Amid the excitement of me getting a new computer, (I DID IT. I almost cried because I was afraid some financial catastrophe would happen, but I did it), releasing Self Care Like a Boss with Milcah, doing two amazing readings with other QTPOC (Queer Trans People of Color), getting PAID for one reading. Meeting and connecting with some WOC locally, having people walk up to me after my reading to tell me thank you for doing what I do and using my big fat mouth, life has been pretty overwhelming and beautiful.
I’ve been sharing inspiration and solidarity with other writers. Tears and angst and nerves.
It has been everything and draining and dreamy.
The dark side of this rainbow is having to come back to the reality of the literary world I live in.
An organization I pay money to belong to continually show it’s ass. From relegating the very real concerns of people of color to “controversy” and rather than engaging us nasty ole brown folks who pay to be a member of that community, we were brushed aside and at least I personally was called a bully, a racist, among other things. That led me to write this piece at Medium about the new coded language of racism in the lit world. That was in May. Just recently a woman decided to satirize the idea of someone in a position of power hunting indigenous people (because genocide IS SO FUCKING FUNNY) in order to “stand up” for AWP against all us bullies. This was in response to calls for AWP to be more transparent and have better disability/access policies.
Because obviously, if people who aren’t White Cis Able bodied people with money, they are just pushing around a huge organization that they pay to be members of.
Asking for transparency and to be listened to and treated like human beings is bullying now.
I come back from the daylight into the darkness of well intentioned White magazine editors publishing blatantly joyously Islamaphobic rants disguised as poetry, and their response is we didn’t mean it that way.
I come back to said same poet, traumatizing a friend with his hateful poetry. White men coming out of the woodwork to cry about censorship and how mean and evil every woman or other person is for objecting to their shitty pants art.
I come back to having to add yet more publishers and magazines to my growing list of places I will never submit to because when they fuck up, the answer is always I didn’t mean it that way, I am committed to diversity, our intentions were good.
I come back to online literary communities where, you can be that guy who is colorblind and it’s fine.
I have so many questions that I know will go unanswered.
I come back to the certain knowledge that the honest, I really need to know the questions I have, don’t get answered because I have the audacity to ask them and thus I become the aggressive enemy and the artists, editors and organizations must be shielded from my prying eyes.
It doesn’t matter how I ask. If I say please, if I say fuck you. They never take full honest responsibility.
Here are some of my questions.
Why exactly is it satirical to imagine someone in a position of power hunting human beings?
What exactly was the line that said, hey, this poem is going to be our statement on ISIS?
At what point, if any, does someone- fuck ANYONE an editor someone say, hey, maybe this subject doesn’t need another White man to be the face and voice of it?
Why don’t people of color submit to us?
I sit with these questions constantly. Sometimes I ask them of the appropriate people and have yet to get an honest thoughtful reply.
The thing I’ve said over and over again is this. You have to be honest. You have to sit in your discomfort and understand that you can shout out of one side of your mouth about how much you love diversity and representation and how welcome all of us others are welcome at your magazine or press, but understand that when the people in positions of power demonstrate both by word and deed how few fucks they give about all us others, we see it.
If you want to be an ally, you can’t just say oops, my bad a la Clueless and think it’s all okay. You have to be uncomfortable and be honest and be responsible for what you’ve done or said.
Contrary to the cries of shitmouth artists everywhere, when we say this is a racist thing that you printed, wrote or otherwise supported it is not the knee jerk reactions of silly brown people who can’t think critically. It is not the cry of unpublishable others, it is not a cry for censorship.
It is a demand for accountability.
It is not that it’s popular for POC or the countless others to stick our necks out and risk our careers just to “accuse” someone of bias or racism.
The situation is that many of us are tired of this shit.
We are tired of being colonized.
We are tired of our stories, our lives, our histories and current struggles being relegated to “controversy”.
We are tired of being silenced unless we are nice.
We are tired of this shit.
I am tired of this shit.
I don’t want to vet my submissions because I don’t want to be associated with publishers or magazines that are actively participating in my oppression.
I don’t want to come down from my literary dream dates and land face first in racism and shit fuckery.
There’s an extra layer to this involving publishing my book, but we’ll get to that another day.
That’s all for right now I have art to make.