Okay. I’m gonna try again.
First, a caveat about my attempt: I know that when you think someone’s being defensive, telling them that you think they’re being defensive is about the worst way to get them to stop being defensive. Nevertheless, I’m gonna tell you, Jophiel, that that’s how it’s coming across to me. I could certainly be wrong; but how you’re arguing reminds me of how I argued against seeing racism in World of Warcraft or Tolkien, some years back. I loved these fantasies, and it was very hard not to take it personally when people suggested they included racist elements, and so I looked for ways to dismiss the claims. Hell, I’m still struggling not to engage in similar behavior with other things (e.g., the charges against Joss Whedon). It’s an ongoing thing.
What I found was that, when I took a breath, stepped away, and tried to look at things with grace and fairness, I found myself saying, “There’s a lot of great stuff here, but yeah, there’s also some serious racism.”
You of course might come to a different conclusion, but I guess I ask that you at least consider whether your love of D&D might make it more difficult for you to see racist elements in the hobby.
Okay, to some specific arguments:
The Color Wheel
I took a walk in the Appalachian woods today. While I was standing by a mountain stream, I thought of what you said, and looked around me. Were most colors in nature darker than Euro-flesh, especially the woman in that picture?
It turned out that this wasn’t close to true. From the pale green lichen, to the beige on the underside of a dead white oak leaf, to the grays and tans and creams and yellows and oranges and greens of the granite and rotten wood and mosses and and barks and sunlight dappling rocks through stream-water, there were myriad light colors around me. None of them would look like human skin; they would all be options for orc skin. Hell, I’m no painter, but I believe that artist could have mixed a blob of white paint into his orc-skin paint and achieved a lighter tone.
It may be strictly true that, if you put all the Pantone swatches on a wall and threw a dart, you’d likelier get a darker color than that lady’s skin. But that’s not how the artist chooses a color. The choice is deliberate; and there are plenty of colors the artist could have chosen. The choice of dark skin for the savage brutes was an intentional choice.
That doesn’t follow at all. The orcs could have been just as white as her. She’s not like Nordic pale; the orcs could have been. In the shallowest meaning of “Eurocentric”–that the artist only draws pale skin–you’d expect the orcs also to be pale.
But there’s a more complex meaning of Eurocentrism: for centuries, European artists have distinguished moral purity with lightness of skin tone, with dark skin tones indicating sin or savagery. Eurocentrism and racism go hand in hand.
I thought it’d be interesting to see how this artist paints other nonhumans. So I found his decidedly NSFW gallery. (That link takes you to his SFW main page; click through to the gallery, but beware boobies). It turns out that when he paints elves, they’re white. Bikini-clad bird-ladies are white. Nekkid fairy ladies are white. Halflings are white. It turns out he can figure out how to make non-dark skin tones for nonhumans, as long as they’re not supposed to be brutish savages.
This tradition–of depicting civilized individuals as fair-skinned, and brutish savages as dark-skinned–is well-established, and hardly controversial. As much as you may love D&D, as much as I do, it’s hardly a stretch to see that a game created by a couple of midwestern White dudes who grew up in the forties and fifties might be influenced by the white supremacist ideas of their times, and that those ideas may have percolated through the fantasy art and books they inspired over the next several decades.