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linkspam for Fans of Colour support!

Just a quickie - I may have another post later. Go read this:


And on Monday, May 18th, whether you're a Fan of Colour, or a supporter, please consider posting the banner from that post in your journal to show solidarity with FoC (and check out the  foc_uLJ community!).

For more on why people (me too!) feel this is neccessary, read neo-prodigy's excellent breakdown of MammothFail '09. 

I really don't understand people who don't see a problem with erasing an entire race of people so that the writer can say:

"The *plan* is for it to be a "settling the frontier" book, only without Indians (because I really hate both the older Indians-as-savages viewpoint that was common in that sort of book, *and* the modern Indians-as-gentle-ecologists viewpoint that seems to be so popular lately, and this seems the best way of eliminating the problem, plus it'll let me play with all sorts of cool megafauna)."

"eliminating the PROBLEM"?!  WTF?!!!!! I mean really - the best way to solve all those "icky" genocide/racism issues is to simply make Native Americans NOT EXIST?  !!!eleventy!!!!

...but worse, to have another writer, in response to the reasonable protests at PoC being made invisible in a superlatively casual way,  basically say "there weren't any Fans of Colour before the internet, because I didn't see any" is fail on such a massive level that I actually banged my head against the keyboard.  I have QWERTY-face because of these people.

Thanks for listening (and reading!  No, go on, read the links!).


( 63 brains — Leave a chunk of brain! )
May. 15th, 2009 02:27 pm (UTC)
Lately, I've been reading Kathy Reich's Temperance Brennan novels. Good stuff if you like mysteries with a CSI kinda edge.

The reason I am commenting is because Reichs does this interesting thing. She'll introduce a character and you'll get to know them in context. And then she'll say something like "the mocha colour of her forearms" and you'll realise she's talking about an Africa-American. (For your edification, she uses similar phrasing -- but different colour words -- for Caucasians in her descriptions.)

My point is that she doesn't make a big deal about people of colour. In my opinion, we are all people of colour and Reich seems to have found a good away to express that.
May. 15th, 2009 04:34 pm (UTC)
oh yes yes! i just started these books too! i am really liking them but i had to try to tune out the part of my brain that kept saying "thats not how bones would do it!" cause i have been watching the show for years and although it is "based" on the books the only thing that is the same is that her name is tempe brennan and shes a forensic anthropologist. also i agree with your above stated thoughts about her descriptions of people.
May. 15th, 2009 02:48 pm (UTC)
One of my favorite sci fi series is David Weber's Honor Harrington. Queen Elizabeth, ruler of Manticore, is black. We know this not because the author makes a big deal out of it, but because her neice, our heroine's friend, is described as having skin that matches the space black of her uniform. He's so subtle about it that my ex-husband, who is a rabid fan, didn't catch on until maybe 8 books into the series. *sporfle*

And I've always loved Gene Roddenberry's vision of the future in Star Trek. Not just because he put both an african american woman and an asian on the bridge of the original USS Enterprise, but because in the series pilot, the XO was a woman (the late, great Majel Barrett Roddenberry was that original number one).

Edited at 2009-05-15 03:21 pm (UTC)
May. 15th, 2009 03:37 pm (UTC)
Ah. The trtouble with that is (and I just checked, since Bob has the books) that on the cover, Honor is painted entirely caucasian (with no African or Caribbean, or even non-white indicators, including skin colour. Even her eyes are a light hazel). Her features - nose, hair, lips, everything, identify her as white. While she may have a black neice, that doesn't infer that she, herself, is black, and the publishers have chosen to identify her as white through all the books, and the author has not corrected this impression on the cover, if he indeed, intended her to be black.

So no, I don't think she is, and for the purposes of readers looking at those covers, they will identify her as white. There is no indication at all that the author cnsiders her black, just her niece.
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May. 15th, 2009 03:13 pm (UTC)
...Bujold apparently didn't read LeGuin's books very closely, did she...
May. 15th, 2009 04:06 pm (UTC)
Hells, no. *eye roll* The Earthsea books were the first books I read where PoC were centered. Other books I read around that time were very big on race fail, one in particular that I remember, that made the tall, white, heroic wizard into a small *black-skinned* wizened creature as a punishment. Unbelieveable.
May. 15th, 2009 04:21 pm (UTC)
hi there! i am new to your blog and have commented a few times. i am really enjoying readding your thoughts on all sorts of different things i have to say :0) i have a few questions however:
1) what is qwerty face? it made me giggle and i dont even know what it is- like a smiley?
2) this post is about a book right? (yes i read the links and im still minorly confused) like..a fictional book? while i am a fan of every person white, black purple, or striped, as long as they are nice to me and my friends, this is a fictional story (if im reading it right). the author has the right to do whatever they want. its their book. just dont buy it or read it. i do agree that i wouldnt like a book that was missing a whole race of people just for ease but i dont know why all the froth about it. just dont give that author your money.

ok thanks for letting me voice my thoughts here. and im not trying to step on toes im just curious i suppose and looking for discussion and maybe some clarification. as i am not farmiliar wiht the authors mentioned. :0)
May. 15th, 2009 04:25 pm (UTC)
Trust me, I don't think it's possible to miss the point much harder than you just have.

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May. 15th, 2009 04:38 pm (UTC)
Okay. point one - QWERRT is the top six letters on a standard keyboard.

