Thursday, January 29, 2009

A Timeline

I've already gotten tired of how wildly things have spun. But have just realized that due to the distractions of various professional/academic individuals making things all about them, there are individuals coming into this section of a multi-year long conversation with no clue about the recent goings on. They don't know when this recent section of the conversation started and they don't know where to put all of Rydra-Wong's Links in context.

I don't quite blame them, because I've still got to figure out what I want to label my interactions in this whole thing and apply it to the posts. However, I am able to sketch a quick outline. I suggest people look at the dates of the actual posts - I'm not doing that much work given that I've been posting and involved with the spill out of a single conversation for the past 3 weeks.

* Elizabeth Bear posted an entry about writing the other spurred by this entry by Jay Lake.

* I responded to it, mentioning specifically (as it related to her) the book Blood & Iron.

* DeepaD also posted something(I Didn't Dream of Dragons) in response to Bear.

* Bear replied to me - originally agreeing with my criticism/perspective.

* Bear's commenters/flist attacked me in that entry (which, I remind again, had initially agreed with my criticism)

* Truepenny wrote an original entry discussing why attacking me was not the point.

* In Truepenny's post, Emma Bull began the 'you're interrogating the text from the wrong perspective' argument.

* Truepenny then took up that argument.

* It was subsequently thrown in her face by various PoC and Allies, some of whom are also academics.

* Mac_Stone threw in agreement with the Emma Bull argument.

* Medievalist also threw in with the Emma Bull argument.

* DeepaD's thoughts on the point in Blood & Iron were ignored.

* Chickenfried_jo (?) had interaction with Mac_Stone, as did I. Mac_Stone seemed to get it and apologised.

* Mac_Stone then returned to her journal & threw a tantrum about 'interrogating the text from the wrong perspective'

* Chickenfried followed her there and more discussion ensued. Mac_Stone seemed to get it and apologised, again.

* Truepenny may have apologised to me (and PoC as a whole for the argument of being too stupid to read) at this time.

* A day later, Mac_Stone threw up a new post that had the subtext of 'Certain People Just Made Me Swallow A Load of Bullshit And I Let Them For I Am A Survivor of Abuse'.

* PNH showed up to comfort her there.

* Medievalist also showed up to comfort Mac_Stone and begins one of many (now since deleted or locked) comments about my being an orc, performance artist, not really interested in social justice and some kind of pathological something. It would later be revealed Medievalist had never read my blog and came to conclusions about me from running a perl script on my blog

* I'm fuzzy here about what happened next with PNH, if he went back to his journal or not. But he did begin commenting in Mac_Stone's defense around this time using phrases like "Some people are just smarter than other people."

* People began to point out that his comments were incredibly full of Fail & Skuzzy Race Issues and attempted to show him the larger conversation to see if he'd take back his words given bigger context. This happens quite a bit in Copracat's journal. He did not.

* Will Shetterly also showed up at that time to defend his wife, Emma Bull, because people pointed out her Skuzzy Race Issues. He ran around calling PoC racist and snapping back at any one who wrote any comment at all pointing out his wife's Skuzzy Race Issues as expressed in her reactions to what had been going on. He would later apologise at the start of one breath, and go back to being a Classim Tops All tool at the end of that same breath.

* The amounts of FAIL in Bear's journal entry continued. Days past.

* Bear posted a short note with comments disabled asking people to let her handle things. It is somewhat unclear who she's asking and what she wants left alone to handle. There is no immediate context.

* Bear posted again

* PNH & Will Shetterly were presumably still commenting on people's journals with PNH refusing to recognize his part in a wider discussion on race. He deleted his journal. For a short time Shetterly did as well.

* On the same date as the short note, Bear posted a follow up. Later in comments she appeared to wash her hands of the entire thing and admit she'd been 'taking one for the team' in her original reply to me.

* And then, many days after that, PNH's wife, TNH posted all about her & her husband's hurt with threats she later claimed weren't threats; against anyone involved in this discussion not on her husband's side who had aspirations of being published. ETA: Commentary on that here

That is as near as I can draw the line from Bear to me to PNH (via Mac_Stone) to TNH to people like David Levine who thinks PoC will be disappointed that his loyalty to his friends and terror of an unnamed PoC horde, have resulted in him taking his ball and going home never to write a PoC character again.

The conversation has spiraled and has tendrils in many places, so I suggest again you refer to Rydra-Wong's Links. Or a shorter version and set of links over at Aqueduct Press. It only has 1, 2, 3 parts.

BUT it (this cultural appropriation discussion) has long stopped being about Bear in particular or Blood and Iron and has become all about the fear of white authors and PoC reactions to that ridiculous fear.


The conversation in my space here, however, has moved on from that (excepting this post and heaven's forbid someone else doing something monumentally stupid in public).

The conversation in my journal is about where POC go next in the genre. It's a doctorate level conversation on issues of racism, colonialism, decolonization, oppression and literature. I will not have it hijacked or distracted. It's a conversation I need to have and responses tell me I'm not alone.

People who need Anti-Racism 101 etc... go there. I'm done talking to the freshman, sophomores, juniors and seniors. Come back when you're ready to tackle a Masters and maybe I won't find you quite so clueless.


