Tarot Deck Piracy and Anti-Chinese Sentiments

See also: 7/07/2020 Edits below

“My legal counsel advised me to never do business with Chinese companies, because all of them will rip off your intellectual property.”

Paraphrased, but an accurate representation of what was said by a very prominent deck creator in our community. She’ll tell you my paraphrase isn’t accurate and that I’ve misrepresented her. She takes issue with me saying she used the word “all.”

I can’t recall if that precise word “all” was ever used, so let’s believe her and say I’m mistaken. She never said “all.” It was me who read into what was absolutely, unequivocally implied in the subtext.

Oh, wait. The below was sent to me, after I started feeling pretty terrible about maybe misconstruing what she had said. I was beginning to second-guess myself, thinking, man, I now feel like crap for thinking she said “all” when she didn’t. Many of her friends were messaging me, privately and publicly, telling me I got her all wrong, I am remembering her words wrong, and she never, ever said “all.”

Some deck creators saw that same post I saw and immediately thought it was problematic and insensitive.

Other deck creators believe she means well, but perhaps she worded her sentiments wrong– let’s chalk this one up to poor word choice. Maybe. But what I’ve seen from her, she is one fine writer.

And still others think I am the one who is way out of line, being overly sensitive, probably because I’m Asian, and poor, poor Karen for getting misunderstood.

I’ll concede that the truth is probably somewhere in that middle “no man’s land” intersecting point of the Venn diagram. I’m not 100% right, but then neither is she.

Here’s the thing. That was not her first offense. From what I have personally witnessed, it was her third. If we consider what the entire community has witnessed, who knows how many times she has repeated this rhetoric.

Quite a while back in a Facebook group, she remarked that Chinese deck manufacturers cannot be trusted, so if you want to make sure you don’t get pirated, don’t do business with Chinese printers.

I rolled my eyes and scrolled on.

Months later, maybe years, I don’t know, time blurs now, again this same name, this well-known deck creator of multiple decks is off ranting and raving about not doing business with China.

A Chinese deck creator and owner of a small printing company in China spoke up, gently and meekly, defending Chinese manufacturers. Karen went off on her and then started accusing her specifically of probably ripping off deck creators herself.

That deck creator reached out to me privately, clearly upset because she had been wrongly accused of something she never did. Just for kicks, we’ll say allegedly. All of this is allegedly, right? I most certainly don’t know what the truth is.

She directed me to the thread so I could read for myself. Dayam. Karen’s tone toward that Chinese deck creator was condescending, patronizing, demeaning, and broke my heart. She accused the Chinese deck creator of bootlegging decks because that’s what Chinese factories do. The deck creator said no, her company most certainly would never do such a thing. Karen continued to be just absolutely vicious. I winced at everything I was reading. The deck creator, tearful, asked me if there was anything she could do about a potential defamation claim.

And you know what? Even after seeing that, I still looked away, because I’m that kind of a passive asshole. It’s not my mess, I kept justifying to myself.

Recently, I was invited to join a Facebook group of deck creators who wanted to work together to combat deck piracy and brainstorm viable solutions.

Karen popped up again.

“My legal counsel advised me not to do business with Chinese companies, because they will rip off your intellectual property.”

There. Happy, Karen? Took away the “all” from my paraphrase of your words.

Her proposition for stopping deck piracy: don’t ever do business with Chinese printing companies, because they will sell your digital files and that’s how your decks get bootlegged.

When I saw this same prominent deck creator pipe up a third time in an open forum with the same anti-Chinese sentiment, finally something in me clicked. She will continue to spout anti-Chinese rhetoric so long as no one from the same weight division as her stands up and says, no, this is not okay. I finally decided, you know what, time is up. Strike three. I gotta say something.

So I did.

You can read the comments thread there, if you’d like to get more context.

After that post went up, she messaged me privately.

Her first words to me: “I am absolutely shocked at this characterization. . . . You know nothing about me . . . China does not have enforceable copyright laws unless you are a huge corporation. Any lawyer can tell you that. I would not send files to Russia either. . . . I will simply not be accused of racism. It’s most unfair. I am sorry to come across as annoyed. But really – I am insulted, as I assume I am meant to be. I said nothing racist. It’s a slur to accuse me of that.”

Yup. Those were the opening lines of dialogue she went with.

I said there might be a misunderstanding between her and her legal counsel if she is asserting that legal counsel told her not to do business with China (or Russia) because they will rip off your IP. Karen’s response: “Are you accusing me of lying? Or being too stupid to understand my own lawyer?”

Okay fine. I’ll back off. But considering I’m an IP lawyer, I mingle and hang out with IP lawyer friends, and I constantly work in professional settings with IP lawyers, I’m just saying that sounds like a very, very absurd and whackodoodle thing for an IP lawyer to have said.

An IP lawyer might say something like, “As of this moment, the People’s Republic of China is not a member of the Berne Convention, which means if you, based in the UK (or US) want to file a copyright infringement suit against a Chinese company, you’re going to find yourself in an impossible battle, so the risks of doing business in China when it comes to protecting IP are high.”

An IP lawyer is never going to tell a client “China has no IP laws.” Assuming that IP lawyer has in fact handled any cases involving China and copyright, trademark, or patent claims, then he or she would know that China most certainly has its own body of IP laws. It’s just incompatible with UK or US law and policy.

Another one of her defenses to me for “not being a racist” was that she has mixed race relatives. Her family being mixed race was what she pulled as proof and justification that she couldn’t possibly be racist.

I clarified that I was not calling her racist. I was saying her statement was, in the way that I perceived it, racist. Yeah, yeah, we’re kinda blurring the lines between race, culture, and nationality here.

By the way, compare how she decided to open the lines of communication with this hypothetical alternative: “Hey, can we talk? I’m feeling kinda crappy right now, and I bet you are, too. Maybe we can work this out.” Boom. That would have nipped the whole thing in the bud right there. Don’t you agree? But she chose– her choice– not to go the diplomatic route.

After a long back and forth, I decided to really, clearly throw the ball in her court. Let me toss her an open, vulnerable line to make it as easy as possible for her to be compassionate.

I said to her: “I am telling you that they [her words] were hurtful.”

[Actually, I repeated this twice, said her words hurt me, twice.]

Her response: “Honestly, just pause and reflect please.”

Me: “You want me to pause and reflect?”

Her: “Might be densible.” [I think she meant sensible.]

She and many of her supporters say I should have gone to her privately to talk it out, not post what I did on my personal Facebook page. That’s a big ask of me, on multiple grounds.

First, she and I don’t know each other. She’s a public figure because she presents herself and her deck company as such. Before the described exchange, she and I had never even crossed paths. Why would it be demanded of me to go out on a hunt for her contact information and reach out privately to her like we’re BFFs? It’s perfectly reasonable, given the precise circumstances here, that I’d opt straight for fair commentary.

Second, her consistent history of repeating what I perceive as anti-Chinese sentiments and the long exchange of private messages she sent me demonstrate that reaching out to her privately would have gotten nowhere. It would have been round and round in circles, wasting my breath and time.

I know she’s hurting right now, but an equal amount of backlash has hit me, too. No one comes out of this unscathed. I’ve been told (paraphrasing), “You calling Karen anti-Chinese for what she said is like her getting to call you anti-Irish for what you’ve said about her.” Another thing I’ve been told: “You connecting her actual words about Chinese businesses to anti-Chinese sentiment is like connecting what you’ve said in defense of Chinese businesses to promoting the Chinese Communist regime.”

