Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Are poor people invisible to science fiction fandom?

Convention fandom isn't cheap—two adults who want to go to a major US convention that's not local should plan to drop a thousand dollars or more on transportation, hotel, and meals. Travelling to distant cons simply isn't possible for many Americans. Even local cons are unaffordable for many—remember that in addition to the US's millions of unemployed folks, the working poor, who earn less than the poverty line, number 46.2 million.

I know of three fannish organizations that cover convention costs:

1. TAFF helps popular fans make trans-Atlantic visits.

2. DUFF is the equivalent for trans-Pacific visits.

3. Con or Bust takes a race-based approach to aid.

But if there's financially-based aid in fandom, I haven't found it. TAFF and DUFF focus on established fans, and at Con or Bust, poor fans of color appear to compete with richer ones—one of Con or Bust's first beneficiaries was an Indian who described herself as upper-class—and poor fans of no color are ineligible, even though Martin Luther King's 1967 observation is still true: there are twice as many poor whites as poor blacks in the USA.

Is there a group that I don't know about? Or in this profit-focused nation, is the idea of helping poor people go to conventions as silly as helping poor people go to Disneyland?