Friday, March 6, 2009


I was hoping Timmi would pick up this discussion. Here are a couple of posts I added to Oyceter's Live Journal. I figured once I found out about RaceFail, I should prove that at least one silver-haired, old-time SF writer was paying attention.

I found out about RaceFail this evening, which is one reason I haven't commented before. I've read the comments here, but I am not sure I want to go through all the posts on all the journals. It does not sound pleasant. It also sounds like a good Wiscon topic. I don't know if it's possible to get it onto programming this year. If not, a group discussion in conference or hotel room would be worth doing.

The questions asked here -- where does fandom and the SF community stand on racism and other kinds of prejudice -- what should people who care about these issues do -- would make a good starting point.

If you want a con other than Wiscon, you might consider Diversacon,which happens in the Twin Cities in August. It bills itself as multicultural and multimedia, and it is deliberately affirmative action. GoHs have included Nalo Hopkinson, Sharee Thomas, Andrea Hairston, and the Laotian American poet and horror fan Brian Thao Worra.

I went to my first science fiction convention in 1961. There were 4 or 5 males for every female. Everyone was white. The sf community was as homophobic as the rest of America.

The first fan of color I met was Samuel R. Delany at a New York con sometime in the middle or late 1960s. He had a huge afro and a gold ring in one ear, and he stood out.

The sf community does change, although slowly. It changes because people insist that it change. It's hard work, and I can understand why people might figure they have better uses for their time. But women came into fandom during the late 1960s and 70s and insisted that their issues were important and needed to be addressed. GLBT people did the same a bit later. As the country changes, and more people of color come into the science fiction community, they will have to make the same arguments and have the same fights.

As Frederick Douglass said, "Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will."

This is true even of the petty centers of power in fandom.

1 comment:

Timmi Duchamp said...

Thanks, Eleanor. The Douglass quote quote is perfectly apt.

And no, it's definitely not pleasant. The "unpleasantness" offers us an index of the degree to which people are resistant to change. I'm editing a book for Aqueduct that is a history of sf feminisms, and I'm finding it particularly instructive to see just how nasty the attacks against Joanna Russ and Vonda McIntyre (among others) got to be in the mid to late 1970s. I think it helps to bear in mind that this sort of struggle is not new to our field-- & that change can/does come.