Geek spaces must move beyond "Kumbaya" – Award-winning author N. K. Jemisin on why she supports the Ada Initiative

Book cover with the image of a huge red moon over a city on a plateauAt the Ada Initiative, we’re fans of N. K. Jemisin’s work – all of it! She’s an award-winning author, a powerful speaker, and one of the earliest and most eloquent voices in the fight against harassment of women and people of color in the science fiction and fantasy community. We are thrilled to offer a copy of N. K. Jemisin’s novel “The Killing Moon” to the next 36 people who donate $128 or more to support the Ada Initiative’s work fighting harassment in geek communities. The copies are all sold out now! Thank you, N. K. Jemisin!

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Award-winning author N. K. Jemisin

I’ve been a black female geek all my life,” says award-winning author N. K. Jemisin, “and I have struggled with inclusiveness in geek spaces. I have heard the excuses: ‘There is no harassment, racism, or bigotry in geek space. We sit around singing “Kumbaya” and coding.’

What Jemisin actually experienced when she joined geek spaces was, of course, totally different: the racism and sexism were bad enough that she nearly did not pursue her career as a professional writer because of it. “Early on, I ventured onto Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine’s online forum, back before there was any moderation,” she remembers. “The bigotry and sexism were overwhelming. And here I am, dipping a toe in thinking these are supposed to be my people.

Book cover with the image of a huge red moon over a city on a plateau

Get your copy of “The Killing Moon” by donating $128 or more

Anyone who has read N. K. Jemisin’s books, stories, and blog knows how lucky we are that she persevered anyway, and became an award-winning professional writer and a sought-after speaker. Her debut novel, “The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms,” set in the aftermath of a world-wide war between the gods, won the Locus Award and was short-listed for many other awards, including the Hugo. Her “Dreamblood” series explores themes of power and corruption in a fully-realized society inspired by ancient Egypt. Her Guest of Honor speeches at WisCon 38 and Continuum received widespread acclaim. Many of us are used to reading fiction while braced for throwaway racism or sexism and unimaginative, derivative retellings of familiar themes. Pick up a Jemisin book or story and you can enjoy yourself, braced only for new ideas and brilliant writing.

Having encountered harassment and racism in many conference environments, Jemisin supports Ada Initiative’s anti-harassment policy work and Ally Training Workshops which teach men simple everyday ways to speak up for and support women in their workplaces and communities. “Ally training work is essential,” Jemisin says, stressing that harassers in geek space are the minority, and empowered allies can speak up to teach them that they don’t run the show. “Harassment is a learned behavior. Bigotry is a learned behavior. These behaviors have to be unlearned.

A green card with a picture of N. K. Jemisin looking at a small green monster, with the text "N. K. Jemisin, PC Monster, Writes amazing, critically acclaimed, award-winning fiction despite being neither white nor male!!! Uses Guest of Honor platform to brainwash audience with her radical-socialist-fascist-PC message of treating all people as human beings. +5 cloak of Not Taking Any of Your Sh*t.On a lighter note, N. K. Jemisin’s work fighting racism and sexism in speculative fiction was commemorated in a tongue-in-cheek collectible playing card created by Jim C. Hines. The description mocks the hyperbole of the people trying to hang on to the racist, sexist old days, and includes “Uses Guest of Honor platform to brainwash audience with her radical-socialist-fascist-PC message of treating all people as human beings.” We’re honored to be working with her towards that reprehensible goal. :)

We hope you’ll follow N. K. Jemisin’s lead and donate to support the Ada Initiative’s anti-harassment work. If you don’t have a critically acclaimed award-winning novel to donate, perhaps instead you can give $128 and get a copy of “The Killing Moon SOLD OUT – and our new sticker, “Not afraid to say the F-word: Feminism.

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Black and white sticker with text reading "Not afraid to say the F-WORD"