Minecraft is one of the most widely known and most played games of today. There are many things about Minecraft that make it an enjoyable game, such as the creativity and seemingly limitless possibles. However, there is one aspect of the game that can make a lot of people very uncomfortable.
In the version of Minecraft known as “Beta 1.8”, Notch, the game’s creator, added a character called the “Enderman”. Based on a conversation on a website called Reddit, many people thought that the Enderman was based on an internet joke/creepy pasta known as “Slenderman”. It makes sense, since Slenderman is a lanky, white male who is dressed in a black tuxedo, and the Enderman is a black color. But if you look deeper into the Enderman’s meaning, there’s much more to it than that.
First off, the Enderman is a tall, lanky character. And it’s black. So we’re already veering into the “black people are really tall” stereotype. That’s strike one.
Next up, let’s talk about the two objects which were added in Beta 1.8, the ‘cooked chicken’, and the ‘melon’. The stereotype that black people like fried chicken has existed in the deep South, and other parts of the United States for a long time. During the Jim Crow era, numerous advertisements were made of dark skinned children with big, red lips eating watermelon and being giddy about doing it. Now, I’m sure people will try the argument that Notch is Swedish, and therefore these stereotypes don’t apply. Well, word travels, especially since the dawn of the internet. That’s a very big strike two.
But I’m not done here. During gameplay, Endermen will not go into water. If they do, they are injured by it. Black people being unable to swim isn’t a stereotype, it’s a fact. During the slavery era, slaves were not allowed to swim, for fear they would escape. Since slavery existed for many generations, the children of the first slaves, and their children after them, and so on, never learned how to swim. So unfortunately, the reality that many black people cannot swim still carries on today. This is the third strike.
All of these things are pretty awful. And the problems with the Endermen keep going. If you look an Enderman in the eyes, it will run at you, screaming bloody murder, and try to kill you. I shouldn’t have to explain this, but that is the well known “angry black people” stereotype. And Endermen make a lot of noise, constantly. They are basically very loud characters.
Endermen also pick up blocks during gameplay. When they pick up a random dirt block off of some mountain, it just seems like they are effecting the environment. But when they take a block off of something you built, that’s stealing from you. All Endermen can, and will, do this. I guess Notch thinks all black people are thieves and/or commit crimes.
It’s pretty darn apparent what Notch was trying to say about an entire group of people. And I don’t know what angers me more, the fact that he did this, or the fact that Notch is no longer involved in the game’s development, but Mojang and Microsoft have allowed this to go on. How many blind eyes are going to be turned before people come to the realization that this is not acceptable?
I’m certain some people will question why I continue playing Minecraft. I don’t want to boycott the game, and I don’t think anyone should. I want Mojang to take responsibility for their actions, and fix the problem. Change the look and the behavior of the Endermen so that they don’t resemble black people, and perpetuate such gross stereotypes.
If I had know that the Enderman was in the game, and how it behaved, I never would have bought it. I could have lived my life without Minecraft, no matter how fun it is to play. It is my own fault for not doing more research before making that purchase, but I can’t undo it.
I want respect. I want Mojang to acknowledge that myself, and people who look like me, and are darker skinned than me, are human beings with feelings. I want them to acknowledge that these things, regardless of their intentions, are harmful and cruel. It is 2016, and it is about time Mojang and the rest of the Minecraft community wake up. Stop adding cute polar bears and other random, pointless changes to the game, and fix the problem that makes Minecraft nearly impossible for me to play because of how hurtful it is.