No more lily-white futures and monochrome myths.

Note: This post was written by my guest blogger, N. K. Jemisin. While I would love to take credit for its awesomeness, I cannot.

OK, been working up to this one for awhile now. Bear with me; it’s going to be long.

I should preface the following rant by saying that I’m fully aware it may hurt my career as a writer. I don’t want it to. But it probably will.

So. One of the most frequent questions that I get, when I tell friends and family that I’m a writer, is, “Oh? What kind of stuff do you write?” When I say speculative fiction — by which I mean science fiction, fantasy, and horror, since there are multiple definitions of that term — the next question that follows invariably comes only from my chromatic acquaintances. Usually it’s accompanied by a blank or confused look, and sometimes an outright grimace of distaste, and the words are then spoken in a tone of slight disbelief: “Why do you write that?”

There’s some history here that I should explain for the laypeople.

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 one browner than a tan; if the scientific accomplishments of ancient nonwhite empires are dismissed as alien leftovers; if China is the only country toasted by an invading space warship; all of these is a kind of literary genocide. (Yes, genocide.) And it’s something that SF has not only done for years, but continues to do; shit like this gets published all. the. time.

And even when SF makes an attempt to be inclusive, the results are usually ham-handed and painful to witness. Star Trek, for example. The show is set several hundred years in the future. White men are in the severe minority now on this planet, destined to become far more so if current demographic trends continue. Yet the Enterprise has a crew overwhelmingly dominated by white men. Another example is the current longest-running SF show on TV, Stargate SG-1, which has pretty much relegated people of color to the role of superstitious space-primitives (carrying space-spears, no less). There’s a whole planet of ‘em, or two or three. But there still aren’t many in the show’s version of the American military.

And yes, yes, yes I know Gene Roddenberry was very progressive for a man of his time, and I know that he would’ve done better if society and the TV industry had let him. Yes I know that Stargate’s Teal’c is actually a pretty interesting and likable character. But the fact remains that this is the perception of SF that most Americans rightly have: white-male-dominated and if diverse, only on the most superficial level.

So I’m not surprised when I tell my fellow brown people that I write SF and get That Look, or That Question, in response. Occasionally I get a much better response: “Oh, hey, I love Octavia Butler! Do you write stuff like her?” Yes, I say, even though I don’t. (I mostly write fantasy, for one thing.) Shamefully, Ms. Butler is often their only real point of reference to SF, so if that helps them connect to me, then so be it.

Now, to answer That Question, I usually resort to the shorter version of the following: “Why wouldn’t I write speculative fiction? What genre could be better for depicting the ways in which society can change and improve in the future? Or exploring the past through myth and folklore and the epic events of history, reworked into modern entertainment? Speculative fiction has a powerful influence on society. It depicts dreams and nightmares; it has the power to caution and inspire. I can’t think of a more challenging, exciting genre to write, and I’m always surprised that there aren’t more people of color writing in this genre, because the future is ours.” (Cue inspiring music. Usually by this point I’m striking some sort of pose, like pointing toward the distant horizon with a look of rapture on my face.)

Cheesy or not, I believe all of this. And I’ve started to see signs that others in the SF world believe it — the Wachowski brothers, for example. (No, I don’t believe Sophia Stewart came up with the Matrix. I’ve seen her writing.) The Matrix films were the first major Hollywood production that I can remember which depicted believable demographics in a future human society. White people still held the most prominent roles, but that’s actually OK. I don’t want us to take over the world. I just want them to do a better job of sharing it.

Unfortunately, I’m not seeing much interest in sharing within what is, IMNSHO, the most important part of the SF world — its literary heart. Yes, we had Octavia. Yes, we still have Nalo and Steven and Sheree’s Dark Matter anthologies. Yes, we have many allies, such as Nancy Farmer and Mike Resnick, who’ve always been inclusive. Yes, we actually have a lot more than this. But these are individual efforts, easily overlooked amid the hundreds of SF novels published and promoted every year, doing little to impact SF’s lingering image as the genre of white male power fantasy.

So this is why, as ABW lamented in her last post on the subject, the literary face of the SF genre is so incredibly white. It’s why I get That Look, and That Question. And it’s why, IMO, a genre that should be incredibly popular is in fact slowly dying. There are fewer magazines publishing SF short stories every year. Authors’ advances for publishing a novel are small compared with those of other genres, which suggests that book sales aren’t strong. When I did my agent search a couple of years ago, I was astonished by the 6 or 7 rejection letters I got back from agents who’d once represented SF authors, but no longer did because, as one blatantly told me, it was “not profitable”. When I attend SF conventions, I don’t just stand out because I’m black, but because I’m young; the core of the fandom is literally dying of old age. There’s a lot of debate in the SF literary world as to whether the genre really is in trouble or not, but AFAIC, the signs ain’t good.

And yet SF’s cousins are hotter than pancakes under a McDonalds heatlamp. Paranormal romance, with its tales of horny vampires and witches in heat and aliens who’ve come (and come) for our women, is making a bunch of money by targeting the female readers that SF has historically disdained. Alternate history has gone mainstream, thanks to Philip Roth and others like him, although big-name literary writers have been slumming it in the postapocalypse and dystopia scenes since Orwell. Magical realism has made several South American writers household names. Manga has hooked hordes of kids and teenagers with its tales of magically-powered ninjas and cyborg alchemists, and its unAmerican perspective on just how much complexity kids can handle in their entertainment. I’m seeing SFy stirrings in the African American literature scene too; L.A. Banks and Tananarive Due are big names in the bookstore circuit. And mainstream publishers are starting to poach on SF’s traditional territory by telling the tales that SF hasn’t, like epic fantasy based on African cultures. I’ve seen an awful lot of stuff like this published lately — SF with the serial numbers filed off, for lack of a better term. It looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, but wasn’t cooked by any famous duck restaurants, and isn’t being served to the usual duck connoisseurs.

To me, all of this means that SF, or at least its subject matter, is far from dead. Lots of people still want it, including people who historically haven’t wanted to touch SF with a ten-foot pole. They still don’t want to touch SF; instead, they’ve been drawing the essence of SF into spaces that feel bigger, more welcoming, and thus more respectable. They’re remaking SF in their own image, and I believe they represent a vast audience that SF could potentially tap.

If the SF literary realm chooses to tap them. But here’s the thing: they don’t wanna.

