…being confronted on Twitter by a kid who doesn’t think that geek culture needs any more “diversity”, or that anyone needs to work toward it.
The irony is that his avatar is an anime figure, which he drew himself. It’s fan art. He lives in a world saturated with Japanese art, animation and games. He grew up in the last twenty-five years, after the walls separating North American culture and Japanese culture came down in the 1990’s.
The benefit of being over 40 is that I remember a time when the only animation you would see in North America were Warner Brothers and Hanna Barbera stuff on television, and Walt Disney on the big screen. Live action shows for kids typically had a large cast of puppets.
I remember when there was no such thing as a video game. The first arcade games imported from Japan started to appear when I was around ten, lined up along the wall of an old pinball alley, plugged in next to the pop machines at a grocery store, or stashed in the underground lounge beneath a fancy restaurant.
The embarrassment of Japanese riches that children born in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s have grown up with is not something I take for granted. I was there when these things were new–when the first seeds needed rain and shelter to make them grow. I remember when we had to embrace something strange, foreign and outside of ourselves, and give it a chance.
I have been not just a witness but an active accomplice to increasing diversity in North American art for almost thirty years. Food, music, games, cinema, television, textiles, painting, books and poetry–a lot of my favorite things in life come from outside my parent culture of traditional North American whiteness. That’s not an accident and it’s nothing I’ll apologize for. To this day I believe that diversity is right, and monoculture is wrong…or at the very least, boring as hell.
What pains me about this ongoing argument with the younger generation is that so often, the people pushing back have already benefited visibly from diversity in their popular culture. The irony of their position is apparent without even having to look beyond the avatar attached to a Tweet. The person speaking is someone whose life is already better and richer because Diversity won, and continues to win.
If your favorite cartoons and games growing up were Japanese imports, or influenced by Japanese imports, Diversity is already your friend. Diversity already makes you happier than monoculture and entrenched white privilege do. Maybe you should have your buddy’s back on Twitter once in a while?
I’m just saying.