From Geekdom to FreedomJanuary 18, 2010
NK Jemisin writes about the positive fallout of Racefail – that hashing through those discussions began change in the larger community of sci-fi and fantasy.
I mean, it’s impressive we’ve reached the point where we can have mainstream discussions about the White Savior Trope (mind you, it required magical blue people and not real Indians to spark that… hmm. Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, anyone?).
Or that an author might actually get the book cover to reflect the ethnicity of their character – when even literary greats like Ursula Le Guin haven’t been able to for decades upon decades. (Of course, the more money people see in your books, the more they’re eager to control it.)
When the average book sale (in the US, anyway) is 500 or so, maybe realizing that even a fraction of a subgroup (English speaking POC on LJ who heard about the rollcall and participated) is over 1000 potential readers, maybe that whole “assuming only one demographic matters” method isn’t the way to go anymore.
The sentiment I heard, over and over, during all these discussions was, “Why should we care about you people? PROVE that you are worth caring about!”
The ludicrous part of it all is that the onus should be the other way around- “What makes you so special, high and mighty, that you get to NOT care about the rest of the world?”
As much as I’d like to simply attribute the changes to the discussions getting through to people, I think there’s a second, more powerful force at hand. That during these discussions, there’s been a lot of networking among POC – developing groups, organizing, and even publishing houses.
The changes aren’t about a post-racial enlightenment- the changes are that publishing companies, writers, editors, are realizing they’re no longer competing against others just like them, but folks who have a clue, in fact, are light years ahead on this. That screaming, “If you don’t like it, why don’t you leave?!? Go make your own!” was a great way to force others to organize and simply build alternate channels.
The changes we’re seeing, are concessions in the light that, yes, there is a market, and yes, they will leave, just like you asked, and go take their money (which is just as green as the white man’s) elsewhere.
Whereas many of the Failers fear that there’s some kind of boycott at hand, it’s actually much simpler than that – we’re networking and sharing lists of books and authors to support – great stories, great writers, and just don’t have the time or money to waste on second-rate stories, from folks who said they didn’t care about us anyway.
It’s 2010. See you in the future.