Friday, April 25, 2008

A Public Apology

To Our Readers, Our Friends, Our Critics,

We are taking action immediately to remove the offensive images from It's A Jungle Out There. We are currently reprinting, and we will make these changes now. We apologize for any pain or concern these images have caused.

We do not believe it is appropriate for a book about feminism, albeit a book of humor, to have any images or illustrations that are offensive to anyone.

Some have asked the valid question, "What were you thinking?"

Please know that neither the cover, nor the interior images, were meant to make any serious statement. We were hoping for a campy, retro package to complement the author's humor. That is all. We were not thinking.

As an organization, we need to look seriously at the effects of white privilege. We will be looking for anti-racist trainings offered here in the Bay Area. We want to incorporate race analysis into our work.

In the meantime, please know that all involved in the publishing of It's A Jungle Out There, from editorial to production were not trying to send a message to anyone about our feelings regarding race. If taken seriously as a representation of our intentions, these images are also not very feminist. By putting the big blonde in the skimpy bathing suit with the big breasts, the tiny waist, and the weapon on our cover, we are also not asserting that she is any kind of standard that anyone should aspire to. This 1950s Marvel comic is not an accurate reflection of our beauty standards, our beliefs regarding one's right to bear arms, nor our perspectives on race relations, foreign policy, or environmental policy.

We also extend this apology to the author, Amanda Marcotte, who did not select these images for her book. Writing humor is very difficult. While our intention was to complement your words, we see that these images have had the opposite effect, and for that, we are sorry.

Sincerely and humbly,

Krista Lyons-Gould and Brooke Warner

UPDATE: Please note that, upon reflection, we realize that the second to the last paragraph of this post doesn't do a good job of conveying our intended meaning. We do not want to delete it, but we do want to make a note around our intent, since its purpose was to further articulate the "what were they thinking?" question. We apologize that this paragraph undermines our apology. We acknowledge that the images are racist and not okay under any circumstances. We are wholeheartedly sincere in our apology, and the actions we've laid out above will be acted upon immediately.

61 comments:

Claire said...

Thank you for admitting that you didn't think and that this is an issue of white privilege. I'd like to suggest that you consider New Demographic's workplace seminars. Carmen Van Kerckhove has done plenty of writing and speaking about race and popular culture.

lauredhel said...

Good for you for owning up to it, and for taking action. (Is the exact action outlined?)

I do take issue with your apparent attempt to equate the use of the sexist imagery with the use of the racist imagery. They are very, very different situations. It can be possible, in some circumstances, for a woman writer to reclaim sexist language or images. What is NOT possible is for a _white_ writer to reclaim racist, colonisalist imagery.

We shouldn't let any of our feminist sisters get away with this, any more so than we let men get away with cracking rape jokes. You don't get to joke around about oppression or try to "reclaim" -- when you're the oppressor.

Michelle said...

You were doing so well with the apology until the justifications there at the end. I almost feel like I need to pitch a book to Seal Press entitled "10 Tips For Interacting With POC On Issues Of Race And Racism Without Sticking Your Foot in Your Mouth. A Primer for White Feminists". The first lesson will be on listening and actually hearing what POC have to say. The second will be on not derailing the conversation with exclamations about how much it hurts your feelings to be called out on bad behavior. Lesson 3? Apologizing for said behavior without attempting to deflect the validity of the criticism behind an argument that you were joking.

Fleurdenoir said...

"In the meantime, please know that all involved in the publishing of It's A Jungle Out There, from editorial to production were not trying to send a message to anyone about our feelings regarding race. If taken seriously as a representation of our intentions, these images are also not very feminist. By putting the big blonde in the skimpy bathing suit with the big breasts, the tiny waist, and the weapon on our cover, we are also not asserting that she is any kind of standard that anyone should aspire to. This 1950s Marvel comic is not an accurate reflection of our beauty standards, our beliefs regarding one's right to bear arms, nor our perspectives on race relations, foreign policy, or environmental policy."

You have got to be kidding me. You can take your backhanded sarcastic apology and shove it.

Good on you for taking action when you got worried about sales and your bottom line, though. I guess.

It will be a cold day in hell before I purchase another Sealpress book.

Tom Head said...

This was an "I'm sorry if you were offended" apology.

The fact is that any feminist book worth its weight in salt should offend some people. But it shouldn't offend them with white supremacist illustrations, and it shouldn't take anti-racism training to see why these illustrations are offensive.

I received my copy of Jessica's He's a Stud, She's a Slut today because I had preordered it before recent controversies came up, but it is becoming increasingly clear that Seal Press is committed to a very narrow vision of feminism.

