I am at my happiest at a convention—anime cons, comic cons; just give me a venue where I can be in costume and fraternize with nerds all weekend and I will be happy. However, I have it pretty good. I have enough of a disposable income to afford the costs of travel, hotel, registration, and cosplay. Plus, I’ve got the privilege bonus that no one questions my involvement in fandom based on my skin color.
Fans of color tend to be less well-represented at conventions, and that’s where the wonderful organization Con or Bust comes in.
Con or Bust is:
a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization whose mission is to increase racial and ethnic diversity in the production of and audience for speculative fiction. Con or Bust isn’t a scholarship and isn’t limited by geography, type of con-goer, or con; its goal is simply to help fans of color go to SFF cons and be their own awesome selves.
Con or Bust was founded a little over four years ago, in part as a response to a huge online argument about writing characters of color in sci-fi and fantasy, and about minimizing the experiences of fans of color. It’s run by the Carl Brandon Society, a group made up of writers and SF/F fans who want “to help build further awareness of race and ethnicity in speculative literature and related fields”.
We talk a big game here about racial representation, but in the end the quickest way to make said representation happen is to prove to the creators of media that it’s needed. One way to do this is to show industry convention guests that fans of color exist and care about their media. Con or Bust is a way to help get those fans in front of creators, as well as a way to encourage fans of color to continue to engage with speculative fiction genres as consumers and as creators themselves.
Over the last four years the organization has managed to raise over $25,000 through auctions of really cool stuff (including everything from home-baked cookies to signed first editions to critiques of your own work by different authors) and charitable donations of both weekend con memberships and regular old money. These funds have then been used to send nearly fifty fans to the conventions they wanted to attend. The assistance is not a scholarship or merit-based; the only real criterion for receiving assistance is being a person of color who wants to attend a sci-fi/fantasy convention.
If you want to request assistance, get involved, or just learn more about this cool organization, you can read about them here at their website!