Will take a lot of time though.
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PostSubject: Re: Skin color- how much does it matter?   Sat Apr 18, 2015 1:11 pm

Elwing wrote:
I've actually seen people who are black dressed up as zwarte Piet on numerous occasions. But it's clear that an increasing number of people are uncomfortable with the custom, and I think it should change.
Just changing the paint color could preserve the tradition without offending anyone.

Quote :
Fortunately, Sinterklaas is a very strong and lively tradition that has changed and adapted to the sensitivities of the times in the past, and will probably continue to evolve. Will take a lot of time though.
That's great. Yes, I do think changes like that take time. We love the things we grew up with- but that doesn't always mean they are fair or best. I loved the movie Breakfast at Tiffany's as a kid. It meant a lot to me. I never saw the racism in it. But as an adult, I tried to introduce it to my boyfriend- and we were both shocked at how absolutely awful it was to see Mickey Rooney playing an asian landlord in what was supposed to be a funny role. It was so offensive- yet I had never even seen that before. I wonder, if I had been Chinese and watching that as a child- would it have jumped out at me and spoiled the whole movie?

I think there are probably a lot of things that, being white, we are comfortable with and maybe don't even notice- that other people might be bothered by. At least that's my theory. And that's why I think it's important to listen to what others have to say on these matters.

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PostSubject: Re: Skin color- how much does it matter?   Sat Apr 18, 2015 2:14 pm

Elwing wrote:

This may help explain why the taboo on black-face does not exist much. I accept that dressing up as a character from a different race is unacceptable in America, but it is dangerous to apply an American moral taboo to people on a different continent with a different historic background.

I agree with this, to a point. But I also think Europeans, like all of us, need to recognize nowadays that our online actions are done in a global theatre, and that though the taboo against blackface may not apply to them, the need for consideration of the feelings of others in that global theatre definitely does. The fact is that black face is deeply distressing and dehumanizing to American black people to even see. It hurts them. And once a person knows they're hurting someone, no matter how unintentionally, they are obligated to stop hurting.

It's like if I stepped on someone's foot, and they yelled, "You're stepping on my foot! Get off!" and I stood there and said, "I didn't mean to be stepping on your foot, and really, you ought to take my intentions into regard, and stop talking to me so harshly." And they're saying, "I don't care what your intentions are! You're still standing on my foot! Get off!"

Until I get off their foot, I shouldn't expect them to talk calmly and rationally about it, or to take my intentions into consideration. And no matter what my intentions were or whether or not I start out thinking it would hurt them, I've got to get off their foot.

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PostSubject: Re: Skin color- how much does it matter?   Sat Apr 18, 2015 2:32 pm

Yes, and the broadcasters that produce tv shows around the holiday have already introduced multicolored Pieten along with the black ones. I hope the black Pieten get phased out eventually, but time will tell. It will take a generation of kids to change, at least.
And yes, if I think back on how the Zwarte Piet character was portrayed when I was a child a lot has changed already. That friendly, bumbling child-like thick tongued poor Dutch speaking character who looks up to the good Saint was insanely racist- but we didn't know it then. He's nowadays often played as the smart guy who runs the show for poor Saint Nick who is getting a bit old and forgetful. Much has changed already, time for the black paint to go.
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PostSubject: Re: Skin color- how much does it matter?   Sat Apr 18, 2015 5:06 pm

That's a really great, clear of way of putting it, KRwrodgazer! And I really like Elwing's follow up assessment. It's very perceptive. I have nothing to add- I think you guys pretty much said it all.

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PostSubject: Re: Skin color- how much does it matter?   Sat Apr 18, 2015 9:46 pm

The analogy isn't mine, Lunakat. Cool It's one I've read in online communities where they discuss these issues. But I think it's a very good one.

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PostSubject: Re: Skin color- how much does it matter?   Sun May 03, 2015 6:59 pm

First, let me apologize first for not reading all of the preceding discussions.  I remember the Scroll being frozen in March, after I got an invitation from Trollhammer to register on this site.  (Good thing I did.)  I had no idea why the Scroll was undergoing another radical change.

Today I am briefly scanning:

-This thread
-The Scroll of Colors archive thread, "Elfquest: Final Quest 9 (cover)"
-The link that Lunakat posted at the beginning of this thread
-The Facebook screen capture within the link that Lunakat posted.  (I have trouble reading the Facebook transcript, even enlarged, but I clearly understand what is going on.)