Or at least, that was the impression I got when I recently decided to ask the Science Fiction Writers of America (SFWA) about it via their blog. Now, I realize the responses I saw were those of individual members and not the group as a whole, but I found the whole discussion disturbing nevertheless. My question was a simple one, in essence: what has SFWA done to encourage diversity? My first answer was a resounding blog silence for about 24 hours. Later, SFWA members repeatedly pointed out to me that SFWA has had a handful of black (and female, and gay, and so on) members for years. Others pointed out that SFWA doesn’t discourage anyone from joining the organization. Someone noted that SFWA donated money to another organization for a diversity scholarship, though did nothing itself. Others seemed quite incensed that I implied SFWA was racist (I hadn’t). One accused me of trying to turn SFWA into the NAACP.

Despite all the froofraw, the answer to my question quickly became clear: SFWA has done nothing to encourage diversity, either within the genre or within itself. This, frankly, astonishes me. The only reason I can think of for a predominantly-white, predominantly-male organization to ignore the issue of diversity is if that organization does not want to be diverse. But that makes no sense. Here we’ve got a writers’ organization which is dedicated to advancing the commercial interests of its members. And yet when a strategy is suggested that could help these writers tap a potentially huge audience, not only do they reject it, but they also deny its necessity?

What. The. Fuck?

Corporate America gets this. Big corporations don’t have diversity recruitment officers and special marketing campaigns to target PoCs because it makes them feel good. They definitely don’t want to be the next NAACP. They do it because, if they do it right, they can make a shitload of money by selling their products to a bigger audience. So how is it that corporate America gets something that a bunch of supposedly progressive, artistic, future-minded thinkers, don’t?

It is not enough for the SF world to have an Octavia, or even three or four. It is not enough for the SF world to passively wait for PoCs, and women, and all the other groups that currently disdain SF — because SF has disdained them — to come to it. They won’t come unless SF makes an effort to reach them and let them know that things have changed, they’re welcome now. And SF can’t do that unless SF wants to welcome them, which I’m not so sure it does. I think, unfortunately, that most of SFWA really does exemplify “the establishment” of the SF field: an elite, conservative, reactionary club whose sole purpose is to protect the status quo. They see no reason to change because the old way is how they made their money, and they don’t give a damn about changes in the market because hey, they’ll be dead soon. In truth, they have no incentive to pursue diversity, because that might force them to learn how to write more inclusively — and that might force them to confront their own unacknowledged privilege and prejudices.

The thing is, they will be dead soon, as will their old-school audience. What happens to SF when that happens?

The answer is equally clear: SF will survive. It will evolve, as art forms must. It’s just going to happen from the outside, rather than the center. And it’s going to pop out that center like a donut hole, because those SF writers who can’t adapt will someday find themselves marginalized and disdained as the adherents to a quaint literary tradition that will soon be about as relevant as writing about Martians, or cheese on the moon. Maybe the Sci-Fi Channel will make a Saturday-night miniseries out of their old lily-white future material. (But what would be the creepy-crawly monster?)

There is some hope, at least, for SFWA. Their new blog and all the discussion there is a reaction to a recent attempt by some reformers to shake things up within the organization. I hope they succeed. I hope that, if they do, the reformers start bringing SFWA into the goddamn 21st century, instead of wherever the fuck it’s going now, and I hope they start thinking about the genre’s future as well. I’ll join if that ever happens, but until then it would just be a waste of money and energy.

And to end on a positive note, a public-service message:
Though SFWA is currently on my shitlist, I’m already pretty active in some other SF orgs that are significantly more progressive. The Speculative Literature Foundation has done a lot to try and bring economically (and otherwise) disadvantaged writers into the genre, and its awards seem to target writers who bring in a new voice in some way — not necessarily writers of color (though that too), but writers whose work treads ground that SF hasn’t historically touched much. Groups like the Carl Brandon Society have formed to give writers of color a collective voice. There’s also Wiscon, a convention that started with a feminist focus on SF and has since spread to encompass pretty much every underrepresented group, just by being inclusive and welcoming. The Carl Brandon Society meets there. A newer con, Diversicon, aims to bring the issue of diversity in SF to the fore.

If any of you reading this are in the SF field, or if you just care about this issue, please join and/or donate to these organizations. Because the future is ours! (Strikes cheesy pose.)

64 Responses

  1. uh … keanu reeves is hapa, i.e. mixed chinese, hawaiian and white. that’s why he was cast as the lead in the matrix: because he looks like the mixed future los bros wachowski wanted to portray.

    now if you wanna make hay out of the fact that the savior is mix of asian and white, knock yourself out. but keanu’s looks are clearly being used to play the diversity card, not to indicate whiteness.

  2. Applause!

    I know a bunch of people will probably continue to point out exceptions in the comments, but the exceptions don’t significantly change the situation as far as I’m concerned.

    The comics industry is exactly the same way when it comes to non-white characters, complex female characters, LGBT characters, etc. etc. (complete with lip service and occasional bright spots). It astounds me how they can stand by while manga publishers eat up the audiences that comics publishers have neglected for forty years/always. They “try,” by imitating the superficial features of manga–much like the few characters on “Star Trek” or the Asian gloss on “Firefly”–but they don’t GET it. (And I liked “Firefly,” folks, and I like a variety of American comics, so don’t start with me.)

    Anyway, sorry, didn’t mean to bring my soapbox with me. :)

  3. Why would I possibly make hay out of that? I didn’t know that about him, but it supports my point even more — the Matrix films show that it’s possible to have a diverse cast and still be successful in SF.

    Curious, though — where did you see that the Wachowskis consciously cast him because of his mixed heritage? Because I understood they originally wanted Will Smith for the lead, and he’s not mixed — or at least, no more mixed than any other black American.

  4. While I respect your reply, Claire, I have to disagree with Keanu Reeves being used to play any kind of racial card. If so then, it’s a card in a very weak hand. I, as well as my friends, be they white, black, Asian, latino, etc. all seem to agree that, when they look at Keanu Reeves, they see a white guy.

    It could be because people’s first major impression of him was from the “Bill & Ted” films but, for all intents and purposes, he’s white IMHO. I’m 1/8 Seneca but I certainly couldn’t be used to represent any kind of Native American diversity. I tend to think if Keanu Reeves chose say…Walter Quinn as his stage name would anyone be able to say anything about his ethnic roots other than, “Hey, look at the white dude.”

  5. Preach ON! Wow, I can’t tell you how refreshing it is to find another black woman that actually CARES about any sort of fictional worlds (I’ll tell you right now, joining the Phenomenal Women Yahoo group does NOT satiate that need!). If you don’t mind, I’m just going to worship you from afar (soon as I get my “Angry Black Woman Temple of Worship going in the backyard!) :-)

    It is rather sad women of color (all colors, really) are just now getting to be more than just the exotic love interest in sci-fi. I hope more voices of protest join the fray so that the rest of the world starts to see how foolish it is to artificially force a monochromatic future on a world already more diverse than such stories and movies are prepared to show.

