Sunday, June 09, 2013

GoH speech by N K Jemisin, Continuum

N. K. Jemisin's Continuum 9 speech (for those not part of the SFF world, Continuum is a science fiction convention held in Melbourne in Victoria, Australia) should be required reading for all of us - and by that I mean a universal "all".

I greatly admire N. K. Jemisin's writing - her original ideas and her prose are inspiring and I'd recommend her books highly - but what she has to say here is even more inspiring, in particular what she has to say about the silent 90%. I recently had my own epiphany about how silence makes everyone who doesn't call people on racist or other hateful remarks complicit in what is said. The truth is if we don't speak out we are as guilty as those who are making racist, anti-semetic, misogynistic, homophobic and other hate filled comments. That even this incomplete list is so long is disturbing in itself.

I think part of the problem is fear - of offending a friend, of being ostracised, of being shouted down and even of physical attack, and, of course, we should not be foolhardy and put ourselves in danger but there is a lot we can do instead of standing back. We can write to the newspapers, get on talk back radio to contradict the ignorant, tell a friend who makes a casual racist slur that it is not acceptable. Every time we do this it makes a difference. It might be small but it counts.

It's not easy to overcome our prejudices, especially if it's something we've grown up with and we all carry baggage and make mistakes but what we can do is to keep trying to do better. What N. K. Jemisin has to say here is important. I urge you to read it.


Satima Flavell said...

Evil triumphs when good people remain silent and do nothing.

Helen V. said...

Absolutely right, Satima.