wood cat

Major expansion of con_or_bust

I am incredibly pleased to announce a major expansion of Con or Bust: after this year's WisCon, Con or Bust will provide assistance to people of color to attend the SFF cons of their choice, rather than only WisCon or other cons selected by Con or Bust. For more information, please see this post at con_or_bust.

This year's auction ends Sunday, March 6, 2011, at 11:59 p.m. EST (GMT -5). There's instructions on how to offer items for auction (not too late by a long shot!), browse, bid, donate, and request assistance in the linked post. Please spread the word!

complex geographies

Elizabeth Moon's Fail: November Apex Success (Call for Submissions)

Many of you may be aware of e_moon60's recent racist, Islamophobic rant in which she indicated the depth of her contempt for Muslims and immigrants, among others, then deleted the over-500 comments taking her to task for her conduct. If not, you may want to avoid reading it while you're eating, to say the least.

Many people have been eloquent in response about their own experiences with attitudes like Moon's: karnythia has a good list here, Spontaneous Derivation has a linkspam here.

Discussion is ongoing about how the community is going to handle Moon's status as GOH at Wiscon. I am scouting around for what the best spot is for Wiscon people to discuss the response centrally and will update this post once I know where is best to have it (although of course feel free to discuss in comments.)


In response to this situation, catvalente, the editor at Apex, has made the following announcement:

I would like to announce that the November issue of Apex will be an entirely Arabic/Muslim issue. It will be beautiful. It will showcase writers of Arab descent and Muslim writers. (I am aware that many folk not of Arab descent are Muslim, that's why I'm structuring it this way, so that writers from either culture or both can be part of the issue.) It will show how Islam is as much a part of the human experience as any other faith or story system that writers of the fantastic draw from. It will be a small thing, in the grand scheme. It will not save the world. But it will exist, and perhaps in its own way can stand beside the recent ugliness in the SFF world as something bright and good.

I am looking for material, but most especially poetry, from Muslim authors and authors of Arabic descent. Let's make it easy: if you think you might "count," then you do. Southeast Asian Muslims, yes. American Muslims, yes. Anybody with a connection to the cultures of Islam, yes. The subject of your works can be anything you like, but I am only looking for authors with connections to Islam and/or the Arabic world. Please do not send reprints, we have that covered.

I want to do what I can. This is a thing I can do. I believe it will be extraordinary.

(Emphases mine: the second link goes to Cat's clarification that all persons coming from predominately Muslim cultures are encouraged to submit.)

Please pass along this call for submissions to your f-list (preferably by linking directly to Cat's post, so that any questions can be directed to her) and directly to Arab and/or Muslim writers of your acquaintance who may wish to participate. Let's fight the derail and the hate with art.

(x-posting to my own LJ)
wood cat

Con or Bust's final days

Bidding on the auction at con_or_bust ends this Saturday, March 13, at 11:59 p.m. Eastern (which is before the DST changeover, in case anyone's wondering).

At present a dozen people have requested assistance (with a couple more interested if funds permit), and we're running about $300 short of the estimated need. So please spread the word! (This list of neglected auctions might be a good place to point out.)

(Crossposted various places, sorry for the duplication.)

wood cat

Requests for Assistance Still Being Taken at con_or_bust

Hi all—

The auction at con_or_bust is going very well, and there have been many new things added since bidding started, so please stop by and take a look if you haven't recently. Bidding closes next Saturday, March 13.

I want to remind everyone that fans of color may request assistance over at this post. I would also like to clear up a couple of potential misconceptions:

  • Con or Bust isn't a scholarship or an academic endeavor or anything like that. If you're worried that you don't have a doctorate or a published novel or an all-encompassing theory of the intersection between feminism and racism or a LiveJournal, please don't be. If you're a person of color, you want to go to WisCon, and you need assistance to do so, Con or Bust is for you, period.
  • People who have previously received assistance are not automatically precluded from receiving assistance again. If we ever have insufficient resources to help everyone, I imagine that previous assistance will be relevant, but I hope very much that this will not be a problem this year or in future years.

(I've edited the assistance post itself to include these clarifications.)

Please spread the word! Thanks again.

(Cross-posted various relevant places.)

wood cat

How to Discuss Race and Racism Without Acting Like a Complete Jerk

This essay is based on a talk I gave at Boskone 47 (2010) of the same title. It is a work in progress (last updated June 2011; see comments) and I welcome comments and critique, though I take final responsibility for all contents.

The intended audience is people who have not seriously and critically thought about race and racism before, or are just starting. It is split into two parts, steps to take and things to consider. It is fairly long—it took about thirty minutes for me to deliver live, and I've added a little here and there—but the steps are very short and simple.

First, an important disclaimer:

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The Steps

And now, here are the steps that I think will prevent the vast majority of complete jerkitude that I have witnessed in discussions of race and racism:

  1. Don't insult people in terms that you wouldn't use before your boss, your parent, your grown child, or the person whose good opinion you value most.
  2. Avoid the following very common red-flag statements:
    1. "I don't want to sound racist, but."

      If you find yourself wanting to say this, the odds approach certainty that what you are going to say is racist. Don't.

    2. "I'm not really sure what this is all about, but."

      If you find yourself wanting to say this, the odds are extremely high that you are about to say something unconsidered and, as a result, stupid. Ask yourself why you feel the need to speak about something you don't know about and why you can't inform yourself first.

