Doing the Work: Part 1

Why oh why would I agree to do a podcast interview on the “Marginalization of Minorities in Genre Fiction”?

After years of avoiding being roped into that conversation—you know, the one you see at “Diversity Panels,” the one attended by many a (/n often cis-het abled) white writer searching for absolution for their culturally appropriative mindset and practices, the one where (often cis-het abled) white people get hostile because they’re uncomfortable hearing about the lived experiences of historically marginalized peoples within the white supremacist (cis-het) patriarchy that creates a racist, sexist, ableist system and calls it a neutral meritocracy—I surprised myself by agreeing to be the WOC in the hot seat this time around.

It wasn’t my first kick at the can, you see. I’d made that mistake first back in 2013, with only two and a half months as a published author. I’d sat on that “Diversity Panel” and taken on the hostility and the gaslighting and the hard work of fighting for the rights of marginalized people to exist on the written page in a respected and empathic light. …Did I mention there was a cis-het white guy panelist? (*stares in WOC*) It was a shit show for too many reasons to enumerate just at the moment—though I know if you were to search for other marginalized people’s experiences on similar panels, you’d get the picture. And the requests for me to explain/defend “diversity” have come somewhat regularly since I became a public speaker.

So why did I say yes? And why now?

It is exhausting for us to do all the work, but we are constantly asked to do it. I suppose it’s just my turn to shoulder the responsibility for a bit. I mean, for sure, Jo-Ann Carson asked me nicely enough for this interview and for sure, she seemed interested in authentic dialogue, but I literally had just met her about two hours before she asked. That’s not much time to build a lot of trust. And it’s trust that matters most when we say yes to these requests. When marginalized people are asked by the people near or at the top of the societal/professional/cultural hierarchy to educate them, we take on a lot of risk. In the case of this interview, it’s a risk on more than one front.

But before I speak directly to that (and oh-so-much-more) in part 2 of this post, coming later, please have a listen to my interview with Jo-Ann now on the Blood, Sweat and Words podcast.