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Well, shit.

Wait, let me try that again.

My first Readercon experience provided me with a wide berth of raw emotions, ranging from the elation that sprang from meeting and reconnecting with some of the most creative and progressive minds in the industry, to fiery rage at the bastion of New England Liberal Racism that still permeates the northeast, subsiding on the elitist fallacy that ‘smart people can’t be racist’.

How’s that? You want more, huh? I shouldn’t be surprised. I made a name for myself with my Twitter rants over that weekend on the much-needed progress needed at Readercon when my intention was to lay low and collect data all submarine-style and what not.

That being said, stealth is not something that is possible when you arrive at the hotel and you are the only person hanging around the registration desk with a permanent tan. Before running into the second black woman I saw at the con and sharing that mutual “I see you! I see you and I got you! I got you!” glance, I felt nineteen-year-old me smack myself upside the head with that weird derision and affection held in a black mother’s smack that tries to get you to act right, but more importantly, to remember where you are.

I was back in the city where I attended university. I should have expected this.

But there lies the problem, doesn’t it? With the onus always being on me and mine [and not mine but those also on similar low-ass decks] to “grow a thicker skin”, “get over it”, or “lighten up”? Is the thinking behind these dismissive pieces of advice, “Oh, she already has a load she’s been carrying for three and a half decades, so a little extra weight won’t matter?” If so,

Not Cool

It’s almost as if emotional and psychological erosion over an extensive period of time doesn’t apply to me;  like I’m some weird magical beast of burden. Hang on, I know there’s a name for this trope

Truth be told, I don’t know what happened to me at this con. I have never been quiet about social injustice against marginalized communities, but something in me just broke over that weekend. Maybe because it was my last convention [more on this later]. Maybe it was because two black men had been gunned down by white cops within 24 hours of each other. Maybe it was because my cab driver race-checked me at five-thirty in the fucking morning. Maybe because, over the past 17 months, I had lost my home, my health, my sanity and [repeatedly] my security; everything and anything that a human should be able to rightfully call their own. Or maybe because, in its own way, the industry presented me with the alternative to sitting quietly at the deli counter while being fed a litany of shit sandwiches with a side of verbal abuse.

Either which way, it was past time for me to stand and speak, consequences be damned.

What About Those Nice White People?

I am being super sincere about this. Somewhere in between the #notallrobots Uncle Tom bullshit and the “Paper: The Real White – A Lifetime Movie” fuckery, I met and reconnected with some awesome, woke white folk. I don’t like naming names without consent, and I know I’m probably forgetting some folk, but y’all know how you are and I thank you for being there.

  • The Program Chair was on point regarding my report, and I am happy that this person is passionate about steering Readercon into the direction where its attendees and programming match current fandom and pro demographics.
  • The Women As Protags panelists [one is actually white-passing], after being put to task about the lack of WOC on the panel, fully acknowledging their privilege and inviting the tasker to come onto the stage to participate.
  • My Bar Con peoples – y’all were good enough to sit and drink with this TI-RED person when she was D-U-N done and wax on about all of the ways in which we want this community to be better.
  • My Lobby/Airport Con peoples – I learn more about a creator, their processes, their motivations, their…everything through sitting down in a face-a-face and talking about nothing in particular. I got hella lucky (yes, I still use “hella” – I’m old like that) at Readercon because I was able to have more than one of these moments with award-winning authors, yo! Y’all helped me realize that I have no reason to be afraid of putting even more of myself into my craft. And that a pinch of salt will fix any crap cup of coffee.

Then, Why You Leavin’?

Don’t worry, it’s not a permanent leave. I’ve somehow manage to make a small name for myself speaking [and occasionally writing] about areas of my life that I’ve had to hide out of the risk of further stigmatization. If you had told me five years ago that I would have been invited to guest lecture at an internationally renowned university in order to speak on sexism, media and geek culture…let’s just say that my reaction would not have been subtle.

rjqfei

But remember when I said that I had lost everything that provided me with a stable psychological and emotional foundation? Well, it turns out that I can’t function all that well without what once buoyed me up. I tried following my standard routine when shit goes south: continue piling on projects, events and things in order to power through the pain so I didn’t have to stop and actually take care of that steaming pile of excrement that the universe created after gobbling away at my foundations like Blinky, Inky, Pinky & Clyde.

That strategy pulled me through WisCon then NOPEd the fuck out right before Printer’s Row Lit Fest. Even my coping strategy could no longer cope with the crumbling walls all around me.

this-is-not-fine-crop-promovar-mediumlarge

hdbbv8h

Images were created by and belong to KC Green. The entire comic was featured on The Nib on August 3, 2016.

So, I needed to embrace a change of tactics. I needed to stop. I needed to think. I needed to process. I needed to do better. I owe it to myself, even if doing better means walking away.

Because walking away does not equate to giving up.

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