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Category: Personal words

A letter to Apex editors re: the intersectional SFF roundtable

ETA, 18 February 2017: The Apex editors have posted a response to my letter. I didn’t know what the process behind publishing the roundtable was; it’s good they have pulled it. I’d also like to point you to a post by Zen Cho that would make good reading after this: Being an itemised list of disagreements.


Note: This is a letter copied verbatim from an email I sent to the editors of Apex Magazine. After speaking with some people I’ve decided to post it publicly as well, in case it might help others. I am not able to engage further on this matter without significant cost to myself, so I have turned off comments on this post. Linking is fine.


Dear Editors,

I am writing to you about the Intersectional SFF Roundtable you have published at www.apex-magazine.com/intersectional-sff-roundtable/ .

I am deeply disappointed to find Benjanun Sriduangkaew, who previously also wrote under the pseudonym Requires Hate (RH), as a contributor to your roundtable on intersectionality in SFF.

It is not your choice to publish RH that I find appalling, but your specific choice to ask her to contribute to a roundtable on, of all things, intersectionality.

It is a well-known fact that RH caused harm to people in the SFF community, disproportionately targeting women of color; there was even a published report on it, which garnered its writer a Hugo. Whether you agree with the circumstances surrounding the publication of the report or not, it cannot be denied that women in the SFF community, among them women of color, spoke about the harm RH caused them.

This leads me to some questions: does intersectionality in SFF not include women, especially women of color? Is intersectionality only important enough that we must write about it, but not so important that we actively value it by considering how much further harm giving RH a platform to talk about intersectionality would cause? By this I mean that RH speaking about intersectionality, when she herself has harmed marginalized people — when she has caused harm by using people’s marginalizations against them — is a grievous injury.

I wonder whether you did not consider these things, or whether you did, but simply valued having RH’s contributions to your intersectional roundtable more than preventing harm. Neither bodes well for your commitment to marginalized people in the community.

I state again: it is not your decision to publish RH that appalls me; you have published her before, and I have simply not read the work. It is your decision to publish her in this specific, slap-in-the-face, salt-in-the-wounds context. Many of those harmed by RH — and the names attached to public reports or posts are not the entirety of them — are meant to be included by the idea of intersectionality; instead, you do worse than exclude.

I am writing so that you cannot say there was no push-back on your choice of contributors. I am writing so that you cannot say people have forgotten the harm RH has done to marginalized people. It was real harm. It is not easily forgotten.

Sincerely,
[signed]

Each angel, burning

Kindness is, I think, what will redeem us in the end. The kindness of friends, people in my online communities, and strangers– it’s brought me through dark and terrible places more times than I can remember; it has literally saved my life, several times. It’s one of the lights by which I try to live; Kelly Zen-Yie Tsai’s poem “kindness over genius” is tattooed onto my brain.

And yet. And yet.

Again and again, I’ve seen the idea of “kindness” — this demand that we be kind to those who harm us — abused and twisted, used as salt in wounds, or smaller blades to drive the injury deeper and make people who have been wronged bleed.

I’ve seen people use “keep YA kind!” to try to silence those who are speaking out against injustice and that most fundamental unkindness: the refusal to see certain other people as fully human. I’ve seen people bemoaning the lack of kindness in their communities even as they allow those who are most vulnerable, those who daily face the thousand thousand papercuts and bruises of microaggression, to face their battles alone. I’ve seen people hold their belief in kindness up as a banner proclamation of their refusal to take a stand against oppression, injustice, the perpetual dehumanization of their fellows, because what’s most important to them is the appearance of gentleness rather the prevention of further harm.

(Listen: if you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.)

This isn’t kindness. This is cowardice. This is further callous, cruel harm — no, it isn’t just “standing by”, it isn’t “refusing to pick a side”, it’s the active causing of pain, and to be honest often it hurts more than the initial instance of harm.1

Your kindness isn’t kindness. It’s only another face of injustice.


