August 9, 2020
Science fiction isn't just thinking about the world out there. It's also thinking about how that world might be—a particularly important exercise for those who are oppressed, because if they're going to change the world we live in, they—and all of us—have to be able to think about a world that works differently.
Samuel R. Delany, Readercon 2 Guest of Honor
Readercon cannot remain silent. We must state uncomfortable truths. All of us need to look within ourselves to understand how our own actions, and our failures to act, have affected those who have been subjected to racism and injustice all their lives.
Black Lives Matter. Black women matter. Black children matter. Black trans people matter. Police brutality is unacceptable. We all need to change our mindset or our way of thinking.
Business as usual is not possible because it simply perpetuates the status quo. We must listen to the voices of those who have been marginalized and we will do so with open hearts and open minds.
During this time of great uncertainty, our belief in the essential role of literature remains unwavering. lt is a role that will be critical for revising history to show the truth, for confronting the present, and for reimagining the future as we build the better place we want to see.
We know the path ahead will not be smooth, but ensuring a safe and inclusive environment at Readercon, where our staff, attendees, and program participants see themselves represented, remains a priority. We will continue to make changes that bring racial equity to the Readercon community, our leadership, and our programs.
However, we also acknowledge our complicity in the systemic racism that is present in all organizations. Activism takes many forms and we pledge to do all we can to bring reform to our community.
We reaffirm our longstanding and ongoing commitment to invite Black people to participate in Readercon's program, including as guests of honor, and to provide financial assistance in support of their attendance.
We are committed to recruiting Black members of our community to join the Readercon convention committee and board while remaining mindful that encouraging marginalized people to take on higher-profile volunteer roles can translate into putting a significant burden of unpaid work on people who are already societally burdened.
In addition, we are actively seeking a new Safety Chair to lead our existing Safety Committee. This team of dedicated individuals and the protocols we have put in place are bulwarks against possible racist behavior at our convention. It is important to us that diversity be a representative component in the appointment of the next Chair. If you or someone you know is interested in the role, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We call upon all divisions of Readercon to source services and purchases for our future conventions from BIPOC-owned businesses in the Boston area. This is a long-term strategy to ensure we never become complacent as an organization. For other groups interested in this approach, consider using resources such as Black Owned and Black-Owned Businesses in the Greater Boston Area.
In addition, we have donated $500 each to Black Lives Matter, the Brennan Center for Justice, and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund in support of their efforts specifically in the Greater Boston area. We encourage members of the larger science fiction and fantasy community to consider supporting these organizations and their local equivalents with whatever is within their means to offer, whether that is time or money.
As an organization dedicated to literature, we believe that literary analysis and discussion is crucial to making change happen. Our niche of speculative fiction has long offered stories portraying worlds of change and clues for what it takes to get there. Here are some specific works across genre lines that can serve as a starting place or an extension of learning:
- 20 Books to Read If You Want to Get into Black Sci-Fi and Fantasy
- Amazons, Abolitionists, and Activists: A Graphic History of Women's Fight for Their Rights by Mikki Kendall
- Black and Brown Planets: The Politics of Race in Science Fiction edited by Isiah Lavender
- The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin
- Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women That a Movement Forgot by Mikki Kendall
- How to Be an AntiRacist by Ibram X. Kendi
- "Racism and Science Fiction" by Samuel R. Delany
- Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi
- Stamped: Racism, Anti-Racism, and You by Ibram X. Kendi & Jason Reynolds
- White Kids: Growing Up with Privilege in a Racially Divided America by Margaret A. Hagerman
- Why We Can't Wait by Martin Luther King, Jr.
Any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings. Resistance and change often begin in art, and very often in our art, the art of words.
Ursula K. Le Guin, Readercon 7 Guest of Honor