Maurice Broaddus is the author of the novel series, The Knights of Breton Court (Angry Robot).Â His dark fiction has been published in numerous magazines, anthologies, and web sites, most recently including Dark Dreams II & III, Apex Magazine, Black Static, and Weird Tales Magazine.Â He is the co-editor of the Dark Faith anthology (Apex Books).Â Â Read his blog where he often opines on issues of race, religion, writing, and pop culture and learn more about him at www.MauriceBroaddus.com.
Not too long ago, Jeff interviewed me about the anthology I helped put together, Dark Faith (Apex Books is currently having a 40% off sale on all versions of it).Â Now Iâ€™ve seen controversy after Fail Storm about essentially white/male-washed table of contents for various anthologies, even long before I sat down to begin putting together this anthology.Â Luckily, I rarely have to wait too long for someone to give me an excuse to write about the topic.
Not too long ago there was a bit of a dust up regarding the anti-racist, anti-fascist anthology Never Again, put together by a couple of U.K. editors.Â [Technically, I do have dual citizenship (which only is a problem come World Cup time when England plays the U.S.).Â And â€œeditorâ€ is one of the hats I wear (along with â€œwriterâ€ and â€œperson of colorâ€), so letâ€™s see what kind of trouble I can get into.]Â As with most internet dustups, I simply made some popcorn, watch the ever-so-polite drama unfold and then went about my business.Â However, in discussing why there were no people of color, one of the editors made this remark:Â Â “Would you have preferred us to target and include writers on the basis of their skin colour, not their writing?”
As editors, we donâ€™t have the luxury of hiding behind this as a defense, because this is a straw one at best (and no amount of â€œmy best friend is blackâ€ style waving is going to save you).Â Not to mention that this is a fairly ignorant, or at least ill constructed, â€œdefenseâ€ because itâ€™s not like these two possibilities are mutually exclusive.
For the record, the final â€œstatsâ€ of Dark Faith TOC:, for those playing along at home, was 5 poems and 26 stories by 17 men and 14 women, at least four people of color involved (I say â€œat leastâ€ because I can only tell so much from peopleâ€™s Facebook pictures plus there are the additional stories in the chapbook associated with the anthology, Dark Faith:Â Last Rites).
At no point did I worry about any sort of â€œPC testingâ€ of my table of contents (will I have enough POC?Â Will there be any women?).Â Thatâ€™s a ridiculous way to go about putting together an anthology.Â The other reason it was a non-worry?Â Itâ€™s not that difficult to produce a table of contents that has diversity.Â Now Iâ€™m not even talking about forcing the issue of diversity in a TOC.Â Â Iâ€™m saying that these days you have to almost go out of your way to produce an anthology without diversity.Â Three simple steps:
-open submission period.Â For about five months we had an open submission period.Â We put the word out widely that we were looking for stories regarding a particular theme.Â And that was just putting the word out in the places we know genre writers tend to frequent (my blog, Ralanâ€™s, Duotrope, a few message boards).Â If we wanted to actually be more intentional, we could have gone to specific boards which cater to writers of color.
-my â€œrolodexâ€.Â Donâ€™t get me wrong, I have a pretty color-filled rolodex to begin with, since as you know, all the black kids sit together in the cafeteria.Â That being said, thatâ€™s an important fact:Â my rolodex naturally has POC in it.Â Authors I like to read, people Iâ€™ve met, people I want to work with.Â If your rolodex lacks diversity, it may be time to color up your world.
-look.Â Without submissions, without my own personal contacts, I am still aware that there are plenty of authors out there.Â Authors Iâ€™d love to see stories from, whom Iâ€™ve read, whom Iâ€™d like to work with, who Iâ€™m simply aware of if only by reputation.Â If I still was at my witâ€™s end, I could simply ask folks who know the players in the field better than I.
Now, Iâ€™m perfectly aware of the fact that no matter what you do, someone will find fault, real or imagined with the final product.Â My simple take away point is this:Â if youâ€™re going to have an anti-racist anthology or do any sort of compendium on the history of a genre, you may want to mix in a person of color (especially for the former, if only to have the actual perspective of someone who has experienced it).
Putting together Dark Faith was fraught with its own concerns:Â do we represent all faiths?Â Are we respectful to all perspectives?Â Are we being sacrilegious?Â Are we treading TOO lightly? And Iâ€™m positive weâ€™ve left plenty on the table for folks to criticize.Â As an editor you canâ€™t worry about that and yet you HAVE to worry about that.Â You do your best and let the final product stand on its own merits.Â But you at least have to try to make a good faith effort.