[UPDATE: I will not be submitting the anthology to Seal Press, so the question asked in this post has been answered. Read the comments for more details.]
In working on the anthology I’m editing/contributing to, Occupied Bodies: Women of Color Speak on Self-Image, an issue has come up over whether or not I should include a particular independent publisher who has had serious problems with issues involving POC on my list of publishers to solicit for publication. I had heard about certain issues with this publisher before, but I decided to go ahead and submit to them, because I was interested in how they’d respond since they’d expressed negativity towards the marketability of WOC anthologies before.
Recently, I expressed my intention to include this particular publisher on the list to a potential writer, who was wary of the idea. I wondered why, although I did already know about the negativity expressed, I figured there must be something else because she was very put off. So I did some research and found that there had been a particularly offensive incident involving a popular white feminist blogger’s book that was published by them and racist imagery that had been used in the book (without the author’s instruction). In addition, this blog was involved. I wasn’t really surprised, because I’m never surprised anymore when white feminists and white feminist groups who claim to be allies “go rogue” and do something that harms women of color. In any case, I decided that I wouldn’t submit to them if it was going to scare off writers.
Since I made that statement, I’ve been mulling it around in my head, and talking to other WOC bloggers, and now I’m really not sure what to do. I don’t want to reopen old wounds, but am I limiting the ability of this work — which I consider important, because women of color’s voices need to be heard on this topic — to get to publication by limiting who I send it to? Does it matter in the end who publishes it as long as our voices get out there? Should I take the moral high ground and risk losing our chance to disseminate the work into the mainstream? When do you forgive and forget?
I feel like, in these spaces that are dominated by white feminists, we as women of color are expected to overlook a LOT. We’re given apologies that are half-assed and we’re supposed to accept them. We get slighted on a regular basis and we’re supposed to give that a pass because it wasn’t intentional. A large feminist blog with say, 12 white contributors adds one of color and we’re supposed to hail “representation”. When do we stop overlooking things? And when do we continue overlooking because it’s necessary for OUR success?
It’s important to me to get this anthology to print, but I don’t want to support racism that happens again and again. Should I take that high ground when it hurts me more than it hurts them? In taking that high ground, am I really doing them a disservice at all or am I making it easier on them? I’m full of questions and short on answers.
What do you think?