The ever-delightful popelizbethas asked me to use my wide (*cough*) influence to help spread the word about con_or_bust,an LJ community started to help fans of colour to attend WisCon. The thought behind this? A little linkspamming to get you started:
kate_nepveuwrote a post about raising money to help people who are part of the Sci-Fi fan community, but tend to lack a voice in the S/F Con world because of financial issues. fight_derailingis the community she has started to talk about how discussion of race online in S/F communities and writers' blogs tend to get shut down before they get started (she also has some good links - the community is young, that's why we're getting the word out).
One of the things that a lot of the S/F community is starting (hopefully) to realize is that there are a lot of PoC who are really into this stuff, and are trying to get the word out that it isn't a default white fandom. This has resulted in some amazingly um... wrong statements by established writers resulting in the massive RaceFail of '09. The inestimable rydra_wonghas been compiling a fantastic database of links to all the issues, and the responses it has drawn from fans of all races.
Trouble is, to have a voice, you need a presence, and to have a presence, especially at cons, you need money. Hence, con_or_bust. You get a chance to sponsor someone who could not otherwise get to WisCon, who can add their voice to the discussion. Yes, there will always be people who can't afford to go who would like to go, but this isn't just "give us money so we can go!", it's about building a larger community of support for PoC fans who too often in the past have been given a pat on the head and a change of subject to get them to go away and stop asking pesky questions about why the SF community is so very, very white.
I've been following a lot of the issues, and the bit that makes me sickest is the idea that because PoC aren't constantly out there teaching white writers about how not to be racist, then being racist isn't the writer's fault. Writers do all sorts of research to write their books - to say no-one personally came to them about it is like saying you can't write about relativity because Einstein didn't come over to your place and personally instruct you on how it works. The intarwebs are full of delicious links - I feast on them all the time. Blogs (like sparkymonster 's) are in fact an awesome place to find out how people feel on a matter, because you know what? They ARE talking to you. These are people's personal feelings, and we get a front row seat. I am grateful beyond measure for the privilege.
Now - derailing - this is when someone in the discussion brings up "Well, I've experienced hurt, too!". This drives me nuts in any conversation, because it's massively rude. When the discussion is about someone else's issue, doing this is like having someone tell you they have a terminal disease, and replying "Oh! I know just how you feel! I stubbed my toe yesterday, and I really bruised it - it might even be broken, so I know exactly what you're going through!". As if that isn't bad enough, consider how your friend with the terminal illness would feel if when they said "well, actually, your problem isn't really in the same league", you yelled "How dare you tell me my stubbed toe isn't important! You have dismissed me, and so I think you're just full of it, and what's more, you're overreacting!". Awful. It's rude, don't do it. But derailing is remarkably effective when someone doesn't want to admit to their privileged status as the default colour (and if you doubt that, consider the fact that every race except Caucasian is described in books, because it has to be for people to picture the person as anything other than white), so it happens all. the. time. This leaves PoC in the online S/F communities feeling dismissed, and they are. They can talk about it among themselves (and create safe spaces to do so), but preaching to the choir isn't the point.
People don't want to admit they are the "ins" - you get more sympathy by being a victim (and boy, do I have reams of stuff to say about this). The world is full of people who try to excuse fucking up in anything by pulling out some sob story about their problems, and how you're not allowed to get mad at them because their life is so hard. However, owning one's mistakes allows one to learn and grow, and it is better to admit to a mistake and apologize than it is to try and weasel out of the consequences of a racist remark. Racism is still endemic, it's just gone underground. All of us are going to fuck up and say something without thinking, because that's what humans are like. The thing that makes a person racist rather than temporarily an asshole who just made a racist remark is that the racist then tries to weasel out of the consequences of that remark, whereas the person who had a moment of assholishness will sack up and say "Wow, you're right. I apologize, and I understand if this makes you feel differently about me". Then they make the effort to adjust their mindset.
Now - why do I support con_or_bust? Because it's much harder to dismiss someone in a face-to-face encounter, and while one person on her own may not be able to speak up comfortably, there is real strength in numbers. A support system and a way to help get opinions that have been shut down (or worse) on line out into the real meatspace world, where you have to look someone in the eye, not hide behind a screen to spew garbage at them.
Yes, lots of people are poor. But this isn't just about money - that's just the starting point. It's about people within the S/F fan community saying "you are welcome here". I can't say no to that.
Strictly voluntary, but I'd appreciate it if any of my readers choose to link and to spread the word. I really support this, but I'm cool if you don't. I have not turned off comments, because I'd appreciate it if people would ping me back if they do link. However, please don't smack me with comments arguing about why it's a bad idea, or how I've got it all wrong, because you're not going to change anyone's mind. Hit the back button, save your fingers, and go on with your day.