The most popular post I have written on this blog is caring is not trying, trying is not succeeding. I’m so pleased and honored that people think it is a good and important essay and keep sharing it with others, but I also wrote it a year and a half ago, and I have more to say. So I hope you are willing to listen some more and not just always read that one. Both/and, not either/or. Consider it a state of the industry from a non-industry person, and you need a new one every once in awhile. Thanks.
So I’m at the YALSA YA Literature Symposium in Austin this weekend, and I’m really glad I’m here. There are a lot of people I like who are attending, and as far as conferences go, this is also one where the size doesn’t overwhelm me and the sessions are ones I actually care to go to.
I’m already writing about two of the sessions I attended today for the Hub (I will come back here and link to those later when I’ve actually written the posts), so I didn’t expect to have much more to say here. But then I attended a panel on people of color in SFF.
This panel was better than most on this topic. For one thing, it included a publisher (and former agent), not just authors and librarians (but it also had librarians authors, so that was great) who is leading a new imprint that is dedicated to diversity without using the word “diversity” in its tagline. Go Joe Monti! Love it. So excited. Anyway. For another thing, they began by saying their title, “Where are the heroes of color in science fiction and fantasy,” was a fallacy, because they’re already there, right? We just don’t read and promote them. The panel actually got away from the platitudes that people usually love to bust out when the conversation turns to diversity and there was some real talk, like pointing out that publishers want people of color to “write about their background,” but sometimes you just want to write about some fucking magic and unicorns. Monti pointed out that publishers are full of shit when they think that people of color are niche, because public schools are majority minority now. Guadalupe García McCall got angry and talked about her ragey student who helped inspire Summer of the Mariposas when she got frustrated that girls didn’t have their own Odyssey, that the girl in the book spent 20 fucking years weaving for a guy who was philandering around and forgetting her name. (Fucking weaving. Twenty fucking years. I mean, I thought about that when reading the Odyssey, but I never really thought about it. I know how to weave and it’s fun, but shit. No thanks.) Cynthia Leitich Smith is a woman after my own heart, by which I mean a character and someone who doesn’t seem to care for mincing words and thinks people who claim not to have diverse populations are full of shit (you know, because they are). So hooray! A group of people actually talking about shit, not just spitballing!
Then again, it still had me sad. And angry. Continue reading