bellatrys (bellatrys) wrote,

3rd People of Colour SF Carnival

For this edition of the Carnival, I tried to assemble a collection of links that would include slices of different fandoms, and which would have some of both fans and creators, both minority and majority, talking about fannish issues both general and diversity-related, to convey a sense of the dynamics and tensions out here, and to juxtapose when possible. I've also included informative links that might inspire writers and illustrators in a variety of ways.

To start with, I recently discovered Andre Norton's 1971 Android At Arms, which is a diverting-if-very-uneven futuristic take on both The Man in the Iron Mask and The Prisoner of Zenda. What makes it really unique, not just for its era, but for the genre period, is that its premise is that the royal protagonist has been kidnapped from a spacegoing empire comprised of some of the earliest of Terran colonists...who all hailed from Africa, and whose culture, legends, and names reflect this. ("The Sword of Balkis-Candace", frex, is part of the imperial regalia.) Prince Andas is repeatedly described as black, in the book. But you'd never guess that from any of the covers for it - not even the 2002 reprint combining it with a story about a black female archeologist...

Similarly, I discovered via link-dowsing that another white, female genre author from the Old Days whose gender was likewise ambiguous to the reading public, Leigh Brackett, also had a pulp series hero who was sometimes illustrated as blond on the book covers, and never, apparently, as both dark-skinned and dark-haired the way he was written.

On the Girl Wonder boards, a recent discussion of accusations of "reverse discrimination" in response to demands for more diversity in the media brings up examples of grim RL discrimination, too. Given the ongoing saga of the Jena 6 trials and protests IRL (reminiscent to me of the Sacco & Vanzetti trial in a lot of ways) the sort of routine acceptance and silent endorsement of state-sponsored injustice by the car rental agencies is extremely relevant.

On the Television Without Pity boards, a debate over whether or not writing a WASP future America and alternate dimension in the new "Flash Gordon" is demonstrative of privileged blindness and racism, or just "good business in Hollywood," the predictable vicarious denial of responsibility for those in power to shape our daily imagery.

via Angry Black Woman, concrete proof of the still-stratified-by-race casting in the oh-so-modern media world, in their own words.

--Until the Hathor Legacy posters did a sort of mea culpa a while back about being too oblivious to race issues when discussing feminist failings of media, I had assumed they were a site run by FoCs given the invocation of Egypt (& being kind of naive re cultural appropriation) and so I'm posting these links to several similar posts there with a certain ambivalence, because they seem to typify to me the problems of privileged outsiders with no vested interest in the outcome (e.g. guys saying something is not sexist, straights saying something isn't heteronormative, bourgeoisie talking condescendingly about us poorer people.) But - in the same light - I can't say No, that's not better than no CoCs at all. But I'd like to raise the issue for discussion from people who can speak more pertinently of it:
Is it better to have bad/stereotypical depictions than none at all?
Troubling Aspects of Law & Order
That Home Depot Commercial
Domestic Problems as Foreign Issues
Great Female Characters in Hollywood's Current Animated Blockbusters for Kids - Where Are They?

Video evidence of the existence of FoCs and their purchasing power: "Amazons Attack - The Return" YouTube video post (via Occasional Superheroine) Here is his post about the Return on the DC boards.

Fanboi Brian Andersen's Prism Comics review of Young Avengers picks up on a persistent negative ethnic stereotype in an otherwise okay comic.

Didn't the Zero shoot this stupidity down? Or, Bad Old Attitudes Not Changing (From outside fandom, but via a fannish blog when I was linkdowsing, but I don't remember which - maybe BoingBoing.)

The Great Ten --DC, why? (This deserves a whole post of its own, for which I have been collecting amassing links in the dozens, but briefly I have to say that this is exactly how not to try to "do Diversity™", if you're a bunch of clueless white American dudes. Orientalizers Anonymous meeting down the hall...)

When even AICN calls you on your use of "What the world needs is a honkey" you really have a problem - Emmerich's latest mess is messier than usual, it looks like. (Also, trained mammoths???)

SG-1 actor Christopher Judge (Teal'c) briefly discusses his experience on the show & his upcoming project.

Latoya Peterson writes in Cerise on being invalidated as a minority gamer as well as a female gamer by white guys in the field.

