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Racism In SFF?

Someone asked me what I thought of this interview, what with me being a writer who is half-Indian.

I won’t mince words here: SFF publishing in the US today is the Klu Klux Klan of the publishing world. It’s anachronistically misrepresentational in its racial mix, religious mix, cultural mix. The few exceptions to the rule only prove the endemic, systemic and deeply bred bias in the field. There are even editors who claim to champion ‘coloured’ writing, by publishing anthologies that segregate non-white non-Judeo/Christian non-American authors of speculative fiction from their ‘mainstream’ genre counterparts.

There are editors who take non-white editorial assistants or even sponsor non-white writers in the name of progressiveness, and at panels in conventions, the non-white writers are often herded together conveniently. But where are the non-white Editorial Directors, Publishers, big-name literary agents, etc? For that matter, where are the non-white authors? In the ghetto, that’s where. And this ghetto is the size of the planet! SFF publishing in the US today is 50 years behind the rest of the world.

It’s fair to say that US publishers were more concerned about the content of my book rather than question my ethnic background, even though it’s mixed. We’re not dealing with the BNP here.

To address the main point, even back in my editorial days (I don’t think editors need defending here) such questions never come into thought. The only essential question I remember was, ‘Is their writing any good?’ (Ashok’s is, by the way – I’m not having a crack at him here.) And apart from ‘Can we sell this?’ that’s pretty much all the general bases covered in the office. And you know what, it doesn’t matter if you’re black or white or Tralfamadorian.

Cheryl links to some interesting responses.

UPDATE: I’ve had some more thoughts about how the question of ‘Can we sell this?’ be perceived as racist, which I’ll expand upon in another post.

UPDATE 2: Here’s my follow-up post on perceptions of racism.

By Mark Newton

Born in 1981, live in the UK. I write about strange things.

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