Friday, July 31, 2015

Inclusivity Rising



So, I have a bit of a habit. I’m not willing to call it a ‘bad’ habit, because it does me a heck of a lot of good. But from the viewpoint of the organizers for the various cons I attend? Yeah, it might be a bit bad.

Perhaps ‘talent’ is a better term. Or ‘sheer dumb luck.’

I tend to find backdoors to the schedules for conventions and see them before they’re put up (I’m now risking them blocking those links by coming clean, but it’s important to know how I know what’s going on.). I don’t even try is the thing. I google something about the convention and all the sudden I’m into the schedule they haven’t linked or, oftentimes, haven’t even finalized. (No, I’m not sharing the links. Then they’d be onto me for sure…)

So I know that at this year’s Worldcon, there are an inordinate amount of panels on diversity. Racial, cultural, gender, sexual. You name it. I’ll leave it to you to decide whether or not this was done as a way to give a discreet finger to the Sad and/or Rabid Puppies (I really doubt it is, myself), but the fact is that these are on the docket.

That’s interesting enough as it is, but then I started thinking a little deeper. RWA (Romance Writers of America) just had their national conference last week. One of the takeaways I’m seeing from a lot of the attendees is an overwhelming number of panels on diversity in fiction there, too. Far higher than at previous RWA conferences.

Now, I don’t know how far in advance these have been planned for the schedule. Maybe all of these were planned back in January. But I do find it odd that, right as soon as marriage inequality was made illegal (Because that’s what happened, technically. No laws were changed or created or anything. The interpretation was simply re-examined.), diversity panels come into play. As soon as people start noticing the treatment of black people in the US, we start to see panels on Afrofuturism.

I don’t think that it is directly connected to the Supreme Court ruling. But I think what we’re seeing is the beginning of something more. We’re seeing people not just wishing that they could be included in things, but people wishing that everyone could start to be included. In books and movies and comics, but also in real life. I think it’s been building, but this year, just over halfway complete, has been full of huge movements toward inclusivity. I love it, too.

I also think that’s why there’s backlash. It happens whenever there’s a large change coming down the pipeway. Look at the publishing industry itself. When self-publishing became an actual, viable option, New York publishers fought harder and harder against it. And what happened? The big six eventually became the big five before they accepted the change to the status quo. And honestly? I don’t think it’s been fully accepted, yet.

And neither has equality and inclusivity. Not yet. But I think we’re headed there. Or I hope we are, at the very least. Because that’s what I long to see: everyone just getting along. It’s not going to be an easy road, and the work’s nowhere even close to halfway done, but the support is growing. And I think that basically fucking rocks.


Voss

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Contance Burris: 3 Things I Learned Reading Diverse Books for 3 Months

Hello, all!

I am thrilled as shit, pleased as punch, and possibly several other similes to have Constance Burris as my guest today. She, like myself, shares a love of diversity in fiction and she, like myself, takes it upon herself to write more books with diverse characters. She also reads them, which is something I did back when I read regularly (I'm getting back to it, promise...). So I wanted to hear what she had to say about her experiences with diversity in fiction.

Enough of me gabbing, though: here's Constance Burris!

$3.99 on Amazon!


I've been making an increased effort to read diversely for the past three months. Here is what I learned:

1.       It's addictive. If I'm reading the same race, sex, gender, age, or disability twice in a row, I get super sad and I start stalking book review blogs for my diversity fix, which leads me to my next point...

2.      The importance of diverse book reviewers. A suburbanite, who may only see black people on the 10 o'clock news or by watching slave movies with white saviors, might not be able to relate to a book about black teens living in the middle of Harlem.  I'm not saying you have to be black to enjoy reading books with black characters. Neither do you have to be gay to relate to gay characters. I’m just saying we need reviewers who read diverse books, so that when a book reviewer has the nerve to call a book ghetto simply because it’s filled with slang, we have five other reviews to give a different perspective.

3.      I need to check my bias.  I have to confess, diversity for me meant reading more books with black people, but after reading diversely for three months, my universe blew open.  Diversity is so much more than race. It's sexuality, gender, disability, age and so forth.



Constance Burris is on a journey to take over the world through writing fantasy, horror, and science fiction. Her mission is to spread the love of speculative fiction to the masses. She is a proud card carrying blerd (black nerd), mother, and wife. When she is not writing and spending time with her family, she is working hard as an environmental engineer in Oklahoma City.

If you want to learn more about Constance, you can find her on Twitter, Facebook, and on her website. And, if you're looking for fiction with some more diversity, try checking out Coal (Everleaf Series #1), Ms. Burris debut novel!