Anonymous Group Challenges Statistical Validity of Fireside Report

In a report dropped just after the close of the Hugo nomination deadline last night, the timing chosen purposefully (I’m told by a source) though the reasons are not obvious, “a group of writers and editors” has challenged the statistical basis of the Fireside Report which said last July,” We don’t need the numbers to know that racism is a problem in our field. But we have them.”

Published at Medium under the pseudonym “Lev Bronstein” (Leon Trotsky’s real name), “Bias in Speculative Fiction” counters the Fireside Report by applying additional statistical study methods to the data, or enlarging the field from which relevant data can be drawn.

Fireside Fiction’s July 2016 report “Antiblack Racism in Speculative Fiction” [FR] purports to have found pervasive racism in speculative fiction publishing. With 38 out of 2,039 (1.9%) published works authored by black-identifying authors, there is unquestionable underrepresentation. FR ascribes this disparity to widespread anti-black editorial bias. We share Fireside’s concerns about underrepresentation and commend its authors for raising awareness. At the same time we find the report to be fraught with error.

The article’s many examples include:

The misuse of the binomial distribution in FR is a significant cause for concern. Under the binomial distribution, we treat each publication as an independent random event with some fixed probability of occurrence. FR assumes that each submitted submission should have a 13.2% chance of black authorship. The probability of observing their data subject to this assumption is 3.207×10^–76. They provide no rationale for using population rather than occupational rates. Suppose instead that science fiction slush is submitted from a pool of professional writers uniformly at random. Under these assumptions we assume that there’s a a 4% probability that a story is written by a black author. The data becomes 68 orders of magnitude more likely. Still unlikely, yes, but this demonstrate the impact of our assumptions.

The article can be presumed to serve as a defense of editors in the speculative fiction field. It argues there is bias, but that it is exerted in the culture in ways not directly related to the fate of slushpile manuscripts, such as in the educational system where PoC may or may not take degrees in literature, and other things that discourage black people from becoming authors at all.

The authors of the article defended their choice to remain anonymous in these terms —

Who are you?

We’re a group of writers and editors. We have chosen to publish under a collective pseudonym. Our identities would only serve as a distraction.

It’s puzzling why a group that agrees in their preamble that “There is a race problem in speculative fiction and we need to make an effort to understand its causes” is unwilling to engage under their own names, essentially reducing this to a drive-by correction of somebody else’s homework.

Justina Ireland, an executive editor at FIYAH magazine, has responded at length on Twitter. Here are several of her tweets:

Another comment:

Brandon O’Brien, a poet and writer in Trinidad and Tobago, also has made some observations:

O’Brien has many other comments, though one in particular about “nebulous maths” begs the question:

Bear in mind this quote from the Fireside Report —

To adjust for the methodological flaws, as well as the fact that we don’t have access to submission-rate data concerning race and ethnicity either overall or by individual magazine, we used binomial distributions. The purpose of this was to find the probability that such numbers could be random?—?the chances that numbers like that could exist without biases in play (which could extend to biases that are literary in nature, such as story structure), systemic problems, and/or structural gaps. In the first binomial distribution we ran the data assuming that submission rates of black authors are equal to the proportion of the black population in the United States, which was 13.2% in 2015 (according to Census projections).

The Fireside Report picked U.S. population statistics as the battleground, treated them as a valid tool for analyzing racism, and made arguments based on their own analysis of them. It’s not fair in that context to say the Fireside Report is above criticism because there are PoC writing SFF throughout the world, or that we all know racism is a problem in the publishing industry (as it is elsewhere).

Troy L. Wiggins, the other FIYAH executive editor, questioned the motive behind the new article:

Update: Hours later the authors of the article took it down and left in place the statement, “We’ve been receiving threats. Forget we were ever here.”  

For as long as it lasts, the original post can be read in the Google cache file.

61 thoughts on “Anonymous Group Challenges Statistical Validity of Fireside Report

  1. OGH says It’s puzzling why a group that agrees in their preamble that “There is a race problem in speculative fiction and we need to make an effort to understand its causes” is unwilling to engage under their own names, essentially reducing this to a drive-by correction of somebody else’s homework.

    It’s worse than that as we’ve no proof that it’s just one person constructing a group sock puppet of sorts. By being anonymous, they render any positive points they make invalid as I (at least) do judge the validity of an arguement by who’s making it.

  2. It’s puzzling why a group that agrees in their preamble that “There is a race problem in speculative fiction and we need to make an effort to understand its causes” is unwilling to engage under their own names, essentially reducing this to a drive-by correction of somebody else’s homework.