Do I believe that Karen had horrible experiences with perhaps multiple Chinese businesses? Yes, I believe it. Do I believe that illegal deck piracy traced back to China has caused her life and her business an enormous amount of grief? Oh, absolutely I believe that. Do I feel weirdly guilty on behalf of all of China for her negative experiences? Absurd as it may sound, yah. I do.

Is there a trend and undeniable pattern of deck piracy that can be traced back to Chinese printing companies? Yes, certainly. Case after case after case can prove that. Does China, broadly speaking, have an IP infringement problem right now? Yes, in the same exact way the United States had a serious IP infringement problem in the 18th and early 19th centuries that utterly stretched Europe to her wits’ end. It’s a common symptom in history of industrial revolutions, and right now China is going through its industrial revolution. It’s not a China-culture problem. It’s a historically-well-documented-economic symptom.

However, none of that justifies anti-Chinese sentiments. Yes, to say or even to imply by subtext that no Chinese business is capable of acting ethically with IP is an anti-Chinese sentiment.

The deck creators’ Facebook group where Karen’s third strike happened was a group I had high hopes for, which is why I accepted the invite. I still believe bringing all deck creators together to show a united front can help move the needle.

Online tarot conferences are so popular right now– what about an online conclave where the traditional deck publishers, indie deck artists, traditionally published deck artists, and major Chinese deck manufacturers are invited to sit at the same virtual table to discuss this issue? Publish that panel discussion on an open forum for anyone to view. Perhaps that will inspire in a way that further moves the needle.

Independent deck creators can establish an organization to certify Chinese factories by the organization’s collectively set standards, where Chinese factories must commit to internal policies of securing digital art files and preventing IP theft. Factories who commit to certain standards are placed on an openly shared list among deck creators so deck creators know who to trust and who to do business with.

Instead of making Chinese factories the enemy, make them your ally, and you will find them agreeable, honorable, and powerfully effective on their own end at being preemptive when it comes to piracy, especially if they know that some sort of certification and therefore huge financial incentive is on the line.

Finally, think about the demand end instead of the supply. If you cut off the demand, you’ll cut off the supply. Basic economics. The reason decks are pirated is because consumers in first world nations happily buy pirated decks. Pirates support a global consumer base and the majority of their business comes from North America and the British Isles.

The problem (that shocked me, to be honest) is there are way too many deck buyers in English speaking nations who genuinely do not see any problems with buying cheap knock-offs. They complain that indie decks are too expensive. If a traditional publisher is selling a deck for $30 but they can buy it off Wish for $5, why shouldn’t they buy it from Wish for $5? So another measure in the problem solving would have to be more proactive and more widespread education of the consuming public.

Also, you often hear deck buyers in these forums say, “How can I tell the difference between a pirated bootleg deck and the real thing?” This is an information problem. Making sure resources are more widely accessible will help consumers make more informed, ethical decisions.

Will all that end piracy? Realistically, no. IP piracy is a global problem with bad actors in every nook and cranny, in every country, and I keep calling it Hydra because it is. But at least these are all steps in a productive direction. These are all more viable solutions to the piracy problem than “never work with Chinese businesses because none of them can be trusted to act ethically.”

Now let’s get back to how Karen treated me. After the third strike, I finally spoke up. There were a lot of people who supported her and saw me as acting out of line. Fair enough. There were also a lot of people who decided they didn’t want to financially support a deck creator who would behave in this way, and utter such words. So they cancelled their orders and/or spoke out publicly to say they would no longer support her company, Baba Studio.

Karen took to social media to present herself as a victim. She blamed me for her woes (saying that she’s being unfairly painted as a racist). Instead of considering why some people might be cancelling their orders with her due to her own conduct, she decided it was all my fault. She maintains that she spoke out against Chinese factories because she was trying to do something good for other deck creators, and look at what doing good got her– insinuating that she’s being punished for her good intentions.

When she reached out to me via DMs, it was all about how she felt, how she was being perceived, how she’s not a racist, how she’s annoyed with me, how I am vilifying her, how I am bringing harm to her, and never once, not once, did she stop for half a second to ask, wait a minute, this made you feel what way? Oh, crap, I am so sorry my words made you feel that way. That is not at all what I had meant. I would never mean to hurt you. I would never mean to denigrate all Chinese people everywhere. Please, let me explain my side.

None of that. She never tried to go there.

Funny story. A fellow deck creator from that group, who I admire to the stars and back, immediately messaged me and apologized, saying she was very, very sorry if her post had in any way come across offensive and she most certainly would never mean to denigrate Asians.

I had no idea what she was talking about.

Then she referred me back to a particular post. No wonder I didn’t remember it– because I had no problems with it. At all. None. She spoke her truth. She was specific. She spoke from specific experiences. None of her words came across as anti-Chinese.

See, this other deck creator mistakenly thought I meant her post, so immediately came to me to apologize (which I told her to take back because there was literally nothing to apologize for and if anything, now I’m pointing and laughing). Sigh, sometimes I really love the people in this community. We’re so adorbs!

Compare that to Karen’s response.

Also compare with the Lon Milo DuQuette incident, who immediately reached out to me directly by e-mail and said he never thought about the subtext or implications of the jokes he was telling and he feels very bad that it would in any way be construed as mocking Chinese people. I was beaming ear to ear and eager to hug it out because I’m a huge fan of DuQuette’s work. He even encouraged me to make his apology public. Anyway, that’s so old hat I feel stupid even having to bring it up.

But see my point? Compare how he handled a similar incident with how Karen has handled the public reaction to her words.

There is absolutely nothing profitable in it for me to speak out in this way. If anything, it’s the total opposite: I’m going to get a ton of backlash for speaking up. A lot of good people will judge me negatively for this action. I’ve already been told by multiple deck creators that I’m being divisive, stirring the pot, and causing unnecessary trouble.

So why do it? As an Asian American voice in the tarot community, I felt morally obligated (… finally …) to speak up. I have my Asian American identity to answer to, too, as much as I do a tarot reader.

Likewise, when the shoe was on the other foot and the Asian American Tarot made a total mockery of tarot, I spoke up, loud and in no uncertain terms about how it was appropriative of tarot tradition, because no one white in the tarot community had the skin to say, hey, guys, what is the meaning of this travesty? I was pretty merciless about the Asian American Tarot because I have the tarot community to answer to, too.

That’s why when I see anti-Chinese sentiments, further supported by many Chinese and Diasporic Chinese messaging me to tell me that for a long while now, they’ve secretly viewed Karen’s comments in the various forums as anti-Chinese, I have a moral obligation to say something (though yeah, it took me long enough, so for that you can certainly ding me for).

Oh, and fun plot twist: I’m Taiwanese. If you understand culture, then you’ll get why this is all, in fact, hilarious. It’s on par with a Tibetan or Hong-Kongnese being forced to defend the humanity of the Chinese Communist Party.

After all this, though, I’m still extending an olive branch. I want to understand what Karen actually means. I’m eager to be convinced that she’s not anti-Chinese. (Hint: angry DMs saying you’re annoyed and you’re not racist aren’t convincing.) I want to be convinced that she is remorseful for the way she phrased her sentiments, and that she will be more compassionate and open-hearted going forward.

