ABW vs. the Embodiment of White Privilege

All right. The time has come.

I thought about this last year sometime but dropped it because I figured the antagonists wasn’t popular enough anymore. I hadn’t seen her in a while. I thought maybe I should concentrate my efforts on that crazy woman Michelle Malkin.

That was before Ann Coulter clambered back into my view again. Before she dissed Elizabeth Edwards.

So I’m here after my long absence to say that I am revitalizing my long-dormant showdown. That’s right, kids. The Angry Black Woman is taking on Ann Coulter!

ABW vs Ann Coulter

Continue reading

Write-A-Thon on the Horizon

Just a reminder that the Clarion West Write-a-thon is about to get underway. You can still sponsor me if you wish to! It works like a marathon except instead of sponsoring me by mile you’ll sponsor me by week. I plan to write 4 stories and revise 2, making 6 stories total by the end of 6 weeks.

You can sponsor me for any amount you’re comfortable with. $1/week, $10/week, $50/week, whatever. I’m also offering fabulous prizes for those who sponsor at specific levels: Anyone who sponsors me for $15/week or more gets to see all of the stories I’m writing/revising once I’m done. I’ll email them to you or I’ll show you the secret place I post works in progress online. If you sponsor me for $50/week, I’ll name a character or a place in one of these stories after you. I’m crap at coming up with names, so you’d be helping me out, really. If you get on board with $100/week or more, I’ll send you a signed copy of the latest anthology I’m in, Interfictions. To claim these fabulous prizes ;), let me know at which level you’ve donated and I’ll keep you on record.

The money doesn’t go to me, of course. It goes to the Clarion West writing workshop and the Octavia E. Butler Memorial Scholarship Fund. The default is that half of the money folks donate will go to the workshop and the other half will go to the scholarship. Both of these entities are non-profit, so your donations are tax deductible. If you’d like your donation to go exclusively to one or the other, please email and let me know. If you’re happy with the 50/50 split, please visit my pledge page to donate online. More comfortable sending a check in the mail? Email and I’ll provide you with the address/instructions.

And now, to the writing. Wish me luck!

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Lest we forget that the Jusice System sucks…

Yes, it is true, they made Paris go back:

Judge Orders Paris Hilton Back to Jail
Jun 8, 3:03 PM EST

The Associated Press

LOS ANGELES — Paris Hilton was taken from a courtroom screaming and crying Friday, seconds after a judge ordered her returned to jail to serve out her entire 45-day sentence for a parole violation in a reckless driving case.

“It’s not right!” shouted the weeping Hilton. “Mom!” she called out to her mother in the audience.

MAMANO!!! Please pardon me while I laugh my ass off at this. Join with me:

Paris in Tears
(mod courtesy of digital_femme)

Yes, yes. I’m very mean. How can you not feel sad for this poor white girl?
Paris is still crying.

Oh wait, here’s how to avoid feeling sad:

On September 24, 2004, 27-year-old Jonathan Magbie died while serving a 10-day sentence for marijuana possession in a Washington, D.C., jail. Magbie, a quadriplegic since a drunk driving accident at the age of 4, was a first-time offender.

D.C. Superior Court Judge Judith E. Retchin defied a presentencing recommendation that Magbie be given a term of probation — a sentence that even the prosecutor found acceptable.

Retchin imposed the sentence because she didn’t like Magbie’s attitude, and the car in which Magbie was riding when apprehended had a loaded gun and cocaine. Magbie had told Retchin that marijuana made him feel better and that he didn’t think there was anything wrong with using it.

A miscommunication between jail, hospital, and court officials gave Retchin the impression that the D.C. jail could handle Magbie’s medical needs — primarily, a near-constant need for ventilation to help him breathe. In fact, the jail could not accommodate him, but by the time Magbie reached a hospital, he was dead.
(Source via blackfolk)

Care to guess what color Mr. Magbie’s skin was?

Killed by America

Yep.

I’m so proud to be an American.

