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Racism in Second Life?

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I aplogize in advanced if this was placed in the wrong forum, however, I am looking for opinions from other residents in SL.

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Before I get started, I wanted to describe my real life self. I am a young African American college student. I've been on SL for almost seven years now--this is my second account. I used to post real life photos of myself in the real life tab of my profile, but have used both black and white avatars. 

I've noticed whenever I am a black avatar, no one approaches me and whenever they find out I am black in real life, they suddenly stop friending me or messaging me. When I play as a white avatar, other residents approach me more, but until they see my real life tab, they suddenly stop. This happened on several occasions and has been this way since I've been on SL. It's honestly made me very ashamed of my race and I hate the feeling of having to pretend to be someone I am not. But, it seems white avatars, even asian ones, are more appreciated than black females and their avatars. I no longer leave my real life tab avaliable and usually when I am in an area with heavy traffic, I only go as a white avatar because I find that people are more open to chatting with me. 

In many ways, I feel awful for wasting so much time and money into something if I knew this would always happen. 

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SL is a lot like RL - same prejudices. After all, same people.

However... SL or RL, there's always places that will be more tolerant than others. The trick is to find them.

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I would hope that you would encounter less Racism in SL than in RL but sadly it does happen.  It's too easy for people to hide behind their anonymity here.

But please, never ever feel ashamed for who you are.

If you do that the racists win.  :(

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Unfortunately, I guess people are going to be just as racist in SL as they would be in RL. It's a shame. It's the 21st century, you'd think we'd be able to let go of our prejudices by now, but it's not so. 

Just be who you are and don't let other people's petty judgements get in the way. There are still many of us who aren't racist, just gotta find us I suppose :)

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I'm suprised it is that extreme in SL, because the trend always seemed to be that most avatars were at least a few shades darker than their owners probably are. But the overall reaction change depending on avatar apperance is nothing new to me, from my experiance the more mainstream an avatar is, the easier it was to get in contact with others.

Maybe you should see it from another point: The people who will not approch you when you wear an avatar you are comfortable with are not worth your time anyway. At the end they won't fit you anyway.

And when it comes to the RL tab...I have never a picture of myself there. So I can't really comment on reactions there.

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I'm sorry for what you went through but sadly yes racism can spill into sl from rl and yes we all hoped it didn't but stay strong find people who can look past your rl picture and like you for you my friend :D

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I agree with Jenni on her response

I am an Asian American, my avi is asian in appearance and I don't hide the fact that I am Asian in local chat.

I have faced some racism in some areas, but other than a few times in the past, I havent' experience anything similar since then.

Play the avi you want to play, no one says the real life info needs to be completed or borthered with.

If a sim feel uncomfy to you, TP put and go to another similar one....

Wish you well in your SL experience!!!

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I can't believe I made an alt just to reply to a forum thread.  :matte-motes-bashful-cute-2:

Of course I can't know the reasons why those specific people reacted in the way they did.  They could be racist.

I did want to offer another possibility based on my experiences as a rl black woman who has been in SL for many years now. Sorry if I'm telling you things you already know.  

One thing that I have observed is that, unfortunately, there are several "black" avatars out there that are basically griefer/troll accounts.  They use stereotypical/racist imagery and language to try to upset people.  On top of that, you have a whole other set of "black" avatars that are around mainly for (what I consider racist) adult raceplay or whatever it's called.  Both of those groups have avatars that use rl pictures in their profiles that are clearly not of their rl typists.  Frankly, when I see rl pictures in avatar profiles I don't assume that I'm looking at a picture of the typist.  I think, "Oh look, they uploaded a picture.  I wonder what site they ripped that from?"  :smileywink:  RL pictures make me less likely to take the person seriously unless I know that the picture is legitimately of them.

I'm not sure what types of sims you frequent.  I can tell you that when I have told people in SL that I am black in rl, the reactions have been positive.  This has been after I've gotten to know them.  I make a point not to reveal personal info to people I've just met.  