    Is it really?

    It’s a sensitive subject, more likely than not to lead to an internet flamewar of some scope or another.

    The most charitable interpretation is that the essay’s authors agree with the Fireside Report’s conclusion — that black writers are underrepresented and systemic bias is keeping them out — but think Fireside used bad methodology and analysis to get to it. Less charitable interpretations see them as deliberately attempting to undermine the conclusions and call to action.

    If they see themselves in the charitable way, but don’t want to suffer the personal, professional, and social consequences of being seen the other way, then you can see the attraction of anonymity.

  3. …I feel like I’d really like to see both the FR team and this anonymous group clearly state what propositions they feel are in contention.

    I’m not certain their answers are going to match.

  4. The important thing is to encourage more black writers to submit stories. My problem with both the Fireside report and the FIYAH study is that they send a message of “don’t bother–they discriminate against submissions from black writers.” Since statistical analysis of both sets of data doesn’t bear that claim out, they should retract it.

    It’s always been difficult to see how “slush-pile discrimination” could work anyway. Editors and readers would have to research the race of authors in order to figure out whom to discriminate against. The discrimination is happening earlier in the pipeline–probably a lot earlier.

    Anyway, for what it’s worth, I looked over the statistics in the “Bias in Speculative Fiction” article, and it all looks to be sound. The only way to be sure would be to put in the effort to duplicate their results, of course.

  5. @Standback

    The most charitable interpretation is that the essay’s authors agree with the Fireside Report’s conclusion — that black writers are underrepresented and systemic bias is keeping them out — but think Fireside used bad methodology and analysis to get to it. Less charitable interpretations see them as deliberately attempting to undermine the conclusions and call to action.

    Fireside concluded that the responsibility lay with the editors of the magazines. The authors of this study conclude that it’s not the fault of the editors. The bias is real, but the editors aren’t causing it. Accordingly, beating up on the editors won’t fix anything.

  6. Given the evidence of systemic bias at pretty much all levels of society, I would be a little surprised if it was never a factor in sf publishing. That doesn’t make publishers and editors bad people. It does help to be aware of the possibility so that it can be corrected for.

  7. Greg Hullender notes Fireside concluded that the responsibility lay with the editors of the magazines. The authors of this study conclude that it’s not the fault of the editors. The bias is real, but the editors aren’t causing it. Accordingly, beating up on the editors won’t fix anything.

    Unless an editor and / or first reader of a manuscript knows the person, only their name can hint at what the gender, race or enthnicity is of the writer. And that can be be quite misleading.

  8. This new report is not without some merit but it puts most of its effort into knocking down a strawman version of the Fireside conclusions rather than further our understanding.

    A lot of criticism of the Fireside report was premised on the idea that it was saying the disparity was due to active discrimination by editors of short fiction. I can see only one sentence in the Fireside report which can be taken that way: “Speculative short fiction publishing is rife with antiblackness, and white speculative fiction writers and publishers need to stop pretending otherwise” – and I think that was intended as a supporting observation rather than a conclusion from the data.

    Further, the surrounding articles to the Fireside report (including Nora Jemisin’s interview) strongly assert that the situation involves a multitude of factors that *amount too* systemic racism. The Fireside editorial stated: “So what’s going on here? There are a lot of factors. Sure, as N.K. Jemisin says in our interview with her, some black writers opt out of the publishing system and self-publish, and have been doing so for years. But before you say, “A-HA! SEE THERE IS NO RACISM,” these writers do this because of the racism in the system. Why bother trying when you know you don’t have a chance?
    Overt racism is only a small part of the problem, though. It’s the more subtle biases that really do us in. “

    An extensive exercise in missing the point. Shame, because with a bit more thought and possibly marginally less effort this group could have added some more useful insights.

  9. There is not enough box checking either in Fireside or the commentary on Fireside.

  10. @Greg

    It’s always been difficult to see how “slush-pile discrimination” could work anyway. Editors and readers would have to research the race of authors in order to figure out whom to discriminate against.

    I don’t think that it’s so simple as slush pile readers tossing submissions by black writers on the “reject” pile, especially since they don’t necessarily know an author’s race. However, writers of colour will probably offer a somewhat different perspective than a white writer, because their life experiences influence what they write about and how they write it. A white slush pile reader might not “get” the story and might therefore reject it. If this happens enough times, the result is that black writers are underrepresented.

