Here’s a great example of how to encourage diversity including how to hire a PoC to be an editor. They prove without a doubt that adding “a co-editor from the demographic you seek to encourage” works (quoted is directly from the link). Here’s my thoughts on your personal problems.
Good plan thanks :)
For backers who feel that I have misrepresented this project, I ask that you look at the table of contents for each anthology. I do believe they reflect what we set out to do: there are stories with PoC, disabled and queer characters, there are stories and poems based on fairy tales from Peru, Japan and other countries, the settings range from Mongolia to Brazil to New Zealand and more. If backers still have reservations, I hope they’ll contact me to discuss it.
I wanted to match faces and ethnicities to the names. Some of your writers and contributors are easily guessed, but ultimately there’s only so much I could do. I was actually going to give numbers along with my speculation to try and explain how deceptive your statement is. Because to me? It seems that the majority of the names matched to those fairy tales set in non-white settings have no business being written by someone other than PoC. And if they’re going to be written by white people, they should be thoroughly researched and nitpicked by an editor who is themselves a PoC. This isn’t an incredibly hard thing to do, nor is it an unreasonable request, especially when you asked for donations and especially when your whole pitch included “wanting to be inclusive to PoC” and PoC who donated are now feeling cheated and shut out.
As a writer, I know what it takes to write a story. Maybe I never submitted, but that’s because I didn’t trust your guidelines to accept something I wanted to write about; the likelihood of stories that are popular in non-Western cultures falling into the narrow definition of “fairy tale” is slim. It isn’t fair that now PoC backers are complaining and have very little recourse. They can’t very well go to Writer Beware (which is discussed in this thread) because they were rejected. This blog that you’re responding to? You’re only doing it here because you want to tell your side of the story and stop this and maybe you feel bad. But your apology accomplishes little in the face of the many people you’ve discouraged and who, in some cases, are feeling cheated. So when I give a voice to those who have had a hard time coming forward, I do so with the self awareness that this might be the biggest platform these backers might have to air their grievances. I do so with the knowledge that the majority of rebloggers only care because they are themselves PoC. I do so with the knowledge that white people will look away and that they can do so with a clear conscience because this is a “PoC issue” and how convenient is that? That you can mess up and hurt PoC, and no one will care but PoC who don’t want to be hurt. You will still make money off all of this, and our complaints and concerns will do nothing to your bottom line. You’ve already got one anthology in the bag, and you’ve already got orders.
But for those of us who have been urged “Don’t dream it, be it,” and find out that no, you are just like any other white publisher who wants to give the bare minimum of exposure to PoC authors and inclusivity that fits your white worldview, well I’m here for them. I’m here to warn marginalized people away from your publication because I do not trust you to have my back or my best interests at heart as a WoC. I hope you can change, but above all I hope people of color realize that when white allies want to be inclusive that it’s almost always on their terms. It might seem like you are doing the best you can, and I honestly wish you no ill-will but you didn’t just make a few mistakes and even though you say you’re doing the best you can I believe you can do better. I know that allies exist. I’ve seen them challenge themselves to do better constantly and I want you to live up to your promise. Do better, stop giving us excuses, and actually change. We’ve pointed out many ways for you to improve time and time again, but actually taking those suggestions to heart and learning from them is up to you. And until you have done better, I have this post to serve as a warning for people of color not to trust you and not to feel horrible when you have rejected them and their stories. Internalizing rejection is a big problem when you’re marginalized, and it doesn’t factor into any of your responses. But my biggest worry is that people will give you the benefit of the doubt and then internalize your rejection, when really, your worldview is just too white to include people of color represented in the way we see ourselves.
I’ve gotten my share of weird and disturbing e-mails from writers, but I can’t claim to know how it feels to receive anonymous hate mail. I’ve heard about what people, especially women, who write about representation, feminism, harassment and other topics, have to deal with. It’s horrifying and I’m sorry you have to deal with that.
I sympathize on the anxiety, too. Having dealt with it the past year it sucks and I would never wish it on anyone. I hope it gets better for you.
With regards to Spellbound & Spindles: this project was never presented or intended to be limited to only PoC writers or voices. I would never edit such a project because I am not PoC and thus don’t have the requisite experience to head such a project. The write up on the Kickstarter campaign was:
"We want to create a special edition of Spellbound, our children’s fantasy e-zine, and a companion adult anthology, titled Spindles, to take full advantage of fairy tales’ plasticity. We want to publish fairy tales retold to include minority, LGBT, and disabled characters. We want to create stories that include the whole spectrum of humanity and make them truly universal."
That’s it. Fairytales retold to feature characters other than traditional white, cisgender, able-bodied, and featuring settings other than Western-European settings. To that end, both anthologies fulfill that purpose.
I would never edit such a project because I am not PoC and thus don’t have the requisite experience to head such a project.
I received three times as many great stories as I had room. I had to reject so many excellent tales and couldn’t give a reason beyond “not a perfect fit”. Many of the stories were great but just not right for this project: The YA stories (neither anthology is YA), the stories that weren’t retellings but fantasy tales with some fairy tale elements, the stories that had nothing to do with fairy tales other than to feature a princess. I had to evaluate each story not only on its own merits but also on how it would fit in with the theme of the anthologies and how it fit with all the other stories so that both anthologies are balanced, with no part outweighing the others. (I received sixteen submissions dealing with Little Red Riding Hood, for example.)
I don’t know exactly how many of the contributors to the anthologies are PoC, any more than I know how many are disabled, or LGBT. I could make guesses, based on names and profile pictures (where applicable) but I would surely make mistakes.
So far the only suggestion I have seen is that I need to bring on a PoC editor. I’ve addressed the economics, but I’ll add in the practical considerations. This project is done. I have accepted the stories. Marcie has accepted the poetry. Sam is getting the final art in now. Bringing in another editor at this point would be pointless.
If there have been other suggestions, I’m afraid I’ve missed them. I have only seen some of the Tumblr posts, specifically the one in response to my earlier response and the one in which EggplantLit was tagged. I’m willing to listen to other suggestions of what I can do moving forward.
On the guidelines pages for all Eggplant’s projects the following note has been posted for a while: “Eggplant Literary Productions absolutely encourages submissions from—and submissions about—persons, of any race, color, creed, religion, national citizenship/origin, gender or sexual orientation, disability, age, or physical appearance.”
Where I have failed or not fully lived up to the openess I want for Eggplant, I have tried to acknowledge my mistakes, and learned from them so that I can be better in the future. If my comments on the questions about the guidelines have led people to question my dedication to being as open and welcoming of writers of all backgrounds, I will try to listen, take advice to heart, and make the changes I can to not make the same mistakes again.
I believe that both anthologies live up to what we stated we wanted to do in the Kickstarter.