So there it is. Now we wait and see. By the way, I do hope the community will show grace and extend nothing short of love, patience, and understanding to all parties involved.

7/07/2020 Addendum

I’ve definitely kept the lines of communication with Karen open, and she has chosen not to take them. She has made no public comment about her statements on any of her platforms or store website. She hasn’t even offered, to anyone affected in private or in public, as a public figure, an explanation or counter-point to what she meant, or shown any regret or remorse for how she has made the Chinese and Diasporic Chinese communities feel. She could have easily put out a short statement to the effect of, “It was never my intention to paint all Chinese people or businesses with such broad strokes and regret that my word choice caused any misunderstandings. I’ve learned from this experience and will be a lot more mindful and empathetic going forward.” But nope. Instead, she said this:

She now claims I am abusing her and “bullying older women.” She says I’m implying she should shut up and get back into the kitchen. Heavens, Karen, not at all! I’m saying explicitly that you should speak up! Please! Break your silence and address what’s happening.

Secondly, to those who say I am overreacting, that Karen’s multiple, repeated statements about the Chinese are a non-issue, isn’t it interesting that these are the same tarot readers who would be up in arms, red in the face if anyone ever said this:

“Don’t go to fortune tellers. All of them use the there’s-a-curse-on-you-pay-me-$1,000 con. Fortune tellers cannot be trusted. We should just avoid them entirely as a measure of precaution.”

Permit me an assumption: It’s clear as day to you why that above statement is deeply problematic. You can pick it apart and point out every flaw in its logic, right? And yet somehow what Karen said about ALL Chinese deck printers illegally selling your copyrighted files to pirates is perfectly acceptable?

Every deck creator knows that in order to print your decks, you *have* to as in you *must* send your digital image files to the factory. You have to send your files to China, in other words.

Karen said, in her own words, verbatim, “ALL files sent to China will be offered to anyone who wants to buy them. ALL files.” (all-caps emphasis was hers)

To print your deck with a Chinese company, you HAVE to send your files. Therefore, following tautological rules of logic and reasoning, Karen’s statement means she also believes that ALL Chinese companies will offer for sale your deck images to anyone who wants to buy them. ALL Chinese companies.

So… how exactly did she not say “ALL”? How is she now backpedaling and saying she never said “ALL” when she herself put that word in all-caps, twice?

Furthermore, she publicly accused a Chinese deck creator who prints her own decks and is a small printing company that prints a few other decks of probably being guilty of this, too, just because she was Chinese. So this isn’t some one-time, one-off incident of awkward word choice.

I felt an obligation to my community to bring attention to this issue so that we can all, as a collective, do better going forward. We can be more mindful and empathetic about the ways our speech can negatively affect others.

Finally, after this post went up, I received a flood of private messages from Asians and non-Asians alike who have said they, too, witnessed Karen’s anti-Chinese statements over the years and felt uncomfortable about or even hurt by them. I truly hope we as a community will learn from this and truly rise up to be the empaths we say we are.

2/12/2021 Addendum

Funny enough, on Lunar New Year, one of the most celebrated holidays for the Chinese, Karen Mahoney is publicly going around accusing me of photoshopping and falsifying her words.

I assure you and swear under penalty of perjury here that none of the screen shots of her words have been photoshopped. Everything I have said about her are true and correct to my knowledge and experience of her, and not only that, but the knowledge and experience of many.

When she first learned I was offended by her “all Chinese” remark, she slid into my DMs and yelled at me, telling me I had no right to be offended and that she is not a racist. When that got her nowhere, she started posting on her FB that I was age-ist and discriminating against older women. I guess that didn’t gain traction, so now, many, many months later, she is saying I fabricated the entire thing.

She is claiming that my ulterior motive for having gone public with all this was business, that she and I are business rivals.

My dear Karen, we are not business rivals. =) Please rest assured I have never, ever saw the two of us as business rivals. I think your work is lovely and wish nothing but success for you. My actions, much more so than my words, unequivocally demonstrate by love and support for fellow tarot deck creators. I just wish you would do your business in a way that didn’t denigrate Asians. ❤

74 thoughts on “Tarot Deck Piracy and Anti-Chinese Sentiments

  1. anna smith

    I suspect that if Karen Mahoney had given her posts the same amount of thought that you have done and analysed her defensiveness even just a little more, this conflict of opinions could have been respectfully resolved much sooner.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. This exactly, anna. Thank you.

      If she had gone an alternate route where she did not berate and belittle my feelings, where she didn’t dismiss my sense of hurt, where she expressed an effort to understand my side instead of exerting so much effort to invalidate how a substantial portion of our community feels and how this substantial portion has interpreted (or even misinterpreted, as she says) her words, if she had addressed that misinterpretation with compassion and shown empathy for the hurt her words may have inadvertently and unintentionally caused, we wouldn’t be here.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. VallyB

      Benebell ,I love your point of view and the rich cultural heritage that you share in your lessons in written and video form. It adds so much to your offerings. It stinks that you are running into this racism. My conclusion is that stealing IP is not a particularly nice thing to do by anyone and it happens all over the world. There are also really awesome people who share information for all the right reasons and you are one of them! Thank you for all you do!

      Liked by 3 people

  2. It’s too bad, because she does make some really cool Decks. But I can’t tolerate bigotry in any form. Thank you for speaking up – it is indeed necessary, regardless of consequences.
    That said, as for the comment posted above referring to “Karening”, I’m not too fond of that ‘Karen’ meme either (or its less common alternative, ‘Becky’). It also seems like painting with too broad a brush, and is a kind of pigeonholing that starts to smell a little too close to bias. How about we just perceive each and every one of us as an individual, instead of a representative of a group with a bunch of negative aspects?

    Liked by 4 people

  3. Carol

    Piracy and racism are both unacceptable no matter your skin color or culture . It doesnt help that POTUS uses terms like Kung Flu…
    looking inside at our own prejudices is all we can do .
    I don’t know Karen but her words are bitter and sour .

    Liked by 5 people

  4. Well, as someone who has witnessed these comments from this person before, I know and feel (empathize) with your sentiment Benebell. It has bothered me before but as someone who isn’t Chinese I didn’t feel I had a place for commenting on the matter. I am glad that you have spoken up about this. I personally feel that what you have set on the table for options on how to address the issue of piracy, setting up a committee of deck creators and creating an environment for conversation and connections with Chinese, Russian, Ukrainian (countries that offer quality printing services that are not located in the US/UK) printing companies, educating the public, involving the whole tarot community, are excellent routes to combat piracy. Will piracy end? As you mentioned, no it won’t, but together we can help to reduce the impact and maybe little by little create a change in a better direction so that deck creators are not at a disadvantage. Again, thank you for speaking up and I hope this post and what arises out of it is a generative force for better, more productive, conversations and actions towards combating piracy.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. I found Karen’s comments also to be extremely unhelpful to the discussion that was at hand about stemming the tide of sales of counterfeit decks.

    Regardless of where decks are printed, they are reaching people through “legit” and popular platforms like Etsy, Facebook Marketplace, Amazon and Ebay. One deck creator in that group even saw counterfeits of her stuff on WalMart’s website.

    Last time I looked, those were all American companies.

    The solutions discussed in the group about working with American companies were all about contacting them and trying to work out the problems together. No one implied something inherent and intractable in Capitalist American culture that causes them to be complicit in this crime. Karen never suggested not working with Americans anymore.

