The partner Uniballer and I almost have our wee fambly moved.
SO Imma talk some shit.
Buckle up babes.
Lately part of me decompressing after doing move related stuff has been research and note taking on what’s going on in the freelance world. Something I keep seeing is bothering the shit out of me.
If you are an editor for whatever publication and are seeking to diversify what you’re doing asking for what you want is great. It is amazing.
How you do it matters.
I’ve seen no less than about ten calls for QTPOC to contribute around places. What isn’t great is when the same editors can’t seem to name or come up with a single QTPOC they’ve published to serve as examples of the work they want. I feel like it leads to some of us side eyeing said editors because, if you have really not published us, why would we trust you with our work?
I had an editor with a call out contact me and on the face of things I was a little titillated. Largeish byline, good money. What I wasn’t so thrilled with was that the subject matter suggested to me had zero to do with what I do. This is an editor I know somewhat casually through friends and when I asked them why contact me with the request and after two weeks now no answer.
Something else I keep seeing is in um, groups of women and women id’d folks and femmes, I keep seeing white women big upping each other or trying to grab at opportunities being offered to QTPOC specifically. Stop.
If you are someone interested in expanding who you publish there are things to think about before you start taking work from folks or asking for it.
- Don’t come out of the gate patting yourself on the back.
- If you aren’t already publishing QTPOC for example, maybe think about why.
Let’s stop there for a second.
#2 means you have to be about some shit and not just in it to say, LOOK AT THE BROWN PPL I HELPED or whatever white saviour bullshit. #2 means, you have to get very uncomfortable with your own biases.
Let me look at my own back catalog of ghostings and rejections.
I have a longer essay that is written as both memoirish, exposure and an object lesson in how we folks in the Black community MUST do better in order to save our children. I use myself as an example. One rejection said that it was “too focused” on Black people and that I should rework it to try and make it more universal.
I said no thank you and how dare you.
Another rejection came after some go rounds with other editors who were not comfortable with some of the subject material. Was it the childhood suidical ideation? Nope. It was me framing the religion of oppressors as part of why my community is fucked up.
Got a note to submit to a magazine “something really intense and personal that you do so well” (not a direct quote) I did. Ghosted for um, let’s say four months now.
Here’s the thing. Don’t ask for Blackity Blackness, or make it known that you are open to it and then be too uncomfortable to deal with it. I had one editor reject that piece because they “didn’t know how to edit it without coming across racist”.
If you are familiar with a writer enough to say, YO I WANNA PUBLISH YOU. Don’t be shook when they deliver.
I’ll be honest and say the piece I’m talking about needs some extra work but y’all, shit is good.
It is rough.
It will make non Black folks uncomfortable and being uncomfortable is okay.
If you are really into diversifying and using your privileged gatekeeping ass position for the good. You can’t just publish the Nice Negroes/Queers/Brown folks.
On one hand, I suppose that when a lot of our most famous voices write in very particular ways, it is very easy to use them as the measurement of what’s good in terms of stuff outside of your lane. It makes sense.
However, stopping at reading the most famous among us is not going to really help you out in the diversifying your editorial stuff. Some of what you find will in fact hurt your feelings. Some will come from folks who might not seem like the type of folks you want to just hang out with or squee about.
So at this point the decision is, is what do you really want?
Do you want the cachet of saying, you published X famous marginalized writer?
Do you want to really start dismantling the whiteness that is the publishing world?
Do you want to take a risk?
That is where you should start before you ask for shit you ain’t ready for.
Experiences like the one above are really a huge part of why I don’t freelance in a more ambitious way.
Frankly, y’alls. I am not famous enough to be acting up like this. I’m not. I’m not famous enough to say no. I’m not famous enough to be so choosy and so mouthy.
I know I am likely as has bee prophecied by others ruining my tiny career. That’s okay. I’ve accepted my role as Purple Lipstick Wearing Loudmouth.
I have some folks I like working with and trust.
Fuck it right?