As a Hispanic man, reading the El Paso shooter’s manifesto about Hispanics being a problem that need to be remedied, and how we’re the ones taking the jobs of whites chilled me to my core.
I’ve faced this same attitude in real-time, with the old-guard establishment whites in science fiction publishing doing everything the can to hold me down since my first book became popular in 2017.
The personal attacks have been vicious—every single time I have a success in independent publishing, it seems like they amp up their assault-style rhetoric in order to try to sicc an angry mob of white supremacists against me in order to try to harm my career. These are often fellow authors who have big credentials in the field, Hugo award winners, and others. It got so bad at one point, the gossip website File 770, whose purveyor has stirred up a lot of this assault rhetoric against me, chastised his own readers—many professional science fiction authors—for mocking my Hispanic name.
It was from here, where my problems with The Science Fiction Writers of America, a once esteemed professional guild who now plays toxic identity politics against Hispanic authors like myself, began.
Over the weekend, I was pronounced banned from SFWA, an act which is both a heavy blow to me as a professional writer trying to make a name for myself, and an atrocious act as standards are applied to me, a Hispanic author, which are not applied to many of their white members.
Most of the people who seethe at me and harass me within SFWA are angry, old white women—such as Cat Rambo, Mary Robinette Kowal, and John Scalzi—who are upset with the fact that their chokehold on culture is slowly eroding into a more diverse market, where new ideas are pushing out the samethink that the organization has pushed for decades. As a #1 Bestselling and Award-Winning Minority Author, I’m seen as the face of this change in the industry, which creates a hostile environment in which I am constantly in danger.
From File 770’s rabble-rousing came SFWA’s former president, Cat Rambo, who attacked me in their comments, calling this blog “egregious stupidity” in an attempt to demean my intelligence, highlighting stupidity from the perspective of a privileged white woman attacking a Hispanic man—of course drawing comparisons of intelligence like many white supremacists do when they target the IQ of different races.
She didn’t leave it at that, but pushed further, calling a market report in which I diligently researched and spent dozens of hours culling through data, “alt-numbers” in an attempt to sweep away my findings on demographic statistics in publishing. She, in a violation of SFWA’s rules, used SFWA’s business account to retweet her post trying to harm my career. Others have been removed from the club over this kind of abuse of power, but, much like the rights of my brethren on the streets who get asked for ID when they’ve committed no crimes to “prove” their legality, those rules don’t apply when the target is Hispanic.
She ran a whisper campaign against me as well, telling several author friends to unfriend me on Facebook—this is the president of what’s supposed to be a professional organization doing this to an up and coming professional author—if it sounds like the nastiest of racial bullying in Junior High, it’s because that’s exactly what this was.
Her relentless attacks led to a stalker sending pornographic materials to my house in an anonymous, explosive package. The heat was so much I was scared to make public appearances for a long time, in fear that much like this active shooter in El Paso, someone would target me because of my identity. This was one of the stated reasons for SFWA to not allow me into their professional organizations. I was the victim of a crime, and I’m attacked for it because of my identity.
I voiced such concerns to WorldCon for their 2018 convention in San Jose. There has already been a lot of racial strife in this area with the Trump Rally and violence ensuing there the year prior, and with so much racial tension amping up, I wanted to ensure the safety of me and other authors. They did not reply. I racked my brain for what I could do, as WorldCon is such an important convention for a professional sci-fi author like myself to be able to network and conduct business. Since I couldn’t get a reply, I posited I’d have a camera on me in case someone attempted to assault me at the convention. SFWA listed this as one of the reasons they wanted me banned from their professional organizations, as I would have a camera on me, though many of their white members take photos and videos at these conventions. My having the ability for my own safety is crucial for public appearances given the current climate of mass shootings and anti-Hispanic hysteria, especially in such a white-dominated environment where my success is seen as taking from the older Caucasian crowd who can’t compete with the current marketplace.
Like usual with white supremacists, the SFWA Membership Committee under the guidance of Mary Robinette Kowal, blamed the victim.
It became worse with WorldCon, as I received a Facebook death threat from a white man who told me he had my address, and if I came to San Jose he would show up at my house. The threat of violence was implicit, and I filed a police report about the matter. Worldcon’s head of security – another white woman who is friends with many SFWA members– refused to protect me or assist me even after this event. The mostly-white convention board banned me from the convention insultingly libeling me “racist bully” in their justifications—not seeing the irony of their statement in their attack of one of sci-fi’s most popular Hispanic authors.
After these crazy events, SFWA failed to respond, creating a history of ignoring my safety concerns, which I’ve documented in several emails. Because this year’s Nebula Conference was in my home state, I wanted to attend and cheer on several fantastic authors from the 20BooksTo50K group who received award nominations, and to do business and network much like WorldCon. I reached out to the organizers on multiple occasions to ask what kind of safety measures they would take for a Hispanic author like myself—and despite multiple emails, I never received a response. I could not attend the event because I can’t jeopardize my safety with two young children I must raise at home.
It’s especially crucial that conventions protect victims of harassment like myself, and take threats seriously. As we saw over the weekend, these angry, white, financially disabled types, who make angry posts about Hispanics on the internet, are the type of terrorists who often snap and can open fire. From reports I received, there was no metal detection or check for guns at the SFWA event, which meant if I would have attended, I could have been at severe risk of an incident occurring much like El Paso. Why would such an organization ignore possible threats against a minority author? SFWA had at least 3 panels on mental illness in writing—trying to help their members who they openly admit are mentally ill –but with such folk around precautions need to be taken, especially in these troubled times where so many white, mentally ill people are on edge about race.
It’s shocking and horrifying the way I’ve been abused and dehumanized as the leading Hispanic voice in Science Fiction. It’s a cross I have to bear not because of any choice of mine, but because of my distinguished heritage, in which my grandparents, hardworking immigrants, came to this country for a better life and to provide for future generations. I work hard in science fiction every day, struggling to try to overcome the prejudices of the industry foisted upon me by its leaders like Mary Robinette Kowal, who once treated me as a friend, but now that she’s become president of this sick organization, has quickly turned her back on diversity and inclusivity.
But I won’t let it hold me down. In response to this atrocious treatment, and being kept from what’s due me, I’ve made my #1 Bestselling, Award-Wining book For Steam And Country, the first in my wildly popular steampunk series, FREE in protest. Though the slings and arrows of racism sting, I can take solace in knowing that the general population of science fiction readers support diversity and inclusivity, oppose the nasty race-baiting that occurs in the upper echelons of establishment publishing, and suppport fresh new ideas and #OwnVoices in Science Fiction.
Since making this announcement that my first book in the series is free, it’s already become #1 in Science Fiction overall on Amazon, a feat in which I’m truly honored. But if an organization like SFWA won’t let the #1 Science Fiction author in their science fiction professional organization, what is the point? Send them a message that you support diversity by making sure you pick up and read the book.
You can voice your protest for their treatment of Hispanic authors to: firstname.lastname@example.org – who is their membership committee. Your voice matters. Our voices matters, despite their attempts to erase progress.