okay, so i am extremely uncomfortable with several things here:
- i—a white cis lesbian—am not and should not be the voice of any critical response to published white straight authors’ public discussion of diversity in young adult literature. i do not like being approached by now multiple published authors about it after a discussion that dozens of people had. in responding to sarah rees brennan’s ask, i asked for other people to contribute, and many did. i am making this response rebloggable as well for this same reason. i really, really do not like being put in this position. i also apologize for having spoken above or for anyone else in this discussion; i do recognize that my voice is already proportionately very privileged.
- i do not enjoy, after a fannish discussion about a deeply flawed publishing environment, being scolded by an author (with whom i have never spoken) about my requested attempt to explain—or, as i tried and possibly failed to do, amplify explanation of—many marginalized people’s dissatisfaction with said environment and with allies’ behavior. the power dynamics here are inherently silencing.
- the assumption that criticizing allies’ behavior, words, or actions therefore produces “guilt and fear and takes away from actual discourse” is also shockingly incredibly silencing! the environment of young adult publishing and much of society gives a hugely disproportionate weight to certain people’s voices. but just because those people attempt—or, to some extent, succeed—to use their voices for good does not mean we ought not criticize the ways they do fail and the ways they can do better. emphasizing that white straight cisgendered allies not feel silenced or afraid in discussions of diversity is, i am sorry, deeply fucked up. if someone in a position of power and privilege to me is attempting to speak for me, no matter how benevolently, yeah, i actually do want them to be a little afraid. i want them to have to consider at length every single thing they do because they know it will actually have consequences. i want them to listen to me and others more silenced than me. and i want them to try to do better, as sarah rees brennan said she would try to do better after people expressed their anger and dissatisfaction to her.
i recognize that this conversation probably makes other people as or more uncomfortable than it makes me, so please do not feel obligated to respond! but i would really appreciate others’ contributions, corrections, or criticisms. i am tagging this “ya convo” for your blacklists.
I don’t have much to add to this except to reiterate the extent to which a few people on Tumblr — most, if not all, from the marginalized groups under discussion — pointing out their discomfort with
a) people in a position of privilege persistently being called upon to speak on these topics in lieu of actual members of those marginalized groups
b) these discussions veering towards patting these allies on the back for being so wonderful as to acknowledge the personhood of marginalized people
is in no way silencing those privileged persons who are still being interviewed and asked to discuss this and seen as leading the discourse and who still have a much larger platform than people like @delladilly or myself.
Also, as someone who explicitly stated that I think that in the future people in SRB’s position should consider declining such offers, I certainly wasn’t intimating that she’s not allowed to talk ever. Simply that she should use her platform to amplify the voices of the marginalized instead of, wittingly or not, trying to BE our voice.
Yes, I agree whole heartedly with everything above especially the bold. Speaking as a woman of color, I will be completely honest in saying that I have no interest in hearing about how white authors have to sometimes deal with barriers in publishing works with characters of color. And I do not care about how benevolent they are and how they want to push diversity in their works, because in publishing, they will not be branded as a special interests author like an author of color who wants a work with primarily characters of color. Unintentionally, these (white) authors have somehow become the voices for speaking about diversity in YA lit and its maddening to me, when there are prominent authors of color who could have been interviewed, whose voices I want to hear about, whose voices are more important to me, whose experiences are way more relatable to me. You want white allies to talk about diversity in terms of race? Have them say that while they will do their best to include characters of different races/ethnicities, they ultimately have no business speaking about it and direct interviews elsewhere. That is not silencing. People will still pat them on the back for meeting the basic standards of literary decency, but at least the spotlight will be on people who have actual real life experience with it.
Telling them that they do not have the life experience/identities to talk about it/that i don’t care to hear them talk about it/that they should use their power and privilege to direct the attention to actual authors of color is not silencing them. What is silencing is published authors, with more power than fans talking about their frustrations, going into fan inboxes and pushing their way into the conversation. That is intimidating and creates an environment where I don’t feel like airing my frustrations for fear of being harassed by their fanbase.