Mercedes Lackey Removed from the Nebula Conference

SFWA removed Mercedes Lackey from this weekend’s Nebula Conference less than 24 hours after celebrating her selection as a Grand Master during the Nebula Awards ceremony. The reason given is that she “used a racial slur” while on a panel.  

SFWA explained the action in a “Statement on Removal of Mercedes Lackey from the Nebula Conference”.

Dear Nebula Conference Participants and SFWA Members,

We learned yesterday that while participating in the “Romancing Sci-Fi & Fantasy” panel, Mercedes Lackey used a racial slur. First, we apologize to our attendees and the other panelists who were subjected to that slur. We’ve disabled access to the panel to avoid any additional harm being caused.

Second, we are immediately removing Mercedes Lackey from the conference and the additional panels she was scheduled for, in accordance with SFWA’s Moderation Policy. The use of a racial slur violates the instruction to “Respect all cultures and communities. Do not make derogatory or offensive statements even as a joke.” That applies to everyone in a SFWA space, at all levels of their career.

Third, we will be discussing with the other panelists for “Romancing Sci-Fi & Fantasy” how they would prefer we proceed when they are able and comfortable in doing so. We will be offering to edit out the offensive portion of the panel or hold the panel again at a later date, inviting back the other three panelists and moderator to again take part. We will respect their wishes on how to handle this issue while also sharing the invaluable expertise they offered during the discussion. 

Thank you to our conference attendees and panelists who reported the use of the slur. We appreciate being alerted to it right away, so we could investigate and come to this decision as swiftly as possible.

The SFWA Board of Directors

The circumstances and the specific slur are discussed by Jen Brown in a Twitter thread that starts here.

What was said is stated in the Twitter thread.

This is the second time an issue has come up since Lackey was announced as a Grand Master last fall. Previously, SFWA asked Lackey to “clarify a past statement on writing trans characters”.

187 thoughts on “Mercedes Lackey Removed from the Nebula Conference

  1. Pingback: Some Thoughts on the 2021 Nebula Award Winners – and Two SFWA Uproars | Cora Buhlert

  2. gotta cook: if we get to the point Star Trek claimed to be at where the racism is gone and has been for lifetimes, then we can worry about Uhura’s reply.

    In the meantime I’d rather hear from real Black people (Delany and those who weren’t bothered included, but not to the point of discounting those who find it hurtful) rather than discuss the validity of the response of a fictional character.

  3. In the culture I was raised, which is to say, as a Jewish Brooklynite born in November of 1958 to liberal Democratic parents, referring to someone as “colored” has been considered offensive since before I could speak English. Certainly it wasn’t acceptable in civilized company by 1960. Not in the urban Northeast United States, at the very least. Certainly not by people who went to civil rights marches.

    At the very best, referring to someone as “colored” in the 1960s might be sporadically done by someone’s grandparents, but such usages were deprecated, cringed at, and sighed over. It was a word seen as used only by benighted Southerners or unsophisticated “country folk,” or by uneducated and ignorant people of our own Eastern European Jewish community who were outright bigots and didn’t read newspapers and magazines or follow politics.

    That was my family and local culture, at least, in Brooklyn. I was being taken to civil rights marches when I was four years old. Civil rights issues were on the front page of the NEW YORK TIMES every day in the first half of the 1960s, let alone second half.

    It’s fascinating to see so many white folks maintaining that nothing has changed in the past seventy-odd years.

    But people don’t grow up in homogenous countries. They grow up in families, in neighborhoods, in local communities. And when people testify about what was “acceptable” at “a time,” they’re speaking of their own local culture, be it big-city, small-town, or what-have-you. For better or worse.

    Also: Delany. Delany. Delany. Not “Delaney.”

    Context: https://www.nyc.gov/html/cchr/justice/downloads/pdf/how_new_york_changes_the_civil_rights_movement.pdf

  4. I mean intent is something that sounds interesting until you realise you could only speculate about it. I found it very strange that Mercedes Lackey used that word, because I know that it was a lot of time ago that I learned that you shouldn’t use it anymore. (Not in the 80s, but as a kid in Germany I was preinternetage not very imformed at the time)
    Forgiving: We have a direct removal from the Nebulaconference, not more as far as I know of. Further reactions will probably depend on reaction towards the panel in question(Larry Dixons reaction is ringing alarmbells).
    But my first reaction was the question why do you use that word un 2022.

