I was going through my Google Reader stream today when I came across a thread that bothered me: Borderlands 2’s Writer Says He’ll Change Tiny Tina If She Conveys Racism, As Some Players Think. After reading the thread, I was shocked at the accusation myself. I remember playing Borderlands 2 with a good friend of mine a few days after the release and not only enjoying the Tiny Tina character but laughing so hard I was crying. I love Tiny Tina and I just cannot see how she or the person behind her (Anthony Burch), could be considered racist. I would had left it at a simple reply to Anthony on Twitter supporting him and Gearbox Software but feeling that there is so much more to this than 140 characters can say, I figured I’d weigh in here.
What is Racism?
Racism, as defined by Merriam-Webster, is as follows:
Any action, practice, or belief that reflects the racial worldview—the ideology that humans are divided into separate and exclusive biological entities called races, that there is a causal link between inherited physical traits and traits of personality, intellect, morality, and other cultural behavioral features, and that some races are innately superior to others.
That being said, where in the description above does it say that someone of one race using the lingo of another race is racism, or that a race could even impose ownership of lingo? The idea of saying that Tiny Tina’s character is racist because she uses “black lingo” is a joke, although not a laughing matter because it’s ridiculous accusations like this that fuel the controversal matters of racism. Could you imagine calling Eminem, one of the most talented rappers ever to grace a microphone, a racist because he’s white and uses “black lingo” in his raps?
In my personal opinion, I think the idea of suggesting that lingo could be owned by a race could be considered racist. I mean, suggesting that people of a certain race are the only ones to use certain words is a race-based stereotype, much like what is described above. Having grown up in Georgia myself, I knew quite a few white girls/guys that used black lingo and black girls/guys that used white lingo. To us, they were just words. As long as you stayed away from the derogatory words/phrases commonly referred to as racial slurs, you used whatever verbiage best fit who you were with and the context of the conversation regardless of which race used the verbiage most or coined a particular word/phrase.
What did Gearbox say about the matter? Here is Gearbox President Randy Pitchford’s response on Twitter:
@reverendanthony tina is not racist because you are not racist. You’re a pillar of tolerance and inclusion.
Borderlands 2 is an awesome game and Tiny Tina is one of my favorite game characters of all times. Like many others, I find her hilarious and did not even think of the race card while enjoying the parts of the game she was in. I think Anthony did an excellent job making Tiny Tina quirky, unique and memorable, all the things you’d want from a gaming character. I also applaud his handling of the situation linked to above. In the end, I wish him the best and I hope that people can stop trying to make something out of nothing, the world is already destructive enough without outlandish accusations about very sensitive subjects such as racism.