I can understand why Amanda might have missed the illustrations during proofing. It happens. She has apologized--and not with an "I'm sorry if you were offended" apology--so I have no ill will towards her over this. But y'all chose, paid for, laid out, and formatted these illustrations. And now you are saying that the only thing wrong with them is that a book like this shouldn't contain content that is "offensive to anyone," then proceeded to implicitly make the argument that the racism claims are silly because nobody claimed sexism over the leopard-skin bathing suit.

This is not a complex issue of Talmudic distinctions. The illustrations were obviously racist. They were over-the-top racist. You picked them out, paid for them, and still don't seem to see why they were offensive. More to the point, they don't seem to offend y'all personally--you seem to be conceding the point, somewhat reluctantly and in a patronizing manner, because they offended other people.

That's depressing, frankly. I would have expected more from Seal Press. From now on, I won't.

Tara said...

GIVE ME A BREAK! Seal is not racist and they do not have any racist intentions! The fact that they even have to say (to appease those who are now completely dissecting every move Seal makes), that they are going to attend anti-racism classes is absurd! Of course, to some, there is absolutely nothing Seal can say to apologize to those offended. It seems you want them to get on their hands and knees and lick your feet. They straight out apologized, said they were wrong to publish those images and are re-printing the book....not sure what else they could do at this point?!? Lesson learned. Now we move on.

Ampersand said...

1) Thank you for apologizing. Sincerely.

2) Even better, thank you for removing the images from the second printing. That's excellent. Well done.

3) Please, please, please, delete every word between "If taken seriously as a..." to "environmental policy" in your apology. With all due respect, the comparison you make is not valid and shows an insensitivity to the nuances of the issue.

It's true that a book about misogyny can use misogynistic images ironically, which I understand was your intent. I think everyone understands this, which is why no one has suggested that it's misogynistic for this book to print sexist images.

What you don't seem to understand is that the irony doesn't extend to the use of racist imagery when the author is white and the book is not about racism. In that context, printing the racist images is just racist (regardless of your intentions). Suggesting that the two things (misogynistic images in a anti-misogynist book by a white author, and racist images in a anti-misogynist book by a white author) are equivalent is mistaken.

funambulator said...

I was coming here to suggest just what Claire already said. If you check the speaking calendar on New Demographic, it looks like Carmen is on the West Coast quite a bit. http://www.newdemographic.com/calendar/

Joan Price said...

I know the folks at Seal Press. They're good people. I don't believe any of them have ever had a racist thought, and I think that's why they didn't realize how offensive the illustrations would be to those who face racism every day. I think they were operating genuinely and innocently by thinking the illustrations would be satirical.

They've admitted that they made the wrong decision, they're reprinting the book (an expensive correction, I'm sure), and they're apologizing. I'd love to see the Seal critics accept the apology and realize that the Seal folks are not the enemy. Truly.

Joan Price
author of Better Than I Ever Expected: Straight Talk about Sex After Sixty (http://www.joanprice.com/BetterThanExpected.htm)

Rachel Swirsky said...

"I don't believe any of them have ever had a racist thought"

Dear Joan,

Of course they have. They're white, neh? They live in America, don't they?

They can still be good people and have had a racist thought. Many racist thoughts.

It's their actions after their racist thoughts that will be most important. The action of taking classes is wonderful and laudable.

There's still some white privilege in this apology. Still some, as others have pointed out, problematic language and "sorry if you were offended" constructions.

However, I'm willing to believe -- mostly because of the proactive steps these women are taking to remove the images and get training (excellent ideas, sincerely) -- that this apology comes from a good place. Maybe after some training and some reading, they'll learn why some of the construction of this apology is problematic.

In the meantime, I congratulate them on their willingness to take the next step, and I wish them the best of luck in doing so.

I have a few more thoughts here: http://www.amptoons.com/blog/archives/2008/04/25/amanda-marcotte-and-seal-press-both-issue-public-apologies-for-racist-images-in-marcottes-book-its-a-jungle-out-there/

Hugo Schwyzer said...

Thank you for a timely and sincere apology.

Cindy said...

This apology is very disappointing. Perhaps this apology was thrown together in an attempt to get something out quickly, rather than to address the actual complaints. Stating that you are sorry if people were offended is basically saying you are sorry people didn't get the joke, and that still makes it seem like YOU aren't taking responsibility for the illustrations. It's not the problem of the people who were offended; it's YOUR problem and blindness to your own racism.

I appreciate that you will be looking into trainings, but if your apology is indicative of what you actually think, you still aren't getting it. I hope the training opens your eyes.

corey said...