    Similar mechanisms were (and still are to some degree) responsible for the underrepresentation of women writers in SFF, because the subjects women were more likely to write about were deemed not important or not interesting enough. Joanna Russ even devotes a chapter of How to Suppress Women’s Writing to this.

    LGBT writers used to face and still face similar challenges. Ditto for international writers from beyond the US/UK.

    Just because there is no deliberate discrimination doesn’t mean there is no bias.

  11. Greg Hullender: It’s always been difficult to see how “slush-pile discrimination” could work anyway. Editors and readers would have to research the race of authors in order to figure out whom to discriminate against.

    Oh, rubbish. What a ridiculous claim to make. Unless submissions are blind, with names redacted, it’s stunningly easy to determine that a lot of authors are probably of minority heritage based on their name.

    Nnedi Okorafor
    Sumiko Saulson
    Balogun Ojetade
    Rasheedah Prioleau
    Navi’ Robins
    Kenya Moss-Dime
    An Owomoyela
    Indrapramit Das
    Ramez Naam
    Owl Goingback
    Jewelle Gomez
    Ted Chiang
    Wesley Chu
    Hao Jingfang
    Cixin Liu
    Ken Liu
    Marjorie Liu
    Malinda Lo
    Marie Lu
    Cindy Pon
    Bao Shu
    Vandana Singh
    Alyssa Wong
    Laurence Yep
    Charles Yu
    Kat Zhang
    Georgina Kamsika
    Kathleen Alcalá
    Giannina Braschi
    Pablo Brescia
    Ana Castillo
    Daína Chaviano
    Junot Díaz
    Rudy Ch. García
    Gabino Iglesias
    Carmen Maria Machado
    Adrian Mendoza
    Alejandro Morales
    Daniel José Older
    Edmundo Paz-Soldán

  12. I was a bit dubious about the claim to be a “group”, but the report rather jumps around various points which does suggest multiple hands lacking coordination.

    The overall impression is a desire to score points over Fireside rather than genuinely assist the conversation – if they’d simply found statistical errors and wanted to help correct them, they’d have engaged in a way that was more able to lead to constructive debate than “your statistics are wrong and you are wrong.”

  13. Camestros Felapton: Well now ‘Lev Bronstein’ et al have taken their football and called the game off: The whole thing has gone and been replaced with “We’ve been receiving threats. Forget we were ever here.”

    How could they have possibly been receiving threats? They’re anonymous. The only people who would know who they are, are the people they themselves have told.

    This all smacks of racists attempting to undermine the Fireside report, in an attempt to further institutionalize racism in SFF publishing.

  14. JJ on March 18, 2017 at 6:13 pm said:

    How could they have possibly been receiving threats? They’re anonymous. The only people who would know who they are, are the people they themselves have told.

    It is deeply fishy – and now we’ll get people claiming that the Fireside report was disproven and the evil leftists suppressed the article etc.

    The whole thing had only been up a few hours.

    I was willing to believe it was a confused but sincere analysis but this move points to the whole thing being malicious in intent.

  15. @Camestros Felapton

    I was willing to believe it was a confused but sincere analysis but this move points to the whole thing being malicious in intent.

    It’s hard to see how you could draw that conclusion. First, it wasn’t confused at all. It was quite clear. Second, the authors were obviously very conflict-averse. They simply couldn’t take the heat, and (evidently) they weren’t as anonymous as they thought they were.

    So, addressing your earlier point, what did you think the call-to-action was from the Fireside report? Or did you think it was lamenting a situation that no one could do anything about? It seemed quite clear to me that it was meant to put pressure on editors to proactively recruit writers based on race. Do you think that’s the right thing to do?

  16. So, addressing your earlier point, what did you think the call-to-action was from the Fireside report? Or did you think it was lamenting a situation that no one could do anything about? It seemed quite clear to me that it was meant to put pressure on editors to proactively recruit writers based on race.

    I agree that the policy conclusion would be for editors to be more proactive in recruit black writers or otherwise make the climate more welcoming for them. However, that is not the same as claiming the report concluded that active racism on the part of editors was demonstrated by the statistics.

    For example, I think a carbon tax is a sensible policy response to global warming but I don’t think the absence of a carbon tax is the physical cause of global warming.

    I think given everything we already know about inequitable outcomes between black Americans and white Americans, I’d *expect* there to be an under-representation of black writers in a general market, even if editors were not being actively biased. AND that would still be a problem and within the domain of short fiction editors could help reduce that inequity.

