On Diversity and Inclusion

Special Needs in Strange Worlds on SF Signal has done some pretty amazing things for me. First, SF Signal has a huge number of readers, so moving my efforts over there has done incredible things for getting the cause of disability, and its importance in the genre so much more limelight than I ever could have managed to get it if I kept it on Bookworm Blues. Secondly, having more readers means that I get more email. These letters I get are so incredibly humbling, so touching, so profoundly moving. I never realized how hungry people were to read about, and in some ways unite, about the importance of disabilities in the genre. So many people want to talk about this topic, and that honestly surprises me.

It has made me never want to stop.

It has also made me realize how there are vast swaths of people who fit under the diversity umbrella who almost never get a seat at the table when diversity champions are championing.

Diversity is a hard topic to tackle. I try not to wade into these discussions much because I always feel like I step in it, and then I can’t clean my shoe after. Before I go much further, I want everyone to stop and understand a few things:

  1. I sincerely, from the bottom of my heart, appreciate and heartily want to hug everyone who is supporting and promoting diversity in the genre, regardless of what form that diversity takes. Every last one of you are warriors fighting the good fight and I don’t ever want anyone to read this post and think I don’t appreciate their efforts, regardless of the stripe.
  2. I never, ever want anyone to stop championing for women’s rights, or gender, sexuality, race, religion or creed or any other aspect of diversity. Ever. Never stop. We need your voice.

Diversity is such a wide, broad, and sprawling topic. It’s impossible to talk about all of it, and it makes sense that people boil it down into a few distinct groups and push for those groups. We all have different passions and issues that touch us deeply. By all means, let your passions light the fire for you. Never stop.

However, the more immersed I get in disabilities and speculative fiction, the more I realize how many people are yearning, desiring, needing a voice, a champion for diversity. It makes me realize that these people almost never get a seat at the table in these discussions. And while I have experience regarding disabilities in the genre, through observations and discussions, this point fits so many more people than the disabled.

I guess that’s the whole point of this post. That’s it. It’s quite simple, really. Diversity is vitally important, but I ask that people remember that diversity is broad, wide, and deep. It’s a multi-layered cake and I don’t think any of us will ever fully realize just how many layers that cake really contains. All of us fit under the diversity umbrella somewhere, and while it is easier to attack the topic when it’s broken up into easy to manage subsets, there are a lot of aspects of diversity that never get representation. There are a lot of people in the genre, in the world in general, who deserve a voice and a seat at the diversity table and never really get one.

All I’m asking is that when we talk about diversity, about being a champion of diversity, remember that there plenty of people lost in the margins that deserve a voice and never really get one. Remember, diversity is beautiful, but it is also complex. Please don’t forget to invite some of those people who don’t really ever get an invitation to these discussions.

Everyone deserves a champion. Everyone deserves a loud voice in their favor. And everyone deserves equality and equal representation in this genre we all love. If we really want to even out the playing field, we need to remember that diversity is an umbrella that covers so very many people, and all of them… all of us…. deserve a voice.

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