From the new Comic Gays linkblog, a white fan comments on the absence of CoCs in Yaoi

BitTorrent interviewer speaking with Fantastic Four writer Dwayne McDuffie expresses amazement that this is 2007 and diversity is still an issue in comics

via gamers_of_color (via yeloson) An historically-themed game, "Steal Away Jordan: Stories From America's Peculiar Institution and some white gamers being made uncomfortable by it.

--Conversely, a lot of white gamers not only weren't made uncomfortable by the depiction of Stalwart White American Hero slaughtering African-ostensibly-zombies who mostly looked like starving peasants, but were outraged that anyone might be upset by this at all, to the point of saying so in extremely racist language, earlier this year. Robert Jones surveys the responses with his own commentary here in "Resident Evil 5: Romero Reversed".

Historical novelist David Anthony Durham's newest book Acacia, a story of political intrigue and war in an imaginary kingdom, has been getting a lot of very good reviews online, comparing it favorably with ASOIF for you GRRM fans reading this.

Tobias Buckell is giving away the first third of his second Caribbean-inspired SF novel, Ragamuffin. (Another Pixel-stained Technopeasant Wretch obviously trying to Destroy Sci-Fi, Literature, and/or Civilization there!)

And also via Buckell, a poll for Caribbean readers about your bookbuying habits posted by Jamaican author Geoffrey Philp.

Being as I am an amateur artist with a very longstanding interest in fantasy & SF illustration, I have long been aware of Issues that a lot of my fellow white artists have with drawing and, especially, painting, anyone who isn't Caucasian [sic]. There is definitely a "reverse exoticism" that goes a long way imo to explaining why CoCs in comics are often drawn as white with a dark tan - but then sometimes you hit plain old exoticism of the most cringeworthy kind. I'm all in favor of giving us 3d illustrators greater diversity of human models to work with (maybe we'll finally get some accurate illustrations for the Earthsea books that way) but seriously, DAZ, "She is an exotic beauty with pure animal magnetism written all over her" - WTF? (Better yet, she's called "Kenya"--but I can't think of a single white character morph named "Switzerland" or "Byelorus"--) I wish this was the only time I've run across this objectifying tone, but it's not, nor limited to this 3d outlet either.

A few years ago I came across an entire oversize book at the local college library's reference department of Ethiopian illuminated manuscripts, including a very vivid series of plates showing the Arrival of the Queen of Sheba, a popular subject for European artists wanting to indulge their exoticism, but very differently portrayed in the African illustrations, where she is the hometown heroine and legendary foremother instead... Unfortunately I have not found a copy of it that I could take home and keep; I don't know why Coptic MS are not as well-known and admired by art fans as Celtic and Byzantine illuminations. (Note the common visual elements frex in this spread of Eusebian Table and the revelation to Zacharias.)

There's a lot out there nowdays about the famous Benin bronzes looted by colonial invaders in the 1800s, as well as the frenzy of denial that they could have been made by Africans, and the subsequent rebellious emulation of them by artistic radicals in Paris, but in case anyone isn't familiar with them, here are some pictures of famous artifacts and minor works as well.

Timbuktu Chronicles is a linkblog I dowsed up looking for desert species of mushrooms (don't ask - they do exist, sort of) which lists African businesses of all kinds from different countries, and which might prove a useful resource for authors who want to write about contemporary Africa without making the stock and stupid mistakes of regarding it as both undifferentiated and utterly primitive, like a Victorian-era travelogue (or modern amusement park ride) of "The Dark Continent." (Such as this, which is a pre-Victorian travelogue of East Africa, for a retro bit of white privilege and historical curiosity, useful for writing authentic archeological stories and getting the John Bull tone of smugness just right. Casually skimming, I quickly found an instance of "They all look the same" without even trying, frex.)

Finally, regular commenter fledgist alerted us here to a little-publicized fact of renaissance European history which undercuts the "it's just historical!" excuse for a blancmange depiction of the past - Alessandro de Medici, Duke of Florence, was black, as shown by his portraits in addition to contemporary records, despite subsequent writerly whitewashing. Historical novelists, take note! Nobody afaik has yet "done" the story of Simonetta da Collavechio, in all the fictional explorations of historical and semi-legendary female characters' lives in recent decades.

The 4th Carnival will be hosted by sparkymonster at the end of October. Please see the People of Colour SF Carnival main site for details on how to submit your links and articles next time.
Tags: carnival, fandom, othering, privilege, racism, society, solutions
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