Now live: essay at Lightspeed’s PoC Destroy SF

So, my essay “We’re Going Places” is now up over at Lightspeed’s People of Colo(u)r Destroy SF. It’s part of their Kickstarter and will be part of their paperback anthology, forthcoming in June 2016.

The essay is about my history with science-fiction and what it meant to me – and what it stills means to me, my (very) complicated relationship with the term “people of colour” and the toxicity that is American standards of diversity. I normally do not get involved in issues such as these, but I felt I had something worthwhile to contribute, and I was lucky enough to be a part of it.

This discussion mainly stemmed from my dislike of the ludicrous term “people of colour” and subsequently what’s even more cringeworthy, “man of colour” and “creator of colour”. I’ve been called all of these things and honestly, it’s felt more of an insult than a compliment.

It’s also partially because how toxic American standards of diversity (or anything, really) can be. Whenever I tried to raise this issue or stick my head out and ask why I got my teeth kicked in by Americans who wanted to upload their monolithic, one-note and American definition of diversity that extends to everyone on the globe. There hasn’t been so much irony around since people started dying in living rooms.

But enough of that, I’ll let the essay speak for itself. Many thanks to my line-editor, Sunil Patel, as well as Wendy Wagner and John Joseph Adams for accepting me and publishing my essay. I’ve been trying to break into Lightspeed/Nightmare for ages, and now I’ve finally done it. They’ve made me feel very welcome. And better yet, I’ve had a very, very good response to the essay so far. Very awesome to come back to.

So far my work is sharing space with Alyssa Wong, Alliette de Bodard, Ken Liu, Nalo Hopkinson and a whole heap of others. And this is without seeing the cover art, the fiction, the rest of the essays, etc. I’m looking forward to seeing it all in the upcoming months.

Also, if you could support the Kickstarter that would be truly awesome. A lot of effort from a lot of people went into making this, so help would be appreciated.

Oh, and don’t forget to read my essay!




4 thoughts on “Now live: essay at Lightspeed’s PoC Destroy SF

  1. Alex Hurst says:

    I’m looking forward to that paperback. I really loved Lightspeed’s Women Destroy SF and will keep an eye out for the paperback this summer! ūüėÄ Congrats on the essay.

    • jeremyszal says:

      Thanks! Yes, WDSF was great as well. Definitely pick this one up, too. It’s going to be a huge anthology and filled with awesomeness. And if we ever meet, and if you want, I’ll sign it for you! =)

  2. Chris Miller says:

    I’m fairly ambivalent about my POC experience. This email I sent to to Wendy Wagner, Lightspeed’s associate editor, probably explains best:

    Hello Wendy,

    It seems the contract we signed has been “killed.” I’ve never had this happen and am unfamiliar with the term “kill fee,” which is what your very generous remuneration is now apparently being called. Nalo has informed me that I am free to submit the piece elsewhere, that all rights revert to me. Is this true? I’m reluctant to proceed without some assurance from the publisher.

    I intended no deception, emailed my bio and photograph to both you and Nalo as requested the day I received her acceptance. Looking at the guidelines ( again from my now more experienced (and jaded) perspective I see where they could, from the opening sentences, be summarized simply as, “No whites.” But further statements like ‘consider the terms ‚Äúpeople of colour‚ÄĚ and ‚Äúscience fiction‚ÄĚ themselves to be conditional, contextual, provocative, strategic, and ripe for dismantling,’ and, ‘Note also that we will not be asking writers who submit stories to tell us what makes them ‚Äúpeople of colour‚ÄĚ’, inspired a more open interpretation. Frankly, I’m astounded Lightspeed would endorse a blatantly racist anthology. It’s one thing to open submissions to only blacks or only women or only teenagers or only inmates of a federal penitentiary or only unpublished writers or only people living in a certain geographic region, but it is quite another to exclude a specific demographic, especially for skin color, even when that color is white.

    Anyway, thank you for your time and consideration. I’m sorry it didn’t work out. Kristine Ong Muslim might be my favorite living writer, and even if I do get to keep my story and your payment for it, I’m disappointed to have been evicted from her anthology.



    • jeremyszal says:

      Hi Chris,

      Thanks for this (and sorry for the late reply).

      I do understand your approach. It’s something I struggled with very much when I first heard about it, and even more so when I saw the guidelines. Any exclusion, regardless of who it happens to or how supposedly dominant that group is, is unacceptable, always. But I allowed my essay to be published because I felt I had something to contribute and there were are so few non-US voices, let alone Australian voices, coming in with their voices and experiences that I felt I couldn’t not have my say. American standards and values are so widespread and inescapable that it’s nothing short of cultural imperialism, choking everything else. They get to decide who’s oppressed, who isn’t, what counts as a minority, what matters, how things are handled, etc. And on an international scale. So I felt my voice was needed.

      Which brings us to your experience. From what I’m reading of this, you submitted to the anthology – assuming that the term “PoC” was broad and open to discussion and felt that you somehow counted as one (a minority within your own country/culture, etc?) And then they found out that you were white and cancelled your acceptance and contract, correct?

      If this is true, then I can absolutely understand your frustration. Like I said, its the USians who judge the world by their national and cultural standards and stagger in disbelief when they discover that hey, things are wildly different over in Spain and Russia and Turkey, especially who counts as minority/dominant. So I get it, really, and I’m very sorry that happened to you. It’s okay to be bitter about it, really.

      I hope you discussed it at length with the editors, at least? \\


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