I'm about fed up with the science fiction and fantasy community. It seems like every week someone is throwing a fit about such-and-such anthology lacking content from such-and-such minorities (women, people of color, whatever). I wouldn't have an issue with it if not for its constant, never-ending resurgence. Nothing is safe. Nothing can sit on its own merit. If an anthology is 50/50 male/female, then someone complains that there aren't enough Asians, or African Americans, or whatever. If there are too many white people, never mind that it's not exactly the editor's job to screen who submits to them for what color someone is, someone throws a fit over that. If there are too many men, complaining resumes. Too many women? The same, somewhere.
It's like the SF/F community is in a constant state of bitching, because no matter how hard you try to explain away reality, nobody listens. Not enough women? Oh, well that's all your fault, Mr. Editor, even if I don't know the whole story, or have all the information I need to make that judgment; you're a sexist bastard because there just ain't enough women in that anthology. Not enough African Americans? Well, I don't need to know how many African Americans submitted to you, or whether or not you knew that all the people you published were white, or yadda yadda; you're just a racist asshole who hates African Americans and has a KKK sign above your desk.
Do you see why these arguments are not only tiresome, but somewhat absurd? I'm not going to pretend for a moment that discrimination doesn't exist. It does, even in the SF/F community. We've seen it with RaceFail and GenderFail, etc. It's out there, and sometimes not in places you would expect. But it's not everywhere, and assuming that racism or sexism is solely responsible for the lack of minority representation is skirting the issue. There are bound to be more reasons than we can fully comprehend. Maybe part of the problem is that African Americans or women are not big contributors to science fiction, and so the applicant pool is far smaller than that of white males. I don't know, but before we throw fits over every anthology, maybe we should figure that out--maybe we should try to understand the broader picture and not resort to automatically assuming that editors are racist or sexist assholes who don't give a shit.
As an editor (for Survival By Storytelling Magazine), I can tell you firsthand that I have no idea how many people of color I have selected for the first issue. I didn't ask. Why? Because it's probably illegal, for one, and because I kind of don't care. No, I don't mean that I don't care in a negative sense; I mean that I don't care in the sense that skin color is meaningless in the face of quality writing. Whether you are white, black, blue, or red, if a story is good, it's good. That's it. No other criteria. If there is a disproportionate amount of whites in our first issue, then I certainly hope I won't be called out for it. I didn't ask, and won't ask now. We chose good stories from whatever was sent to us, and if there happened to be a whole bunch of women or people of color who submitted, great. If not, I don't know how exactly I am to fix that. I can't force people of certain genders or skin colors to submit.
Similar things are probably true of some of the bigger editors who collect original stories for anthologies. What are their reasons for selecting certain authors? I don't know. Some of them are published authors that the editor approached, and others were snatched from the slush. Can we honestly say that these editors sat down and thought "this is a woman, and this story will suck"? Maybe some of them do, but how exactly are you to know? And when people in the SF/F community throw a fit over these anthologies, they potentially damage the reputation of editors who are not racist or sexist bastards. Turn it around; how would you feel if someone unjustly did the same to you? You wouldn't like it very much, would you?
The SF/F community needs to calm down. I get it; we're in a sensationalist world, and what "sells" to the public are angry rants and controversial topics. But we need to start digging deeper than where RaceFail and GenderFail have taken us. We've avoided the deep end for reasons that seem to escape me, and instead of approaching the various "perpetrators" of racism or sexism with their concerns, the SF/F community has blasted them with insults and public ridicule. Sometimes such action is appropriate, but most of the time it's not. If that's the way you want to do things, then I don't want to be a part of it. If RaceFail, and even GenderFail, have taught the SF/F community anything, it is that we need a greater deal of open discussion. Right now the bitching and fit throwing and angry attacks are only creating more tension.
Tension we do not need. And no, I am not a racist or sexist bastard. I'm a human being.