When people talk about how marginalized people should react in situations where the power of the center is used against them, they often like to bring up several “truths”:

  1. You catch more flies with honey than vinegar.
  2. Turn the other cheek.

Leaving aside whether flies prefer honey to vinegar, it’s interesting to note that the saying contains this assumption that the addressee would benefit from catching more flies. (Okay, let’s say… butterflies. I would like to catch more butterflies.) In fact, the benefit to the marginalized person of getting people of privilege to agree with them is– practically nil. Even if a brown person being incredibly patient and ~kind~ about educating somehow magically persuaded a white person to stop being racist to every person of color they met– how does the brown person benefit, personally, for themselves? Indeed, is this even a fair exchange to consider, to theorize about, to expect? Is the hypothetical cessation of harm so meaningful that putting oneself further into harm’s way — because make no mistake, fitting oneself to invisible, irrational expectations of “kindness” is allowing very real harm to be done to oneself — somehow becomes a worthwhile endeavor?

You’ll notice that the onus, even here, is still on the marginalized person. We must do the work of remaining civil, of fitting ourselves to impossible standards of good behavior2 while the person who already holds all the structural and societal power benefits: they’re getting an education without paying anything for it. Why are we setting out honey for the flies, I ask you? Can the flies not find their own sustenance without our labor? That is, can privileged people not find the resources that will teach them about their own wrongs, and leave us to lick our wounds — wounds they’ve inflicted on us — in peace?

Corollary to “you catch more flies with honey than vinegar” is the pattern of complaint whenever people are met with “educate yourself”. I choose to see “educate yourself” as shorthand for “I am exhausted from my daily struggle to survive in a world that is bent on my annihilation; I will not perform kindness for your sake as I refuse to accept your demands for my emotional labor; Google exists or there are also other search engines out there, such as DuckDuckGo, which has the benefit of having a very cute name.”

On turning the other cheek– well.


The thing that got me out of bed this morning as I absolutely had to write was the idea that many people who tout kindness as a response to injustice (“I fully agree black lives matter, but they don’t have to be so toxic about it! I’m happy to engage with anyone who can be calm and respectful!”) point to Jesus Christ as an exemplar of this type of kindness. “Look,” they say, “he even said turn the other cheek!” How radical, how revolutionary, how very wrong.

Yet.

Isn’t it possible that turning the other cheek, far from offering the oppressor another opportunity to do harm, is instead a form of defiance? I read this via hellotailor on Tumblr a while ago, and it is so cogent I am quoting it here:

This specifically refers to a hand striking the side of a person’s face, tells quite a different story when placed in it’s proper historical context. In Jesus’s time, striking someone of a lower class ( a servant) with the back of the hand was used to assert authority and dominance. If the persecuted person “turned the other cheek,” the discipliner was faced with a dilemma. The left hand was used for unclean purposes, so a back-hand strike on the opposite cheek would not be performed. Another alternative would be a slap with the open hand as a challenge or to punch the person, but this was seen as a statement of equality. Thus, by turning the other cheek the persecuted was in effect putting an end to the behavior or if the slapping continued the person would lawfully be deemed equal and have to be released as a servant/slave.

The discussion further down is so good, too.

I also wanted to point out that Jesus, far from being a person who accepted injustice without complaint, actively fought against injustice: he raged against those who had turned a place of worship into a place of commerce, or are we conveniently forgetting that in what is called the Cleansing of the Temple he overturned tables and drove people out with a whip? Jesus was a radical revolutionary, driven by anger at injustice and compassion for the oppressed, by a passion to see the world transformed; he was so dangerous the authorities had to have him killed to maintain the peace. People who point out kindness as if it were an antithesis to anger at injustice are vastly oversimplifying both things, and in so watering them down deprive them of their strength. Because kindness, and anger at injustice, come from the same root.


4 Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;
6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;
7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

I Corinthians 13:4-7, King James Version

Here’s another thing I’ve seen often. “Look,” people who want me to be kind and patient say, “if you truly had love in your heart, you would [behavior that requires a great deal of emotional labor on my part so I can minimize the discomfort of the person who harmed me]! Because you have to be patient and kind, Mia!”

Yeah, it even says there, see, that love suffers long. Which, you know, I do. I do, and one thing privileged people seem to completely overlook is that marginalized people already endure a great deal without saying anything, otherwise we would get literally nothing done; we’d be consumed by our pain and our rage. We are long-suffering; you just don’t see it. Nor are we easily-provoked; it’s a survival skill.

