( Some personal background explaining the reasons behind this post )1. For those who are still asking, "What is RaceFail '09?"
the briefest answer I can manage is: what started as another instance of the discussion about misrepresentation/lack of representation of people of color in science fiction and fantasy has resulted in a particularly public and particularly ugly backlash from (often white) writers and readers.
For a timeline of specific events, please start with this summary by Avalon's Willow
. Further events occurred later, as described here
, who has also painstakingly collected all the RaceFail-related links she could find, under this tag
If you're ready for further detail, please see my LiveJournal memories for (what I consider) some of the important posts
And finally, please refer to this guide to the positive, productive actions taken by POC and allies
in the face of RaceFail. Not because
of. In the face of.
Read as much as you can. Learn as much as you can. If you take nothing else away from this, remember these two things: This is not "just another wankfest," because it's about race, racism, and representation - not individual personality clashes and this or that book. Also, this is not the first or only such conversation, even if it's the first time you've heard of one like this.2. One of the best responses to RaceFail has, by far, been the creation of Verb Noire,
an e-publishing company dedicated to written works by and about people of color and/or queer people. Please support them by donating
.3.I've posted this before, but remember:
if you are an Asian woman or an ally, please contribute to the first Asian Women Blog Carnival
. The deadline is tomorrow.4. This is not a new study (it was published in 2007), but it's highly relevant: Subtle Discrimination is More Taxing On The Brain
. Instances of ambiguous racism were more detrimental to black test subjects than obvious cases.
"Interestingly, white volunteers were more impaired by overt racism than by the more ambiguous discrimination. Salvatore and Shelton figure this is because whites rarely experience any racism; they do not even notice the subtle forms of racism, and are thrown off balance when they are hit over the head by overt acts. Many blacks, by contrast, have developed coping strategies for the most hateful kinds of racism; it's the constant, vague, just-below-the-surface acts of racism that impair performance, day in and day out."
This is why I'm more disturbed by expressions of privileged ignorance from people whom I have some trust in, rather than dude-on-the-street spouting a racial slur. This is why I care more about creative works that fail in race or other areas when they come from creators who should know better, based on their previous performance (Joss Whedon, I'm looking at you).5. This is not race-related, but it's important:
March 31st was End the R-word Day
, a day dedicated to ending the use of "retard"/"retarded" as a derogatory term.
I have succeeded in removing the word from my vocabulary, but I've utterly failed in speaking out to the people around me. There's no excuse for this. I wouldn't tolerate people using "cunt," "pussy," or "gay" as insults to me, so I can't tolerate "retard" used in the same manner.
I will start by resolving to respond to derogatory uses of "retard"/"retarded" by saying, "Please don't use 'retard'/'retarded' as an insult." That's all. It's just a start.