Game Vet April Bowler Addresses Racism in the Anime Community

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April Bowler

April Bowler
Photo: Courtesy of HAG Entertainment

The game/anime world has been embraced by black nerds for decades, with some pioneers leading them, including streaming game veteran April Bowler. She is the official Hip-Hop/Anime/Gaming community moderator, growing the Facebook group to over 20,000 members. However, navigating the anime/game world has come with the harsh realization that white supremacists are polluting this space.

In a 2021 study by the Extremism and Gaming Research Network, it has been found that games like Call of Duty and others with open lobbies are often spaces where extremist groups find recruits and terrorize non-white gamers. In another report of the Anti-Defamation League, 53% of online gamers said they had experienced harassment because of their race or gender. Even on streaming platforms like Twitch, users of color formed a petition to ban “hate raids” by racist trolls in response to terror.

Bowler has experienced harassment firsthand, being exposed to both racism and sexism from the online space. However, she has taken steps to keep her identity hidden from gaming lobbies.

“On Call of Duty, for example – racism galore. Sexism too. You don’t know if they really have those views or [if] they are just trying to troll the lobby. In any case, it is unacceptable. This kind of behavior and verbal abuse should not be allowed in games,” Bowler said. “I’ve never heard a woman in a COD lobby say those things. We are calmer and try not to raise our voice so as not to be attacked for being a woman.

Although they can’t tell their race based on their voice alone, Bowler said she’s seen black men being harassed by racist gamers who assume they’re black because of the way they speak. All gamers and streamers can really do is delete the commentsreport users and try to avoid them.

Of course, black people don’t want to be in spaces where they aren’t accepted. But instead of straying from our passions and interests, we decided to carve out a place for ourselves. Bowler sought to do just that, battling with venue managers to book event spaces. Often their prejudices of what black conventions look like distract them from doing business, she said. However, in partnership with Otaku Box, it hosts “Blerd Bashes” so black nerds from all major cities can congregate and indulge. disguise and games competitions.

“We can be ourselves in this space. We’ll understand the jokes and references, we’ll understand the music, we’ll know the dances. We will feel safe. We won’t feel like we’re under attack [or] get feedback on our cosplay,” Bowler said. “That’s one of the biggest areas where you’ll see racism. You’ll have a lot of people going, ‘Oh, that character isn’t black.’ Well…usually the character isn’t white either. They are Japanese or Korean or Chinese.

Image for article titled Gaming Vet April Bowler Looks at Racism in the Anime Community

Photo: Courtesy of HAG Entertainment

Bowler’s Facebook group is just one of many examples where black people have privatized an online space to feel safe and seen. Although the gaming world is still a bit rushed, Bowler says she has seen it improve over the years and has been a part of that change. Bowler dedicates his work to not only expanding the realm of the black gaming community socially but professionally. Through the company she co-founded with her partner, HAG Entertainment, she offers professional services to potential gamers and content creators.

Community leaders are not isolated from civil rights activists and local politicians. Sometimes they wear a big pair of headphones and hold an Xbox controller.

The following Blerd shot is Oct. 29 in Cleveland, Ohio. Follow the Blerd gang by joining the official Hip-Hop/Anime/Gaming community at Facebook.

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