  6. Wrote this long thing then messed it up somehow.

    It’s lazy writing. Easy to write what you know. Easy not to challenge your beliefs and comfort zone. Whites write SF, whites read SF as kids, then they go to write themselves and instead of really LOOKING at what the future might hold they take the easy way out.

    I recommend Writing the Other by Nisi Shawl and Cynthia Ward. It’s not a huge book, but it gets right at the issues facing writing anyone who is The Other to you.

  7. Edited post to remove the “kiss my ass” comment. I might actually feel that way, but the post is inflammatory enough as it is. =)

    Sprite: I’ve never heard of the Phenomenal Women group; what’s that?

    Turlock: If Keanu considers himself multiracial, then I see no reason why we shouldn’t respect that. I’ll agree with you that his nonwhite heritage doesn’t *seem* to inform much of his life. But there’s no way we can know how he acts and thinks behind closed doors.

  8. ABW’s Guest Blogger: I totally agree with respecting one’s view of their multi-racialness. Sensitivity and respect for the feelings of others (The Golden Rule) is always what it has been about.

    My point was actually supporting what you posted. You described Keanu as, “A white guy was still Jesus the protagonist, but that’s OK. I don’t want us to take over the world.”

    In the Matrix films you saw the character Keanu played as a “white guy”. Just as myself and everyone of my friends from differing racial backgrounds viewed him.

    In films, it’s not about how actors or actresses view themselves racially or with what ethnicity they identify with in their private lives. It’s about how the public perceives the ethnicity of the character they play in the movie. Since it is the movie that is the medium through which we (the public) view the actor or actress and not how they act or think behind close doors, then we can only use the visual and audible clues as presented in the movie. If we transpose this aspect to the films in which Keanu Reeves is concerned, the public has always seen him as a white male.

    So forgive me if I left the impression that I might be insensitive to Keanu’s private view of his own ethnicity. He may very well identify more with his Asian or Hawaiin roots. Unfortunately, there’s been very little done to portray those aspects of him in the movies he has been in.

  9. Here’s the link: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ThePhenomenalWomen/

    Apparently, someone saw my picture, said “Ah, a black woman!” and assumed I’d have much in common with this group. I posted once about trying to find folks that liked sci-fi/fantasy stuff and got no response.

    This is not to say that groups like this don’t have a vital function or that I’m not proud to be a black woman, it just isn’t set up for the black woman that wants to connect on a different level. Honestly, I think a support network like this would be WONDERFUL!

  10. Great rant! A friend of mine directed me over here after I’d wrote a lengthy rage against the racism and sexism that’d really pissed me off in some ‘classic sci-fi’. Very reassuring to know other people see it too and it pisses them off too!

  11. Great post! I was starting to think I was the only non-white female trying to write in the SF field!

  12. [...] is a very interesting piece about race in science fiction and fantasy, and the Euro-centric tone of many books and TV shows set in the future. This also touches on the [...]

  13. I’ve been saying something like this for years now in the ‘RPG’ community, and getting much the same response – a perception that they simply not only do not need, but I come away feeling they do not want, PoC.

    Calls for ‘what are you doing about diversity’ get met with accusations that I am accusing them of racism (and at this point, I am, but I didn’t start there), or with games about playing pimps and whores in the blaxploitation genre, or ninja’s and mysterious asian seductresses… Which is not what I was asking for a representation of minorities…

    As a result, a hobby I got lured into as a young teen has been something I have left behind, as did so many of my non-white friends years before me.

    Now of course, that’s a fringe hobby to be sure – but it has a lot of interconnections to SF and fantasy as well as, frankly, computer gaming – and all three of these suffer the same basic problem.

    As for change coming from the outside, I think we’re seeing this and I think you noticed it as well – Manga / Anime.

    A lot of that is junk, but lets face it, it is the only non-white source out there. Put a person in the desert and yes, they’ll drink whatever water they can get their hands on. :)

    Outside sources will replace these guys in time, but it would be nice to have some recognition within our own greater American & western cultures that there is more to SF than a white male representation of the future and fantasy.

  14. Great post!

    This is why I had problems with Lord of the Rings… The only people with dark skin were Orcs and Uruk-hai, while magical supreme beings elfs and men were white. And the dude got god knows how many oscars.

  15. arcady,

    Yes, I’ve been a manga/anime and video game fan for many years. The Japanese aren’t much better than white Americans about race — unfortunately they’ve seen too much American media over there — but they do something better than what most American geek media does; they *listen* when they fuck up. Case in point: after people griped about the Mr.T-like Barret character in Final Fantasy 7, FF8 contained an elegant, super-intelligent black man in a heroic role. And FF10 did a surprisingly nuanced examination of racism (and religious intolerance) via the persecuted “Al Bhed” culture in the story; I was honestly and pleasantly surprised with how well that was handled. I haven’t yet seen an American game that was half as deep. But we’re so very, very good at denial over here. ::sigh::

  16. Sewere,

    I didn’t so much mind the orcs. They didn’t look human enough for me to link them with any particular race. What bugged me — and what Peter Jackson quite rightly depicted accurately from Tolkien’s books — was the characterization of the good versus bad humans. The good humans, called “Men”, were all white. The bad humans, called “Easterlings” (i.e., Asians) and “Southrons” (i.e., Africans) were decidedly nonwhite, in the few glimpses we got of them. I honestly hadn’t noticed that when I read Tolkien’s books as a child; I wasn’t as aware of the subtlties of racism at that stage of my life. After seeing Jackson’s movie I went back and re-read the books and was horrified to realize just how blatant Tolkien’s racism is. This is the guy who’s basically the father of the modern fantasy literature movement. It doesn’t surprise me at all that someone of his time held such attitudes, but it *does* surprise me that there hasn’t been more discussion of it — and confrontation of the more recent writers who’ve aped some of his foolishness.

    Scratch that… it doesn’t surprise me. It doesn’t surprise me at all. ::sigh::

  17. My realization of the racism inherent was reading a series I quite like where the darkest skin tone POSSIBLE – not just depicted but genetically POSSIBLE – was dark tan. Granted, the major male figures were all dark tan, but the three most powerful female figures were all pale skinned blonds.

    Yeah.

    Hard on the heels of that came a mental flip through of my favorite books and the realization that one of them had dark skinned, not tanned, major figures – and that was Ursula LeGuin.

    Hard on the heels of that came the realization that so many of my strong characters were dark skinned because of a quirk of biology, not because I was honestly engaging with the issue of race.

    It’s so pervasive that it becomes invisible until you notice it.