Writing for Money

For those of you tired of all this science fiction and writing stuff, I promise I’ll cut back on it once the week is up. Before I get back to writing up WisCon panel reports, I want to tell you about this other cool thing I’m doing.

Four years ago I attended a workshop for Science Fiction and Fantasy writers called Clarion West. It’s a 6 week workshop where students are encouraged to write a story every week. Every week there’s a different instructor — professional, working writers who take time out to read everyone’s stories, give feedback, and teach us a little of what they know. Clarion can’t teach a person how to write (in fact, you have to know how already in order to get in), but it can give new writers the skills to move up to a professional level.

My time at Clarion West was so wonderful and productive. I got to meet some of my writer heroes (Nancy Kress and Samuel R. Delany in particular, but all of my instructors rocked the house), make friends with my amazing fellow students, and was warmly accepted into the Seattle SF community.

Of course, the workshop was not just meeting cool people and hanging out. There was work to do. Every week day I read and critiqued stories by others students and every week (except the first week) I turned in a new story. It was hard work. Rewarding, yes. But hard. Still, I came out on the other side a better writer. I wouldn’t trade my time at CW for anything.

Once you go to Clarion West, you can’t go back (no matter how cool the instructors are!) But every year for the past three I’ve participated in the Shadow Clarion West, as some of us like to call it. We alumni who long to return share a little of the experience by setting writing goals — one new story a week, one chapter of our novel a week, etc. — we aim for during the time Clarion West is going on. This year, that’s from June 17th through July 27th. This year, I intend to write four new stories and revise two stories. One a week for six weeks.

The goal is not only to relive a little of the Clarion experience and to get some writing done, but also to raise money for the workshop and a scholarship (more on that below). Clarion West is a non-profit venture and gets its money from donations, auctions, and other such fundraising activities. The administrators work really hard to make sure the students have everything they need. From a comfortable place to stay during the workshop to food to eat and lots more. Plus, they do pay the instructors a little bit of money for their time. And they try to provide financial aid to students who need it. It takes a lot of money to run a thing like this. And we alumni like to help with that as much as we can. So during these six weeks of writing, I am also raising money by asking for sponsors. It’s like a marathon, except for with writing. This is why it’s called a Write-A-Thon.

How this sponsorship thing works:

I set goals for myself, as I mentioned before. I’m writing or revising a story/week. If you would like to sponsor me, you would say “I’ll donate $50 for each week you reach your goal.” So if I write or revise 6 stories, you send $300. If I, for some reason, miss one week’s goal, you send in $250.

You can donate any amount. From $10/goal to $100/goal or more. You decide. My hope is to raise $500 total, but if I were to raise more it would fill me with joy.

Half of the money I raise will go to Clarion West, who will divide the money between admin stuff and financial aid. The other half of the money will go to a specific scholarship I want to support: The Octavia E. Butler Memorial Scholarship Fund administered by the Carl Brandon Society. The Butler scholarship is given to two students of color accepted to the Clarion West and Clarion workshops (they are two different entities, click on the links to see why). I believe that they raised enough money to provide full scholarships to this year’s chosen recipients.

This scholarship is important to me for the obvious reasons. Also, when I applied to Clarion West, I didn’t really have the money to go. But I had the time and the opportunity, so I went for it. When I got in, I asked for financial aid, hoping I would get some money and then find a way to get the rest. Then I got the shock of my life when the administrators told me that an anonymous donor had paid my full tuition. Specifically did so for me! I still don’t know who that person is/was (though someone once gave me a hint), but I will always be grateful to them. One of the ways I can honor this person is by doing what I can to help other writers of color who may only be able to come if they get this scholarship.

By the way, if you’re interested in supporting this scholarship regardless of the Write-A-Thon, they have a fund drive going on right now. If they are able to raise $1,500 by June 16th, LA Con will donate $1,500 to the fund. Combined, that’s one full scholarship for one student. Last I heard, they still had $500 left to go. To help them reach that goal, please donate here.

