Why are All The Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?
Let's have a round–table discussion of this book by Beverly Daniel Tatum, Ph.D. First published in 1997, with additional material in 1999 and 2003, it still has a lot to say about racial identification and development of same. How does it speak to the discussions happening in WisCon and online, particularly about safer spaces and how to organize them?
M: LaShawn M. Wanak. Luke T. McGuff, Saira, Isabel Schechter
To be totally frank, I don’t remember much of the details of the panel because it was so emotional for me that I was too involved to be able to remember to take notes or separate myself in any way from what was going on, so if anyone has actual notes, please let me know.
I know that going into the panel, I was both confident and scared. I was confident that my co-panelists all took the topic seriously, had prepared appropriately, and were committed to the idea of creating safer space at WisCon. I was scared that there would be people in the audience who were opposed to the idea and that it might get ugly. I’m very glad that it didn’t get ugly, and instead turned out to be the highlight of the convention for me in that we made an impact and changed someone’s mind who had previously been opposed to a POC space at WisCon. The person whose mind we changed attended the panel and at the end, thanked us for sharing our personal stories and told us we made a difference.
WE MADE A DIFFERENCE.
THIS is what WisCon is about. Conversations, sharing, learning, understanding, growing. All of that and more.
I’m still high off this. I may stay high for a while.
So back to the panel, as I commented in someone else’s journal, overall, I think it was a great panel. I enjoyed learning more about my fellow panelists and how brave they are, each in his/her own way. We each talked about how important it is to have a POC space, and we shared our personal stories about why we needed that space. In Luke’s case, he spoke as an ally, and while I don't want it to sound like I'm giving Luke a cookie (and I didn't feel like he was looking for one), I think it was brave of him to admit the he has experienced being uncomfortable, is still experiencing that in certain ways, and is actively working on it (my paraphrasing). I think that sometimes we POC want White enlightenment / transformation to happen immediately, and we forget that we ourselves are a work in progress. Given that the majority of the convention membership is not POC, I think it's great to have someone who is White model good behavior, and not good as in he's such a good ally, look at him, but as in, this kind of thoughtful behavior is good. Saira mentioned how she hosts people in her home for different salons; it’s not that she doesn’t ever host White people, it’s that sometimes, she needs to host people who have a similar experience so that they can all share that. In response to a question asked by someone in the audience, I mentioned that I realized that the more out I was about being a fan, the more it lead me to be out about other parts of my life, even though I hadn’t thought I was ‘hiding’ them. And as for the ones I knew I was hiding, like my accent, I’ve stopped hiding, and now when I hear myself talk, it almost sounds like I’m faking an accent because for so many years I didn’t sound like that (except when I was agitated or drunk and my control slipped). I also mentioned how intersectionality plays a part in the need for a POC space. For example, even at a feminst sf convention, it’s still difficult to explain some issues to a woman who shares my same gender, but not the same cultural background or expectations I have/had.
I’m sure there was lots more said, but I was too highstrung at the time to be clear-headed, and now I’m just high.
WE MADE A DIFFERENCE.
I look forward to the POC space next year.