In the context of the recent protests over racial disparities in policing and societal racism, in the US and throughout the world, which have led to consideration and action by many companies, including Stack Exchange, I have been thinking again about our site.
I believe that the site has the opportunity to draw attention to more works by or about black people, and people of color more generally. Right now, there are many good works that fall into these categories that could use more exposure. For instance, there are only two questions about the works of Nnedi Okorafor, who is possibly one of the most famous modern black writers of SF. There are only three questions about the works of N.K. Jemisin (all aboutbroken-earth), who is one of the major secondary-work fantasy writers. Kai Ashante Wilson (kai-ashante-wilson) is pretty well-known in "literary" fantasy circles, but we have only one question about his work, which is not even one of his better-known ones. And I think Octavia Butler is one of the first black SF authors, or first SF authors of color, period that many people would name, yet we have about five questions about her work (basically the liliths-brood). Not much compared to Le Guin, to say nothing of Asimov or Heinlein.
By contrast, we have, what, approximately 6000 questions about Harry Potter? There is a lot more to the world than Harry Potter. And I would hazard a guess that if we tallied all the questions about works by black authors or about black characters, it would still fall significantly short of just Harry Potter. If we looked at other examples, we might find a similar pattern. 2
The purpose of this post is start a meta discussion that will hopefully bring more awareness to the opportunities that we have to bring attention to works that could use more recognition, and to encourage users to ask and answer more questions about works by black authors, works featuring black characters, and works by and about non-white people in general, as well as to encourage community input about potential strategies for making both the site's content and its community more diverse. Please feel free to share ideas, experiences, or disagreements as answers or comments.
One initial suggestion would be holding an event (or events) to promote more questions about black characters and authors. I do not know whether it will work or not, but I think it could be effective. We have had events to ask certain types of questions before, such as the ill-fated Futurama extravaganza. In fact, we used to have a Topic of the Week contest. Clearly, I am not advocating for a return to prizes or Futurama chaos, but it illustrates the feasibility of the concept of a Meta post that promotes asking questions themed around a particular topic. It also illustrates that such an event can certainly produce more posts around a given topic.
1: Clearly, this depends on how loose one's definition is. If one counts the companions and not the Doctor as a principle protagonist, for instance, then some of the companions have been people of color. With star-wars there are certainly a handful of rather obscure books or cartoon series, especially in Legends, that would qualify, but given their much lower prominence compared to the movies, I did not include them.
2: Another possible illustration is black-lightning-2018 versus supergirl-2015, both arrowverse CW shows. The latter has only 11 questions, whereas the other has around 45, despite having only two more seasons. Both jessica-jones-2015 and daredevil-2015 have more than 30 questions, compared to only 9 for luke-cage-2016, even though Luke Cage is arguably more super than both. Even iron-fist-2017 has more, despite being much less acclaimed (although, his glowing fist is pretty cool).
Although the picture for people of color in general is less clear, I expect the trend is similar. Aside from the perennial favorite story-identification and media and subject tags, of our top franchises, only the comics franchises and Star Trek have had a work with a primary protagonist who was not white.1 I had to go all the way down to either cosmere or avatar-the-last-airbender to find another example. Of (at the very least) the top 10 tags for works by individuals, I believe all of them are by white creators.