“You have to be twice as good as them to get half as much as them.”
It’s a mantra I’ve heard all my life. From my parents, from my grandparents, from aunts and uncles and neighbors and teachers.
“You’re smart, but as a woman you’re going to have to work twice as hard to get half the credit.”
“You’re good, but since you’re Black you’re going to have to shine twice as hard to get noticed half as much as a white person.”
Scandal has emphasized it. Joe Morton’s Papa Pope drilled it into Olivia’s head from a young age.
Master of None had Angela Bassett define a Minority as “A group of people who have to work twice as hard in life to get half as far.”
Reese Witherspoon pointed it out about succeeding in Hollywood as a woman. http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/reese-witherspoon-women-prove-hard-article-1.3098069
So when I was writing up the call for contributors for New Agenda Publishing, I included a line that I was fairly certain every woman and person of color would get.
*This does not mean we don’t want to hear from straight white guys, but it does mean you’re a straight white guy and you’re sending in an application, you’re going to have to work twice as hard to impress us half as much.
I thought it was amusing, a nod to the decades of hearing it that every person I knew who wasn’t a straight white guy had heard constantly. To be taken seriously you have to be the model minority, never making a misstep, never failing lest it be taken as proof that you and your kind don’t belong here.
Unsurprisingly, some people lost their shit. Screeds were sent to our writer’s call. Posts about how we were discriminatory and racist and sexist popped up. Concern trolling over whether we could be sued for violating the EEOC. White dudes being told that they would have to perform to the same level as people of color and women have been doing forever was apparently asking too much of them.
But I was surprised at the number of people who stepped up and said “About time” or explained that it was neither racist nor sexist. For the people in the back: This is how you ally.
What I find most interesting about the whole affair is that RPGs as an industry are still dominated by white dudes at nearly every level. The number of companies that are made up entirely of white dudes is staggering, yet any active push back on changing the state of affairs is met with cries of “reverse racism” (not a thing) or “reverse sexism” (also not a thing). In asking for the table to be made bigger to accommodate more chairs people act as if their chairs will be taken from them. No one is keeping them from writing. (Amazingly we didn’t get push back from artists.) Hell, I’m pretty sure if we actually hired some of the biggest complainers they’d refuse to work with us because answering to a black woman would be a bridge too far.
To paraphrase Charlotte Whitton
Whatever we do we must do twice as well as straight white men to be thought half as good. Luckily, this is not difficult.