“We give lip service to acceptance, as though acceptance were enough.”
― Octavia E. Butler, Parable of the Sower
People ask how worlds like Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower can exist. It happens through the slow creep of power aided by the complacency of those shielded by their position in society.
It is not enough to have an anti-harassment policy and call that good. We must work for equity and diversity to make sure that underrepresented voices are heard, to increase inclusion in the genre of science fiction and fantasy, in the larger ecosystem of publishing, in our writing community, and in life.
We support Black Lives Matter and the protesters who are seeking justice for centuries of white supremacy and police brutality.
We acknowledge that SFWA has historically ignored and, in too many instances, reinforced the injustices, systemic barriers, and unaddressed racism, particularly toward Black people, that have contributed to this moment. We have allowed those who spoke for change in SFWA to be drowned out by those who clung to the status quo. We have a responsibility to admit our failings and to continually commit to dismantling these oppressive and harmful systems, both within this organization and ourselves.
“People who say change is impossible are usually pretty happy with things just as they are.”
― N.K. Jemisin, The City We Became
These are the actions that SFWA is taking as first steps to clean our own house and work towards making our community safer for Black writers.
- For the month of June, 100% of registrations for the 2020 Nebula Convention Online content will go directly to the Carl Brandon Society and the Black Speculative Fiction Society.
- We are creating a matching program for the 2020 Nebula Convention Online so that each registration purchased this month creates a seat for a Black writer.
- For the next year, we are waiving fees for SFWA membership for Black writers.
- We are waiving registration fees for next year’s Nebula conference attendance for Black writers.
- We are creating a travel fund to help defer the costs of Black writers attending the Nebula conference.
- We are committing to reaching out to Black-led science fiction and fantasy organizations about applying for the additional grant money that we have available.
For those who wish to learn more about what you can do to help, here is a list of resources:
- An Antiracist Reading List from Ibram X. Kendi
- We Need Diverse Books Resources for Race, Equity, Anti-Racism, and Inclusion
- Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation (from ALA’s Public Programming Office’s Great Stories Club)
- List of Coretta Scott King Book Award Winners (books for children and young adults)
- People of Color in Publishing
Many of us are feeling helpless in the face of racist terror, but there are ways for all of us to do our part with the time, money, and resources we have available. Our choices matter now more than ever. What we know from writing science fiction and fantasy is that the present we find ourselves in was avoidable but our nation chose not to avoid it. We can still choose a just and equal future, if we work together as a community to dismantle white supremacy.
If you wish to donate to organizations or causes, Black Lives Matter has curated a list of organizations that could use your support. In addition to those, these groups are part of the science fiction and fantasy community.
- Black Science Fiction Society
- FIYAH Magazine of Black Speculative Fiction
- Carl Brandon Society
- Black Tribbles
- People of Color in Publishing
- I Need Diverse Games
- We Need Diverse Books
- Let us know about additional resources that we can add to these lists.
The Board of Directors of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America