Unfortunately, fandom has a racism problem. Not necessarily in the overt, Klan-style sense, but the more insidious gatekeeper sense. Like when people harass cosplayers of color claiming they’re only doing so because of “accuracy,” despite very, very few cartoon characters designed as… well, viable human beings.
When presented with things like that, it’s not surprising that women and fans of color don’t always feel welcome in geek places. Hell, the first comic book store owned by a black woman only opened last year.
Of course, one good way to help fight this is by seeing more people of color in geek places — contact theory says as much. That’s one reason representation is so important: In addition to giving people who aren’t straight white men role models they can see themselves in — it draws more diverse people into the fandom.
It’s on the big two publishers to handle making more diverse heroes — no matter what Marvel’s VP of Sales says — but the group Con or Bust is helping get people of color to conventions. And they’ve just raised over $10,000 this year to do it!
Con or Bust has been around since 2009. The tax-exempt non-profit is devoted to funding fans of color to get to cons. Most of the money comes from their yearly auction — featuring contributions from luminaries of the Science Fiction/Fantasy world.
For example, this year’s auction featured signed items from Last Unicorn creator Peter S. Beagle and Hugo winners N.K. Jemisin and Nnedi Okorafor. Other cool items included signed copies of Farscape scripts and a limited edition of Isaac Asimov’s Gold — of which only 26 copies exist.
Now that the auction is over, Con or Bust is accepting requests for monetary assistance to get to any upcoming con. There’re four request periods a year: The second for 2017 just opened on May 15, and will be open until May 25. (The next runs for 10 days starting August 15.) So if you’re a fan of color who isn’t sure if you’ll be able to make it to your favorite convention this year — act fast!
And if you’re not a fan of color, but are a fan of the important work Con or Bust is doing, they also accept donations year-round. (And they also sell adorable t-shirts featuring their Dino-corn logo!)