If you are interested in sponsoring me, leave a comment indicating such on this post. I’ll contact you privately by email with details on how the payment part will work. Yes, the donations are tax-deductible. It’s simple, I promise. And won’t require lots of work.

What do you get if you sponsor me? Other than the satisfaction of helping along a new crop of SF writers, of course. Anyone who sponsors me for $15/week or more gets to see all of the stories I’m writing/revising once I’m done. I’ll email them to you or I’ll show you the secret place I post works in progress online. If you sponsor me for $50/week, I’ll name a character or a place in one of these stories after you. I’m crap at coming up with names, so you’d be helping me out, really. If you get on board with $100/week or more, I’ll send you a signed copy of the latest anthology I’m in, Interfictions. That book has some amazing fiction in it. Mine pales compared to the other stories.

So, as I said, the Write-A-Thon starts June 17th. Blogging will probably be light, but not too light. I need a break from all that intensity. If you’d like to sponsor, use the contact form below. And remember, the money is going to Clarion West and the Butler scholarship, so you’re supporting writers of color and the other writers who will have the benefit of diverse voices in the class.

ETA: Just so you guys know, the box right above this is to send me email. If you want to comment, you’ll need to click the “# Comments” button near the title of this post or use the input box underneath this at the bottom of the page. :) It’s confusing, sorry, I just wanted to make it easy for folks to email me directly.

WisCon 31: Why is the Universe So Damn White?

Once again, I must turn to audience members who took notes to provide a play-by-play of the panel. This one I moderated, which meant I could think of nothing but “Don’t mess up. Don’t mess up. Don’t. Mess up.” Thankfully we had a great audience, great panelists (Wendy Bradley, Naamen Gobert Tilahun, and Kate Elliott), and no crazies.

There’s a good summary/transcript up at the FeministSF wiki along with links to other folk’s thoughts about the panel and the issues we brought up.

The panel topic, which I wrote, goes thusly:

It’s great that there are many great SF shows on television with diverse main casts. Stargate, Firefly, Battlestar, Buffy—in each you will find ethnic minorities in major roles. However, if you look in the background it doesn’t take long to notice that even though the main players aren’t all white, everyone else seems to be. Finding a planet full of ‘white’ people is easy, but what about the planets with Black people, or Laotians, or Pacific Islanders? Then you run into the problem of how ethnic minorities are portrayed, both in terms of the main characters and the Aliens of the Week. Why is it so hard for television, which has taken the first step in being inclusive, to take that next step and actually portray a diverse Universe? Why is the Universe so damn white and what can we do to change that?

We spent much of the first part of the panel discussing specific shows we found lacking in this area and when we first started to notice that they were lacking.

For me, it was the last episode of Stargate: Atlantis Season 1. The Big Bad is coming to Atlantis, they don’t know if they will survive, they have enough power to open the Stargate for 3 seconds and send information through. So everyone on the station gets to send a short video message home. It’s the standard stuff — learning about the crew’s families, getting deeper into their characters. We even see some random, background people we’ve never seen before, just to lend it all a bit of realism. Then we get to this one crew member and my mouth is hanging open. She’s Asian, she speaks in this awful, stereotyped, horribly broken Engrish (like just two steps above ching-chong) about how great her boss is, how nice and smart and wonderful, etc. They cut in to her monologue with clips of Rodney, her boss, being an absolute shit to her and everyone else. Now, Rodney is always a shit, so this isn’t surprising, but the way she keeps going on about him! It’s hard to tell if they’re trying to imply that she’s got a crush on him or if they’re making her into the stereotype of the submissive Asian female. It was so blatant and icky I couldn’t believe they allowed that on television.

Then I started thinking about whether or not any of the scientists I’d seen on Atlantis were non-white. The answer: No. The scientists were supposed to be a great international alliance, but all of them are white and/or came from European countries. The only people of color on Atlantis are in the military or are alien. Ford was main cast, Bates was secondary and was only there to be aggressive and angry at Teyla, Teyla is an alien, Ronan is also alien.

