I’m a believer in stronger fandom participation = more representation and vice versa. Often (especially when flipping through pics of steampunk events) fan spaces appear to be whitewashed. Well, fans of color are here, we love stuff, but sometimes, conventions seem intimidating. But why? An oft-heard response I get from fellow fans of color is that, “Well, I don’t want to be the only one there.” (or “I’m not sure if people like me are welcome.”) Also, it all comes down to stats: minority households in the US have significantly lower median incomes than white households. So many fans of color just can’t afford it.
I’m not saying that convention-going is the only way to participate in fandom (that would be the most ridic thing to say, especially since I’m writing here from the Internetz!) But I do want everyone to have more opportunities to share, to network, to engage with people from all walks of life. And sometimes, the best way to bond is in meatspace and not just through the wires (ex. far less flamewars erupt IRL in my experience, when people can actually sit down and discuss things). That’s why organizations like Con or Bust are a great initiative to help fandom as a whole by enabling people to gain different con experiences. They work by raising money through auction-style bidding on donations, with all proceeds going to help sponsor PoC to attend SF/F cons.
More about them from their website:
Con or Bust began as a response to RaceFail ’09, when people of color expressed the desire to help each other attend WisCon (a prominent feminist SFF convention). We ran an auction and took donations, and through the generosity, hard work, and good will of a lot of people, raised enough money to help nine fans of color attend WisCon (2009 final report). Subsequently, the Carl Brandon Society agreed to take over the financial management of Con or Bust, allowing it to become an ongoing project.
This year, I donated several books that are being auctioned off. Other cool things have been donated too: story/manuscript critiques by SF/F editors and authors, graphic novels, clothes, & BUNCHES of signed swag!
So, if you can, please stop by and take a look (and place a bid — things start cheap!) to help out the greater SF/F community. The annual Con or Bust fundraiser is going on from now until Sunday, February 24th.