Recently I have ran across many articles addressing African American unity, or the lack there of, in our communities, in a professional setting, and even in our family structures. Comments by the Owner of the L.A. Clippers Don Sterling about NBA Hall of Famer Magic Johnson contributions to the African-American community were inaccurate…….but maybe a much-needed wake up call for us to take a look at ourselves a bit closer in both our everyday real life and our virtual world.
When I 1st came to second Life, 9 long years ago, I was lucky enough to have a hand full of people who were willing to help a noobie out. They were friends from the Ethnic community of a game I use to play called THERE, that chose to change virtual worlds due to all the drama and hate some of them had experienced. Well then of course the multiple hair and shoes options where a bonus. They gracefully took me shopping for the basics, and even provided lindens to buy some of the best second life had to offer at that time. Once I learned the ropes they all were very supportive of anything I wanted to do and opened doors for me to DJ at a popular urban sim. Up until that time I believed that second life’s black population had it together. Although there was a case of drama here and there, with all the support not only I received, but the support I saw others received had the sim pumping with positive vibes. This vibes, I believe, allowed each individual’s creativity to flow at its highest level.
As the years passed I noticed a steady decline of the amount of support African-American Second Lifers showed one another. As the population grew, ego blew up, and the desire for internet fame rose, people start treating each other as if we were all living on a plantation and it was the field workers against the house workers. I saw a lot of people bashing others just to get ahead. I started to lose my interest in second life because I began to miss the unity that once was. When a real life issue arose that needed handling, although I would miss the close friends I made in this virtual world, I wasn’t sad about missing out on the seemingly all too often occurrence of drama and hate. Even though I saw the decline of support, nothing would have prepared me for what I came back to.
Two years later my real life is back on track and I am ready to hit the SL streets. Unfortunately, when I returned all but 2 of my friends where gone……or playing as alts not trying to show how they really are. As my friends did before they help me out when they could, but if it wasn’t for them I would have been lost. I would teleport into stores and be filled with questions. Seeking guidance, I would instant message the nearest shopper and politely ask for help. Only to have my questions responded to by mean and hateful remarks, or just dead silent followed by the shopper talking openly in local chat about how this thirsty noobie is trying to look like her. I was appalled and vowed to hit the club that night to meet some new friends that wouldn’t be so rude.
Later that night I land in well-known urban club. There was a small crowd of African-Americans, mostly women, and I was over joyed I had found an urban club after an hour or so searching. I, being my normal sunshiny self, addressed local chat with a warm hello to all in area. It was immediately returned with about 3 girls attacking me about everything from my hair to my shoes. Even went as far as to talk about my name and how ugly it is. I was totally shocked. My 1st reaction was to tell them all where to stick it, but what good would that have done? A nice gentleman instant messages me offering me his apologies, and suggested that I didn’t go out by myself. “These SL streets are rough” he explained “You don’t want to be caught slipping…..these girls will eat you up!” I laughed off it off like…Oh come on now, you mean to tell me the pixel streets are rough? I maintained my one monkey don’t stop the show attitude and with a bit more grit and determination, returned to the DJ scene.
Over the last 2 years I have witness some of the most mean and hateful acts towards one another I have ever seen in either world. We handle each other with the rude comments, trolling, lies, and backstabbing just to name a few. I've been accused of not being a real black woman because of my voice and choice not to mix my second life with my real life. I have even seen one person’s real life child made funny of so badly it brought me to tears. All over what…a virtual world dispute?
The African-American community, in my eyes, has definitely lost the unity it once had. I am even guilty of not lending my support as I once did. Things are so cut throat now that in some eyes if you do show support you have an undisclosed motive and is up to no good. We as a community need to learn to trust each other. I hope to see our community return to it Supportive nature. After all we are only truly successfully with the support of one another.