World Fantasy Con 2020 has added a Program page to its website with panel titles and descriptions, the times and participants to be added later. The virtual convention will be held October 29-November 1.
The concepts of some panels and their descriptions have become the focus of feedback to the conrunners, and online criticism.
miyuki jane pinckard sent the committee an open letter with substantive comments, “The panel descriptions on the World Fantasy Con 2020 program are a problem” [Google Docs], which begins:
I want to draw your attention to your program, and in particular the panel descriptions, which are written in a way that alienates anyone who is not white and not cisgender and not heteronormative. If the goal is to welcome people, then the program as written fails. Everything about this program underscores that the expected audience is white and cisgender and heteronormative. I should be clear that I am speaking solely for myself and not on behalf of any organization or community.
I am concerned that BIPOC, queer, disbaled, and otherwise marginalized panelists who are asked to speak to these topics will be hurt, offended, harmed, and burdened with emotional labor to service a majority white audience for the benefit of that audience. This program has set up an unequal distribution of power and benefit which replicates systems of inequality in publishing as a whole.
After addressing many individual panel topics, the letter concludes:
Time and again, I and other marginalized people have had to endure uncomfortable and sometimes overtly hostile experiences on panels for a majority cishet white audience. It is part of your role to do what you can to protect us and support us, just as you do any attendee. It is my hope that World Fantasy Con can become truly for the world, and welcoming to all.
The author of the letter also tweeted about her concerns in a thread which starts here and includes these observations:
Other responses at this hour include —
Jason Sanford’s criticisms, which attracted comments from several writers, start here.
Liz Barr writes:
Yiling Wang commented: