Oriental Adventures, was it really that racist?

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FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
When the discussion involves white privilege, and somebody responds with their experience with poverty . . . .
Just an example. In Harlan KY 30.7% of white people live in poverty. Some I know of were in such bad shape they didn't have running water.

Or maybe read up about Remote Area Medical and the work it had done in southwest Viriginia and why it even went to southwest VA and other places in the US to begin with. People with no money and health insurance would start lining up at midnight for a weekend health and dental event because it was first come first serve. Some of the stories are truly amazing. The pictures will probably be reminiscent of the conditions you might see in a third world country instead of America.

I really don't think most of America has a clue what poverty for white people in some of the poorest areas of the country really looks like. I don't know how anyone with any experience or knowledge of these places and things could even begin to talk to these people about their white privlege.
 
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Gradine

Final Form (they/them)
A month or two ago the BBC quoted as a source an individual who had been openly advocating for the genocide of trans women.

There is nothing less worse our time and energy playing the "who has it worse" game, because no matter who you are or what your identity is there's someone who has it worse. There are no oppression power rankings. Because no form of racism, sexism, transmisogyny, etc, no matter how seemingly minor, is acceptable, and it must not be allowed to be.

The question of this thread is, therefore, a question wrongly asked. "Is OA racist?" Indisputably the answer is yes, of course, you don't even need to get to the second word of the title to get to that conclusion. "How racist is it really?" is a distraction, akin to an attempt to measure the volume of a poison deadly at any dosage. "Was it racist for its time?" is also a distraction. We are not in "its time" currently, so the question is irrelevant.

There can be (and, to my understanding, have been) modern attempts to translate the tropes of various East Asian stories in a way that is respectful to the cultures being attributed. OA has long past relevancy. So has the endless relitigating of its measure of racism
 

MGibster

Legend
Northern Illinois, and I don't remember it hitting us at all in the early or mid-80s - either at the two local FLGSs, the book stores, or with my friends.
I never directly experienced it myself either and I'm guessing it's partly because I didn't start gaming until the moral panic starting dying down. I imagine a lot of it heavily depended on both your geographic location as well as who you socialized with on the regular. About the only time I encountered any negativity was from a teacher who saw that I had Keep on the Borderlands and said something like "I don't think you're supposed to have that here," but she didn't do anything about it and I didn't hear anything further. While we tend to focus on the negative attention RPGs got during this time, D&D was really a very small part of the moral panic.
 

Just an example. In Harlan KY 30.7% of white people live in poverty. Some I know of were in such bad shape they didn't have running water.

Or maybe read up about Remote Area Medical and the work it had done in southwest Viriginia. People with no money and health insurance would start lining up at midnight for a weekend health and dental event because it was first come first serve. Some of the stories are truly amazing. The pictures will probably be reminiscent of the conditions you might see in a third world country instead of America.

I really don't think most of America has a clue what poverty for white people in the poorest areas of the country really looks like. I don't know how anyone with any experience could know about these places and things and talk to these people about white privlege.

I don't think anybody is arguing that being poor "isn't that bad". (Are they?)

It's just that if we are comparing obstacles to success, as bad as poverty is, being black is still a greater obstacle.

And if you're black you're more likely to be poor in the first place.

And, if we're talking about scholarships, the United States doesn't have a centuries-long history of trying to prevent poor people...in general...from improving their lives. In fact, many of the programs that were intended to help poor people, specifically excluded blacks. Even as late as the post-War years.

Here's some info on the ongoing effects of that:

The massive new study on race and economic mobility in America, explained

So if you're arguing that poverty is pretty stinking rough, then it should stand to reason that the group of people who a) are more likely to be poor, and b) have a harder time becoming un-poor, have a pretty raw deal.
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
I don't think anybody is arguing that being poor "isn't that bad". (Are they?)

It's just that if we are comparing obstacles to success, as bad as poverty is, being black is still a greater obstacle.
The poverty level for blacks in the U.S. in 2019 was 21.2%. The poverty levels for whites in Harlan KY was 30.7%. Is being white from Harlan KY worse than being black in the U.S. When it comes to poverty the statistics suggest yes.

And if you're black you're more likely to be poor in the first place.
Statistically being black in the U.S. makes you less likely to be in poverty than if you are white and from Harlan KY.
 

Sure, there are people out there who will go onto the attack with little basis in fact or fairness. But what you are complaining about is "cancel culture" . . . . which exists, but not to the extent some folks seem to think.

I'm sure that's a great consolation to those who've been a victim of the more malignant parts of it, and comforting to people who never can be sure they won't be. All it needs is one person on a crusade who has a following, and we're off to the races.

