If I get any names or facts wrong, feel free to let me know. I’ve only got my own faulty memory to rely on here.
Rose early, all bright and shiny… well it would have been bright and shiny if the laryngitis fairy hadn’t snuck into the room during the night and stolen Jackie’s voice. I woke and went to the bathroom, ignoring Jackie’s frantic gesturing in my sleepy state. When I emerged she gestured that she had lost her voice. We…well I discussed how that sucked and she whispered some comments back. Eventually we proceeded to our first panel of the day:
Genre Tokenism Today: The New Octavia
Panelists were: Nora Jemison, K. Tempest Bradford, Candra K. Gill, Nnedi Nkemdili Okorafor-Mbachu & Nisi Shawl.
I would bullet point it but there’s a pretty good transcript over at the FemSFWiki and my memory is way faulty. I do want to say though that I thought it was a great panel that addressed a lot of concerns I had. The panelists discussed how it felt to be asked that question (Who is the next Octavia? Are you?), there was also some remembering of Octavia that had me tearing up a bit. Also just to point out, all the women on this panel are hilariously funny. I got to talk with all of them during the Con, except for Nnedi, and I was in almost constant laughter and always had a smile on my face.
Next my fellow panelists from “Why Is The Universe So Damn White?” K. Tempest Bradford, Wendy Bradley, Kate Elliot and I along with Kate’s daughter Rihana and Jackie went for lunch over at Ian’s Pizza.
(I had been escorted to Ian’s Pizza on Thurs. morning by Liz Henry, her partner John, their son Milo and Penny after my arrival at the hotel. Any place that has Macaroni & Cheese Pizza is my kind of place. I hit that pizzeria about 4 times during my trip. I forgot to mention this excursion on the first part of this report but it was a really good time with great people. I’ve heard Liz talk about her partner and child and it was awesome to put faces with the names. Penny was great and we talked about what panels we wanted to attend and shipping all the way to England (she’s British). I ran into all them throughout the Con but this was the only time we all got to sit down and actually talk. Okay timewarp from Thurs. back to Sat.)
We discussed the panel, what we wanted to discuss, how we wanted to approach certain subjects. Kate Elliot brought pages of wonderful notes, me being the unprepared person I always am, brought nothing. We also laid bets for when we would hear “I’m colorblind.” “I don’t care if someone’s black, white, green or polka-dotted!” and a few other key phrases. After lunch and some tea in the Green Room it was time for our panel. Right before the panel Kate gave me a copy of her new hardcover book, Spirit Gate. It’s almost all PoC (there’s only one white character and she’s secondary) and I’m so very anxious to read it. I asked her to sign it and played Vanna during the panel a bit, showing it off. Also somewhere in here Tempest became my con buddy! She was totally amazing to hang out with and we had a great time gossiping and just in general running around the Con.
Why Is The Universe So Damn White?
Points I can recall:
- Buffy, SoCal with no PoC until season 7 (excluding Trick, Kendra and a few others, very few and they never lasted very long)
- Battlestar Galactica and the Planet of the Black Fundies (a.k.a. Gemenon)
- Bury My Heart @ Wounded Knee adaptation, which Kate had actually brought the quote from the producer. It made the audience groan and shudder as it should.
- Tempest told us about her interaction with Ron Moore.
- Wendy discussed the difference in British TV and how we code PoC.
- Heroes and the absence of a name for “The Haitian”
That’s all I can really recall but a final note, Tempest and I were both blogged about at Wired.Com by Annalee Newitz. When Annalee told me she had blogged about me I assumed she meant a personal blog, not a professional one. Then people started emailing me to let me know what was happening. Also if you have any knowledge of race issues or any kind of consciousness about race, do not read the comments. No really, they’ll make your head all explodey!
Afterwards people complimented us on the panel, which was a real boost cause I was completely nervous and spazzed out, and Rihana showed me a picture she had drawn of me during the panel which was great. She’s quite an amazing artist. Also I’m damn cute!
Then I set off for:
Cultural Appropriation Revisted Part 1, the panel consisted of:
Candra K. Gill, Yoon Ha Lee, K. Tempest Bradford, Victor Jason Raymond, MJ Hardman & Nnedi Nkemdili Okorafor-Mbachu
There is a transcript for this panel over at FemSfWiki.
