Since I asked y'all for ideas about this panel, I thought I should report back. I am tired but my memory won't get better later, so some sketchy comments.
( Read more... )
Anyone who was there remember more than me or want to talk about things further?
Oh, and someone in the audience mentioned Lee and Low Books to me after, which is "an independent children's book publisher focusing on diversity," whose catalog I shall be checking out.
So one of my Readercon panels is called "Guess Who's Coming to Fairyland" and is described thusly:
Many fantasy and SF novels struggle with an issue that, at first glance, looks downright old-fashioned: interracial marriage. The races are non-human, and some of their problems are unique; for example, in Cheryl Brooks's Cat Star Chronicles, the near-extinct Zetithians must breed with other species or die out. Others face very familiar concerns such as being rejected by their families or peers. Their risk-taking is often rewarded with the birth of children who display enhanced or unusual abilities--though those children have their own concerns about not fitting in. How do these themes reflect and interact with real-world tensions around race, marriage, and culture?
I've been meaning to ask you all to poke at my thoughts on this, and I just send the mod an e-mail, so now I can simply cut and paste:
You know, I was going to make a post about how the intersection of the news lately (particularly Trayvon Martin's murder) and the bridge of a Decemberists song nearly had my crying in my car yesterday evening, but the point would just be what the subject line says, and this gives you more time to read the links.
- 'We Have No Choice': One Woman's Ordeal with Texas' New Sonogram Law (Texas Observer). [*]
- Racial Lens Used to Cull Curriculum in Arizona (NYT).
- The White Savior Industrial Complex by Teju Cole (The Atlantic).
- What Everyone Should Know About Trayvon Martin (1995-2012) (Think Progress).
- The Trayvon Martin Killing, Explained (Mother Jones).
- Untitled Elon James White post on racism's influence on perceptions of thuggishness. (Is there a way to link to Google+ posts with the comments collapsed?)
[*] Yes, I saw the doctor guest post over at Scalzi's. I actually found it more depressing than anything because of the comments, and not even the predictable derailing ones, the "for the first time I feel some hope!" remarks. Seriously? One anonymous doctor arguing for civil disobedience after one of these horrible laws has passed—the efficacy of which I have considerable doubts regarding—and suddenly everything's sunshine and roses? What-fucking-ever. (Especially given the entirely unjustified assumption by many commenters that the anonymous doctor in question was male. Yeah, we've never seen that pattern before.)
When non-winter infant and toddler girls' clothing [*] has, as a rough approximation, at least 33% less fabric than boys' clothing (because we require two and three year olds to gender-conform by showing skin!), and when I was able to find precisely two picture books, out of the thirty-odd displayed face out at my local B&N, that had female-identified humanoid-ish protagonists who weren't princesses and who did things.
(One of those was white. The other was a pig.)
Fuck systematic oppressions, I say. Fuck them with a goddamn chainsaw.
Also, recommendations for picture books, or anthology-type-things of fairy/folk tales (about 10 min./tale), that are not sporkworthy are highly welcome.
[*] Not that I am shopping for these at the moment, but it remains a massive irritant.
For instance, its review of The Help begins thusly:
The civil-rights movement might have ended segregation and beat back centuries of slavery and oppression, but let’s save a slow clap for well-meaning white folks with the moral courage to put themselves at the center of the narrative.
Mary Doria Russell has apologized.
And if anyone else is having trouble commenting without an DW/LJ/OpenID login, you can always e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org (you can look for e-mail addresses by clicking on the little gray head/body icon next to people's usernames, which brings you to the user's profile page, though not everyone lists one).
This panel took place late Saturday afternoon, after my "Vigorous Debate or Harassment?" panel, but I am posting it out of order because I will be referring to it in the set of panel reports that "Vigorous Debate" belongs to.
How do we get beyond "Her skin was the color of a delicious Coca-Cola?" What metaphors, similes, techniques, and descriptors are less problematic when describing nonwhite characters' physical bodies? (Starter link: http://www.kith.org/journals/jed/2009/06/1
M: Mary Doria Russell. K. Tempest Bradford, Moondancer Drake, Amal El-Mohtar, Sumana Harihareswara
Everyone on the panel but Mary Doria Russell was a person of color. I would estimate that K. Tempest Bradford, Amal El-Mohtar, and Sumana Harihareswara are all of roughly the same twenties-early-thirties generation; Moondancer Drake is maybe a half-generation older; and Mary Doria Russell is about sixty (per Wikipedia).
This report will be in three parts: an accuracy/nomenclature preface; notes on what was said at the panel; and follow-up thoughts.
