Roxane Gay reads this years Best American Short Stories, finds almost every story in the anthology was about rich or nearly rich white people:
What I felt most while reading BASS was a profound sense of absence. Sure there was a story about black people (written by Danielle Evans, coincidentally) and there was a story about a mechanic, to bring in that working class perspective and there was a story set in Africa, but most of the stories were uniformly about rich white people (often rich, white old men) doing rich white people things like going on safari or playing poker and learning a painful lesson or lamenting old age in Naples. Each of these stories was wonderful and I don’t regret reading them, but the demographic narrowness is troubling. It’s not right that anyone who isn’t white, straight, or a man, reading a book like this, which is fairly representative of the work being published by the “major” journals, is going to have a hard time finding experiences that might, in some way, mirror their own. It’s not right that the best writing in the country, each year, is writing about white people by white people with a few splashes of color or globalism (Africa! Japan! the hood!) for good effect. Things have certainly improved over the years but that’s not saying much.
At the same time, she also find her own succes being questioned for the usual reasons:
Anytime you achieve even a little bit of success there’s going to be someone who suggests you earned that success because you’re a person of color (or a woman, or both). Even though you might know you achieved your success because you’re awesome, because you worked hard for years, because you beat down doors until one fell down, you are stuck with the niggling doubt that they’re right. You worry that everyone thinks that way so you can never really enjoy your success, you always push yourself to do better, to do more, to be the best, to be so good they have to stop saying it’s just because you’re a person of color. It is exhausting.
All of which confirms the superiority of science fiction and fantasy fandom, as
Most of 2009, the science fiction/fantasy community was embroiled in a contentious debate about race that was so extensive and ongoing that it even got its own name and wiki: RaceFail, but hey, at least the SF/F community is talking about these issues which cannot be said for other writing communities.
Which is surely the most important point to take away from these two posts. More seriously, it’s strangely heartening to see that the problems sf and fantasy struggle with (the representation of non-white/male/straight voices and viewpoints, the problems with appopriation, systemic racism and underrepresentation of people of colour and so on) are not unique to it. It means that it’s not impossible for science fiction/fantasy to change for the better.