It’s The Story that Matters — and other heresies

So, if you know people by their friends, maybe there’s a reason I’m friends with Amanda Green?

From Amanda Green’s blog:

Then there came this announcement. The language in the announcement that caught my attention was this: this year’s scholarship has a twist: instead of just need and merit, we’re also looking for diversity.  Selecting only on merit isn’t enough, according to the announcement, because the pool of candidates is limited to the “small, self-selecting group of people who feel comfortable applying.” The so-called proof that this isn’t enough came about because the attendees last year were, gasp, predominantly white. There was only one person of color. That, of course, meant there was something wrong.

So by golly, they are going to correct that problem right now. Forget about finding people who are qualified for the scholarship. Forget even awarding it to someone who has need for the scholarship. They’re going to go out and find folks who meet their need for diversity. Why, because they feel we need more diversity IN THE PEOPLE WHO WRITE SPECULATIVE FICTION.

Go read the WHOLE THING!

People who think diversity of thought is predicted on the melanin content of your skin just might be stone-cold racists.  There’s nothing in their thought that nineteenth century racists wouldn’t approve of.  Modern ones just want to help “them poor colored folks.”

As someone who tans if she stays too near a lamp, and whose kids are darker than she is, I thank you for my share of the favor — and my answer are these middle fingers I’m holding up.  Choke on them.

138 responses to “It’s The Story that Matters — and other heresies

  1. Why thank you, I just had a thought that my blood pressure might be a bit low, and all I had to do was walk in the house and turn on the computer and it is cured.

  2. Oh, lordy lord – just dish up another helping of that sweet, creamy, vibrant diversity, and it will all be just good. Which reminds me of a conversation in the women’s barracks at an Air Force Base I did a tour at, oh so many decades ago. A friend of mine – an African-American, or Black, or ‘of color’ or whatever the hell the preferred terminology is this year – was telling us all (and she was being humorous about it) – that when she finished her tour, she was going to apply for a government job. She was a woman, Black and a veteran – so she figured she had a darned good shot at it. Even then, we were cynical about all this: we told her that if she spoke Spanish and was a lesbian, she would be f**king golden.

    • A friend of mine used to head up a department at a college. When he had an opening for a professor he wanted to find someone who would be really good at teaching the subject. However, the goal of the administration was to hire a “black lesbian in a wheelchair”.

  3. Christopher M. Chupik

    And in ten years, they’ll be wondering why sales have continued to slide. Except for that icky space opera stuff, of course.

    • Unfortunately too many readers, fresh from a good SF movie will grab their first SF book . . . and get Grey Goo. And the space operas and MilSF will have another drop in readership. We are all tarred with that same brush.

  4. Diversity of thought is the last thing that they want.

  5. 150 years ago Democrats were claiming that Blacks needed slavery to protect them. Today Democrats claim that Blacks need welfare to protect them. They’ve never changed. It’s only one reason why all Democrats are evil.

    • After Reconstruction, Democrats used violence and played on ignorance to run their political opponents out of the South and split and oppress the population.

      After Civil Rights, Democrats have used the threat of violence and manufactured ignorance to keep their political opponents out of cities and to split and oppress the population.

      (And it’s arguable whether it’s just threats. I’m middle-aged, and every race riot during the course of my life has been embraced by Democrats as a reason to increase their own power and line their own pockets.)

      • I hate to be the nitpicker here, but it was the Radical Republicans who started all that crap. First they disenfranchised the entire political & cultural leaders of the South, then they forced Southern legislatures to not only allow black voters, but seat black representatives. Recall that at this time most northern states allowed neither. Given that most black Americans at the time were slaves, hence guaranteed to be both illiterate and uneducated, they suffered in comparison to the ante-bellum leadership.

        If you don’t understand what a massive insult that was to the South, you don’t understand them. I’m not defending what they did, but it is a comprehensible reaction. If you compare the Radical Republicans to today’s Progressives, the similarity is clear. They were both convinced that not only were they 100% correct, but 100% morally right. Hence anyone who disagreed with them was a racist and/or evil. This justified in their minds the military occupation of the South, ensuring an armed resistance. If today’s Democratic Party tried the same crap in your town, I don’t doubt you would be in the forefront pushing back.

        The GOP doesn’t have much to brag about, either, given that they abandoned black Americans by the end of the 19th century.

        Then both parties ignored them until WW2, and that was due pretty much to Elanor Roosevelt. After the war mixed people together (there are apparently no racists as well as atheists in foxholes), the whole country started to change in the 60s.

        Sorryh for the threadjack, Sarah, but I have a “thing’ about accurate history… 🙂

        • I don’t think your history is any more accurate. Just as an example, your claim that “both parties ignored them until WW2” is pretty much inaccurate. Democratic party gave us Woodrow Wilson who reversed what progress had been made in Federal offices and the military to improve opportunity to black americans, tried to export segregation abroad as in Haiti and Dominican Republic during US occupations there. The 1920 Presidential election campaign had Democratic nominees Cox and FDR running a very racist themed campaign that fortunately saw Warren Harding elected to begin to reverse some of Wilson’s policies.

          FDR’s race policies in WW2 with respect to the military were largely symbolic, a handful of aviators and a handful of tank destroyer crews does not make up for the massive segregation of blacks into labor battalion, graves registration units and rear echelon logistics.

          • It is also worth noting that modern conservatism (which sorta kinda includes the Republican party) is getting slammed in that screed because of deliberately race-blind policies. It isn’t that they “forgot about” Melanin-Americans, it is that the philosophy is indifferent to skin tones. Pink, red, yellow, brown, black, albino, piebald — all are treated alike under the conservative program. To the extent any body disapproves of that they are endorsing discrimination and special pleading.