And indeed: love is kind. Love, however, does not tolerate untruth or wrong. And this is where, I think, a conflict comes for some people: one cannot be kind and still fight oppressors; one cannot have love and tell racist writers to their faces, “that was racist, it has done me great harm” or speak to other people saying, “this is a terrible, racist book”. How unkind and unloving.

What kind of simple, naive reality do you live in?

It was fiery, sharp, bright and ruthless, ready to kill, ready to die, outspeeding light: it was Charity, not as mortals imagined it, not even as it has been humanised for them since the Incarnation of the Word, but the translunary virtue, fallen upon them direct from the Third Heaven, unmitigated. They were blinded, scorched, deafened. They thought it would burn their bones. They could not bear that it should continue. They could not bear that it should cease.

That Hideous Strength, C.S. Lewis

I’ve been told to answer hatred with love. The thing is, I do. Love isn’t a sheep to the slaughter. Love is not a coward covering her face. Love, too, is a sword. And if we’re looking, again, at readings of the Bible, at the nature of the Divine, we’ll see that angels, messengers of the Divine who exist in close proximity to that perfect radiance of love — they are hardly easy to look at. They aren’t comfortable beings to confront. They say, “do not be afraid!” — they burn.


And so this is where I’m at, standing in this place where every terrible perpetuation of injustice is met with rightly deserved outcry — and the outcry is then condemned, every comfort is laved upon the offender, and little thought given to the unseen and the vulnerable whose worlds have been just that little bit more shattered, their hearts a little bit more bloody and broken.

I have no time to spare for people who are only interested in furthering oppression; whose desire to learn about social justice is prompted primarily by the need to know the acceptable degree of harm they can cause; who, when taken to task for the injustice in their words, double down and explain that the readers have it wrong, it wasn’t their intent, and in any case, couldn’t you have been kinder doing it? –No. I notice that things like “keep YA kind” always seem to act only in one direction: we must be kind when we confront those who have hurt us, when we speak the truth of the marginalized to the powers in the center — but there is no kindness for those who have been hurt, who see themselves once again turned into monsters, savages, people not deserving of humanity or redemption. There is never enough kindness in the margins.

So what I’m doing is using more of my energy to try to be kind in the margins, rather than reaching out to the center in the belief that any attempts to educate it will work and make it, somehow, more kind.3 I’m tired of the expectation that I must pour out my heart’s blood in the hopes that white “allies” or straight people will, somehow, attain a degree of empathy through dipping their fingers into my pain. Kindness toward the center, it feels, is an impossible demand: there is never enough that I can give.

Instead, then, here is my kindness and here is my love: I will create for myself and for my kapatid in the margins; I will thrive and flourish and rejoice and that will be my defiance of hate; I will hold on to love as light and warmth and refuge and shield — and also love as a sword, as a blade of truth, just as kindness is not merely the open hand but also the hand that protects the most vulnerable and oppressed from the harm dealt by the powerful.

I’ll burn.


  1. For instance: I fully expect racism from people like Sad and Rabid Puppies. You know what I don’t expect it from?* White people who talk about diversity, but then say work centering brown people is “difficult to relate to”. White women who talk over me when I speak about being fetishized, about my experiences about street harassment which — of course — are always, always racialized. (*This is a simplification, of course. One learns that even white “allies” — especially white allies — may cause one harm. But sometimes one trusts, or would like to.)
  2. I say impossible because it absolutely is. Note, for instance, the stereotype of the angry black woman.
  3. Tade Thompson brought up interesting points when I was talking about diversity panels the other day, and given everything I’m more and more inclined towards his position. Diversity panels are essentially education for the privileged. Whether benefits exist for the marginalized people who enact labor for these panels is in question.

the center does not hold

I was on my way to the kitchen when I saw the tears in my partner’s eyes. After some coaxing, she said she’d just read an article about my country, about what our new president is doing. I knew things were bad, she said. I just hadn’t realized the extent of it. And then she gave me a look I knew well: she was gauging whether this would (as it has so often in the past) push me closer to breaking.