So just my impressions. I thought it went very well. There was good discussion among the panelists about cultural appropriation and appropriate cultural appropriation. I loved hearing Nnedi talk about the experience of being the child of Nigerian parents and feeling trapped between two worlds because of it. Sometimes not being acknowledged as valid by Nigerians or African-Americans. As the son of an Ethiopian immigrant I feel the same way a lot. I did not stay for Part 2 of Cultural Appropriation because that was when the audience got to speak and I just didn’t want to deal with it. Also people entered the room that had not been a part of the first discussion which I thought was extremely stupid. It also confirmed that I had made the right choice in leaving. If there was a way next year to only allow those who attended the first part, to attend the second I would recommend it.
Another point is that at the panel I saw C.E. Murphy, author of the Urban Shaman series. The Urban Shaman series (from Luna) features a protagonist that is part Native. So it was good to see the white author in the panel taking notes and nodding along. Now that I have proof she’s aware of what’s going on and might have done some research I might give the series a try.
So the time between this and the parties is a bit of a blur. I don’t exactly remember what I did or with who because I did so much all weekend. If you know what I did here please let me know. And no I wasn’t drunk…yet. Oh wait! There was swimming! Yes, Jackie & I headed to the pool at one point and were stared at very rudely by this mundane (as in not a Con goer) mother. Yes, we are two black people. That will not change the more you stare. After a bit we both stared back at her until she looked away. During the pool time there was talking to John and a host of other people whose names I’ve forgotten or never knew. It was great conversation about spirituality and tattoos.
The parties I stayed in the bound of this night were the Tor book party & Small Beer Press’ release party for Water Logic by Laurie J. Marks. The first two in the Logic series were published by Tor, so the two parties on the same floor on the same night made me giggle.
During the party a man (I can’t remember his name damn it!) came up to me and asked me about authenticity in writing cultures of Color. I told him that authenticity is, more often than not, a false idea because what is an “authentic” black/asian/female experience? I told him my view which is that if you create this culture, create it all the way. You have to know what this culture is about, their beliefs and practices, their traditions and expertise. It was to be more than a plot point. Even if you don’t include any of their culture in the story itself knowing all that about a culture means that when you write it’ll most likely come across as more real. That’s just my opinion though. Somewhere during this conversation another man joined us and had some great things to say. When I looked at his name tag I realized it was freakin’ Lawrence Schimel! As with Kate I interrupted the conversation to fanboy him a bit over his book, The Drag Queen of Elfland. That’s almost the only way I can deal with my fanboyishness with people in person, to let them know right off the bat and then try to move on.
Anyway I had to extract myself from the conversation a little before midnight, so I could head down to the General Reading Group 2. Rosalyn Wiggins Berne had mentioned she had a reading that night, in the Genre Tokenism panel. Since she hadn’t mentioned her name it caused me a bit of panic but it was the only official reading at midnight so I figured it was a safe bet. Rosalyn had talked in the earlier panel about being an academic for 30 years and just recently coming into F/SF. She talked about how great it was to see Women of Color in F/SF. I’m also about to support writers of Color so off I went. Okay anyway this is the last panel of the day for me, actually a reading but whatever.
General Readings 2 : Rosalyn Wiggins Berne, Eileen Gunn, Heidi Lampietti & Fred Schepartz.
Rosalyn read first, from a book that’s being shopped around right now. I thought she was amazing. It was this great section with a sex toy named Mammal, who has AI and looks more animal than man. Just a great piece and I wanted to read the whole book then and there. I got a chance to tell her all this later in the elevator.
Fred read next and I thought it was an interesting story about a vampire who loses all his wealth and becomes a cabbie in Madison, WI. I didn’t understand how it was a feminist novel though.
Heidi Lampietti read a story from her collection XY. The collection is about love and most of the stories end badly, from what she said, but she read us one with a happy ending. It was hilarious, about strolling and cross dressing and a guy named Bugsie. Also she did voices, which made my day. Ran into her later in the Con and told her how much I enjoyed her reading.
Eileen Gunn was last. I had heard Eileen read at Writers with Drinks not too long ago so I was expecting the funniness and it was there in spades. Eileen read the Kirk/Spock piece I had heard before “No Place To Raise Kids” (go read it!) and it was just as hilarious as it was at Writers with Drinks. Then she read a piece called “Up The Fireroad”(?) or something like that and it was hilarious as well. A story that switched POV’s halfway through when the lumberjack/talking bear/Sasquatch comes into the picture. Had me gasping for breath, seriously. I also got a chance to talk to Eileen later in the Con and tell her how much I loved her readings and how funny she was.
Then it was off to bed!
Next WisCon 31 Recalled 3/4: Is This Level Of Exhaustion Normal?