  18. The problem, sad to say, is with the writers, not the publishers. I’m a white guy. I’ve had so many black protagonists that the Baltimore Sun and the University of Pittsburgh Black Studies Department both stated that I was black. I’ve had enough Hispanic protagonosts that a West Coasr paper claimed I was Hispanic (with this Jewish-Russian name, yet!) I have written as a black, as an Hispanic, as a woman, as an alien, and no publisher or editor ever asked me to consider changing what I’d written. I’ve won a couple of Hugos for stories written in the first person of a black man. Hell, I’ve given God speaking parts in a novel and half a dozen stories, and occasionally made Him a villain, and again, no one ever censored me or suggested I had overstepped some unspoken barrier. There is -no- censorship in science fiction or fantasy, so as I say, I think the fault lies with the writers.

    Why is it a fault? Because once upon a time this nation was all red, and then for a while it was mostly white. But if you look at the evolving demographics, blacks and Hispanics are gaining numbers in enormous leaps and bounds, we’re getting a sizeable Oriental population as well (at least out West), and anyone setting a story in our future is, well, I won’t say a fool, but at the very least wrongheaded and mistaken if he doesn’t acknowledge that fact.

    – Mike Resnick

  19. Mike,

    Welcome. The question is, how to get SF writers to acknowledge that fact? My conversation with SFWA members brought out excuses and rationalizations that I thought had gone the way of the dinosaur decades ago. The absolute stupidity of the ‘we don’t need diversity, we have — count ‘em — three black members!’ argument just floors me. They’re not ready for a discussion about the economic consequences of their failure to diversify. They’re still back in the land of, “I’m not racist, I have a black friend.”

    I also disagree that there’s no censorship in SF publishing. It’s not so overt as “black writers can’t get published” or “white writers who write black characters can’t get published”. Obviously we’ve seen exceptions to that. It’s more along the lines of publishers’ assumptions re: the audience of the genre, and its tastes. The same thing occurred in the romance industry up until a few years ago — a token handful of writers managed to get published despite their black characters, but not many, because the industry simply assumed there was no market for romances in which ::gasp:: black people actually fell in love with each other and had happy endings. So black authors (and I’m told some white authors who wanted to write nonwhite) started self-publishing, and the books sold like hotcakes. Small presses started up to deal with this nascent industry, and they didn’t stay small. Big presses bought them up, and even Harlequin got into the game once that it had been proven that there was a market for romance featuring black characters. Now, this industry is not without its problems. The last thing I want to see in SF is the kind of ghettoization that’s occurring in romance now, because romance publishers have simply changed their assumptions — now that they know there *is* an audience for this stuff, they’ve decided the audience is wholly black, because of course white people would never want to read about black people, except in very small doses.

    It’s this assumption that I think exists in SF. It’s one thing for you to publish stuff featuring black characters; you were an established author with a solid following. But as a new author, I’ve found the industry much less friendly. My agent has put my novel (which features a predominantly black cast) in front of ten publishers. Two are still considering it. The rest said no, and their reasons basically amounted to “there’s no audience for this”. Two said that, specifically. One said she loved it, but wouldn’t know how to market it. Another said he wanted it, but couldn’t get enough buy-in from the other editors in the house; they didn’t think the SF audience would buy it. Two others said they would buy it if I were established, but not until.

    My agent asked me whether I wanted to approach publishers in the AfAmLit realm. Thus far I’ve resisted that (and to her credit she’s discouraged it too); I don’t want to be ghettoized. I’m also well aware that most authors don’t break in with their first novel, and that the publishing industry is equal-opportunity brutal to new authors. I’m already working on my next novel (which is more “traditional”, i.e. white). But the thing is, I’ve heard variations on this story from other authors in the field, including some who’ve gone on to success by publishing through mainstream, AfAm, or small presses. And I’m concerned that, like in romance, there is a huge potential audience out there for material like mine — many of whom bought your Kirinyaga books — which SF publishers are ignoring.

  20. I’m going to disagree and continue to insist that there’s no censorship. I was not an established author with a following when I started using black protagonists; my third sf novel had a black hero.

    I don’t just blame whites for the situation either. Some years back Gardner Dozois and I sold a reprint anthology of African science fiction stories. We had planned to sell it as being entirely by black writers. Well, we got up to two — and one of them had sold this one story and never wrote or sold enother — and ran out of black authors who had written science fiction about black Africans. We still sold the anthology, but not with that tag, and I think 12 of the 14 stories were by whites. My point is this: an editor can’t buy what isn’t submitted to him. I think the only censorship going on is some wrong-headed self-censorship by authors of all colors. “Well, he doesn’t run stories about blacks/women/gays/whatevers so I won’t waste my time writing one” — and as long as people feel like that, he’ll -never- buy one because he’ll never see one.

    – Mike Resnick

  21. Re: being an established author — would you have gotten to a third SF novel if your first and second hadn’t sold relatively well? I don’t know if the market was less cutthroat then than it is now, but these days it seems that any author who manages to keep publishing past Novel 1 is established, with a following.

    As for your anthology — I agree with you in that the psychological effects of racism (and other “isms”) are pervasive. I know a number of female authors who won’t submit to the Big Three SF short fiction markets on the assumption that they dislike stories by women. That said, people who have been oppressed tend to operate on experience, not on principle, and the male-heaviness of the ToC does lend some weight to the women’s assumption. Jed Hartman of Strange Horizons posted its own submission statistics awhile back during an LJ debate about this topic (it was in Charlie Finlay’s blog, as I recall, I think when they were pulling some major consciousness-raising effort to get more women to submit to the Big Three). SH had a much more balanced gender ratio of submissions than F&SF. Simply put, SH publishes more women, so more women submit there, which means they publish more women, infinite loop. This suggests that if Gardner wanted to see more submissions from black authors, then Garnder needed to publish more work from black authors. Hard to do if the causality loop has been established, but there are ways to break that loop — making a specific call for SF about Africa, for example, or SF written by black authors. Acknowledging the fact that a given market has a reputation for being Eurocentric, and making a special effort to publicize that market’s desire to change. This was my argument for SFWA — if SFWA genuinely wants to see more women, PoCs, GLBTs, whatever, writing SF, then SFWA needs to *say* so, because looking at the makeup of SFWA it’s easy and natural for a member of an underrepresented group to think s/he’s not welcome.

    And it will not result in an instantaneous shift. It took years of publishing mostly men for F&SF to build its reputation as being misogynist; it will take years of dedicated effort for F&SF to change that reputation. In the meantime most women are going to concentrate their efforts on a market that they *know* is friendly, as opposed to one that *might* be.

