I’m drawing a personal boundary on certain conversations, because I have other things to consider currently.
The truth I’ve been keeping off of this particular blog has been that I have had to call the police and make reports for stalking, harassment, and threats four times in the last 6-8 weeks. People have and/or have attempted to post personally identifying information as well as slander about me, my family, other various loved ones of mine, and a subsequent rush of death threats (including ones posted to other sites), spamming of violent images, pornography, racial slurs, and threats of other kinds of violence from white supremacist groups and others have resulted. Some of them were contacting people close to me. Tumblr, predictably, has had very little interest in acknowledging any of it. It should go without saying that this has greatly affected my emotional and physical health.
This ugliness also affected my recent appearance at WisCon 38, due to people who meant me a great deal of harm encouraging people to show up at the con for some kind of confrontation. The con organizers and the safety committee received emails that greatly disturbed them, leading them to take steps to try to ensure my safety at appearances and panels, as did the security of the hotel hosting the con. For that, I’m very grateful.
I’m also grateful for the personal support I received from amazing individuals like ktempest, karnythia, blue-author, cypheroftyr and author N. K. Jemisin, who I finally got to meet and mutually fansquee with. Sadly, what I have been going through cast a pall many of my interactions at the con, whether via sympathy or because all of them have had very similar experiences, or are going through something like it right now.
Which is why I think many of us were reduced to tears during Jemisin’s powerfully moving and emotionally raw Guest of Honor Speech, myself, perhaps, especially at this part:
Their interests have been confined within creative ghettos, allowed out only in proscribed circumstances and limited numbers. When they do appear, they are expected to show their pass and wear their badge: “Look, this is an anthology of NATIVE AMERICAN ANCIENT WISDOM from back when they existed! Put a kachina on the cover or it can’t be published. No, no, don’t put an actual Navajo on the cover, what, are you crazy? We want the book to sell. That person looks too white, anyway, are you sure they aren’t lying about being an Indian? What the hell is a Diné? What do you mean you’re Inuit?”
But the violence that has been done is more than metaphysical or thematic. Careers have been strangled at birth. Identities have been raped — and I use that word intentionally, not metaphorically. What else to call it when a fan’s real name is stripped of its pseudonym, her life probed for data and details until she gets phone calls at her home and workplace threatening her career, her body, and her family? (I don’t even need to name a specific example of this; it’s happened too often, to too many people.) Whole subgenres like magic realism and YA have been racially and sexually profiled, with discrimination based on that profiling so normalized as to be nearly invisible. How many of you have heard that epic fantasy or video games set in medieval Europe need not include people of color because there weren’t any? I love the Medieval PoC blog for introducing simple visual evidence of how people like me were systematically and literally excised from history. The result is a fantasy readership that will defend to the death the idea that dragons belong and Those People don’t.
Incidentally, the person who runs the Medieval PoC blog estimates she has received something on the order of 30 death threats in recent months.
Arm yourselves. Go to panels at Wiscon and claim the knowledge and language that will be your weapons. Go to sources of additional knowledge for fresh ammunition — histories and analyses of the genre by people who see beyond the status quo, our genre elders, new sources of knowledge like “revisionist” scholarship instead of the bullshit we all learned in school. Find support groups of like-minded souls; these are your comrades-in-arms, and you will need their strength. Don’t try to do this alone. When you’re injured, seek help; I’ve got a great list of CBT therapists, for any of you in the New York area. Exercise to stay strong, if you can; defend what health you have, if you can’t.
And from here on, wherever you see bigotry in the genre? Attack it. Don’t wait for it to come directly at you; attack it even if it’s hitting another group. If you won’t ride or die for anyone else, how can you expect them to ride or die for you? Understand that there are people in this genre who hate you, and who do not want you here, and who will hurt you if they can. Do not tolerate their intolerance. Don’t be “fair and balanced.” Tell them they’re unwelcome. Make them uncomfortable. Shout them down. Kick them out. Fucking fight.
And maybe one day, when the fighting’s done, then we can heal. On that day, all of us will dream freely, at last.
Please read the rest here. It was everything I needed to hear, right when I needed to hear it.
If you think this is “just the internet”, you’re fooling yourself. People have already gone to extreme lengths to try to stop these conversations in their tracks. More than attacking this blog’s existence, they’re obviously willing to attack my existence.
I’m sick and tired of suffering in silence. I’m sick of “keeping things civil”, and I’m tired of giving the benefit of the doubt to people who mean me nothing but ill. There is real violence happening to myself and other bloggers for more reasons than that people do not like what we have to say…people take exception to who we are, how we speak, what we look like, who we call friend, and who we call family. No one is obligated to justify their existence.
I plan to take N. K. Jemisin’s advice above not only to fight and keep fighting, but also to adhere to my personal boundaries, and self-care. And if you believe that this kind of violence is something people of color who blog about race and racism should just accept as a fact of life, well, that says a lot more about you than it does about me.
In the meantime, I will continue to post here, on medievalpoc.org, twitter, and facebook, to the best of my ability. I’m forever grateful to the many brilliant and talented individuals who’ve lent me their support, shoulders to cry on, advice, and indeed, mutual fansquee. And my thanks to my readers and dedicated submitters, as well as all the people who offer corrections, recommendations, and further resources.