Monday, February 04, 2019

Punching Bags and Intersectionality

Having a foot in YA book world and a foot in Romancelandia has always been interesting. YA was ignored for so long. Romance is often ignored until something comes along to force people to look. So what that these two are some of the largest engines making money in book world. Who even reads? And if they do why would they read that trash? 
So the people within those communities form deep bonds. Those others out there don't get us, but we know. 
And in some ways I think it is exactly that that has made us so unprepared to grapple with issues of racism and other such things. If you feel marginalized it is hard to imagine that you have privelege. 
I saw member of Congress Ilahn Omar talk on "The Daily Show". She had made a statement about how Americans tend to view the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. People accused her if using anti-Semitic terminology. She said, as a Muslim her first response was something like I would never. But she had to realize that she had made a statement that played on negative stereotypes about Jews and there were better ways for her to make her point. 
So here we are. There is a thing happening in YA. ARCs (Advanced Reader Copies) of a book went out. A few people noted some concerns with anti-Black stereotypes. After some time, the author announced she had asked her publisher to delay her release so further edits could be made. 
Of course, a noted problematic journalist jumped in, claiming he was shining a light on toxic social media. And what happened, a ton on abuse was unleashed on two writers of color. And so lots of people are pointing and answering and you know what isn't happening? 
We are not talking about how the author (who is a Chinese immigrant to the US) might have better prepared to unpack any stereotypes and issues she might have held or how that would appear for an English speaking audience. We are not talking about how many times this had happened and the author did nothing and sold quite fine. We are not talking about how the author's publisher has stayed silent which seems to indicate they are leaving her on her own to hire sensitivity readers. 
We are basically stuck in defense mode because a few white journalists who only show up when there's trouble saw a good story and ran with it. And because editorial boards these days are limited, and clearly also pay little attention to YA unless they smell blood. So we are entering February (the month where romancelandia braces for terrible think pieces) with this article that misrepresents what happened and blames two authors of color for forcing another to pull her book. 
Which is the other thing. We are trying to work hard to get and keep more under represented voices in the room for publishing. And every time something like this happens it's hard to convince people that these places are wonderful and often fun.  

Edited to correct typos.