            One example in the current push to up the minimum wage, there are other, better policies to ensure all persons working forty hours a week (an increasing minor community, thanks to Obamacare) can live on that wage — without creating preferences for employing upper-middle-class teens — might be to increase the EITC or waive the approximately 15% wage surcharge imposed by Social Security/Medicare. If the public desires to overpay unskilled labor there is no reason to make employers bear the full burden. Note this proposal contains neither favoritism nor discrimination for any color of person.

            • BTW, Thomas Sowell notes that the “poverty rate” among married black families is only about 9%, so if the goal is to reduce black poverty the solution would seem to be encouragement of stable family formation instead of the current system’s preference for single mothers.

              • Gee. It’s almost as if the goal isn’t merely not that, but precisely the _opposite_ of that, isn’t it? 🙂

                • Whenever I hear these folk talk, I always assume that the true intent is opposite to the stated intent.

  6. Christopher M. Chupik

    Of course SF is a good genre for exploring other genders. The problem is, they want it to be the main focus of everything. Isaac Asimov once said of creationists, “They don’t want equal time, they want ALL the time.” The same might be said of the literary progressives.

  7. Diverse? Diverse in what way? Do we have too many thin people, tall people or old people? What do we need more of to satisfy this ‘diverse’ parameter, and how do we know when we’ve got enough. Maybe we have too many smart people, or well-educated people, or fat old white male people. So we should add what, exactly?

    Everyone hears the word ‘diverse’ and automatically knows what it means. Don’t just sit there like a demented wastebasket – ask them just what the hell they’re talking about and make them spit it out. At least you’ll have a starting point.

  8. William O. B'Livion

    What evidence do you have they’re looking for diversity of thought?

    They just want their photographs to look like a rainbow.

  9. Oh NO! Diversity of thought? Not to be allowed!

    Before I retired I worked in a place where men and woman who were “white”, ‘hispanic’, Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese, and a very few blacks. Everyone was expected to do the same work, except for several of the blacks who seemed to be exempt from any standards at all. Some of them got their jobs due to race alone apparently because they were incapable of performing even the simplest of jobs. Some were outstanding, one quit, went back to school to get his PhD and the last I heard was off to Scotland to do post doc work. What about the ‘hispanics’ and Asians? They were expected to do the same work and of the same quality as the white employees. Strangely one of the guys who worked in another department was Portuguese, which didn’t qualify him for whatever special treatment ‘hispanics’ received which we all thought was a little strange.

    The Asians and ‘hispanics’ varied some in quality, but no more than the white employees, and got along with everyone and advanced as their skills and abilities allowed. Two black women were shuffled ahead of everyone else (to show non-discrimination I believe), and one through incompetence was “allowed to retire”, and the other transferred somewhere else so was no longer our concern.

    If a person is qualified they’re qualified, if they’re not they’re not, and it doesn’t matter what race, nationality, religion, ethnic background, or anything else they are. Otherwise we end up with a whole group of people who’ve exceeded their Peter’s Principle qualifications by about ten steps. Check out the current resident of the White House for example.

  10. You have seen the Tor.com posting by someone who wanted to see, oh let’s not misquote the idiot… here

    ” I want an end to the default of binary gender in science fiction stories.

    What do I mean by “post-binary gender”? It’s a term that has already been used to mean multiple things, so I will set out my definition:

    Post-binary gender in SF is the acknowledgement that gender is more complex than the Western cultural norm of two genders (female and male): that there are more genders than two, that gender can be fluid, that gender exists in many forms.”

    It’s the diversity push from another angle.
    I want a good story. If you can tell one with something other than the human biological default genders fine. you’ll have to work hard to make me believe in it, if your characters are human. Because, you know, there’s biology. But go for it with aliens, there let your imagination roam free. But I am skeptical that most readers are looking for what this guy is so I foresee if Tor;s editors buy books on this criteria increasingly low sales, as the readers look elsewhere rather than be hit o ver the ead with unreal humans.

    And don’t tell me humans aren’t actually binary sex/genderwise. I live in California, I’ve heard it all and seen a lot. The fact is still that the vast majority of us are one of two binaries. That’s why it is the default.

    • Christopher M. Chupik

      I have a transgendered friend. I understand that some people don’t fit into the usual categories. But most people are male or female. Therefore, most stories are going to involve those genders by default. Forced “diversity” is just conformity.

    • It’s lunacy, and we’ve got the lunatics running the asylum.

    • The real irony is that the people who want this in the future obviously don’t believe in evolution. None of them ever look at differential reproduction to discover what the future is like.

    • Snort. I’d love for them to show me a culture on earth, Western or otherwise, where the default system is not “male, female, and a very few who act like the other.”

  11. Wow…that’s eye-opening. On one hand, sure, they should be able to give a scholarship to anybody they want.
    But on the other hand, what will “increasing racial and ethnic diversity in the production of and audience for speculative fiction” actually do? Basically it seems to be pandering to race–do people of color X only read and respond to works of fiction by people of that color? Do people of color X need help to succeed because they can’t write as well, or because the publishers are biased against them, or because reverse racism?
    I know a couple of the folks associated with Writing Excuses, and I thought (wrongly, I guess) that they were smarter than this.
    Are they hoping for brownie points with the Po-mo crowd?

    • Well, this all started when a certain former president of SFWA joined the cast. Which is too bad, really, because It used to be an excellent podcast I looked forward to hearing every week, and even when she joined, she had interesting and insightful things to say.

