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POC Destroy Science Fiction! is a special issue of the Hugo-winning magazine LIGHTSPEED, 100% written—and edited—by POC creators.
POC Destroy Science Fiction! is a special issue of the Hugo-winning magazine LIGHTSPEED, 100% written—and edited—by POC creators.
POC Destroy Science Fiction! is a special issue of the Hugo-winning magazine LIGHTSPEED, 100% written—and edited—by POC creators.
2,354 backers pledged $51,734 to help bring this project to life.

Personal Essay: "We Were Always Here" by Mark Oshiro

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When we set out to destroy science fiction with this Kickstarter, we didn't want it to be your ordinary, run-of-the-mill campaign. We wanted it to be full of smashing, crashing POC voices, telling what it really means to be POC reading and writing science fiction. One of the ways we hope to do that is by sharing a series of personal essays about the experience of being POC in science fiction.

Personal Essay: "We Were Always Here" by Mark Oshiro

Being a nerd and a brown guy can be an increasingly frustrating endeavor. On the one hand, I’ve been reading and watching science fiction since I was about eight years old. I was drawn into the genre by Stephen King, Ursula K. Le Guin, and The X-Files. I loved the elements of science fiction in Star Wars. I found solace in the genre while I was busy being turned away from fantasy because of . . . well, exactly the kind of stereotypical fantasy fan you’re probably thinking of. It wasn’t until 2013 that I found out there was a massive, active science fiction community that put on conventions all over North America, Europe, and the United Kingdom. I considered myself fairly savvy on fandom, given that I was involved with it since I was a young teenager.

Yet how come I wasn’t aware of this institution? Why did it take a Hugo nomination for me to be invited to this community? It happens, I thought. You can’t be aware of everything all the time. So I showed up to LoneStarCon 3 and I was eager to be in the same building as many of my heroes and friends. I walked into the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, and I felt out of place within ten minutes. By the end of my first full night at the convention and the room parties, I’d had a number of disturbing experiences that made it clear that to these people, I was a novelty. I’d been asked how to best write Arab characters and why I wasn’t currently wearing a turban. Someone else asked me to bus their table in the food court. At another panel, someone who had never met me before referred to me as “you people” when I spoke about race once.

All of these people most likely meant the best. The woman who couldn’t even get my own race right wanted to better represent someone within her own work. I’m sure that the person who thought I was a busboy was just being polite about something they needed. And the third man just wanted to establish himself as the default within a conversation. No matter how nice or kind or fair these people thought they were behaving, they made it clear that I did not belong. I was an outsider to all of them, someone who could be exploited or othered or spoken to condescendingly.

But back to that frustration. It’s relevant because as much as people want to imagine that non-white fans are just showing up, we’ve been here all along. We watched the Blade films. We celebrated the Star Wars trilogies, both the original and the prequels. We wrote fanfiction, we cosplayed, we wrote our own works. When I toured in 2015, I met teenagers in Baltimore who could spend an hour theorizing about The Hunger Games and Harry Potter, yet aren’t ever portrayed as the face of fandom. The problem isn’t ours; we’ve always been here. It’s not our fault that you haven’t been paying attention.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mark Oshiro is the Hugo-nominated writer of the online Mark Does Stuff universe, where he analyzes book and television series unspoiled, largely in the SF/F genres. He was the nonfiction editor of Queers Destroy Science Fiction! and will be the co-editor of Speculative Fiction 2015. His first novel, a YA science fiction book set in a pre-dystopian world, is nearly done, and his life goal is to pet every dog in the world.

Elya Arrasmith, Gearsoul Dragon, and 8 more people like this update.

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    1. Missing avatar

      smercer on February 7, 2016

      "It’s not our fault that you haven’t been paying attention."
      It's not our fault that there was no marketing machine promoting your work the way Lord Of The Rings or Star Wars was promoted. :-) It's no one's fault that there is a problem. It's a system that developed largely in ignorance. This KickStarter is one of the ways of trying to solve the problem by providing the education. I'm one of those queers who is also underrepresented in sci-fi. And I see it as absolutely our problem. It can't be the problem of the people who don't know anything about the problem. :-)

    2. Tasha Turner Lennhoff
      Superbacker
      on February 7, 2016

      "The problem isn’t ours; we’ve always been here. It’s not our fault that you haven’t been paying attention."
      This. You've nailed it.