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Zer Netmouse
April 7th, 2009
10:55 pm


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Pam Noles: Shame

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Date:April 13th, 2009 02:45 pm (UTC)
dd_b, I feel a need to speak up for myself. If you're implying that I hadn't been reading very widely in the field as a child and a teenager, of course I wasn't. Recall that I only moved to North America in 1977, at the age of 16. Before that I was living in the Caribbean, where 1) it was difficult to find science fiction and fantasy, 2) I was a minor, and 3) my parents' income was modest. There was limited access for researching and purchasing my own reading material. My parents did not restrict my reading and I read quite widely, but circumstances of age, income and availability limited what I could get my hands on. I was 16 and still living in the Caribbean before I first encountered another science fiction reader like myself. Seven years later, I was living in Canada and working in a public library, so I had much greater access and my science fiction reading increased quite a bit. I knew lots of black Caribbean and American writers. What I didn't know was how racism played out in North America. I probably encountered Dhalgren in Canada in my late teens, but not until I saw a photo of him in a library copy of Stars in My Pockets Like Grains of Sand 5 years later and realised he was black did it occur to me that there was a mysterious and uneasy silence in the genre around writers of colour. And no, even though I'd been reading Chip's work for a few years before that, I hadn't been able to tell that he was black. If it pleases you to see that as a lack of perception on the part of the teenaged me, so be it. I wasn't born politicized. Racism comes at you as a series of accumulated epiphany moments. Seeing Chip's photo was an early one of mine.
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Date:April 14th, 2009 12:40 am (UTC)
I wasn't giving enough consideration to cultural / economic issues affecting access to SF (and hadn't researched your background, though I knew you were Caribbean and Canadian; but I didn't know when you moved).

I'm pretty sure I must have read Delany for a while before I noticed (or had the chance to notice) that he was black, too. And he was probably the first black SF writer I knew about, and probably the only one for a while. Still, the concept that a black person could be an SF writer wasn't surprising or shocking to me.
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Date:April 14th, 2009 01:35 am (UTC)
My surprise at a black science fiction writer wasn't that I hadn't thought it was possible; I grew up surrounded by black poets, playwrights, fiction writers (my dad was a writer, as were many of his friends). What was unusual was why I'd never heard of a black science fiction writer before. Or an Asian one, or a South Asian one, or a First Nations one, etc. That was more than my not paying attention.
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