    3. "Why can't you just enjoy (some work of art)? Why do you have to analyze it?" (Alternatively, and more broadly: "Why do you have to be so serious?")

      This boils down to a statement that other people shouldn't express their opinions, but that you get to express your own (by telling them what they should do). Don't.

      (See also Moff's Law, for an angrier and more thorough response to many such comments.)

  3. Link to ongoing discussions to provide context so your readers can judge for themselves.
  4. Don't lie.
  5. Don't delete evidence.
  6. Sit on your hands for several hours, preferably overnight, if you want to leap to the defense of someone or something.
  7. Don't, except in very rare circumstances, connect online happenings with someone's offline life (out a pseudonym, post home addresses and phone numbers, contact an employer, etc.). A possible guideline is that it should only be done to protect your safety or the safety of others, not to punish or as a debate tactic. In any event, it is an irrevocable step that demands thorough and calm consideration.
  8. Bonus: if you decide you were a complete jerk in the past, apologize. It's never too late, and it does matter.

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Those steps, I hope, are pretty simple.

The Things to Consider

The things to consider are somewhat more complicated. This should not be surprising because thinking and talking about racism is not only complicated but outright hard on a whole lot of levels. For an excellent explanation of why, I very emphatically recommend reading "Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?": And Other Conversations About Race, by Beverly Daniel Tatum. For Americans, I think this is the single best place to start your attempts to not act like a complete jerk when discussing race and racism. It is a general-audience book about the formation of racial identity, and it is clear, concise, compassionate, and illuminating.

(I suspect that much of this book is still valuable for non-Americans in "Western" society, but I would like to hear from any who have read it.)

For the rest, let me employ the handy list format again:

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I hope these steps and considerations help you as you try to avoid acting like a complete jerk in discussions of race and racism. There's lots of further reading out there: for online things, I recommend sparkymonster's resource lists at Scribd as a concise starting point and the copious links collected at ibarw's delicious account for breadth and depth. (ETA: in June 2011, after WisCon, I posted a set of panel reports on modes and methods of discussion, which may also be of interest: Vigorous Debate, or Verbal Harassment?; The Body Language of Online Interaction; FAIL!; general thoughts.)

wood cat

con_or_bust bidding starts this Wednesday!

Hi everyone—

It occurred to me that I was very remiss in not also announcing here that con_or_bust, the fundraiser to assist fans of color who want to attend SFF conventions, principally WisCon, is on again this year.

Bidding opens on the auction this Wednesday, February 24, 2010 (12:01 a.m. Eastern), and runs through Saturday, March 13, 2010 (11:59 p.m. Eastern). You can offer an auction item or service now, browse the offers, and find out how to bid for when bidding opens.

Or you can make a donation via the Carl Brandon Society with a PayPal account or credit card:

Requests for assistance can be made by commenting at this post or sending e-mail to knepveu at steelypips dot org.

Please check out the auction and spread the word!
wood cat

Tiptree-Brandon Bake Sale at Boskone

I will be running a bake sale at Boskone, a Boston-area SFF convention, on Saturday February 13th from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., just outside the con suite. Proceeds will be split between the James Tiptree, Jr. Literary Award Council and the Carl Brandon Society, which is now managing the financial end of Con or Bust.

If you are interested in supporting recognition of gender-exploring SFF and/or building further awareness of race and ethnicity in SFF, please consider bringing or sending something to be sold, spreading the word, or helping staff the table. Contact me through a comment here or at knepveu at steelypips dot org.

And watch this space for an announcement about this year's Con or Bust auction fundraiser!

(Thanks to the Tiptree Motherboard for permitting the traditional Tiptree bake sale to be repurposed.)

I like pi!

"The master has a black and decker" criticism?

EDIT: A good thirty seconds after making this post it occurred to me to search via delicious and I found a page about it. Oh well, consider this post a rec rather than a request :)

I'm having a discussion with another white feminist about appropriation of black feminist anti-racism by white feminists. I suck at explaining why cultural appropriation is bad so have various general essays to link to (eg Cultural Appropriation 101), but I remember reading an essay from the original Cultural Appropriation Imbroglio which deals with exactly the kind of thing we're talking about and I can't find it.

As I recall the post explained why a Wiscon panel about (white) feminism with a title like "The Master has a Black and Decker" was bad, but googling that phrase gets me pages about actual drills or people simply mentioning the title of the panel.

Does anyone have a link? I skimmed through what I think is the relevant linkspam but since I can't remember the title of the post got overwhelmed.

(nb I I'm not asking for people to explain why it's bad to me, since I think I understand that pretty well. But if I can find someone else explaining it better than I can I'd rather link to that than flail unconvincingly)
wood cat

Some links

Nominate for the 2008 Carl Brandon Society Awards until September 1 (not July 31 as it says on the webpage).

The Carl Brandon Society's Open Letter to the SF Community re: Ellison/Bradford Incident: "the Carl Brandon Society wishes to define some basic principles of discourse which were put into question as a result of this exchange. We hope community members will consider and respect these principles in future debates and disagreements."

Why My Protags Aren’t White | Justine Larbalestier: "It was the response of my readers that got me thinking hard about representation. Now those questions are foremost when I write."

Pop Mythology, Buying and Selling: A Report from the First Asian American Comic Con at Racialicious - the intersection of race and pop culture