Disrupting Publishing Linkspam: 9/15/2015

Last week I collected and curated articles about racism in publishing by writers of color. Anyone who follows my twitter probably knows that disrupting oppressive cycles in publishing is something I’m all in on. I think these linkspams will probably be a regular thing going forward, but I wanted to broaden the scope because there are multiple axes at play here. Race is a major one, and a predominant one given how visible race often is, but it’s not the only way voices can be silenced, so here I’m aggregated as many marginalized voices as possible from as many vectors as possible, and the more intersectional the better. As always if you’ve read something I missed please link it in the comments.


//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js“They Pretend To Be Us While Pretending We Don’t Exist” by Jenny Zhang for Buzzfeed

White people have always slipped in and out of the experiences of people of color and been praised extravagantly for it.

Malinda Lo’s tumblr post in response to Jenny Zhang’s piece

Women who write literary/realistic fiction about women are often asked about how their fiction is autobiographical, even if it is clearly not. I don’t believe that men are asked this “is your work autobiographical?” question nearly as often. I wonder if writers of color are asked this question even more than white women, because the white majority has a hard time understanding that writers of color could imagine stories about characters of color who are not them. It’s a weird, slippery, erasing state of belief about writers of color.

“Regarding the Yellowface Poet” by Franny Choi

i confess. i am greedy. i think i deserve to be seen
for what i am: a boundless, burning wick.

a stone house. i confess: if someone has looked
at my crooked spine and called it elmwood,

i’ve accepted. if someone has loved me more
for my gook name, for my saint name,

for my good vocabulary & bad joints,
i’ve welcomed them into this house.

“On Visibility in Diversity That Isn’t Race” by Kayla Whaley

Speak Up!: A Graphic Account of Roxane Gay and Erica Jong’s Uncomfortable Conversation by Mari Naomi for Electric Literature

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An interview with Ursula K. LeGuin by Choire Sicha

It worked very much against women, because they were likely to have the nine-to-five job and really be responsible for the household. Doing two jobs is hard enough, but doing three is just impossible. And that’s essentially what an awful lot of women who wanted to write were being asked to do: support themselves, keep the family and household going, and write.

“Encouraging Diversity: An Editor’s Perspective” by Rose Lemberg in Strange Horizons

When I founded Stone Telling, I knew I wanted the market to be diverse. I talked to both poets and editors before founding the magazine and heard from quite a few that there just weren’t that many PoC poets in the field, and that very few poets write queer content. I was planning to solicit, but heard back from a few folks that I should expect to quickly run out of PoC poets from whom I could solicit.

That did not happen. What happened was that the field grew in response to a welcoming market.

My Mercurial Brain

guess which is the good side and which is the bad

(not actually my brain)

My brain is mercurial. It marvels and terrifies me in turn: sometimes it works so gloriously well, and sometimes it turns on itself with such viciousness. The same brain that writes all these novels and solves all these problems and is so taken with the world around me also saddles me with anxiety and depression and crippling migraines. I have a love/hate relationship with my brain. It is fickle and tricky.

Everything about my brain—the brilliance and the pitfalls—is inherited. I come from a long line of very smart, very tortured people on both sides of my family. Big thinkers who succumbed to alcoholism thanks to recurrent depressive episodes. Curious people trapped by bipolar disorder. Creative people who stumbled under the weight of chronic headaches. All of my immediate family members—my mother, father and sister—have or had serious mental health issues just like me. My mother and sister also get migraines. The brains in my family are for all of us a curse and a blessing. Jon, too, has his own mercurial brain. He’s brilliant and funny and insightful, but he is constantly grappling with anxiety. His anxiety, like mine, seems to stem in part from genetic influence.

I think a lot about my mercurial brain and his these days as I watch my kid develop. I get a migraine and I wonder whether twenty years from now she’ll be lying in the dark whimpering in pain herself. I get an anxiety attack or spend months surviving a fresh bout of depression, and I wonder if the same thing lies in store for her.

Recently, Jon began dating a woman who suffers truly vicious migraines—ones worse than mine by a wide margin. She told him she didn’t want kids and one reason was she didn’t want to curse them with her migraines. And I understood. When I was pregnant, I thought a lot about this, about how there was little possibility of my kid skating through life with a brain that always happened to work the right way, one which was always a friend and never a foe. Did I want to subject her to this?

Internalized ableism is sneaky like that. No one wants their kid to suffer more than they have to. No one wants their kid to suffer in the ways they themselves have suffered. Noble goals, both. I still worry for her, and I still wonder whether I was right to saddle her with my kind of mercurial brain, and at the same time I marvel at just how much ableist Kool-aid I’ve drunk in my life. The truth is that no matter what the migraines would be debilitating and the mental health issues would suck when they are at their worst. But they are made so much worse by living in an ableist society.

If everyone had free access to quality health care (mental and physical) without stigma and shame attached, if space and care were given to those suffering without judgment—if, put plainly, the world wasn’t ableist—then the disabilities I live with would be infinitely more tolerable. When we blame the brains and bodies of those who suffer instead of the society that piles on the suffering, when we say that maybe those facing life as people with disabilities shouldn’t be born, that’s a hair’s breadth away from eugenics.

This is not to say that I think Jon’s lady friend is in any way wrong in her personal decision. And, honestly, given that society is so deeply ableist I still worry. But it is to say that people with disabilities will always exist. And it is to say that I had Zadie, that she exists with her ticking-time-bomb brain, and that while I worry I don’t think I have cursed her.

I can teach her all the things I learned the hard was as a person with disabilities. I can teach her the strength to survive. I can teach her how to have spine enough to advocate for herself. I can teach her to be kind enough to herself to make space to cope. I can bring her up in a household where these things are not shameful, and hopefully that foundation will be something she carries with her. I can teach her to make peace with a mercurial brain.