Meschke Calls on DisCon III to Correct Fanhistorical Note in Press Release

Guest Post by Karen Meschke, Chair, LoneStarCon 2 (1997 Worldcon): DisCon III made a major error in their Press Release (dated September 3) by overlooking the contributions of Fred Duarte in announcing their new Vice-Chairs (“DisCon III Announces Vice Chairs”) and that Lauren Raye was the “first Latinx Vice Chair.”  Fred’s son, Matthew Duarte, and I wish it to be acknowledged and corrected.

Fred Duarte Jr. (d. 2015). Photo by Mark Olson.

I privately contacted Randy Shepherd the day after the above referenced news (September 4) was released as he is one of the DisCon III Advisors. Randy and Fred both served as Vice-Chairs at LoneStarCon 2, the 1997 Worldcon, as did Bill Parker. This is the Worldcon that I chaired in San Antonio, Texas.

This is the gist of the first email I sent Randy:

“Could the wording be changed to first female Latinx Vice Chair and Fred be added as a footnote? Don’t mean to make a fuss but to ignore Fred’s contributions to fandom for decades is just wrong. I do not wish to make this a public issue, not my style or Fred’s. I want fandom to honor Fred’s accomplishments and leave his son, Matthew, the real legacy of his dad’s life, not history rewritten.”

Initially, he agreed that it should be fixed and he would see what he could do. Randy has not responded to subsequent emails since September 24.

So on October 4, I reached out to Patty Wells the other DisCon III Advisor. Patty asked Randy what was going on with a well-deserved apology, and his response to her was “it’s in process but slow.” Patty stated “she would find out more and would not let it go though.” This response was sent by Patty on October 5.

It has now been almost two weeks, and I have still received no responses or updates from either Randy or Patty.

My observation is this is slowly slipping through the cracks, and the final solution appears to be to simply include Fred as a footnote in the DisCon III Program Book in their list of former Worldcons for historical information.

This is situation has been ongoing since September 4 and it needs to be corrected sooner rather than later.


Fred’s role is documented in the LSC2 Program Book on page 7.

29 thoughts on “Meschke Calls on DisCon III to Correct Fanhistorical Note in Press Release

  1. Fred certainly deserves recognition.. But for some, the Narrative (that fandom was not diverse and inclusive until very recently) is more important than the fact.

  2. This is a very reasonable request on Karen’s part and the silence from the committee after promising to follow-up and correct this error is insulting and inexplicable. I tried to post a question about this to the DSC III Facebook group but the post (surprise!) has not yet appeared in the group’s feed nor have I gotten a response to it, although other posts have appeared since I commented.

  3. Ginjer Buchanan: the Narrative (that fandom was not diverse and inclusive until very recently) is more important than the fact

    Let’s be honest, Fred Duarte and D. Potter were two of very few BIPOC involved in Worldcon fandom back in those days. I don’t think Worldcon fandom was very racially-diverse until this century.

  4. JJ: If DisCon III wants to honor a historical breakthrough, now they have the correct information. Right now it looks like all they wanted was to score a point in a press release.

  5. Mike Glyer: If DisCon III wants to honor a historical breakthrough, now they have the correct information.

    I certainly agree with that. The fact that BIPOC fans were rare in past decades does not mean they should be ignored.

  6. Pingback: DisCon III Corrects Press Release to Acknowledge Fred Duarte | File 770

  7. Let’s be honest, Fred Duarte and D. Potter were two of very few BIPOC involved in Worldcon fandom back in those days.

    Elliott K. Shorter and Velma/Vijay Bowen are among the people who are waving their hands from the afterlife. To a lesser degree, John Vandible (sp?) also probably is waving. Naomi Fisher might also be checked with.

    Before Worldcon even existed, there was Warren Fitzgerald. Allen Glasser in “History of the Scienceers” recalled:

    “During the early months of the Scienceers’ existence—from its start in December 1929 through the spring of 1930—our president was Warren Fitzgerald. As previously mentioned, Warren was about fifteen years older than the other members. He was a light-skinned Negro—amiable, cultured, and a fine gentleman in every sense of that word. With his gracious, darker-hued wife, Warren made our young members welcome to use his Harlem home for our meetings—an offer we gratefully accepted.”