      The critical failure was in assuming that three guys from Utah (and now one woman from Portland) would attract a skin-color-diverse, sex-diverse, age-diverse, weight-diverse (oh, wait, never mind, that isn’t an approved diversity) crowd. Before being pleased or troubled at the racist-sexist way of looking at the crowd and then trying to enforce a racism-sexism based ratio that matches their view of the general reading public, perhaps they should have, oh, polled their readership to see if the sample that showed up was representative of their listeners? Hmmm?

      It’s hard to keep someone so racist and sexist that they count the world through skin color and apparent sex alone on your team, and not change the team to accommodate for their expressed opinions.

    • I would venture to guess that if the “person of colour” expresses the views of a Clarence Thomas, a Thomas Sowell. Walter Williams, Allen West or AlfonZo Rachel the scholarship will go to a person of pallor.

  12. If it wasn’t so bad for me, I would be vomiting right now. Disgusting.

  13. What’s the diversity allocation for people with American Indian blood?

    • Remember, it only counts if you’re not white enough to pass in the judge’s eyes. Our Esteemed Hostess would be written off by skin color, until she opened her mouth and was identified as a “Hispanic” by accent. Since I don’t have an accepted minority accent, I’d be written off as white, myself. 🙂

      • Weirdly people identify Robert by sight as “Hispanic.” I think it’s the bit of Amerindian from dad. Marshall just gets classed as “Jewish” including by Jewish organizations giving out calendars, which is why he usually has a Jewish calendar in his room.

      • 🙂 Well a few of my nieces and nephews are half-Ute, but look Hispanic. So I guess they get classified at first glance that way unless they object. As for me (grandfather swore up and down we had some Ameridian, but I haven’t found it yet), I look completely Norwegian.

        • We always assumed Dan’s Amerindian ancestry was the same as Elizabeth Warren’s (though his mom looks it, tons of Europeans look it. It was my own nickname) until Robert came up with a health issue that means he has A LOT of Amerindian blood.

          • Is the health issue– the carbohydrate issue? My sister, who married a Ute, keeps looking as well. In her case she wants to be NA so badly that she’ll invent it if she could. Eventually I’ll have the autosomal DNA test to put the entire thing to rest.

            Her children have a tendency towards diabetes– and anything to do with high sugar content (sodas, alcohol, etc.)

            • Be aware that a lot of NA ancestry still gets identified as “East Asian or NA” by the big 3 (23andMe, FamilyTreeDNA, and Ancestry), mainly because they’re all still working on getting bigger data sets of specifically NA groups.

              I’ve only firsthand experience with 23andMe and FTDNA, but in general I’d say that 23andMe does a better job of identifying recent ancestry mixes (X percent British/Irish, Y percent French/German, etc) while FTDNA gives more tools to help analyze connections to genetic cousins. I’ve been able to use paper-trail genealogy to confirm links they’ve found to actual 4th and 5th cousins.

              There are also lots of free tools out there like Promethease (gives the health analysis that the FDA blocked 23andMe from giving new testees) and Gedmatch (lets you load raw data from any of the big 3 firms to check for relationships or do detailed deep ancestry analysis). Basically, it can can turn into an all-consuming hobby in it’s own right if you let it.

              Both the 23andMe tools and the Gedmatch utilities correctly identified my own mix (Ashkenazi from my father, a US Colonial mix of mostly English, some German, and a dash of Irish from my mother), while FTDNA just said I was part European and part “Middle Eastern(Jewish)”.

              Sorry if I ran a little off-topic here.

              • Yea – I have been using FTDNA– I might have to look into 23andme–

                • If you’re already registered with FTDNA for mtDNA test (since you say you’re working with them) the best course of action may be to upgrade to autosomal DNA (reduced price if they already have your sample), then do the free raw data download to get onto Gedmatch.

                  Unfortunately, 23andMe just moved from their V3 test (same chip as FTDNA, larger number of samples) to V4 (~2/3 the number of samples, but optimized for faster testing and more specific to health concerns). I tested on V3, and but I’ve seen some grumbling on their forums about less precision in their Ancestry Composition evaluation with V4. They got really blindsided by the FDA ruling re health analysis – they were moving in that direction with ancestry a secondary concern. These days, I think the best course may be FTDNA (admixture test / relative finder) + Promethease (health) + Gedmatch (ancestry analysis) if you’re willing to learn the 3rd party tools and how to interpret their output.

                  Not to downgrade 23andMe – I *like* 23andMe, they have good AC tools and very active forums. Plus, since I tested before the FDA ruling I still have access to the health tools, which are IMHO easier to understand than the Promethease output.

                  One of my cousins recently sent her kit in to Ancestry – I’m curious to see her report, since they’re supposed to have recently dramatically upgraded their AC tools. But I currently don’t have enough familiarity with them to give an informed opinion pro or con.

                  • I did one with Ancestry and they test much less than either FTDA or 23andME. I was pretty disgusted with the FDA ruling too. I think that it takes the info out of the person’s hands and into the government and medical’s hands.

                  • Does 23andme accept FTDNA? I just found out my autosomal results– 93 percent Orcadian (Viking) and 3 percent Mid East (Saudi Arabia/Iran) Doesn’t look like I have any Ameridian. Although my sister if she took the test might have different results — something I learned recently.

                    • No – they don’t accept anyone other service’s results. FTDNA was accepting both Ancestry and 23andMe V3 (old chip) results – I don’t know if they accept V4 results.

                      But you can download your FTDNA raw results and submit them the Gedmatch.com to use their relative finder (matches kits from Ancestry and 23andMe that have been submitted) and ancestry tools (deep ancestry – it looks at significant loci (SNP pairs) rather than runs of SNPs the way that the big 3 recent ancestry tools do).

