Tuesday, August 11, 2009

More on Mindfulness

To follow up on the From Mindblowing to Mindfulness post here a couple days ago, I guess I was assuming too much. Mindfulness to me means informing yourself about the issue: to be conscious and aware and informed enough to make useful decisions about diversity when editing an anthology of science fiction stories.

K. Tempest Bradford has weighed in with a thoughtful post Creating Better Magazines (and Anthologies) on Tor.com. A brief excerpt:

The magazines and anthologies that I love tend to have editors who have taken the time to examine themselves or their culture, to expend their knowledge of other people and ways of being, to open their minds. These magazines and anthologies contain far more stories I want to read by authors of many varied backgrounds.

In the comments Daniel Abraham wrote (excerpt):

What I hear you saying (and I may have misunderstood) is … Editors must -- in essence -- become better people. It's an impossible point to disagree with. Who could be against becoming a better person? But then I feel you leave them with no clear idea how to accomplish that. Without concrete, specific requests, it seems to me we put them in an impossible position.

To which I replied (too flippantly):

I can think of a concrete action: simply being mindful of diversity (women, people of color, LGBT, pick your issue). If an editor allows these thoughts to pass across their brain cells, it would seem unlikely to me that an anthology of all-white, all-male authors would result.

Daniel Abraham:

With all respect, I think "be mindful" is also too vague to be much use. Can you imagine anyone saying "No, I prefer to be less mindful"? I'm afraid it's too much like "change how you think"?

K. Tempest Bradford had this useful response:

Daniel Abraham, others have given good suggestions along the lines of what i would have, but I'll confess that i thought I was being pretty clear on what actions could be taken to rectify this. But then, I did a bad thing in assuming that what is clear to me will be clear to others -- I have these kinds of conversations all the time, and other people whose activism intersect with mine probably grokked me easily. Not so with people like yourself who are looking to take that next step but are unsure what the next step is.

There are many ways to start, but I think a big one is talking to people who are willing to clue one in. Asking friends, friends of friends, prominent authors, other editors, about what authors you're not aware of because they fall outside of your comfort zones. Ask for names, lists of books or stories, ask for people to tell you why this or that author is someone you should pay attention to.

There are even groups within the community dedicated to raising awareness about marginalized groups of writers. The Carl Brandon Society, Broad Universe. Both of these groups have websites, mailing lists, very outspoken members that attend conventions, blogs, you name it. Though it can be tiring for folks to be in I Will Educate You mode, the people at the forefront of these particular organizations are in those positions because they are willing to do that educating.

Carl Brandon Society
Broad Universe


  1. Flippant? Me? I know!

    When Daniel Abraham replied to my comment with his "With all respect ..." comment he referred to me as "Strangeloaf," which is pretty funny. I kind of like it.