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Official SFWA Statement on Black Lives Matter and Protests

(31 posts)
  • Started 3 months ago by Chris DeVito
  • Latest reply from Marian

  1. Chris DeVito
    Member

  2. JohnWThiel
    Member

    They can say that there are many sf writers and fantasy writers who are negroes.

    Posted 3 months ago #
  3. C.C. Finlay
    Charles Coleman Finlay

    JohnWThiel, I'm not exactly sure or even inexactly sure what you intended by that comment, but it sounds offensive and it seems to miss the point about many of the systematic problems still faced by all writers of color. The industry, thankfully, is finally starting to address those problems, but statements like this by our professional writers organization, along with the actions it promises, is an important part of continuing to move in the right direction.

    Posted 3 months ago #
  4. Steve R.
    Member

    An unfortunate position by the SFWA. The elimination of racism must be a goal of US society. Nevertheless, there are some themes that need to be considered in making progress in that regard.

    1. Currently the US is being swept by a wave of irrational hysteria for a variety of issues, such as COVID-19, that (to a degree) affect the issue of race. This is similar to what happened during French Revolution. Decisions made in this type of charged hostile environment never turn-out "good" since they are reactionary and not well thought-out.

    2. The US has been fighting racism since before the Civil War. Most recently in 1964 a variety of government programs were instituted to combat racism, such as affirmative action. So the question arises, why in nearly 60 years have these programs not worked (to the extent of ending this type of protest)? One reason, some of those most loudly pushing the "end racism mantra" really are not interested in ending racism, they are just using that mantra to be elected to positions of power. Recall the lyrics by the band The Who: "The new boss same as the old boss". Those protesting for a new "boss" may be disappointed in the end.

    3. Martin Luther King, in his "I have a Dream Speech" declared: "I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character”. The current round of protests is about the color of ones skin and not the content of one's character. We are seeing the rise of a new form of racism. The SFWA proposes to eliminate fees for Black writers and to pay for certain expenses incurred by Black writer. Sounds admirable, but it is actually very Orwellian: "We must promote racism to end racism". Everyone is supposed to be treated equally in the US, creating special carve-out based on race does not promote Kings desire to base a persons treatment based on the content of one's character.

    Posted 3 months ago #
  5. JohnWThiel
    Member

    The remark is not intended to be offensive.

    Posted 3 months ago #
  6. Marian
    Member

    Steve R. I'm unclear where you are getting your information. Your point #2 How was the US fighting racism before the Civil War? There was the Abolitionist movement to end slavery but how popular was that? How many politicians defended slavery which in the US was based on racism? As new states were admitted, there were huge arguments over whether to allow slavery in them. Your major argument is that 1964 brought legal changes. True but have you looked at the statistics? Racism is in every aspect of our society. Just look at the economic differences. Most important, the current issue is the murder of a man by police and again, look at the statistics of the number of murders of Black Men. That is racism. Wandering onto a side issue of of extra help to Black writers is actually changing the subject away from the basic issue of racism in our society. I do not see how anyone can disagree with the SFWA statement.

    Posted 3 months ago #
  7. CWJ
    Member

    https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2020/6/2/1949860/-Cartoon-No-More-Fun-amp-Games

    It's easy to say the rules are fair when you've been allowed to play the game for a few more decades/centuries than the other players.

    Posted 3 months ago #
  8. Steve R.
    Member

    Marian: The issue was being recognized and raised back then. Society has to start somewhere. Progress was obviously has been slow. However, your statement "Racism is in every aspect of our society." begs several fundamental questions, but I will only bring one up at this time. Why does racism still exist after the leadership of "racial justice warriors" such as Johnson, Cater, Clinton, and Obama? And even Biden?

    Providing "extra help to Black writers is", as is I said, is a laudable effort and is appealing for the reasons you mention, but it is not "actually changing the subject away from the basic issue of racism in our society. The reason, these programs simply have no end (mission creep). They become crutches. We have had affirmative action programs for nearly sixty years now. When is enough, enough?

    I also reiterated that discriminatory policies that are supposedly implemented to correct past wrongs are themselves wrong. First, two wrongs don't make a right. Second, why should another deserving person be denied something simply because he or she may be of the "wrong" racial group?

    Posted 3 months ago #
  9. CWJ
    Member

    From the Gospel According to Matthew, Ch 20:

    “For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. He agreed to pay them a denarius for the day and sent them into his vineyard.

