Recently, I came across a blog post by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. She's working on an anthology call "Swords & Mythos" which is a crossing of Robert Howard-style Sword'N'Sorcery with good-ol' fashioned horrors beyond imagining, a la H.P. Lovecraft. (If that sounds fun to you, I encourage you to check out her Indiegogo fundraiser for the project.)
In her post Ms. Moreno-Garcia doesn't waste any time, but dives into the issue at hand with these opening lines:
What do you do when you are a person of colour (POC) planning an anthology inspired by the work of not one, but two racist writers? That’s my situation right now. I say you talk about it!
She then proceeds to clearly and intelligently lay out both her appreciation of the artistry of these two men, and also the disturbing depths of their racism. But she never falls into the trap of over-simplification, which is all too easy to do when dealing with topics like this.
People are not divided as villains and heroes. Lovecraft and Howard were not villains or heroes. They were men. Just as they could be very fun to hang out with, they also had their unpleasant side. We must accept this, and accept them as human beings with their quirks and their failings.
In the end, her article is about the importance of new voices and viewpoints, an absence of which for any genre means at best stagnation and more likely death. I agree with her, and it's not too much of an extrapolation to apply her points beyond genre to entire art forms, or even wider cultures.
I'd also like to mention that the comments section on her post is relatively free of the yammering and trolling that so often clogs up internet discussions, especially with hot-button topics such as race. Hats off to both Moreno-Garcia and her readers.
Check out the full post here.