I said, It’s okay. Don’t worry. I know. I wasn’t looking at her; I had my gaze pinned on something featureless and inoffensive, like the wall above the kitchen cupboards. Sometimes you avert your eyes not because you don’t want to see, but because you don’t want to be seen. It’s fine, I repeated. He will destroy everything the past years have built. We knew this from the start.

Maybe I’m wrong. I’d like to be. These days I don’t spend much time guessing.


How I cook: butter and heat. Let the edges of the food turn a rich brown. Take it to the point of caramelization, tip it over– but only just.

Try to stop short of burning.


If I could afford to have eyes for the future, I would try to guess: is my motherland set so firmly on this path that nothing will sway it? Are we wholly bent on our destruction? Most importantly: is there anything we can do (was there anything we could have done) to stop it, to turn back, to somehow keep from falling apart–

–but you see, these are questions I cannot ask, because I cannot look ahead further than the next day. Give me anything after tomorrow, and I lose myself in thoughts of abyss.

Instead here is what I can think about: what do we have in the fridge, can we afford to have the heating on tonight, are our meds close to running out? Is it time to put the bins out; to pay the gas bill; to shuffle accounts around for rent? Am I unwell, and if so, how much household work can I do, will this impact my deadlines, can I take a nap? It is mundane and ordinary and perfectly, excruciatingly small, and sometimes — those few times when my thoughts try to turn to larger things, just before my mind shrinks away from the immensity of it, all the sun-struck terror blazing forth from grandeur — I think this smallness will damn me.

(It is difficult, when the choice is: be small to live, or act in large ways and risk dying. It reminds me of prey.)


This is what I did after my conversation with my partner about my country:

I sliced mushrooms. I sauteed garlic. I set about boiling water for pasta.

I did not think, we will fatten the fish of Manila Bay with the corpses of our people.


Sometimes poetry burns itself into you. Like this:

The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

I used to think I would rather be the worst, and burn with all the force of my belief, than give nothing to the world but an insipid existence.

These days I’m revising my opinion. I’m seeing what passionate intensity can do.


I wanted to ask, where does this leave us? but again, I flinch away from that question, its scope.

I do not want to say: we are doing this to ourselves. That may be true, but if so, it’s not my place to say it.

Nor do I want to say: this is what happens when the ends justify the means, even though that’s true — it’s a darker and more awful trail of thought to follow than what I allow myself, these days.

Instead: listen, I’m afraid, and in pain; I’m a small thing of flesh and scarred skin and the instincts of prey, and I live in a world where the land that bore me is bleeding itself to death and I can only watch in horror. Listen, I don’t know what more to do, it’s hard enough just to live.


And what rough beast, its hour come round at last
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?


I will keep hoping. I will stand witness.

(And write and weep and remember, and — perhaps — not break.)

It may not be enough. Perhaps it doesn’t matter.

For the smallest of creatures, each day survived is its own defiance.


Note: Excerpts are from Yeats’s The Second Coming.

He asked me, Where are you from?

  1. I am from the land of volcanoes, duck fetuses
    we suck salty from the egg, gaming cafes,
    branched complexities in texts and transfers,
    jeweled skyscrapers, traffic jams. The sea, the sea! And
    I’m just here for a flat white, thanks,
    if I’d known I would be expected to discuss
    Asianness and your Thai wife, your daughter
    still in Thailand, I’d have brought
    my history books, a hard drive full of applications
    for migration, my armor: still glowing golden
    with the light of eaten suns, the magma and fire
    I left behind.

  2. Mornington. No, not really:
    from the Philippines, that eagle-crowned lady
    bent nearly double over her sword. But you
    don’t want to hear about inangbayan, only
    to figure out if you guessed right, cracked the puzzle
    just so: this brown skin, this narrowing of midnight eye.
    What map contoured my fingers, which empire
    bore my grandmother through which war?
    I thought you were Indian, Chinese, Malaysian;
    no, really, which? Here, it’s easy: imagine mirrors
    made of vinegar and ash — these living games
    you put your questions to, sometimes rewarding
    your “I knew it! I have a friend from there,”
    with the sweetest and most knowing of smiles.

