On White Folks and…

On White Folks and Hearing What They Have to Say:

  • I understand the frustration that leads POC to ask white folks to just be quiet and listen for a while. I even think that's generally good advice, for everyone. And given how very very many white folks there are in SF/F fandom, and how easy it is for their even well-meaning and supportive voices to drown out the voices of POC, and particularly given that we're in a discussion about race and racism, yes, it's especially worthwhile for the white folks to at least pause and think for a moment about whether they actually have something to contribute to the discussion.

  • That said, I think it's still useful for white folks to speak up briefly to state their position on recent events, especially if they hold positions of power in the field. Established writers, editors, publishers, reviewers, critics, academics, etc. There's a difference between making it clear where you stand and hogging the mike. I appreciate knowing where you stand. (Although I also respect anyone's need to not engage in this particular imbroglio.)

  • I particularly don't appreciate when people (and I'm generally seeing this from POC) tell particular white folks to shut up and butt out of the conversation. Free speech, folks. If you're tired of hearing them talk, walk away. Feel free to shun them, online or in person. If you think you're dealing with a troll, fine, Don't Feed the Troll. But I personally don't want you telling them they don't have the right to speak. As a POC, as someone invested in this discussion and in the field, I want to hear what they have to say.

2 thoughts on “On White Folks and…”

  1. Excellent points!

    I will add: the best way to deal with speech you don’t agree with is with more speech, not less.

    And, the goal of more speech should not be more people talking at each other, it should be more people in dialogue with each other.

    The differences in our locations, languages, skin color, etc. are nothing compared with what we all share in common: our humanity.

  2. It’s interesting that you bring up listening. I’m white, and I left the SF/F world for reasons not related to race. When I think of cons, I remember vast seas of people who wanted to talk without listening. The loudest people seem to have the highest status in that world, and the ability to listen had no value whatsoever.

    When I read about the whole racefail business, it seems to me that SF/F people of all backgrounds would benefit if they placed as much value on listening as they do to the sounds of their own voices.

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