Kumoricon 2020
mascot
Kumoricon logo

Kumoricon Stands With Black Lives Matter

Posted June 11, 2020

While many of our staff have been vocally in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, Kumoricon as a whole has remained silent when it is our duty to speak up in support of our black community. Amidst important conversations about race, we wanted to take the time to ensure our message would be followed by action.

The murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Sandra Bland, Trayvon Martin, Ahmaud Arbery, Mike Brown, Freddie Gray, Philandro Castile, and so many others are tragic and utterly unjust. We support all those grieving and demanding justice, and we echo their demands. Our support for reform and justice cannot stop after this week or this month, but must be an ongoing fight for decades and generations to come.

As a convention that centers on anime and manga based in Portland, Oregon, it is no shock that Kumoricon is disproportionately white in comparison to the fandom as a whole. While we have made increased efforts towards inclusivity in recent years, we have not addressed the lack of attention the black community gets at our convention. Our lack of attention is a microcosm of the anime and manga fandom at large who disproportionately ignores and attacks its black members for simply trying to enjoy content in the same ways white members do. All too common occurrences such as suggesting a black person is ever unwelcome or a black cosplayer can only cosplay dark-skinned characters is racist, plain and simple, and it will not be tolerated.

The Venn diagram of anime fans and marginalized people tends to have quite a bit of overlap, yet white privilege is not absent even among marginalized groups. When white fans find a place in this community, whether unconsciously or intentionally, we often try to bar the gates and push other marginalized groups even farther to the fringes, especially black anime fans. Anime conventions are a safe space for many of us to flaunt and share our fandom relatively free of judgment, but we can no longer ignore the fact that black people do not enjoy the same safety and freedom in our spaces.

Kumoricon cannot erase the existing hate that so many black fans have endured, nor do we want to. It is a painful but important reminder of our failure to take action as members of a community and as people. However, it's not enough to just acknowledge the racism within our fandoms and our own event; it's time for us to be better. Below are some ways we are taking action:

  • We are donating $5,000 to the Black United Fund of Oregon to support black lives in our community.
  • We are continuing to improve and expand our guest selection process, which is now based on input from our entire executive team as opposed to an individual person or department. This means many more voices and perspectives contributing to our final lineup. One of the key deciding factors in this process is our guest request form. We ask our attendees to submit their ideas, and together we will do our best to create an amazing and diverse guest list.
  • Multiple members of our executive team will be attending a seminar this week that addresses whiteness in the workplace and will go over many ways to mitigate that culture. Our team will also use this information to inform future Kumoricon training. However, our learning will not stop there. We will continue to pursue opportunities to ensure diversity and equity within our organization long beyond this week.
  • We are committing to a review of all of our policies and procedures to look specifically for any discriminatory biases or exclusions that affect the black community.
  • When ordering supplies, merchandise, or contracting services, we are choosing vendors who represent the diversity we support within our community.
  • We are committing to making sure the media highlighted in the marketing of our event reflect the diversity of our guests and attendees.

Kumoricon exists because we love this community, and it is because we love it that we want to lead by example and try to make it better. A strong community is an inclusive one, and we want our community to end up stronger than ever.

As we work to improve, we want to hear from you! If you have feedback or ideas for us at any time, please email chair@kumoricon.org. We want to listen, learn, and grow along with all of you. If you would like to learn with us and continue to support the movement, please visit the following resources: