Nov 6, 2014
Alex Dally MacFarlane
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Lies, Misrepresentations and Reports

October is over, November is not. Lies, misrepresentations and reports of my actions are still being spread, so I’d like to talk about things I did (and didn’t) do.

1) In July, Tricia Sullivan emailed me, Rochita Loenen-Ruiz and another person about a proposed meeting at Loncon. Tricia also raised the question of her then-forthcoming novel Shadowboxer and whether we had any issues with her as a result of its “cultural issues”. I responded to Tricia’s question. What specifically infuriated me about Tricia’s decision was turning from the choice of trunking her novel to respect the problem of white people writing about Thailand (source – an email exchange I knew about in 2012) to claiming that, and I quote: “I have a book coming out that has cultural issues. I expect to be criticized for it and this is only right and fair; that’s how things move forward.” Emphasis mine. I very strongly disagreed. I told Tricia that, because of this, “I find your decision to publish Shadowboxer abhorrent.”

Rochita replied, telling me that I should not criticise the book as I am not Thai. Rochita sent a follow-up email to that. I responded with this email. Rochita replied to that. I did not reply. I did not email Rochita again. I disagreed with her, I was unhappy, I wanted to think about it.

2) Now I know that Tricia tells editors not to work with writers she strongly dislikes (source), I can understand a strong unwillingness to be critical to her!

3) I have been thinking about the politics of our differing opinions and positions: me, a white Brit; Rochita, a woman of colour from the Philippines. It is not an even position and the stakes of Rochita calling out white people are far higher. Should I tell her what to do? No. Should I tell her my opinion of her actions? Trickier, in my opinion. Perhaps not. Perhaps I should not have. Should I tell her why I acted as I did in my response to Tricia? This was my priority and perhaps I should have kept solely to this. I continue to think about this.

4) I told a very small number of people a summary of what had happened (ie: I had had a disagreement about a book I found racist) so that I could avoid awkward social encounters with Tricia at Loncon and, to a certain extent, Rochita at Nine Worlds and Loncon. At Nine Worlds I wasn’t yet ready to resume talking to Rochita, so I did not. I don’t know what else to say here. People are allowed to not talk to other people. People are allowed to ask friends to help them avoid awkward situations where they might have to talk to those people. The geek social fallacies are of some use, maybe? I don’t know why Rochita’s latest post doesn’t mention the last day of Loncon, where she came up to a group of people I was sitting with and, as she left, I smiled and nodded directly at her and she smiled back. I made a decision to smile at her because I wanted her to know I wasn’t 100% upset at her, though I still wasn’t inclined to talk to her. A very slight gesture, but not hostility.

5) At the beginning of October, when Tricia posted about Benjanun and me treating Rochita badly, I was furious at Tricia for the post and at Rochita for outing Benjanun to her, because that’s what Tricia’s post strongly implied to someone who knows all the details (eg: how few of us knew Benjanun was RH), but I didn’t say anything about Rochita then. When I was informed 3 days later by a SFF contact that Liz Williams had called the police on me, I panicked. At that point, I made a few tweets on my locked twitter (20 followers, some duplicates, not all SFF people) and told two friends a bit about the situation, including very strong words for Rochita, who I was still convinced had a role in this mess by outing Benjanun – for that, I apologise. I should not have also talked about Rochita while having a badly suppressed panic attack about Liz’s actions. (Note: Rochita and Tricia have since posted that Rochita didn’t tell Tricia.)

6) I am accused by Laura Mixon, Tricia, Rochita, and rumours, of telling editors and publishers not to work with writers and telling conrunners not to invite/include writers. I have never told an editor or publisher not to work with a writer (or any other person). I have never told a conrunner not to invite/include a writer (or any other person).

7) I have not told people not to work with Rochita. I have not told people not to include Rochita in the SFF community. I have seen people talking to Rochita, at conventions and online, and not told them that I had a disagreement with her.

8) I am disgusted at the insinuation in Rochita’s latest post that my partner Tori Truslow, who has run the LGBTQIA+ track at Nine Worlds in 2013 and 2014, has closed doors to Rochita as a result of my disagreement with Rochita. Of course Tori knew about the disagreement: we’re partners and, in July, were living together. I have Tori’s permission to quote the following, from an email Tori sent me today, as she does not currently have the energy to post about this: “I thought Rochita was an important voice to offer a platform at the con and recommended her to the Race and Culture track, with whom I worked closely and shared resources/space and speakers but did not take a programming role in for obvious ‘being a white person’ reasons. At the con I ran into her and said hello with a smile, I think I asked how she was doing or something. I was genuine, because I take my responsibilities seriously and someone falling out with my partner does not mean I’m going to treat them any differently when they are attending an event I work on. She just sort of smiled awkwardly at me in response. I never behaved in a hostile manner towards her. I have never said a harsh word to her. I have never told anyone not to work with her, or to avoid her. I have never cut her out of anything. Rochita didn’t attempt to talk to me at the con beyond me saying hi to her. She sent me a twitter DM afterwards saying she appreciated my work, which I didn’t reply to because I literally didn’t reply to anything in the few weeks following the con, because I broke myself in the process of running it and was taking time off/adjusting to a new job.” I further note that Tori is not a reliable correspondent at the best of times, due to health reasons. Not responding to Rochita’s DM was nothing at all to do with my disagreement with Rochita.

9) I had private disagreements. I intended to keep them that way: private, not affecting other people’s relationships with the people involved. I no longer wanted to talk to Tricia and needed more time to think about my disagreement with Rochita.

Here we are.

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