Oriental Adventures, was it really that racist?

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Cadence

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I've also often seen it used to dismiss other points of view. 'You couldn't understand because of your privilege'

"I realize African Americans have been subject to red lining and segregation and hiring and health care discrimination legally within the lives of many posters here, and continue to be discriminated against illegally in some ways. And how those affects and the affects of the centuries of being shat on before that didn't vanish overnight with the passing of the civil rights acts, and leave a collective mountain of familial wealth disparity. But what really hurts is that once in a while folks on the internet tell me I can't understand something because I'm white."

Repeat for Asian Americans with laws making it illegal for them to immigrate or become citizens, and Hispanic Americans and differences in treatment for immigration and language assimilation compared to groups immigrating from Europe who also ran churches and businesses in their native languages for decades, and Native Americans who were repeatedly shoved off their land by faux treaties. And how it's mean when they tell folks who aren't a racial or ethnic minority how they just can't understand

Repeat for women who couldn't have their own credit cards and could be legally raped by their husbands until many of our lifetimes and a plethora of previous and ongoing things... And that it's awful how some women hurt men once in a while by saying they can't understand.

And repeat for folks who identify as LGBTQ+ for whom it was illegal to have sex in some states during the lifetime of almost everyone posting on here and where several major presidential candidates have publicly gone to events with folks supporting the murder of LGBTQ+ folks in other countries in the last decade. And how the important thing is to remember how painful it is for cis-het folks to sometimes be told they just can't understand.

And repeat for folks with various disabilities who still have to go to court to get the ADA enforced and who still can't get places to give accessible web content and have trouble with schools having the staff follow 504 plans. And how mean it is when someone with a disability exasperatedly tell folks without disabilities how they just can't understand.

And repeat for those suffering intergenerational poverty who are shat on like they always are in terms of quality of schools and healthcare and numerous other things. And how the real problem is impoverished folks telling those with more money that they just can't understand.

Won't someone think of the folks being told they can't understand!

Won't everyone else stop talking about their pain and let me talk about mine right now!

I wish we could just make it all get better. :-(
 
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AnotherGuy

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"I realize African Americans have been subject to red lining and segregation and hiring and health care discrimination legally within the lives of many posters here, and continue to be discriminated against illegally in some ways. And how those affects and the affects of the centuries of being shat on before that didn't vanish overnight with the passing of the civil rights acts, and leave a collective mountain of familial wealth disparity. But what really hurts is that once in a while folks on the internet tell me I can't understand something because I'm white."

Repeat for Asian Americans with laws making it illegal for them to immigrate or become citizens, and Hispanic Americans and differences in treatment for immigration and language assimilation compared to groups immigrating from Europe who also ran churches and businesses in their native languages for decades, and Native Americans who were repeatedly shoved off their land by faux treaties. And how it's mean when they tell folks who aren't a racial or ethnic minority how they just can't understand

Repeat for women who couldn't have their own credit cards and could be legally raped by their husbands until many of our lifetimes and a plethora of previous things... And that it's awful how some women hurt men once in a while by saying they can't understand.

And repeat for folks who identify as LGBTQ+ for whom it was illegal to have sex in some states during the lifetime of almost everyone posting on here and where several major presidential candidates have publicly gone to events with folks supporting the murder of LGBTQ+ folks in other countries in the last decade. And how the important thing is to remember how painful it is for cis-het folks to sometimes be told they just can't understand.

And repeat for folks with various disabilities who still have to go to court to get the ADA enforced and who still can't get places to give accessible web content and have trouble with schools having the staff follow 504 plans. And how mean it is when someone with a disability exasperatedly tell folks without disabilities how they just can't understand.

And repeat for those suffering intergenerational poverty who are shat on like they always are in terms of quality of schools and healthcare and numerous other things. And how the real problem is impoverished folks telling those with more money that they just can't understand.

Won't someone think of the folks being told they can't understand!

Won't everyone else stop talking about their pain and let me talk about mine right now!

I wish we could just make it all get better. :-(

Whether you believe an outsider can or cannot understand, the comment has proven not to be helpful in a dialogue which requires more than one person talking. There are ways we can build on past mistakes, perceived or otherwise, and ways we can further isolate from each other.

For many roleplayers the book brought them x hours of joy and perhaps a kinship with their brothers and sisters in the East. Along with the bad, the book did a lot of good. I think that is something that does get glossed over from time to time.
 