Also, the rest of the panel was interesting and useful as well, and I hope it doesn't get overshadowed.
ETA 6/2/11: Mary Doria Russell has commented via a friend and apologized.
Chad just asked me what I thought about "Paper Tigers," by Wesley Yang, in New York Magazine, which is subtitled "What happens to all the Asian-American overachievers when the test-taking ends?" and has apparently been much-linked lately. (I've been really busy.)
Having read it, well, see the subject line, but here are a couple of responses that I found useful that I dug out of a conversation elsewhere I'd previously skipped for time:
- "A Response to Wesley Yang's 'Paper Tigers,'" by Nina Shen Rastogi at Slate;
- "'Tigers' of Many Stripes: An Open Letter to Wesley Yang," by Sylvie Kim at Hyphen.
Morning ETA: upon due reflection, I think my reaction can be summarized thusly:
Racism is an institutional structure of oppression. Yang has documented one facet of that structure—a quite narrow one, as the links above discuss, but a real one. Yet Yang's response appears to be, "how can we [*] join white guys at the top of the structure," rather than, "how can we dismantle the structure"?
And that is the wrong question.
[*] Where "we" = "heterosexual males of Asian descent in America."
So one of the things I want to talk about at the WisCon "Fanfic 401" panel is marginalization of non-white characters; my principal recent example is Yusuf and Saito from Inception. [*]
And that reminds me of my response to Hawaii Five-0, specifically the fannish reaction that I've seen. I have not seen a single episode of this, though I have heard the occasional thing that makes it sound like I might like it. But, here's the thing, the principal cast consists of four people, as shown in this ridiculous promo image:
I see some fannish activity about this show from people who I keep an eye on for their fic in other fandoms. I will give you three guesses as to which two characters I see 99.95% of the energy focused on; the first two don't count.
And maybe that's not a reflection on the show (remember, haven't seen it). Maybe I'm getting a skewed view of the fandom from the random bits I happen to see. But I truly cannot motivate myself to watch this show where every goddamn reference to it makes me say to myself, "Seriously, fandom? Four team members and you pick the two white guys again?!"
(And, I admit, this isn't helped by one of them being Scott Caan (far right), because, seriously?)
Before commenting, please note: as the title says, I am ranting. If you can honestly tell me that the fandom isn't actually all about the white guys (hell, I won't even demand 50%, just a sizable chunk), go ahead and show your work. But I really don't want to hear explanations, justifications, or defenses. You, personally, reading this? Your reasons for being interested in one character/relationship more than another are your own, they're for you to be happy with or not, and I'm not going to give you a gold star or the Magical Minority Fairy seal of approval or whatever, so please keep them to yourself. I'm talking about my own reaction to the apparent aggregate fannish reaction, which is: very tired.
[*] Sadly Sherlock has only one non-white character in its principal cast, and she is not only nasty but gets slut-shamed (well done, show!), so I cannot justly blame her marginalization in fic on fandom alone. (Note, however, that I have not seen that many fics attempting to reclaim her character.) Leverage fandom, at least back when I read it, might be a little bit better about this—Hardison being a geek helps—though I continue to look very side-eyed at the prevalence of Eliot/Nate in this regard. Of course my principal comparison, as the main post suggests, is SGA . . . and that is a topic that will not fit in the bounds of this footnote.
And I'm not going to read Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, but rushthatspeaks's review of Jasmine and Stars: Reading More Than Lolita In Tehran, by Fatemeh Keshavarz, was nevertheless very valuable for giving me a term I needed in my life:
This short but incisive book is a critique of what Keshavarz calls the New Orientalism, as exemplified by Reading Lolita in Tehran: a set of narratives, purporting to be factual, by people who at least theoretically have inside knowledge of a culture due to upbringing or heredity, which use this insider status to reinscribe a stereotypical and two-dimensional view of the culture in question.
Yes, that. Go read it.
In fact, she neither must be nor is.
2. Person upon being introduced to me: look of recognition followed by, "you have a stuffed Appa."
Which is not what I was expecting, but is pretty awesome all the same.
And now, bed.
popelizbet is organizing a Characters of Color in Science Fiction & Fantasy Faceoff, starting at con_or_bust and concluding at WisCon's Gathering. It's a bracket challenge like Suduvu's Cage Match or chickfight, except not Death Matches!!!, just a friendly opportunity to showcase some awesome characters and make silly arguments about who's better.