                      For health results, you can download your raw data and either download the promethease tool to run on your computer (takes several hours) or pay $5 to have them run it on their server (takes a couple of minutes). The results you get are about as exhaustive as the 23andMe health results, but may be a bit harder to read. Go to promethease.com for the details.

                      The only real downside to Gedmatch.com is that they integrate your data in batches every few weeks rather than as they come, so you may have to wait before you can use the relative finder. You can usually use the ancestry tools right away, and if you have a small percentage of something several generations back they are more likely to show it than the FTDNA ancestry tool (which is still a Beta release, anyway).

                    • Thanks for the info–

                  • BTW I just read from a genetic scientist that sometimes Ameridian is mistranslated to Mid-East in American people who come from families who have lived and intermarried in North America for several centuries. Ummm– some of my lines have been here in the 1600s, others the 1700s and 1800s.

                    • Me too – my mother had ancestors who arrived in Massachusetts ~1630 (not Mayflower, but about a decade later), and most maternal lines well before 1800.

                      But any “Mid-East” I might get is swamped by my fathers ancestors – Jews from Poland who arrived in the 1920s, since FTDNA classifies “Ashkenazi Jew” as “Middle Eastern” , unlike 23andMe who groups them under “Northern European”.

                      Ashkenazi ancestry is one of the easiest to identify, BTW – essentially, all Ashkenazi are descended from the same group of ~600 people about 1000 years back – effectively, any two Askenazi chosen at random are effectively ~5th cousins or closer genetically (really, 10th cousins multiple times over). “Colonial American”, “French Canadian”, and a few others are like that to a lesser extent – relatively small groups who intermarried for a long time.

                    • I have a few lines that hit the Colonial American including (I can’t remember the person off the top of my head) the Mayflower. Since the closest I get to “Jew” is my father’s PTDna line which ends up near Sumeria(and other cities of that time) 4,000 B.C. Apparently that line went to Europe, but they are cousins to certain Jews and Arabs. It isn’t a very big group of people either.

                      Now my hubby’s lines are better mixed– lol (my family must of believed in close family marriages)

                    • Okay last night I went to GEDmatch.com and it blew the interpretation of the results of FTDNA. When I did an Admixture with the first group– my results were about 50 percent NE European, 40 percent Mediterranean, and 7-10 percent Asian (it was spread across Indian, EAsia, Wasia, and other stuff)… I remember someone said here that Asian results sometimes point to Ameridian. So I guess someone has been hiding their identity in my gene pool. lol I suspect my father’s side of the family because my grandfather had been told someone was Ameridian in his line– plus other things– Plus it could easily be much farther back.

              • I remember reading that some Finns have something or other DNA, possible something to do with blood types (not the major ones, but some of the finer variations) which is otherwise most commonly found in some American Indian groups. But since that was a long time ago and I don’t remember any of the details I have not been able to find anything online. We have a small percentage in our ancestry from people who came from the east, through Siberia, even if we are otherwise mostly the same stock as other Europeans. But with stuff like that I suppose it might be possible to also get errors like ‘this is typical NA, you have some ancestry’ when the real ancestry is some once Siberian folks who moved west when most of the group went east.

              • Wish my dad had made it long enough for me to get this info about the ancestry mixes. He really wanted to have the question of whether he had NA ancestry answered one way or another, and the DNA test we did have done wasn’t the right one to tell.

        • Cyn, I know exactly what you mean. My great grandmother was full-blooded Cherokee. Have any of the relatives in the last two generations looked anything like a Cherokee or that we even have any Cherokee blood in us? Absolutely not. Most of us are pale skinned with red or light brown hair. Only the blue eyes work. I resemble the Irish who came over five or more generations ago than I do the Cherokee.

          • That’s us– pale skin (a few with darker skin although we found a Sumerian link), but all have light brown, blonde, and sometimes red hair with blue eyes. Except for the recent generation — the cousins and brothers married into some brown eyes. (and two sisters)

          • The majority of the Cherokees I have known (know quite a few tarheels that moved West in the 50’s and 60’s, many of them anywhere from half to supposedly full-blooded Cherokee) have been red or chestnut haired, and most don’t tan any darker than me, while becoming paler in the winter.

            • I have always wondered about that – how all the people that I knew who said they were part Amerind really didn’t look it at all. Blue eyes, blond or reddish or light brown hair. All but my teenage friend Esther, who was a quarter or an eighth Shoshone, the rest being mostly German. She looked like Geronimo got up in drag as a Wagnerian soprano. I had begun to think that Amerindian genes were recessive or something …

              • Crazy Horse had sandy hair and light eyes. And a friend of mine’s wife is California Indian (can’t remember the tribe) she has sandy hair and gray eyes, as is her father and two of her siblings. Her mother and her other sister look typically Indian, but according to the tribal roles they are all purebloods.
                Not all Indians were the traditionally expected shades (I’ve found an inability for the men to grow facial hair to be a truer indicator) and couple that with the fact that there was surely a fair amount of white blood mixed in some tribes when the roles were first taken, and you get Indian or part Indian people the are indistinguishable from your typical American mutt.

              • I don’t look it at all. Then my Micmac ancestry was from the early days of the Acadian colony, assuming that the women who appeared (as far as the records go) out of thin air on their wedding days were indeed natives and the natives that lived in those parts.

        • It’s not that Amerindians look Hispanic. It’s that Hispanics look Amerindian. Because, in my neck of the woods, so many of them partially are.