  5. First and foremost, let me say that my heart goes out to Jen Brown, Having been a very similar situation back in 2019, it is very difficult to be the only Black person on a panel, when someone who is famous says something troubling and problematic. I applaud the SFWA for taking the situation seriously, for offering to remove the offensive portion from the recording and taking it down until a decision can be made, and caring about Jen Brown and how this all impacted her.

    The first time I had the word “colored” directed at me was in 1985, when I was a teenager working in a restaurant at a retirement home in Hawaii. A racist woman was having a fit because another lady had a guest who was African American. She pulled me aside to complain and ask that the lady be removed, and my jaw dropped. Seeing the look on my face, she took a closer look at me, realized that I am not Polynesian, and asked me if I was colored. I was very upset and shaken up. It was quite obvious that her intentions were racist.

    Regardless of what Mercedes Lackey’s intentions may have been, the term “colored” is associated with the segregationist south and brings up a lot of negative associations with segregated bathrooms and signs saying “no coloreds allowed.” And that is why many of us consider it a slur.

    If it was a mistake on Lackey’s part, then neither her fandom, nor her husband’s posts on Twitter, are doing her any favor. If it is a mistake, then there should be no recriminations made nor attacks against Jen Brown for being shocked at the use of the term. I am 54 and I find it shocking. Why wouldn’t Jen Brown be shocked by a Jim Crow era term that went out of the vernacular before she was born?

    And please stop bring up things that happened 50+ years ago to justify the use of terms that should only be seen in a history book.

    I am very disappointed to see that someone has decided to use this forum to casually post yet another dated slur from the time of slavery – shame on you, gottacook. I was one year old in 1969, and I’m 54. 53 years ago is a LONG time. I am a biracial Black and Jewish person, and I am not at all interested in going back to the bad old days.

    Uhuru is a fictional character written by a white man, and I should hope that no one would write or produce Space Lincoln’s line of dialogue today. Nichelle Nichols is the actress who played Uhuru. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. told her to stay in the role because representation was so important. Howevere, she is an actress, and did not write those lines. She had to read the lines Gene L. Coon and Carey Wilber – the two white male screenwriters for that episode, “Space Seed” wrote.

    The fact that you’re suggesting that a fictional portrayal of a black woman that was written by two white men back more than 50 years ago might be “an attitude to aspire to” is very telling.

  6. Note to the person who just tried to leave a “making popcorn” comment: Wow, I think of you much differently now.

  7. As a white Brit, I wouldn’t presume to tell African-Americans how they should react to a word. How African-Americans actually feel about it in consensus should plainly take precedence over any half-witted comment I could make.

    For myself, the c-word in question isn’t one I would use. It was around in Britain when I was a kid in the Sixties going into the Seventies, when talking about Jamaican immigrants, etc. Despite that, it’s not a word in my everyday vocabulary simply because it fell out of use in my experience. I wasn’t reading much about the reasons why it stopped being used — I was a child — it was just a thing that stopped happening.

    Even so, I can’t think about the word in this context without hearing it in my inner ear being spoken by a character in In the Heat of the Night or similar, or even Enoch Powell (a British politician whose brain was broken by his racism in the Sixties). I just have an aversion to the word, and can’t rationally explain why. Maybe that’s bad thing, or maybe it’s just a thing.

    Given the strength of the reaction to the word — including SFWA’s — I can only repeat that the moderator bears some responsibility for not defusing the situation as it arose. Whatever gears were working or slipping in Lackey’s head, a nudge in the moment towards a correction or apology might have averted her being kicked off (though not necessarily the greater discussion).

  8. Okay, now I understand what word she used. Certainly, inappropriate these days. (as is Negro) Though, as some of the comments above and those I have read otherwhere would indicate, not everyone is aware that those terms, offensive and inappropriate though they are, are now considered racial slurs. In using that word in their announcement, I kinda think SFWA was implying the use of the word that is most definitely a slur. They might have been clearer—“Lackey used a racial term considered inappropriate and offensive” would have been more to the point. As it stands, a lot of people reading the statement would probably assume the worst, (as I must admit I did at first.)

  9. Something that’s bothering me a lot here is the disproportionate level of cruelty involved.

    Regardless of whether or not Mercedes Lackey should have known better, it seems clear to me there was no intent on her part to do harm or to denigrate anyone — quite the opposite. It was a mistake, and an apology was called for, certainly. But it wasn’t cruel.

    But dragging someone in public on social media is a VERY cruel thing to do to a well-meaning person who screwed up. Especially when you gave them no chance to apologize and try to make amends in some arena where cruelty isn’t rewarded the way it is on Twitter. Cruelty is not okay, even when aimed at someone who is white, wealthy, and highly successful in their profession.