The East Asian Studies class I took in the 80s (in New England) discussed issues about it. The takeway then from the class was that Oriental was considered a term for things: "Oriental rugs" "The Orient" but that there were people who considered it insultingly objectifying to be called "Orientals" instead of Asians.
Yeah, this is how I've always understood the term 'oriental.'
 

Cadence

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Supporter
Whether you believe an outsider can or cannot understand, the comment has proven not to be helpful in a dialogue which requires more than one person talking. There are ways we can build on past mistakes, perceived or otherwise, and ways we can further isolate from each other.

When someone is expressing their pain about something that needs fixing, someone else jumping in and saying how they have pain too doesn't seem like it necessarily helps the conversation. Sometimes it can be an expression of empathy, sometimes a start at collaboration towards helping, and sometimes just a whataboutist dismissal. It's ok to let people express pain, and then wait for a different time to discuss ones own pain or possible solutions.
 

In the case of a Waldenbooks, the equation may have been a bit more strategic. They also knew that BADD represented about 1 500,000th of their possible customer base, but if they had caved on a D&D book, then the arsehats would have been back a week later with another list of things that they demanded be censored, and it would NEVER END. So, hey, why not just draw the line in the sand right at the start with something that was not ACTUALLY all that controversial. It was actually a pretty clever move on their part, as it cast all the book banning idiots into basically the worst light possible.
There's truth in this and I think people are confusing smart strategy with commitment to principle. It absolutely makes sense to hold your ground, especially on something not-actually-very-controversial and fairly profitable, in order to not have to keep doing it in future. That doesn't mean you're "committed to free speech", it means you've got basic business acumen and an understanding of how people work.
I think it is fair to debate what the impact of the satanic panic was in terms of bottom line for D&D, but the satanic panic itself wasn't a joke and it wasn't limited to fringe.
I would agree that it wasn't a joke in two areas:

1) Law enforcement.

2) Child services or whatever you call it in the US - "social workers" we'd say in the UK.

Outside of those two areas, it pretty much was a joke.
America is a very religious county, and at the time was even more religious, so it wasn't like this was only affecting a small portion of the population.
The issue here is that the vast majority of religious people in the US did not believe in SRA, and absolutely were not part of the panic or concerned about it on a day to day basis. And quite a number of the people who were at the forefront in pushing/promoting SRA were quite... alternative... in their takes on religion, often veering more towards what might be called mysticism and in some cases actually claiming organised religion (particularly Catholicism) was part of SRA. I'm not sure you'd even find much of a correlation between religiosity and believing in SRA.

So I'm not sure that tracks.

But the reason it was a problem was because they SRA people intentionally infiltrated and lied to the police and the social workers, blasting them with propaganda, books full of absolutely fictional "studies", training videos on how to spot SRA (which were nothing more than modern-day equivalents of 1600s/1700s manuals on finding witches), and similar nonsense. Generally the more senior the person involved, the less likely they were to be taken in, but an awful lot of police forces and social worker organisations were very thoroughly infiltrated/propagandized at the lower levels. Which then lead to people being accused of truly ludicrous crimes (and sometimes even convicted, those juries should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves), kids being taken away for no reason, and so on.
I honestly have trouble not reading this as downplaying. Poverty doesn’t just suck. It can be a matter of life and death. It can be the threat of becoming homeless in the near future).
I think this is true but perhaps what you're not looking at is that it's far more common for non-white groups in the US to endure severe poverty, especially over multiple generations, and because of complex structural racism (as well as old-fashioned individual racism), it tends to be a lot harder for non-white people to find a way out of poverty, and far easier for them to find their way into poverty (for all sorts of reasons). It's a complex issue.

I do think there is sometimes a real failure of imagination among middle-class Americans about just how poor some Americans are, and how profoundly weak America's support mechanisms are for individuals or families in poverty (esp. compared to much of Europe, which is itself far from perfect here), but poverty and race are so intertwined in the US (esp. as noted, it being easier to get into poverty, and harder to get out if non-white, as well as generational poverty being vastly more common) that separating them cleanly isn't easy.
 
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Outside of those two areas, it pretty much was a joke.

The issue here is that the vast majority of religious people in the US did not believe in SRA, and absolutely were not part of the panic or concerned about it on a day to day basis. And quite a number of the people who were at the forefront in pushing/promoting SRA were quite... alternative... in their takes on religion, often veering more towards what might be called mysticism and in some cases actually claiming organised religion (particularly Catholicism) was part of SRA. I'm not sure you'd even find much of a correlation between religiosity and believing in SRA.

