A View From Across the Pond

Written by Az Johnston

When I agreed to write articles for I Rebel I had a plan of how I was going to do them, when and what they were going to be about. Then lots of things happened and they keep happening. This piece for example for supposed to be about the logistics of organising an event, large or small. Since that is not something we have the luxury of being able to do right now it is going to be a little different. Part Star War: Destiny observations, part personal thought and part social commentary.

How do you keep a community together when the things that bind them change? For a game like Star Wars: Destiny those local members of the playing community have to step up and make it happen. The game didn’t suddenly become not fun or enjoyable just because it isn’t being made anymore. The friends we have made because of it don’t suddenly become just names to us because that happened. Games stores have a difficult balance when it comes to running events and making play space available because in order to survive they need to allocate the resources they have available to games which make them profit, while making valued customers still feel welcome.

Heading down to the store or board game cafe and playing is a way to invite new people to come and play, for every collection sold by players who are leaving the game that means someone bought it and most of the time they will be new or returning players. we need to encourage those players to meet up and play games, to tell epic tales of Vader and Aphra beating people with Improvised Explosives and Double Agent. There is an opportunity for players to play out the moments of Star Wars lore and see if Vader always cuts down Obi-Wan or not. Fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, new friends and old friends can all play each other over the kitchen table too.

In this new world of social distancing there are alternatives to physical play. In the UK and in other parts of the world players have been taking to this more and more, even devising new deck building restrictions to keep the meta fresh and interesting and with good attendance. Now that may be in part due to the fact that a lot of people aren’t allowed to be out and about and therefore available remains to be seen. I think it will be sometime before we are able to run the last few official events for Destiny but I am hopeful they will happen.

The next part of this piece gets a bit deep and is solely my opinion and not that of I Rebel. If any of what follows offends you then that is unfortunate and not my intention. It is easy to live in our self-contained bubbles and not think about the wider world. If any of what follows helps people to understand or think then that is my aim here. This is happening to a lot of minorities all over the world.

A month ago we should have been playing Star Wars: Destiny playing at the last World Championships in the wonderful Twin Cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul. This is why it saddens me greatly to see what is happening there and elsewhere in America right now. To think that but for a global pandemic many of us would have made the pilgrimage one final time to the state of Minnesota and the Ol’ Man River. If Colin Kapernick, Bruce Maxwell, Megan Rapinoe and others kneeling offended you more than a serving Police Officer kneeling on the neck of a man crying “I can’t breathe” then you may need to look at yourself and ask why that is. Riots happen because people feel no other recourse is possible after they have exhausted many other avenues of protest. The Boston Tea Party is one of the better examples of this!

We all need to stay safe out there as Covid-19 hasn’t gone away and its not a surprise that it has been running rampant through countries where disinformation is rife as well as an inherent distrust of the governments in those places. That is not a coincidence.

What we should be focusing on and celebrating with a sense of wonder is the first commercial spaceflight. I did something I hadn’t done since 1986; I watched a NASA launch. Like many other sci-fi geeks I had watched all the launches either at home or at school from Columbia in 1980 until Challenger in 1986. I think that was my first taste of tragedy, true tragedy as opposed to grief, loss or disappointment. We have the power to effect change and avoid the human tragedies that sit before us waiting to happen. We must all make that choice ourselves.

I will leave the article with two thoughts:

The first is from a Game Designer whom many of you will have heard of, Eric Lang: “Here’s the thing about racism: it’s only a little bit about hurling rude epithets about skin color. That’s barely the tip of the sword. Racism is conditioning. Yours. Mine. It’s impulse.”

It’s the impulse to remain silent on social media about police murdering an unarmed black man, and then loudly and unequivocally denouncing the black rioters during the aftermath.

It’s the impulse to scour the internet, searching for reasons why the unarmed black man “deserved” to be killed by the police.

It’s the impulse to shout “All Lives Matter” but only in response to hearing some one claim that Black Lives Matter.

It’s the impulse to demand “What about black on black crime?” in response to reading about the many racially motivated white-on-black hate crimes. It’s the impulse to cherry-pick MLK quotes to silence and denounce black people who attempt to explain the nuances and circumstances that could possibly justify rioting, while remaining silent during sports event rioting.

It’s the impulse to claim “I don’t see color” to silence any challenge about your own racial biases. It’s the impulse to deny clearly racist dog whistles like “Thugs”, because you’ve also heard the term applied to a white person.

It’s the impulse to claim and believe “I can’t be racist, I have black friends/spouse” in response to being called out for racist behaviour, as if the association alone exonerates you.

It’s the impulse to claim and believe “I can’t be racist because I’m liberal, progressive and/or woke” as if sharing clickbait Huffpost articles and performing politically left in public somehow exonerates you.

It’s the impulse to believe “I can’t be racist because I’m educated” as if the most educated country in the western world didn’t commit the world’s most horrible genocide.

It’s the impulse to deny racial wealth inequality, because Tiger Woods and Michael Jordan are multi-millionaires.

It’s the impulse to withdraw from difficult conversations about racism, because “it’s only a problem for the left.”

It’s the impulse to claim “race shouldn’t matter” to silence any discussion about how to lift up those from minority races.

It’s the impulse to spend your energy attacking someone who called your behaviour racist, rather than listening and internalizing, difficult as that may be.

It’s the belief that your silence and neutrality does not contribute to racial injustice.

The second from Padme Amidala to Bail Organa “So this is how liberty dies? To thunderous applause.” and we all know how that turned out….

It doesn’t need to be said

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