    Also, people always act like the problem is you can’t sue the Chinese (not easily anyway) as if suing Jeff Bezos would be so easy. The ultimate answer to these things, if there is one, is in working together to find solutions, not suing and pressing charges on each other. There is much common ground between printers and creators that can be used as the basis for sorting these issues out if there is the will to do it.

    Karen’s comments don’t serve anyone’s best interests because, for one thing anyway, they are not based on finding solutions. They were based on sowing division, distrust, and suspicion toward an entire country and an industry that so many of us deck creators (and buyers) rely upon.

    And maybe I missed it, but I did not see Karen offer any concrete alternatives to the good relationships many of us have built with our Chinese printers. Maybe she just wants to keep all her fantastic contacts for herself and see the rest of us left hanging.

    I know all of us would much rather see solutions worked out rather than cancelling a whole country, whether that country is America or China. But the first step we need to see each other as rational intelligent human beings whose best interests are tied together. We need to see each other as partners, not adversaries and realise we are all invested in finding workable solutions for everyone.

    Liked by 4 people

  6. Emme

    Thank you for speaking up, Benebell! I think it’s important for folks in the community to be aware of such statements. As a consumer, I am striving to do better at supporting businesses that operate from a place of heart and businesses that are at least trying to better their practices. I am sure there are others like me out there who consider such things when deciding what to purchase.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. disappointed

    Whether or not Karen said exactly what you report – and I have seen no evidence that she did – it is a fact that there is a massive piracy issue in China. And you have said yourself that the warning she got and you quoted her on was from her copyright lawyer. Most of us know that she has been badly hit by piracy. To make this into some kind of witch-hunt after someone who is NOT in fact racist (and you know she isn’t) is really unpleasant. It smacks of virtue-signalling, and is not what I would have expected of you. Would you be saying the same if she had pointed to Ukraine – another country where deck piracy is rampant and about which I have seen similar warnings ? Not everything is about race. This is about theft, plain and simple.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Just to be clear, yes, if Karen had said everything she said, word for word, citing Ukraine and Ukrainian businesses instead of China, yes, I would feel that her word choice was problematic and in a cost-benefit analysis, causes more harm to the collective than good.

      However, as I am not Ukrainian, I would not speak over Ukrainian voices. I would let them speak for themselves and then stand behind them in solidarity.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Stella aka "fennario"

        If there had been actual racist statements made, (which there weren’t) it would behoove all of us to speak up, whether we are members of the group being libeled or not. This is not “speak(ing) over Ukrainian voices”, exhibiting a White Savior complex, or any other situation where we would be overstepping a boundary. It’s just common decency.

        We’re seeing strident, unabashed racism these days, much of it because it has been somewhat legitimized by the person occupying the Oval Office. We need to make it socially unacceptable again, and that’s going to take ALL of us.

        Silence in the face of actual racism, homophobia, etc. only smooths the way for what Martin Niemöller described:

        “First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist.
        Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a trade unionist.
        Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew.
        Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”

        We already have what are essentially concentration camps here in the US, many of them for children. And with COVID 19 running rampant, they can now be considered death camps. Our police are murdering Black people at a rate that rivals or exceeds the lynchings of 100 years ago. Now is not a time for anyone to be complacent.

        But, that said, what Karen was talking about was not an indictment of the Chinese people, but one of the way the law works (or fails to work) in China. Copyright theft there is taking place on a much larger scale than it is in the Ukraine, and it’s mushroomed over the last year or two. Their courts are broken where this is concerned, much the way our courts are broken regarding race.


  8. SK

    Hi Benebell,

    I totally understand. In the past I have also called out to people when they make anti Indian statements since I am of Indian descent. I don’t understand why people do this. “Indians are dirty”, “Indian men are horrible”, “Indians are thieves” and the list goes on. Wherever I have gone to work be in London, Auckland, Singapore, Seoul or Dubai, somehow I have to justify why being an Indian is not bad. Sometimes, it’s me against a group of 20, 30 people and it gets really bad. So I know people talk about black lives matter, but I don’t understand why people don’t talk about this. Our motherland, our people are important to us and you cannot condemn all of us. This especially happens to people with “poor countries” especially South Asia and Africa. Unfortunately even richer Asian countries such as Japan, South Korea and China carry on this discrimination. Open any Chinese or Korean dramas are you can see the making fun of people with South Asian or African descent. In Chinese or Korean dramas you will have bosses say to their minions “if you don’t listen to me, you will get posted to India”. So unfortunately even though Chinese and Korean experience discrimination they also dish it out sometimes to poorer countries. I recently saw a Chinese drama the secret of Lingjian mountain in which one of the sect leaders was black and he was called a monkey by a few of his disciples. It’s like as humans not only do we practise racism but we also do this “Countryism” making fun of and ridiculing countries poorer than our own.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Absolutely you’re right– I’ve seen some Chinese mainlanders express extremely racist sentiments toward Indians. In the Sino-Indian border dispute, referring specifically to the one that erupted this year 2020, my opinion is the Chinese side started it, that the Chinese troops there did something to provoke it and the Indian border was merely defending themselves.

      So I hear you, and that whole mess is horrible. I’m also heartened to see that a lot of Chinese people outside of China stand on the side of India and are vocally critical of what the Chinese government is doing right now. As for on the mainland, I think it’s asking a lot of the people to speak up, because censorship and condemnation means clear and present danger to them if they speak up too vocally on political issues. =(


    1. SK

      Hi benebell thank you for replying. I am an introvert so it’s hard to sometimes comment or respond. Also, I agree on your comment about people being afraid to speak up. Back in the late nineties my dad used to travel to Ukraine and the other erstwhile soviet nations especially white Russia and he spoke to people who also shared how difficult it was for them to speak up. I don’t know if it’s still the same with these nations (turkey, China or Vietnam), however it must not be easy for sure…


  9. Stella aka "fennario"

    Again, Karen was quoting her lawyer. His words. And pirating IS a major problem in China. The copyright laws have no teeth over there, and it’s very difficult to sue if shoddy $5 copies of your deck end up on Wish. With few or no consequences for deck pirating, people take advantage. If it were the same here, you’d see people of all races doing the same thing. It has nothing to do with race, it just happens to be taking place in China on a large scale.

    Warning people not to send files there after being badly burned that way herself, having her files leaked and having to shut down unauthorized sales, and seeing it happen to many others, is not equal to calling on people to “boycott China.” It would be impossible to “boycott China”, most of the things people use are made there. She never even said those words. This whole thing is being twisted.

    I’ve gone to the mat with people who disparage the Chinese – and other races – both IRL and online. People who know me know that I do this. But I agree with Karen.

    Piracy is a huge issue for a lot of people, and should not be tolerated. Every printing company that leaks files SHOULD be called out, named and shamed, even if they happen to be in China. All this gaslighting is going to accomplish is to make people hesitant to speak up. It’s toxic.


  10. disappointed

    Exactly this. It isn’t about race; it is about major issues with copyright theft. IT happens a lot in China. That isn’t because the people stealing other people’s work are Chinese, it is because they are thieves – and they are a tiny minority of the people of China. Just as the Ukrainians doing the same are a tiny minority of Ukranians. (And Karen Mahoney has been done over by them as well.)