    “About nine in the morning he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing. He told them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ So they went. “He went out again about noon and about three in the afternoon and did the same thing. About five in the afternoon he went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, ‘Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?’ “‘Because no one has hired us,’ they answered. “He said to them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard.’ “When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.’ “The workers who were hired about five in the afternoon came and each received a denarius. So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius. When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. ‘These who were hired last worked only one hour,’ they said, ‘and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.’ “But he answered one of them, ‘I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you. Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’

    Posted 3 months ago #
  10. Chris DeVito
    Member

    Steve R. asks: "Why does racism still exist?"

    Simple. Because there are so many people like you, Steve R.

    Posted 3 months ago #
  11. Steve R.
    Member

    Chris DeVito: An offensive fabrication and ad hominem accusation by you that does not foster any progress in discussing this topic. Typical of those blindly following the Democratic mantra of promoting divisiveness in this country through race baiting. It is unfortunate that you don't want to discuss this in a civil manner so that progress can be made on ending racism.

    Posted 3 months ago #
  12. CWJ
    Member

    Offensive fabrication...ad hominem accusations...promoting divisiveness...race baiting...not wanting to discuss in a civil manner...

    I wonder who this sounds like.

    Hmm.

    I wonder.

    Posted 3 months ago #
  13. MattHughes
    Member

    "Everyone is supposed to be treated equally in the US"

    Yes. But everyone is not treated equally. Black people are treated differently from white people. Especially by the police.

    So I don't see how you can call people racists who point out the unavoidable fact that some Americans are routinely victimized because of the color of their skin.

    It's not the fault of the Jews that there are antisemites. It's not gay people's fault that some people think they are an abomination.

    But it is everybody's responsibility to recognize the reality, and to do something to change it.

    Posted 3 months ago #
  14. GusG
    Member

    This is where I go to address issues directly without name-calling. We are failing badly in this forum.

    Steve R: Irrational hysteria? You know that 100K people are dead in the US, right? Also, hysteria is a gender-based term, as long as we are discussing prejudice.

    CWJ: I am not opposed to quoting the bible (briefly) in a secular forum, but I don't see your point.

    Chris: Address the issues being discussed please, instead of calling names. CWJ: you too.

    Just because someone doesn't agree with you doesn't mean they are racist. Have a discussion and think your words through before you type them (JohnWT)

    I am having my last coconut rum tonight before I start my summer diet. Raise a glass with me to peace.

    Posted 3 months ago #
  15. Steve R.
    Member

    GusG: Thank-you for your response. You are correct that over 100K people have died with COVID-19. Nevertheless, in the same period, how many people have died from auto accidents and the common flu. (I will acknowledge that COVID-19 is a new virulent disease that required special attention.) We also have to acknowledge that COVID-19, as a new disease, means that responses to it, to protected human health, are often inadequate, wrong, and contradictory which has generated a lot of mental anguish. Recently, it was asserted that reopening the economy would result in a spike (reemergence) of COVID-19 infections; that never happened. In another case, a study condemning the use of hydroxychloroquine failed peer review, but until that point was sensationalized as proof that the disease was not being treated properly. Many public officials threatened people with arrest if they congregated or opened their businesses. However, when the protests started all those admonishments by the public officials were immediately tossed aside.

    Concerning the use of the word: "hysteria"

    "an uncontrollable outburst of emotion or fear, often characterized by irrationality, laughter, weeping, etc". https://www.dictionary.com/browse/hysteria?s=t

    I don't see any reference to a gender bias in the definition above. Maybe, this is a new interpretation concerning how this word is supposed to or is not supposed to be used based on the politics of today? Sorry, but I did not get the memo from the thought police. Based on the dictionary definition of the word, "hysteria", is gender neutral.

    Posted 3 months ago #
  16. Marian
    Member

    Hysteria has a 4000 year history. It originally meant "wandering uterus" Here's Wikipedia "The word hysteria originates from the Greek word “uterus,” hystera[3]. The oldest record of hysteria dates back to 1900 B.C. when Egyptians recorded behavioral abnormalities in adult women on medical papyrus[3]. The Egyptians attributed the behavioral disturbances to a wandering uterus." I quote Wikipedia only because it's brief. I have my Master's in Psychology, by the way and this is accurate. Freudian psychology was very gender biased. This did not begin to change until recent decades.
    I am only commenting on this one point. I want to add thnnks to Gus for being a voice of sanity and peace. I also want to say that the best way to have a civil discussion is to stick to only one point. The moment you have a list you are both attacking and inviting attack, all unintentionally.

    Posted 3 months ago #
  17. Marian
    Member

    To conclude the hysteria definition. Historically, using the term had the underlying implication of "Just like a woman - over emotional, stupid, ridiculous, etc." Happily the sexism part has dropped out of common usage as seen by the fact that Steve didn't even know the long history of the word. However, the use of the word hysteria as a generalized putdown remains. It implies that something is too ridiculous and wildly emotional for consideration. Using a term like that in an argument invites retaliation as in "Oh yeah? Well, you're a...." Therefore the only way to have a discussion is to avoid using loaded terminology. A good rule is to assume that if someone disagrees with you, they have a reason that is valid to them.

