In Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, one episode involves the main character, a black man named Sisko, having a dream/vision where he’s a science fiction writer in the 1950’s. (The full description can be found here.)
In his vision, Sisko writes a story set on a space station. The main character is a black man, himself. He, and the female writer, have to keep their identities secret because no one will buy their work if they’re found out Because of the main character being black, he has trouble getting the work published and is eventually fired from his job. Shortly after, the dream ends. It’s a sad episode, showing the racism and sexism of the time, which I’m sure audiences are thankful to be past, but are we?
Publishers are starting to push diversity, some even going as far as only accepting stories that have diversity. Many now say something along the lines of, We are especially interested in seeing more submissions from people of backgrounds that have been historically underrepresented or excluded from traditional publishing, including, but not limited to, women, people of color, LGBTQIA and non-binary gender people, persons with disabilities, members of religious minorities, and people from outside the United States.
On the surface, it looks like they’re trying to be inclusive, but this sort of thing is basically saying, “If you’re a straight white Christian male, you’ve got to be much better than any minority group to get your story published.”
In the episode of DS9, Sisko was being oppressed. He couldn’t publish his story, not because it was a bad story, but because it was about a man like him, and the publisher didn’t want stories about people like him, and didn’t want readers knowing he was black. Now the same thing is happening, but to a different group of people.
Then, when you bring it up, the commenters will say things like, “Well, it used to be all straight white men, so it’s time for a change.” It doesn’t seem to matter to them that they’re doing the same thing by excluding any modern authors who happened to be born the “wrong” race and gender.
Recently, David Farland published an article about the discrimination happening now.
The past is not the fault of the modern author. No one should be punished for something they didn’t do, or be treated differently because of how they were born.
We can’t fix the past, but we can call out injustice happening in the present.