My second post ever at Mad Genius Club was going to be a gentle, “Hey, cool. I’m part of the club now!” kind of post, until I was directed to something called “Con or Bust”. Sponsored by former SFWA president John Scalzi and grandmaster Mike Resnick (there are others, but those are the only two I recognized at a glance), “Con or Bust began as a response to RaceFail ’09, when people of color expressed the desire to help each other attend WisCon (a prominent feminist SFF convention).”
Their words, not mine. I quoted that for context.
I actually had to look up the RaceFail ’09 incident, which led me to attendees at WisCon getting butthurt about there being a lack of diversity in SF as a whole and wanted more programming dedicated to race topics. Not race in science fiction or fantasy, from how I’m reading this. Just race. Not sure how many people would attend this sort of panel, honestly. This is on top of the recent developments regarding unnamed patrons of the art demanding that we rid ourselves of the binary gender in all SF novels because it offends them, has cause my own personal landmines to be triggered.
Up until it was pointed out to me (again by John Scalzi) that being born white automatically entitles you to have a better start in life, I had been blissfully unawares that white people are so much better than everyone else. I’d been unaware that white people were better at sports, were smarter, worked harder, and generally succeeded at everything because of their skin tone. Nothing was hard and everything came easy.
Congratulations, you win at life.
Damn. I want to be that kind of white.
You can deride the previous paragraph all you want, but the message of diversity is one of preferential treatment. You can’t have “equality” with “diversity”, because diversity means creating equality through artificial means. It’s as simple as that. The moment you force people to identify as a color or race, you’ve lost equality, because preferential treatment is exhibited in order to create your self-perceived diversity.
Think about it for a moment. Don’t just skim this and draw a conclusion that fits your preconceptions. Actually sit down and think.
Okay, now that you’ve calmed down and had a chance to think, tell me: who are your favorite authors, and why?
You’ve probably named a few from the MGC off the top of your head, or perhaps another author somewhere else. Why is that author your favorite? Is it because of their tightly-woven plot structure, their fast-paced action, their compelling character development?
Or does your favorite author focus on diversity and race in their novel? Do they push the envelope with the GLBT theme? Is the primary focus of the story about society’s flaws in gender equality?
Odds are, you typically don’t go out of your way to find a novel about race and diversity. If it’s in the story, that’s fine, but you bought the book of the author because of the story. I recently read (okay, two years ago, but it was just that good of a book) a book written by Maurice Broaddus called “King Maker” which featured a cast of purely “people of color”. Did he beat me over the head with it? Not really, because his take on King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table in the urban fantasy element was so cool that I barely noticed. Should people buy it purely because it has “people of color” in it? Nope. They should buy it because it’s a good book, plain and simple.
Besides, when you get down to it, the book had a decided lack of diversity. It featured three Asian people, one old white guy, and the rest of the characters (including the main) being black. Did it matter? No, because again, I didn’t notice until I read the book a second time (for the review I was writing).
When I look at “diversity” in the SF/F arena, I see a bunch of faceless names. I have no idea who is what, or what their sex is, or what sex they prefer, or even if they enjoy being a sex (that’s a lot of sex in one sentence, by the way… awkward). I want a well-written, exciting book, not something being pushed because of the personal tragedies the writer was forced to endure as a nongendernormative individual in a world of gendernormative fascists (or something… I kinda lost my train of thought trying to type that word out), or the compelling struggle of some guy because his skin tone of .2 shades darker than mine.
That’s racism, by the way. Pure and simple, though it is thinly disguised as “equality”.
It is, really. Oh sure, you can quibble all you want about the actual definition of the word, but when you push someone’s race as the selling point of anything (instead of substance or quality of work), that’s racism.
Back to the “Con or Bust” people…
In the 1970’s, legend has it (I wasn’t born yet) that there were very few women actually attending SF cons. So cons, instead of implementing group-think and demanding equality through subversive means, decided to figure out a way to draw women to cons and have them spend their hard-earned dollars on… stuff (hey, I just buy t-shirts at cons. Some people buy swords and countries. It’s a free market and I don’t know what people buy at cons is what I’m trying to say). The problem fixed itself, and now it seems that women outnumber men at conventions.
The problem can fix itself, if given the proper room to breathe. Forming a committee to help the “noble savage” see just how good the other side lives is not the way to do it.
I oftentimes wonder if people look in the mirror and say “It’s not okay that you’re white. You have friends who are not, and you even have gay friends as well. The fact that you’re born white is bad, and in order to change, you must hate all that is white, because white is racist.”
Dear white people: you’re forgiven.
I know you never owned a slave (unwilling, that is… see, I have friends in– wait, never mind). I know most of you never insisted that there be two types of fountains for whites and colored. I believe you when you say that you’d never commit a hate crime, and that you’d never treat anyone else different because of the color of their skin. I believe you when you say that race is not a factor in your admissions process in colleges
So why the guilt? Why the urge to sabotage everything that people have worked hard for in the name of diversity? Why not simply take their name, sex and race from their admissions papers, applications or anything else, and judge with what is left over? That would encourage equality, would it not? But if you argue that this wouldn’t promote diversity, then true equality isn’t your goal at all.
It’s okay if you want to admit it. Equality, in its pure form, is a stone-cold bitch.
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Jason is a fellow author and Barfly. For more information about his books, check out his website. Also check out Shiny Book Reviews where he and Barb Caffrey offer up fair and honest reviews of newly published books.