    //Do you think that’s the right thing to do?//

    Yes, within reason. Untangling the edifice of inequality isn’t going to happen overnight but people can reduce the impact at a local level or in a particular field.

    //First, it wasn’t confused at all. It was quite clear. //

    I found it confused about what the Fireside report was saying.

    //Second, the authors were obviously very conflict-averse. They simply couldn’t take the heat, and (evidently) they weren’t as anonymous as they thought they were.//

    I’m sceptical about that. I guess it is possible that they were conflict-averse but not actually very good at avoiding conflict.

    For example, removing the report with a vague claim of ‘threats’ adds to the sense of conflict. The report exists – if they genuinely feared retribution, then removing the content of the post wouldn’t make the people who made the threats (about whom we know nothing) disappear of feel happier or more pleasantly disposed towards the authors.

  17. Camestros Felapton: Fireside have republished the report from ‘Lev Bronstein’ at their own site
    http://firesidefiction.com/a-little-sunshine citing their own values of transparency.

    I think that’s bullshit. They made a public announcement that they refused to comment on the report when asked before it came out — and now they’re going to host it?

  18. It sort of heads off at the pass any allegations by the anonymous group that their report had been vilely suppressed by evil liberal thought-police egged on by Fireside. They can’t complain that Fireside is censoring them because they can’t stand the powerful truth of their critique – there it is for all to see, and pick at.

  19. Mike Glyer: I think that’s bullshit. They made a public announcement that they refused to comment on the report when asked before it came out — and now they’re going to host it?

    Oh, I totally disagree. Why should they comment in advance on something sent to them by — from all appearances — a malicious anonymous troll?

    The anonymous troller did some damage and caused some doubts when they posted the report on Medium — and the subsequent removal of the report puts Fireside in the position of not being able to defend their own report, and contradict allegations, without the anonymous source work to reference.

  20. JJ: There’s no reason they should have commented on what was sent to them by an anonymous troll.

    On the other hand, you don’t have to issue a defense against trolling. By hosting the anonymous report, they have elevated the document from trolling to discourse. Which is what the authors always wanted. So who wins here?

  21. I suspect they felt that it had, like it or not, already become discourse — and that this was the best way to deal with it. I think that its removal forced their hand — it seems to me that the intent of the removal was to plant doubts, and then eliminate Fireside’s ability to counter claims made by a no-loonger-existent “report”.

  22. JJ: I think it’s payback, keeping up the pressure on the anonymous authors, and by keeping the document online perpetuating the maker’s motive for whatever these “threats” may have been.

  23. Mike Glyer on March 18, 2017 at 10:05 pm said:

    I think that’s bullshit. They made a public announcement that they refused to comment on the report when asked before it came out — and now they’re going to host it?

    They did also say “We look forward to their report coming to light so we can have a public discussion” – so they are being consistent with that but as you said they didn’t engage with the group prior ( http://firesidefiction.com/dont-talk-to-strangers )

    I think hosting is a wise thing for them to do as it neutralises the claim that they or their supporters are trying to suppress the Bronstein reply.

    On another note all the comments have gone from the Bronstein piece now as well. I’d put two comments there originally and the last time I looked there were three in total.

    As for trolling – I think the Bronstein stuff had more substance than a troll. It wasn’t ignorant criticism. It was sufficiently substantive that the right thing to do would be to engage with it and point out the errors.

  24. (Ummm. Point of order — isn’t re-hosting the report without permission a copyright violation?

    Come to think of it, I have no idea how Google Cache or The Internet Archive don’t have issues with this.)

  25. @JJ: Other points aside, it’s a little weird for me to see that fifth question described as a doxxing attempt. They asked “is it a pseudonym,” not “tell us their real name.”

    I think it’s reasonable be taken aback at not finding a licensed actuary using the name provided. I also think it makes good sense to leave that question out of the final essay — it could very much be read as “did you really consult an actuary” or “are they a real actuary,” which would be very accusatory.

    TBH, even under my charitable interpretation, they really shouldn’t have asked that to begin with. Not because it isn’t a valid question, but because, as I say, it’s an inherently accusatory one. And in a way that’s entirely unrelated to their actual point and essay — if their own identity can remain obscured, if they want the data and arguments to stand on their own merits, then surely “but tell us who this unidentified person is” is an inflammatory distraction.

    But real people often aren’t as precise, as aware, or as tactful as they could be. I can see why they’d want to ask the question, and I can certainly see why they’d decide it wasn’t germane to the final essay.

  26. Standback: I think it’s reasonable be taken aback at not finding a licensed actuary using the name provided. I also think it makes good sense to leave that question out of the final essay — it could very much be read as “did you really consult an actuary” or “are they a real actuary,” which would be very accusatory.

    Well, sure, it’s a natural thing to wonder — but the Bronstein persona has a hell of a lot of nerve actually asking them the question, when they themselves refuse to provide their identity — never mind not providing any bona fides.

    And of course it reads as accusatory, because that’s exactly what it is. Which is why they left it out of their report — because it makes them look like the hypocrites they are. They were apparently counting on Fireside continuing not to comment, and thus on not having it come out that they’d asked the question.

     
    Camestros Felapton: As for trolling – I think the Bronstein stuff had more substance than a troll. It wasn’t ignorant criticism. It was sufficiently substantive that the right thing to do would be to engage with it and point out the errors.

    I dunno, I thought it read like a pretty deliberately Strawman argument: pretend that the terms of the original piece were actually something different, then tear down the altered construction they’d made of it.

  27. I suppose someone could have figured out who “Lev Bronstein” is and sent them threats. Or maybe someone said/wrote something like “If I ever find out who that Lev Bronstein is I’ll kill them.” Or even gone the route of one Puppy author and posted threats to shoot the author(s) and followed up with comments indicating their attempts to trace the authors IRL. I saw the latter, and I’d have described that as “received threats” if it had happened to me.

    Obviously I don’t think anybody should be doing things like that, FWIW. Not Puppies, not non-Puppies.

    And people do various things in response to threats, and deleting things they put on the web is one tactic. So I don’t know the claim that they’ve taken the piece down due to receiving threats is necessarily untrue.

    That said, I think it’s perfectly reasonable for Fireside to republish the piece, or at the very least to put up a link to the piece on the internet archive. It neatly sidesteps the otherwise inevitable claims that the “left” “can’t handle differences of opinion” or “censors opposing views.”

    Regarding people being able to tell ethnicity by name, remember that this doesn’t require either a zero false negative rate, or conscious decision. Sure, some black writers are going to be named things like Beth or David, but if black writers are *more likely* than white writers to be named something like “LaToya” or “LeBarron” or “Keisha” or “Taj” then there is still a pattern there for unconscious bias to act on.

  28. I give Fireside points for republishing it. What’s needed is for some other stats folks to weigh in on it.

    @Camestros
    The problem with editors giving special preference to black authors is that it only helps authors who’ve already made it past the filter. It doesn’t do anything about fixing the filter itself.

    I think the most important thing is to emphasize to black authors that the data show that their submissions aren’t discriminated against. That they should feel confident that if they get a rejection, it’s due to the content of the work, not the color of the writer. If someone tells you “don’t bother to submit–they don’t publish work by black people,” don’t believe them.

    If you really want to encourage black authors to submit stories, I think you actually need to say things that encourage them, not things that discourage them. That at least helps fix the part of the filter that’s caused by people believing they’re not welcome to send stories at all.

  29. Great catch, guys at File 770. Thanks for publishing the link to the article. Review and rebuttal of statistical methods should never be shut down by threats and bullying. That just leads to pseudo-science.

  30. Greg Hullender on March 19, 2017 at 9:46 am said:

    I give Fireside points for republishing it. What’s needed is for some other stats folks to weigh in on it.

    @Camestros
    The problem with editors giving special preference to black authors is that it only helps authors who’ve already made it past the filter. It doesn’t do anything about fixing the filter itself.

    Fair point – and given that there are many outlets, a mixed strategy with outlets monitoring the success of what they are doing in this area also makes sense.

  31. There is the small problem that it will likely need five years worth of data to determine whether a given strategy actually made a statistically significant difference. Unless the change is so huge that it’s grossly unjust in the other direction.

  32. Greg Hullender: I think the most important thing is to emphasize to black authors that the data show that their submissions aren’t discriminated against. That they should feel confident that if they get a rejection, it’s due to the content of the work, not the color of the writer. If someone tells you “don’t bother to submit–they don’t publish work by black people,” don’t believe them.

    Please stop saying this. The numerous reasons why such a definitive statement cannot be drawn from the data as it exists have been pointed out repeatedly, in this and other threads.

  33. Greg: At least one editor has talked about the number of submissions she got from moniritites before she had an explicit “I want to see minority voices” comment in her submissions guidelines and after she added it in. She had always been open to such (or felt herself to be) but the difference in what she received when it was spelled out versus not mentioned was noteable, and not in the range of statistical outliers.