I too had a problem with that part of the dialogue, about Elves becoming taller and paler.  Somehow I thought I might be the only one to notice it.

I have a photograph of my paternal grandmother, standing beside my sister and I.  We are preschoolers, but we are almost chest-high to the tiny, brown-skinned elder with almond eyes.  We both have our mother's Caucasian coloring, but we never made it to five feet tall.  Granny would have made a good Sun Villager.

Years ago, when I was involved in a role-playing holt, I created an intricate tribe of African-looking elves, who lived on an African-type plain, migrated like central African tribes, and specialized as hunters, gatherers, and itinerant craftspeople.  They moved across the savannah in small groups, on specified circuits, deliberately exchanging members on a regular basis.

I thought of them as "Elfricans," although I called them the Basket Weavers.  They were smaller than other Elves, essentially pygmies among Elves, possibly even shorter than the Wolfriders.

This was my attempt to create a tribe of Elves that were the direct opposite in appearance to Aroree and Timmain.  I felt the Sun Folk were not much removed from the other Elves in hair and facial features.

Being pretty busy this year, I missed the dialogue in "Elfquest: Final Quest 9 (cover)"  A March 14 comment by Richard Pini says, "Excuse me? Did I really hear you - singular or plural - telling us what we should or should not say, or how we should or should not tell our story?"  It took me off guard.  As a fan base, we buy the comics, so yes, we do have a right to our opinions.


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PostSubject: Re: Skin color- how much does it matter?   Sun May 03, 2015 7:30 pm

Continued...

Reading the Facebook screen capture, I understand the position of those who are offended by the use of dark makeup in cosplay.  (BTW let me recommend the movie "Dear White People", now out on DVD - this is one of the many race issues it addresses.)  Earlier this year, I sat down with a retired African-American schoolteacher, for the sole purpose of talking about race.  My attitude was, I am white, I cannot begin to understand, please tell me what you would like me to know.  We talked and ate doughnuts for nearly three hours.  People need to do this much more often.

In America, the use of blackface makeup was part of the minstrel show, a type of entertainment that put people of color in their place. We may be more sensitive here, but we have good reason.

My personal opinion is that it's not necessary to color one's skin to look a part. For example, high school and college drama classes routinely put on performances of Shakespeare. Many of these students are nonwhite, while the majority of Shakespeare's characters are white. The audience understands that Hamlet is a medieval Danish prince, even if he's played by an African-American student, wearing a polyester costume, performing in front of electric lights in an air-conditioned auditorium.

I know I'm rambling, but if a simple line of dialogue is enough to raise this much of a reaction, doesn't that mean there are other readers who might have found it problematic?  Maybe they have said nothing - surely there are comic book readers who aren't online, even in 2015.

Anyway, if the Palace were to do anything to the Elves, to improve them physically, it would have made them stronger, heavier, and greener?   lol!

I noticed Tavie's name in the Scroll of Colors discussion, and in the Facebook screen capture.  Yet I see no "Tavie" in this forum.  All-ee All-ee In Free??   Surprised
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PostSubject: Re: Skin color- how much does it matter?   Sun May 03, 2015 8:48 pm

Trollbabe wrote:

Being pretty busy this year, I missed the dialogue in "Elfquest: Final Quest 9 (cover)"  A March 14 comment by Richard Pini says, "Excuse me? Did I really hear you - singular or plural - telling us what we should or should not say, or how we should or should not tell our story?"  It took me off guard.  As a fan base, we buy the comics, so yes, we do have a right to our opinions.

I didn't think to say this at the time- but rereading Richard's comment now- in the context of your post, I realize that he missed a very basic point. No, we weren't telling him what he should or should not say or how to tell his story... we were reacting to what he did say and how he chose to tell his story. If you publish something, you will always get a reaction one way or another- and you can't control or dictate that.

A distinction that apparently escaped him.

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PostSubject: Re: Skin color- how much does it matter?   Sun May 03, 2015 9:42 pm

Since starting my writing business, I have read stacks of business-related books.  I have e-mailed some of the authors, and have been pleasantly surprised that some will take the time to write a well-thought-out response.  (A couple of them are hardworking millionaires, with heavy travel and speaking schedules, and families as well.)

I just couldn't imagine any of them offering such a response on a public forum.  Then not going back and revising it a bit.  Then locking the forum...

