PART ONE: FEAR OF A WHITES ONLY GRID
No longer had we posted our declaration to run a series on black and asian naturists, in and out of SL, than ‘the phone rang off the hook’, so to speak.
‘We do our share for black skins’, wail some skin designers.
‘You don’t understand the cost of producing a black skin’, cried another, attempting to justify the often exorbitant cost.
‘Hooray for you!’, wrote a black-skinned avatar whose thoughts mirrored my own.
‘At least you can find the occasional great looking black skin’, wrote someone else, ‘try finding a skin that really does looking Asian!’ (Far eastern or Indian sub-continent wasn’t specified)
I’ve also had contact from SL users who do run a black avatar with a common refrain that it used to be easier to find good, affordable black skins but that task has become ever more difficult.
That made me think of another recent bit of recent research I did for SL Naturist, and the shock discovery that the mosques and Muslim/Arabic culture that used to exist in SL, apparently, has all but vanished. Is it a case of SL’s cultural diversity diminishing so that SL becomes a wholly white experience? Are we in danger of creating a virtual apartheid?
It’s clearly an issue that vexes, irritates and annoys many of you as much as it does me.
As a result I’ve had to radically rethink this. What was just going to be 2-3 average/normal sized blog postings now needs radical reworking, and we also need to examine the availability of affordable black & Asian skins in SL as a sort of ‘cut out and keep guide, as well as perhaps also examining the social interface of black & Asian people using SL and their experience in bringing (or attempting to bring) that to SL.
Clearly we pride ourselves on SL being a politics-free zone, and I imagine that utilising a black avatar isn’t going to be something that means encountering racism (although that can’t be ruled out: blog posts in humanitarian support of (Muslim) refugees have met with a some fairly nasty racist remarks in the past).
Unpleasant, and barely understandable even in the real life terrorist-threatened world we inhabit where some elements of a free, western, democratic lifestyle are challenged, are under threat.
A glance at our reader statistics will show that readers arrive from Saudi Arabia, Hong Kong, mainland China, the Caribbean, north Africa, south Africa, Japan, Korea, south America, Iraq, Pakistan, India, etc. While we can assume that some white, western people are operating SL avatars in these locations, it can’t account for them all. So who, as skin designers, hair designers, clothes designers, are serving people of oriental, Asian or ‘black’ (which covers a wide range of skin tones in itself) appearance?
Over the course of the next couple of weeks, I intend to find out just what the state of play is with black and Asian avatars, and along the way examine why there’s a deficit of black and Asian people participating in naturism in real life.