  10. I’m only two years younger than Mercedes Lackey, but I certainly knew by the mid-60s that (even here in “whitebread Oregon”, to use Joyce’s term) that “colored” was, at the very least, inappropriate.

  11. Sumiko: Excuse me, but wouldn’t you like to live in a time when we’ve “learned not to fear words”?

    Also, the episode in question is “The Savage Curtain” (written by Gene Roddenberry and Arthur Heinemann, based on a story by Roddenberry), not “Space Seed”.

    My most enduring experience of race hatred was when I was called a “f–kin’ Jew” by a fellow bus rider west of Minneapolis in 1983, then spat upon as I left the bus. The attitude and action, not the word, were what mattered in that case. (I wasn’t wearing a kippah or anything. His parents must have trained him to recognize a Jewish-looking person from a young age. Horrifying.)

  12. I damn well checked the bloody spelling, too, and I knew there was a problem with an ‘e’, but my inner proof-reader had gone AWOL. Sigh. My apologies to Delany.

    I think if you think of it less as “is this an appropriate punishment for The Crime?” and more as “how can an organisation guarantee that other authors and fans will not be hurt the same way by the same person?” the reason for SFWA’s action becomes a great deal clearer. It’s centring the needs of the injured parties.

    The person who made the claim re: person-first has apologised and thanked people for explaining why some communities prefer identity-first.

    @Maytree

    Jen Brown didn’t drag anyone on Twitter. She provided a content warning for her panel so that others might not be hurt as she was.

  13. Just want to thank Maytree, because they are absolutely correct.

    On a scale of who the monster was here, it was SFWA, their overreaction, and their behavior.

    Monsters on Maple Street, indeed.

    I have to submit using a phony email as it looks like you use gravatars or a similar system which are known to be privacy invading and probably marketing trackers you total loons.

  14. @meredith

    Jen Brown didn’t drag anyone on Twitter. She provided a content warning for her panel so that others might not be hurt as she was.

    Uh… have you MET Twitter?

    That was a drag, and Jen Brown knew it, and she knew what the response would be.

    Meanwhile, SFWA is making jokes about “comfort women.”

    https://twitter.com/Cererean/status/1528783672597413888

  15. @gottacook

    I would like to live in a time when real people aren’t told to get over their injuries because a fictional character living in a different context and time said some words.

    @Maytree

    I have. It has many, many problems. How else do you think Jen Brown could have warned her community, though? If even mentioning a problem without mentioning the person who caused it is considered “cruel” and “dragging” then what you’re effectively asking for is silence from injured parties, and no warning for those who will be injured in future. Do you think that’s a reasonable solution to Twitter’s issues?

  16. @meredith

    I have. It has many, many problems. How else do you think Jen Brown could have warned her community, though? If even mentioning a problem without mentioning the person who caused it is considered “cruel” and “dragging” then what you’re effectively asking for is silence from injured parties, and no warning for those who will be injured in future. Do you think that’s a reasonable solution to Twitter’s issues?

    I can think of SO many other ways she could have warned people. I’m sure you can too. Are you suggesting that the only options Jen Brown had were silence or a Tweet? Surely not.

    And the “but she didn’t name Mercedes Lackey” is just being disingenuous.

    There is no solution to Twitter’s issues. Twitter’s issues are human issues. Twitter’s cruelty can only be solved by the uses deciding not to be cruel.

  17. It’ll probably take someone younger than me to explain why, if you feel a fellow writer used an offensive word, you would not take it up with them directly, giving them a chance to apologize and correct themselves, but instead ONLY choose to address it on Twitter.

  18. I very much disagree with your personal assessment that words cannot be harmful. People can be verbally abused, and psychologically abused. Your statement – that only the action of being spit on, was an assault upon your person – and your feeling about it – is not one that I share.

    When a woman saw me and my ex-husband walking down the street hand in hand, and she turned around and yelled “n****r lover!” at my husband, I was very shaken up and it was an attack upon him and myself even though she did not spit on us.

    So, no, I do not aspire to live in a world where we pretend that words don’t hurt us. Because that’s a lie. Words can do harm.

  19. That was a drag, and Jen Brown knew it, and she knew what the response would be.

    This is malicious nonsense. Jen Brown’s comments on Twitter are measured and fair. She is entitled to share her perspective on her social media account about an incident she experienced.

