Panels like this one have been popping up at cons over the last couple of years and it’s needed. To help create safe spaces for a community of women that receive so much slack for just being nerdy. I love to see how each panel turns out each con I go to. I look at the panelist and the audience. Looking for the diversity that I love to see and it’s always a packed room of people supporting each other. I hope this trend continues so more people can see that diversity is a basic requirement.
The panel description on Anime NYC made me add it to the schedule to stop by and see it.
“Calling all women of color! This panel is to let POC women know that a safe space is required to be ourselves. What we love fuels us to create, and we should be afforded security. Let’s develop a better sense of community, pride, and confidence. Women of this industry will share their experiences to help create a safe space for POC women.”Read more: Anime NYC – Creating Safe Spaces for Black/POC Women Panel
The panel was moderated by Chatty Patty from Black Ramen Podcast. Alongside panelist Sleepy Bri also from the Black Ramen Podcast and Tammy from Hubtaku. The conversation of being accepted into the nerd community can be relatable to many POC women. The distrust that nerdy men have for women entering a nerd space is probably the wildest thing you’ve ever seen. In the panel, a few good points were touched and stories were shared by the panelists and audience.
I love to be in panels like this because I know I’m not alone in this specific experience. Being able to join a community that understands you is the best experience. Women specifically need a space that isn’t harmful to them when it comes to enjoying the same hobbies. As a Black Woman, I’ve had too many negative experiences in the nerd community to let it stop me from expressing myself. I feel that if you love something, you should be able to celebrate it the way you choose to. As a nerd and gamer, I can’t see myself not wearing anime graphic tees or having my ringtone blast my favorite anime’s op song.
This panel reminded me of the reason why Lizzo and I started Soulcial Dreamin’ Entertainment. We want to create a space for people to come together over shared interests and be able to support each other. The biggest inspiration for this community is people that who feel othered just by expressing themselves can have a space to fall back on. It gets heavy just doing it on your own sometimes, a friend is always needed for rough moments in life.
Before I get sidetracked with a bunch of stories let’s get back to talking about the panel 🙂
Chatty Patty, Sleepy Bri, and Tammy talked about their experiences as Black Women and Asian Women in the nerd community. Bri talked about Women’s experiences in fandoms. The racism that black cosplayers experience just for being a character. Touching on toxic online discourse is important because that can affect someone’s mental health. When people talk about issues that seemingly affect a specific minority it usually gets brushed off.
Patty went on to tell us the story of how she got into anime at a young age with VHS tapes. I have that shared experience because like many people we were anime fans before they knew it was called anime. We struggled in the non-internet days, looking back it’s funny but having anime become so accessible is the best thing. It’s so easy to get access that I’m happy the younger generations don’t have to go through buying VHS tapes, and bootleg CDs with no subtitles to translate Japanese. It was rough you hear me!
Embracing yourself and being able to express yourself is the best experience. Finding your people is key to enjoying a lot of things. People will not embrace you for being different because of how you want to express yourself. For me, it started with my parents not liking that I wanted to dress differently than my siblings. Watching anime on Toonami after school instead of hanging outside until the streetlights come on. For a lot of people, the dislike of your expressing yourself starts at home with people we are the closest to. Patty telling everyone to embrace themselves is key to being happy in life.
Tammy talked about her experience with watching Pokemon not knowing it was anime. Meeting new people in a shared space online brought them together to build friendships and create panels like this. Sharing a lot of the experiences these ladies went through growing up and currently still going through. A panel like this creates a niched-down community for women that want to find each other. Being able to have a safe space to visit IRL or online can help improve your mental health and livelihood.
A topic that Bri brought up about meeting like-minded people in meetup spaces. Be conversational and talk to the person talking to you rather than start ranting about something. Bri talked about an experience she had with someone asking her if she’s seen an anime series.
After saying no I haven’t yet the person she was talking to for the next 30 minutes just explained what happened in every episode of the anime. Don’t assume you have to explain anything to anyone that shows up to a meetup space. Don’t assume women just like watching all the girly-themed anime. It’s ok to just have a regular conversation with some and get to know what they like and let them get to know you.
Panels like this are something you should check out at your next con. Diversity panels are always informative for open-minded people. I enjoy these panels because it the connection between my experiences and theirs. People are toxic online and offline be sure to hold your friends accountable when they are doing or saying something wrong.
We as a community shouldn’t have to validate if we belong or not. We all control the narrative and can change the way the community reacts to each other and new anime fans that will join in the future. I encourage if you have panel ideas to act on them and submit them to cons so more voices can be heard in these large spaces.
I hope you get the chance to go to an anime con and meet new friends and sit in a few panels and expand your knowledge.
Join The Conversation
What was your first experience after you started expressing your interest in anime?