Diversity in “the fandom” (by which I mean a broad umbrella term that encompasses SF, fantasy, comics, conventions, and such related geeky pursuits) is a big issue lately, which is an awesome thing. But it’s one of those things which, because it involves human beings, tends to be complex and confusing at times.
I’m thinking just this moment of John Scalzi, who picked up a Hugo at WorldCon for his book Redshirts. I have not read the book myself, but Mrs. Gneech has and declared it an enjoyable read– I don’t have any doubt that it deserves the award. And Scalzi is certainly someone who at least tries to champion the broadening of horizons.
And yet… well, and yet… given recent events, I’m not sure how I would feel in Scalzi’s place. Scalzi, like so many Hugo winners, is yet another privileged white dude, and on some level, does that cheapen the accomplishment, no matter how hard he may have busted to get it?
I ask this because, although I’m certainly nowhere near being in contention for a Hugo myself at the moment, given my upcoming career change it’s not an unreasonable goal for me to shoot for… and I am also yet another privileged white dude. Scalzi and I share a lot of qualities, and a lot of opinions, and a lot of sensibilities, so it’s not hard for me to project myself into that place and wonder how I would feel there.
Certainly if he has any of these thoughts, he hasn’t said so, and I honestly don’t know if it wouldn’t be churlish if he did. The whole topic is fraught with peril. If you are a Scalzi here, what are you supposed to do? Turn down the Hugo? Recuse yourself from the running all together and throw away a valuable career opportunity? Use the moment to call for change (while still benefiting from the system)? Or just do as he has done, smile and say “thank you” and be yet another privileged white dude who won an award when some other just-as-talented, just-as-worthy author not in that category didn’t?
I don’t have a good answer for this. I’m open to suggestions!