We’re Better Than This, All of Us

Our indie lit community is suffering today because many of us are doing an awful lot of talking, but not nearly enough listening. I’m as guilty as the next person. I’m complicit too.

But I am not here today to talk about Vanessa Place or her tone-deaf Twitter feed (a regurgitation of Margaret Mitchell’s racist novel, Gone with the Wind). I’m also not here to defend my initial thoughts on the subject, a knee-jerk reaction against artists gathering to protest the work of other artists.

Today I’m here to learn. I’m here to listen. I’m not here to form an opinion. I’m here to form a soul.

I’m here because I know that voices are marginalized and oppressed everyday, and the primary mission of this little all-inclusive journal is to lead readers to new and wildly creative voices. Intelligent voices. Diverse, bold, and imaginative voices.

I am done talking about Vanessa Place. But I am not done listening to the narratives of people of all colors, creeds, and religions. I am not–nor ever will be–done learning. We have so much to learn from each other. And there will always be more to say. If we stop the noise, stop the hateful rhetoric, stop the gleeful bullying–build a dialogue–and just listen.

Today’s issue is called #RaceMatters, #BlackLivesMatter, #WordsMatter, #ArtMatters. All I ask is that you give these writers a chance to express their side of the story. You don’t have to agree or disagree with them. Instead of name calling or stereotyping or one-upping or crowd-shaming, it would better serve you to simply listen.

When you’re finished here, consider checking out these other sources to help educate you on the VP/AWP topic. Moreover, these pieces may teach you something about the intricacy and delicacy of appropriation, culture, freedom of speech, and race in the arts. They sure have helped inform me.

REFERENCES (updated on June 18, 2015)

Another Donkey
Neither Bond nor Free by DeSales Harrison

Atticus Review
Dangerous Ideas: What Tiger Lilly Can Teach Us About Cultural Appropriation by Kenzie Allen

Drunken Boat
With Allies Like These, Who Needs Oppressors? by Timothy Volpert
#WhosePlace? by Ravi Shankar
#WhosePlace by Lily Hoang

The Daily Beast
Does Tweeting ‘Gone with the Wind’ Make This Poet Racist? by Lizzie Crocker

Everyday Feminism
10 Simple Ways White People Can Step Up to Fight Everyday Racism by Derrick Clifton

What’s Wrong with Cultural Appropriation? These 9 Answers Reveals Its Harm by Maisha Z. Johnson

For Harriet
Dear White People: Checking Your Privilege Really Isn’t That Hard by Quanisha Smith

Hyperallergic: Sensitive to Art & Its Discontents
Why a White Poet Should Not Be Attempting to Reclaim the “N-Word” by Aaminah Shakur

Jacket 2
On not repeating ‘Gone with the Wind’: Iteration and copyright by Jacob Edmond

Jezebel
I Don’t Know What to Do With Good White People by Brit Bennett

Ruth Ellen Kocher
An open letter from University of Colorado Professor Ruth Ellen Kocher, with response from Vanessa Place

Los Angeles Review of Books
The Denunciation of Vanessa Place by Kim Calder
Radio Hour: Debating Vanessa Place’s ‘Gone with the Wind’ Controversy

Los Angeles Times
Vanessa Place’s ‘Gone with the Wind’ Tweets: Artistic expression or racism? by Scott Martelle

Medium
On the new language of Racism in the Literary community. by Shannon Barber

Modern Confessional
Examining Vanessa Place: Genius, opportunist, ignorant or next-level trolling? by Collin Kelley
Vanessa Place, Mongrel Coalition and notes on coercion by Collin Kelley

National Coalition Against Censorship
NCAC Urges the Association of Writers and Writing Programs to Stand By Freedom of Expression

Nonbinary Review
Editor’s Letter – Week of May 22, 2015 by Allie Marini Batts

Open Space (San Francisco Museum of Modern Art)
On Being-Hated: Conceptualism, the Mongrel Coalition, the House That Built Me. by Trisha Low

The Philadelphia Review of Books
Vanessa Place, Forgiveness, and Race by John Ebersole

Vanessa Place
Artist’s Statement: Gone with the Wind @VanessaPlace

Queen Mob’s Teahouse
Black. By Aaminah Shakur

Reading Moten in the Cherry Orchard: A Blog of Daily Life and Forms
Vanessa Place, The Mongrel Coalition and Sector 17: Notes on Poetry, Violence and Community by Bhanu Kapil

Real Pants
Lonely Britches Presents: Model Minority Mutiny! by Sade Murphy

Scarriet
Let’s Talk About Race for a Minute by Thomas Brady

The Stranger
Vanessa Place Is in a Fight Over Gone with the Wind’s Racism, But It’s Not the Fight She Says She Wants: An Interview by Rich Smith

A Poet Defending Vanessa Place Equates Signers of the Petition Against Her with the Cop Who Killed Mike Brown by Rich Smith

Jacqueline Valencia
On the State of Poetry by Jacqueline Valencia
On the Defence of Conceptualism by Jacqueline Valencia

Venepoetics
Vanessa Place Inc. and Mongrel-NAFTA Poetics by Heriberto Yépez (translated by Guillermo Parra)

Vox
I’m a liberal professor, and my liberal students terrify me by Edward Schlosser

I was a liberal adjunct professor. My liberal students didn’t scare me at all. by Amanda Taub

White Noise Collective
A Letter to White People Using the Term “Two Spirit” by Beja

Photo: The Healing Hands of Strangers by Michelle Robinson

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