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N.K. Jemisin's Continuum GoH Speech
james_nicoll

So I propose a solution — which I would like to appropriate, if you will allow, from Australia’s history and present. It is time for a Reconciliation within SFF.

Also posted at Dreamwidth, where there are comment count unavailable comment(s); comment here or there.

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and MammothFail before that, and MoonFail, and RaceFail and the Great Cultural Appropriation Debates of Dooooom, and Slushbomb before that,

I know about RaceFail, and I think I know about MoonFail (though I thought that was part of one of the RaceFails), but what were the others?

Reading those links has refreshed my memory, which is... good? I think?

At any rate, the other day I was saying RaceFail began with the mac_stone et al. issue (I can't even find the names or posts anymore, most were deleted or locked down), but it looks like it actually started a few steps earlier with Bear's article in response to Jay Lake's discussion of Edge of the American West's posts. So it's kind of nice to get it straight in my head again, though pretty overwhelming.

Edited to fix HTML herp and extra word derp.

Edited at 2013-06-10 03:02 am (UTC)

As far as I can tell, Bear was at least actually trying in good faith to write an article about how to write characters of other races/backgrounds well.

Where it all went wrong was that, when somebody asked "OK, but you haven't been a good example: why did you write all this problematic stuff in your books?" there was this big defensive dogpile about it, including vicious behavior toward the people raising the objections, which Bear did little to discourage, and we were off to the races.

What makes me wince about the Bear case is the "there but for the grace of God..." angle: I can completely imagine myself stumbling into that maelstrom. God knows, my own old drawer-story attempts at writing SF are full of fail, including some racefail, and the only additional thing it would have taken would be a lack of sufficient self-awareness to own up to it and try to put the reins on jerks defending my honor.

The fact that Bear was not a proud bigot was part of what made it worse, because it drove all these people to make a "she's not the Real Racist; fight the Real Racists" defense and, when called on that, make it all about whether they were Real Racists themselves, which drove the whole fight further and further away from the actual point, unless in another sense it was illustrating the actual point.

If the person making the point about what she saw as being problematic in Bear's book hadn't been so inflammatory and insulting the defensiveness would have been dialed down a few notches to begin with. Strangely enough, this is a thing that some people like to do online and for some odd reason it does tend to ruffle feathers. Which is why they do it. It goes both ways of course, which helps feed such flame wars, as we used to call them back in ye olde days of Usenet. Bear handled it pretty well, Moon not so much. But I have no sympathy for the likes of those who go in willfully flaunting the "tone argument" defense, as if it gives them license to behave like jerks. And yes, that goes both ways as people who decry criticism as "censorship" are similarly acting out.

Now about the "reconciliation" of SFF, I have a hard time seeing the gender disparity problem in SF&F as something akin to the ethnic cleansing and subsequent discrimination against the aboriginal peoples of Australia. I know that exaggerating for effect can be a useful rhetorical tool, but, be careful of the kind of conflict you wish to depict, lest you wind up having people getting their backs up unnecessarily.

Eh, I make huge allowances for tone in these matters. Because what's being complained about is so all-pervasive that I figure I'd be perpetually angry if I were on the receiving end. I get to stop thinking about sexism and racism once in a while; women and minorities don't.

No doubt, you do sometimes get people who are using this as a shield to kick people around with impunity. But it's not the first thing to assume.

I agree, and I don't dismiss someone as being insincere without good reason.

Mammothfail was the start of Racefail '09, which occured in december of 2008 with the whole "...and then magical mammoths kept people from living in Eastern Europe and the Caucasus prior to 1933, and so now I can detail magical nazi germany's magical lebensraum program without the moral ickiness that occured in the real world version".

...the way that the author in question also tended to refer to mass genocide in the same terms one uses for wasps that visit a picnic thus further escalated things, until people defending the author's right to be a bit of a clod in public spilled out into the much wider shenanigans that was Racefail '09 (which needs to end at some point).

Moonfail was Elizabeth Moon coming out against the building of the GROUND ZERO DEATH MOSQUE OF MOCKING THE PEOPLE THAT DIED IN 9/!!!ELEVEN!!!! WITH A GIANT MINARET IN THE SHAPE OF OSAMA BIN LADEN RAPING A BABY WITH A CONDOM MADE OUT OF THE AMERICAN FLAG.... aka a community center with a prayer room that was going to be built several blocks away from the former site of the twin towers.

Edited at 2013-06-08 11:16 pm (UTC)

I read "Mammothfail" as a reference to the Mammoth Book of White Dude Science Fiction.

The fact that "Mammothfail" is not specific enough to distinguish two different incidents of Fail is a little Fail of its own.

Wait wait hold on ``magical nazi germany's magical lebensraum program'' ... I missed this and now ...

