Quote of the Day
If he really wanted a picnic in Leafturn, she would have to arrange one. She wished every day that Sher were not free of her control, not realizing that it was because he was that she loved him.Jo Walton, Tooth and Claw
Jo Walton and a tradition of people in SFF being awesomely subversive
I’ve been reading Jo Walton‘s Tooth and Claw. I got it free from Tor. I’ve actually never heard of the book or the author, and I read it as a filler book waiting for my husband to finish the one I had planned to read next. As I was reading it I thought: oh it’s all dragons instead of humans. And the dragon people with their fancy hats and wealth and titles are interesting. The writing is pretty good, it’s not an amazing book.
Then I got to the end where the gentile but down-on-its-luck family all make good marriages and end up rich and suddenly like an idiot I realized this is Jane Austin but dragons!!!! (I looked it up on Wikipedia and she’s actually not writing in the style of Austin but of Anthony Trollope, who I’ve never even heard of.)
If I wasn’t feeling dumb enough, then I read the bit at the end of Tooth and Claw about her Sulien books: “‘Arthurian’ fantasy without Arthur, in a fantasy setting not unlike Dark Ages Britain, but with just a few more option from women to have agency–up to and including being warriors.”
That’s when I realized what I want to do with my writing is part of a long tradition in SFF, one that I mainly know through Sherri Tepper. But she is only one voice in a very large crowd of writers working to push boundaries, show new visions, and shift the Overton window in their works.
It is far and away time I started exploring these authors more. I mean, assuming I somehow get time to read more. I almost want to make some sort of list of SFF authors who are pushing boundaries on diversity, or taking on real-world problems in their works.
I mean, I need another project like I need a hole in my head, but….oh how I want to.
Angie Speaks about CRT
This is an hour long video. Many things were said. I could probably write a whole essay, going back over the video and picking things out. But what’s going to happen is my initial impressions and some ideas that I had about it.
So Angie says right up front that she is viewing CRT through a Marxist lens, and through that lens, CRT is Not Great.
To give a very poor summation, her point seems to be that CRT stomps all over the entire concept of universality, or colorblindness. That in a backhanded way it enshrines race as a thing that we will never be able to heal or move past. Angie admits that the ideas of colorblindness and universality have been disingenuously used by Some People to ignore real discrimination, but that doesn’t mean we should throw out the concepts entirely. With a Marxist lens, CRT is a stalking horse meant to divide the poor and working class, meant to keep the workers fomenting at each other instead of all coming together to overthrow the capitalist oligarchs making the world a misery for everyone.
To sort of back up her point, she mentions that CRT doesn’t really have a desired outcome. CRT’s loudest call is for equality, an equality measured against what white people have now. Angie says following that idea to its conclusion would be an equivalent number of poor Blacks with the same “advantages” and “privileges” as poor whites, an equivalent number of working class Blacks, middle class Blacks, and rich capitalist Blacks as there are to white people in each class.
(She also says a lot about CRT scratching some unfathomable itch for white progressive shame and guilt, and it’s a very compelling observation.)
So. There’s a lot. But my first big thoughts are these.
There was nothing explicitly said about how a Marxist solution would handle racism, but I have an idea it would be something along the lines of: if we get rid of these rich capitalist clowns in power who are heavily invested in pitting us against each other instead of them, if we don’t have an establishment nurturing these false divisions, if We Labor all rise up as one and make a true equality, the racism will just die out. Fall to the wayside with other useless pseudoscientific ideas like phrenology. (This is an assumption, not research.)
My Jungian lens says that is not likely. I think just like the outcome of CRT could be unequal class structure for all, the outcome of Marxism could easily be a shadow complacency, an assumption of post-racial life that in reality sees the patterns of covert racism unconsciously being played out. It would be just like how most progressive whites up until last summer thought that ever since the Civil Rights movement in the 60s the lives of POCs was on a slow yet steady rise ever upward into equality.
In other words, while I believe in the “workers owning the means of production” side of Marxism, and certainly believe in the pain of all workers being crushed by a capitalist system, I don’t believe racism will disappear under a tide of worker’s rights without a reckoning. In this I agree with the side of CRT that says we are all racist. There’s no way we can’t be racist, because we are being fed a whitewashed history and shown a whitewashed culture that barely acknowledges that POC exist. When they are mentioned, most of the attention is on their forced labor in cruel conditions or mass killings or genocides. We barely understand the diversity of what everyday American life looks like even today, because our only frames of reference are people we personally know or what we see in media. Never mind what it has looked like for various groups of people throughout our history.
If CRT says we should own the full scope of American history and culture and teach that to our kids, I am behind that 1000%. What I am not behind, as Angie says, is shaming and guilting as performative play, or as how to teach kids about racism. I’m also not behind an equality that leaves people equally badly off and equally crushed by the system. And I’m not behind the idea that we all have to be racists forever.
Again I’m right back to Richard Thompson Ford’s ideas about accepting POC experience as an integrated whole of American history and society. And it also makes me want to read his book Racial Culture: A Critique and delve into these ideas further. Why is there never enough time and always another rabbit hole….
Simple levity is sometimes all that is necessary to make a day better.
I looked this page up twice while revising my essay yesterday, so I’d better stick it in here as I’m likely to need it again.
Right up my alley
It’s occurred to me that if I want to be writing this sort of solarpunk / CliFi genre thing, I better read a lot more in it. This seems like a good start.
I mean, once I’ve finally finished catching up on a bunch of series I’ve been following for years. There’s always too many books.
I went to look at the comments on Angie Speaks’s CRT video linked above and found this:
I want more of that in life. My life, specifically!