Diversity in Science Fiction Should Become a Major Priority

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John Boyega in Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Science fiction lovers have become increasingly more aware of the relative lack of diversity in mainstream sci-fi mediums such as TV, movies, books and comics. However, although there are many in the industry who are striving to change that, some are still pushing to keep the status quo.

The most recent Hugo Awards was a prime example of this tug-o-war between maintaining the status quo and promoting a more inclusive sci-fi fan base. Two groups, called the “Rabid Puppies” and the “Sad Puppies,” did not want awards to go to people who were not straight white males. These groups loaded the ballots with writers and creators that fit their criteria of “good work”—they were of course, all white.

“A huge influx of new voters declined to give awards to almost all the Puppies’ nominees (with the exception of the film Guardians of the Galaxy),” said Michael Schaub of the L.A Times. “In five categories that were comprised only of Puppy-endorsed authors and editors, voters chose ‘No award’ rather than select a winner from the Puppy slate.”

Even among geeks, there is extreme bigotry on all fronts. Just look at the recent castings of John Boyega, Michael B. Jordan, Candace Patton and many other Black actors in the roles of historically white characters. White fans go ballistic even over the idea that a Black person could be a white fictional character like James Bond. The most recent case of this is Idris Elba.

Some writers believe that if white people are exposed to Black sci-fi and characters maybe this bigotry could be combated.

“Black science fiction studies is growing, and I think that’s a good thing. Writers of color tend to be understudied, but the growing categorizations demonstrate that their work has value and is worthy of analysis,” according to Rochelle Spencer for Black Girl Nerds.

The reality is that the world is changing. Black sci-fi and characters will become part of the mainstream.  In fact, Octavia Butler’s 1987 novel, Dawn, about humans who are in danger of extinction who mate with an alien species to create a new hybrid race, will head to Hollywood soon. The adaptation rights were recently acquired by producer Allen Bain.

If Black films continue to do well at the box office, there will be more Black faces in historically white places.

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