It took me a while to organize my thoughts and to sort them out. But finally, with the September rain outside my window, I have my opinions concerning the Diversity In SFF thing in Twitter and how it has not worked in the favor of people it was supposed to help.
Aliette de Bodard has written about it. Rochita Loenen-Ruiz and Sofia Somatar have written about it. They have clearly articulated the issues within this noble-seeming hashtag (yes, it started as a Twitter hash tag, didn’t it?).
As Lavie Tidhar has tweeted, it is easy to start a hashtag on Twitter. Just type in #DiversityInSFF and voila, you have a conversation thread whereby people could easily pitch in.
That was it: people could have easily pitch in, add their voices, become points of learning for people and reinforce certain topics/issues.
Yet, for people who have witnessed the ramifications of Racefail and countless Fails throughout the years, issues that have been discussed to death are not learnt. I find it being repeated, reinforced, rehashed and repeated again, and people still keep saying that they are ‘learning’.
A lesson is not learnt if you have to teach it about five times.
Forgive me. I work as a teacher and when I repeat a lesson, to reinforce certain concepts or skills, it is to further and deepen understanding of the concepts and skills. But for Diversity In SFF, it is just another Subject 101 again. People have not clearly learnt and understood.
Then, the TOR blog post came up and my headache grew into a migraine. It has conveniently forgotten about people it was supposed to help. To tell the truth, I wasn’t surprised by the clearly UK (white) perspective regarding race and visibility. I get the feeling that white Americans and British people are still grappling with the concept of race. To them, privilege hides everything and gives them a pass in issues so complicated for disentangling and dismantling. Their word means everything. They push their way through. And suddenly, lessons become unravelled and we find ourselves repeating stuff again.
Are they listening?
Are they listening to POC, women, LBGT and other minority groups? Are they listening to people with disabilities?
Why are they still uppity and arrogant when it comes to writing fiction with people of color and minority groups? Why do they – outsiders – think that they could write stories about insiders without being questioned?
Why are POC authors still being scrutinized for ‘authenticity’ while white authors easily get away from the whole interrogation business?
And why are POC authors expected to provide a tourist experience to white readers? What are we supposed to do?
What I took away from the whole Diversity In SFF problem (yes, it is a problem) is this: it is still an uphill battle for POC and minority group writers. It is also much easier for male POC authors. That’s another issue altogether: the problem of race and gender in publishing.
A question I want to ask my readers: What are you going to do about this?
1. Many ‘international SF’ authors write in English. That’s right. We write in English, our first language. To assume that international SF means ‘translated SF’ is erroneous and narrow-minded.
2. When it comes to ‘authenticity’, do white people assume that international SF should be written in English or translated into English?
3. English is an imperialist language. But as international SF writers, are we short-changing ourselves then?