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Fighting the Derail Since March 2009
 
27th-Jul-2009 07:54 pm - Con or Bust's future!
wood cat

I'm pleased to announce that Con or Bust, which helped nine fans of color go to WisCon this year, will continue thanks to the Carl Brandon Society, which has agreed to take over the financial management of the fund, that is, hold the money.

What does this mean for Con or Bust's future? A few things:

  • This year's excess money will be rolled over to help fans of color in the future.
  • As a project of a formally-established not-for-profit organization, I hope it will be easier for Con or Bust to become a strong, stable, useful resource.
  • Since the CBS is a 501(c)(3) organization, contributions to it are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law.
  • And on a personal note, not having to administer the funds myself will make my life a lot easier.

Yes, I will still be coordinating Con or Bust, and we'll run an LJ auction again during the run-up to WisCon—earlier, this time, since it won't be a last-minute project. I'd also really like other fundraising suggestions, as this is not a strong point of mine. What can we do either as a community or individually to raise funds?

Here are a few general areas that seem possible to me.

  • T-shirts and other gear. Would require (1) advice on services (is CafePress still the default?) and (2) and a design or designs, which I am so not qualified to do.
  • DIY at-con fundraisers, something like the Tiptree bake sales only not, at least for cons that already have a regular bake sale. I've never run a Tiptree bake sale—I hope to next year at Boskone, which doesn't have one already, and see if the Tiptree folks are okay with my making it a combined Tiptree/Brandon sale—but from the outside they seem easily run by pretty much anyone. What else might have a reasonable level of practicality and usefulness?
  • [Thing]-a-thons, along the lines of Clarion West's Write-a-Thon (which at least one participant was participating in to raise money for both Clarion West & the Carl Brandon Society). This could be done by individuals, but would probably be more effective in getting attention if done as a group.

What else can we do?

Finally, a couple of people have asked me if Con or Bust will be helping send fans of color to cons other than WisCon. We're open to the idea, depending on the con; please contact me at knepveu at steelypips dot org with "Con or Bust" in the subject to discuss it.

Crossposted to con_or_bust.

23rd-Jun-2009 09:40 pm - American Indian-related links
wood cat

The blog American Indians in Children's Literature examines Patricia Wrede's thinking as she wrote THE THIRTEENTH CHILD (a.k.a. the book behind MammothFail), and carefully dissects the unconscious racism revealed therein. Via jonquil.

Oyate is "a Native organization working to see that our lives and histories are portrayed honestly, and so that all people will know our stories belong to us," and has a ton of useful information on its website. They are currently raising money toward a matching grant to revamp their website, and any donation will help. Learn more at the above link or go straight to Network for Good to donate.

(Also, I have done a long-overdue tag update. I will try to be better about that in the future. I confess to not being the best tagger, organizationally speaking, so suggestions are welcome.)

existentialism
I've been pondering what does and doesn't count as a derail, which seemed a like a valid thing to ask this community about.

I think it's relatively easy to judge a derail if it's on someone else's post or community. But what about posts to our own journals?

I wrote a long rambly post about it but in short to try and express it better: if there's a particular conversation about race happening in our online circle(*), should we try and avoid slipping into a tangential discussion which is very similar but not about race? If you get inspired by a race discussion to make a similar post not about race should you save it until later so as to avoid derailing that particular discussion? Is making that sort of post worse than making a totally unrelated post not about race?
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9th-Jun-2009 09:58 pm - WisCon Assistance Fund final report
wood cat

I'm closing the books on the WisCon Assistance Fund for the year [*], and here's the final report:

We raised $5,898.14; sent nine fans of color to WisCon on $4,294.26 and four transferred memberships; and are donating $1,603.88 to the Carl Brandon Society. (You can see full details at the spreadsheet, as always.)

On one level, nine people's not a lot; but on another, since WisCon is only 1,000 total and since I saw several comments that there were noticeably more fans of color present, I think it's reasonable to say we made a difference.

I do not yet have anything definite how the fund will be run in the future, but one way or another, we'll do this again next year. Meanwhile, I want to thank popelizbet for all her help with the auction; Deb Stone of the WisCon concomm for taking most of the PayPal credit card payments and donating the transaction fees; the WisCon 33 co-chairs, Debbie Notkin and Jim Hudson, for help with the membership transfers; and all of you who donated, offered up auction items, and spread the word. Thanks.

