Mercedes Lackey Publishes Apology

Mercedes Lackey today posted “I wish to Apologize” on her Tumblr account. Her statement came in the aftermath of being removed from the Nebula Conference on May 22.

Lackey wrote:

I wish to Apologize

On a panel at the 2022 Nebulas, I had the chance to celebrate authors who wrote positive gay characters long before me.

Chip Delany is obviously a major player in that game. Because there are two Samuel Delanys–there’s one from Texas–I wanted to make sure people got hold of the right one. So, in my excitement, I got caught in a mental/verbal stumble between “black” and “person of color,” and as best I can remember, what came stuttering out was something like “spcolored.”

I’m not an amazing speaker. I stammer, I freeze up, & I get things wrong. I am sorry that I bungled a modern term while bringing attention to an amazing black creator.

Too often, I am called a pioneer, but I’m not–I’m just who some readers heard of first. I wanted to make sure Delany got all the proper credit that he is more than due, and maybe new readers would be inspired to read his work.

A note from Chip Delany:

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21 thoughts on “Mercedes Lackey Publishes Apology

  1. I’d like to believe this will be enough to satisfy those who have been demanding a public apology, but I’m too cynical to bet on it.

  2. I wanted a public apology, and this looks to me like a reasonable one. Late, but it exists.
    I really don’t expect an apology from her partner for his (much worse) behavior in the aftermath, I suspect that would take a miracle.
    I do hope that this helps those who were personally affected, as that’s the actual important part.

  3. Unrelated to the incident and making no comment about the apology… I was curious about who the other Samuel Delany is, but can’t find anything, even when adding “-chip” and “-r” to the search. Is there another science fiction writer named Samuel Delany or does Lackey just have a friend with that name from Texas or something?

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  5. For those who needed an apology, this is it.

    For those complaining not enough, not soon enough… y’know, over the years, I’ve apologized a number of times on the Net, including here. I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of people other than me who I’ve ever seen apologize for anything. Self-justification seems to be the rule of the ‘Net, and esp. (anti-)social media.

    Thank you, Mercedes.

  6. Actually, I want to add one more thing: has fandom come to this, to assume the bad, rather than cutting each other some slack, and asking for clarification, before jumping down someone’s throat?

  7. I just wish she had been offered the opportunity to do this “on the spot’ as it were, But SFWA, for whatever reason, chose to not do that.

  8. Chip Delany’s dad was also Samuel R. Delany (Chip is a Jr.) though Sr. has been deceased for decades now. A quick white pages search shows a couple of “Sam/Samuel Delany”s and an even larger pool of “Sam/Samuel Delaney”s.


    has fandom come to this, to assume the bad, rather than cutting each other some slack, and asking for clarification, before jumping down someone’s throat?

    Welcome to the world social media has made. Once again human technology has outstripped our ability to use said technology wisely and well.

  9. @maytree – I’m on FB because I originally needed to be, to buy someone’s Worldcon membership they were selling. The last several years, I needed to be there, because I’m a writer now. I am not on tok-tick, tweetstorm, or any of the others. As a writer, I want to write complete sentences, and paragraphs….

  10. @ Penn: Well, I look at it this way; if my partner was dumped from ALL convention functions over her something she said, and THEN, I was canned as well, with no explaination whatsoever from anyone in charge, I’d be more than a little pissed, too and I’d be pretty unapologetically public about it as well.

    Just Sayin’…

  11. She may have glitched on the ‘Samuel’ part of the name, as there are TWO SF authors named Joseph Henry Delaney: Joseph Henry Delaney, deceased US author of SF. and Joseph Henry Delaney, English current author of SF/Supernatural ‘Spooks’ series And this is in addition to Samuel R Delaney, who she was referring to.

    It seems that ‘Delany/Delaney’ is a popular SF author’s name!

    The relevant bit is that she acknowledged she misspoke and has apologized for it. Samuel R Delany has accepted what she said and absolved her of blame even before the apology. I hope this is accepted by everyone else involved and this incident can be counted as settled.

  12. I would have recommended leaving out the screencap, personally, or at least not putting it at the end, but it’s a decent apology otherwise and I don’t think it’s productive to go over (most) apologies looking for reasons to reject them for imperfection.

    (Obviously there are exceptions to that.)