I would be very interested where you are getting our data from because it really doesn't match what I saw living through the satanic panic. The satanic panic started out as concern about SRA, and that continued and was a driving factor, but it was a mix of many things and there were secular concerns that got caught up in that storm. And the fact that it doesn't necessarily correlate to religiosity is the point: it became a very mainstream concern. But I don't know what the break down was in terms of how many religious people bought into it, I think I do have a better appreciation of the impact among religious people in the US than you do though (and I don't mean that in an insulting way, so I hope the tone is coming out right). Again, as far as I know, i don't think Catholicism got all that swept up in it (at least in my experience, it may have varied a bit). But among evangelicals and other protestant groups, including the Episcopalian church my family was attending (which is generally not regarded as particularly close to the evangelical movement), it seemed rather a prevalent idea. And out of that was a growing concern in general about the impact of things like Heavy Metal and D&D. A show like the 700 club wasn't that far outside the mainstream of the evangelical movement (and in the 80s the evangelical movement was quite large). And it wasn't just he 700 club, you saw it on lots of televangelist programming at the time. You also saw it on the nightly news. I cannot understate this. It was so mainstream a concern, it was taken seriously by news broadcasts and by talkshows. And again, it wasn't just about SRA. It become a much broader moral backlash against media content, leading up to things like the PMRC. The PMRC wasn't concerned about SRA, but it arose in an environment where people were concerned about satanic imagery and messages in music, subliminal messages, etc.
 

But the reason it was a problem was because they SRA people intentionally infiltrated and lied to the police and the social workers, blasting them with propaganda, books full of absolutely fictional "studies", training videos on how to spot SRA (which were nothing more than modern-day equivalents of 1600s/1700s manuals on finding witches), and similar nonsense. Generally the more senior the person involved, the less likely they were to be taken in, but an awful lot of police forces and social worker organisations were very thoroughly infiltrated/propagandized at the lower levels. Which then lead to people being accused of truly ludicrous crimes (and sometimes even convicted, those juries should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves), kids being taken away for no reason, and so on.

But this required the existence of a pretty widespread cultural panic in order to even take hold. And it wasnt' limited to low ranking people in police department, the media coverage of these accusations was very unfavorable to the defendants because the media bought into the SRA claims. It was years before there was skeptical push back.
 

I think this is true but perhaps what you're not looking at is that it's far more common for non-white groups in the US to endure severe poverty, especially over multiple generations, and because of complex structural racism (as well as old-fashioned individual racism), it tends to be a lot harder for non-white people to find a way out of poverty, and far easier for them to find their way into poverty (for all sorts of reasons). It's a complex issue.

I said in my posts that poverty disproportional affected different groups (and gave many of the numbers in my own state where among black people it is something like 17.5 % and among whites 6.5%; with Latinos and Native Americans being the highest poverty). And I said that is an issue in need of fixing. I also said there can be disadvantages associated with belonging to one of these groups. I don't think the term structural racism is an accurate one (I think it obscures what you are fighting, because it often isn't racism itself), but I do think it points to genuine disparities and disadvantages. And I think the term privilege, while it may also point to some real issues, becomes too simple an explanation for things, gets easily exaggerated, and isn't a particularly useful way to understand what drives a lot of the disapariities. So I would quibble over language and solutions. But I don't disagree on the broader point that if someone is black, in general they are going to face more challenges in the US. My point was simply that people often minimize the issue of poverty in these discussions and prioritize identity, and that is a problem when you have people are exceptions to the general rules. Yes where I live, you are far less likely to be poor if you are white, but if you are in that 6.5 %, and especially if you are on the lower end of it, if you are looking down homelessness, or if you are experiencing generational poverty, it is incredibly frustrating for such a person to be told "well you may have trouble paying the bills but you are still priviliged". That betrays a real misunderstanding of how crippling poverty is (and how many other disadvantages poverty imposes on a person's life). One of the reasons I dislike the term privilege is, it assumes a lot about a person's experience based on their identity. It causes us not to see people as individuals I think. And it is almost like this invisible attribute people treat as an unchanging number floating over a person's head. And that is all people seem to see someones. A person who is extremely poor, and in bad health, is not going to feel like that number is anything but zero. And it is just obvious from these conversations people seem to have a harder time feeling empathy towards anyone they think of as having some kind of privileged status.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
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And, I come in this morning to about a dozen reports, and a thread that has gone a great distance from actually discussing gaming. You know, that topic the entire site is about? We allow some leeway, but folks are just way off in left field now, so I'll just close this.
 

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