Dear Robert Silverberg...
I don't care if you are a racist. I don't care if you are a sexist. I don't particularly care if you want to stand up before the internet and fight all who say otherwise. Whether you  are or are not an explicit (or, rather, conscious) racist is not really the point to me. 

Because, at the end of the day, what you mean or do on purpose does not really matter.  

Your actions have consequences, whether you mean them or not. 

This is one of my biggest issues. We'll leave the lack of self-reflection on your past aside. The issue, at its basic level, comes down to intent v. impact. 

Imagine this. 

You are at a playground. A gaggle of four year olds is running about. One of them is not paying attention and accidentally sends another plummeting off the equipment and into the asphalt. Suddenly, there is screaming and crying. Mothers race to the scene. 

What do you do next? 

You fix the wound as best you can, and the child apologizes. Not necessarily for the shove, but for the inattention. They didn't *mean* to cause pain, but their lack of awareness meant that another is in pain. 

Mr. Silverberg, at the very least, you caused pain. 

I understand you are upset that someone spread your words around. Such is the way with playground gossip, too. You still need to apologize. 

I understand that you don't mean to cause harm. You should still think critically about how your words have evoked it. 

I understand you do not go into your projects with an explicitly biased eye. You should consider one of the truest premises Science Fiction embraces: we are not always aware of our biases. 

I understand you are not trying to exclude others. Consider that systems are built with inclusion and exclusion in mind. You should think through who is excluded in our publishing model and how that is painful and harmful to our community. 

Mr. Silverberg, your post on File 770 and your general response to the controversy surrounding you is not special. The response is not a hoard of angry internet-obsessed children shouting to see who is loudest. It is fundamentally the lessons we learn in kindergarten. 

I know you won't see this. I know you won't particularly care even if you do. That's ok. Because this needs to be said, for others if not for you.


B. Reeves