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Silence is Complicity
crazed
barthanderson
I haven't been engaged in the online genre writer and reader community's explosive arguments about race (aka Racefail) -- indeed, I haven't been hanging out on Livejournal or blogland very much at all in the last year -- but I've been catching up a little. And the whole, epic argument is dismaying to me because it's so loaded with ad hominem attacks, attacks on who people are (calling anyone a racist, true as it might seem in the moment, is not advised for tactical reasons -- link via jamiam ) and, in the return fire, attacks on chosen identities, exposing true names, names that are kept offline for apparently very good reasons. Identitiy is such a big part of this one, and that means it got quickly personal and ugly, and painful on all sides.

The other aspect of Racefail that's so upsetting is the notion that certain editors, who apparently feel attacked themselves, might be taking names of folks in the opposing camp and "remembering" them -- a clear implication that these writers and writers-to-be will be singled out of the slush and removed from consideration for publication. These editors have since said that was not what they meant to imply, but you know? The damage is done, and it's bullying, regardless of intent. And while pissing off editors in any venue (spilling drinks on them, vomiting on their shoes at conventions) is always grounds for "bad first impressions" which should typically be avoided all costs -- editors must be careful not to even suggest flaunting their power -- especially not in racially charged arguments.

Racefail is astonishingly wide in scope, encompassing names on all sides that are well known in our very small community. (For a very concise rundown on Racefail's unfolding, check out rydra_wong). It has sprawled and burned in such a wide expanse of acreage that those published writers and editors who're saying nothing seem to be cowed into silence by its scope. I totally get that. Via snurri , I read this honest and heart-baring post by nojojojo , and it makes me furious to think that writers of color feel they don't have a home in science fiction and fantasy (read the comments after her post -- it's not just nojojojo ), that they feel outnumbered and beaten. Who can stay quiet and say "It doesn't affect me," after reading that?

So if you're a person of color who has felt outcast and spurned in this argument, I want you to know that my silence has not been out of fear of reprisal. I'm reading up on Racefail now and I side with the people who've been outed, who feel marginalized and threatened in our own community of misfits who should know better than to marginalize and threaten each other.






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barthanderson
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