Benjamin Williams is the co-founder of the PAX Diversity Lounge, a safe space at Penny Arcade Expo conventions that offers marginalized groups free tables and booths with which to represent their products and services. First launched at PAX East 2014, the room has been host to many groups and attendees and has been well-received by many, though concerns over segregation still exist. Benjamin comes to the Diversity Lounge having previously co-founded the Queer Geek community group and having spoken on PAX panels on creating diversity playgroups.
In this interview, Benjamin and I talk about what prompted the founding of the Diversity Lounge; how to tell if the Lounge is doing its job, and if it will ever not be needed; how the room has evolved in its short life; the problematic nature of PAX; what constitutes a diversity playgroup; and whether “white knighting” has an undeservedly bad reputation.
Download the audio edition of this interview below or from Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon Music, Overcast, Pandora, Pocket Casts, iHeartRadio, TuneIn, RadioPublic, or the Internet Archive. Click past the jump for links to resources mentioned in this episode.
Links mentioned in this episode:
- Benjamin Williams on Twitter
- Creating Diversity Playgroups at PAX East 2014 & PAX Prime 2015
- Announcing the PAX East Diversity Lounge
- Queer Geek! Seattle
- Lady Planeswalkers Society
- Northwest Press
- Together: Amna & Saif
- Last Kiss
- Take This
- Jeffrey Veregge — comic book superheroes in a Native American art style
- “The Diversity Lounge is engineered to eventually go away.“
- Elizabeth Sampat: Quit Fucking Going To PAX Already, What Is Wrong With You
- Lilian Chen on benevolent sexism
- “Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist” from Avenue Q
Podcast: Download (Duration: 1:14:23 — 34.9MB) | Embed
Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts | Spotify | Amazon Music | Pandora | iHeartRadio | Stitcher | TuneIn | RSS | More
So I’ve listened to this episode and it was really good except for a couple of things said by your guest. On supporting all cons when possible, and not boycotting PAX. If someone feels strongly and chooses to boycott and tell others not to attend, that is totally valid. It’s also a very privileged thing to say support both GaymerX and PAX. (with acknowledging I am Gaymerx staff and that I have a grudge against Penny Arcade because of the Dickwolves thing)
The other parts that bothered me were the White Knighting and discussion around it. Marginalized people are not required to educate others on their failings to work towards dismantling oppressions and privilege. There is a thing called Google, and books and articles. It is hard work and it is damned tiring to be expected to be an on call 24/7 source of info so people don’t have to do the work.
Also, his response about allyship and pushing people away veered very close to marginalized people better be nice or I won’t help them for my comfort. Hopefully I misread his take on it, but it sounded too much like be good, be nice and let me in or I’ll take my help and go elsewhere.
Otherwise a fascinating discussion and I do hope you have someone on to talk about White Knighting soon Ken.