    If you find Twitter to be an arena that welcomes cruelty that’s a solid position to take, but treating everything posted there as an intentional incitement to abusive behavior is ridiculous.

  20. Excuse me, but wouldn’t you like to live in a time when we’ve “learned not to fear words”?

    Wow, no. Words are how we communicate thoughts and ideas and plans and intentions and threats.

    The words in MEIN KAMPF deserve to be feared. Slurs cause fear and inspire hatred. Words have meaning.

    I’d like to live in a time where people everywhere understand how hurtful words can be and the damage words can do.

    So, no, I do not aspire to live in a world where we pretend that words don’t hurt us. Because that’s a lie. Words can do harm.

    Damn straight.

  21. Not surprising that a puppy will try to put the blame on the black woman, but we all know Brown’s tweets didn’t make much difference as SFWA themselves tweeted about it to a much larger audience and also included Lackey’s full name.

  22. What I find telling is that, afaik, there has been no apology from Lackey, only screaming and DARVO from her husband (par for the course on his part). The incident could have been handled by them with class and grace, making it clear that no insult was meant and the whole thing could have blown over, but that’s not their style.

  23. I guess the time where we’ve “learned not to fear words” is the same time where we’ve “learned not to fear actions”. Seems quite far off.

  24. It’ll probably take someone younger than me to explain why, if you feel a fellow writer used an offensive word, you would not take it up with them directly, giving them a chance to apologize and correct themselves, but instead ONLY choose to address it on Twitter.

    Flag on the field. The conclusion assumes facts not in evidence at this time. You have no idea what steps Jen and/or SFWA took other than those that have been made public.

  25. I checked my calendar and, yep, it really is 2022, which means the particular word Mercedes Lackey used has not been coming out of white people’s mouths in any sort of polite way for over 50 years. As a wink and nod cover for not using the n word? Sure. But in the sense the NAACP used it? No. So, let us please not be disingenuous about that.

    Could it have been a category error, a stumble when reaching for POC, a verbal misstep? Sure. However, once it’s pointed out, the remedy for that is to apologize profusely, say you had no logical explanation for what happened, and then announce that publicly. Please note that has not occurred.

    If you think SFWA overreacted, that’s fine, but if that’s not a slur that has ever been directed your way (and, no, your personal experience with ethnic bias doesn’t count as much as you think if that word has not been used at you), maybe factor that in to your understanding.

  26. I’m going based on Jen’s tweet:

    “I typed: “By ‘colored,’ surely you mean Black?” into the chat–then deleted it. Seconds later, I’d deleted several more “let’s backtrack & re-state that” messages, feeling shaky and out of it.”

    I can understand feeling anxiety over addressing it directly; just not sure my next move would be a Twitter thread. But it may be a generational thing.

  27. I can understand feeling anxiety over addressing it directly; just not sure my next move would be a Twitter thread. But it may be a generational thing.

    You have no idea if the “next thing” was a twitter thread. You are assuming that. You have no idea if she spoke with Lackey directly, or spoke with the convention runners, and have no idea what steps were taken after that. No one does.

    Your attempt to throw shade on Jen based upon your complete lack of knowledge is quite revealing – about the kind of person you are. Just stop now. You’re embarrassing yourself.

  28. …he said, completely oblivious to the irony of his rant about assumptions.

  29. World Weary: I always cringed at the Lou Reed song but never stopped to consider why I cringed.

    For me, it’s because every time I hear the word used in relation to people, this is what I see.

    Content Warning: Brutal visual reminders of the Jim Crow era segregation (no violence)
    https://www.google.com/search?q=white+colored+%22jim+crow%22&tbm=isch

    I was very young when I first saw some of these images, and I remember being horrified by their cruelty and shocked that this had ever been commonplace and unremarked in the U.S.

  30. @rcade

    He and others are citing her age as a reason this is not fair, but if she’s sharp enough at 71 to be on panels (and she is)

    Dude, the people referencing her age in her defense are not implying that she is senile.

    They’re trying to remind you that when she praises a colleague/friend from her younger days, thinking back to those decades, it naturally puts her in a frame of mind where she might innocently use a word that was politically correct at that time.

  31. …he said, completely oblivious to the irony of his rant about assumptions.

    You’re the dude who has spent his entire time in this thread derailing the conversation about what Lackey did to criticize Jen based upon the imaginary scenario you have made up in your head. Trying to throw shade about your made up version of other people making “assumptions” just makes you look even sillier.

  32. As silly as endlessly ranting about a 71 year old woman who used the wrong word in attempting to praise a peer who himself was not offended?