    Then there’s this: https://www.fanac.org/fanzines/FAPA-Misc/FAPA-Misc59.pdf

    And, of course, Bev Clark was infamously turned away from the 1953 Midwestcon.

    https://fancyclopedia.org/Bev_Clark

    See also: https://deepcuts.blog/2021/06/19/jim-crow-science-fiction-and-worldcon/

  8. Gary Farber: people who are waving their hands from the afterlife

    Aaaaaand… there it is.

    I was quite sure that someone would be along eventually to wave around the handful of names of BIPOC who were involved in the first 70 years of fandom, as if it’s “evidence” that fandom has always been racially-diverse and inclusive, and here you are. Well done.

  9. Gary Farber: Before Worldcon even existed, there was Warren Fitzgerald.

    We had quite a donnybrook in the comments of the December 11, 2020 Scroll when I repeated the same assertion, and it turned out some people have done a lot of research on Ancestry, through the census, etc. to put the identification to the test. Fair warning.

  10. @JJ

    I was quite sure that someone would be along eventually to wave around the handful of names of BIPOC who were involved in the first 70 years of fandom, as if it’s “evidence” that fandom has always been racially-diverse and inclusive, and here you are.

    Jeez, you just said that they shouldn’t be ignored. Now Gary names them, and you accuse him of providing evidence for a claim he does not make.

  11. bill: Jeez, you just said that they shouldn’t be ignored. Now Gary names them, and you accuse him of providing evidence for a claim he does not make.

    If he’d quoted me saying
    The fact that BIPOC fans were rare in past decades does not mean they should be ignored.

    then sure, I would buy that was his intention.

    But he didn’t. He quoted me saying
    Let’s be honest, Fred Duarte and D. Potter were two of very few BIPOC involved in Worldcon fandom back in those days.

    It’s pretty clear that he intended his comment to be a contradiction of the latter.

    Instead, all he did was confirm my point for me. He managed to come up with a whopping additional 6 names. Add Barkley, and we’re now up to an impressive 9 names of BIPOC who were involved in the first 70 years of fandom.

    Compare and contrast that list to this non-exhaustive list of nearly 5,000 fans, 99.8% of whom are not BIPOC.

  12. During my years in LASFS there weren’t many BlPOC but there was Lil Neville, Ken Porter, Ken Estes, Devera Joe and Steve Barnes.

  13. @Mike Glyer

    So you think Gary was actually confirming JJ’s original point?

    Dunno. But I do think that JJ regularly looks for bad faith in posts when there’s no need.

  14. bill: I do think that JJ regularly looks for bad faith in posts when there’s no need.

    Nope, I just no longer give the benefit of the doubt to people who have demonstrated in the past that they don’t deserve it.

  15. as if it’s “evidence” that fandom has always been racially-diverse and inclusive, and here you are. Well done.

    Except I never said any such thing. Because I have never believed anything as nonsensical as “fandom has always been racially-diverse and inclusive” in my entire life. Unsurprisingly, I’ve also never said or written anything remotely resembling, in any way, shape, means, or form, any such false crap.

    Thanks for making up a non-quote out of completely whole cloth and hallucinating a meaning to go with it and then attributing your hallucination to me. Whomever you are.

    Wow.

    Conversations are always so much easier when one makes up both sides.

    I’m glad I thought to check back on this thread.

    I guess it never occurred to “JJ” that I might simply want to not see friends of mine be forgotten and unacknowledged.

  16. Gary Farber: I guess it never occurred to “JJ” that I might simply want to not see friends of mine be forgotten and unacknowledged.

    If that was the case, then you wouldn’t have quoted that specific statement of mine.

    It’s quite clear that your comment was intended not to agree with my statement that there were only a small number of BIPOC fans involved in the first 70 years of fandom. It was intended to contradict my statement. Own that, instead of trying to weasel out of it.

  17. Neither of the co-protagonists in this conversation seem to be willing to extend the other even the finest sliver of benefit of the doubt, nor accept anything but total retraction and possibly grovelling, so I’m not sure there’s anywhere productive to go from here, but I would like to make a general note that usernames are essentially just nicknames and Gary putting one in scarequotes is rude and unnecessary, and is the sort of thing that only ever poisons a discussion that might otherwise have recovered.