    One question about your anthology, though: why stories by black authors about black Africans? Why not just stories by black authors? Successive efforts which did exactly that — the Dark Matter anthologies, for example — have been bestsellers. Or an anthology about the fundamental qualities of Africanness in some way — Nalo Hopkinson’s So Long Been Dreaming was about colonialism and its aftereffects. Most of those writers were black too, although I know there were some Asians and Latinas/os involved too. But the black authors’ stories weren’t just about Africa; there were many allegorical treatments that invoked Africa, but didn’t specifically go there. I think it did relatively well too, commercially. To be brutally honest, I wouldn’t be particularly interested in an anthology about black authors writing black Africans either — because most of those authors, given the nature of the SF world, would be Americans, and most black Americans know diddlysquat about Africa, or have absorbed the same racist perceptions of Africa that white Americans possess. I wouldn’t want to see the results of that. Much more interesting to read SF stories about Africa that are written *by* Africans; there are quite a few out there.

    But I’m curious, now. What was the name of your anthology? I vaguely remember reading something many years ago called Black Futures Under African Skies or something like that, but Google laughs at me when I try that.

  22. [...] N. K. Jemisin, guest-blogging for The Angry Black Woman, has a fantastic post up this week titled “No more lily-white futures and monochrome myths”: [...]

  23. Keanu Reeves has, against his will, been passed off as “white” by filmmakers forever. Now, my understanding is that the Warchoski brothers pursued Will Smith, Nicholas Cage, maybe some other people, then ended up with Reeves. While I personally like reading his heritage into the character, I’m stuck with the fact that he wouldn’t HAVE the career he has if he’d looked more Asian.

    I was in film school back when Speed came out (and was considered revolutionary to the action genre). I’d gone to film school originally planning to write more roles for people of color (both genders) and white women, and was stunned to get actual lectures about how the protagonist MUST be a white man. Period. “That’s what the audience wants to see” went the litany. It was as ubiquitous as “God bless you.”

    A number of us introduced Reeves’ heritage into that debate one day in a screenwriting class. The prof’s response: “If I didn’t know he wasn’t white, you can bet most of the audience didn’t either.” And that was that, as far as the industry was concerned.

    Can we use his heritage as a way to have that discussion on a larger level? Sure! Can we see what happens when we announce to red states, “Surprise – you’ve been watching not a California boy but a half-English, half-Hawaiian Chinese Canadian”? Absolutely. Can we argue that his career or any of his roles represents a currently existing diversity? I’m afraid not.

    We have some work to do.

    And BTW, this was a fabulous article and I could’ve said many other things about it, but this is one where I felt I had something unique to contribute: the film industry consciously “passing” someone off as “white”, using the audience’s tendency to default to white as a way to avoid confronting closed minds and rake in some more dough.

    Frankly, I think maybe the audience is more than ready to say, “I don’t care what race so and so is – I just like him/her”. But the industry isn’t with us.

  24. My first two novels sold above average, which is all anyone’s first couple of novels have to go to get them more contracts. They didn’t hit the bestseller lists, or even the SF bestseller lists, but they made a profit.

    You think women don’t write for the 3 digests? I could have sworn that Connie Willis and Nancy Kress, two of the finest writers around, wrote exclusively for Asimov’s (at least, until I bought Nancy away for Jim Baen’s Universe last month), and I’ve certainly seen Lois Bujold, Kris Rusch, Carol Emshwiller, Esther Friesner,

  25. It cut off the bottom half of my missive.

    Among other things, I pointed out that DAW, Avon, Baen, Bantam, Ace
    and del Rey, 6 of the 7 mass market sf houses, are edited by woman — and Tor’s best editor is a woman, Bath Meacham. I can’t believe they have any prejudice against female writers.

    The book was UNDER AFRICAN SKIES (not our title), and the reason I assume they would be stories about black Africans is because we decided that we wanted the stories to be from sub-Saharan Africa, where blacks outnumber whites maybe 200-to-1.

    – Mike Resnick

  26. You think women don’t write for the 3 digests? I could have sworn that Connie Willis and Nancy Kress, two of the finest writers around, wrote exclusively for Asimov’s (at least, until I bought Nancy away for Jim Baen’s Universe last month), and I’ve certainly seen Lois Bujold, Kris Rusch, Carol Emshwiller, Esther Friesner,

    Okay Mike, I have been away for a while and haven’t read all comments nor caught up on the full discussion. But I feel I can jump in here and stop this particular madness right now. I don’t know if anyone actually said that women don’t write for the digests, for it would be silly to say so. Looking at the numbers, though, can one really say there’s a balance of women and men authors in the TOCs of said digests over a period spanning, say, 1996-2006? No. Is there a major imbalance tipped to the men’s side? Yes. Don’t believe me? Crunch the numbers yourself.

    Also, (and excuse me if I sound a bit terse, I have this conversation so often it feels like this should be self-evident) when a Nancy Kress or Connie Willis story comes to a magazine, the editors don’t act the same way as they do when Lakeesha Q Public’s story comes over the transom. Nancy, Connie, et al. are Big Name Writers. Their stories are treated as such (and they should be; all the writers you named are FABULOUS and Nancy is super fabulous — I’m way biased).

    I don’t want to say none of these women ‘count’ when looking at if there’s a gender bias at a magazine/with an editor, but I almost feel like I have to. The works of BNAs get noticed, get placed, get cover mentions because readers will look and say OMG a new Kress story? I have to have this! Or whatever. Not because the editor is thinking about gender in any way.

    Now, as to that African Skies antho, I’ve heard that same spiel from Dozios and I’m still not impressed. I have a post coming up Wednesday that talks about ways in which editors and publishers can better guarantee a more diverse slush pile.

    More later as I catch up. (And after I get over my jaw dropping because Mike Resnick is all up in my blog and stuff.)

  27. Swere: This is why I had problems with Lord of the Rings… The only people with dark skin were Orcs and Uruk-hai, while magical supreme beings elfs and men were white. And the dude got god knows how many oscars.

    LOTR movies did not bother me as much on the racial front only because of the source material. While we can’t make excuses for all of the craziness in the books, the main idea behind them was to write a Myth for England. Tolkein felt that his people didn’t have a real mythology (something to do with all of Englands supposed mythology all coming from the Anglos or the Saxons or… the Celts? Forgive me, I read this years ago) so he set out to write something that was essentially a mythology for those he considered ‘his people’. All people we would consider white. He was writing in a very strict European/British world and that’s why all of the hero people/elves are white. I can’t fault him for wanting to create that kind of national mythology for himself.

    Whether he should have thrown that bit about swarthy men from the east joining the Great Force of Evil and whether the movies should have continued along that vein is another issue. I think Nora is quite right in pointing out JRR’s blatant racism in this arena. For my part, I kind of wished that the movies had addressed this by simply Not Going There.

