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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: "In the Middle" by M.C.A. Hogarth

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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: "In the Middle" by M.C.A. Hogarth

I have skin the color of a blanched almond, light with the promise of gold when toasted, and like the girls who seemed normal but had magical powers, I look “white” and am something else entirely: someone who learned her lullabies in a different language, who knew a different, broken history heard from exiles, a girl who didn’t celebrate Thanksgiving until she got engaged to an American American . . . a man whose “white” skin was nevertheless darker than hers.

I had to leave my rebellious young adulthood behind to realize how science fiction gave me the tools to deal with the quiet and insidious alienation that comes to those who pass. There was never a place I belonged. I wasn’t dark enough in body to be welcome among minorities . . . but not white enough in mind to be at home among the people I resembled. Between these two homes, there was a chasm, and no way to cross it. It’s no wonder the strangers in the strange lands of genre fiction were such a comfort. My heroes and I, we made a virtue of our alienation, and a fort of it. And if, unlike my heroes, I found that redoubt lonely . . . well. I could make stones of my silences, and did, and built the walls higher.

The science fiction and fantasy of my youth was a very black-and-white sort of genre. Like society, it didn’t know what to do with someone in the middle, with one foot in one culture and one foot in another. It taught me the virtues of individuality, but not the virtues of community. It understood the alien and the human, but not the halfbreed. What I read growing up taught me how to survive, but not how to thrive.

Maybe that’s why I had to write. Because it wasn’t enough to identify the gaps in culture and rage at them, or despair. One has to learn how to live in the spaces between races and identities.

All my life, I’ve been searching for bridges and discovering, inevitably, that what you want, you must build. But as I look around my genre now, I see I’m not the only one tearing down the forts. Maybe by the time my daughter starts looking for tools in stories, she’ll find ones that show her how to cope with her mixed-race heritage by connecting to others. Maybe I’ll write those stories.

Maybe you will.

I’ll bring my stones if you bring yours.

______________

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Daughter of two Cuban political exiles, M.C.A. Hogarth was born a foreigner in the American melting pot and has had a fascination for the gaps in cultures and the bridges that span them ever since. She is currently a full-time parent, artist, writer, and anthropologist to aliens, both human and otherwise, and is serving as the Vice President of SFWA.

Elya Arrasmith, Fin Coe, and 13 more people like this update.

Comments

    1. Tasha Turner Lennhoff
      Superbacker
      on February 11, 2016

      Thanks for sharing. Each essay reminds me why this is so important.

    2. Cecilia Tan on February 10, 2016

      This. So much this.

    3. Gearsoul (formerly Orson Cream)
      Superbacker
      on February 10, 2016

      I'm really so excited for this to end and to get all the things(well, once they're complete, in the case of the POC collections) but I also want it to carry on and keep getting more funding! =0

    4. Gearsoul (formerly Orson Cream)
      Superbacker
      on February 10, 2016

      :0c It makes me wonder if there's any similar stories to be found in the Queer pack -- I'm a completely new backer so I'm getting the digital megapack! -- because there's a similar experience in being queer in some way but in the closet and keeping silent when those around you say things that are vaguely, or directly and/or aggressively anti-LGBT but not wanting to open yourself up to that negativity/potential violence, and also being too afraid of making contact with the community, fearful of being accidentally outed, or fighting through all the fear and actually going through with it only to not/be told you don't fit in there, either.

    5. Jamila on February 10, 2016

      "the quiet and insidious alienation that comes to those who pass"

      :')

      Yes. Thank you.

    6. Gearsoul (formerly Orson Cream)
      Superbacker
      on February 10, 2016

      This... was a very interesting perspective! =0c One I didn't expect at all. But it's an extremely valid point, relevant to everyone of mixed heritage, even if you don't 'pass' as white(and what an awful expression, experience that is).

      Very poignant final sentence. I hope there are many stones/stories for them to read that you never got the chance to! :3

      :D As to science fiction and 'halfbreeds', if you weren't aware of it, Spock is also 'a child of two worlds' and stuck in the middle of them as well. In the original series, too.

      (Random fact: He has a (rebellious/rebel leader..?) half-brother!)