    There are some good printers in China.. There is also a massive problem with the not-so-good ones. Pulling the race card here does nothing to help anyone.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Pingback: Tarot Deck Piracy and Anti-Chinese Sentiments – Indie News

  12. Thank you for sharing your reality. I can see that it has taken a lot of courage. It is moments like these in life that define us within space and time and allow us, and others touched by our truths, to move on rather than moving in negative circles. I love the way you were so honest and loving towards all angles. You are so real.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. disappointed

    I’m not quite understanding what Benebell’s Taiwanese family has to do with the fact that there are a lot of Chinese printers pirating decks and she actually seems to be trying to defend them by citing one (or more ?) who are honest. The fact that Benebell is Taiwanese has nothing to do with this.It’s just another attempt to make this all about racism – which, I repeat,it isn’t. iT is to do with a minority of Chinese (and Ukrainian and no doubt others) who breach copyright and issue pirated decks. Benebell;’s origins and life experiences don’t alter those facts.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Stella aka "fennario"

    People are starting to open their eyes and acknowledge that a lot of what goes on in the world is racist. That’s a good thing.

    But it’s disingenuous, to put it mildly, to exploit that in order to gaslight and attempt to destroy a business rival.

    If one is not familiar with every printing office in China, which factories are affiliated with or contracted by them, and the full history of all of these, then it’s a huge risk to send files there due to the difficulty of suing in the event that the files are leaked. Printing in China is problematic for reasons already stated, NOT because Chinese people live there.
    I wouldn’t advise anyone to send files there, either.

    Again, counterfeiters should not be protected. I can only speculate on the reasons anyone would have for doing so.


  15. Kat

    I invite those who have difficulty seeing how racism is a factor here reflect on why it’s extremely problematic to refer to the coronavirus as “the Chinese virus” (or the Chinese flu, or the Wuhan flu, etc), and to consider how that parallels with the tenor of Mahony’s (apparently numerous) comments.

    Liked by 6 people

    1. Stella aka "fennario"

      Nobody is denying that racism against the Chinese exists, Kat.
      But a big part of racism painting people with a broad brush. Racists will cite one instance of someone doing something wrong, and say that it’s evidence the entire race does that. Which is profoundly stupid, in addition to being evil.

      You’ve just lumped Karen Mahony in with Donald Trump for criticizing something happens to be taking place in China, for reasons I’ve already mentioned.

      That’s painting with a broad brush.


      1. M3

        Stop. Just Stop and LISTEN when people who experience racism are TELLING you that shit is fucking racist.

        STOP trying to “see the other side” or ” there is a point” to casual or veiled racism.

        LISTEN to people who have dealt with racism all their lives when they talk about racism, overt or otherwise. People with privilege need to take a look at themselves FIRST and questions their motives and their actions before stepping to POC and trying to EXPLAIN how we got it wrong.

        I hope that you take a moment and shut the fuck up.

        Love & Light my ass from all your crappy posts.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. disappointed

          I wonder how many of you realise that Stella, aka fennario – who has been blocked from responding here by Benebell – is in fact a member of a thoroughly oppressed and discriminated against minority group. She KNOWS about racism; she too has dealt with it all her life – a rather longer life than Benebell’s thus far. Whatever else, don’t start saying she needs to listen to people who know about racism – trust me, she knows it first hand. Unveiled and violent. Disagree with her if you like – but don’t make lazy assumptions about someone you know nothing about.


            1. disappointed

              OK – but she still has thorough and personal experience of racism and discrimination, so should not be dismissed by some of those posting here as not knowing what she’s talking about, and needing to listen to people who have experienced racism before she speaks.

              She has every right, every qualification, to speak on the subject.


    2. Disappointed.

      It doesn’t. What;’s your point ? No-one has said that all Chinese people are criminals. They have said that copyright theft by Chinese printers is absolutely rampant. It is.

      The suggestion that Covid is in some way Chinese property, or China’s fault, is not in the same class. And I don’t know one single person who refers to it that way – only Trump and the gutter press.

      Liked by 1 person

  16. disappointed

    I see no parallel at all. NOBODY (except Trump followers and REAL racists) accepts that Covid is something to blame China for., or that it is appropriate to refer to the virus that way (though I would remind you that people still refer to the Spanish flu of 198, and the Asian flu of the 1950s._

    It is nevertheless a fact that China – along with Ukraine, but that is a smaller country and the numbers are smaller – happens to be at the heart of the tarot piracy industry.No it isn’t something the vast majority of Chinese people are in any way associated with – but it is happening. And trying to smear a business rival using spurious racial suggestions is – to say the least – tacky.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi disappointed:

      I want to make it clear that I do not see Karen as a business rival. I see her as a fellow member of a vibrant community that I love and have always felt welcomed in, though I must confess that comments such as the one Karen makes frequently in public tarot spaces make me and other Chinese/Chinese Americans feel very, very uncomfortable.

      I have publicly supported Karen’s works in the past, as I have made it a primary mission of mine to support and uplift fellow deck creators wherever I can. My past work is proof of that.

      I never, ever called Karen a racist. I said one statement she has consistently made publicly to our community, in the precise way she has phrased it, in my personal opinion, as I have interpreted it as an Asian, racist because it fans the flames of anti-Chinese sentiments.

      Accusing me of merely trying to “smear a business rival using spurious racial suggestion” is hurtful to me, because you’re overlooking real pain that many Asians feel in emotional response to Karen’s rhetoric.

      I, too, feel disappointment, as you do, though my disappointment comes from feeling like I am not allowed to speak up when members of my beloved tarot community are poisoning the well with words that have a high risk of making the lives of Chinese and Chinese Americans harder.

      Do I think what happened is a big issue? No. Do I think it’s the worst case of anti-Chinese sentiments ever? No, not at all.

      In fact, Karen could have easily wiped this all away by showing me just a little bit of compassion.

      Instead, she said she was annoyed.

      She yelled at me saying I knew nothing about her and I was hurting her.

      She never stopped to consider that maybe I might be hurting too and tried to at least address that hurt and clarify any misunderstanding I might be holding. She never tried to clarify the misunderstanding.

      She simply yelled at me for tarnishing her name. Her only concern was herself, her name, her reputation, and never, ever how the Chinese and Diasporic Chinese might feel.

      I am happy to talk with Karen, but considering the circumstances, I think it is only proper etiquette that she’s the one who reaches out and initiates such a conversation.

      I am happy to write a new and amended post and wish desperately that I could– one that shows there is a happy ending, one where I throw the full weight of my support toward Karen and shout from the rooftops that everyone needs to go check out her amazing work because this is a deck creator with compassion, empathy, and an integrity you can trust. That opportunity is still open and has always been and will always remain open to Karen.

      Liked by 4 people

  17. Laura (aquamarine18)

    Thank you so much for sharing this Benebell. I am appalled but I cannot say I am surprised to see remarks like this. Both her initial comments and her subsequent messages to you are appalling and, certainly, racist. I’m sorry that you had to deal with this, and no doubt are dealing with it ongoingly in your personal inboxes, but I really appreciate your blog about it — I’m not on facebook, and I’ve not seen this shared anywhere else yet, and as an enthusiastic purchaser + lover of tarot decks I am glad I know.

    Liked by 4 people

  18. Disappointed

    This personal vendetta by Benebell against a fellow tarot creator, based on a quotation from something her lawyer had said – which was perhaps badly phrased but contained more than a grain of truth – is far more distasteful than anything she is complaining about. No-one has suggested that all Chinese people are awful, simply that copyright theft is rampant in that country. Benebell, however, is saying over and over again that Karen is racist and a bad person. She is neither one. It’s a shame that Benebell cannot see the difference between racism and drawing attention to deck piracy in a particular country.

