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Dungeons & Dragons Acknowledges their Racially Insensitive Canon and Vow to Do Better

There is a lot of turmoil in the world right now not only with the pandemic that is Covid-19 but also America addressing the issue of police brutality and racial inequality overall. In light of these events, many gaming companies have stepped up to contribute by donating, making pledges to be better, and even implementing changes to their canon to ensure there is far more diversity than before.

The ugly truth is that in a lot of ways it is hard to be both a person of color and also a geek. A majority of pop culture features fair-skinned heroes while characters of darker skin tones are typically for comic relief or villains. then you look to the fair-skinned character who is complex, competent and are the only ways capable of bringing great change.

Every medium from movies, novels, video games, and even tabletop games do the same. Dungeons & Dragons, for example, has been criticized for multiple examples of racism.  Orcs are classified as an Evil alignment meaning that they absolutely can not think or do anything that is even remotely civilized and crave only war. Yet their people form tribes, have a unique dialect, establish alliances with other races, and do many other actions that prove they are smart. Even their aesthetic, while it does vary, can often closely resemble Native American/African tribes with furs, face paint, and they all have darker skin tones.

Another example are the Drow who are a race of Dark Elves whose skin is all black. They are cunning, sinister, and untrustworthy with only a handful of rare cases where some Drow turn away from their culture. Drizzt Do’Urden is a prime example of a Drow who walked away from his people and faced discrimination in order to become ‘one of the good ones’. When even the mention of dark-skinned elves hit the table, all adventurers froze in fear because they have been trained to understand that it can only mean the Drow will be hostile.

Naturally, as minorities who live in a world where people tend to judge by the color of skin tones rather than contents of character, it raises an eyebrow when darker-skinned races are considered to be savage or untrustworthy for their entire race. Let alone the fact that slavery is common in the lore with Kobolds and Goblins. Meanwhile, the player’s hand guide is full of fair-skinned civilized races from Gnomes, Dwarves, Elves, Humans, Halflings, etc. Even Half-Orcs are fairer-skinned than full orcs, showcasing that they have more civility in them.

Despite being called out for these issues, Dungeons & Dragons rarely even acknowledged them, nevermind implement changes to bring resolution.

However, recently Dungeons & Dragons have finally acknowledged the issue in a series of tweets.

Not only did they take the time to address these concerns but this also advised of their action plan to prove these aren’t just words. You can find the full break down here: https://dnd.wizards.com/articles/features/diversity-and-dnd.

Some of the examples are:

  • When every D&D book is reprinted, we have an opportunity to correct errors that we or the broader D&D community discovered in that book. Each year, we use those opportunities to fix a variety of things, including errors in judgment. In recent reprintings of Tomb of Annihilation and Curse of Strahd, for example, we changed text that was racially insensitive. Those reprints have already been printed and will be available in the months ahead. We will continue this process, reviewing each book as it comes up for a reprint and fixing such errors where they are present.
  • Curse of Strahd included a people known as the Vistani and featured the Vistani heroine Ezmerelda. Regrettably, their depiction echoes some stereotypes associated with the Romani people in the real world. To rectify that, we’ve not only made changes to Curse of Strahd, but in two upcoming books, we will also show—working with a Romani consultant—the Vistani in a way that doesn’t rely on reductive tropes.
  • We’re proactively seeking new, diverse talent to join our staff and our pool of freelance writers and artists. We’ve brought in contributors who reflect the beautiful diversity of the D&D community to work on books coming out in 2021. We’re going to invest even more in this approach and add a broad range of new voices to join the chorus of D&D storytelling.

Dungeons & Dragons even took the time to feature a panel addressing these concerns during their highly praised D&D Live event with a group of black content creators who all enjoy tabletop role-playing.

Participants include: Host, Omega Jones: https://twitter.com/CriticalBard Tanya DePass: https://twitter.com/cypheroftyr B. Dave Walters: https://twitter.com/BDaveWalters TK Johnson: https://twitter.com/tkjoinsthefray Aabria Iyengar: https://twitter.com/quiddie WWE Superstar Ember Moon: https://twitter.com/WWEEmberMoon

There were a lot of great points that were brought up about the game, one of which was that the community can’t just sit back and let Wizards of the Coast do all of the work but the players at the table need to become better themselves.

Aabria speaks more on this:

Words can’t quite describe the feeling I have of these times or this change. For so long many PoC, myself included, simply accepted that the major geeky mediums of D&D, Warhammer, World of Warcraft, Cosplay, Comics, would remain in a state of racial inequality. But slowly we are seeing companies address their own issues and then make great changes in order to be better.

While I do appreciate these acts of change and posts of apologies for years of ignorance, I, and many others, know this only happened because an overwhelming majority of the world is outraged by injustice. Just because some things are better does not mean we have achieved a complete victory. So much more needs to be done in order to bring true equality to all geeks regardless of gender, race, or sexual orientation.

Keep on calling out companies for the wrong they are doing. They won’t ever change without social pressure.

 

 

Darth Mexican loves trying to help the community in any way he can. Marching for Black Lives Matter, attending rallies for LGBTQ rights, protesting what he feels hurts the common folk, and more! DeAngelo won't stop until the world is a better place!

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