1. Why are you running a free tumblr blog when this information is obviously extremely valuable?
Because in many situations, accepting funds more or less negates my control over the content. In other words, all those messages you’ve seen from people that are basically, “You SAY you’re [trying to eliminate all existing inequality/educating people/trying to promote diversity] but you NEED to be [nicer to racists/catering to white historical vanity/acknowledge my sense of entitlement to your time and effort]!!!” would actually be the ones deciding what the content would be.
which leads to…
2. When is MedievalPOC going to be a book?
When I started this blog, I assumed there would be like 900 other people who had the same idea, but apparently that was not even remotely the case. Included on the list of things I was not expecting: That there would be a roiling volcano of untapped and underutilized information, just how few people have bothered to make anything cohesive out of it, and the massive amount of people who gave a crap.
This project has become much more than I ever expected, and it does need to be a book. It would have to be crowd-funded and independently published in order to maintain its thesis and integrity, however. I’ve been looking into the logistics of what it would take for that to happen, and when I have that hammered out, I’ll definitely announce it.
3. What do you think is the most controversial topic you’ve covered?
Hands-down, without a doubt, the number one topic that people get the angriest about, spew the most hate and vitriol over, and that reveals the most blatant, ingrained and deep-rooted racism is the lack of representation of people of color in American animated children’s films. While media for adults often brings out the “everyone in this movie with dragons and elves HAS to be white because it’s historically accurate!" crowd, but it doesn’t hold a candle to what I have seen when it comes to defending whiteness in Disney cartoons.
The closest runner-up is probably anything to do with Lord of the Rings.
4. Do you think the critics of this blog have a point?
Yes, I do.
The thing is, a lot of the criticism centers on an American running a blog about European art. Which pretty much amount to people screaming at me every five minutes, “you’re an American!!!” and then the subsequent bafflement when I don’t spontaneously burst into flames and then implode from this basic statement of fact. (Although as a Native American I have to admit I derive a great deal of oily mirth from being accused of cultural imperialism by white Europeans.)
My sense of geography is abysmal. My awareness of lineages and whether someone was someone else’s brother’s son’s wife is similarly so. When people correct me on those two counts, which happens literally all the time, I publish the corrections. I don’t speak every language, I haven’t seen every piece of art, and there’s a ton of stuff I’ve never heard of. There have been times when I’ve gotten defensive, kept talking when I should have listened, or was dismissive when I should have been learning. I’ve said things that made people who should have felt welcome feel hurt and excluded instead.
I get the sense that both my critics and my fans would be a lot more comfortable if I would just pretend to be right all the time and act “objective”, instead of continuing to live with embarrassingly public mistakes and being so messily human. But I implore you to look inside yourself and ask whether or not this discomfort comes from the same place in your heart that wants to believe your history textbook was born like Venus from the foam rather than being written on purpose by a human being with thoughts and feelings and a race and a gender and all the other assorted accoutrements of actual human existence.
5. Why aren’t you more professional/respectable?
Because no one is. Because presenting yourself that way is a tool used for social control. Because it’s that very illusion that is used to keep people from participating in their own education. Because academic language all too often operates as a form of gatekeeping, and because the first half of this sentence does the thing it describes.
Because the inequalities that exist in the world right now are not due to shortages of commodities, but because people in power control their distribution. Because I live in a country where police restrain hungry people while they throw food into dumpsters, and sends homeless women to prison for sending their children to school.
Because that kind of “respectability” requires exclusion aligning with existing power structures, and I’m not into that.
6. Why do you change your avatar?
Fun fact: changing my avatar image back to “male” cut the hatemail I receive by about two-thirds. Also, having a “female” avatar led a lot of people to make some serious assumptions about my gender. Mostly based on the cultural expectation that no man would ever willingly accept being perceived as a woman without having the biggest tantrum ever witnessed by humanity. 90% of the hate is based on who or what they think I am, rather than who I actually am. Some mysteries are better left intact, even when they’re not really mysteries at all.
in awe. 5. and 6. especially… well.. put…. excuse me for a second