ETA: Some comments have link updates


  1. (Could you delete my previous comment since I found a Google cache of the post?)

    PHN did make a post on his journal re: copracat's post calling on his "Some people are just smarter than other people" comments (a little bit after his comment in copracat's post):

    "Evidently, for commiserating with a couple of friends who've been bruised by a recent widespread LJ argument, I'm a racist. Or some kind of bad guy, at any rate.

    I'll live. Worse things happen to the victims of actual racism."

    A few people tried to explain there how his smarter comments might be perceived that way and how this post is not helping his case, but he, for the most part, didn't take those comments lightly. So people have been trying to educate PNH simultaneously in his journal and in copracat's post, mostly in the latter, but it kind of fell on deaf ears.

  2. Thank you for this. It really helps.

  3. Thank you so much for putting this together. I've noticed way too many people screwing up the timeline and it's extremely annoying. Until this, there was no real way to explain the order and context of things and rydra's links - while awesome - are so huge now that it's almost impossible to find the most important parts.

    BTW, coffeeandink put up a bunch of screencaps of now-locked or deleted posts.

    - chopchica

  4. Thank you, thank you for compiling this. And for wading back though that soul-sucking mess for the purposes of compiling this.

    It's important for more people to understand who said what when. It's important for all of this racism to be brought to the light of day, to be exposed as much as possible.

    I hate to say it, but yes: It is valuable, and important, to learn from the mistakes of others. I know that I am.

    So again, thank you for this. I'll be linking, and I hope that many other people will be too.

    -nenena at lj

  5. Thank you for providing such comprehensive guides to these issues and discussions.

    And, I'm sorry for any 101-level comments I have made in the past. My heart's in the right place but my head is playing catch up. As a writer who wants to create good/real/strong CoCs, I really appreciate your blog.

  6. This sounds like an astounding example of how NOT to have a discussion about racism.

    I feel sorry for Elizabeth Bear. I could easily see myself saying some version of, "Okay, you spotted a flaw that story; I'll try to do better next time." I'd be horrified if something like this resulted. I like trying adventurous things in my writing, which sometimes work and sometimes don't, and that's how it goes. I want readers to respond thoughtfully -- positive or negative -- and not act like cannibal cheerleaders on crack.

    I'm also frustrated that some people I care about have gotten banged around in this discussion, while trying to hold forth on valid ideas that need attention. It's not fair to bash on people just because they're shaking out some unpleasant truths. Racism makes everyone's life harder, and it's not going away, it's just burrowing deeper. *sigh*

    Anyway, thank you for writing this, and please don't leave the blogosphere because some people are idiots. Your fans love you.

  7. Ysabet:

    I'm tired, but hopefully not going anywhere. Though I am kind of staring at 2009 and wondering what's going to happen next.

    While I figure out what I'm doing next, I'm going to try and wrap my head around the concept of having fans. I associate fans with fiction. Being appreciated, however, that's a good thing to be reminded of - thank you.

  8. Man. This is mindboggling epic phail worthy of a mention in the Books section of a major newspaper.

    On the other hand, I don't want to give these authors any publicity. I certainly DO NOT read them and now WILL NOT read them for they show their ignorance and immaturity.

  9. I appreciate your blog and am also glad you posted this timeline. I completely failed at doing that.

  10. Thank you for this. It's been rattling around my flist for some time, and I was busy being pissed at the Avatar casting list and didn't really catch wind of it until it started seeming huge (which it is) and impossible to figure out (which it isn't, thanks to this).

  11. I apologise if this comes through more than once, my browser seemed to be having issues a few hours ago.

    Thank you for posting this and exposing the virulency of covert racism which exists still. The posts from the guilty speak loud and extremely, sickeningly clear.

    I remember reading Deepad's post a few weeks ago and feeling awed; I remember reading Bear's post which inspired it and feeling angry and frustrated.

    I had no idea it would turn into this. But then again, why should I be surprised? Hyper-sensitive, hyper-defensive white folk were involved, as were their egos.

    Persuing the links, I am sickened, disgusted, disappointed and ANGRY. Angry that people who claim to be intellectual can be so freaking obtuse and arrogant.

    I don't understand how they just can't get it. The privilege, it freaking burns.

    And I'm sorry that, once again, people had to be hurt by it and that people will continue to be hurt by it because instead of owning up, the guilty kneejerk defended meaning they will surely reoffend in future and/or teach others to do so. As a survivor of abuse I am FURIOUS mac_stone used that to justify her blatant, ignorant, arrogant racism.

    From my reading, you were incredibly gracious in your dealings - FAR MORE SO than any of them deserved.

  12. And one last thing... the comments made about you being too busy to enjoy your pain to move on... I felt a surge of blinding rage and I don't even know you... I can't believe anyone would go so far to attempt to invalidate, diminish and dismiss you as to say something so horrendous but thank you for continuing to speak and for continuing to keep such a thorough record despite how infuriating and upsetting this whole experience must've been.

  13. I posted a link to this timeline, and I thank you for taking the time to organize it. It's easy to get lost with the sheer number of posts out there, and it is good for people just coming into the issue to have such a resource.

  14. Thanks for leaving this summary up and available.