Saturday, February 16, 2019

My Capricon 39 Art Panels

The Artdog Image of Interest

Kicking off the year with a panel comprised of both old and new . . .

IMAGE: I took this photo (with Art Show permission) of my own art at the Capricon 39 Art Show. Reuse or reblog if you wish, but please do it with a "by Jan S. Gephardt" attribution, and a link back to this page. Thanks!

Monday, February 11, 2019

Of morality and dreams

The Artdog Quotes of the Week

One of the recurring themes in white supremacist rhetoric (of which we've heard far too much since the start of the Trump Administration) is that white people are somehow "superior" to other races.

Presumably, that would extend to the depth of their thoughts. I wondered if it might be interesting to compare observations written by leaders of the Confederate States of America with the thoughts of people who had experience on the "receiving end" of slavery.

I'll leave it to you, to determine whose thoughts resonate with the greater depth.

IMAGES: The "In their own words" graphic is my own design. I found the quote in a Medium article, "Five Myths About Robert E. Lee." Many thanks to AZ Quotes for the Harriet Tubman quote-image.

Friday, February 8, 2019

Is justice colorblind?

The Artdog Image of Interest

Normally, it's not a good thing to be "colorblind" where race is concerned. That can make it too easy to pass over injustices and put-downs (both "microaggressions" and the more macro sort).

But, as with so-called "blind auditions," sometimes it's only justice, if it IS colorblind, so everyone is treated equally.

IMAGE: Many thanks to Duke University and Tamberly Ferguson, via the A2L website, for today's infographic.

Monday, February 4, 2019

Subordination v. Freedom

The Artdog Quotes of the Week

One of the recurring themes in white supremacist rhetoric (of which we've heard far too much since the start of the Trump Administration) is that white people are somehow "superior" to other races.

Presumably, that would extend to the depth of their thoughts. I wondered if it might be interesting to compare observations written by leaders of the Confederate States of America with the thoughts of people who had experience on the "receiving end" of slavery.

I'll leave it to you, to determine whose thoughts resonate with the greater depth.

IMAGES: The "In their own words" graphic is my own design. I found the quote in a Huffington Post article, "The Civil War was about Slavery." Many thanks to AZ Quotes for the quote-image featuring the words of Jean-Jacques Dessalines.

Friday, February 1, 2019

Making progress . . .

The Artdog Image of Interest

Have we made progress? Some. Could we improve more? Undoubtedly.

How has life changed for black Americans?

From Visually.

In matters of equity and social justice, no picture is ever static, and progress is always relative. This infographic was created in 2014, so the data is already 5 years old or older. But this is a moderately recent snapshot of where we stand.

I normally celebrate February as "Social Justice February" in a nod to Black History Month. But remember that--as with feminism--greater social justice makes the world a better place for ALL of us.

IMAGE: Many thanks to Visually and the team of Noureen Saira, designer, and Elliott Smith, writer, via University of Phoenix, for this infographic "snapshot."

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Is a realistic level of diversity too much to ask?

I've recently had an opportunity to read and enjoy two mysteries and an urban fantasy mystery, all within the span of about two weeks. But an odd thing struck me as I was reading them.

In two of the three, there was a stunning lack of diversity.

Not a single, discernible person of color. The only ethnicities identified were second-or-later-generation Irish-American, or longtime small-town residents of Appalachian Scots-Irish ancestry. Everyone else in those two books seemed to be thoroughly-assimilated European-Americans, although that wasn't spelled out.

Not just white, but heterosexual--or at least, from the way relationships between characters were handled, everyone was assumed to be not only white, but straight.

Here's a gorgeous spring morning in North Carolina's part of Great Smoky Mountain National Park, photographed by Dave Allen. It's certainly not impossible that a small town in the mountains could be an ethnic monoculture.

Now, I'll grant that the population of a small town in the Smoky Mountains of North Carolina might not have too many outsiders living there. I grew up in a small, semi-rural town in Southwest Missouri that had (at the time) only white folk living there, so I know it's possible, although even my formerly-"lily-white" home town now has in the last 30 years become significantly more integrated.