    Let it go, man. Neither you nor Jen nor anyone else in the world will be better off by continuing to beat up on this old lady.

  33. They’re trying to remind you that when she praises a colleague/friend from her younger days, thinking back to those decades, it naturally puts her in a frame of mind where she might innocently use a word that was politically correct at that time.

    Haven’t heard that excuse before.

    Don’t want to hear it again.

  34. When I make an error (in language or otherwise) I try to apologise to those hurt and try to make it right if I can, and I try to accept the penalties due for what I did. Minimizing the offense (even if unintended) or attacking those who reported it is not a good look on anyone. We all make mistakes and learn, and ignorance doesn’t mean people weren’t actually hurt.

  35. ben:

    …it naturally puts her in a frame of mind where she might innocently use a word that was politically correct at that time.

    Mercedes Lackey was born in 1950. By the time she was old enough to vote, the word had passed out of favor and was both impolite and verging on a slur when used by white people. So, no, not buying it.

    For those who need some context in order to improve their apologia, my father, who would have been 89 this year, would never have used that word. I’m talking about a mechanic with a high school education, so class and education weren’t the cause of his enlightenment.

  36. @rcade

    This is malicious nonsense. Jen Brown’s comments on Twitter are measured and fair. She is entitled to share her perspective on her social media account about an incident she experienced.

    If you find Twitter to be an arena that welcomes cruelty that’s a solid position to take, but treating everything posted there as an intentional incitement to abusive behavior is ridiculous.

    What’s malicious nonsense is to pretend that a person of color tweeting about how an old white person used a term that was deemed racially offensive would NOT result in a Twitter pile-on. You know better, so stop pretending you don’t.

    Do words like kindness, grace, and charity (in the non-monetary sense of the word) mean absolutely nothing to some members of the SFF community these days? It’s like the Puppy attack convinced everyone that acting like a Puppy was fine as long as you pick an acceptable target. Mercedes Lackey is not Vox Day. George Martin is not Brad Torgersen. Lindsay Ellis is not Larry Correia. A distinction needs to be made between decent people who screw up (or in the case of Lindsay, don’t screw up at all) and malicious actors like the Puppies, and I’m not seeing a lot of that these days, and it’s VERY troubling.

  37. Maytree: has she apologized? I think an apology – nothing extreme, just “I misspoke and accidentally used an offensive term, I’m sorry I hurt other congoers and my fellow panelists, it won’t happen again” – would go miles here in convincing people that she is attempting to be kind and we should be kind in return, and I haven’t seen any of that. All I’ve seen is her husband freaking out about how we need to “follow the money” because apparently this is some sort of massive conspiracy theory. Conspiracy theorist rants generally do not get extended grace and kindness.

  38. What’s malicious nonsense is to pretend that a person of color tweeting about how an old white person used a term that was deemed racially offensive would NOT result in a Twitter pile-on.

    Do you think that ascribing malice to Jen Brown furthers kindness, grace and charity? Taking the position that the person of color should keep her mouth shut isn’t a great look.

    A lot of fans have been gracious about Mercedes Lackey’s offensive word choice. Saying she should publicly apologize — which has yet to happen, by the way — isn’t cruel. It would serve her a lot better than the conspiratorial tweets her husband has been posting.

  39. As silly as endlessly ranting about a 71 year old woman who used the wrong word in attempting to praise a peer who himself was not offended?

    Nice attempt at deflection. Of course, no one is “endlessly beating up” on Lackey, which makes everything you just said more pointless drivel.

  40. Pingback: Pixel Scroll 5/23/22 Cosplaying And Straying In Pixel Scroll Land, To The Sounds Of The Pixel Scroll Band | File 770

  41. Maytree is oh so concerned about how Jen Brown going on twitter and describing a situation (carefully, calmly, and with a focus on warning others so they don’t also run headlong into a hurtful term), might maybe create a pile on for Lackey.

    Whereas we have very good reason to believe Dixon’s comments on twitter HAVE created a series of racist attacks on Jen Brown, and Maytree…. crickets.

    Concern about “disproportional cruelty” indeed. Mostly, it looks like you think saying a white person (unnamed) used a racist term is a far worse cruelty than Black people being shouted at by racists.

  42. Once the panel video was posted online, the reaction was inevitable. If Brown hadn’t mentioned it on Twitter, some of the video viewers would have.

  43. Gary Farber: The words in MEIN KAMPF deserve to be feared.

    No: their author did, or their enthusiastic readers do.