[*] I have received payment from all of the auction winners but one, and have heard from that one and know that payment is on the way. If either winners or offerors have issues with the auction, please feel free to contact me, either by LJ message or e-mail, and I'll see if I can help work things out.

Crossposted to con_or_bust.

(P.S.: I have belatedly updated the OT post on Judge Sonia Sotomayor with additional links.)

wood cat

K. Tempest Bradford is participating in the 2009 Clarion West Write-A-Thon, with half her pledges going to support The Octavia E. Butler Memorial Scholarship Fund, which enables writers of color to attend one of the Clarion writing workshops. Sponsor her by pledging for each week she meets her writing goals and be eligible to win fabulous prizes!

scales of justice

This is OT from SFF discussions, but I hope you'll forgive me the indulgence since it's one of my areas of interest.

Here are some starting points for fighting the continuing racist derail of the nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court of Judge Sonia Sotomayor:

  • SCOTUSblog has more in-depth analysis than you can shake a stick at, but particularly of interest to a general audience are two posts about her judicial decisions involving race. The first discusses the derail (though it doesn't call it that) and says,

    It seems to me that there is an infinitely simpler and more accurate way of figuring out whether Judge Sotomayor decides cases involving race fairly and dispassionately - read her decisions. So I did: I am in the midst of reviewing every single race-related case on which she sat on the Second Circuit.

    The second post describes the results:

    In sum, in an eleven-year career on the Second Circuit, Judge Sotomayor has participated in roughly 100 panel decisions involving questions of race and has disagreed with her colleagues in those cases (a fair measure of whether she is an outlier) a total of 4 times. Only one case (Gant) in that entire eleven years actually involved the question whether race discrimination may have occurred. (In another case (Pappas) she dissented to favor a white bigot.) She participated in two other panels rejecting district court rulings agreeing with race-based jury-selection claims. Given that record, it seems absurd to say that Judge Sotomayor allows race to infect her decisionmaking.

  • Slate points out why Judge Sotomayor was talking about race in the first place:

    unlike their "nonethnic" counterparts, such "minority role models" are regularly asked to put on the public record—at lunches, award ceremonies, community events—lengthy statements of their views on America's most explosive topic: race.

  • The New York Times discusses the very different ways race has shaped the outlooks of Judge Sotomayor and U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.
  • ETA: General discussion of Judge Sotomayor's judicial record: A short accessible New York Times article on civil (in the non-criminal sense) and business cases, Sotomayor’s Appellate Opinions Are Unpredictable, Lawyers and Scholars Say, and a long (88 pages) PDF report from the ACLU, with helpful summary introduction and table of contents, on her civil liberties and civil rights record (including criminal law): ACLU PDF report.
  • ETA 2: The research on how gender influences judging, at Slate.
  • ETA 3: comprehensive list of substantive reports at SCOTUSblog.

Nb.: as my office regularly appears before both the court Judge Sotomayor currently sits on and the court she has been nominated to, I do not express any views on the merits of her nomination.

29th-May-2009 12:30 pm - Rudeness at Wiscon
medusa
karnythia and thewayoftheid and no doubt some other folks are posting about some bad experiences at Wiscon; in particular feeling like they and other POC were in a zoo, with white people coming up and looking at them and not saying anything, and in some cases even going and fetching more white people to come and look at them.  At the Verb Noire party, there were white people coming in and hanging out who didn't talk to their hostesses.  On the flip side of that, a lot of people who go to cons regularly have never thought to introduce themselves to the host of a room party, and some of them don't talk to strangers, period, unless the stranger starts the conversation, and sometimes not even then.

Fandom has a long tradition of wecoming people with poor social skills, and stuff that's considered bad manners in many places seems to be normal at cons.   This year at Wiscon there were a lot more fans of color than in previous years, from what everyone is saying, and many people who were new to cons were there, and some of them are kind of stunned at the rudeness they encountered.

So it seems to me that there are a few things in play, that need to be really picked apart and reconfigured in order for fans of color to have a good time at future cons, and white fans to learn how to behave in a diverse environment.

1. There are a lot of racially prejudiced white people in fandom, as in the world at large, and a lot of people who are prepared to accept them or give them equal time to share their views.  On top of that, SFF fan culture, as it currently exists, is a lot more comfortable for white people than for people of color.  This means that responses to challenges that are based on "but it's always been that way!" or "but you're challenging our precious way of life" are not helpful.  Preserving the status quo can't be the goal.

