Yay IBARW for making me post, despite it being months late?
Although I had a very positive Wiscon experience this year, it was amidst a lot of fail. I heard and saw Black and South Asian women being mistaken for other Black and South Asian women, fish bowl ogling, and a lot of reports of people asking POC to be their special POC friends ("I have had no prior interaction with you before, but let me waylay you for half an hour to pepper you with questions about proper ally behavior or ask for your permission to do X!"). I personally managed to avoid a lot of fail, I think because a) I limit my panel appearances, b) I only go to panels in which I know and like the panelists, and c) I am antisocial, do not really go to parties, and only talk to people I know and like. Given the shenanigans, I do not think I will be changing my interaction habits in the future.
This works fine for me since I am, as mentioned, antisocial, but seriously. POC should not have to limit all their social interactions at a con just so they can be treated like a normal human being.
With all those caveats in mind, I was so happy to see so many brown faces this year, to make connections with people I've only seen online, to get the chance to talk in person instead of via comments.
One of the highlights of the con for me was being on a panel about Andrea Smith's Conquest with Andrea Hairston and Diantha Day Sprouse and talking with them afterward. First, I'm thankful I got the chance to apologize to Diantha for calling her too angry years ago; I read that now and think "She is so right! Make people with their horrible grabby hands GO AWAY!" But mostly, I cannot emphasize how good it was to talk to women of color from different generations than me about their journeys and their experiences.
The women I grew up with—my mother, my grandmothers, my aunties—gave me many things, but they did not give me the tools to deal with issues of social justice. And although I love them dearly, the models they have to offer aren't very radical. I think it's pretty sad that it took me going to Wiscon, which is mostly white, to find other women of color whom I looked up to as role models, but that's what happened. And I'm grateful that even though the initial connections I made with people were online or at Wiscon, they have been moving offline and outside the con. I'm glad I've been able to talk with more people locally, to have discussions in email and on the phone and in person so I can work through things without having random white passerbys ogling at my mental processes.
I can't even say how much it means for me to finally find these communities of women of color who are committed to social justice, especially in SF/F, which is what I grew up on. So thank you to the women I've gotten to know, the women I sometimes disagree with, the women I don't know, the women who have passed on, to all of you out there creating and critiquing and blogging and talking and being fannish and just being yourselves.
Having your multitude of voices means so much to me, especially as I continue to work on who I want to be and what I want to do.
x-posted from here