No, I'm sorry. I think it's time to close up shop on science fiction and maybe go establish a nice new genre where we can have non-stupid things.

I think fridgepunk is making an analogy here (it was, if I recall correctly, actually white settlers and the convenient absence of indigenous people in North America, but similar idea really).

Mind you, fantastical scenarios that make it OK to be on the Nazis' side are, in fact, not unheard of in the genre.

Like anonymous below, I thought Mammothfail related to the lack of female authors in the Mammoth compilations. ETA and I'm also just shaking my head knowing there are multiple fails that can be referred to as Mammothfail.

The Nazi thing you're referring to, that was the Kristallnacht RPG on InsaneJournal, correct? Honest question. That was the summer of 2008 (I remember it well, I was accidentally in the middle of it as one of the few "well known" IJers with a permanent account) so I may be conflating two Nazi issues... ugh, so much of this happens I can't even keep track of it.


Edited at 2013-06-09 09:31 am (UTC)

There are so many of these damned things it's impossible to keep them straight! I confess that one thing that confused me is that I was yet again mixing up Elizabeth Moon and Elizabeth Bear, for no reason other than their names.

But both of them were involved in associated nonsense somehow (Moon's big fail was, to my mind, worse; Bear's, probably more instructive to study, both in how it happened and in the way it metastasized through ties of personal loyalty and I'm-not-the-real-racist defensiveness.)

I get Moon and Bear confused frequently, too. The Elizabeth Moon situation is what I'm most familiar with, simply because I asked a question on her LJ post on Muslims and she deleted it, leaving behind a snarky reply. Then that was deleted, too, and other comments went missing, and that all leaves a much bigger impression on me than simply reading about what others said.

While I applaud the overall message of the speech, I'm majorly uncomfortable with Australia being held up as an example of how to make progress against racism. Anti-racism efforts over here (in regards to both Aboriginal Australians and assorted other ethnic groups) have gone seriously backwards over the last few decades.

Part of that has to be rhetorical politeness to one's hosts. Others, well, they offer Ojibwe at the universities where I'm from, and they help keep the Oneida language alive -- I love the bilingual roadsigns myself -- and the problem our local museums have is returning Native artifacts, not displaying them.

And Menominee, too -- Google thought I was looking up the name of the town, not the language.

Rember she is mostly working from 2 data points, and we are a lot better than 50 years ago. She didn't say we were good just better and that racist insults are not considered normal by everyone is a sign of improvement, but we too have a long way to go.

In the Australian context, bearing in mind the Myall Creek Massacre, anything ahead of "I'm sorry, I didn't realise that shooting black people was illegal" is an advance. There's still a helluva long way to go.

My Mum's husband is an academic who's being working in the field of Aboriginal health and education since the late 1960's. In his reckoning, things are worse now than they were then. It ain't a good situation.

(...and then there's the whole refugee situation, which for quite a long time has had me wondering "just how evil does a government policy have to get before armed resistance becomes ethically justifiable?". Australian citizenship is not something that inspires a lot of pride in me these days.)

Oh god yes to all the above!

I remember following the progress of a ship full of refugees being refused landing in Australia, and then reading about it on the front page of wikipedia, but the next item was on Darfur so I got distracted. I've tried to think of a way of googling that ship, but always thought there'd be too many to find it.

You may be thinking of the MV Tampa: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tampa_affair

It was the beginning of the latest round of racist bastardry in Australia. Things have become considerably worse since then.

That sounds like it! Thank you. I always wondered how that worked out. And that's more detailed than I saw at the time. Especially from the Norwegian point of view.

False statements in NK Jemisin's speech

Quotes from NK Jemisin's GoH speech in Australia.

"Right now American politicians are doing their best to roll back voting rights won during our own Civil Rights movement."

No such thing is happening. If Jemisin really believed that she was telling the truth, she'd have quoted the text of the laws (or legislative bills) to which she refers. In fact, they don't exist, and she knows it. She'd have named the politicians backing such laws, instead of vaguely referring to them. In fact, no legislators are doing what she said was being done.

Jemisin is lying, and she is probably relying on the unfamiliarity of her Australian audience with American politics to get away with it.

"They are putting in place educational 'reforms' which disproportionately have a negative impact on black and brown and poor white kids, and will essentially help to solidify a permanent underclass.

Again, nothing of the kind is happening. WHICH "educational reforms" is she talking about? WHERE does it say that anything a US politician is doing has, as its objective, the creation of "a permanent underclass"? This, too, is probably nothing more than a fabrication for which Jemisin depends on her Australian audience's lack of familiarity with US domestic politics.

"Right now there are laws in places like Florida and Texas which are intended to make it essentially legal for white people to just shoot people like me, without consequence, as long as they feel threatened by my presence."

