On the expectation of free labor to diversify your spaces

[Copy/Pasted from an early AM twitter vent this morning 12/21/16]

I’m in a mood, and I’m irritated. I want to talk about value of work, specifically diversity work & people’s expectation of free labor. So I’m lucky, and in a good position where sometimes people come out the gate with what are your rates & fees? This does not always happen though, don’t get excited. Like I said I’m in a good position.

However…there’s the pervasive idea that we should provide our expertise, our skills and knowledge for little or no pay. How about no? A lot of places want to be seen as progressive, diverse and doing the right thing but they don’t want to invest time & resources. Or they think it’s as simple as invite a few brown folks and a queer person, give them top billing one year & we’ve done it! Uh no.


See, we can see right through that bullshit. Especially when your convention committee doesn’t change, your policies don’t change. You can’t put the current hyper visible POC in your field up as your diversity! And expect us to flock to your event. Again, we see you.

Here’s my main gripe though. Reaching out to people to get help but not offering compensation at the same time.

It’s always “Let’s have a coffee, let me buy you lunch and pick your brain…”

This isn’t about greed either. This is about valuing someone enough to “pick their brain” but not enough to pay them.This is doubly true when you expect someone to help with event they may attend but won’t offer some kind of comps or payment.  Helping the community is great, but it doesn’t negate the value of that persons time.

Even asking someone to take the time to chat with you, have an email exchange or Skype call should be considered work.I think it comes down to people not seeing it as “real” work. Also, acting as if someone asking for compensation is wrong? Or insinuating they don’t actually care because they wanna eat?

Nah, we all got bills and if you want my time & expertise? FU Pay Me. Nobody expects teachers to work for free, or other laborers so why us? Because a lot of the work is emotional labor. To unfuck the ways that events and orgs have failed on representation is a lot hard work y’all. So stop asking for free labor under the guise of doing better. Improvement takes effort, time and money. Investment not hollow promises.

When you ask someone on how to do better, ask what their preferred compensation method is. Fucking pay people for their time.


 Fuck You Pay Me available from Geek Calligraphy, purchase one for your workspace!

Last thing, think real hard on how you react to black Womens, lgbtqia & other folks asking to be paid vs whites.Look at all the extra shit people want from us to prove we’re worth the time, effort & money to support. Look at how angry people get when we dare to say our time & knowledge is valuable. Y’all have seen it, people bring accused of running scams, that we should help for $0.

However, white folks come up with the weirdest shit for a kickstarter or crowd funding that overfunds but we can’t make the minimum.So if I’m bitter? It’s with damn good reason. Tired of being told the work is valuable, needed but when we ask for help? Support is nil. TL;DR, stop asking people for free work. Value our skills enough to offer payment when asking for said work. Exposure kills, it’s not money, not valid currency anywhere.

It’s not the first time I’ve talked about this. It probably won’t be the last either. As long as people continue to undervalue, or assume no value for the hard work that is required to achieve better representation, more diversity and make it stick; we’ll keep having this damn go round and around until people get it.

Other writings I’ve done on this topic & related issues: 

You Wanna Diversify huh? That’s Nice, Pay Us

On paying black women for the work we do and the ways people accuse us of cashing in

Thoughts on diversity, conventions & cost

Emotional Labor, OT edition for POC, LGBTIQIA & others — Fandom edition

I’m fed up

I thought about writing out my thoughts on all the killings and shootings of our people instead of a long thread of tweets. However, I’m not doing that for two reasons.

One) it’s like the second I talk about one person’s murder by cops, another occurs in hours if not days and it’s exhausting emotionally, physically to wake up to the same news, same situation, same cycle of victim blaming of the newly murdered and sympathy for the killer in blue.

Two) When I share my thoughts, my pain without fail someone takes it as some academic lesson, some object lesson on racism instead of hearing out their friends pain about another black life taken. They share it as a lesson to other white friends who don’t get it. My pain is not a soundbite, it’s not a handy lesson to pass around to show how woke you are.

It also happens without fail someone will whitesplain back what I’ve said or try to play devil’s advocate when I speak from my heart. That usually happens more on twitter than here but it’s irritating and hurtful that people who follow me would rather turn someone’s very real hurt into an academic circle jerk on whether the things I’ve said are valid because they don’t see it in their lives.

I’ve got filters upon filters on Facebook, and a private, locked twitter. That’s where I’ll be having a lot of these conversations or venting going forward because my pain over more black murders isn’t there for people who don’t get it and thank me for sharing on breath, yet continue to be clueless and hurtful in the next.

I did an unscientific tumblr poll on POC OC’s and players in DA fandom out of curiosity, the results are interesting…

I’ll get way more into detail on my Bioware Metacrit blog since this is more Dragon Age related but I wanted to noodle a bit more here before I delve deep into this meta.

So I saw this post on tumblr; the text of which is:

Reblog if your Lavellan Inquisitor is a PoC

just curious to see how many of us have an elf of color.

Which made me curious about the breakdown between POC players and Non-POC players and whether they played a POC protag in any of the three Dragon Age games. So I threw out these two posts, this one first:

If you are POC and have a POC Warden, Hawke or Lavellan, please reblog this post.

Then the flip side of that post which was:

Please reblog if you are NOT POC and have a POC Inquisitor, Warden or Hawke.

Interestingly enough, the post asking if you are Not POC and have POC OC’s, has had a response rate over double the rate of the post asking if you are POC and POC OC’s.

Intriguing results on my unscientific polling so far

Of how many POC have POC Wardens, Hawkes and Inquisitors; count of replies as of this post: 270 notes (including likes)

But the numbers on the NOT POC and have a POC Warden, Hawke or Inquisitor: 681 notes (including likes)

Very, very interesting. I know there have to be more than just 270 POC gamers with POC OC’s out there.

I’ll probably write up something on the responses, response rate, and my own pet theory on why the response rate for NON POC with POC OC’s is 2X more than the response rate of POC’s with POC OC’s to this terribly unscientific, slaking my own curiosity polling.

Thoughts welcome here or whenever I throw these thoughts into one post. For those following along, I am WOC and there’s nothing insidious as to me wondering about this but I am curious.

Since I posted that, there have been some interesting answers and reblog commentary, and the numbers have gone up even more. As I’m writing this post, The post asking if you are POC w/POC OC’s has 414 responses (including likes and comments); whereas the post asking if you are Non-POC w/POC OC’s has 973 responses (including likes and comments)

There have been some reblogs on that non-POC w/POC OC’s with screencaps, and explanations about why someone as a non-POC plays POC OC’s in their dragon age games. Intriguing why people felt the need to explain themselves when none was requested in the post.

To start off, it was simply my own curiosity getting the better of me and now I really want to dig deeper into he totally unscientific poll and resulting responses. Is it white guilt or seeking a pat on the head as a good person who doesn’t lack in empathy and knowing about diversity that leads non-POC folks to play (sometimes exclusively) POC OC’s in games? Is this digital blackface then? The ability to try on the other without consequence? Or a shallow attempt at understanding in the wrong setting? No one is going to understand the POC experience by playing a brown character in the Dragon Age series, since it makes no difference in the narrative of the game’s story.

People also replied with Mass Effect responses and even Guild Wars 2 saying their characters are headcanon/present as POC. Considering the question didn’t ask about Mass Effect or other games, I found that interesting as well. Why go the extra step to throw in a game no one mentioned or reply with a post longer than the original huh, that’s interesting summary on why they played POC OC’s.

I’ll keep collecting responses and probably collate them in an even longer post later.