I’ve been reading a lot about the AWP scandal. Actually it is not one scandal, it is many. But here is one that has actually hit the press. Kate Gale, publisher of Red Hen Press (The Management: the real person behind Indy Clause was once in a Red Hen Press anthology; Indy Clause: that’s a disclosure brag if I’ve ever heard one), wrote a now-taken-down post on HuffPo about the ridiculousness of the claims that AWP is racist or exclusionary. She imagines one of the guys at the AWP headquarters shooting Indians. He is not that racist! she claims.
She received criticism and she mocked it. Let’s begin with the idea of shooting Indians on a horse. The imagery is offensive and outdated, and for a thorough take on that, I turn your attention to Debbie Reese. Let’s talk about the belittling language she uses. Let’s talk about her staggering unacknowledged privilege.
Let’s talk about the nature of racism. Very little racism or exclusion in any way is as specific as “I want to kill [fill in group].” Usually it is more insidious, like mocking real questions and then accusing the other person of not having a sense of humor. Oppression in a patriarchal society (shout out to Allan Johnson, from whom I learned much of this) can happen by taking what he calls the path of least resistance.
In the 60s, the slogan was if you’re not part of the solution, you are part of the problem. If you do not actively work against oppression, either your own internal racism (which we all have somewhere) or other people’s racism or do not seek out experiences other than the dominant narrative, then we are participating thoughtlessly in a patriarchal, sexist, racist, homophobic, ableist society.
Yes, we all take the path of least resistance sometimes, or even a lot of the time. Some of us are not fighters every second of the day, which it seems to me you have to be to defeat the heaviness of our racist, sexist status quo. The locavore movement had a push a while back to spend just $10 a week buying local food. I don’t know what that means to you in terms of fighting against the path of least resistance. But take a moment to think how that could translate into your own life.
What’s your take?