Please consider what lauredhel and Ampersand said re: your blanket apology of everything that could potentially be offensive to anyone (right to bear arms, environmental policy???). People are not expecting you to walk on eggshells here but to exhibit a basic understanding of white privilege and racism.

Godschocolate said...

I have a question for Seal Press: in light of recent events involving members of your business and Blackamazon combined with the publication of images in Amanda Marcotte´s book, why should I or anyone think that your (as a business) behavior reflects deeper issues concerning racism and racialist thinking at your organization, beyond mere "white prilivege."

qgirl said...

Please post a modified/altered apology (you should probably keep this version around to as a way to be accountable to women of color in your learning process - learning is ok, but not at the expense of others).

I would suggest starting by altering this sentence:

"We apologize for any pain or concern these images have caused."

Please apologize for THE pain and concern the images have/are causing.

"We do not believe it is appropriate for a book about feminism, albeit a book of humor, to have any images or illustrations that are offensive to anyone."


It would also be useful for you to reexamine this last bit as well. This is about more than what is and isn't offensive. This is about your participation in oppressing people of color.

I am glad to see that you are finally willing to engage to learn about your racism. You can start now with the LISTENING and other things on Michell's list.

Its not easy to learn something new - and in my experience, the listening thing is harder than it sounds. But not learning is not an option because it means actively silencing, attacking, hurting and participating in oppression.

Krista Lyons-Gould and Brooke Warner said...

We want to emphasize that we really are sorry. The comic images are offensive and racist.

qgirl, what you write here is a better phrasing, and we do not believe that it's appropriate for a book about feminism, or any Seal book on any topic, to have any images or illustrations that are offensive to anyone. We stand by that, absolutely.

We are taking immediate action to remove these images. We didn’t intend to minimize their offensiveness with our earlier apology. We take this issue very seriously, and we are taking meaningful steps to ensure that nothing like this happens in the future.

---Krista and Brooke

Octogalore said...

Amp: I agree with your comment except what you said about nobody mentioning sexism. I did, and at least three women agree. You may not, but don't make the case for all of us.

Kandee said...

Just a suggestion: remove "offensive" from your understanding/statement and replace with "..we should not in any way be reproducing oppressive imagery, especially since we are working so hard to remove said oppression from the experience of women..."

It's not just offensive. It becomes a problem when in order to liberate some, you oppress others. All you end up becoming is "Oppressor v2.0".

Michelle said...

Tara,

I find your response (as well as the comments I've seen elsewhere) very telling about the state of feminism. Apparently when supposedly feminist white women do something racist and admit it (however inadvertent) POC are supposed to accept any semblance of an apology and move on. How dare we expect them to make more than a token effort to be anti-racist? After all they must be protected from any unpleasantness like owning the consequences of their behavior. Gee, can we apply that same line of logic to misogynistic men? Or are they expected to actually have to do the hard work of examining their privilege?

Angela said...

Did you honestly think people were going to really feel apologized to with this "we're sorry you took it too seriously and got offended" half-assed "apology"? Try again, please.

Plain(s)feminist said...

Thanks - this is very refreshing to see! Thanks, too, for rewording the apology. And I think it's awesome that you are planning to do some anti-racist training.

Ampersand said...

Octogalore, that's a good point; you're right. I'm sorry to have overstated my case. --Amp

Reiko said...

This is ridiculous! Those ugly horrible achingly reminiscent images of a time that is SUPPOSED to be long gone in the media come back to haunt us all again.

Then in return we (as POC and WOC) get a double apology, for this one single act of "humor." Should I be thanking someone now?

This isn't like it's a surprise, OMG some one is upset about this. When the cover came out last summer, SEAL already knew about the imagery and how upsetting cruel and offensive it was.

Speaking of apologies are we going to hear about a "sorry" with this, "I get that YOU ALL [love the respect there] engage best through NEGATIVE DISCOURSE [Seal the sterotype enforcer!], but I find that too bad. . . I just find it curious more than anything that you all are wasting your time hating (yes, purposeful reuse of the word) rather than actively engaging in changing something you find problematic …“

Or this " I’ve been going about looking for women to write books on queer feminism, women of color and feminism, feminism and religion, and on and on and on. All this for books that we think matter, but which probably won’t sell very many copies in the grand scope of things" [Thanks for letting us know in the big picture we don't matter at all. God forbid that WOC read or want to write on a regular basis]

And finally, "I’m writing here today because I don’t want to be boycotted by people who took offense to my comments yesterday."

