Here’s an excerpt from Alaya Dawn Johnson’s timely essay on science fiction and Afrofuturism:
“There are more black writers of science fiction than there have ever been. Every year more of us debut to wider acclaim, find ourselves regularly on genre awards lists for the first time, and experience the pleasure of seeing more and more diverse faces at conventions. The black community has always embraced science fiction — the famous Dark Matter anthologies, edited by Sheree R. Thomas, included a work of speculative fiction from W.E.B. Du Bois. And now science fiction has, I think, finally been forced to recognize us.
But our rise to prominence — which can seem sudden if you haven’t been aware of the deep currents of science fictional imagination that have rippled through the black community for more than a century — also brings out dormant hostility. In his article “Racism in Science Fiction,” published in the 1990s, Delany predicted the current backlash that can make it easy to dismiss SF as more racist than other fields (it isn’t).
As long as there are only one or two black writers, Delany wrote, he doesn’t expect to experience much overt racial hostility in a field where people pride themselves on their liberal values. But that’s only ‘until, say, black writers start to number thirteen, fifteen, twenty percent of the total. At that point, where the competition might be perceived as having some economic heft, chances are we will have as much racism and prejudice here as in any other field.'”
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