    Mike –

    Now that I’ve read more of your comments, I’m growing more and more disturbed by this attitude you have that it’s not SF that’s the problem, it’s not publishers/editors that are the problem, it’s not white people that are the problem, it’s black writers or women writers or everyone else that are the problem. I completely disagree. Using yourself as an example or even the anthology you spoke of as an example don’t prove your thesis. Yes, because you’ve had black protagonists folks who don’t know assume you’re a black person. But the editors who bought you full well knew that you’re white, and many of your readers/fans know full well that you’re white. It’s awesome that you were doing things that other folks in the field were not (at the time). But I strongly feel that you had the ability to do so because you’re a white man writing in a white man’s field.

    If I recall, that African antho was put together many, many years ago. It’s not surprising to me that you couldn’t find Black authors writing about Africa – why would they? When at every turn they were told — and, to some extent, we are still told — that SF readers are not interested in Africa or Africans or Black people of any sort. There is always writing what you love, but there is also writing things you love that will also get you published.

    The perfect example is Charles Saunders — I recently read Imaro for the first time and was floored by how fantastic and amazing that book is. But it’s been out of print for God knows how many years (the reason for that is not entirely audience or editor disinterest in Africa, but it played a role, if I understand correctly) and it took an innovative independent press like Night Shade to bring it back to the reading masses. After decades. But this wonderful book did not touch off a new desire on the publishing industry’s part to find more Black authors writing Black characters in a Black world. At least, not that I know of. And, if it did, it certainly didn’t last. The wave has not touched our current shores, so to speak.

    I swear if I hear one more editor/publisher type say something like this: “an editor can’t buy what isn’t submitted to him” I will explode from trying to hold in the rage. But I am a calm Tempest, a zen Tempest, so instead I shall hasten to edit my post on diversity in the slush pile as an answer to such statements. (But hey, N did a good job of pointing out the fallacy there, so yay)

    Beta Candy -

    Have I ever mentioned how happy I am that you come over and participate in discussions here? Not only because of your direct experience with these issues, but also because you’re an awesome and incisive person. You just keep rocking hard; I’ll be over here admiring you.

  28. Oh, also, Excellent post, NKJ! I knew you could get your anger up :)

  29. I have bought over 900 stories for my anthologies; they break down as follows — 488 by men, 427 by women.

    OK, I knew who most of them were. But I have bought 43 first stories, and until I met the authors at conventions (and I still haven’t met about half of them), I didn’t know (or care) if they were black, white, purple, or polka-dot. I just bought 6 stories, probably by newcomers, that JBU’s slush readers passed on to me, and I have no idea who I’m buying from.

    I’m sorry I got you mad. I just happen to disagree with a lot of what you said, based on 40 years in the field. It’s your blog, neither of us are likelyy to convince the other, and you don’t want to weste any more time arguing with me, so I’ll end my contributions here.

    – Mike Resnick

  30. I sometimes suffer from delusions that I will finish some of the stuff I’ve been writing and submit it for publication. Thanks for this – it really is something I should pay more attention to.

    Many white people I know resent the idea that there should be a conscious effort to include people of color (or women) in any way, rationalizing that they, of course being color-blind (or non-sexist) always judge people solely on their qualifications. I find that the more I am honest with myself, as a white person raised in a racist society, the more I find that I really need to force myself consciously to seek out writing, art, etc., by people of color, or I will find myself only perusing works of art of any kind by other white people. It’s an insidious thing. Similarly, when I write a story, my characters are almost always white, even though for years I lived in New Orleans where the majority of the population is not. Something to consider for my future projects, definitely, whether or not they ever end up going anywhere.

  31. I don’t know if anyone actually said that women don’t write for the digests, for it would be silly to say so.

    Yes, the gist of the “Slushbomb” (found the ref finally) debate was not that there were no women publishing in the Big Three, but that there were not enough women publishing in the Big Three, considering we’re 50% of the population and all. Also considering the SF industry is constantly lamenting its lack of gender diversity. The whole thing started because someone pointed out that Big Three’s tables of contents showed a heavy skewage toward the male end of the gender continuum. This was cited as proof of gender bias. JJA of F&SF fired back with the “not many women submit” notion, to which JH of SH responded by noting that SH’s ToC has significantly more women in it, which appears to result in more submissions by women. i.e., it wasn’t that female SF authors didn’t exist, it was that they just weren’t wasting their time submitting to a market perceived as sexist.

    Mike, if you’ve seen a gender balance in the slush you’ve wrangling, I suspect that’s because you’re not wrangling markets with a reputation for male bias. And that’s good. But unfortunately that doesn’t represent the bulk of the industry.

    That’s also the “censorship” that I’m referring to in the SF industry — the perception that SF avoids publishing people of color because it hasn’t published very many of them, which keeps people of color from showing an interest in SF, which leads to the perception that SF avoids publishing people of color, ad infinitum. There’s a problem on both ends of this loop — both the markets that have allowed this reputation to develop and the potential authors and fans who’ve made assumptions based on that reputation. But of the two, I believe it’s the responsibility of the markets to correct this problem. They’re the ones who’ve been publishing monochrome (and male-heavy) ToCs; basically, they started it. They can stop the loop by making an immediate, well-publicized, and intensive effort to change. And they need to keep that effort up for awhile, because people aren’t going to believe them immediately. It took decades of bias for this reputation to build, after all; it’ll take more than a few months for it to change.

    Perhaps “censorship” isn’t the proper word for this. I’m not sure what word is. Laziness, maybe — a blase acceptance of the status quo, even when the status quo is known to be affected by the racism in greater society. An unwillingness to “put your money (or publications) where your mouth is”. Whatever it is, I still lay responsibility for the problem at the feet of the publishing industry. Authors of color are out there, just like female authors are out there. They just don’t go where they’re not welcome. If they are welcome, it’s not enough for SF publishers to simply say it; talk is cheap. The proof is in the doing.

  32. [...] the whole dustup with SFWA (Science Fiction Writers of America) which NKJ touched on in this post. There’s the Hugo nomination list that only includes only one female writer and about two or [...]

  33. [...] all white and how it’s kept People of Color out for so long without being overtly racist in No more lily-white futures and monochrome myths. : Speculative fiction (SF) has been, historically, one of the most racist genres in American [...]

  34. [...] all white and how it’s kept People of Color out for so long without being overtly racist in No more lily-white futures and monochrome myths. : Speculative fiction (SF) has been, historically, one of the most racist genres in American [...]

