Lets talk about diversity shall we? No seriously lets talk about the whole ball o wax. What started this? My first post in a new blog that verily no one will know who I am until I’m damn good an ready? An article linked onto facebook. An article by Author Jim C. Hines. It’s title was Detcon1 and diversity. Here’s the link for it if you’d like to peruse it before pontificating on what I have to say in response.
“In talking about diversity in SF/F fandom, I’ve pointed before to convention committees and staff that are mostly or exclusively white, and often male-dominated.” *convention committee for the sake of brevity will be forthwith referred to as concom.
Why is that I wonder? I don’t know, I honestly don’t. I’ve only been to one con, a local one. And when the concom member and the tshirt vendor I was talking to discovered who I was reading, they treated me with overwhelming scorn and condescension. This did not predispose me to like them of course. In the interest of full disclosure I’ve identified myself politically as a conservative., for most of my life. As I’ve gotten older I lean more towards the libertarian view in somethings I think; and towards the liberal side not much. I’ve got a question for Jim though. If the people that run the cons are ‘mostly/exclusively white and male’ to paraphrase him. Is it truly a lack of diversity? Or is it a function of demographics? Mr Hines. The population in the US is as far as skin color goes, is still more than half white. Be that as it may let us continue…
“This isn’t uncommon, and it’s part of a larger systemic problem with fandom and genre. Recognizing that your favorite con isn’t as diverse and inclusive as you thought doesn’t mean it’s a Bad Con, or that the people running it are Horrible People. What’s important, at least to me, is to recognize and work to change things for the better.”
Change things for the better as you see it? Or truly change things for the better? As far as con com members go, I have a novel idea. Don’t like your con com members? Find a way to oust them. Then put out a call for people with the necessary skill sets and business savy to run the con. Hire the best candidates for the jobs irregardless of color. To be honest I don’t care one whit about a person’s skin color, I care about whether someone can do the job and do it correctly. If the best candidate for a particular position on the committee is a purple kumquat…then by all means, make the kumquat a concom member. I really don’t care.
So Detcon1 has created a diversity panel to make sure they pander to a political agenda and to make sure they can mark off all the little “diversity” checkboxes on some sheet of paper? Well good for you I suppose. I hope you’re successful. See for my money, and if I’m going to a con…it is in part MY money; a concom should bring in guests that the fans actually ASK for. Guests that people are willing to pay money, for autographs, photo ops, time and travel, food, lodgings for those coming from out of town, etc; to see. If you fail to do that, then to me, you have failed and failed miserably as a concom. Outside of a putting together fans with their favorite obsessions, and making sure it all runs smoothly; a concoms job is to make sure the convention profits so they can get bigger and better guests and even better convention space. Granted outside of the one con I’m probably a con outsider, so how can I say all this? I can say it because I’m a FAN. As a fan bookwise I’ve given away, gifted and sold to resellers to pare down my collection due to space restraints, more books than the average non-fan, non reader…will read in their entire sad lives. Let me put it this way. I used to work for what used to be one of the biggest book retailers in the nation, before Borders and B&N moved in, and screwed things up. A good chunk of my weekly paychecks went back into the company coffers every week. My own collection doesn’t hold a candle to many people I know. No seriously? I know people who have converted their basements into library space. wall to wall, concrete floor to almost floor joist above, bookshelves. with more stand alone shelving units through out the floor itself. I know folks whose entire houses are given over to their collection. I know folks who devoted at least one room of wall to wall and every other room in the house has at least one shelving unit in it. My own collection if I had the space and hadn’t done the paring down as I went along, would probably be on par with my basement friends. Maybe more if I’d kept most of my favorites from growing up as a child. But I digress.
This, this…drive towards supposed diversity has been going on for a while and all it does is drive a wedge into the fanbase. Pits one against the other in vicious infighting. It’s not just in the convention world either. It’s throughout the entire industries that the convention world is based on. In book publishing, if you aren’t the right color, the right political persuasion, the right skin pigments, an vacuously mouth the right platitudes and attitudes? You aren’t that important, aren’t that knowledgeable of the world around you[according to others]. not that welcome, and not that tolerated. [hence the aforementioned derision I was on the receiving end of.]
Here’s another Jim Hines production. In which he takes exception to the blunt honest statement that Larry Correia made about rape and the falsity of “rape culture”.
Mr Hines after fans and readers came over to explain to him how he was wrong, pretty politely for the most part and somewhat snark filled admittedly in some cases, but outside of that polite. Mr Hines termed these replies as crap, said some of them were dick-ish, and some 9hours later closed all comments on the post. One assumes because people were harshing his echo chamber. To his credit, I suppose he left up the “dick-ish” ones he let through. Not sure how many got caught in his filter and died there. Well since he closed comments one can assume a landslide of those responses, but assuming would be wrong so we won’t do it. He admitted in the comments to killing ONE that I know of.
So to finish out this post, are the people clamoring the loudest for diversity actually clamoring for diversity? Which means all are truly welcome along with their viewpoints even if you don’t agree with them? Or by diversity do you mean “you’ll do things this way , by the checklist.book and you’ll agree with me”? Or do they mean “Or you can shut up, get the hell out or I’ll throw you out and do my best to ostracize you because you’re messing with my delusional fantasies of adequacy, control and that reality will be what I say it is even if it isn’t”?
For my money? Those who are clamoring the loudest for diversity in sci/fi have proven over and over the last several months. They mean the latter, not the former.