sevenall (sevenall) wrote,
  • Mood:

closing a door, softly

So I was involved in a discussion about books the other day (the kind of discussion where you wave your hands around and knock over your coffee a lot) and sf/f came up. Someone had read Jules Verne. Another had picked up "Eragon" and put it  back (not that I blame him).  And then there was Harry Potter, that nobody had read except to their children or other people's children.

I opened my mouth to talk about sf/f as I know it;  the invention and re-invention of culture and of Other, the thrill of an imagined future one year, five years or thousands of years down the timeline. I opened my mouth the way I always do when I feel sf/f is misrepresented: to share the joy it has given me. (And to tempt with the names of  Gaiman, Gibson and LeGuin.)

Only I couldn't, because to explain, enthuse and encourage common ground on behalf of sf/f is suddenly beyond me.

I'm a person of colour living in Flanders, stronghold of De Vlaamse Bloc. I deal with racism and stupidity (including well-meaning stupidity) every day of my life. I already know that bringing up racism and privilege labels and exposes me in detrimental ways; that the wrong tone or appearing less than grateful for the time someone has spent listening to my explanations, invalidates what I'm saying even if the person demanding to know is a drunk stranger at the bus stop; and that when the professor pulls his eyelids sideways or asks me if I just came on a boat from China, he's not joking.

ETA: This was in our mailbox this morning along with a tl;dr pamphlet. It's a yellow pig saying "Vlaams Geld in Vlaamse Handen!" (Flemish money in Flemish hands! ) My neighbour who is from Senegal got a black one. Not the first time, won't be the last time, but this is one of the reasons I'm tired.

Also, I only found out this week that "Pizdaglaz' means 'cunt eye', but people have been calling out that word to me for months. Elizabeth Bear, how dare you suggest I should stop talking about racism while I'm getting pigs in my mailbox ?

So, no, racism isn't abstract to me. It is, however, one of my deal-breakers, so sf/f, sorry to be dramatic and categoric and leaving, but here's where we part ways. I would have liked to stick around for a bit longer, but I'm tired and there's still a long way to go before we're getting anywhere. Thanks to all who have spoken up and thanks for all the fish, sf/f authors I have loved books from.

[If anyone wants to know more things about RaceFail'09 (which is not a flamewar or a wank but a debate about cultural appropriation with several sf/f authors and editors trying to derail the discussion in asinine ways, for example by outing coffeeandink ) you can go torydra_wong 's Because tl;dr shouldn't be an excuse or topoilass collection of links in RaceFail09. If anyone wants to know what De Vlaamse Bloc is, google it. Please don't ask me to explain anything more today, I'm done, I'm all out.]

ETA: To end on a brighter note: Mom, myself and Selma.

Tags: race, sf
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