This is an interesting read http://www.fiyahlitmag.com/bsfreport/ from FIYAH Literary Magazine. I’ll let the report speak for itself and I’m still digesting it but I’d like to pick up a point they make in the introduction:
“A final note: We know that some usual suspects will attempt to invalidate what we’ve captured by claiming that our analysis lacks rigor, or our methodology was faulty. This is a smokescreen that these individuals use to hide the fact that they are against making the speculative fiction publishing space inclusive and respectful to black writers–all writers, really–and their work. Using assumed (and faulty) scientific expertise to attack the experiences of marginalized people is not a new tactic, and one that is frequently used by these groups in an attempt to maintain the oppressive systems that they believe should solely benefit them. They will never admit that fact so we are making it plain here.”
Strongly worded but a reasonable response given some of the muddleheaded reactions we saw to the Fireside report.
This is not to say that the report is somehow methodologically perfect or has flawless data or answers all question. Rather, the point is that gathering a complete data picture of an area of study takes time, multiple studies and necessarily is an iterative process of collecting incomplete data which then inform new surveys and new studies. There is a bootstrap element to all statistical study e.g. how do you know whether your sample is representative without first having statistical data about the population you are sampling, which you can’t get without doing a representative sample of the population your want to sample? The answer is that *perfection* is unobtainable but *good-enough* is both obtainable and part of an iterative process of gaining knowledge.
So does the report have limitations? Yes, obviously – the writers aren’t omniscient. The question is does it improve our understanding?