    Perhaps we should start to look now at cultural appropriation in tarot decks.


  19. Disappointed

    This personal vendetta by Benebell against a fellow tarot creator, based on a quotation from something her lawyer said – which was perhaps badly phrased but contained more than a grain of truth – is far more distasteful than anything she is complaining about. No-one has suggested that all Chinese people are awful, simply that copyright theft is rampant in that country. Benebell, however, is saying over and over again that Karen is racist and a bad person. She is neither one. It’s a shame that Benebell cannot see the difference between racism and drawing attention to deck piracy in a particular country.

    Perhaps we should start to look now at cultural appropriation in tarot decks..

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Disappointed:

      Actually, in the past I have publicly supported Karen Mahoney and Baba Studio’s works. I even own some of her decks! I love what she does and she has been a huge asset to the tarot community. I hope she will continue to make beautiful decks, as she has done. I absolutely support her.

      Did you read the whole of my post though? No one is shying away from the fact that China has a copyright theft problem. I never denied that. I said Karen’s phrasing of the situation fans the flames of anti-Chinese sentiments.

      I never called Karen a racist. I do not think Karen is a racist. Please hear me again: I do not think Karen is a racist. I have maintained over and over again I think she is probably a wonderful person and I hear from my own friends that Karen can be a wonderful person. I trust that.

      However, one thing that Karen has said, not once, but multiple times in public discussion forums is a statement phrased in such a way as to fan the flames of anti-Chinese sentiment AND has caused a lot of hurt to the Chinese and Chinese American communities. Many, many Chinese and Chinese Americans reach out to be privately, too afraid to speak up, and for years I simply turned to look the other way, not wanting to stir trouble.

      I hope you have the empathy to see my side before telling me I “cannot see the difference between racism and drawing attention to deck piracy in a particular country,” especially if you’ve carefully read my post above and considered what I openly acknowledged about China.

      I hope you have the empathy to see that I am not holding a “personal vendetta” against a fellow deck creator, especially one who I acknowledge has contributed incredibly to the tarot world. I am following my heart: speaking up where no one else has spoken up about how, sometimes, people like Karen voice their hurt in such a way that ends up hurting an entire race. Hurt people hurt. I know Karen is hurt, but the way she phrases her hurt ends up hurting so many.

      Finally, I waited and delayed before posting this, hoping Karen would reach out one last time with kindness and understanding, but she did not. Every private message I have received from her was hostile, condescending, and basically treated me like my feelings didn’t matter and I was too stupid to “understand” what she actually meant.

      Liked by 3 people

    2. Finn

      For everyone in here who is so upset by the word racism and claiming that “Karen is NOT a racist”… I invite you to reflect upon the difference between bigotry, prejudice, and racism. Prejudice is an attitude, with no power dynamic involved. Bigotry tends to be an attitude that runs deeply, resulting in behaviors that also do not require power or privilege to be enacted. Racism is prejudice + power, a system that is built to keep a particular racial group in power.

      Every single white person living in Western, especially American, society is racist, because our ancestors built it to be so. Even if we work to extinguish our prejudice, or even our bigotry, racism will never be eliminated until we get rid of the systems that benefit white people. Period.

      Additionally, for everyone saying, “It’s not about race,” … that’s white privilege. People of color don’t get to opt out or ignore their experiences of racialized aggression and oppression. White folx like me? Don’t experience that ever. Someone’s race or culture is not a get-out-of-jail free card to be strategically employed to benefit someone, and people definitely do that sometimes, and it sucks. That’s not what’s happening here.

      Additionally, I am seeing a lot of classic white fragility techniques being deployed here, including distraction, tone policing, dismissal and disbelief of Benebell’s feelings and experiences which were very clearly laid out here, elitism, tokenism, direct accusation of attack, and “what aboutism,” to name just a few. It’s exhausting.

      Liked by 3 people

  20. Stella aka "fennario"

    Had you actually seen any of the drama on facebook, or bothered to look into both sides of this at all, Laura, I think you’d be much less inclined to condemn Karen.

    And yes, Disappointed, cultural appropriation is a major issue in Tarot, and should be addressed whenever it rears its ugly head.


    1. Hi Stella:

      Yes, I encourage everyone to see the situation for themselves and arrive at their own conclusions. But when you say if someone has “bothered to look into both sides” then they would be “less inclined to condemn Karen” and easily arrive at YOUR opinion, that’s bias.

      I tried not to be biased in my post. I opened by acknowledging not everyone will agree with me. I opened by disclosing that Karen says I’m inaccurate and I’ve misrepresented her.

      I acknowledge that some deck creators who saw how the original drama went down agree with Karen and opine that I am overreacting.

      But also, some deck creators saw the original drama and agree with me, and opine that Karen has always been hostile and used phrasing in public forums that are condemning of groups of people.

      I made it clear there are two sides to this story, and this post, on my blog, on my website, written by me, would be telling my side, and my side only.

      I do not condemn Karen. I do not want anyone to condemn Karen.

      I have openly and publicly supported and lauded her work in the past.

      I want nothing but success for her.

      But I also want her to revise her rhetoric so that she doesn’t paint the Chinese in broad strokes, in such a way that causes so many Chinese people to feel uncomfortable, to feel pain as a response to her statements.

      I hope she’ll at least show some remorse for how she has made Chinese people feel.

      I trust, I 500000% trust that her intention was never to hurt. But the reality is she has.

      Will she address that or not? Because as of this date, over a week later, she has remained silent and not addressed the resulting pain caused by her words.

      Liked by 1 person

  21. Disappointed

    Yes, Benebell, I read every last word of every post you made here. I was appalled.

    And why “Chinese people” would be hurt because Karen has drawn attention to the way many Chinese printers are pirating tarot decks (and no doubt other stuff) defeats me. I don’t feel hurt when someone from some other country calls out some of the appalling stuff happening in the UK. I am as disgusted by the behaviour of – for instance – English gangmasters abusing their slave workers, for one example, as anyone from outside England. It would be shameful of me if I did not. I hope many of the decent huge majority Chinese people out there, who see how wrong the behaviour of these printers are, will help to stop them. But in the meantime, were I a creator, I would not send files to China – or to Ukraine or Russia.

    Just because I am English doesn’t mean no-one can say anything bad about people in my country who behave deplorably because it would hurt my feelings as an English person.That’s all Karen has done – draw attention to the – yes, deplorable behaviour of SOME Chinese people who bootleg creators’ work. It needed saying.

    I showed your blog to someone else today, a gentle soul, to see what they thought. Their comment ?

    “Wow. Stunned. All so completely divisive. That blog post is angry, vindictive. I had no idea.”

    My POV precisely. I will call out these cheating Chinese printers too, and if you don’t, if you carry on saying to do so is racist and your feelings are hurt – it effectively means you support their piracy. It is not racist to call out people who cheat others, no matter what their ethnic origin. I’m sorry you think it is.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Disappointed:

      I appreciate that you disagree with my interpretation of Karen’s repeated rhetoric as anti-Chinese.

      You used words such as “disgusted,” “appalled,” and Karen told me she was “annoyed” with my feelings of pain. I used words such as “olive branch” and “I think she [Karen] is probably a wonderful person.”

