Why, As A Person of Color, I Will Sit Down And Chat With A White Supremacist

People tend to think of kerfuffles in binaries (I really like that word, don’t you? It so easily dismisses or minimizes real world issues with genuine impact on real people). Painting everything in black or white has its uses (it brings out stark contrast and highlights the sternest elements of any picture so as to allow detailed debate), but we forget that true light is composed of every known color. Without even one of ’em, we lose Light.

Drawing lines is fine, but punishing hiccups or lapses of judgment or past mistakes with eternal damnation is probably not the best way to approach any matter. I despise militant-anything because it never changes minds. It polarises and divides people and that attitude has created the current tremendously damaged political system in the US. People like Trump are powered not by thoughtful dissent but thoughtless outrage on both sides.

The alleged supremacist/fascist appointed to the Bram Stoker Award jury has publicly renounced his views. It is impossible to ascertain whether someone has or hasn’t rescinded their prior views on any subject. No one knows what’s in a person’s heart. What we do know is up till 2011 he had some affiliation or sympathy for fascist organizations (Ataka in Bulgaria). That he ran for the presidency of his National Front chapter three times. That he expressed solidarity with HPL’s views on white supremacy and dismay at the ongoing heterogenization of said group.

That said, If he now claims to renounce his views on race, I will absolutely give him the benefit of the doubt. If he’d like to have dialogue with me, I’d love to. I have always believed in dialogue, bridge forming, striving to find common grounds and solutions, and, well, humanity. I believe it is imperative to be able to move on from one’s past and the mistakes one might have made in one’s younger days (I have made many as I’m sure everyone on this forum has) and accept others’ apologies. If he were around, I’d love to sit down and have tea or dinner with him if he’d like and chat about all matters mundane and literary.

However, I believe it is unfair to allow someone with potential conflict of interest with their duties because of previously espoused severe extremist views to hold a position of power. Horror is not the field of a select few anymore. It never was. Only difference is previously the spotlight was nearly always on a certain group. Well, that is changing. We have incredible new voices and visions that are global, different, bold, and potent; and it would be a travesty to allow bias of any sort to divest them of recognition. The mere idea that a juror once thought them subhuman would be enough to repel many new/young writers/editors from submitting work to be considered for the Bram Stoker Award and even if they did submit, the results will always be suspect to them. I believe, besides sending a message of unwelcome to all would be members on the HWA’s side, the gentleman’s selection as juror would damage the award and cast the Stoker in a terrible light.

So, yes, while on a personal level one can have dialogue with said gent, I still believe the organization should recuse a potentially biased juror from such duties if said organization wants to stay relevant and useful to the field.

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