It’s Friday and I just realized I haven’t posted yet about various things. Over at the Book Blog, I’ve posted a short book discussion that Weng and I had about Kiini Ibura Salaam’s Ancient, Ancient. That discussion went up on Monday and on Wednesday, we published our author interview with Kiini. Do go check out the book blog if you haven’t yet and let us know what you think.
Aliette de Bodard has posted a must-read blogpost on Other Cultures and Diversity in SFF. Do take the time to read it.
Talking about diversity and the danger of dominant voices drowning out minority narrative, read also Gracie Jin’s article on Policymic where she writes about the One Thing White Writers get away with but Authors of Color Don’t.
My own thoughts on diversity in SFF are contained in last week’s Movements Column: On Escapist Literature and Being Dangerous.
On Black Gate, Foz Meadows’ Challenging the Classics: Questioning the Arbitrary Browsing Mechanism is another must-read.
On twitter, Lavie Tidhar tweeted: “It’s easy to make a hashtag about diversity, harder to actively encourage/support it.”
Speaking as a writer coming from a third-world nation, as a writer coming from a culture that has been so steeped in western influence, as a writer who knows what it’s like to have English valued above your native tongue, I can speak of the multiplicity of struggle.
We struggle against the impositions of language and we struggle against the impositions of western thought. We struggle to bring our stories into the world and we struggle to be heard. We have voices, but those voices are often drowned out by hegemony.
Our voices are often rendered suspect because “experts” have been there telling our histories and our stories in our place.
One of the things that sometimes disheartens me, is how in the discussions on diversity, the voices of those from the margins are often overlooked or erased. I wonder then, again, do we speak our words into the wind? When will the time come when our narratives/opinions will also be treated as equal and welcome?
I don’t worry for myself. I am at this age where I think: if I get another twenty years, that’s a good thing. While I don’t worry for myself, I do worry for the next generation of writers and creators and I don’t want them to lose heart because the struggle seems to be all uphill. I want to believe that in the time I have, I can at least make a little bit of a difference so it will be less of a struggle. I want to make room so it will be easier to breathe and easier to create.
You’re probably wondering what you can do. What else can we do? What more can we do to promote diversity in SFF?
Here’s something concrete we all can do–promote a story, promote a book, promote a writer who is not one of your circle, but who is someone who you feel has a story that needs to be heard. As a challenge to yourself, let that writer be either a writer of color, a writer who is non-western, a QUILTBAG writer or a writer who is all or a combination of the above.
You may not like all the stories you read, they may not all speak to you (God knows, not all stories speak to me), but they may speak to someone else and in promoting that story, you say this: “There’s this voice I heard. I want you to hear that voice too. I want us to listen and make space because that voice is saying things someone needs to hear.”