Nope. Not true. A jury will want to see a reason for that feeling, and a white person who can't provide one is likely to be convicted of murder or of aggravated assault. The circumstances in which a white may legally shoot a black are the same as those in which a black may legally shoot a white. The justification by reason of self-defense does not contain any racial bias.

On the other hand, blacks are conspicuously more aggressive, as compared with whites. Overall, blacks commit murder at seven times the per capita rate that whites do. When you look at crime statistics closely, you can discover that the THREE PERCENT of the US population comprised by black males between the ages of 15 and 45 commit HALF of the murders in the United States.

Black men commit forcible rape against white women at a per capita rate that is hundreds of times (perhaps thousands of times) higher than the racial reverse. There is presently a propaganda effort by a Jewish writer (Philip N Cohen) to make this statement regarding interracial rape in the United States seem to be inaccurate and motivated by racist hate. However, that statement IS accurate, and Cohen's dispute of it, when you read it carefully, amounts only to the precision with which the Black-to-White per capita ratio for the perpetration of interracial rape can be known from available crime statistical data. He doesn't really dispute the racial lopsidedness of the crime. But the liberal pundits who subsequently quote from his essay write as if he had done so.

The picture that NK Jemisin is trying to paint is that of a USA whose unfair laws present allegedly equal races with different requirements about their behavior. And that picture is false.

The laws are fair: they are the same for both the whites and the blacks living in the United States. The reason for the different outcomes is the behavioral inequality of the races.

Politically activist blacks tell a great number of lies, especially when they think that they can get away with it, and sometimes even when they know that they won't, they lie anyway, with dogged perseverance. They lie as an organized political force, similar to the way the Marxists do. They gather themselves together in large numbers and CHANT their lies, loudly and repeatedly, thereby working up a rage, before charging off to burn down a city (or parts of a city).

Example: The 2012 Shooting of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman

Continued...

It is possible that Jemisin's assertion about racist laws "in places like Florida and Texas" that permit white people to shoot blacks might have something to do with the shooting of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman. Trayvon Martin was an 18-year-old black with a history of criminal violence and drug abuse. George Zimmerman is a middle-aged Hispanic with Peruvian heritage who had been hired by his community to act as a neighborhood watchman.

When the scandal was being manufactured by the MSM, the media's rabble-rousers believed that George Zimmerman was a white man. By the time the truth about his race became known, it was too late to call the train back to the station. The media's bosses tried consistently thereafter to impute blame to the shooter and to transfer that blame from George Zimmerman in particular to the white race generally.

The media bosses appear to have been hoping to start a nationwide race riot to provide a political motive for a repeal of laws supporting the private ownership of guns. They went so far as to fabricate evidence against Zimmerman. For example, a female reporter for one of the major television networks edited the audio tape of Zimmerman's 911 call (to the police dispatcher) to give the public the false impression that Zimmerman had had racist reasons for following Trayvon Martin.

George Zimmerman had noticed a strange person within the gates of his community, a person who fit the description of burglars who had broken into several homes in the community in the recent past. He called the police to report seeing a suspicious person. Zimmerman followed Martin to see what he was up to and where he would go, which is the job that he was engaged to do.

The time of day was late evening, right about sunset. The light was growing dim. Zimmerman lost sight of Martin, and he turned to go back to his parked vehicle, coincidentally just then concluding his telephone conversation with the police dispatcher.

Seconds later, Trayvon Martin ran up behind Zimmerman and confronted him with the words: "Got a problem? You do NOW!" And, therewith, Martin punched Zimmerman in the face, breaking his nose, and knocking him down. Before Zimmerman could rise again, Martin sat upon Zimmerman and began repeatedly smashing Zimmerman's head against the concrete sidewalk. Martin's violent abuse of Zimmerman caused Zimmerman's jacket to open, revealing Zimmerman's handgun to Martin. Both men grabbed for the gun. Zimmerman got there first, and used his weapon to shoot Martin.

Zimmerman was fully justified for shooting Martin. The city police of Sanford, Florida, saw no reason to charge Zimmerman with any crime. The county District Attorney agreed with the police in that respect: charges would not be filed because all of the evidence showed that Zimmerman shot Martin in self-defense.

Zimmerman's show trial on charges of second-degree-murder came about because an ambitious Florida state attorney believed that she could ride to fame and fortune on the strength of lies invented in the press and endlessly repeated by blacks across the United States. The trial jury, however, didn't cooperate with her corrupt ambitions, and their verdict of not-guilty by reason of self-defense was entirely correct.

But US-resident blacks continually tell the story about the shooting of Trayvon Martin falsely, hoping that they will deceive people to the belief that there is "systematic institutional racism" in US politics.

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