was the Spanish strand panels at LoneStarCon 3, or Postcolonial and
Afrofuturist anthologies that have come out, or maybe the time has
come, and there's just something in the air all over the planet, but
suddenly there was a whole lot of chatter about diversity in science
fiction on the social media.
gives me déjá vu.
heard – and even said – a
lot of this before, a long time ago in a subculture not far away.
started writing, and got involved with fandom, back in the Seventies –
that's Nineteen-Seventies, back in the Nineteen-Hundreds. We'd just
been through all those protests, riots, and stuff of the Sixties. I
didn't think that being a Chicano would be an issue in my ambition to
become a science fiction writer. We'd been to the Moon, we were
beyond primitive things like racism.
I was living in a multiracial, multicultural world: Southern
California. Browns, blacks and yellow were everywhere. I didn't have
to go far to see signs in Spanish, Japanese, Korean . . . and the recombocultural sparks that flew when these cultures rub against each other!
read about it in my fiction. My nonfiction, too, now that I think
The popular vision of an All-White Future couldn't possibly last much longer. Earth had never been Planet of the White People.
All I had to do was look around at the world I was living in to see
it. Surely, science fiction was just about to catch on . . .
But it seems
that a lot of folks believed that science fiction was properly by and
about Western Civilization and white people. I was frustrated with
science fiction magazines that aimed at a white, middle class
audience. After, this was a genre for educated people with an interest
in science . . .
would tell me that their readers just wouldn't relate to my stories,
and “I wouldn't want to meet any of your characters in a dark
brave, writing about blacks and minorities – they get offended you
wasn't just me who was getting this treatment. On the cover of Steve
Barnes' Streetlethal, the
hero's face was re-done so, even though his skin was dark, he didn't
wife's novel Larissa, was
about a black woman. When thebook came out the character looked like
kids, whitewashing isn't anything new.
was all justified as commercialism: “Americans just like books with
white people on the covers.”
was also the time was science fiction was being transformed into Nerd
Lit, and back then, nerds were perceived as white.
for what happened if you wrote something that was too diverse, I've
written about what happened with my novel High Aztech
enough, the tide turned when Will Smith saved Earth from aliens in
And now, the times they are a-changing. With the coming of ebooks and the
collapse of traditional publishing, the market is no longer centered on
the caucasian-dominated, Anglophone corner of the planet. We aren't
there yet, but we are entering the age of postcolonial global
marketing. Goodbye, Planet of the White People. The All-White
Future is obsolete.
publishing outlets will either adapt, or die in the new
configuration, and it's about time.
it gives me déjà vu.
that's what I get for being so futuristic.