The Hugo awards ceremony this weekend has drawn outcries from those who are dismayed at the treatment of diverse voices in the science fiction and fantasy fields we love. I don’t want to take time cataloging small slights and larger injustices. Instead, here’s one thing I can and will do to work toward positive change.
Spoiler alert: Like many aspects of our lives, it’s about the money.
Some years ago, I made a concerted effort to record what fiction I bought and read, with a focus on finding marvelous new writers, including some who have been doing great work for decades but get overlooked. That felt right, even joyful.
But it still wasn’t enough.
Then Patreon came along and I began kicking in modest amounts to support writers and publications whose work I admired and devoured. Last year I took a hard look at my list and saw that the number of white men were over-represented by a lot. I thought about why this might be. I do think it was partly a function of who had publicized their Patreon and who was more assertive in seeking support. Those reasons matter not at all. I knew I needed to be more inclusive. So I added more marvelous creators. Again, that felt better, and encouraging.
But this, too, isn’t enough.
Today is the first of the month, a day on which Patreon sends me a list of who I support and the dollar amounts for each one. Doing some basic arithmetic, I see that the white men are still over-represented in total financial donations by a fair bit. Sure, I can explain how one person has dropped out and I added another and I increased my financial support for another two. But the point remains. It still isn’t enough.
The best time to fix this would have been when I first joined Patreon. The next best time is now.