      Who is the one being divisive?

      I appreciate that if you ask 10 of your friends to assess this situation, all 10 will agree with you. Likewise, when I ask 10 of my friends to assess this same exact situation, all 10 will agree with me. At every turn I have acknowledged there are two sides to this story. I am only trying to share mine, which you say you are “disgusted” and “appalled” by, and which Karen is “annoyed” by.

      I am not disgusted or appalled or annoyed with you or Karen. I understand you have your opinion and your point of view, but that opinion and point of view comes from a different lived experience from the one and many other Chinese have. I am only trying to share with you, as compassionately as I can, my perspective and the perspective many Chinese hold about what Karen said (has said many times, in fact).

      I acknowledged, “I know she’s hurting right now.” I acknowledged that she probably did have very horrible experiences with multiple Chinese businesses. I never, ever denied that deck piracy is an issue that can be traced back to China. I never, ever denied that there is a trend and undeniable pattern of deck piracy from Chinese printing companies.

      So I have already refuted your one and only argument, which is that you say I am ignoring the reality that China faces a deck piracy issue. I never ignored that. Ever. Not in my original post, not in response to you, not ever. Not even in my legal work—I have represented and defended many deck creators, artists, and authors in infringement actions with issues sourced back to Chinese factories.

      I am only expressing to you my opinion and perspective that the precise wording from Karen fans the flames of anti-Chinese sentiments in a Western-dominant world that is already doing everything in its power to promote anti-Chinese sentiments.

      I am only asking, begging really, that Karen and you and Stella show a little empathy and understanding for why so many of us Asians feel the way we do in response to Karen’s precise wording.

      I hope Karen and you will continue to speak loudly against piracy issues, but I hope you will do so with more cultural sensitivity. Find a way to say what you want to say without hurting so many innocents.

      In a public space, Karen accused a deck creator for probably being guilty of deck piracy herself just because she was from China. That individual was so devastated she seriously explored the possibility of a defamation suit against Karen. That’s how bad it got. Karen had no proof. She just lashed out publicly against a Chinese deck creator/small printing press (she prints and sells her own decks, along with a few others) and really, really hurt an innocent person.

      Since then, Karen’s rhetoric has not changed one bit. I didn’t speak up after one incident. I waited until I personally saw three incidences and heard many, many more from other Chinese and non-Chinese tarot community members alike who reported other incidences to me. But since I won’t breach confidentiality in those incidences, I acknowledge that is neither here nor there and you don’t have to believe me, because I have not brought forth proof.

      Disappointed, we have come to the end of this discussion with each other, as you choose not to hear my POV, though I have continued to be very open-minded to yours and given you a platform here to voice your position. You have not addressed 90% of what I raised and continue to dig in to the one thing I have already rebutted, over and over, without addressing my rebuttal.

      It is not racist to call out people who cheat others, no matter their ethnic origin. You err when you say that’s what I think. I do not think that at all.

      I think Karen’s precise wording, repeatedly, in many different public spaces, fans the flames of anti-Chinese sentiments and saying things like “all files that get sent to China will be pirated… ALL” and emphasizing that over and over is not only factually inaccurate, because not “ALL” files sent to China get pirated, but the root of that is anti-Chinese sentiment. If you don’t see that, it’s because you don’t share the same lived experience I have. I had kind of hoped you would at least try to be empathetic and try to put yourself in my shoes, but that, too, you have willfully chosen not to.

      I have no anger or vindictiveness in my heart for you. Only the hope that in real life, you are a much kinder, compassionate person toward Chinese people.

      Liked by 3 people

  22. Stella aka "fennario"

    If you skip down to the second italicized quote here, it’s a quote from Ciro Marchetti explaining the difference between Chinese factories producing counterfeit decks on a major scale, as opposed to the deskjet operations elsewhere: https://fennario.wordpress.com/2020/07/08/the-impact-of-pirated-decks/

    But let’s not take his word, or mine, for it:
    “According to Forbes, in 2018 counterfeiting was the largest criminal enterprise in the world. Sales of counterfeit and pirated goods totals $1.7 trillion per year, which is more than drugs and human trafficking. It is expected to grow to $2.8 trillion and cost 5.4 million jobs by 2022. According to The Counterfeit Report, “China produces 80% of the world’s counterfeits and we’re supporting China. Whether or not it’s their intention to completely undermine and destroy the U.S. economy, we [in the United States] buy about 60% to 80% of the products.”
    Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Counterfeit_consumer_goods#General_description

    Acknowledging verifiable, documented facts is not racism, nor is it a matter of opinion or bias. Karen has been pilloried in a very public way for speaking out about this situation. It doesn’t fall on her to reach out or apologize.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Stella:

      “ALL tarot/oracle deck image files sent to China will be offered to anyone who wants to buy them. ALL files.”

      For those who are experienced with the deck production process, you know that in order to do business with a Chinese printing company, you must send your tarot/oracle deck image files to the printing company.

      Therefore, it is logically sound to induce that if what Karen said in that quotation is true, then the following is also true according to Karen:

      “ALL deck production companies in China will sell to anyone who wants to buy your deck image files. ALL.”

      There is a tautological correspondence there.

      Stella, do you agree or disagree with the statement that ALL deck production companies will pirate your copyrighted decks?

      If you disagree, then you disagree with what Karen said. And I am speaking up to raise attention to how that kind of rhetoric is, at its root, anti-Chinese.

      If you agree, then you agree with what Karen said and you have proposed that all Chinese deck production companies engage in deck piracy. That’s painting all Chinese deck production companies with a broad stroke, saying they are all the same, with negative insinuation.

      On the other hand, Stella, I agree with everything you’ve said in terms of a documented pattern that can be traced back to China of deck piracy. I have addressed that very point ad nauseum in the original post, in many, many of the comments here, and if you’ve bothered to read them before seeing red against me, you’d know we agree on all the points you’ve raised.

      Karen is not being pilloried for speaking out about the situation of deck piracy. Karen is being critiqued and there is fair commentary being written about what Karen has said in an effort to encourage future cultural sensitivity. Considering that her comments, no matter what her intentions may be, have hurt Chinese and Chinese Americans, as evidenced in all the public discussions everywhere, I would say you and I have to agree to disagree on the point that yes, it does fall on Karen to reach out and address this matter openly, IF she actually has any compassion toward Chinese and Chinese Americans as people. If she has no compassion toward Chinese and Chinese Americans as people and how they might feel, then sure, she has no reason to reach out.

      Thank you for sharing your perspective. It is valued here.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Finn

        Bell, you have the patience of a saint to be dealing with these two who keep posting here and have some of their own anti-racism reflection work to do. Thanks for speaking up. You are valued.

        Liked by 4 people

  23. Christiana C. Gaudet

    Well said, Benebell.
    Thank you for documenting this kind of racism. It is all too common.
    This is exactly what white fragility looks like in action.

    The right answer would have been, “Thank you for pointing out my internal bias. I will work on it. I don’t want to think of myself as racist, and I don’t want to be racist. I don’t want to unintentionally hurt people. I will do better.”

    How hard would that have been? You could have walked away as friends.