  35. Nora and ABW,

    I completely forgot about the “Easterlings” and “Southrons” (read the book so long ago that my only point of reference was the movie). And I definitely knew that Tolikien was no different in his racism than writers of his time, I was just hoping that Peter Jackson’s ass should have known better.

  36. [...] Read on here: No more lily-white futures and monochrome myths. [...]

  37. Sewere,

    What, and offend orcish hordes of Tolkien fans who were already mad at him because he decided to modernize Arwen’s character? You know full well he couldn’t have PC’d the woman *and* the colored folk. =P He picked his battles. ::shrug:: Granted, what he picked is telling.

  38. Re: Arwen’s Character

    I assumed he did so because in movies, unlike in a book, you can’t have someone walk on stage at the last minute and give an info blurb on why they’re marrying the hero, so he had to give her a visible role in all three movies to justify her marrying the King (instead of Legolas. ;). I didn’t read that as picking a battle or redeeming a character; to me it was just what was required by the medium.

    I doubt he even thought about the racial characteristics of the human “bad guys” except to match them up with the books. I’m not in his head, though, fo that’s for what it’s worth.

  39. Deoridhe:

    Re: Arwen, he could’ve had her appear in all the same scenes that she did — providing quiet support from the sidelines and yammering on about her love for him. That would’ve given explanation enough for her presence at the end when she married the hero. But in addition to that he pulled her into the “escape from the black riders” sequence (I think in the book this was done by Glorfindel). It’s possible Jackson did this so that he could avoid introducing too many characters — though I notice he introduced Haldir and a whole bunch of other elves who weren’t that important. But it seems more likely he did it just to give Arwen a stronger role within the story. (Especially considering she would eventually be contrasted against Eowyn; Jackson probably knew that most fans would think Eowyn was more interesting.)

    Don’t get me wrong; I don’t mind Arwen’s beefed-up part. In the book all she did was sit around and sew a flag for Aragorn. But Jackson obviously thought about the gender issues of leaving Arwen as milquetoast as Tolkien wrote her. So why couldn’t he have thought about the racial issues of leaving the Easterlings and Southrons conspicuously brown and non-European in their outer trappings? (e.g., their uniforms and gear looked vaguely ancient-Persian/Chinese)

  40. Geek failure confession time: the books put me to sleep. All my knowledge of their contents is based on fan discussions.

    You bring up a very good point, though; the thought either wasn’t put there, or it wasn’t deemed important enough to risk the fallout.

  41. Deoridhe,

    I revoke your geek pass! =P

    The books are products of their time, and I don’t expect them to be otherwise. Tolkien was a white South African — raised in England, but probably indoctrinated in the usual white supremacy rhetoric of the time in both countries. It shows in his writing. ::shrug:: Stuff like that doesn’t bother me nearly as much as more recent artists, *not* born under apartheid, who’ve perpetuated Tolkien’s prejudices in the time since in a misguided attempt to show homage. I’m not quite ready to stick Jackson in there — yet — based on this one example. But I’ve Got My Eye On Him.

  42. Dear ABW,

    ‘v rd svrl f yr psts.

    Yr ngr s vry nfrly drctd t wht ppl, mn n prtclr. ‘d lk t pnt t tht thr r bt 35 mlln blck ppl n th .S. Thr r mny cntrs n th wrld wth smllr ppltns. nstd f whnng tht th wht mn ddn’t drg y n sffcnt nmbrs thrgh th glxs whl thy wr wrtng SF (wrttn, btw, thrgh th cltrl lns f bng rpn mrcn) why dn’t y wrt, pblsh, nd prdc yr wn vrsn f SF? Y pnt t tht wht mn r tkng p lss nd lss spc n th wrld f dmgrphc trnds cntn. Y cn wrt yr wn spc pcs, mk blckbstr flms, nd drct thm t th nn-wht mjrty f th plnt.

    Wht’s stppng y? Wh dn’t y qt whnng?

    (pls xcs th brvty f m pst…t’s lt, nd ‘m nt s gftd wrtr s y.)

  43. Yeah, she should do something constructive like become an SF author and editor who runs a website discussing racial issues in SF. She could even get off her ass and explain how to encourage diversity in fiction markets, or something! I don’t know how she can live with herself.

    Oh, wait.

  44. Richie,

    ::bwahaha:: I was trying to think of a sufficiently sarcastic response myself.

    And since this one’s my post… I should point out that I’m also a published author who writes diverse SF. There’s actually quite a few of us out there doing exactly as ROBERT suggests. Maybe we should be happy with that and quit whining?

  45. lol, Nora must be up. I just saw this, went to take care of it, and here she is.

    I took the liberty of disemVOWELing Robert because, well, sometimes I’m just going to do that without warning when the person is obviously too stupid to converse with. I mean, come on. We covered ALL of this already! In this post/discussion and in the SF diversity post/discussion. Read, dummies! Read before you come here to tell us how we suck!

    Damn, *I* didn’t even write this post. I even make a point of that at the top. And yet. Yet!

    ooo it’s too early. Robert caught me before my morning tea.

  46. ABW’s Guest Blogger Says:
    April 28th, 2007 at 9:23 am

    > Much more interesting to read SF
    > stories about Africa that are
    > written *by* Africans; there are
    > quite a few out there.

    Can you point me towards any? I’ve asked about that same thing before on Making Light, but on one was able to suggest any.

    I’m curious particularly about SF, not Fantast, Fabulation, Magic Realism, etc – so _My Life in the Bush of Ghosts_ doesn’t count. Also, just to be clear, I’m looking for SF by black Africans, not white.

    I know Dollar Brand once made an LP calle _African Space Program_, but I’m not sure jazz piano counts :)

    Steve

  47. ::lol:: I told you I had to get up early. =) At 6 a.m., nothing like blogging to clear the sleep from your mind. Stupidity has more of a punch than coffee. =)

  48. Claire, Keanu Reeves may be half Chinese,Hawaiian (I heard he was something else likeSamoan), and Asian, but his character in that film came across as a white man. Most of the parts, he’s been allowed to play have been geared to a predominantly white audience. I have seen very few roles where he has portrayed multiracial or Asian-Pacific islanders in part-or whole-if any. I could be wrong, but I doubt it. Even if this is not the case for the Matrix, this pattern can probably be found elsewhere whether people make hay or not.That is the sad truth.

  49. [...] Fiction/Fantasy/Horror genre. It started with a post by my guest blogger, N. K. Jemison, called No more lily-white futures and monochrome myths. Speculative fiction (SF) has been, historically, one of the most racist genres in American [...]

  50. Mike Resnick I think you are wrong in a bunch of the things you say on this thread.

    N.K., fabulous post! And you had so much patience on the threads that led up to this, I’m amazed.

