On social media (mostly on Twitter, I believe) there are several ongoing conversations about the problems with the initial programming lineup for the 2020 World Fantasy Convention. One of the first people to bring up the vast number of serious issues publicly1 was Miyuki Jane Pinckard. She wrote a long thread on October 4 as she spotted issues, then compiled an open letter which she posted on Google Docs.
As she and others began raising the alarm on panel titles and descriptions, the official Twitter account for the con started posting tone-deaf responses that made it seem as though the con Chair didn’t really grok what might be wrong but also extending an invitation for people, especially marginalized people, to help WFC fix the problematic panels. And if you knew absolutely nothing else about this situation, that might seem reasonable and like some honest mistakes were made.
I’m here to tell you that this is not the case. That, in truth, WFC Chair Ginny Smith was warned that this exact scenario would happen unless she took specific steps to avoid it. This advice, which was based on the experience of many years, was ignored. And so the situation the WFC 2020 convention committee finds itself in right now is not the result of honest mistakes, but willful ignorance and likely some ingrained bigotry.
I’m going to lay out what I know–not just about this World Fantasy debacle, but some of the history behind it. I want people who are, in good faith, trying to fix WFC’s programming and think that they can somehow pull this con out of the tar pit to know that this situation cannot be fixed ad hoc, cannot just be addressed at the level of this one concom, and cannot be solved by continuing to attend.
- Trust, there have been a ton of people backchanneling about this in private spaces. [⇧]