          • It used to be that there were Spanish people (Spaniards) and Mexicans (mestizos, crossblood Spaniard and American Indian), no of course in the interest of political correctness, they are all Hispanic.

            • Including Portuguese as of five (?) years ago, because well, it made no sense. Your name was Marques, you weren’t Latin. Your name was Marquez you were. Even though in the border areas, these are the same family.
              I would love the whole nonsense to be abolished.

              • Well if you are going to include Spanish people from Spain in the Hispanic category, it makes a sort of sense to include Portuguese in it as well. I mean I’ve looked at a globe before and Portugal is right next to Spain, I mean they must have interbred and stuff, right? After all Portugal is a lot closer to Spain than Japan is to China and the Japanese are considered Asian. Of course the Russians aren’t considered Asian, which kinda goes to show you what sort of criteria the ‘diversity/equality people are going by.

              • You know, I can trace my ancestry back to one Juan of Aragon. Through my French-Canadian ancestry.

          • So true – My new sis-in-law has one quarter Aztec and the rest is Spanish conquistadores so she looks very different to most of the Hispanics I have seen from the Central American (upper South American) region.

      • I tan easily (my face has a permanent tan) , I have high cheekbones. Once a dentist told me I have Indian teeth. (What does that mean???)

        • I dunno what that means. MY dentist told me I had horse teeth (when filling a cavity, he told the assistant, “Give me a big glob of that filling paste. No, more than that… A little more… OK”.

        • There’s some tooth that commonly has grooves on the back of it if you have Amerindian in you. Sorry I can’t remember more from Physical Anthropology class.

          • I cannot have Amerindian! (Well, I suppose I can, but it would be weird!)

            • We will have to wait for Thor Heyerdahl to make that voyage.

              • Who’s to say some Amerindian who got fetched back to Europe as show pony/slave/exhibit didn’t get his ashes hauled by some native gals with a taste for the exotic?

          • Could be incisors, and those would be Talon cusps, I believe. Shaped a bit like a ‘T’ in cross section. Can also show up on molars, but that is from a different ancestry (might find it more in Arizona, forex.).

            There’s several other heritable traits in teeth like that, but population mixing means that it means little today other than that your ancestors got around. *grin* I don’t have the cusps, but I do have a trait that was common in certain areas of Europe (extra molar cusp).

  14. Look who is on the staff. One is the same darling that keeps on showing up in gender and diversity controversies and authored that survey that got trashed last year. It’s no surprise that there would be these ties to the scholarship.

    The other three, I cannot speak about their opinions. They usually appear to stay above whatever fray.

  15. Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

    One mistake Sarah. The Lefties don’t really want “diversity of thought”. They want everybody to believe as they believe.

  16. “Modern ones just want to help ‘them poor colored folks.'”

    A nontrivial fraction of slave-owners said the same thing. In writing. In public.

  17. Old is probably the next group which starts getting more attention since the boomer generation is now there or getting there. Hm. I’m getting old. Maybe if I pretended to be a lesbian – easy enough since I haven’t dated anybody for now over two decades, who’s to say otherwise – and while I’m white but my mother maybe could pass as half Asian from her photos, maybe I could also claim Asian ancestry. Not so good as some others but better than nothing. Well, maybe if that Asian part was actually from some of the small native populations in Siberia… now that might actually work (plus is true, sort of, only not very recent…). So, an old lesbian quarter something native woman… Hm. With university studies interrupted due to health reasons, has worked menial jobs her whole life so is a representative of blue collar workers while still having something of an academic background. Sounds rather diverse, doesn’t it? Then, maybe write a novel where the hero is a lesbian part native cleaning lady working in some corporation headquarters where the CEO turns out to be a vampire or something, which of course that is symbolic of, er, something. Lots of rich mean white people vampires or something against poor diverse working class immigrants. 😀

    This is starting to look promising. :p

    • It would sell to Randy Penguin in a heartbeat.

      • Oh, please do! And if it turns into satire, or seems over the top, well, Kate Paulk’s gotten quite good sales out of her satire on cans, and it’s going to be hard to top Larry Correia’s pirate-vs.-teleporting-ninja fight on top of a flaming dirigible…

    • Make your cleaning lady sort of a snoop– and yep, I ‘d read it. lol

      • Well, in order to get the benefits of being diverse, or diversity programs, I’d also have to be able to convincingly bulls**t, in real world, about how the whole thing is symbolic of my personal experiences as a menial worker, and slip in some talk about identity too. Unfortunately I don’t bulls**t all that well.

        But yep, I may actually see if I can write that at some point anyway (without trying the diversity scam, that is). That part of my head which tells the stories started to run with it already and I did make a few notes. The main problem would be that I don’t think I could write it as a serious story, and I have not tried comedy or real satire yet, so no idea how well I could pull it off. Comedic can be pretty hard to do well. Just make everything more or less over the top? The CEO is a full on Snidely Whiplash version of a head vampire, the immigrant laborers (there has to be at least one street person too, spouting some sort of incomprehensible Yoda wisdoms…) are virtual saints?

        P.S. Cleaners often tend to be snoops in real life too. It’s a boring job, so there are moments when anything which promises the potential for some entertainment can draw your attention. Okay, most don’t look in drawers or open envelopes or anything like that, but anything left in the trash or in plain sight is fair game. So if you don’t want her/him to read that note you got from that co-worker you are sleeping with don’t just crumble it and throw it into the wastebasket, at least tear it up or something. 🙂

      • Ardath Mayhar has a cleaning lady/assassin/knitter novella. (Not one of her sf/f titles, as it happens.)