    On the SF literary genocides – I notice them all the time. Often in books I really like otherwise. So for example in Naomi Novik’s series, the characters travel around the world and there is some attempt to have the world NOT be just European and Anglo. But then … WTF… there is no Africa. From what I can tell from the few references to it, feral dragons have taken over the continent… so no one goes there. I want so bad to believe that in book 4 or 5 we will find this is a false or deliberately false rumor. Because with so much other good stuff going on why “disappear” all of Africa? It raised a red flag for me. And this happens in many other books and especially in role-playing game books and alternate histories.

  51. Liz,

    I think you should bring that up with Naomi! Because that is very troubling. maybe she did that without really thinking about it, but if you bring it up to her she may still have time to give it greater thought.

    I’ve only met her a couple of times, but she seems to be a good sort of person. I’d like to think if someone brought it up with her, she wouldn’t take it badly.

  52. Liz,

    I noticed that in Novik’s novels myself. I got the impression she was trying to explain why the slave trade never took off in this world — i.e., African ethnic groups never got very large (so as to collaborate in slave trading and/or be played against each other for colonization purposes), and penetration of the interior of the continent wasn’t possible so resource exploitation wasn’t an incentive, therefore Africa has been left to itself, for good or for ill.

    But that really implies some retconning of human history in ways that I’m not sure Novik realizes. For example, the influence of Nubia on Egypt, and Egypt on Greco-Roman civilization, which eventually became modern Europe. A Europe without these influences should look very different from the Europe seen in Novik’s novels. This would be a Europe in which Alexander the Great probably didn’t do all that much. A Europe in which the Italian city-states, lacking trade with North Africa through Sicily, would’ve been much weaker. This would be a Europe that was never ruled by the Moors — Spain’s later rise as a European power occurred as a direct result of scientific knowledge procured from the Moors in math, mapmaking, etc., which facilitated the colonization of South and Central America. So is Spain a European footnote now? For that matter, how did any of Novik’s European nations procure the resources to become international powers? Nearly all of these countries acquired wealth through colonialism. If you wipe Africa and South America off the slate, you kick Europe back to pre-Renaissance-level economies. On top of that she introduces China, but basically implies that the Silk Road trade system barely exists, or is unimportant. This trade was the driving impetus for European exploration and colonization of the world. So why is Europe as advanced, well-resourced, and stable as it is? Europe did not develop in a vacuum; no culture on this planet past hunter-gatherer level does. So WTF?

    I like Novik’s work, so I want to believe she did not intend to ignore/erase Africa and Central/South America, and diminish China, in her fantasy alternate history. But the fact remains that she did.

    Also, what’s up with the Native (North) Americans? They’ve got their own dragons — palominos at that. Are these native to the NAmerican continent, or imported from Europe, like horses? It’s difficult to say. But the European colonists in America don’t have dragons (it follows that if Europe is so shorthanded on dragons, they wouldn’t let a lot of ‘em go with dissident religious outcasts over to the colonial backwater), which means the Native Americans thus have a significant weapons advantage. So why are we shown Native American dragons in subjugation? (Granted, the one we saw was sick, so maybe the colonists are winning with the equivalent of dragon smallpox.)

    So yes, this is the kind of thing I’m talking about. Novik is by no means the first person to retcon people of color out of history. I can remember seeing a similar retconning in the history textbooks I studied in school as a child. But it’s time we stopped perpetuating that, whether in real history or alternate.

    Nora

  53. Steve,

    i noticed that no one answered you. Sorry about that.

    The one I can think of off the top of my head is Charles Saunders. He wrote Imaro, which was recently reissued by nightshade press.

    Because I don’t know which authors ARE African, I’ll have to do some digging to help answer this question. But since I’m going to WisCon tomorrow, this should be easy to do.

  54. [...] surfaced again online in dramatic form. Thanks to Pam for pointing me in the direction of some of the relevant posts (and reminding me that Tobias Bucknell and ABM should have been on my blogroll a [...]

  55. Yay.

    That is really all I have to say. Well, and: I hope to goodness this doesn’t make it harder for you to publish. Because it was brilliant.

  56. I am so darn tired of people saying it isn’t fair because white people have this or white people do this or we are not included in this that or the other thing. Look they are having fun and we aren’t invited. Get over it. Black people can have their own exclusive college or clubs etc. etc. but the second a white person wants to have or do something and it is all white by oversight or by design then they are racist.

    SciFi is my favorite genre. Don’t think I could live with out it. And I couldn’t give a crap less if the story has all white people or all black or mix or whatever as long as it is a good story.

    Point is i suppose get over it. if you don’t like the stories that are out there write your own. If the stories are good they will get seen or read.

    And don’t give me this crap about nobody will publish my work because I am black or Asian or Hispanic etc. because it has famous and wealthy people of all races who have made it in our society.

    The days of blaming while for everything is over. Everyone can make his way in this world. It is no longer about race but about cash.

    P.S. I am a black male by the way

  57. Well, Tired,

    I have to say I’m a bit tired of people saying racism no longer exists. I’m even more tired of people putting words into my mouth that I haven’t said. But since you’ve decided to do both these things, I see no reason to interfere with your happy cloud of self-delusion. I wish you happiness for as long as it lasts.

  58. Oh, and Liz, belated,

    Just read the fourth Temeraire novel, and she deals very nicely with Africa this time around, IMO. My review with great big spoilers here.

  59. [...] also a Christian, I see a lot of this self-reliance in the work of many writers. Both Christian and Black writers feel marginalized by the publishing companies. A Christian who writes about certain things [...]

  60. [...] ideas, we had moved beyond race. In the future, race and racism would be immaterial. All I saw was Lily White Futures and Monochrome Myths. I saw some token efforts at diversity, but they were done while sidestepping discussions of race. [...]

  61. One small point – I bet if you did an analysis of the “redshirts” that were like cannon fodder in the original Star Trek series, you’d notice that 99% of them are white males. Doesn’t that make up for Uhura not being captain?

  62. Oh yeah, because it’s so much better to be invisible / one token person, than to be in the majority at all levels of the hierarchy.
    /sarcasm

  63. Aaron,

    ::sigh:: At what point did I suggest Uhura should be captain? If you want to argue with me, argue with me — don’t invent red herrings and argue with them.

    And no, the fact that the redshirts are mostly white guys doesn’t make up for diddlysquat. The whole ship was mostly white guys; the redshirts were just representative of what the regular ship’s complement looked like. Which would be, durh, why I’m complaining about lily-white futures.

  64. [...] with bigotry: an SF response Posted on July 31, 2008 by nojojojo So apropos of one of my earlier posts, we’ve had another Incident in the SF [...]

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