Which Is My Country: On Rittenhouse, and Gaming Community Response

“Polarizing the People is an authoritarian’s ultimate weapon. When this happens, the People’s power will be taken away. In memory of all victims of state violence.” –Thai Rap Against Dictatorship

To say yesterday was spent mostly in depression and not being productive at all at work is an understatement. I was not alone, either, not even in the workplace. The songs, This Is America by Childish Gambino and Prathet Ku Mee (My Country Has) by Thai Rap Against Dictatorship, have been randomly popping in my head.

What I learned from the news on Kyle Rittenhouse is one core lesson. A lesson learned already, really, but am nonetheless reminded of as people have been many times in this country’s history.

Reminded that if someone pretends to be patriotic, goes to a rally full of antiracist protestors with intention to stir a fight, and shoots people pretending it is self-defense, they are let go. At worse, they get a slap on the wrist. It does not matter how much someone is an avowed racist, are in bad faith, or have many other charges against them in the same scene.

They walk out in this country, because the lives of black, brown, Asian, hyphenated, and antiracist protestors do not matter, including the two white protestors who were killed.

I check at least two or three of the boxes above, so I guess my life does not matter here, either. Though it will be tokenized and thus prized more than others due to my mixed White-Asian heritage if weighed against anyone with less proximity to White hegemony.

A white boy crying crocodile tears receives more sympathy than a friend of mine’s son who just walked up to a police officer, unarmed, and was shot in the Denver Metro area of Colorado. Someone who was brown and Asian.

To quote Thai Rap Against Dictatorship’s Prathet Ku Mee: Which is my country.

A white boy claiming he was being patriotic, but nonetheless killed people who loved their country enough to protest injustice in it yet had no way to defend themselves against his gunshots, is valorized. People celebrate him, or defend him, across the country while black and brown people are statistically, economically suffering, and are punished more harshly than people like him. In a country where hate crimes against Asian Americans – against both East and Brown Asians – are on the rise. And even white protestors, like Anthony Huber, and Joseph Rosenbaum, also pay the price for defending everyone (my heart goes to them, truly). This is despite the fact everyone opposing his hateful ideology feel need to monitor any action they do, including breathing, even in self-defense.

Lest they deal with retaliation (when already doing so just for existing).

The third victim in Kenosha, who suffered injuries, Gaige Grosskeutz, was white and had a gun, but he never shot. This is while Rittenhouse shot people first and thus anyone present was justified to retaliate in self-defense.

Many opposing Rittenhouse fears what it means to use their gun in self-defense. Look at the case(s) in Florida where “Stand Your Ground” laws are never enough to protect Marissa Alexander, a Black woman, and her nonlethal, self-defense warning shot with her abuser. She did not aim for harming people, yet she faces time, unlike her Hispanic-White Floridan counterpart, George Zimmerman, who killed Trevyn Martin.

Unlike Kyle Rittenhouse who killed antiracist protestors.

Which is my country.

I live in a country where a white boy will have his youth and perceived “innocence” (I say “perceived” because Rittenhouse is not innocent), given greater consideration than the life of a black boy who was killed for having a toy gun out. Who was playing in the snow. Those who speak of Rittenhouse’s “innocence” and “youth,” I ask: where were you when Tamir Rice, 12 years old, younger than Rittenhouse, was killed? I do not think many of you cared then (if any at all). Nor do I think many of you care now.

Still, this is my country.

Yesterday, I ended up just going home, eating some instant ramen soup bought from the local Asian market, and playing in my Neverwinter Nights developer module. I mourned yet again at how emboldened white supremacists in this country are. How antiracist protestors, including our white protestors, are killed for taking a stand.

Even more, I mourned that some in the gaming community, including select affluent black, indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) and other hyphenated folks, were excusing or justifying what Kyle Rittenhouse did. Because I was one of the hyphens who used to be more “edgy” years ago, I frowned at their complicity remembering my former self. To some of the people who I attend protests for (I know they do not speak for all), and only ever bother logging into Twitter a few times a year to make statements supporting, and advocate for in my work, the lives of human rights activists or sometimes, even the lives of their own people, do not matter.

My life does not matter, either.

I will speak for their human dignity and rights, anyway, even while holding them to their disregard for others.

One grace or kindness I have had in the past twenty-four hours is the fact I saw Warhammer Community make a statement about condemning hatred and attacks on diversity and inclusion. They cast shade on the people who are attracted to and valorize the Imperium of Men, a faction from the get-go that is made as an obvious fantasy/sci-fi analog for white supremacists; an analog for fascism. Unapologetically, they held them in scrutiny. It was stated plain they did not welcome white supremacists or anyone who sympathize with them. Then more: they offered to help organize gaming experiences that reflected their values.

I do not know what will happen as a result of it all, but it is something I wish more platforms would do: at least make a statement and a minimal what they want to do about it. We all in the gaming community(-/ies) can do better. At this state, I am tired of these edgy, fragile-ego-filled little boys (and enabling women and others) who learned it is okay to be demeaning, inconsiderate people spewing hate or trying to incite reactions so they can shame anyone who says a thing against systemic injustices. Sometimes, I do not think places, even where my friends administer the server, are where they should be when it comes to giving these people a moment of accountability.

This post was meant to be some informal reflection of current events, a statement in support for all who felt the pain yesterday, and a little bit of a catch-up for anyone who has not heard from me in a spell. I want to say this, though, in support of my “statement.”

If you consider me a friend or say you value me as a human being, yet consider what happened on November 19, 2021, the right and justified verdict, you just told me I deserved to be shot for protesting racism. No matter how good the defense was (yes, they were doing their job well), or how incompetent the prosecution was (clearly did not do their part), you consider me of less value than a white supremacist. I may care for you as a human being, I may even consider you a friend and may just not know you feel this way about me, but I hold anyone who celebrated this outcome in contempt.

I want to say I try within reason to emulate Deeyah Khan when it comes to my work. That I do what I can, even if imperfectly, to still recognize the humanity in people who want me gone or value me less while holding them to their ideologies. I generally can disagree with people and still be friends with them within reason. There are plenty of libertarian, responsible gun-owning people I know of who condemn yesterday’s outcome. These conservative folks are my friends.

So, to that end, I do not know to what extent we are considered friends if you are among the guilty party I speak toward. James Baldwin once said: “We can disagree and still love each other unless your disagreement is rooted in my oppression and denial of my humanity and right to exist.”

If you see my participation in nonviolent antiracist protest (as statistically 95%+ of Black Lives Matter protests are), as grounds for someone to feel intimidated and shoot me or my friends, I do not know if you value my humanity or right to exist.

Think about it. Be real. It will serve you better in the long game.

I just cannot be silent about this sort of thing anymore on my own accord. I work enough to sleep at night. Rest lost, wondering if I or my friends or family, whether BIPOC or an antiracist protestor, will live another day. Or if one of my so-called “conservative” friends is supporting decisions that might get us killed.

As this case has proven, not even white antiracist protestors are safe from the fire by white supremacy, something I ramble on a bit on Part II.

With (sometimes tough) love,

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