So, in all honesty and curiosity . . . . give me some examples. Give me some examples of an RPG creator creating a truly non-problematic product, getting "brigaded", reacting in a positive manner to the criticism, and that apology having no effect. They are canceled.

Again, are we going to ignore Requires Hate's victims because most (but not all) of them were in fiction rather than the RPG field? Most of them didn't even have anything particularly obvious to apologize for.

Its not like people in the field haven't weaponized group followings to go to war at each other before.
 

The question of this thread is, therefore, a question wrongly asked. "Is OA racist?" Indisputably the answer is yes, of course, you don't even need to get to the second word of the title to get to that conclusion. "How racist is it really?" is a distraction, akin to an attempt to measure the volume of a poison deadly at any dosage. "Was it racist for its time?" is also a distraction. We are not in "its time" currently, so the question is irrelevant.

There can be (and, to my understanding, have been) modern attempts to translate the tropes of various East Asian stories in a way that is respectful to the cultures being attributed. OA has long past relevancy. So has the endless relitigating of its measure of racism

Again this is just too absolutist in my opinion. You clearly see a range of views on OA, even among people who say it has problems. Not everyone agrees it is racist. Not everyone even agrees if it is problematic. Some people are going to look at OA and say, it has issues, but they reflect the times, and it doesn't rise to racism. Some will say it does rise to racism. Some will leave it at problematic. Some will say there is a difference between stereotypical tropes and racism. Some people are going to give more weight to intent than others (most people here seem to feel Zeb Cook's intentions were good). You are going to have different opinions about this because we are all different, and we all are taking slightly different lenses to it. Disagreeing on our analysis of OA, doesn't mean people disagree on whether real world racism towards asian people is bad, it means we have different sensibilities on media. And hashing out these things does matter people people are talking both about what ought to be done about OA, and what ought to be done/ought to be permissible, for creators going forward. If we get to a point where everyone must always agree with conclusion X....I don't know that seems like a bad place to be to me.
 

The poverty level for blacks in the U.S. in 2019 was 21.2%. The poverty levels for whites in Harlan KY was 30.7%. Is being white from Harlan KY worse than being black in the U.S. When it comes to poverty the statistics suggest yes.

Uh, the poverty levels for blacks in Flint, Michigan, is 43.8%. The poverty rate for blacks in Benton Harbor, Michigan, is 50.7%. The poverty rate for blacks in Detroit, Michigan, is 37.7%. Why would you use a specific poverty rate for one and then reference the national poverty rate?

You compare like to like. For example, the national white poverty rate is 9.1% in 2019. Notice the difference?

Statistically being black in the U.S. makes you less likely to be in poverty than if you are white and from Harlan KY.

I mean, statistically speaking being black and in a city makes you way more likely to be in poverty compared to Harlan, Kentucky.
 

I'm sure that's a great consolation to those who've been a victim of the more malignant parts of it, and comforting to people who never can be sure they won't be. All it needs is one person on a crusade who has a following, and we're off to the races.
Dire Bare said:
So, in all honesty and curiosity . . . . give me some examples. Give me some examples of an RPG creator creating a truly non-problematic product, getting "brigaded", reacting in a positive manner to the criticism, and that apology having no effect. They are canceled.
Again, are we going to ignore Requires Hate's victims because most (but not all) of them were in fiction rather than the RPG field? Most of them didn't even have anything particularly obvious to apologize for.

Its not like people in the field haven't weaponized group followings to go to war at each other before.

This is really a whole other topic I think (quite a few of those in this thread). But I think with cancel culture, it also doesn't have to be conclusive to be a canceling. Most people are not going to be completely eradicated from an industry, social media space or a fandom. But they will be ostracized, have their reputation damaged, be lied about, their reach reduced, have their offenses exaggerated, be psychologically impacted, and potentially have their professional life in other industries impacted. Most game designers are not doing this full time, so they can likely weather a cancelation attempt unless they get removed from a major platform. But once your name has been dragged through the mud by a cancelation attempt, that is the sort of thing people search for when they hire people.
 

Gradine

Final Form (they/them)
The first word of the title is both racist and problematic. Are you going to deny even that?

I think the conversation of what pitfalls to avoid in the future (like not including what is basically a slur in your frakking title, for example) is worthy of discussion. Relitigating the original book (or even frankly its 3.0 counterpart) is completely irrelevant. It has been done time and time again. You can either recognize the plethora of problematic components within it, or you can be wrong. Either way it doesn't matter.