    Hopefully one good thing that comes from this will be that more people in fandom are now aware of how hurtful the phrasing in question can be, and so will be more likely to carefully avoid it/correct themselves in the moment in future, and moderators more likely to step in if necessary.

    My understanding from Larry Dixon’s MANY tweets was that Mercedes Lackey had already sent a private apology to Jen Brown.

  13. Good for Ms Lackey. Proper public apologies are vanishingly rare.
    Would be nice if someone publicly asked the trolls to stop harassing Ms Brown.

  14. @Mark & Maytree:

    Sadly, yes, that is what it has come to.

    Over the post ten years or so I have frequently asked why people insist on getting offended, rather than asking for clarification first.

    Some of it is political (react in outrage instantaneously and others will jump on the bandwagon, drowning out any opportunity for explanation or intervention)

    Some of it is personal (people who have been repeatedly victimized can get understandably gun-shy)

    Some of it is just the vagaries of communication and the fact that text on a screen does not convey all of the information, largely lacking most of the micro-cues people use when talking face to face. Reading “I love you” is seemingly unambiguous. Seeing that phrase delivered with a full-bird hand gesture carries an entirely different message.

    We read with our eyes and so are often fooled into reacting to text as if it were being delivered face to face. (Studies have shown that many people psychologically react to their computer/phone/tablet as if the words appearing there were their own thoughts…internal as opposed to external input, and the reaction to thought that is not inline with their belief system(s) is stronger and harsher than otherwise.)

    The old tricks sometimes still work: Write that letter of outrage, but never send it. Walk away from the statement. Impose a 24 hour moratorium on responding. ASK first for clarification before going off.

  15. I’m glad she apologized for her choice of words. She’s a great author and a worthy grandmaster and it’s a shame that what she said caused the SFWA to decide she was no longer welcome at the conference.

    I don’t think the focus of this should be lamentation that people got upset. There was a good reason to be upset.

  16. Well, and several books; Delaney was quite a rising star, although late bloomer, in the 1980s (a couple Hugo nominations and almost won the Campbell) but somehow fizzled out soon. Thorough Googling found a Locus obit saying “died at his computer keyboard at his home, a converted school bus in an RV/trailer park outside Alpine, Texas […] found by neighbors who told police they had not seen him for a while” (rather sad a fate; there must be a story hidden…) so I guess Lackey remembered at least this bit correctly. If one had worlds enough and time, one could try to confirm this looking for mentions of his domicile in the Analog introductions (not to mention “An Appreciation” by Stanley Schmidt in Locus June 2000)… no such luck on but a moderately cranky article/letter by him in “New Jersey Militia Newsletter Sept 1999”, mentioning a “community in West Texas”; Texas also features in his fiction. Oh well, no fan is an island; might add this to the Fancy when I have enough time, and worlds.

    There are surprisingly many Delan(e)ys in the ISFDB but none appears comparably well-known or more mistake-prone.

    Also, the British Joseph Delaney doesn’t mention anywhere being a Henry and I was wondering whether this might not be a case of an over-zealous Wikipedian; but then I found some entries in the UK company register with a matching birthdate, so I’ll chalk it up to the wild coincidence of the week.

  17. I’m very much against this “How DARE people have FEELINGS before she APOLOGIZES.” tone. People are allowed to feel things. It’s been about 3 days total; that’s a reasonable amount of time for her to have taken in apologizing – but it’s also days in which Dixon was shouting up a storm, days in which Brown was harassed.

    Her apology is … okay. It seems sincere, which is always point # 1 in any apology.

    It’s very focused however on how she did what she did, and not on why it was wrong. It’s extremely focused on Chip Delany over anyone else, including the people IN THE ROOM.

    I don’t see any resolution not to make the same mistake going forward. I don’t see an acknowledgement WHY it hurt.

    Does this mean I’m a horrible person for whom “no apology would be good enough”? No. See my first paragraph. She was sincere.

    I also don’t think pretending it’s complete is useful. I think that condemning people for whom it isn’t enough without the missing elements (especially Black or PoC people more directly in the line of fire) is either fair or just, because there ARE aspects missing.

    (I think there is something VERY skeevy in including the comment from Delany as part of it, because Delany almost certainly meant it as “Here are my personal thoughts which speak for me and nobody else”, but included in that context it IS very much wielded with an implication of “No other Black person is allowed to be hurt anymore if this exact Black person isn’t”.)

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