    IOW, I don’t think the issue is people telling black people (Or other PoC and Indigenous groups, or minorities on other axes) “Don’t bother” — or making any such **actively negative** statement. It’s the difference between a null or neutral statement and an **actively positive** one.

  34. @Greg

    I think the most important thing is to emphasize to black authors that the data show that their submissions aren’t discriminated against. That they should feel confident that if they get a rejection, it’s due to the content of the work, not the color of the writer. If someone tells you “don’t bother to submit–they don’t publish work by black people,” don’t believe them.

    The problem is that you can never really know why a story was rejected. Was it simply because the story wasn’t good or because the editor already had three zombie stories and didn’t need a fourth? Was it because your story had LGBT characters or characters of colour or because it wasn’t set in the US and didn’t feature any Americans? Was it because you’re female or LGBT or a person of colour or because you have an ethnic name or because your e-mail address is not a US domain?

    You can never know. And even if the answer is often “The story isn’t all that good or all that original”, if you’re in some way marginalised, you will always ask yourself, “Is it because I’m a member of group X and magazine Y discriminates against members of group X?” And if you later read a story that’s similar to yours, but not nearly as good, in mag Y, you will definitely suspect that the reason you were rejected has nothing to do with the story and everything with who you are. Even though the other story may have been bought before yours or the writer is a big name draw or a good friend of the editor’s or something.

    This is why statements along the lines of “We welcome diverse stories from diverse writers” in the submission guidelines are so important. Because it reassures authors from marginalised groups that their submission will be judged on its own merits and that if it is rejected, it’s because of the story and not because of who you are.

  35. Re: Positive reinforcement vs negative reinforcement, following on from Lenora Rose’s comment

    Not quite the same thing, but while I don’t visit venues that explicitly state that they’re not accessible (although I appreciate the honesty – saves a lot of research-time), I’m also pretty unlikely to visit the ones who don’t say anything at all, because the effort of trying to find out coupled with how many times the answer has been “no” means I really have to want to go there. Places that tell me the ways in which they accessible to me? Even if they can’t do everything? Hoo boy yeah I’ll be right there, budget and health willing.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if it worked similarly for people whose minority status is obvious from their names or their preferred style and subject matter, and the publishers and magazines they choose to submit to. Why waste your time on a maybe when you can submit to a yes-we-want-stories-from-people-like-you?

    Re: Filters

    While I agree that many people from minority groups are filtered out before they get to the stage of submitting stories, and that needs to be tackled, I also think that late-stage career-specific filters are worth tackling. Whether that’s by educating editors and publishers as to how they might be influenced by unconscious bias (and ways to compensate for that), or explicit statements on submission pages that diverse voices are welcome, or other things that help: those things are worth doing as well as the bigger picture stuff.

  36. Bill on March 19, 2017 at 5:07 pm said:

    @Camestros It’s Creative Common https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/4.0/ – they’re fine so long as they attribute it.

    How do you know? (and I’m not disputing, just asking — the archive.is cache doesn’t say this.)

    On the original there was a thing at the bottom saying ‘some rights reserved’ and an icon which linked to Creative Commons Attribution No Derivative – and that was still there when they replaced it with the ‘Threats’ version of their post. When Standback asked the question I double checked and it was still there but now it has gone completely I can’t verify that directly. The Web archive link JJ gave earlier (which I can’t find in the thread now) probably still shows those icons and the links probably work.

    tl;dr I remember it being there 🙂

  37. @Meredith
    I think we’re close to agreement, then. I think the best thing (maybe the only thing) magazines and editors could do is to make strong statements that they welcome stories from black authors and/or about black people.

    @JJ
    Although a number of people have claimed that the article isn’t valid, none of them showed any evidence of having read or understood the document. Given the data in the two studies, no one who actually cares about increasing the number of black writers in SFF (as opposed to merely “virtue signaling” to other white people) should be going around saying that “SFF short fiction editors discriminate against black writers.” It will have no effect but to discourage black writers from submitting.

    Yes, there is a problem with anti-black discrimination in general. No, the SFF editors are not making it worse–not to a significant degree, anyway. If there were massive, systematic discrimination, both studies would have detected it. They did not. More subtle (or just less-effective) discrimination might still exist, but it would take more data to detect it. Deliberately discouraging black authors on the basis of an unmeasurable amount of discrimination that might or might not exist is, in my view, immoral.

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