  44. Whereas we have very good reason to believe Dixon’s comments on twitter HAVE created a series of racist attacks on Jen Brown,

    We definitively do as puppies, today’s-noun-gaters, and J Singal (probably due to Dixon’s transphobic rant in November) are all amplifying Dixon’s tweet. And a bunch of racists were openly posting crap in replies to SWFA’s tweet — and same people that are applauding Dixon under his.

  45. Regarding the Uhura quote, a tangent into other vectors of social privilege and marginalization:

    So, I adore Neil Gaiman and love almost every single thing he’s written. But in one of the Sandman stories, he has a young woman say something like, “My girlfriend thinks we should insist on being called ‘women’, but I think that takes all the fun out of being, y’know, girls.” It’s kinda cringeworthy. Feminists aren’t in lockstep consensus about whether it’s appropriate to refer to grown-ass women as ‘girls’ or ‘babes’ or ‘chicks,’ it’s true. Also there’s ingroup v. outgroup nuance, historical context, different social contexts, etc. It’s a big complicated question! But absolutely none of that nuance, context, or complixity is at all conveyed when a white male writer has his fictional female character give dudes permission to call grown-ass women ‘girls’ and to shame any women who protests. “Hey, Hazel said it’s more fun to be called a girl, but I guess you’re no fun, are you?”

    Not, I trust, that Gaiman meant to give them that permission, but that’s why it’s cringeworthy. You just hate to see that kind of fuck-up at that level of play.

    Similarly, I give some benefit of the doubt to the white male writers who put words in the mouth of a fictional black woman asserting that no one’s afraid of words these days. They were trying to imagine what a world completely free of racial prejudice would be like! I mean, they didn’t exactly succeed, not if a character is going “Oops, I shouldn’t have said [slur], should I?” but, whatever, A for effort. But I’m really unimpressed with anyone using Uhura’s words to excuse themselves saying any damn fool bigoted thing they like. “But it’s just words! Surely you’re not afraid of words?”

    The reality of our current world, the one we have to live in, is, “Don’t be afraid of words” is only empowering or aspirational for privileged people who would like to be excused from considering the impact their words to have. To marginalized people, it’s an attempt shut them up when they speak out about the harm that words do cause, and are causing them, right now.

    Also, I am here (as someone who has made rather more than two post here over the years, so I guess maybe I’m allowed?) to second and co-sign everything that Eddie Louise said about what we, as a community, should do.

  46. Yeah, it doesn’t give me a warm feeling when somebody decides all I need is a little smack.

  47. Afterthought on the whole “Fearing words” thing.

    The phrase “Don’t be afraid of words” is a strawman. It’s an obfuscation.

    It’s not a matter of fearing words. No one is advocating that we should quiver in our boots and cower powerlessly in case of slurs.

    It’s a matter of respecting and acknowledging that words have power. Words have consequences. Words are calls to action. Words are how we attack, comfort, shame, reach out to each other. They can empower fascists; they can be part of the anti-fascist fight. They can silence the marginalized or lift them up.

    It’s not that the words in MEIN KAMPF should be feared, per se–it’s that we’d be fools to claim that the words in that text were powerless. Words were demonstrably how Hitler gathered support for the atrocities he authored. We are living at a time right now when words are being used to enact, encourage, and abet outright terrorism.

    To say “No, it’s not the words that have the power to effect change–it’s the people speaking and hearing the words” is pure obstructive sophistry. It’s a distinction without a difference. Words are among the powers people wield. If we don’t acknowledge that, we turn our backs on those harmed by words, as well as on the potential good we can do with words.

    At the very least, it’s incoherent to claim that words have no power when those words are racial slurs spoken in a convention panel by a white person, but do have power to harm when they are a content warning posted to Twitter by a black person.

  48. Has Ms. Lackey yet apologized for her rudeness?

    It’s all well and good that her friend is content with her using a slur to refer to him. But this was not a private conversation between friends, but rather a very public comment by a grand master of sff. It has effect on every person who hears it and hears of it. It tells Black professionals and fans that they are not welcomed as equals in the sff community.

    Age and upbringing is no excuse. Ms. Lackey used a word that has been considered rude since before she was born.

    I am not surprised that it took a little time for this to be dealt with. The times I have been present when someone has said something really shockingly racist/sexist/transphobic on a panel, generally there has initially been a stunned silent did-I-really-hear-that? reaction. Sometimes it takes time to process and figure out what to do, who to approach, and how to seek redress.

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