2. There are cultural differences in manners between ethnic & social groups.  White people in the US have very informal (aka "bad") manners compared to a lot of POC in the US, in my experience, and I've encountered surprising differences in manners between me and my friends from other countries, usually with the non-US person having better manners, but occasionally not.  Stuff like party invitations, RSVP's, thank-you notes, bringing a dish to share when you go to someone's house, introducing a new person to everyone in the room, giving a compliment when you greet someone, children using titles instead of first names when addressing adults, elders preceding younger folk through a door--all of that will seem like just basic decency to one person, and will seem like stuffy overformality to another, and race & culture absolutely have a lot to do with it.  Not to put too fine a point on it, a lot of white people have atrocious manners, and treat each other like crap, and get away with it because of the culture valuing informality & "being yourself."  People who haven't encountered this are going to take it personally, when it's often not personal, but just saying "don't take it personally" isn't helpful.  White people can afford to overlook disrespectful treatment more, because we encounter it a LOT less than POC do.

[ETA: 3:  upon rereading, I discover that I cannot count. There is no 3. Oops.]

4. At the same time, SFF fan culture has been a safe space for a lot of people who are serious social misfits. SFF is, by its nature, escapist, which means it appeals to people who are struggling in their lives or are uncomfortable in society or have damage of one kind or another;  Criticizing people for lacking social skills doesn't seem productive to me, given that it's impossible to know how hard it is for another person to deal with social interaction, or what their training is in formal manners, or what their neurological and psychological challenges might be. Maybe having "Social Skills 101" would help, or even just talking publicly about social skills on the level we talk about other faily things might make a difference.  Handing out a "con ettiquette guide" to attendees?  Buttons that say "shy" or "not shy," "awkward," etc?

5. Social skills might be cultural, too?  I know some parents who react to shyness by protecting the child from interaction, and others who react by coaching the child to interact more, "get out there and play," etc.  I'm trying to think if this is something I see broken down in terms of race or social group.  I know a fair number of Irish-American families that don't like kids to hang out in their rooms alone; they're supposed to be out in the common areas socializing or doing chores if they're not sleeping.  Many non-Irish white folks I know think that's intrusive and overly bossy.  So this is one of those areas where trying to change how people do things is challenging; but not impossible, I hope?

Anyway, I guess what I'm thinking is that maybe we can talk about this manners/ social skills/ racism mix over here in fight_derailing, (in addition to the conversations already happening, not instead of) and start to show how having poor manners and social skills can be really harmful, when you're trying to socialize in a diverse group.  But also find a way to be accepting of the different levels of social ability in fandom, ***where that is all that is going on***,  while putting a stop to racially prejudiced bullshit behavior that's being accepted under the umbrella of geekhood.  And find a way to figure out which is which.

What do you think? 

[June 2 ETA: Because this post is likely to get a lot of fresh traffic after coffeeandink's very cogent post, I just want to re-emphasise point #1 up above. There are a lot of racially prejudiced white people in fandom, as in the world at large, and a lot of people who are prepared to accept them or give them equal time to share their views.  [...]  Preserving the status quo can't be the goal. I put that point as #1 because I believe it's the heart of the problem. ]
16th-May-2009 06:38 pm - update on foc_u
wood cat

Please be advised that the organizer of foc_u, neo_prodigy, has made posts that include insults based on sex, gender, size, and ability, or applauded people for making such insults, described by Naraht at Dreamwidth and further linked by nihilistic_kid.

As far as I am aware, neo_prodigy has not addressed this behavior publicly recently, though at least one person reports having written to him about it.

As many people found such behavior problematic in the prior iteration of RaceFail '09, I felt it necessary to advise people of its existence, so that they could decide for themselves whether they wish to participate in the the May 18, 2009 protest and/or the foc_u community, perhaps because they feel they are sufficiently separable from their originator, or for some other reason.

Edited to add something from comments, which I should have said explicitly, as I have seen the issue raised now in several places:

I did consider whether this was a derail, but I decided that it was relevant because (a) the comm was explicitly offered as a safe space [*], and (b) I don't believe that confronting racism means that I must ignore other forms of improper discrimination (as opposed to OMG won't someone think of the rich white men).

[*] Userinfo: "It is also intended to be a safe space for POCs/non-whites and white allies to discuss issues of race, gender, orientation and how they affect speculative fiction." My emphasis.

wood cat

neo_prodigy announces a day of protest over at the new foc_u:

On Monday May 18, 2009, we are asking anyone who identifies as a POC/non-white to post this banner [under the cut here], 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.

The foc_u comm has also 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."

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