  3. Oh yes, my accent. I know.
    Let’s talk about war, let’s talk about the barter
    of colonized peoples between the true powers
    called civilized nations. Twenty million, that’d be
    how much we cost, and if you think I sound bitter
    it’s because I am. Why shouldn’t I be? Decades on
    we’re still paying for it, iron and gold and gas
    and our naked flesh, we walk streets over gaping
    wounds that bleed poison and floodwater
    every rainy season; see, brooding over our cities
    the gashed earth, weeping. The US of A
    has been the ever-devoted friend. Not like
    we don’t have enough to worry about, the shards
    of what we’ve broken, our kababayan
    we’ve trampled, torn to pieces– all on our own,
    and then some. You know my grandmother
    taught English during the occupations,
    which is how she met my grandfather,
    fellow English teacher, former machine gunner
    during the war. That is to say, I speak like this
    because America has never truly left, I speak
    like this because I like my mother wanted to survive, I
    speak because this is another mark
    of how we’re owned and resist possession,
    how we’re branded and must burn it away, how
    what shackles us remains and remains and remains.

  4. From the country of there but for the grace of God go I,
    which is to say, shall I uncover your surprise
    at how I pretend not to wear these chains? Listen,
    I’ll tell you a story. One day we were talking,
    friends and I, about my country’s cuisine; you see
    I am now an expert at all things Filipino, unelected
    ambassador of my people to the world, and
    my job at parties is to defend inangbayan’s name.
    Why is our food so absent from the guides
    of the rich? Where are our people, to eat it?
    Assimilated, I wanted to say, because look
    how skilled we are at surviving, excellent even:
    at adapting, erasing ourselves from ourselves
    to create ever new lives, we fetuses in our own
    uneaten eggs. Instead I held my tongue, another
    important skill, and laughed along at their jokes,
    at the friend who said, it’s easy to find Filipinos,
    just look for older men, their hands holding
    much younger girls. So yes. Indeed.
    That’s where I’m from. I sprung full-formed
    from a lonely white man’s pocket, into the laughter
    of strangers I call friends to make the exile easier,
    into their bright eyes, their wineglasses, their
    fingers holding shrimp. These moments hook into skin
    like thorns; you pull away and they remain, lodged
    in your flesh. I come from brambles. From a place
    where choice is a curse. From gutter-water
    on windows, skirt-hem, hands — gripping nothing —
    the wretched ruin of face. I was never born
    out of my mother’s womb. I never went through
    the same pains and growth
    that all people who are people
    do. I come from thickets, as do
    all monsters
    made of thorns.

  5. Over there. Yeah, there.
    Look, can I just finish my coffee?
    I’m very good at wishful thinking,
    abysmal at following it through.
    All right then. Interrogate me.
    Flay my history open, my country’s history,
    tell me about your bewilderment
    at our armed security, say you wonder
    why we populate the ranks of your service
    like so many lined-up smiles.
    Ask me why we lost all our wars,
    when we thought giving was one thing
    that didn’t mean death.

  6. The Philippines. Yeah.
    I live here now. No, really. Yes, here.
    I have a partner, yes.
    Oh, you too. Pardon?
    Yes, I see. It’s a lovely place.
    Good for you.

Out of fracture

I did not realize I was already speaking until I was neck-deep in it, and so I will speak. I have friends who have very wisely and with great love counselled me to stay silent, keep my head down, and focus on working; this is not to silence me, but because they have seen me break down many times, most recently at the start of this year, and they know that once I get into an issue I over-invest and it usually makes me ill. I have also told myself that I’m no one, really, so what right have I to speak? But to the first point — dear friends, I am sorry, it has gotten to the point that it hurts not to speak because the dam has broken; to the second point, let me say that this is defiance too, speaking. To speak as if I had a voice, had a right to one, just as other people who live in the center, who have power, do.


I will start at a margin. A little over three years ago, my family cast me out because I was queer. It almost, quite literally, killed me. Since then I have lived with a great deal of trauma; the only reason I do not say “it may yet kill me” is because I am trying to hold on to hope.