    Liked by 6 people

    1. Exactly! I was eager to walk away as friends, but she just couldn’t bring herself to be soft enough to feel what I might have been feeling and to be empathetic to that. Thank you so much for this. ❤ You know your opinion and thoughts mean the world to me. ❤


  24. Cynthia Taylor

    Dear Benebell, in my personal exchanges with Karen on other matters, and observing her comments in facebook groups, she will never admit any wrong- hmm sound familiar. Anyway, she is always right and her attitude is just as you have described, also very close-minded. This is a no win situation as she is not willing, able or open to reflective thinking on her own behavior. I know you feel an obligation to speak up, but sometimes focusing on negativity, and unfortunately something or someone you cannot change one iota, is a waste of your time. Perhaps a summary reflecting on this, and closing the subject and put your energy elsewhere. This is a lesson and constant challenge for me. One of my intentions is to not comment anymore, but here I go giving my 2 cents lol. Mostly this comment is for your validation and insight not to waste your time on her. The topic, however, if you wish to fight this, bring it into the open, etc. is worth your time, if it fits into your goals. I support many things, but in actuality I do not have time or wish to spend my time actively engaged and accept this as a choice of where I choose to focus my time and attention now. I think it is important to choose what our life purpose/goals are, and spend time and energy on those. Karen is pulling you into the weeds if this is an important issue you wish to bring into the light. She is not worth your time, but the subject is.

    Liked by 3 people

  25. Cynthia Taylor

    Wanted to add, anytime someone makes a generalization it reflects on their ignorance, in my opinion, and trying to argue, point this out etc is also a waste of time. Unfortunately, Karen is not the only one with this mindset opinion, and ability to generalize and not understand they are making generalizations. Just because “80% of counterfeiting” comes from China, does not mean ALL decks printed in China will be counterfeited etc. Also, making statements, in the way they were worded, is unfortunately not understood by many as being racist. They are blind, and unless they are willing, we cannot open their eyes, and trying to do so is a waste of time IMHO at least for me. Best wishes

    Liked by 2 people

  26. I’ve written answers, erased them, and written them again.

    I worked in subrights in publishing, so I know a little something about IP. Also, I have a working knowledge of Japanese and am fluent in Russian. We often had translation contracts with the PRC, Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, Russia, Eastern Europe, and so on. Have some knowledge of the culture of a society really helps with relations with that society.

    Frankly, one shouldn’t use the word “ALL” or “NEVER” in a sentence without really knowing the situation.
    I also want to point out the following–imagine if the same sentiment had been repeated with the following information:

    “My legal counsel advised me to never do business with BLACK companies, because all of them will rip off your intellectual property.”

    “My legal counsel advised me to never do business with U.S. companies, because all of them will rip off your intellectual property.”

    Imagine the outcry. It would definitely be seen as racist. I’m just sorry that this couldn’t be resolved in a more amicable manner. You have my vote, Ms. Wen.

    I think one of the problems with today’s society is reacting with aggression instead of compassion. I would hope that we would lean more to compassion than not.

    Liked by 5 people

  27. sylvanmoon

    I don’t do social media, so my opinion is based on what is contained within this article and the comments. Karen is clearly playing the victim card with Benebell. By not taking personal responsibility for her choice of words (even with saying that her lawyer said this), she seems to be stuck in bitter frustration over an actual travesty going on with piracy, which I completely understand. What baffles me is how Karen doesn’t seem to understand what Benebell was pointing out about her choice of words. And what about the poor woman that Karen bullied publicly-for what reason exactly? I hope everything works out for the benefit of everyone-sooner than later.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Disappointed

      Thank you. If English people were doing it, I would also be ashamed. And yes, that would be equally racist. As in not racist, just calling out criminals.


    2. Yeah, it’s a bit of a false equivalency. Saying “you shouldn’t do business with Chinese printing companies” is not at all the same as saying something like, “All Chinese people are untrustworthy.” You can get hung up on the fact that she said you shouldn’t do business with any Chinese printing company, as opposed to something more moderate like “you should think twice about dealing with most Chinese printing companies,” but I’d like to think that the latter is the takeaway that most reasonable people would come away with, anyway. I don’t know that ALL Tarot decks are “appropriated” in the way she describes, but I do know that many of them are, so the latter would not be unreasonable advise.


  28. Chris Stronglove

    let me just say this, after reading all of these messages
    the statement that ALL Chinese printers will rip you off is racist. there’s no two ways about it. and i mean the statement, not necessarily the person who’s saying it.
    and yes, it did make me think of trump calling covid 19 the Chinese virus. because it is a declaration of the same order. so instead of going on and on about it, why is it so hard to take a step back and say, hey, ok, you’re right, i’ll change that one word into ‘some’ or maybe ‘most printers i have dealt with’? not so hard to do, i think. in my country (the netherlands) people, even politicians, are being sued for making statements like this. and we’re officially a democracy with freedom of speech, but when people go too far in their prejudice they get slapped with a fine or have to stand trial.
    i am glad you spoke out, benebell, and am amazed at the careful and utterly correct way you keep respinding to everything that is being thrown at you. this is a perfect example of shoot the messenger/ turn the tables/ accusing the other party of your..let me call it a ‘misdemeanour’.

    Liked by 1 person

  29. Disappointed

    I am putting this at the end, even though it refers to posts much further up, so that people saying she should listen to people talking about racism, and the rest. And because she cannot post here herself, as I also pointed out further up. Benebell could deal with this – as Stella points out.

    So this is directly from Stella aka Fennario who is – as I said earlier – a member of a minority group who suffer constant abuse and knows whereof she speaks when she talks about racism; she too has lived with it all her life.

    Stella says:
    I’m not going to go in circles since I’ve already stated my piece. Whether people choose to read what I actually wrote, or misapprehend it and turn it into something else entirely, is not something that concerns me. Suffice to say that being anti-racist does not mean that we can never criticize wrong actions just because the perpetrators are members of a certain group – that’s not how this works. “Wrong is wrong, no matter who does or says it.” Their government is allowing piracy to run rampant. There may well be good people in China fighting against this, just as there are good people there fighting against things like human rights abuses and animal cruelty. But they haven’t won yet, people have no recourse if their art is pirated there, and so China is not a safe place to send files.

    As for “auto banning”, I’ve been using wordpress for about 15 years, both the free and paid versions. Any comments flagged as potential spam have always gone in a spam queue, where I can peruse them one by one and decide whether to approve them, or delete them forever. I’ve yet to see an “auto ban” feature.


    1. Disappointed indeed huh

      Here, I’ll make it easy for you:

      Karen is not being censured for trying to warn others of a piracy problem. Karen is being censured for her conduct.

      She ignorantly hurt people. (That could have been forgivable, if she’d apologized and stopped hurting people.) She was told she’d hurt people. She did not apologize. She instead proceeded to cry and scream that those people she’d hurt were being mean, and publicly accusing her of hurting people, which is, somehow, hurtful and unfair to Karen.


  30. Benebell, I respect and support your position on this. My only observation and complaint is why American-designed products aren’t manufactured in the US? It’s because creators want to save money instead of investing in the US.

    That’s the big problem. Just to save money and not employ Americans to do the manufacturing, situations like these pop up all the time.

    Is the cost of printing a deck in the US *that* prohibitive to justify sending it to China? Even with the shipping costs and all, adding more carbon to the climate crisis?

    I for one would be glad to pay a higher cost for a deck printed here.


  31. Thank you for speaking up on this issue. I’m new to the Tarot community but I’ve witnessed a lot of “I don’t see color” type microaggressions in the community and it’s sad to see for a community associated with spirituality.


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