So it seems to me that there is some pattern behavior here that supports white privilege and sales. But may any God protect you should POC decide to boycott. [Psst, that's when you know something is really bad.]

I honestly can not believe that all of this has happened. And to think, Colonize This is one of my favorite books of all time.

I can only say that alot needs to be learned from all of this.

Godschocolate said...

Dear Krista Lyons-Gould and Brooke Warner,


I have asked you as the representatives of your business to respond to one question. In my haste I forgot a word, "not," and was a little awkward in my wording, but I'm pretty sure you understood my question.

It is quite astounding and completely undermines your apology that Seal Press will not respond to my question, especially considering that you have acknowledged comments after mine has been posted.

My question was reasonable and asked in measured way. Was it a pointed and confrontational question, yes. Am I asking you to defend your past actions, yes. But as a potential customer (and a future professor who will assign books), I would think that you would acknowledge and consider my question.

Maybe in your mind these events are not connected because perhaps (I don't know the ins and outs of your business), these decisions involved different people; however, it is not far-fetched or in crazy land to think that these events demonstrate a mentality of not only "white privilege," but a willful and irresponsible regard for not only your POC clients, but anyone who is a discerning and thoughtful reader who does not live in a "ironic-feminist-kitsch-bubble."


I will ask the question again:

In light of recent events involving members of your business and Blackamazon combined with the publication of images in Amanda Marcotte´s book, why should I or anyone not think that your (as a business) behavior reflects deeper issues concerning racism and racialist thinking beyond mere "white privilege?"

Please respond.

Ned Colletti said...

Don't you have any more self respect than to continue being a part of this wilding? You're not racists. You know you aren't. How can you pretend to think you might be? Now you're going to buy absolution from some seminar? Aren't you ashamed of yourselves for playing along with this bullshit?

Kandee said...

@ned colletti -

Exactly what is a racist to you, ned? Are you here to rescue these women from the discomforts of controversy? It seems as if you're hoping that they will cover their ears and eyes until this 'storm' is over, then carry on as usual. That is a part of the issue that everyone is upset about. That is white privilege. [Ignore the many voices outside the white middle-class feminist voice, and no one will notice. But hey, I have a black friend, and my gardener is brown. I can't possibly be racist.]

Calling this issue bullshit...hmmm. Yes, carry on, everyone! There's nothing to see here! Crisis averted. No one is hanging from a tree. Great.

All the power will stay where it is, and equality can continue to be a concept, not reality. Feminism can continue to be a fight for all women's rights, administered by whites of course. And whites, they can continue on, never having to see themselves as racialized or deal with race unless it is forced down their throats. [Why do these bad 'colored' people keep bringing it up? I feel uncomfortable, and that's rare! They're so mean! Why are they doing this to me?].

It really is a jungle out there. Keep on slaying the bad guys, ned! Especially when they throw race in your face.

Ravenmn said...

I wish you luck in your anti-racism training. There is a huge difference between being "a racist" and being a white person who engages in racist *behavior*. You two have taken the first step by realizing you have and may continue to do racist things. Our culture has spent years teaching us to ignore racism when it's right in front of us. We need to make the personal commitment to overcome that false training.

I hope you see the connection between this particular behavior and the behavior you exhibited toward Black Amazon. Your disrespect for her was part of the same blindness that made those racist cartoons invisible to you.

Good luck.

Ravenmn

maribelle said...

1. I appreciate the apology.

2. That said, I think where it started to sound sarcastic was "foreign policy".

3. I am very confused how this happened after the cover snafu. How did the message not get through with King Kong (which was easier to miss) vs this (which seems so much more blatant)?

4. The combination of 2 and 3 makes me wonder, cynically, if this is some kind of publicity stunt which REALLY SKEEVES ME.

5. RE: Amanda herself: The equation of sexism and racism is what also bothered me about Amanda's response to the first and very respectful question on Pandagon about racism on the King Kong cover: she said (basically) *we had bets on what would first offend people about the cover, my bet was on sexism*. This is problematic for three reasons:
a. she negated the claim of the questioner and
b. she acted as though sexism and racism are interchangable
c. most importantly: she acted as though both sexism AND racism were some kind of joke or "gotcha" game the people play on one another.

Seriously, I was willing to forgive and forget after teh cover but this is ridiculous at this point. Willful cluelessness.

Based on all this, do I follow through and buy this book for my 13 year old daughter as planned?

Suggestions from the peanut gallery are welcome--is it a good feminist choice to buy this book?

maribelle said...

almost forgot:
6. BFP and Amanda's refusal to link to other bloggers doing similar work, not even the woman she admitted really inspired her at the ACLU conference--also a woman of color.