Point two is that no writer writes in a vacuum. They have the "right" to write whatever they want - it's a free country- but then critics have a right to criticize and point out why a writer's premise fails in some really horrible and racist ways. The way the author chose to address the "problem" (a wording so deeply insulting that it comes across like a sap on the face) of how to write Native American characters that did not come across like caricature was not to research, talk to, or read up on Native Americans, it was to pretend they didn't exist.

For a nation of people who have been robbed, murdered, relocated, and despised, who have had their burial grounds paved over and made into malls, who have had their children stolen from them and "re-educated" to be more "white", who deal daily with these issues, and their legacy of poverty, alcoholism, and disease, this book by a white author is saying "you were too much of a problem to handle, so I'm pretending you don't exist". For all people of colour, the tendency for white people to pretend they don't exist is a daily burden.

This book is racist, and refuses to acknowledge the painfully high price that Native Americans and African Slaves (two categories that encompass thousands of individual tribes, and many discrete African countries, but most white people don't even bother to educate themselves about that, preferring to think of them as one homogenous blob) paid to give white people a fantastic, rich, world power of a country that still to this day, doesn't treat People of Colour the same way as it treats its white citizens.

And the author wonders why people are pissed and consider her book racist? Liike I said, she can writewhat she wants. And we can protest how we want, and refuse to buy anything by that author.
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May. 15th, 2009 04:48 pm (UTC)
"the author has the right to do whatever they want."

And I, the putative reader, have the right to kvetch, complain, and even possibly condemn that which has been written. So long as I'm not calling for outright censorship, this is the point of having a 1st Amendment. The right to free speech is not a one-way path.

"i dont know why all the froth about it."

Let me boil it down for you -- when you are already a marginalize group in, say, America, even innocent acts that further marginalize do harm. Rather than continue to elaborate on something that's explained in the links on this piece well, I'll start you with this link:

Little House on the Osage Prairie

Since "The elevator pitch for Thirteenth Child would be 'Little House on the Prairie with mammoths and magic.'", I provide a link from a review of LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE from a member of the tribe who's land was squatted on by, among other people, Laura Ingalls Wilder’s family. It's important because it shows how the currently discussed writer, in removing First americans from her story in the fashion the links detail, continues a horrible tradition in American storytelling. It's a tradition that's helped Americans ignore and abandon our responsibilities to a group of people we tricked and killed to get the land we live on today.
This is why these critiques and criticisms are important -- they tell the story of people whose lives were, and are, affected by the real-life versions of the actions this fiction averts dealing with. I didn't know how bad it was, until this link above was provided in the comments on the review that started this. Knowing about this is another part of the grand tradition of Westerns. We all grew up with them, and the tales many Westerns tell about the "Injuns" are part and parcel of how we think about them today.

So no, it's the opposite -- it's critical that we talk about why the books offends, because otherwise? How would you know the full story of our past, and how the injustices of today came to be, and (perhaps most importantly) how they affect the lives of real people, today.

Fiction is not in a vacuum. All works deal with, and touch on, the lives of real people, in this real world. Great fiction touches your heart and soul, and it all reflects who we are, today. And that reflection can, and should, be critiqued and questions, esp. when it risks stacking another brick onto an already horrible situation.
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May. 15th, 2009 04:52 pm (UTC)
re: 2

The problem is that the author is writing a book in a historical setting and just tossing out history. If you look at her words (I'm summarizing) she says "Other people have either portrayed Native Americans as evil savages or as religious environmentalists. I don't like either, so I'm just writing them out of history!" The more mature course of action would be to find your own way to portray the people. Maybe as, you know, people from a different background. Do a little research on the tribes in the area you're writing about.

Wrede has written history before. She has these entertaining fantasy-regency novels, and she gets details like slang and clothing and transportation. But those were set in England. The message she's sending is that the history of all Americans isn't as important.
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May. 15th, 2009 05:49 pm (UTC)
So - since I am really not up on fandom *at all*, maybe someone can point me at some Sci-fi series starring PoC in positive roles? Pretty please?

(I keep getting thrown by the character Valya in Jack McDevitt's series; my brain keeps making this female starship pilot Black, but he's got her as a fair red-head!)
May. 15th, 2009 06:06 pm (UTC)
Ursula K. LeGuin's Earthsea books are a lovely place to start - her main character is a PoC.

Black Science Fiction Writers

and, of course, the Black SF writers Wikipedia entry, and the Writers of Colour Wikipedia entry.
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May. 22nd, 2009 04:40 pm (UTC)
Elizabeth Moon--both the Serrano books and the Vatta books are set in far-future universes where white is not the default (the Vatta books in particular--white people are relatively unusual). Heris Serrano is unspecified PoC (although consensus seems to be that she's black, and the names imply that the Serranos also had Latino somewhere in Earth-past), Esmay Suiza is from a Latino planet, and Kylara Vatta is (probably) from Turkish origins. Many of the secondary characters are also PoC, although Earth-origins aren't usually specified.

Heris is one of my favorite characters ever; she's not only a PoC and female, but also in her 40s and all-around an interesting character. Her relationship with her sometimes-employer, Lady Cecelia, is very interesting.
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May. 17th, 2009 04:06 am (UTC)
I find myself in the strange position of being offended about not only the existance genocide mindset of the author, but of the fact that I am just now identifying myself as a member of said authorly "extinct" race. How odd.
( 63 brains — Leave a chunk of brain! )

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