What matters are the lessons learned to be applied to current or future products, at least something that hasn't been relevant for decades.
 


Cadence

Legend
Supporter
This is really a whole other topic I think (quite a few of those in this thread). But I think with cancel culture, it also doesn't have to be conclusive to be a canceling. Most people are not going to be completely eradicated from an industry, social media space or a fandom. But they will be ostracized, have their reputation damaged, be lied about, their reach reduced, have their offenses exaggerated, be psychologically impacted, and potentially have their professional life in other industries impacted. Most game designers are not doing this full time, so they can likely weather a cancelation attempt unless they get removed from a major platform. But once your name has been dragged through the mud by a cancelation attempt, that is the sort of thing people search for when they hire people.
So, OA may or may not be problematic. But complaining about things like it is?
 

The poverty level for blacks in the U.S. in 2019 was 21.2%. The poverty levels for whites in Harlan KY was 30.7%. Is being white from Harlan KY worse than being black in the U.S. When it comes to poverty the statistics suggest yes.


Statistically being black in the U.S. makes you less likely to be in poverty than if you are white and from Harlan KY.

I just...I....I gotta admit you have left me dumbfounded with this one. I literally do not know how to even begin to respond.
 

The first word of the title is both racist and problematic. Are you going to deny even that?
I do think the title is an issue. I don't think it was as much of an issue when it was written (but I am going by memory in terms of when I realized that term was considered a pejorative). I don't think the intention was bad when the book came out, and that is different than if it came out today with the same title (where the publisher would clearly know how it might be received). Personally I think they should have changed the title for 3E for example.

You can either recognize the plethora of problematic components within it, or you can be wrong. Either way it doesn't matter.

But this is so narrow minded. You are basically saying "You either agree with me, or you are wrong", as if reasonable people can't all look at this book, and come away with different conclusions about its handling of asian culture.
 

Gradine

Final Form (they/them)
Was 'Oriental' considered racist when the book was written?
Again, this isn't really a thing. Anything that we would consider racist now was racist back whenever. It was never okay, and how deeply embedded that idea was in the historical period of time is irrelevant.

I think something being lost here is that no one is saying the people who wrote the book were or are racist. Intent isn't the point; impact is.
 

MGibster

Legend
The first word of the title is both racist and problematic. Are you going to deny even that?
It's a long thread, but someone did post an article about the divide between young and older Asians regarding the use of the word Oriental. The younger generation tends to favor Asian feeling Oriental is negative while many in the older generation prefer Oriental. I'm not Asian, and I'll admit that I would feel uncomfortable referring to someone as Oriental. Is the title problematic? Yes. Is it racist? I don't think so.
 

Again, this isn't really a thing. Anything that we would consider racist now was racist back whenever. It was never okay, and how deeply embedded that idea was in the historical period of time is irrelevant.

I think something being lost here is that no one is saying the people who wrote the book were or are racist. Intent isn't the point; impact is.
No. In many cases that is correct. But the meaning of words in context absolutely matters.
 

So, OA may or may not be problematic. But complaining about things like it is?

I have said throughout the thread, discussions and engagement are good and healthy. If someone wants to have a podcast talking about how they think OA is problematic, I am totally cool with that. Where I have an issue, is when people go after others on social media, ostracize them, or drag them through the mud, for having different opinions than they do on these topics. So not a problem if you want to discuss or debate this. But brigading someone because they think OA isn't a problem, I think is more of an issue. I am not saying that is happening, but I am just trying to explain the stance I was taking on cancel culture. There is a big difference between debating an idea, and demonizing a person.
 

Gradine

Final Form (they/them)
But this is so narrow minded. You are basically saying "You either agree with me, or you are wrong", as if reasonable people can't all look at this book, and come away with different conclusions about its handling of asian culture.
This isn't about reasonableness. It's about listening. There are probably a ton of things out there that I would never consider racist myself, and would be surprised to learn they are. But rather than continue to argue my uninformed opinion, I listen to the people who are affected by it, and that is how we learn.
 

Cadence

Legend
Supporter
I have said throughout the thread, discussions and engagement are good and healthy. If someone wants to have a podcast talking about how they think OA is problematic, I am totally cool with that. Where I have an issue, is when people go after others on social media, ostracize them, or drag them through the mud, for having different opinions than they do on these topics. So not a problem if you want to discuss or debate this. But brigading someone because they think OA isn't a problem, I think is more of an issue. I am not saying that is happening, but I am just trying to explain the stance I was taking on cancel culture. There is a big difference between debating an idea, and demonizing a person.

Is there anything offensive enough for someone to deserve to be deplatformed ever?
 

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