Newsflash: Colossalcon Creates Social Media Mess Over POC Diversity Panel

There are a few tried and true components to any con scene: cosplay, dealer’s room, artist’s alley, and, of course, panels.

One of the biggest factors in con participation often centers around panels, which can include discussions, Q&A sessions, lecture series, hands on workshops, and other formats of presentation that help us connect with each other and with experts in particular fields. These spots are often coveted- panelists generally submit an application detailing their experience and the content and format of their presentations in order to be selected. In fact many volunteer applications specifically suggest looking at panel scheduling before committing to specific shifts and duties.

Colossalcon, “an anime, gaming, and Japanese culture convention taking place May 30th – June 2nd 2019. Located at the Kalahari Resort in Sandusky, Ohio”  celebrates its 18th year. It might be understandable that such a long running event might have difficulty deciding among its many applicants to bring top notch and diverse panel selections to attendees. In this instance, the convention uses the practice of “waitlisting” to hold a panel as a future possibility. Sometimes this is done while more room space is negotiated for, and sometimes the convention simply wants back up programming should another preferred panelist be unable to perform. Unfortunately, one such wait listed panel was Cosplaying While Black, a panel dedicated to

“…creating a safe space for cosplayers to talk about racism within the cosplay community… and offer support to those who need it.”

One of the panelists shared her disappointment on social media, a common enough occurrence in the digital age. She even attached her response, a plea for the convention to reconsider.

 

Here’s where the story should stop.

Colossalcon, having heard from the panel applicant directly and perhaps getting feedback from those in the community who would like to see this female driven discussion on diversity, would reconsider and make another judgement.

Alternately, Colossalcon could have ignored the more public address and spoken to the panelist privately.

Heck, they could have just ignored the tags altogether and carried on with their previous itinerary, addressing waitlisted conventions according to their own timeline. Not very nice to refuse to respond, but infinitely preferable to the actual publicly released response.

 

 

Where to start? There’s just so much. The first sign here is the goal statement “to offer the mix of entertainment that we think will entertain the most people in our crowd.” Nothing sets off a red flag like a direct appeal to the majority. It’s no secret that nerdom is dominated by a certain type of group- straight white men and women make up the majority of attendance.

Next, Colossalcon lets us know that it is okay to contact them “if anyone ever feels we should reconsider their panel submission… [since] many initially rejected panels actually end up on the schedule.” Oh, cool! Since, you know, that’s what the panelist did. She even publicized her letter through social media! Super transparent.

“If you’re looking for a con dedicated to social issues, I think they made one called Dashcon. Maybe check them out.”

Image result for gif with question marks black man

For those not ‘in the know,’ Dashcon was the Fyrefest of the con scene, a Tumblr themed convention that literally collected wads of cash in a hat before losing their main attraction to unpaid fees. Paid for hotel room blocks locked occupants out overnight. Flights home were cancelled, the dead rising from their graves, human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria- the whole shebang. It’s synonymous for a scamcon. Overall, it was a very clear indication of where Colossalcon’s social media team wants those cantankerous SJWs to end up- going gently into that good night. Except shutting up on the internet is basically the last thing that we do.

one such tweet with well over 1k likes and retweets

Word spread through the usual social media channels, and Colossalcon immediately acknowledged their wrongdoing in a productive and specific apology. J/K!

Wow, I had no idea discrimination in the geek community was a global issue. I have been doing Model UN totally wrong this whole time. I think it’s probably also important to note that “race exclusive events” is an interesting way to label an event targeting literally any/all races except white.

Well, this is probably just one guy. Someone take the keyboard away! Here’s some posts by someone else- a new admin here to set the record straight.

Oh honey no. Referencing another con and telling SJWs to go Dashcon themselves are two totally different issues. Using terms like ‘albeit’ (just a fancy-pants way of saying although, btw!) means you are excusing the behavior as acceptable by using business speak. Just a little technical rulebreaking!

Is “we have POC panelists” the new “Black Friend card?” Are those POC panelists less about social issues? Do they know? Did anyone tell them? Anyway, this first apology that is totally not an apology continues on below, for entirely too long, without a single hint of regret.

 

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Aw man, what a long winded way to say “sorry not sorry.” That’s okay, though, because as is usually the case when a major company, event, or public figure makes a gross misstep and refuses to buckle down and deal early on, we’ll get another two versions of apology after the backlash.

Version number two!

 

First of all, let’s take a moment to acknowledge the struggle that it must have been to go back in a half a dozen responses later and offer a throw away apology line at the end of three paragraphs of justification. That must have been really hard for them.

Image result for whew gif

This is the panelist’s fault. If that panelist hadn’t called them out, Colossalcon wouldn’t have had to get nasty. If those people in the comments had just watched their tone, Colossalcon wouldn’t have done anything they needed to apologize for. It’s okay if you’re not quite satisfied with this outcome, friends. Neither was Colossalcon. Final apology!

Third time is the charm! Well, for now, anyway. Ultimately, the real issue with many social media snafus is the lack of distinction between people as individuals and people as associated with professional entities- events, corporations, public figures. The inability to separate actions of the individual from the actions of an established company will always bring grief to the parties involved. This person insulted Colossalcon, this person does not like Colossalcon… but in the end, Colossalcon isn’t a person. Working the facebook or twitter or event itself does not give anyone the right to lash out at attendees- especially when speaking in generalities about already marginalized groups. Companies need to be held to a higher standard than individuals.

So be wary of what you’re posting.

 

 

 

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