        • Legend has it that during the War of Southern Secession Lincoln’s #1 spy was a negro maid in Jefferson Davis’s office. Under Chesterton’s “Invisible Man” theory, what better placement for a spy? It even makes it easy to smuggle documents out in the trash.

          • Yep – the slave wasn’t really a slave but a free Negro named Mary Bowser recruited by Elizabeth van Lew, a Southern Quaker abolitionist who ran a spy ring in Richmond during the Civil War. I did a post about Elizabeth Van Lew at the Unusual Historicals website last year.
            Interesting woman – she spent a large part of her fortune funding her espionage activities.
            http://unusualhistoricals.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/women-in-warfare-elizabeth-van-lew.html
            I’ve always thought that if George McDonald Fraser ever got around to doing his book about Flashman in the Civil War that Elizabeth Van Lew simply would have had to have been a character.

    • Do it! Do it! Go for it!

  18. Well, shoot. Let the Writing Excuses people issue their scholarship to whomever they choose. They’re free to do it. Bless their hearts.

    By extension, I’m free to say that it looks and sounds a little condescending to assume that people “of color” need some kind of boost to compete. But that’s just me.

    When you submit a story, the story is text on paper or screen. It’s literally black and white (unless you’re doing something funky with your reader, in which case, hey, more power to you). When I read a story, I’m not looking at the author’s body, genetics, physical characteristics at all. They could look like Walter Matthau or Angelina Jolie, and it doesn’t frackin’ matter. The story’s the thing. It has to stand on its own, regardless of the gender / race / ethnicity / disability of the author. If it doesn’t do that, it doesn’t matter if it was written by a white straight guy or a hispanic lesbian woman. The story still doesn’t work.

  19. It amazes me to no end when I see these sorts of things that no one running them stops to think that what they’re saying is “We’re giving this scholarship / award / whatever out to anyone who applies and is good enough. But if you happen to be the correct skin color, we’ll tip the scales in your favor.”

    One thing I have noticed is, as I’ve become more aware of this sort of thing (that is to say, people trying to force (a specific type of) diversity where it’s not being naturally developed, it has ruined my ability to enjoy a lot of entertainment. Where as I used to be able to read a book or watch a show and enjoy the characters for who they are and identify with them* because they were real characters, these days I constantly find myself thinking about whether the character in question is who they are because that’s who the character is supposed to be, or because someone decided they needed a more “diverse” character. Of course, sometimes it’s not even my wondering that ruins it for me, it’s the anvilicious blinking signs when one of the writers decides it’s time for a “very special lesson” (like that ADA in law and order who in her last episode turned out to be a lesbian. Completely unrelated to the entire 3 or 4 seasons of character development, but we had to throw it in at the last minute because … something. Or Dumbledore, who gives a flying monkey what his sexual preferences were, other than perhaps the HP slash writers, but frankly, that just gets creepy).

    I was thinking about this the other day though, and I think I get why some of these locked away ivory tower folks think this sort of thing is good, and why so many blue collar folks think it’s stupid. And no, it’s not because blue collar folks are racist, or even that the ivory tower folks are too isolated from the real world (though I can’t speak for any one individual of either group). It’s because for the most part, in the blue collar world, you don’t have identity politics playing a part in hiring and awarding because identity politics costs money and it’s too easy to see real merit. A mechanic who gets promoted at a mom and pop mechanics shop doesn’t make it very far if they were promoted for identity politics rather than talent. That isn’t to say it doesn’t happen, but at the blue collar level, actual merits are too easy to measure, to immediate to ignore and to costly to not have.

    By comparison, the further away you get from blue collar / real work and into the upper echelons of political positions (upper and middle management, politics, just about anything having to do with government or education), real merit is hard to measure. It’s easy to identify a good mechanic, cars get fixed, don’t come back for the same problem, but the same customers come back. Now how do you identify a good teacher? Test scores? Student satisfaction? It’s the sales compensation problem all over again, where you get what you pay for (or test for) and not what you actually want. So in the absence of easily measurable merits, in these jobs promotions and “merit” is all about identity politics. You can’t be the “best” you have to be the “most deserving” for whatever value of “deserving” is in vogue. And in these positions, lack of actual merit is harder to see. The costs are more delayed, they’re hard to measure and can often be buried in other costs. A lousy call center manager might be able to hide his costs under lousy lower level employees. A lousy teachers effects may not be felt for years. And high level management? They’re long gone (with a nice severance package) long before their damage is felt.

    In short, having a merit based scholarship selected on diversity rather than merit makes perfect rational sense if you live in a world where actual merit is hard to measure and everyone around you has already been selected for “diversity”.

    * Seriously, this is something I’ve heard more than once, that [minority group] needs stories with members of their group as lead characters because otherwise they can’t relate to the character. Strange how as an evil default (that would be White Male Cis-Whevered sorta-Christian (lower) middle class american) I never had any trouble relating to teenage girl characters (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), Jewish characters (Maus), Mormons (Ender’s Game), adult women (a number of Asimov stories), black characters (Family Matters, Bill Cosby) and even anthropomorphic female dinosaurs (Raptor Red). Strange how it never bothered me one whit what the character’s skin color or plumbing was. It’s almost like being human is more than just skin and organs.

    • The ivory tower is isolated, and there’s this lingering idea that only a person of [thing] can break the oppressive intellectual power of the patriarchy and Euro-centrism colonialist groupthink (thanks, Marx, Fanon, and Foucault). Except that yadda-yadda disappeared in the 1960s, if it ever really existed. Now you have the lawyers who say that if you don’t have enough [group] in your university, obviously it’s because the institution is raaaaAAAAAAcist/sexist/homophobic/lookist/Islamopohbic and they’ll sue you or sic the DoJ and DoE on you. And the minority students will threaten to riot, will sit-in and take over offices, and so on until there are more faculty of color, and an Office of Diversity is put in place. And those faculty who still think it’s 1968 will cheer the students on.