Speaking of business reading, I have some understanding of marketing and advertising now, and I think I know why Elfquest has never become enough of a success to make a movie.  I believe it has to do with how the fanbase has been handled.

For example, when I started reading Elfquest in the early 1980s, I lived at "Address A."  Then I got married and moved to "Address B", way out in the country.  No comic shops for miles.  So I subscribed to Elfquest (Original Quest.)  WaRP also sent me an Elfquest postcard picture, and an Elfquest pencil.

After the Original Quest ended, I moved here, "Address C."  In the early 1990s, I worked down the street from a really nice comic shop, where I picked up all of my New Blood, Hidden Years and other titles.  This was before most people had even heard of the Internet.  (I have my choice of comic shops now.)

Anything sent to Address B would have been forwarded here to Address C.  Yet, at no time did I ever receive a newsletter, or even a postcard, saying "WaRP is excited to announce that we have new comic titles! etc."

As I read the new comics series, they eventually published an e-mail address.  I e-mailed WaRP and got responses.  I still use that old e-mail address, which I first used to e-mail WaRP.

In the mid nineties, the electronic newsletter appeared, and it became possible to share a single e-mail with countless subscribers.  Yet don't recall ever getting even an offer to subscribe to an electronic newsletter from WaRP.  I also assumed that they had nothing else to mail to me, unless I ordered a T-shirt or something.

Eventually there was a WaRP chatroom, and in 2004 I discovered and became active in the Scroll of Colors forum.  There was a Myspace Elfquest account, but it was soon abandoned.

A few years ago, dialogue seemed to be split between Facebook, Twitter and the SOC, with Ma and Pa Pini mostly active on the former.  I had no interest in Twitter, and my old laptop was not very good at processing Facebook, which isn't divided into forum topics anyway.

If there was any important news, such as one or the other of the Pinis being injured, it showed up on Facebook and eventually made its way to the SOC.  Or not.  The only time I got e-mail from WaRP was if I e-mailed the administrator about something.

Seriously, I would not be offended if WaRP sent me one spam e-mail a year, or one piece of junk mail.  Are they that afraid to seek out longtime fans? Do they try different marketing techniques, and measure the results? Are they overly dependent upon social media?


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PostSubject: Re: Skin color- how much does it matter?   Sun May 03, 2015 9:55 pm

I don't think the Pinis have ever been that savvy with social media or online marketing. I think Rob (or someone) is managing their facebook account for them. They only started using it in a smart way (promotion wise) after he took over the website.

I think Wendy and Richard are pretty much old-school.

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PostSubject: Re: Skin color- how much does it matter?   Mon May 04, 2015 4:43 pm

I just realized, "All the many Colors" is a good place to talk about race relations.

My teacher friend tells me that African history tends to be ignored or downplayed in both education and the arts.

I noticed, in American culture, much of our fantasy fiction is modeled after Europe, from the Middle Ages to the Rennaissance. The sword-and-sorcery genre may be set in something resembling Greek and Roman times, with medieval elements thrown in, but it's still Eurocentric.

Tolkien's Middle Earth, Lewis' Narnia, Hercules and Xena, what little publicity I've seen for "Game of Thrones", and countless Disney fantasies are European in terms of environment and culture. Regardless of where pirate movies take place, the primary characters are either Europeans or English colonials. King Arthur and Robin Hood are English, the Three Musketeers are French, and Conan and Kull are usually cast or drawn as white men. Occasionally, black men show up as lone examples of their culture.

When Africa is represented in fantasy, it's typically Ancient Egypt. The slaves may be Black Africans, but not the Pharoahs.(I noticed that Cleopatra went from bronze to Anglo in the "Asterix" books.)

Disney has animated countless fairytale princesses, most of them living in European palaces, and wearing Medieval or Rennaissance garb. Eventually, "Pocahontas" and "Alladin" featured nonwhite princesses, but the first African princess character was lion cub Nala in "The Lion King." Fifteen years passed before "The Princess and the Frog" featured an actual black girl, dressed in a ballroom gown. It's no wonder, when little African-American girls dress up as princesses for parties and Halloween, their costume is inspired by European princess styles.

I would be delighted to see Hollywood produce a summer blockbuster of African historical fantasy, one that does not revolve around colonialization or slavery. Even a movie about prehistoric cavemen would be refreshing, if for once it had an all-black cast.

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