I haven't found that my avatars are less likely to be approached if they are black, white or asian.  Their profiles have been very "lived in" with well established groups so that may have something to do with it.  In my experience people look harder at what groups you choose to display and what information is in your picks than anything else.

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i think what we encounter online has a lot to do with our timezone. Meaning that most of us login at the same time as others who also live in our timezone

so overall (win some lose some) what we encounter online is generally representative of the conditions we experience in our RL also

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I completely agree. I've ran into a lot of avatars in-world, who play as black avatars (mostly male) as a sexual fantasy (like sort of a ghetto stereotype sexual roleplay, which does seem underhandedly racist). But, many of the residents have been very kind since I've made this post and I appreciate the help and feedback. I just wanted a second opinion rather than going by my own. 

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Unfortunately, some folks do cling to their RL prejudices in SL.

 

I've been in SL for nine years, for those nine years I have been Partnered to the same, wonderful gal in a same-sex relationship. Mainly, no one bats an eyelash - so that's a point on the "good" side.

 

But we still have people putting others down is they won't voice-verify their RL gender, are Furry or are in some way "a little different"

 

Speaking to the issue of race, I did an experiment a while back and created a Black, female avatar. Now, for nine years I've been used to being treated a certain way, and this was certainly a little different.

 

Subjectively, I was being "hit on" more while just out exploring the grid. That of itself might not be bad, if I Was single, but the...methods...used were at times pretty awful. "Bad pickup lines" we're replaced by things that were just pretty vulgar, and the assumption seemed to be there that ( and I was conservatively dressed with no exaggerated prim breasts or skin showing ) I was kinda sleazy..

 

The whole point of this was for me to see for myself if things were different based on skin-tone, and subjectively; they were.

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I'm sorry you had this experience. Racism on any platform is based in ignorance. Sometimes it's intentional and sometimes it's subconscious because people lack experiences with a certain race of people, therefore they stereotype by what is presented on TV or what they've heard or based on a singular experience. This is 2015 now..we must all learn to not judge others on something so trivial as color of skin. I've met idiots from all races and I've met true and wholesome people of all races. So we should at least give people a chance to prove themselves.

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I have to be honest, I really think it's mainly in your head. There's a lot of strange stuff in SL and being a black avatar is the least of it. When you say "It's honestly made me very ashamed of my race" I think that's more of a personal problem that you have with yourself so you jump to an avatar image that you feel is more socially acceptable.

On another note, the only group I've ever really noticed a certain disdain towards in SL was "Furries".

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I'm black, I have a black looking avi and I rarely experience racism on sl. like others I mostly notice a lot of black male Avis that aren't really black. I've also noticed quite a few bloggers have become "black" in their blogs lately. I see being black as kind of trendy right now. SL is a thing where you can be a social as you want. I've found some of the best sl friends I've made are ones I approached first. Some of the worst, most untrustworthy people have approached me first. In other words you have to make friends.

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Agreed about Furries, they catch a lot of over-the-top crap. The only time I've really had an issue with anyone from the Fur community was when a -militant- group of Fur-Residents tried to force a historical Roleplay sim to allow furry characters in what was supposed to be a real-world recreation. In that case, as it was a Private sim, Realism carried they day. Not because anyone hated Fur, but because Furries weren't "Period" as my SCA friends would say.

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I think it's an issue that's always there. You can clearly see that when you're trying to find a good quality skin that fits for an African avatar, that's not just a regular white person skin made darker. You can see it in the traits of the face, the color of the palms and other details. Even the names of the skins, sometimes. For example, I didn't like it that the skin tone called "America" in a certain skin store was the typical Central European white skin (in that same store, the darkest tones, called "Jamaica" and "Africa", are only white skins made darker and not available in all skins, while "America" is).

