PSA

Jan. 22nd, 2009 01:15 pm
eruthros: Delenn from Babylon 5 with a startled expression and the text "omg!" (Default)
[personal profile] eruthros
Remember how two weeks ago I said you should buy Emma Bull's book? Please disregard that post.

This is going to come out of left field for some of y'all who haven't seen the context. The brief summary is: Avalon’s Willow posted a critique of Elizabeth Bear’s description of how to write "The Other." Elizabeth Bear said it was valid, and that her lj was a safe space; she then let people leave horrible comments in her lj using all the classics from how to suppress discussions of racism -- completely failing to maintain that safe space. Elizabeth Bear's friends (including Emma Bull) piled on Avalon's Willow (and others), there and in other lj threads, dismissing her concerns, dismissing her writing, dismissing her reading, calling for her credentials.

You can read Emma Bull ([livejournal.com profile] coffeeem)'s attempt at complete dismissal here, and throughout that comment thread. To pull sentences out of context: "I can't give a lot of weight to a critique of a book and its author that's based on a shallow reading of the book, that doesn't take into account all the text, but substitutes the reader's own expected subtext for what's actually there." ... "But I don't want to go as far as to say that an opinion based on a shallow reading and a reaction to cultural injustice is as insightful as an opinion based on careful consideration of the text."

How to suppress discussions of racism 101. [livejournal.com profile] coffeeem offers no proof that Avalon's Willow's reading of the book is flawed; she uses her authority to dismiss it instead, and not incidentally to deflect conversation from the content of AW's post, to AW's credentials and AW's emotions and AW's tone. When someone points out to her the privilege inherent in deciding what are deep and shallow readings, she deflects again and says that her questioners are clearly opposed to studying literature -- again, by fiat, by defining terms without allowing question. And in doing so, she completely changed the direction of the conversation, completely dismissed the original post, and hurt people. A lot of people.

I still think that Bone Dance is a good book, but I can't stand the idea that I told you guys to buy a new copy, to send money to the person who began what became a meme and turned a conversation into something uglier, who first declared by fiat that a person of color's reading of a book as racist was shallow and wrong and could be immediately dismissed. She hurt people, and she derailed the conversation to make it -- once again -- all about white people, and she has not apologized. Please don't buy her books. If you want to read them, there are libraries and used book stores and friends who will loan them to you.

I didn't recommend any of these folks' books, and I haven’t read any of their work myself, but these are the other published authors who made similar statements, who continue to ignore the hurt they have done, who have made it clear that they want cookies for being anti-racist while still being racist: Elizabeth Bear ([livejournal.com profile] matociquala), W*ll Sh*tt*rly, and Sarah Monette ([livejournal.com profile] truepenny -- she has sort-of apologized, but her apology is not great). Other publishing-related people include Patrick Neilson Hayden (Tor editor) and [livejournal.com profile] mac_stone, editor of an e-zine. And probably others whose posts or comments I missed, or whose lj names I didn't link to author names.

For a better-written post on the topic of the published authors who have shown their asses, see [livejournal.com profile] chopchica here. For the comprehensive link roundup to read from the beginning, missing only the posts that were deleted or flocked after the fact, see [livejournal.com profile] rydra_wong's amazing compilation here. Commentary on [livejournal.com profile] matociquala's most recent post here, as [livejournal.com profile] matociquala has been banning people who call her out.

Oh, and: while we're on the subject of authors showing their asses? Robin McKinley, don’t say this shit. You do not get to decide what Barack Obama’s racial identity is, and you do not get to declare him white.

ETA: More on EBear, Emma Bull, and others here; more on the problems of the facile apology here.

ETA 2: Aaaand Theresa Neilson Hayden shows her ass here.
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