      • I should add that the majority profs just want a good colleague who does decent work and is comfortably liberal. But it only takes a few firebrands and true believers to turn a department on its head.

    • I would like to see more nonwhite characters in science fiction and fantasy stories, but I’m visually oriented and I just like seeing more variety. And it would actually matter more in movies and television series. At the same time I don’t like it at all when they arbitrarily choose some nonwhite actor to play the role of an established character who is white in the original story. Or plant some single actors in the background for diversity. What I’d like to see would be something like, maybe, Captain Kirk and the crew of Enterprise having a moment where they work together with another ship from Earth which has, lets say, a mostly West African crew. And done so that there are no lessons involved, and no point made of the fact that they are Africans, just treat them exactly the same in the story as if they were mostly from North America. Especially since as far as I understand in that universe Earth is supposedly this utopia where people mostly get along and are all equally rich I’d assume there should be ships which are crewed mostly by people from other continents, and it would be fun to sometimes actually see that.

      Variety. With characters who are just people, not ‘representatives’ of some group or another.

      • I ran into this recently in regards to Tolkien. Some folks have noticed the genetic diversity in the LotR and Silmarillion – some made explicit by Tolkien in his notes, and some by extrapolation or potential – and have pounced on it. Some of them have written about it, others have made some awesome art illustrating what they’ve found or theorized. All well and good! I was not a big enough Tolkien geek to know that he had explicitly tied the fallen empire of Númenor to the fallen empire of Egypt. The idea of the Rangers as following the archetype of the heroic, wandering Middle Easterner is very cool, and helps explain a few things about their constant outsider status. And having distinct phenotypes and clothing styles for the various lines of elves is pretty awesome as well. I was excited!

        Then I saw one of them talking about why he did it: the pervasive racism in fantasy and the exclusion of non-whites from fantasy worlds. All of a sudden I had lost most of my interest in what they were doing. For me, a variety of cultures and races and creeds in a fantasy world is great worldbuilding, and gives me more to enjoy. Drawing attention to the diversity of such that Tolkien included in his worldbuilding is also cool. Whining about how everyone who isn’t doing that is a horrible racist, on the other hand, is off-putting to me; it ruined my enjoyment of an otherwise worthy project.

        • Exactly. The point should be to make the story more interesting, and to make the universe of the story seem larger and feel more real, not to do it just because.

  20. Grumble. I keep wondering when the few folks (very few in cases like gender identity) who have actually had to deal with the quirks of biochemistry in their daily life are going to stand up and slap down all these hangers on who’ve adopted some alternative gender identity because it sounded cool in Prof. Unstable’s class and maybe they’ll finally be able to see themselves as different and that special snowflake that’s not like any other snowflake. Or maybe I keep hoping.

    It really wears me out to see folks parroting the half-a… um, half-formed semi-socio-scientific nonsense they picked up in one class or another as if it is revelatory and shocking to the rest of us. I can just see some of ’em walking around with pseudo-Jack Nicholson running in their heads: “You can’t handle the truth!” The only thing really shocking is the knots they’ll twist themselves into to be relevant and unique. And the truth is — none of this is new. They’ve just jacked the language around a bit.

    I’ve known people in and around various alt communities for — well, for some not small period of time, and knowing people who actually live in one alternative fashion or another (few of them having anything to do with sex, per se), the poser nature of so much of this mess is glaringly obvious. If nothing else, folks out on the alt fringe are fully aware they’re standing on the fringe, have no desire to be mainstreamed, and in many cases would step off any vehicle heading them toward mainstream and head back out into the wilderness.

    That a bunch of people of pale skin want to attach some piece of the perceived victimhood of one group or another so they can — what? experience solidarity? Legitimize themselves? Dance the right dance and be admitted to the mysteries? I dunno. But that they want to join the victimhood cult, this says much about where big chunks of our culture are going wrong.

    • This is like people Emo, Romantic, “Serious”, Hipster whatever who act depressed to be cool. Those of us who struggle with real, chronically recurring depression JUST want to bitchslap them.

      • Perfectly rational response, in my view.

      • Heh. I have never had much to do with my cousins, but when I was in my mid-twenties I visited one of them. One of his kids was then about 11 or 12, and had, according to her mother, figured that being allergic sounded rather cool. Well, they had a dog, and I am actually allergic. Watching me sneezing for a day did, according to the mother, dissuade her at least to some extent. Being sensitive to something may sound appealing in the abstract, but when that results in unsightly red noses and lots of sneezing it becomes a lot less romantic sounding fast.

        • And building tolerance works, at least with mild allergies. I’m also allergic to cats, but have kept them for over 20 years now, and don’t react to them. Much. The only precaution is that I have to keep eye-drops meant for allergic reactions handy, since if I do get a cat hair in the eye it will swell and turn red, unless treated at the moment it will start to itch. Otherwise, nothing.

      • Makes me think of how, in some circles, autism has become fashionable. Real autism is a heartbreaking, crippling cognitive disorder. I would take a cure for my son in a moment.

        This crap about “neurotypicals” and the significant number of parents seeking to have their kids diagnosed as autistic, on flimsy evidence, turns my stomach.

        • I was very glad when I found Marsh was NOT autistic, because he shares some of the same sensory issues. We have friends who are varying degrees of aspergers. It’s not a joke.
          Even “just” Marsh’s sensory issues were a trial, coupled with people thinking they were “made up”. (Trust me, they’re not.)

