Last year I posted an essay about neo-fascist goings-on in the science fiction community. To make a long story short, a racist, misogynist troll who calls himself “Voice of God” and owns a publishing house in Finland used Gamergate tactics to hijack the ballot for science fiction’s prestigious Hugo Awards.
At the time, I was shocked and alarmed by the blatant neo-fascist rhetoric used by the troll and the normalization that had taken place in the science fiction community. (He had run for president of Science Fiction Writers of America even after using an outrageous racial slur against N.K. Jemisin, and a stunning ten percent of people had voted for him.)
In hindsight, I see that the racist far right has made inroads everywhere. Because about a fourth of the U.S. electorate voted in someone who is looking to be an actual fascist.
But here’s the good news: the science fiction community organized and the science fiction community won. Whatever else happened in 2016 that sucked, a bright spot is that he was roundly defeated. You can read more about that in the IO9 blog article “Hugo Awards Celebrate Women in Sci-Fi, Send Rabid Puppies to Doghouse” by Beth Elderkin.
Science fiction represents the dreams of our community. And dreams are powerful. If science fiction fans can come together to defeat neo-fascism with their own community, then everyday people in the U.S. can defeat white supremacy, actual fascism, and all the rest of that garbage.
We can win.
I’ll finish up by a quote from N.K. Jemisin:
. . . all this anger and discussion reflects a struggle for the soul of the organization, which is in turn reflective of a greater struggle for the soul of the genre, and that overall struggle taking place globally. . . .
Diverse voices are here to stay.
Recent events have been a shock, the next four years are going to be a nightmare, and too many of the people I know are discouraged. But we can win. How do I know this? Because of the mass movements that have won, across history and across the globe.
But there are obstacles, including some that are not at all obvious. The two I’ll touch on today are:
- social anxiety
- ignorance about our own history
This morning while I was in my children’s school the intercom came on and I heard the story of Rosa Parks changing the world with her one refusal to sit in the back of the bus. It’s meant to be inspirational: look what one person can do!
But the vast majority of people who hear the story think, “I could never do that!” Not even for fear of being arrested. Social anxiety is enough to stop most of us.
Once I stepped far outside my comfort zone and freaked out the entire leadership of a big nonprofit. (It’s a long story but I’ll tell it one of these days.) It took me weeks to recuperate. I could not possibly have done it without social support and collective planning ahead of time. So we need to do scary stuff, but we all need help.
To do that, we need to organize. In person. Face to face. With actual people.
We also need to know our history. Rosa Parks was a great leader, but there are also thousands of unsung heroes who contributed in many different ways. Their stories are buried but not lost.
Here’s the book that tells that story. It has the who, what, where, when, how, and why of a mass movement that won. Go read it. Then tell me something: if you could be any civil rights hero from this book, which one would you be?
I’ve Got the Light of Freedom by Charles M. Payne
– Kristin Ann King