One thing that left me with is a fear of my wrongness — of committing some error, doing something that is not quite right and not quite perfect, of breaking a rule of ideology or faith — and thus being cast out. Part of me, watching the conversation about the Hugos, about RH, about Laura J Mixon’s report, can feel that old fear rising up my throat again, choking me. It is a very particular kind of pain, being this afraid, flinching at nothing because you know it will happen again. You have marched out of lock-step and you will be punished.

(Incidentally, I find it laughable — the kind of laughter one resorts to so as not to weep — that some of RH’s supporters are framing things this way: “march out of lock-step and this is what happens”. But I digress.)

After my family cast me out, it was my community that saved me. It was my community that provided me with constant support, financial and emotional and mental; my community took my hands every time I reached out, my community did not tire of telling me, it is not your fault, you have worth. My community told me, again and again, please live. Right now I am watching my community at a loss, fractured and wounded, full of distrust and betrayal and pain, and it hurts as if it were one of my limbs experiencing the injury. Because I care about the people in the community and I care about all the energy it took to build the community, I care about its strength and well-being — and it hurts, too, because I am afraid I will lose my community for what I have said and what I will say.

One thing that I think has been overlooked in a lot of discussion about this matter is the deep damage suffered by communities comprised of women and gender minorities of color. There are a thousand thousand different conversations that could be had in these communities about the RH matter and they are all very fraught and painfully difficult to have. I have seen people speak of race traitors and collusion with whiteness; I have seen people question fellow people of color’s commitment to– I will call it anti-racism, for now; I have seen people doubting the stories of those who have come forward about abuse because they are anonymous; I have seen people believing victims, but at the same time saying, and yet, the abuser is doing important anti-racism work, and so we cannot support you. I have seen questions of authenticity and the “right” way of going about doing things, as if such a thing existed; I have seen people doubting fellow marginalized people’s awareness of their actions, as if we were children. And yes, I have seen things that have made me wonder whether I will lose my place in this community if I say, I am glad the Mixon report exists, I would vote for it if I could, as if I did not have the right to my own opinion but must vote with some overwhelmingly ascendant cause. I have seen people speaking out of places of isolation and doubt and fear, I have seen so much, so much vulnerability and rawness.

I have seen so many marginalized people afraid, like me, of being cast out and shunned because of what they feel, what they fear to speak. This is wrong. It should not be happening.

It is a complex painful horrible mess, and we from the margins are in the center of it. I have not seen half as much acknowledgment of that as there should be, in my mind. But then, usually, there never is.


Here are a number of things I will say:

If the Mixon report did not exist, I would have dropped out of the scene entirely. It was the thought that someone was trying to do something concrete against RH that made me stay. I have said before that I would nominate and/or vote for it were I able to; this is still true.

The Mixon report was very painful for many people of color, as many white people seized on it to self-justify and to further fortify themselves against call-outs of racism, sexism and problematic behavior. It was not painful to me personally; to me it felt like suddenly being able to breathe — but it has been used by white people as a defense in that way, and– look, is there a more eloquent way to say this? Stop it, white people. Stop it.

I do not care one way or another whether people vote for the Mixon report or not. That it is on the ballot is enough for me.

However, if people start talking about why one should not vote for the Mixon report because RH was an undeserving target (untrue), because it did nothing good (untrue, unless you count it a loss that I’m still here, and, well, I don’t count it a loss), because RH is not our problem — well. I will not bore you with details, but suffice to say that RH is a problem of mine, as is VD, as are the Sad and Rabid Puppies, as is every abuser in every community I am in, as is every privileged person who has told me that my English is wrong, as is everyone who makes me have to fight so hard for the right to speak. RH may not be your problem, but she is mine, and for you to dismiss the deep and lasting harm she has inflicted on people — including marginalized people, by the way — just goes to show why it is so incredibly hard for me to be in this community.

“Would RH have been subjected to this treatment were she a white man?” That is a difficult question. I am not thinking about it because it is difficult in ways that are very complicated including ways that are specific to RH and the fandom — not, let’s be clear, because white men don’t get free passes, because they do — and also the way that this question has been used to defend abuse is sickening. Yes, people of color can be abusers too. Yes, the way in which you say “RH was punching up, she was doing good work” is appalling. I am going to proceed quickly to the next point before today’s mental health unravels.