        • Or More specifically, Asperger’s Syndrome. It’s very trendy to claim to be an “Aspie” to explain one’s anti-social tendencies and give one an excuse to be a jerk without having to take any blame.

          • Nah. I’m just anti-social and live too much in my own head.

            Actually Dan was afraid our youngest was (when you can’t distinguish sounds, you do present anti-social and clueless) and the psychologist laughed at him “he’s almost TOO empathetic and engaged.” 😛

      • Yep.

  21. John McDonald

    One sentence that jumped out at me was “Out of last year’s thirty attendees, we had only one writer of color, which is not even close to a realistic representation of the speculative fiction market.”
    Has someone done any research on the racial breakdown of speculative fiction readers and not told us? What would a realistic representation look like? If reader percentages mirror population, then a fair representation would be 3.66 ‘persons of color’ as attendees. But then, they do not provide any statistical evidence for making such a decision, just a generalized conclusion. Poppycock.

  22. Back when I wasted my energies advocating for color-blind Academically Gifted programs (“We aren’t interested in the pink part, yellow part, brown part or the black part of a kid; we’re only interested in the gray part”) it was obvious that a major objection was the failure of academic ability to be uniformly distributed across all ethnic and racial sub-groups. As if the school football team should ignore a kid’s time in a 40-yard dash in order to have a backfield that was properly diverse. The school basketball teams seem to be discriminating, too, rather than reflecting the community’s ethnic and racial diversity. Our athletic teams need to stop discriminating against the hand/eye coordination impaired community.

  23. we need more diversity IN THE PEOPLE WHO WRITE SPECULATIVE FICTION.

    What difference, at this point, does it make?

  24. Most of y’all have said what I already wanted to say. *grin* It does occur to me that this is yet another reason why the left pounds “raaAAAcism!” so hard at every ridiculously disprovable opportunity.

    It’s to hide things like this, which are real racism. Judging a person, not by the content of their character, but by the color of their skin.

    Oh, I’ll grant that they will be careful in their critique of that segregated pool of applicants. But they *are* separated, isolated from whites, Asians, Hispanics, Purple-People-Eaters, and what-have-yous. Within that group, there will be competition. They will also get a guaranteed spot, no money down, to attend as well.

    What is it about this group that is so deficient, so lacking in native ability, interest, drive, and desire that means they *cannot* compete fairly with the rest? Is it merely that they want to have their group conform to some bizarre chromatic standard? *shakes head* It just doesn’t make any sense.

    I’m disappointed in this turn of events. I like Writing Excuses. I still listen to their podcasts on occasion, they can be thought provoking, informative, and fun. I can tell there are guys doing the talking, but absent the photos thoughtfully provided on the sidebar, I couldn’t have said what “race” (a nonsensical term, when culture would better serve) they are.

    I’ve viewed their ‘cast largely as apolitical to this point. As in, “who bloody cares what their politics, religion, or sexual habits are, this is about writing.” I believe the best way to absolutely destroy racism, and it can be done, is to stop bloody judging people on the pond-scum shallow basis of melanin, and start making value judgments on actions and results.

    One “person of color” at your writer’s camp? Good. That guy or gal is a good writer, with demonstrable talent enough to make it there. Unless you are requesting or they are volunteering information on what kind of tan they’ve got when accepting applications, they’ve proven they can hack it. When a reader picks up a book at the bookstore, or browses through the first few pages on Amazon to see if they like it, I guaran-damn-tee not one in a hundred thousand gives a poop about the author’s race.

    *grumble*

    Apologies for the rant. That one just simmered a bit too long.

    • Mr. Lane, that’s an almost genial rant. Constrained, rational and polite. Which, in my experience, means you’re a man few want to see truly angry…

      As to your points, spot on.

      • *chuckle* I’ll take that as a compliment, but I can be as foolish as the next man. There’s a few things in this world worth getting truly angry over. Best save it for that, than waste it where it’s not needed.

    • One “person of color” at your writer’s camp? Good.

      Unless, of course, everybody has reason to believe that the person is there because of lack of tan lines rather than quality of writing. Think you the others attending are as open with their criticism as they are with writers who aren’t “disadvantaged”? You probably think straight guys chat up beautiful women at cocktail parties for their opinions on international fashion merchandising.

      One effect of affirmative action has been to discredit actual achievement by “persons of color.” Another effect is to make them beholden to their benefactors. “We made you, we can break you” is a not unreasonable threat in a business where publishers control product placement, promotion, reviews and reported sales figures. The beauty of it is that the publishers don’t even have to have the power to make good those threats, just so long as people believe them to.

      For the record, I enjoyed Samuel R. Delaney’s early books (Nova, in particular, lingers in the mind) before I knew his race and while I found Dhalgren unreadable it wasn’t because I had learned he was “minority.”

      • International fashion merchandising? No, they ask me about water policy and aircraft maintenance. But then I’m not blond, 5’8″ and 38-24-36, either. 😉

        I wonder if the diversity mavens realize how much they sound like kids with trading cards or the old Match Box ™ cars. “If we don’t have a [color/culture] in our group, we won’t have a full set and it’ll be worthless!”

      • Indeed, on all points. I made the crass assumption that, because of the obvious shock and horror that their original group was chromatically challenged, they hadn’t included the arbitrary categorization originally. *chuckle*

        Although, for the record, I did chat up my last girlfriend to pick her brain on history, rather than anything else (mostly because I didn’t think I had a shot in hell). So it does happen. Rarely. *grin*