Fen Of Color United

fen-of-color-united

So, Neo_Prodigy over at Live Journal has hatched a plan for a protest of all the Fail that has been Race in Sci-Fi discussions lately. I think his idea is genius. What is it?

As RaceFail 09 continues, it has become clear that there are those who are hellbent on marginalizing and silencing people of color. In the past few months, minorities have been denigrated by bigoted authors and publishers who have also asserted that Fen of Color are rare and pratically non-existent. Despite numerous discussions and attempts to enlighten on the fact that POCs are fans, writers, artists and just as integral to this genre as our white counterparts, we are continuously dismissed.

On Monday May 18, 2009, we are asking anyone who identifies as a POC/non-white to post this banner, their speculative short stories, artwork, poetry or simply write a post on their favorite fandom on their blogs as an act of protest to show we will not be silent or invisible. The day of protest is entitled Fen Of Color United or more aptly, FOC_U.

White allies can also show solidarity for this event by posting this banner and expressing the need for diversity and speaking out against the bigotry in the genre, through posts and/or their creative work as well.

In addition, a new community entitled FOC_U has been created. It’s designed to be a safespace for POCs/non-whites and white allies to discuss the issues pertaining to RaceFail and a place to counteract its destructive effects. And it’s also a fun place for everyone to also discuss their favorite fandoms. While memberships and posts are under moderation for the time being (until the community gets more established and input is welcomed), everyone is encouraged to join and make this a home.

You can help out by spreading the word and reposting this banner on your personal blog or creating one of your own if you’d like.

The gauntlet’s been thrown and I for one think it’s past time for us to take a stand and let our voices be heard, whether some people want to hear them or not.

The banner and the community can be found here but it’s not an LJ-specific protest. So, feel free if you blog elsewhere to post your art, your words, or just to spread the word. I’ll be participating at my LJ (and I’ll

This entry posted in Syndicated feeds. Bookmark the permalink. 

11 Responses to Fen Of Color United

  1. 1
    Jeannette says:

    And you’ll… What? What will you do? I must know!

    Oh, and I try to be an ally, so I’ll be posting this.

  2. 2
    Karnythia says:

    That was supposed to be me saying that I’ll be participating. Comcast blinked and I didn’t realize that part of my post got lost.

  3. 3
    RonF says:

    Despite numerous discussions and attempts to enlighten on the fact that POCs are fans, writers, artists and just as integral to this genre as our white counterparts, we are continuously dismissed.

    Would you say that they are under-represented, propotional, or overrepresented compared to the population at large? I’m not looking to make or argue a political point here, I’m just curious.

  4. 4
    nojojojo says:

    RonF,

    It’s difficult to say, because no one knows how many science fiction/fantasy fans there are, period. The field kind of sucks on studying itself. Even the publishers don’t seem to collect demographic data about their target market, possibly for reasons of cost.

    The view from within the community has been that PoC are heavily underrepresented because they don’t generally attend SF cons*, and because there are almost none of them at the producer level — only a dozen or so PoC writers (out of, say, the 1500 members of SFWA, the only demographic measure that exists… but not all writers are members of SFWA), virtually no PoC editors (I think only one in the field, out of several dozen), no PoC publishers, publicists, agents, etc. As a possible result of this, we also see little representation among the characters in SF fiction — nearly all SF characters are white, and very few stories are set in cultures other than Europe, America, or future/fantasy versions thereof. Those depictions of PoC characters and cultures that exist are often problematic — stereotypical, appropriative, or tending to erase the PoC even when they should be present. (e.g., There have now been several “alternate history” depictions of European settlers colonizing the Americas to find not Indians, but animals, monsters, or subhumans there instead.)

    However, a recent roll call that fans struck up on LiveJournal has revealed much more representation at the fan/consumer level than has been assumed — nearly 1000 have identified themselves so far, and this is just from among the subset of LJ users over the course of a few days. (Again, we don’t know the size of the overall SF community, on LJ or elsewhere. I’d guesstimate two or three thousand, but that’s completely pulled out of my ass.)

    Still, given that most SF writers/editors/publishers have been making assumptions that no PoC are reading this genre — and making marketing or content decisions accordingly — it suggests their perceptions are skewed far from reality.

    *PoC fans tend not to attend SF cons because of cost (Worldcon, the “main” con for English-language SF, is almost $200, not counting the hotel, airfare, etc.) and because the SF community is widely perceived to be unwelcoming to anything but white men of a paricular demographic subset (middle-class or upper-class, straight, cisgendered, etc).

  5. 5
    Mandolin says:

    “There have now been several “alternate history” depictions of European settlers colonizing the Americas to find not Indians, but animals, monsters, or subhumans there instead.”

    I missed these… I… wow.

  6. 6
    chingona says:

    Mandolin beat me to it. I mean, it’s not surprising that I would miss them because I don’t read a ton of sci fi or fantasy, mostly just stuff that gets recommended to me by friends, but … that someone could come up with that, not immediately see how fucked up that is, that editors and publishers would not see how fucked up that is, just … yikes.

  7. 7
    Dee says:

    I’m sorry, but are they on crack? Most of the black people I knew growing up in the Detroit area watched Star Trek, at the very least. I’ve always thought that, as a group, black people were more into SF than average. Octavia Butler and Nalo Hopkinson = on my short list of favorite authors; some of the best science fiction to be found, IMHO.

    Of course, women are supposedly a tiny, negligible minority of fans, too, and I think that’s probably bullshit as well.

  8. 8
    nojojojo says:

    Mandolin, chingonga,

    Ahhh, I see you both haven’t heard about the latest iteration of RaceFail 2009: MammothFail. Start here. Don’t worry, it’s not massive.

  9. 9
    Mandolin says:

    Ahhh, I see you both haven’t heard about the latest iteration of RaceFail 2009: MammothFail.

    Whimper. My productivity goes up when I don’t think about bigotry in the community.

  10. 10
    RonF says:

    Thanks, nojojo. I would suggest that SF fandom seems to me (I have no demographics on this) to be drawn from people well-educated in science and engineering, and I wonder how much of the underrepresentation in the SF fandom might be due to poor educational opportunities.

  11. 11
    nojojojo says:

    Ron F,

    I don’t think that’s the case for the majority of SF — which, remember, means speculative fiction, not just science fiction but fantasy and horror as well. Hard SF fandom is probably heavily science and engineering-focused, yes, and these fields are PoC-underrepresented (though I think that’s perception, not reality these days — most science in the US is now dominated by foreign nationals, particularly from China and India). But that doesn’t account for the dearth of PoC in areas like myth-based epic fantasy. PoC certainly have their own myths and epic traditions to draw upon — but whether they’d ever be able to get those epics published in a field which views their stories as uninteresting and unnecessary, I don’t know. Underrepresentation is only part of the problem.