    Posted 3 months ago #
  18. Steve R.
    Member

    Sorry Marian, but on what factual basis would you assume that I have not heard of the history of "hysteria". (I will acknowledge, not to the extent of your detailed explanation.) That is a premature point by you. But as you note: "Happily the sexism part has dropped out of common usage ...". I would content that there is nothing inappropriate with using a word based on common usage. Conversely, one could even contend that current attempts to force gender neutral terminology on the English language is abusing it, but then languages do evolve over time. (Look at Shakespeare's use of English, I for one can't follow it.) Tolerance would mean accepting wording as it is commonly used. Many words have been derived from some sort of historical context and their meaning has evolved over time. Asserting that the current use of a word is inappropriate based on a depreciated definition of a that word, in many cases, would not be justified unless the author was clearly using it in the obsolete context.

    Posted 3 months ago #
  19. CWJ
    Member

    A good way to see the effect of Covid-19 is through excess mortality, those above the death by car accidents, heart attacks, insults on the internet, etc, which happen at a fairly steady rate. You can find such graphs here by scrolling down. I especially recommend the clear graphics from The Economist:

    https://ourworldindata.org/excess-mortality-covid

    The lag time of Covid-19 is about 10-14 days, between exposure and manifestation of symptoms. Therefore anyone would expect there to be a lag time between opening up and any spikes. I certainly hope the prediction of spikes is wrong. It is, however, too early to categorically state it is wrong. In another month we'll know.

    This is the problem faced by public officials: it takes weeks, even months before you know if you did the right or wrong thing.

    Posted 3 months ago #
  20. Steve R.
    Member

    @CWJ: A very true statement: "This is the problem faced by public officials: it takes weeks, even months before you know if you did the right or wrong thing." Unfortunately, too many people/organizations want to assign blame or claim that their scions are appropraite prematurely for instantaneous political gain.

    Posted 3 months ago #
  21. Dr. Caligari
    Member

    @MattHughes: Thank you.

    @GusG: Glass raised.

    Posted 3 months ago #
  22. schatzfam
    Member

    @Steve R.: You asked "Nevertheless, in the same period, how many people have died from auto accidents and the common flu?"

    While I don't have the statistics from the past 3 months (roughly the time of the COVID-19 pandemic.), I did a bit of research. For auto accidents, there are typically around 38,000 deaths per year in the U.S.. So, for a typical 3 month period, this would be about 9500 deaths. (There were probably far fewer traffic deaths over the past 3 months, because of the stay at home orders.)

    Regarding the flu, it all depends on the strain of flu. In 2017-2018, there were about 61,000 deaths. Last years, these numbers were much lower at 34,200. So even in the 61,000 scenario, this is still just over 15,000 in a 3 month period. (I realize that flus tend to be seasonal, so the deaths may not be spread evenly throughout the year.)

    So, you may call the reaction "irrational hysteria." I think 110,000 American deaths in just over a 3 month period is serious. A strong central plan of attack may have helped quell some of the excess panic you seem concerned about.

    Posted 3 months ago #
  23. Steve R.
    Member

    @schatzfam: I never said that it was not serious. See the comment made by @CWJ and my response: "@CWJ: A very true statement: "This is the problem faced by public officials: it takes weeks, even months before you know if you did the right or wrong thing." Unfortunately, too many people/organizations want to assign blame or claim that their actions are appropriate prematurely for instantaneous political gain."

    Let me repeat (well I guess I can't since I did not include it in my prior posts) what happened in Georgia (as one example). In mid April the state was "opened-up". Many pundits dutifully proclaimed (to inflame public outrage) that there would be a spike in COVID-19 cases and deaths. That apocalypse never happened.

    In theory, you are correct for desiring a "A strong central plan of attack may have helped quell some of the excess panic you seem concerned about.". But, I believe that you are neglecting that decisions regarding how to control COVID-19 are made at various levels of government: federal, state, county, city, etc. They all have their own individual roles to play. At this point, I also need to reiterate that it is difficult to have one coherent plan with a rolling crises that changes as time progresses and as people learn more. So what was "true" yesterday, is not necessarily "true" today.

    Nevertheless, some the decisions being made have been whimsically based on political opportunism. For example, some governors proclaimed that any public assembly would be a threat to public health. In fact, some people were arrested for violating these guidelines.

