Do a Google search for "Black Tabletop Role-players" and see what you find. There are a few defunct groups on various social media platforms and some old articles about diversity and inclusion in tabletop gaming. That's about it.
Now, do a Google image search for tabletop role-players in general. Almost nothing but white guys comes up. Sure, there's a few Asians, Blacks, and women sprinkled among those pictures but a large percentage of them are of white guys laughing, rolling dice, and having a great time around ye olde tabletop.
That bothers me. Not because I have any issue with white guys, but because there's nothing out there on the web for people of color who are also tabletop enthusiasts. Well, maybe Black people just don't role-play, right? Wrong! There are tons of Black people who enjoy role-playing games; my entire gaming group has largely been, for many years, comprised of a changing roster of Black people. We're out here, and we love tabletop...so why no representation?
Not really a new issue.
Although I love tabletop RPG's, I realized a long time ago that there was a major problem with the way most of them were designed, portrayed, and even played: they lack diversity. Just a few years ago you could page through a role-playing game manual and probably find just a few brown faces and women included as part of the layout art and design...and that would have been rare. Black people in role-playing games were usually relegated to being members of some savage, primitive race from some far-off, dark continent covered with festering jungles and filled with cannibalistic spirits. Basically, Black people were just part of the background story.
And the stereotyping didn't just start and stop with Black folk, either.
Older characters were usually presented as wizened mentors, sinister wizards, or doddering hermits ready to give the players a humorous tale or two for a gold coin or a mug of ale. When they weren't presented as damsels to be rescued or wicked, overly sexed villains, women were offered up as buxom, nubile heroines with creamy skin, long, flowing hair, and wide, sensual hips; they were also usually dressed in what has come to be known as "boob armor" and painted standing in ridiculous poses more appropriate for adult movie posters than a fantasy game. Gay or lesbian characters? Usually they popped up as more comic relief in the form of the dandyish noble or hyper-masculine woman able to best the strongest of characters in contests of strength and drinking.
In short, any character besides a white guy was usually presented as exotic, strange, otherworldly, pathetic, sinister, or completely representative of the most negative stereotypes in our society: people of color were always savages from distant jungle kingdoms, women were always sexy or helpless or both, old people were only useful for the knowledge they could provide, gays and lesbians were included as comedy.
Thank the ancestors, times have changed and the role-playing game industry has, also. Now, you'll find a large number of game systems that work hard to be inclusive, present diversity in affirming ways, and use language and themes that promote multiculturalism. Games like Everway, Shadowrun, and RuneQuest 6 are striking the path to diversity in tabletop role-playing, and Dungeons & Dragons has finally caught up with their latest publication. But, despite this representation in the products, there is still a lack of Black role-players coming to the forefront to stake our claim.
So, here is my experiment: to find Black role-players. I know we exist, but where? My hope is that I can attract other Black tabletop enthusiasts with the blog, and offer up some fun, exciting articles, videos, and posts about our favorite, awesome hobby.
Why only Black people, Darvin? Why not other races and diverse players?
Well, yeah, of course I'm hoping other people will enjoy the blog but...I really want to get Black people role-playing if they're not...or connected to each other if they are. Why? Well, that answers for a later post...