Yes, as someone pointed out, many users choose a darker skin tone, but usually not racially darker (i.e. Indian, African, Amerindian, etc.), just a white person with a good tan. In fact, white-with-tan is actually the large majority of skins available, especially affordable and fairly good. There are considerably more fantasy skins (drow, green, purple, scales and stuff) available than good African-looking skins. They are extremely difficult to find and they must make the 10% or less of the whole universe of skin offers. If you were tempted to get one of those new mesh bodies, make that percentage way lower (and one of them will drag you to the store where American means white).

SL is the place where everyone gets to play their own fantasies and be what/whomever they want to become, true. And they all want to become a white person with a good tan.

All that taken out of my system (I recently created a black woman avatar and it has been a big challenge to find all the "pieces", and I'm still very unhappy with the hand/feet skin appliers), I also wonder if the perceived experience of being treated differently comes from a place where you know that same experience in RL and, therefore, you're either expecting it and see it even when it's not there, or recognize hints and signs that others don't.

I don't know if I'm lucky or just ignorant, but I don't feel treated differently when I wear the black girl, compared to my classic white-with-tan, my Latina or my blondie. Perhaps I'm lucky enough to be in "the right sims", or perhaps I just don't recognize it. Is that guy who tells me that my face has a lot of character being nice, sincere, or racist? I don't know, but I thought he was being sincere and nice. Perhaps someone used to being treated as "racially exotic" would have taken offense, but I have no clue.

Whew, TL;DR yes, there is racism just as in RL. But just as in RL, not everywhere.

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arualblues wrote:

I think it's an issue that's always there. You can clearly see that when you're trying to find a good quality skin that fits for an African avatar, that's not just a regular white person skin made darker. You can see it in the traits of the face, the color of the palms and other details. Even the names of the skins, sometimes. For example, I didn't like it that the skin tone called "America" in a certain skin store was the typical Central European white skin (in that same store, the darkest tones, called "Jamaica" and "Africa", are only white skins made darker and not available in all skins, while "America" is).


Just so you know, I believe the person who owns that store is Japanese and would logically no more nuanced a view of what "Americans" look like than we do about what "Japanese" people look like.

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In response to the roleplay aspect, I'd like to give my two cents.

 

I'm white IRL, and generally play a white character (I've been Rping here for the better part of 3 years). However, I do have a black character, and when I play him I have trouble finding people who don't expect the stereotypical ghetto black man. Is it true that I incorporate a few stereotypes in my character? Yes. He's a basketball player, but the reason he's black isn't because of that, it was simply one of the tallest avatars I could find. However, I get requests to do intensely explicit scenes on that account I never get on my other accounts, and I've found some people to be hostile OOCly to me (ICly, there are racist characters, but even most of them are not racist OOC and friendly). 

 

It's really not important my justification, I just want to say that while I definitely see RP prejudice, there are many, many more players that don't care. I'm glad that they are around, because people shouldn't be judged based on skin color, real life or not. I hope the OP is not discouraged and knows many people are around that surely would love to get to know her for who she really is. 

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I don't doubt there is racism in SL. But I do think the type of people you encounter changes a great deal from the types of sims you attend. Most of my SL friends are a gamut of countries, cultures, and backgrounds, but I don't hang out at clubs or high traffic places. I like roleplay sims, cultural sims, and charity sims.

It is hard to find a good community, it's true. Some clubs are a lot better than others, but I would try places outside of the heavy traffic sims.

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Lol I would be ur friend... people on sl have genre prejiduce too against certain genre of people. I am classified as Gothic.. i wouldnt be racist to u at all if u wanted to be friends.. 

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I use a black skin from time to time, afro hair too, never have once experienced any kind of racist attitue, infact I have been complimented on my avatars look as it appears alot more exotic and fashionable than white avatars, honestly black avatars seem to have more character and most fashions look better on them as well,,started preferring it to my white skins as far as being stylish is concerned, sometimes I just change the skin on one fashionale look from black to white and honestly the whole looks goes kinda blah, like somethings missing.

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