Race & Ethnicity

This could be considered a sensitive topic for a lot of people, and I hope it’s abundantly clear that I don’t wish to offend anybody at all by anything that I write here.

I believe this is a very real yet very not-talked-about topic that should be acknowledged. I am an ex-furry and a person of color. I know that the furry fandom is known for being very open and accepting of diversity in religion, sexuality, gender, background, etc. but something that I’ve noticed is that there are very few people of color in the furry fandom. I personally know 0 furries that aren’t white/caucasian. This isn’t to say that there are no furries of color, just that they’re so few and far between that I don’t even know any personally and rarely see any in media.
Before I go on, I’d also like to acknowledge the fact that race is entirely a social construct created by humans. One that often serves no real or good purpose in everyday life. He’s black, she’s white, you’re this, I’m that, who cares? It shouldn’t really affect much of anything. However, ethnicity is not a social construct. Ethnicity is a beautiful thing that shows the different variations that humans come in: physically, culturally, behaviorally, geographically, the list goes on. I don’t think anybody should be treated differently (positively or negatively) based on their race or ethnicity for any reason. However I do believe that people of each and every ethnicity (including mixtures of any of them) have different experiences in life that their ethnicities played a part in.
That being said, I’ll bring it back to how this relates to the furry fandom! As a former furry who is biracial black/white, I’ve had a number of experiences that I don’t believe many fully white furries can truthfully say they’ve experienced as well. On top of this, I see barely any people of color in furry media. Group photos of furries, imagery of furries & partially human fursonas, animation & entertainment, and even real people seen in things like podcasts, conventions, videos, etc. are most often fully white. I’m not joking. The majority of furries that I’ve seen in, say, photos taken at conventions are—you guessed it—white.
There is no problem with a fully white person being a furry. That is not an issue. However, the question comes to mind: why do so few people of color choose to join the furry fandom? Have they been made to feel unwelcome in the past and therefore uncomfortable associating with other furries? And if so, who acted unwelcoming? Was it the furries, or was it racist non-furry people that imply being a furry is only for white people (or something along those lines)? I’ll be honest enough to say that it wouldn’t be the first time I’ve heard of people of color avoiding the furry fandom against their interests because of their race and/or ethnicity having some sort of negative effect. Even I have experienced racially motivated forms of hate regarding my past involvement with the fandom. And I’m even half white!

Anyway, the purpose of this post was to spread a bit of awareness on this type of thing and possibly connect with others experiencing similar things. If you have firsthand or secondhand experience regarding race & ethnicity and the furry fandom, please feel free to share. Perhaps become a little more educated on this topic than you were before. Again, I want to make it clear that I mean to spread no negativity or hate to anyone by things that I’ve said here, and please let me know if anything offended you.

Edit: let me specify that what’s mentioned above are things that are primarily experienced in America. There are furry conventions and resources in lots of other parts of the world that would be a lot more accepting of the various races and ethnicities based on geographical location. But I’m referring to furries in America in this post lol. Thanks for reading!

1 Like

Thank you for your post Amethyst! I appreciate you sharing your experiences.

I can think of lots of potential reasons, but I’m not sure how I’d go about suggesting any particular one is more likely than another.

I suspect a lot of it comes from the overlaps between populations. The furry fandom didn’t appear out of nowhere; it mostly draws from various “nerd spaces.” Anthropomorphism appreciation goes back millennia, but the distinct “furry fandom” originally sprang out of the science fiction fandom. Modern furries are often “very online,” and furries draw from such communities. Science fiction fans, fantasy fans, video game fans, and tabletop RPG fans being big online communities that seem to feed into the furry fandom. And all of those communities, historically and presently alike, have a history of being exclusive, both to women and racial minorities. The furry fandom being one of the most LGBT±welcoming fandoms out there helps filter out some (but not all) of the sexism and be more welcoming to women, but there isn’t really any pressure on the racial angle.

Even if the furry fandom did completely blot out racism within it, there would still be underrepresentation of racial minorities because these are problems in the communities that feed into the furry fandom. If racial minorities are pushed out from, say, sci-fi fandoms, then they will fundamentally be less prevalent in the furry fandom as well.

Ultimately I think this is a broader problem with racism, not really anything intrinsic to the furry fandom. If anything, I think this is a good illustration of how interconnected things are: I see the furry fandom as generally less racist than most nerd spaces, and yet, the end result is the same. Because even if you aren’t “being racist,” society is, and the echoes of that still affect you and the spaces around you.

It kind of reminds me of my church, which is extremely supportive of racial equality, elevates voices of minorities, showcases art from cultures around the world and avoids the “white Jesus” thing, etc., but is also significantly whiter than the surrounding population. It is, in its defense, less white than most “white churches” and I expect it to become even less white, but it’s an example of inertia. Even if the events that segregated people were in the past (and that is presuming they’re not happening anymore, when they still are in many places), removing those segregating events does not instantly remove the segregation. Same with churches. Same with nerd spaces like the furry fandom.

1 Like

Thank you for bringing up this topic, I agree it’s one that isn’t talked about as much as it should, likely because it’s a sensitive one.

You mentioned some people that have avoided engaging more with the furry fandom due to their race/ethnicity, I would be interested to hear their stories and what caused them to hold back. And I’m very sorry to hear about your own negative experiences.

I do agree with Sleet that part of the reason that people of color are underrepresented in the fandom is due to the culture and overlap with other subcultures (sci-fi, gaming, etc.) that are dominated by white people.

I believe there’s another, more painful reason as to why people of color are underrepresented in the fandom. The reason that I can afford to buy a fursuit and attend conventions is at least partly due to white privilege, and economic opportunities that have been afforded to me and my ancestors. When people of color have been disadvantaged, whether through housing discrimination or other means, that means less finances to spend on the furry fandom, which in turn means less representation.

One place that I do see more representation than at conventions is on social media. There are posts where fursuiters take off their fursuit head to reveal they’re a person of color, and this includes some very popular furries. These posts receive lots of likes and positive engagement which is good.

I love the diversity that the fandom offers and am open to hearing how me, as a white person, can make the fandom more inclusive to people of color.

1 Like