Hey Artist

Hey, Artist,

NOTE: The Artist in question here took what I had to say in self reflection, removed the post and has apologized. There’s not much else I can ask in this situation more than that, I have removed any reference to their identity to prevent any ill will sent their way, from here. But I am leaving it up because I think it indicates an important consideration for character design going forward.

I want to start off by saying that I don’t think this was done in malice, but the intent or lack thereof does not make any of the following any less harmful or accurate. I’m not doing this to try to attack you, but am hoping that you made this character from a place of ignorance and would like to understand so you can reflect and do better.

The character adoptable you’ve posted recently was harmful in a number of ways as a concept, and as a concept and design could easily lend itself to harm caused by the purchaser in ways you, assumedly, did not intend. I would like to discuss those here, I know of several other people who have or plan to write threads about their own experiences in relation to what you designed.

I will preface this by saying i am white, i’ve tried hard to focus on personal anti-racism and using my privilege as a cis white man to help further anti-racism, my information here is from speaking to several POC and Biracial folks about the matter and the issues that could come from it. As I am white, nothing I say here is more important than the voices of the POC that are meaningfully affected by this, though it’s also good to remember that no marginalized groups are a monolith, and having a person or two say it doesn’t bother them does not reduce or remove the harm caused to others, which can be hard to balance at times.

The issues that we’ll focus on are:

  1. Racial/Biracial Representation
  2. Vague (likely incidental) anti-indiginous sentiments
  3. The potential unintentional harm of this that can be furthered by a purchaser regarding racism and ableism.

There’s a lot to say on this matter.

First, there is the fact of drawing parallels between good and evil being tied to a skin color (CriticalBard talks about this here in brief), especially naturally occurring skin colors, and while its been pointed out based on the magic effects presented, you intended to make white = evil, Black = good. But that’s not quite the saving grace or subversion that you think it is.

Artistically and historically “Black” has been used to symbolize evil, including using the term black to to refer to evil for centuries, in attempting to subvert that trope (if that was your attempt) you’ve stepped into a snarl where on one hand you are othering folks with Vitiligo and drawing a correlation to evil and vitiligo. 

From a biracial point of view it leads into all manner of tropes and harmful stereotypes about how biracial folks are secretly white or white or to quote my friend “There’s a whole subset of food-based insults in biracial (and really probably all POC) circles about being one color outside and white inside.” which this would also thread the line on.

There is also a whole read on magic and Blackness together being tied to being inherently or presumptuously evil (Youtube video Represantative, Article Representative.) 

In this case, the fact that it took internet sleuths guessing based on vague spell effects which side you denoted was bad and which side was good, means that a significant number of times the association will be that the Black side is the evil one.

So in this case the character design you set up is a damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation that was better left reimagined in a less harmful way. 

Moving on to anti-indiginous sentiment, the other examples that pretty quickly stood out to me was both “Two Spirit” and a correlation to the “there are two wolves inside you” meme which has been commonly stated as racist and anti-indiginous.

I know you did not create the Kalashar, which do represent two fused souls, however the presentation and terminology used here to represent this concept, tied with additional red flags and potential harmful stereotypes leaves them wide open to point out.

Were they intentional? I’m sure they weren’t. Is this a stretch? Maybe. But from point A to Z, the problem with this character stems from, if not malice, a complete lack of consideration and reflection onto what they may mean and represent.

Finally here is the big kicker, all of these harmful tropes are rolled into a potential package to be sold to the highest bidder with a TOS carte blanche to do whatever they want with them. What harm they do or represent with these characters after they buy them may not be your responsibility, but you do have responsibility for arming them with the weapon that delivered that harm without considering the effect it could have.

All of the previous statement could be further exacerbated by someone using or designing thoughtlessly around this character, there are biracial implications of internal struggles between two souls can lead to something like “of course the white half is more dominant/in charge/in control” these sort of racist concepts are often internalized and societally enforced by those who perpetrate them and there’s a good chance they and many others who gravitate towards these sorts of stereotypes don’t realize what they are doing.

Beyond that there is the real possibility of harmful ableist tropes as well in regards to the character, specifically referencing Multiple Personality Disorder/Dissociative Identity Disorder that could be hamfistedly played up by whomever buys it.

Again, I don’t write this to “put you on blast” or anything, I write this because the only way people have the chance to improve and get better is when they are forced to critically look at the harm they perpetrate. I hope you see this and any other criticism about this for what it is, and use that as a chance to reflect and grow in these arenas. 

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