Elizabeth Bear has said some appalling things in the past. Some, to me: I was someone who called her out about using “death march” to describe hard writing, four or so years ago now, I think. I however am glad for her behavior throughout all this, I am glad for her unstinting support of Rochita and this post was heartening to me. I want to believe that people can change, and in any case grudges are heavy things to carry; having seen more of her, I like her and I am going to read her work. I do not expect this of anyone else. I fully understand people’s side-eyes. Should people start talking about more collusion with whitey I will side-eye you.

It is true that white people supporting people of color get more applause than people of color supporting other people of color. So for all those retweeting and linking to what GRRM, Elizabeth Bear, and other white writers are saying, please consider boosting the words of writers of color with even greater force. Here are some links, even: SAFE, Rochita Loenen-Ruiz. (I am not linking to things on journal communities as I don’t feel very comfortable linking to them from an external site. If you would like me to link to you please just contact me.)

I am not going to comment about TNH for the sake of my mental health.

I will defend, with as much vigor as I can, the right of people of color to not vote for the Mixon report and analyze and critique and criticize and dissect it as much as we please. I will defend our right to hold different opinions and not be a monolith and have complicated conversations and not be some sort of ideological prop or tool for people only wishing to use us to amplify their voices. I will defend our right to yell at each other (how I’ve wanted to yell at people the past few weeks! as, I’m sure, some people have wanted to yell at me) and be complicated and get into fights and be human without having to be analyzed by outsiders for it as they seek evidence to buttress their racist positions.

I am really tired. I wish we did not have to fight so hard simply to exist. I wish that when an abuser turned out to be a person of color it did not turn into opportunities for white people to gleefully excuse their racism. I wish we did not identity-police each other and pressure each other to toe some sort of “POC enough” line. I wish my beloved community were not tearing itself apart. I wish, at this point, I were not shaking from the dread of being set upon by racists or judged by fellow people of color for my naivete or lack of awareness.

The safest space for me to discuss RH, outside of private conversations with friends, has been FFA. Thank you, meme.

I am focusing on building — on creation, on doing work — because it is what I can do. There was a time when I had more energy to write posts ripping racist arguments to shreds, critiquing oppressive power structures. No longer. But, truly, this work is no less difficult, requires no less courage — in fact, it requires more. I say this to the voices in my head telling me I have gone soft and weak, and to voices I have seen saying that to put one’s nose to the grindstone is to acquiesce to silence, a form of surrender. But this is my form of speaking out; this is my resistance. Every time I sit down to create art or to try and cobble some sentences or lines together, that is my battle. To create, to build, to love; this isn’t soft. I think of Perelandra manifest: “fiery, sharp, bright and ruthless, ready to kill, ready to die, outspeeding light…” I believe in love. As shield and sword, as song, as revolution and resistance, as defiance.


I had other things to say, I thought. At this point I’m exhausted. I’m also questioning what good it would do if I spoke about the current Hugo ballot, which I had intended to write about as well. Do you know what it feels like when people speak of your existence, of the acknowledgment of your humanity, of your right to speak and read and have stories, as if it were mere ideological discussion, a theoretical point to be resolved between schools of political thought?

Perhaps that is something to be revisited. For now I am dealing with a wound I have opened knowing full well what I was doing, and I can’t speak of painful things anymore. For now here is what I will say: to you who have been reading this, who may or may have not been caught up in the discussions surrounding matters pertaining to RH, to you who are thinking of the Hugos, or the Mixon report, or this pesky thing called diversity in SFF–

Here are some things. Please consider reading them. Some of them are stories. Some are poems. One, the first, is a very important essay.

We are lovers of words, of stories, first and foremost. So then: here they are. Read them, if you like; boost them, if you like. I am linking to them not because they pertain to what I was saying (they don’t) but because they are good work and I like sharing good work; I chose them based on what I am feeling right now and the way I can read them to deal with my pain. They belong to the core of SFF, they are things that speak from the margins with beauty and bravery. What do these brilliant stories care of the bigots who wish them silence and ignominy and ashes? They will shine on. They will endure.


Here is what I will do after I post this: I will go offline, and I will read a good book. And I will go forward into another day of this long struggle ahead.

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