For those of you coming to this site because you’ve seen me on a pane or otherwise met me while running around: Hello! I’m going to reference a lot of posts during my panels, so I’ll list them here. Hope you stick around and contribute to the dialogue.
(For those not at WisCon… hi! Um, wish you were here? Regular posts resume on Monday.)
12 colonies or planets filled with humans. So far I have seen exactly 2 black people (one was killed 42 minutes after he showed up on the screen), one Asian person (who isn’t even human, she’s a Cylon in disguise), one Latino person (whose son, for some crazy reason, is played by a white dude), and that’s it. The rest of the people are all white. White people everywhere.
No more lily-white futures and monochrome myths (by N K Jemison)
Speculative fiction (SF) has been, historically, one of the most racist genres in American literature. Oh, it hasn’t had as many Stepinfetchits or Uncle Toms as the mainstream, but there are few more powerful ways to wrong a people than to wipe it out of existence, and this is precisely what countless SF novels have done. If the crew of the Space Navy Vessel Whozimawhatsit is all white; if a vast medieval epic spanning several continents contains no chromatic folk; if the scientific accomplishments of ancient nonwhite empires are dismissed as alien leftovers; if China is the only continent toasted by an invading space warship; all of this is a kind of literary genocide. (Yes, genocide.) And it’s something that SF has not only done well for years, but continues to do.
To promote diversity in your slushpile and then, by extension, your market, you must:
1. Make sure a wide range of people know that your magazine accepts unsolicited submissions by reaching out and posting notifications in venues frequented by non-white and non-male individuals.
2. Put your money where your mouth is. Publish more stories by established authors that feature non-default people and non-default settings so that newer authors (and readers) will see your market as open to diverse views and ideas.
3. Update submission guidelines to very clear statements of what the market is looking for or lacking.
4. Get creative with ways to attract more diverse subjects, settings, characters, and writers.
5. In the fiction selection process, think carefully about the stories you choose. Publish stories that reflect a true balance (but don’t lower your standards to do so).
I said: “I just have one thing to say to you about BSG: More black people in the background. Please.”
His response was: “That’s a fair criticism.”
Related: Angry About Rape
One thing I’ve noticed about Doctor Who (and some other BBC shows) is that the show does not suffer from the “all white universe” syndrome that American SF shows do. No matter if they’re in the present or travel into the future, there are brown people there. Brown people of all kinds — leaders, lackeys, stupid, smart, important to the plot, background filler. There are even some brown people in the past.
I have two reactions to this part of the film:
My writer brain feels that it was unnecessary because it was an extra 30 – 50 minutes spent not dealing with the plot, but driving around the plot in circles until an appropriate parking space could be found. There was no real reason for Jack and The Black Pearl to be on that island. It was padding, all of it. And I cannot abide unnecessary padding in narrative.
My Angry Black Woman-ness is pissed off that, in the course of adding unnecessary padding, they also managed to add racist portrayals of brown people.
In which I quote Pam Noles:
This issue of cultural appropriation and representation is not about validating you as One Of The Good Guys, nor is it about denying an artist the right to harvest from many fields during the Quest.
It’s about the fact that for all your proclaiming of I Can, nine times out of ten? You Don’t.
You give us white males. You give us white women. You give us straights. You give us enough Heinlein Coloreds to populate a multitude of multiverses for several generations. …You give us fantasy systems based on standard Brittania tropes. You don’t like dealing with the poor every much. Why are your vampires so very pale and so very rich? Why do so many of your fantasy tropes pull from the Western European traditions? Why for the love of god aren’t you yet sick of elves? To borrow another Absolutely True (for me) line, why are werewolves always men?
It’s like trying to find Waldo
A discussion about why there are no people of color (that we know of) in the James Gunn Workshop.
From New York Overheard:
Queer on cell: That show is so fucking white, it just makes me want to vomit. It’s just all these white women; what the fuck is up with that? It reminds me of science fiction.
–51st & Lexington