After that, it was like a floodgate. Once I started analyzing other SF shows I watched, I saw that even when they had some people of color in the main cast, the people in the background or on the Planet of the Week or whatnot, were white.

One very interesting point Kate brought up was how much Ben Sisko of DS9 is different from other black characters in SF. Sisko had a culture. He had a connection to his past, a place he came from (New Orleans), specific food he cooked for his son, that his father cooked for him. He was more aware of the gulf between what Starfleet understood about the universe and how things actually were. And I have always been convinced that this was due to the influence of Avery Brooks. What other black SF character can you think of who had that cultural link? Geordi certainly didn’t. We knew his dad was Chicken George and his mom was the Queen of Zamunda (these are references to movies, not actually who they were…), but where did his parents come from? Were they born on earth? Which continent, which culture? Where the hell did Tuvok come from? What is the name of the Island of Black Vulcans and, seriously, why haven’t we seen any of them before? Do jaffa do anything but beat the hell out of each other? What do they eat, what do they do to entertain themselves? Other than the one jaffa joke we hear, do they ever write stuff? Even the Klingons have poetry and opera.

Not only is it a problem that the universe is white, but when they do include people of color, they either make them alien or humans of “No-Culture”, which is default culture, which is White American culture.

Wendy brought up that there’s a lack of many types of representation on TV. Where are the ugly people? The fat folks, the differently-abled? Race is one piece of the puzzle of media’s inability (most of the time — there are exceptions, but they highlight the very definition of exceptional) to show us anything but ‘beautiful’ white people who don’t have trouble getting about. “They” assume that’s what everyone wants to watch. Kate read from a news item regarding the adaptation of Bury My heart at Wounded Knee (which I first heard about on Pam Noles blog):

When [HBO] broadcasts its two-hour adaptation of the book, beginning Memorial Day weekend, at its center will be a new character: a man who was part Sioux, was educated at an Ivy League college and married a white woman.

“Everyone felt very strongly that we needed a white character or a part-white, part-Indian character to carry a contemporary white audience through this project,” Daniel Giat, the writer who adapted the book for HBO Films, told a group of television writers earlier this year.

O RLY? Ya RLY!

On a happier note, we discussed Doctor Who and how that show not only includes people of color in the background and foreground, but also addresses racial issues without making things All About the Race. Wendy said that this was due to Russell Davies, the exec. producer, having a good track record that allowed him to do what he wanted. The show is also produced out of BBC Wales, which is related but separate from the BBC in London. Because he’s far away from the big honchos, they meddle with him less. Someone else brought up Homicide, which was produced in Baltimore. Maybe getting away from the studio bosses is the way to go if anyone wants to start solving this issue.

I ended the panel by re-asking the question I ended the description with: What can we do about it? Kate said to envision the future you want to live in. Wendy suggested that each panelist take the money we get back for being program participants, buy a couple of copies of Writing the Other, and send them to television execs. Later, someone from the Carl Brandon Society said that it might be more effective if we donated the copies to CBS and had them send the books in an official manner. I love this idea and I think that anyone interested in this issue do so. If you want official info on how to do it, let me know.

I said for people to get involved on multiple levels. If you’re a writer, write characters of color if you’re so inclined. If Hollywood comes calling, exercise your power to make sure they don’t do what the Sci-Fi Channel did to Ursula LeGuin. Get involved with planning conventions and heavily encourage television writers, producers, and actors to come. Make sure they understand that the con is not about just fan stuff (though fan stuff is awesome) but about examining the shows and their impact critically. Give them a chance to learn and respond. Also, get involved on the Internet. Nowadays, producers and network execs cannot afford to ignore what’s going on here. Take part in group blogging, have your own blog, talk about this stuff, get traffic, get known, use your voice.

There are a lot of things we discussed that I didn’t touch on. Firefly, Lost, Heroes, Angel, etc. Hopefully, my fellow panelists will come along and add anything that I missed or they feel is important. You can also read the transcripts, which aren’t long.

And, as I said, my fellow panelists were so, so great. Check out their blogs and books (in Kate’s case).

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