Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Kwasi's thoughts on race and the genre of Science Fiction (part 1 of ?)

This post has been rattling around in the back of my head in a thousand different incarnations since pretty much when I started writing this blog, and yet it remains a difficult topic for me to speak on.

There are lots of reasons for this. Among them the simple fact of admitting to being a fan of a genre that, for the most part, either likes to pretend I don't exist or, on recognize that existence as something not worthy of even a minimal amount of respect (for an example of this, see 'Farnham's Freehold')

In my case, the issue takes on a certain amount of extra complexity when you consider that I'm from a place that simply doesn't exist to most SF writers. I can almost count the number of times I've ever seen an SF book reference Africa in any way. The only explicit reference to Ghana I can remember was in John Brunner's 'The Shockwave Rider' and that was as an example in a conversation. There are actually a couple of fairly popular military SF writers who I cannot read anymore because of how they handled Africa in an alien invasion series they co-wrote

So, by virtue of both the shade of my skin and where I was born I am virtually invisible to the perceived SF mainstream, which is overwhelmingly white, hetero, male and only interested in stories by and about other white hetero males. I suppose two out of three isn't bad. I say perceived because I suspect that the reality is that the demographics of the readership are significantly more diverse then the demographics of the people who get to decide what is published. Of course, I could be wrong here, but I doubt it.

Plus, on the occasions when I see something that does resemble me in an SF work, a decent majority of the time its done in such a way that it prevents me from enjoying the rest of the book.

Is it any wonder that this topic tends to be somewhat upsetting to most black SF fans? We literally have had to put aside parts of ourselves on occasion to still be here. That kind of thing takes its toll. And it makes writing even this much a chore. Hopefully with this out of the way, I'll be able to put together the next couple of pieces quickly.

1 comment:

Erere said...

Yeah, I agree. I'm Nigerian, living in the US now and I've been a huge fan of manga for a while. Granted, manga has Japanese roots etc, etc, but it always makes me enormously happy when I see a positive black/dark skinned character presented in manga- also kids notice these sorts of things. My younger brother is 13, also a huge fan of manga, once mentioned how happy he was to find a cool black character in Naruto. It kind of pained me to hear, since it drives home this fact. Bottom line is we need more Nigerian/Ghanaian/African/Black comic artists to create these characters.