    JJ, while I also made the same assumption initially because of the choice of quote, upon rereading the thread I’m not quite sure the assumption of intent holds up given that Gary Farber’s comment ended on mentioning, and linking to, a pretty thorough run-down of historical racist exclusion within fandom. If nothing else if he had definitely intended to argue that fandom was always diverse and inclusive that would’ve been a hilariously comprehensive own goal. Whatever else he may have said in the past, I don’t think he’s that silly.

  18. Regardless of how much benefit of the doubt one feels people ought to give each other about potentially ambiguous statements… I think it’s safe to say that if someone says A, and I feel that that implies B and so I say “you obviously mean B” and then that person says “I did not, and I totally disagree with B and do not believe B and I am definitely not trying to say B”, then while I might still insist they’d made their point badly, it would be incredibly silly and pointlessly hostile for me to insist “No, you really are trying to say B, admit it!”

  19. Eli, you’re right.

    Gary, I apologize for insisting that you meant it as a contradiction when you say you didn’t.

  20. Gary, I apologize for insisting that you meant it as a contradiction when you say you didn’t.

    Okay, then. Thank you.

    Mike, you might as well not let my second, highly intemperate, response post, after all. It was very rage-y, with several invocations of Bad Words.

    I want to say, though, that I was mainly infuriated by having someone tell me What I Must Really Mean, which always sends me into a rage; being presumed to be racist isn’t fun, but being at least suspicious of potential racism being in play is an unfortunately reasonable thing.

    Thank you, JJ, for being to step back, and to apologize.

    Eli, thanks for the wise words, and thank you, Meredith, for thinking I might only be as silly as I am.

    I linked to the article from the Deep Cuts blog because I thought it a superb, utterly fair, appropriate, and informative article on a subject that has always deserved vastly more attention from an always-otherwise-introspective fandom that otherwise adores to naval-gaze than it has gotten until recent years.

    ( https://deepcuts.blog/2021/06/19/jim-crow-science-fiction-and-worldcon/ if anyone missed it.)

    Would that any of my fannish elders been writing such articles, or holding panels looking at where and when fandom had been racist or was still being racist, or otherwise problematic, when I was a teenage fan in the 1970s, but I blame only myself for not looking more closely at the subject when I was a teenage, or twentyish, or even thirtyish, science fiction fanhistory enthusiast, collecting and acquiring as many old fanzines as I possibly could afford or find. I certainly wasn’t at all oblivious to what I did know — much of the Southern Fandom Confederation seemed entirely visibly deeply sus, what with the “Rebel Award,” flagrant use of Confederate symbology, etc. — but I didn’t dig as deeply into, say, the history of FAPA, as I could have, or I would have found stuff like Jack Speer’s appalling writings on race, and not just the utopian leftism of the Futurians. But this is, of course, a topic I can’t do justice to in a passing comment.

    My failure, however, is particularly vivid to me given how deeply conscious I was, in comparison, of sexism in fandom at the time, and how much of an activist I was in the 1970s when feminism became a topic fandom largely split over, pro and con, as well as doing what I could to support the gay liberation developments also taking place.

    My failures in antiracism in the 1970s weren’t sins of commission, so far as I know, but my sins of omission — of not perceiving that we needed to take affirmative action, and examine ourselves, rather than be self-congratulatory about our (“our” meaning “the pockets of fandom I was involved in,” not “all of fandom at the time”) passive interest in seeing a more diverse fandom while never thinking to actually do anything about it besides sit back and hope for the best — aren’t a part of my history that I’m proud of.

    Anyone who wants to criticize me for those failings, I won’t contest.

    But never in my life was I ever so oblivious as to be deluded into thinking that sf fandom had at any time, ever, no racists and no major streaks of racism in its history.

  21. I’m glad people were able to take a step back.

    Gary: Do I have a current email for you? If you could send me a message at mikeglyer@cs.com with the one you’re using, I will know I’ve got it.

  22. Well, like I said, I tend to check email only once or twice every week or two. And since I get so much spam at that ancient address, I sometimes miss seeing real email buried in the spam.

    I get notifications from Messenger on my phone, if I’m paying attention to my phone, and check FB/Messenger more or less at least once a day, but usually several times a day.

    I’m basically very lazy.

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