I used to be into SF/F fandom, back when fanzines arrived in snailmail and cons were primarily about books and the L5 Society had a phonetree. Fast forward a few decades and I still read science fiction and fantasy, but I’m not involved in any community. I published a few short stories years ago, but I haven’t written fiction since then. I subscribe to 26 blogs that are specifically by writers or about writing, and 178 blogs in total. None are on LiveJournal. I don’t see any RSS feeds on the LiveJournal pages I’ve recently encountered, and using a feed reader is the only way I can possibly keep up. When there’s a controversy in the SF/F communities, I’ll only know about it by some mention in one of the blogs that I subscribe to, and even then only if it catches my attention so that I go searching to see what’s going on (such as the Harlan/Connie incident).
One of the writing blogs I subscribe to is John Scalzi’s Whatever. He recently invited Mary Anne Mohanraj to post, and her post was the first I’d heard of RaceFail. Her posts provided a number of links. I have put in 40 hours over the past 5 days following links. I’ve read as many posts as I could find, the entirety of comments on each post (which is a pain on LJ pages, I might add, having to constantly click expand), the papers/articles referenced, the posts on the posts, the timelines.
I haven’t commented on any of the posts because I have nothing to contribute and everything to learn. And I’m answering the question on my own blog because the post that asks that question restricts comments to LiveJournal users.
(Edited to add (or ETA as they use on LiveJournal) – I forgot to explain the contradiction: why answer where the questioner will never see the answers? Nobody in this whole deal knows me and nobody will know that I wandered through without answering. I’m doing it here just for myself. To see what I’d say. Because to be honest, the first time I read through her list of questions, I had some indignant self-righteous reactions. I wanted to see if I could get past that.)
For some of Miriam’s other questions:
Do you realize that this conversation has been going on, in LJ and in blogs, in media fandom and in pro sci fi fandom, since January?
I do now. It hit my little corner of the universe on March 12th.
Do you realize that, prior to this latest round, there were other conversations about racism on the internet? Did you participate in those? Did you lurk?
I assume there are conversations about every possible topic under the sun on the internet every minute. I’m unaware of most of them, and I haven’t encountered any on racism. But I’ve been out of newsgroups and chat rooms and message boards this century — I spent too much time there the previous one.
Do you recognize that the fact that the only reason to call it “RaceFail” is to distinguish it from all the other full-of-Fail conversations about racism that’ve occurred before this one? Do you recognize that specifying it as “09” suggests both a need to distinguish it from the one that happened in 08, and from the one that will almost certainly happen in 2010? Where do you live on the internet that you missed this?
I grouped those because they’re related, and because the combination is a scream of frustration. But the fact is, there are huge immense vast regions of the Internet. There are screams of frustration in countless rooms, and we only hear them if we happen to be in range. When we do hear them, we can pass by or we can investigate. I wandered in to RaceFail and stayed to investigate.
Do you see participation in anti-racist conversation and activism as some sort of elective course, or a hobby, or do you see it as a necessary and important part of your life?
On March 12th, I was first exposed to anti-racism, and I’ve barely scratched the surface of learning its vocabulary and framework. I’m saying that in the view of anti-racism as a formal school of thought, as opposed to the general non-racist teachings taught in schools and workplaces.
“In space, no one can hear you scream.”