Navigating Through Race: The Plight of Storytellers of Color

Originally published at Fangs for the Fantasy

A gent by the name of Malcolm X once said, “The media’s the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that’s power. Because they control the minds of the masses.”

Many people often wonder how I’m able to reconcile being a spec fic author with being a social justice activist. Malcolm X’s quote is that very reason.

Because while the media has the power to control the minds of the masses, it’s also a platform to hold a mirror and expose inconvenient truths such as bigotry to a society who is still plugged into the proverbial Matrix of privilege and institutional oppression.

But in order share the truth, marginalized artists have to make many decisions that can play an impact on our careers, our art and its potential impact on society.

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In Conversation with Daniel José Older

First off, I want to apologize for the video quality. We did this at the time of  day that is heavy with Internet traffic, and we experienced some delays. I also didn’t label the speakers, but you know who he is.

This was some of the most fun I have ever had interviewing someone.

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Sneak a Peek at the Shadowshaper Cover

Ladies and gentlemen: the cover and jacket for my first Young Adult novel, Shadowshaper, which comes out in July from Scholastic’s Arthur A. Levine Books. Behold the gloryyyyyyyyyy after the break.

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Things I Learned While Making the Brave New Souls Documentary

Brave New Souls is a documentary I wrote, produced, and directed that explores the thoughts, goals, and inspirations of a new generation of Black creators in graphic novels, television, cinema, literature, and digital media. It was a very tough shoot as I did the camera work, sound recording, lighting, and directing ALL BY MYSELF! While the movie will be released on DVD in two weeks — on July 15 — for those that want to watch it via their smartphones, tablets, laptops, and home PCs, you can stream or download it as a high-quality, digital video right now at Gumroad for $7.99!

I wanted to take a moment to thank all the creators I worked with during the production of the documentary and share a few things I learned:

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Pub Deal Announcement: Shadowshaper

Originally posted at Ghoststar.net

In January 2009, I decided to write a book. I’ve always written, always made up strange worlds and sent characters hurdling into them, always dreamt of monsters. But until that day, I was scattered: a screenplay here, a few essays there. Some poems. None of ‘em went very far.

I’d read all the Harry Potters and loved them, loved how they immersed me in the world so thoroughly and stayed grounded and exciting. And I wanted something more… I’d just finished Junot’s Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao and Walter Mosley’s Six Easy Pieces and the combined ferocity of those two singular and relentlessly truthful voices lit a fire inside me. Octavia Butler’s work stoked that fire and Stephen King’s On Writing reminded me that writing a book was something that can be done, long as you sit down and do it.

So I did.

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#DiversityinSFF

Recently, a perennial discussion about diversity, or lack thereof, amongst writers of speculative fiction, and their characters, storylines, settings, and perspectives, blew up on the Internet, resulting in the hashtag #DiversityinSFF

To investigate the fall out of that discussion, Jason Sperber (@dad_strangeland) fills in as guest host and welcomes a trio of speculative fiction writers (and fellow Nerds) of Color: Walidah Imarisha (@walidahimarisha), Claire Light (@seelight), and Daniel Jose Older (@djolder) on “Hard N.O.C. Life.”

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Shameless Self Promotion: Read These Books

The Nerds of Color collective is proud to be host to such an amazing group of talented creators, for not only are we fans, but among us are writers, artists, and musicians who distill their love for genre culture into new creations, continuing the dialogue and moving the culture forward. Today, as we close out #LitWeekNOC, our week-long look at issues of diversity in written speculative fiction, we want to recognize our talented colleagues. So go read these books!

390844_10151004994121867_835486522_nFirst up, let’s acknowledge our fearless leader and Head NOC In Charge Keith Chow. Keith is education and outreach editor for the groundbreaking Secret Identities: The Asian American Superhero Anthology and its sequel, Shattered: The Asian American Comics Anthology, and wrote several pieces in their pages, including the “Peril” stories. It’s not exaggerating to say that without Secret Identities and Keith, we wouldn’t be here right now on this blog. So thanks, boss!

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Diversifying Our Kids’ Genre Bookshelf

As the father of two daughters of color, finding reading material and other media that both reflect back at them and reflect the wider, diverse world of which they are a part is important to me. The discussion around what kind of stories get told about what kind of characters and who gets to tell them is, sadly, not relegated to the realm of speculative fiction literature or literary fiction. The dismal state of affairs in the world of children’s literature was recently put in stark relief by the good people at Lee and Low Books, whose tagline is “About Everyone. For Everyone.”

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#DiversityInSFF Roundup: Some Links

The #DiversityInSFF hashtag gave a solid signal boost to the longstanding, often-ignored, ever-trolled, much-needed convos about race and gender, privilege and science fiction/fantasy that have been going on since the dawn of time. For a few weeks twitter was all aflame with debates, links and related shenanigans. We have these convos, increasingly in depth, at cons and across the blogosphere. Backlash against those who speak out has come in the form of death and rape threats, hate mail, doubling down on sexist/racist/homophobic/ableist material, and mind-numbingly nonsensical counterarguments. And, of course, comments sections. Still, we move forward, take breaks to recuperate and then move forward some more towards a vision of SF/F that isn’t just another white male savior fantasies, a diversity that’s more than fake smiling multicolored dress up dolls.

This month Rose Fox and I have been wrapping up the selection process for Long Hidden, an anthology of speculative fiction from the margins of history. It’s busied me up and kept me from banging my head against the keyboard trying to piece together a coherent response to some never-ending fuckery and maybe that’s a good thing. My words are coming, but sometimes the best counterattack is to simply reroute the conversation to creativity, to create something new, a new space for voices that don’t get play in mainstream venues.

Read on to find some links to recent conversations about race and SF/F:

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