But we sure did have gay people (oppressed, closeted gay people, I'm sorry to say. But they lived among us, a naturally-occurring segment of the population).

Yes, maybe there are pockets of white monoculture in isolated towns, where "polite society" still doesn't recognize "the gays." But in New York City? In Queens? I'm sorry, but for a group of NYPD cops not to encounter a single ethnic face or meet a single LGBTQIA person or person of color in the entire book just strikes me as weird. Worse, it threatens my suspension of disbelief.

Detail of a street scene in Flushing, New York by Ben Parker. Here's a colorblindness test: do you see an ethnic mix?

“But that’s not part of my concept,” the author might say. “It’s my art, and I’ll write it as I please.”

Okay. It certainly is true that the First Amendment says they have a perfect right to write a book with only white or "default-race" heterosexual characters in it if they want to. I will stop to note that one classic hallmark of white privilege is a lack of consciousness that pink skin and European ancestry isn't really a "default" setting.

For a writer, however, there's also another, very practical problem with that "it's not my concept" conceit, and it hasn't got the slightest thing to do with "political correctness."

Not everybody out there in the reading population is white. Not everybody is straight or cisgender. And the everybody-else-from-everywhere readers also enjoy seeing people like them showing up in a book every once in a while, as an ordinary person (not a stereotype).

Depending on how you define “white,” there are a range of possible futures for the “white majority.”  The Census Bureau's prediction that the US population will become "majority-minority" in 2044 has been disputed. But the likelihood is that, depending on immigration patterns and birth rates, at some point in the mid-21st Century there won’t be a “white majority” in the US anymore.

But we already live in a world where LGBTQIA individuals exist--as they always have existed--in our midst. If at least a small percentage of your characters aren’t LGBTQIA, you’re misrepresenting reality (or you’re clueless).

Documented evidence that there ARE gay people in New York City: a recent Pride March, photographed by Filip Wolak.

Recent estimates that seek to control for bias indicate that up to 20% of the population “may be attracted to their own sex.” Others dispute both polls and perceptions. Numbers on transgender individuals are even more fuzzy.

My experience suggests that the 1-in-5 or 6 guesstimate is probably not too far off, and that transgender folk also are seriously under-reported. I don’t get out that much, and I know at least three of the latter. All of them are much happier, now that they can look and act like their real selves. And they'd probably like to see characters like them, fairly represented, from time to time in their fiction options.

Authors who'd rather not look like some kind of strange, historical relic within another decade or so might want to keep all of this in mind, when they begin concept work on their next stories.

IMAGES: Many, many thanks to Dave Allen and Pixels, via Pinterest, for the gorgeous view from Great Smoky Mountains National Park. If you like the photo, you can get it printed on lots of things at Pixels. I also deeply appreciate the New York Sun and photographer Ben Parker, for the street scene from Flushing, Queens, New York. I also greatly appreciate Standing Up for Racial Justice, for its self-demonstrating example of white privilege in action, and I also very much thank Time Out New York for its article on the 2018 Gay Pride March in NYC, as well as Filip Wolak, who captured an evocative photograph of the event. This post just wouldn't be the same without these images and their creators. Many thanks!

Monday, January 28, 2019

Faith, meet challenges!

The Artdog Quote of the Week

Creativity requires a certain measure of boldness. Any time you put your original creation out there in the world, you put a part of yourself on the line.

Doesn't matter whether it's a thought, a dance, a story, a piece of artwork, an invention, your own performance skill, or what. That takes courage. It takes faith. It takes believing in yourself, and being willing to publicly fail.

Publicly failing sucks. It hurts. But it doesn't inevitably happen. You take a risk. And when it doesn't fail--when it succeeds, and you succeed, and the world is a better place because of your creative vision--that's about as sweet as it gets.

IMAGE: Many thanks to Brainy Quote for the image combined with the quote by Muhammad Ali.