Sirens is built on a thousand conversations. We have specifically designed Sirens to be an interdisciplinary conference, where a reader’s interpretation of a book is just as important as an author’s intent in writing it, where a scholar can learn from a librarian, and where a teacher and a bookseller can collaborate on a course curriculum for learning through fantasy literature.
But also critical to those conversations are diversity and inclusiveness. Are people of all genders, all sexualities, all races, all religions, all national origins, all abilities, all ages, all body types, and all other identities welcome not only at Sirens, but in those conversations? Are they able to both speak and be heard? Are their voices critical to not only their own Sirens experience, but to everyone’s Sirens experience?
Over our decade of presenting Sirens, we have learned that, while some voices are readily welcomed and readily heard, other voices—such as those of people of color—are too often lost in the crowd or are silenced entirely.
Too often, conferences—even in our speculative spaces where authors can and do write impossible worlds full of magic and wonder—are overwhelmingly white. Too often, the voices at these conferences—guests of honor, presenters, conference staff, volunteers—are overwhelmingly white. Too often, conferences make a broad commitment to diversity, but don’t follow through to make that commitment real. It can be exceptionally difficult for people of color to enter, participate, and be heard in those spaces, let alone play a critical role in them.
One actionable way for our community to increase inclusivity at Sirens is to provide scholarships to help people of color attend. This year, we are seeking funds to provide three people of color with both a Sirens registration and a round-trip Sirens Shuttle ticket. Once funded, we will provide these scholarships to Con or Bust, a tremendous organization that provides assistance to fans of color/non-white fans who wish to attend science fiction/fantasy cons. Con or Bust will allocate these scholarships in accordance with its rules.
Sirens is built on a thousand conversations. But the value of those conversations—and the value of the community born of those conversations—is built on the diversity of voices that participate in those conversations.
If you can—whether that’s $5 or a full scholarship of $325—we hope that you’ll help us provide these scholarships!
Donations for the scholarship program will be accepted through November 30, 2018.