I made the decision last night that I’m still going to WisCon. I know many people are thinking hard about whether they want to or not. I’m going to give you my reasons because I want to influence others positively. But, like Nisi Shawl, I would understand and respect those who still don’t want to.
Nisi is my number one reason for still attending the con. There are two guests of honor, and she is the other one. I don’t want to miss a year in which I can take part in honoring her because she deserves it.
Second on this list is this: the first year I attended WisCon I saw few faces of color. Nick Mamatas later told me that when he asked a group of attendees why there weren’t more black people at the con, the response was: “Well, have you met Tempest?” That was 2003. In that time, I have gone from merely being an attendee who loves the con to being actively involved in making the con a better place. I did not do this alone. There is a cadre of wonderful people (of all races/ethnicities) who have fought hard for a long time to make the con more inclusive, more aware, more of a home for feminists of every stripe.
In the past three years we’ve gone from having to fight for a POC-only space where important discussions can take place that relate to our part of the community to having that space as a given. There is now a fund dedicated to helping POC get to the con so that they can participate in the discussions, bring in new viewpoints, and add to the general awesomeness. We had a POC-only dinner this past year that was so full I didn’t get a chance to really meet everyone, and didn’t contain the totality of the POC there.
WisCon is the only con where I see that kind of movement happening and I want to be part of continuing that, growing it, making it even better.
Third reason is related. As Chris points out here, “…while Moon is a problem, the response lets me know that short of a significant change in philosophy, the concomm is the real problem, because hate language is a problem… our problem, not theirs. She won’t be there next year, but they will be.” Up until now my part in making WisCon a more awesome con has all been from the role of participant and loud attendee. But in order to make more fundamental changes, this will have to change. There are several people on the current concom who disagree with the decision made by the Troika, and more voices will help.
Fourth reason. In my last post I talked about how it shouldn’t be on the people hurt by oppressive words and actions to erase those attitudes and make a better community. It should be on allies. Well, I am not Muslim. Elizabeth Moon’s post wasn’t about people like me. So it’s incumbent on me to do what I can to make Muslim attendees feel comfortable and safe coming to the con, to foster discussion that erases ignorance and prejudice, and to make WisCon a better place for everyone, including Muslims, including myself, including you. I can’t do that if I don’t go.
Fifth reason is what Nisi said: I really do not give a freeze-dried rat’s ass about turning the con into an anti-fail teach-in. Especially if it involves 101-level debate. Especially if Muslims and Arabs and recent immigrants and POC are doing the heavy lifting. I am old, dudes, and have seen National Brotherhood Weeks come and go. A celebration is what I am after. Defiance may play a huge role in this celebration, and it may well have important instructional elements, but in its core nature it needs to be joyful.
So, I am going. Are you?
- With the exception of conventions that were conceived with that purpose in mind.[↩]