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bear by san

March 2017



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bear by san

One marvelously clever thing that was suggested at the "Why is SF so White?" panel, as a means of encouraging more non-white writers into the industry, was a mentoring program. (Liz Scheier, from the audience, also mentioned that she doesn't see nearly enough submissions with non-white protagonists or main characters, and would love to see more.)

The idea being that would-be writers of color could be paired with volunteer authors who would help mentor them.

I am not the person to administrate this. I know this about myself. But I thought it was a good enough idea to be worth sailing out into the zeitgeist.



Much like Charlie's heading up of the slushbombing of F&SF, I suspect that if this is not headed by a "writer of color", it would get the same sort of hairy eyeball.

It's an interesting idea. I'm all for mentoring writers, but I think there are a whole lot of factors that would need to be examined. Like, reasons why there aren't more "writers of color" writing in the genre. There's probably some "don't see the authors already there, so we're not welcome" going on. Could that be resolved by more pushing or holding up of the authors that *are* there? (Octavia Butler, Steven Barnes, Nalo Hopkinson, etc. for instance.) Don't know, maybe.

Much like more positive representation in the media, it'd be great to have it in genre fiction, too. I'm just not sure that this sort of mentorship would make it happen. It's an interesting thought, though.

As a side not, I'd dearly love a different phrase. "Writers of color", anything "of color" sits uncomfortably with me.

It's a phrase I loathe, as well. But there you have it. (I am of color: I am a pinky beige.)

The consensus by those attending the panel was that it was a self-replicating process. If people do not see people like them doing something, they assume that it is not something they "can" do. (Fiona Patton called it a "you-shaped door.")

And yeah, being exceedingly white is one of the reasons I am not the person to head it up. (The other is being a sucktastic administrator.)

It's not incumbent upon those who are discriminated against to do all the work of ending discrimination, of course.

One of the things that *we* can do is increase the diversity of our writing.
Yeah, that's pretty much my objection to it. You have just as much color as I do (being "of color" myself). :) You just happen to be pinky-beige and I'm more yellow-brown.

No, of course it's not incumbent upon the discriminated to do all the work. Heck, if it were, it'd be a whole other sort of discrimination, I figure. And I really do think it's an interesting idea. I guess I'd suggest more of the asking of non-white folk if they'd be interested and/or willing to participate, from either the mentor or mentee side.

I know there's talk, at least there has been in the romance genre, about the ghettoization of black romance/black authors. Pushing for more recognition/acceptance/etc tends to lead to different marketing strategies, creating of race/culture specific lines that aren't always apprecited. As spec fiction is a whole different game, and at least theoretically more accepting of "the other", I don't know if the same thing does or would happen there.

And I only know about black vs. non-black. There has not been so much talk that I've seen thus far re: Latino/a or Asian or any other group because the writer population representations there are even *smaller*, to the best of my knowledge.

I know I have to consciously work on the diversity in my own writing, and have done, though I have farther to go. It's very easy to fall into the trap of writing only in colors that have come before, so to speak.

I'd love to see something done to increase the visibility of writers of Asian extraction, too. (And Latino/a: I can think of maybe one.)

The Carl Brandon Society Award is a start.

Much like Charlie's heading up of the slushbombing of F&SF, I suspect that if this is not headed by a "writer of color", it would get the same sort of hairy eyeball.

My gut reaction, pre-internal editor, was "white writer's burden."