You can nominate people for the eventual bracket now. I'm already enjoying this and think it's going to be a lot of fun. (And as the icon suggests, one of my nominations was Wendy Watson from The Middleman.)
How to Discuss Race and Racism Without Acting Like a Complete Jerk, based on my Boskone talk this year, is now up at fight_derailing.
(I was going to do more link-wrangling for boskone tonight, but it's late. Tomorrow.)
Many awesome things being auctioned at con_or_bust, including a guest post on my LotR re-read, a signed copy of Chad's book, numerous things highlighted at my Tor.com post from earlier this week, and—and and and—an ARC of CryoBurn, the next Vorkosigan book by Lois McMaster Bujold (to be shipped when available).
In one short links dump:
- When Will White People Stop Making Movies Like "Avatar"? - Analysis - io9 :: "This is the essence of the white guilt fantasy, laid bare. It's not just a wish to be absolved of the crimes whites have committed against people of color; it's not just a wish to join the side of moral justice in battle. It's a wish to lead people of color from the inside rather than from the (oppressive, white) outside. // [ . . . ] // Whites need to stop remaking the white guilt story, which is a sneaky way of turning every story about people of color into a story about being white."
- thete1: "I know it's racist, Te, but the special effects look awesome!" :: "But if you *do* believe it's racist and you're spending money on it anyway... fuck you."
[*] The "what these blue people need is a honky" one, not the live-action version of the cartoon (which is actually titled The Last Airbender). I already said (probably) all I have to say about that.
skwidly has posted notes from my two explicitly-race-related panels at WorldCon, Writing the Other and Other Assumptions and Writing Racial and Ethnic Diversity in Geographic Terms (this would be the panel with L. Jagi Lamplighter that has resulted in an imbroglio).
Also, two of yesterday's link dump items are highly relevant and written by people who, I would bet money, have never heard of WorldCon. Fandom is a part of society, people.
- Notes From The Geek Show: An Open Letter to John C. Wright :: "You would do well to start with the premise that the head of the SyFy Channel's public commitment to not simply presenting more homosexuality but to presenting it as a non-issue *might* actually be born of a genuine belief that this is an ethical thing to do. // . . . we, the Elders of Sodom do have those opinions, trust me, and many within our ranks hold such opinions not because they are themselves homosexual, (we are open to all and sundry, welcoming even to the Brethren of Breeders,) but simply because they have a trait we refer to as "empathy." The ethics we hold to among the Elders of Sodom is, generally speaking, based primarily on this "empathy," and therefore rejects homophobia for the same reasons it rejects racism, misogyny, and all other forms of prejudice."
- yuki_onna: An Open Letter :: "I said I wouldn't try to change your minds. It's pointless. All I'm saying is that when given an opportunity to spend my $10 on a book by someone who hasn't personally insulted me and my friends, and someone who has? It's an easy choice. It's a predictable choice. And fortunately, not a one of you is making it any harder by writing such heartbreaking works of genius that I have to second guess that choice, even a little bit."
- We are respectable negroes: Is “Racism” dead?: An in-depth conversation with America’s most inflammatory and most misunderstood word :: "WARNNN: Divorcing you from structure seems to be at the heart of this flattening. // Racism: Exactly. They focus on individual attitudes—racially hostile attitudes—so as to limit the scope of racism to the hearts and minds of benighted souls. Not systematic discrimination in housing, the criminal justice system, education, employment. Not racism with any kind of heft or history to it, but just attitudes. That way, anyone can be racist and all racisms are equal. They can say, “Hey, racism is a 2-way street!” That’s their new favorite saying."
- stuff white people do: mistake non-white people for service workers :: "Derald Wing Sue, a psychologist, labels such incidents "racial microaggressions" (he adopted the term from an earlier psychiatrist, Chester M. Pierce). Sue defines these behaviors as "everyday insults, indignities and demeaning messages sent to people of color by well-intentioned white people who are unaware of the hidden messages being sent.""
- How to fix racial disparities in medical care. - By Darshak Sanghavi - Slate Magazine :: "Over and over, this theme recurs: Universal quality-improvement plans coupled with publicly reported measures are the best way to cut health disparities" between different races and classes.
- book_icons: For fellow fans of Kate Ross's Julian Kestrel mysteries!
More when I have time; something is horribly wrong with my computer.
L. Jagi Lamplighter just advised me that she has put up a post titled Revelation and Apology. I was literally shutting down for the night so don't have time to read and respond now, but it's there.
This is just a pointer so I'm disabling comments; if I have a substantive response I will make another post with comments on, or point to a comment there in the overall report I am halfway through.