    Now, following the unfortunate death of George Floyd, some of these very same governors have immediately encouraged people to assemble and go out and protest, essentially doing an about face on their prior admonitions. These inconsistent actions, even if believed to be appropriate, are not one coherent consistent plan.

    Posted 3 months ago #
  24. Chris DeVito
    Member

    GusG: I did not call anyone a name; show me where I did.

    I stand by what I wrote.

    Posted 3 months ago #
  25. CWJ
    Member

    Today the STEM community is reflecting on how far we have to go and how we can work to do better.

    https://www.particlesforjustice.org/

    Posted 3 months ago #
  26. Steve R.
    Member

    The article writes: "It should go without saying that Black lives matter. Yet we find ourselves again mourning and raging over state and vigilante violence against Black people. The recent murders of Tony McDade, Breonna Taylor, Regis Korchinski-Paquet, George Floyd, and Ahmaud Arbery are just a few examples of the violence and racism that Black people live with every day -- and have for centuries -- in the US, Canada, and around the world."

    What about mourning the case of David Dorn, a retired Black police Captain who was brutally killed by looters, all apparently Black?
    Doesn't his Black life matter?

    This headline appeared on May 25, 2020: 18 murders in 24 hours: Inside the most violent day in 60 years in Chicago

    "While Chicago was roiled by another day of protests and looting in the wake of George Floyd’s murder, 18 people were killed Sunday, May 31, making it the single most violent day in Chicago in six decades, according to the University of Chicago Crime Lab. The lab’s data doesn’t go back further than 1961."

    "Most homicide victims in Chicago are young, black men, and the suspects are, too. But murders have fallen significantly in recent years, along with police-involved shootings. There were 764 murders and 12 fatal police-involved shootings in 2016, compared with 492 murders and three fatal police-involved shootings last year."

    Why the apparent silence concerning Black on Black violence?
    So, are we to look at the solution to a problem through only one carefully crafted lens that focus on only one issue? In theory, we should be working towards a holistic solution based on all aspects to a problem.

    Posted 3 months ago #
  27. GusG
    Member

    "Simple. Because there are so many people like you, Steve R."

    ...is not strictly name-calling but it amounts to the same thing: a direct personal attack loaded with assumptions.

    Posted 3 months ago #
  28. CWJ
    Member

    What aboutisms are a great way to derail a conversation. It can be applied to pretty much any topic that makes one uncomfortable, because no essay, no comment, not even any book, will cover *all* injustices, so it is really easy to say, "Why the apparent silence on X"?

    Have your asked your black friends? You may find out that in fact, they talk about black on black violence all the time. Just not with white people. Why should they?

    Posted 3 months ago #
  29. Steve R.
    Member

    CWJ: You are entitled to your viewpoint. Since we have different viewpoints, I won't be responding further to your comment to keep this from becoming and endless tit for tat.

    Posted 3 months ago #
  30. MattHughes
    Member

    Here's a bit of whataboutism:

    In the 19th century, the Irish began to arrive in America in large numbers. They were unwelcome. They were low-skilled, often illiterate, and they were Catholics coming into a predominantly Protestant society.

    So they were discriminated against, crammed into unhealthy slums, given the worst jobs at the lowest pay. Crime became rampant among them, including organized crime. This was taken as proof that the Irish were irredeemably inferior and had to be kept down by strong policing.

    And then . . . time went by, and the second- and third-generation immigrants became Americans. They "bettered" themselves, rose into the skilled labor and lower middle classes, and began to have a strong influence on politics in places like New York and Boston.

    By the end of the 19th century, the Irish were fully rehabilitated, and the "irredeemable, unassimilable" newcomers were eastern European Jews, Italians, and Chinese.

    And so it goes. When a definable group are kept in poor neighborhoods, denied upward mobility, assumed to be naturally disposed to criminality, you get what happened with the Irish in mid-century New York, with the Italian and Jewish gangs in turn of the century New York and Chicago, the Chinese Tongs in San Francisco.

    A lot of the crime then was Irish-on-Irish, Italian-on-Italian, Chinese-on-Chinese: prostitution, loan-sharking, extortion, gambling, strong-arming, boot-legging, opium-selling.

    That's what happens when you cram people into society's basement. The difference between those historically reviled groups and black Americans, is that the Irish, Italians, Jews, Chinese, and other more recent arrivals were allowed to climb the ladder. Black people, not so much, and only relatively recently.

    So, yeah, if you create a permanent underclass, you can expect a lot of its members to act like an underclass, including gravitating toward crime.

    The lesson of history, and not just America's, is that if you give an underclass the opportunity to rise, they will join in the common morality. Deny them the opportunity, and they will live by their own rough rules.

    Posted 3 months ago #

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