Saturday, October 22, 2011

a Racefail 09 flare-up

The World Fantasy Convention program arrived Thursday night. I was surprised to find I wasn't scheduled for anything, even though I was nominated for a World Fantasy Award a few years ago and the con is using my idea and description for the class panel—usually if you propose a panel, you're on it.

I shrugged and assumed it just meant my hard work at becoming a has-been is finally paying off.

But yesterday, someone I trust gave me the backstory: They had enough volunteers for the class panel, so they wanted to put me on the Islam panel, which would seem to make sense. Emma and I were the editors of the Liavek anthologies, which were set in a faux Arabian Nights Middle East because we were tired of stories set in a faux Medieval Europe, and I've been pushing Reza Aslan's No God But God at Islamophobes ever since it was published, and when Elizabeth Moon wrote her post about American Muslims, I was one of the first to criticize her.

But someone blackballed me, claiming Racefail 09 had made me too controversial. (The quick take on that flamewar: while some people insist on talking about race as though class is irrelevant, I agree with Rev. Thandeka, who said "We must not forget that white racism was from the start a vehicle for classism," and Adolph Reed Jr., who said, "I remain curious why the “debate” over antiracism as a politics takes such indirect and evasive forms—like the analogizing and guilt by association, moralistic bombast in lieu of concrete argument—and why it persists in establishing, even often while denying the move, the terms of debate as race vs. class. I’m increasingly convinced that a likely reason is that the race line is itself a class line, one that is entirely consistent with the neoliberal redefinition of equality and democracy.")

After I was blackballed from the Islam panel, my supporters tried to add me to the class panel that I had proposed. But again, I was blackballed. (I suspect the only reason the class panel itself wasn't cancelled was because other people had volunteered for it. One reason I love Occupy Wall Street is it's made a lot of people talk about America's last taboo.)

Armed with what had happened, I emailed friends involved with WFC. They turned the situation around: I will be on the Role of Class in Fantasy and Horror—It's a better fit for me than the Islam panel, which I hope to attend and learn from.

I don't know who tried to blackball me. My source didn't want to name the guilty, and I respect that. It's enough for me to know that this time, the anonymous cowards lost.

One thing I want to stress: no one should blame anyone involved in the running of WFC. They were put in an extremely awkward position, but it's been resolved as well as it could be, and I'm grateful to them

See also: racial democracy vs. social democracy