Statement on Diversity
"The glory of creation is in its infinite diversity."
- Miranda Jones and Mister Spock, "Is There in Truth No Beauty?" (Star Trek: The Original Series)
SF is the literature of the human species, change, and the Other, providing alternate points of view on familiar topics in order to give us a clearer perspective. It is philosophical, idea-centered, even subversive or transgressive. It explores possibilities and pushes boundaries. It asks the next question, and then the one after that, and then the one after that.
The Center for the Study of Science Fiction welcomes students, volunteers, employees, and visiting scholars from all backgrounds. We actively encourage people to join us, including (but not limited to) people of every age, culture, ethnicity, gender identity or expression, nationality or immigrant status, physical ability status, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, and marital, parental, and veteran status. Everyone has equal opportunity for admission to our educational programs, and equal access to and opportunities to receive local SF awards, scholarships, and activities. We work to be a safe space for those who come to our events and educational programs.
To help ensure this, we do not tolerate discrimination of any kind. However, we are not ignorant of intolerant groups within the genre, as everywhere else. We do not tolerate harassment of any kind. If you feel harassed or discriminated against, or if you notice someone behaving inappropriately, and cannot resolve the issue with this person, we want you to feel safe coming to any of our staff to report the situation immediately. If you feel we need to do better ourselves, please let us know personally or anonymously, or via any of our email addresses or social-network pages. We are actively striving to bring diverse perspectives to our awards and scholarships, educational program, events, resources for scholars and writers, and personal scholarship, and strive to do better whenever we can.
At its core, SF is a community, and we want everyone to feel welcome and able to attend our programs, and free and safe to express yourself in the truest ways possible.
As the literature of alienation, science fiction provides other perspectives on life. One way explores what it means to be human is through stories about aliens as well as using alien perspectives to examine our own species. SF explores alien worlds, times, and ideas, suggesting that our ways of thinking are not the only ways, and that our morals and values and cultural norms are arbitrary or environmental. Showing species evolved on other planets and shaped by their unique environments reinforces the notion that we also evolved and change, and that resisting change or other perspectives leads to stagnation.
In an interview for The Paris Review, Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah posits Octavia Butler's question: "What good is science fiction to black people? What good is its tendency to warn or to consider alternative ways of thinking and doing? Samuel R. Delany responds excitedly, "Science fiction isn't just thinking about the world out there. It's also thinking about how that world might be - a particularly important exercise for those who are oppressed, because if they're going to change the world we live in, they - and all of us - have to be able to think about a world that works differently."
For many, Star Trek serves as the standard-bearer of diversity in SF, leading the charge well before mainstream society began to accept such concepts as interracial love (Trek showed the first interracial kiss on TV in "Plato's Stepchildren"), non-interference into others' affairs (see the Federation's "Prime Directive"), and acceptance of the Other. As evidence for the latter, consider that Vulcans in Trek honor "Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations" (IDIC, or Kol-Ut-Shan in Vulcan) with both a philosophy and an award of merit, celebrating the vast variations of life in the universe.
Trek writer David Mack wrote a fantastic blog entry about diversity in science fiction. Check it out here. He was responding to a homophobic attack against something he had written. An excerpt:
Fan and comics professional melannen writes:
This is not to say that SF perfectly reflects these ideals. No, like every other human endeavor, SF adheres to "Sturgeon's Law," which says that "ninety percent of everything is crud." Despite what is widely acknowledged as the first true SF novel (Mary Wollstonecraft [Godwin] Shelley's Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus), SF as a genre was founded, edited, and largely written by Anglo-American men, so much of our history reflects that narrow vision. Because the Gunn Center strives to be part of the solution instead of part the problem, we are in the process of actively working to reflect diversity and create a safe space for all to learn and share, and will continue to do our best to reflect the true diversity of SF as it is today - and help it become all we hope it can be.
All this is part of why the Gunn Center's motto: Let's Save the World Through Science Fiction!
- Chris McKitterick
Community is humankind's greatest power:
"As a community of scholars, we strive to make the world a better place."