No bravery required; you’re supposed to be here
There is a flaw to the formula. There isn’t anything revolutionary in saying the esports space has a diversity problem. It is hard enough to find certain marginalized groups represented, whether it comes to players, coaches or those on the broadcast. And when you don’t see yourself you cling to any diversity you do see. We know that representation does indeed matter; it is hard to argue that fact with the success of films like Black Panther or Raya and the Last Dragon.
But if we’re silent in how we’re treated as marginalized individuals, what is the message we send to those who are looking to us in the space? When they barely see themselves, what happens when they see the vitriol go unchecked? We’re not the only ones who see it. Twitter and Twitch and YouTube and Reddit aren’t isolated realities.
When no one spoke up for me, I ran. I left NYIT. I let myself be browbeaten into believing that the school just wasn’t for people like me. At SUNY it took me a while to find my voice — my resolve to not be pushed out, to be allowed to occupy space. There were times I stumbled and I backed away.
I know the power uncomfortableness creates. I know what happens when you don’t have other people speaking out. You believe the words. You don’t always say anything. You don’t always dunk your head underwater. But you begin to think “how much longer do I stick it out? It is never going to change, so what am I doing here?”
The power of visibility is without measure. By being here, unapologetically, and working in full view to improve the climate of diversity and inclusion in the industry, I am doing more than just work. I am not just changing things for my clients, for Upcomer, for Enthusiast Gaming.
I am telling everyone:
Yes, this is where you are supposed to be.