It is a jungle out there--and the swamp is full of muck.

Constintina said...

we do not believe that it's appropriate for a book about feminism, or any Seal book on any topic, to have any images or illustrations that are offensive to anyone. We stand by that, absolutely.

Glad to see that you'll be banning images of queer people in love, people of color in positions of power, abortion doctors not getting shot...there are a lot of people out there who might find such images offensive!

dix said...

part of your tag line says 'by women. for women.' that implies ALL women. but your behavior, actions, and even this overwrought and under thought apology beg the question 'which women?'.

you wrote
As an organization, we need to look seriously at the effects of white privilege. We will be looking for anti-racist trainings offered here in the Bay Area. We want to incorporate race analysis into our work.

wait, what? where have you been? this should already be the foundation for how you operate if you claim to be by & for women.

from one white feminist to another: until you know how to put forth an unflinching and authentic apology for the mess(es) you've made, PLEASE STOP TALKING.

feminist heal thyself, k?

Ico said...

1) What others are saying re: the apology.

2) It would be nice of you to answer Godschocolate's question. It's a good question. It's one you should try to answer.

3) ProfBW, with whom you have been in contact, has written a very comprehensive and clear explanation and plan for you re: future actions to help you address issues of race and white privilege. I'm not sure if you realize how *generous* this was of her. It's not her job to teach you. But she took the time and the effort to write out very clearly and thoroughly everything you need to do, practically step-by-step instructions. It is hugely generous of her to take such time to lay things out for you that way.

You should, in the first place, issue her a sincere and heartfelt thanks for doing so. And in the second, start actively implementing her suggestions. They're very reasonable, and if you follow them they will make Seal Press into something much better than it is now.

Words are meaningless if not backed by action. I hope you will act soon.

Elusis said...

I would strongly suggest Lee Mun Wah's "Stirfry Seminars," which are based in Berkeley. His film "The Color of Fear" provided many "ah ha" moments for me in learning to see my privilege and consider options for how not to use it in an oppressive fashion.

http://www.stirfryseminars.com/pages/contact.html

Peter said...

how to fuck up

Liz said...

Ned - "wilding"? Did you really mean to use a term that is commonly used to feed white people's misplaced fears of violence by POC, to refer to the entirely non-violent complaints which have been made by POC and their supporters against the behaviour of Amanda Marcotte and Seal Press? If you really need someone to explain why that is inappropriate, I recommend this post by Mandolin on Alas, a blog.

Soulhuntre said...

danadocus said...

"I think they were operating genuinely and innocently"

sorry, but, lol.

"Words are meaningless if not backed by action. I hope you will act soon."

yes. and the rest of what ico said.

i hope that when you come back from your training, you'll realize why those pictures should be offensive to you not to "anyone".

and as much as i wish for your own enlightenment(s), i hope that the company changes not just yourselves. this is really a big incident (both the pictures and your discussions with women of colour at WAM and on their blogs), but it is pointing to an underlying trend within the company for a number of years now. (again, I really dig ProfBW's suggestions)

Constintina said...

James Baldwin had some useful things to say about white people and innocence in his classic essay "a Stranger in the Village" (which actually contains a lot of insight that is directly relevant to this debacle):

People who shut their eyes to reality simply invite their own destruction, and anyone who insists on remaining in a state of innocence long after that innocence is dead turns himself into a monster.

Nadirah said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Annette said...

Krista and Brooke have been publicly flogged for weeks. Now, I think everyone should just get together, tie them to wooden stakes, build a giant pyre out of Seal Press books, light it, and then dance atop the smoldering ashes. Will that be enough? Finally?

Cyber wilding. Ain't it grand?

So much for feminist unity.

kimmi said...

Phleeesae move forward and quit dog-piling people. Seal Press gave a sincere and generous apology.

And for this we are grateful.

Ally said...

I'm so tired of this seal press shit. Ya know what, fuck it seal press. You're not the public whipping boy and you'll never crawl out, so stop trying to please everyone.

It amuses me, as I have a home and life dear to me in a "third world" country, that they can look past their OWN place of U.S. privelage to speak of YOURS.

The very fact that they're pointing fingers in a virtual world-- hell that they have TIME and RESOURCES to point fingers- amuses the shit out of me.

Open your ears, Seal Press, people of all colors laugh behind their hands at this radical femi movement that focuses on all the wrong things at the wrong times.

Stop scrambling and move on.

Annette said...

You’re right, Ally, there is nothing Krista and Brooke can say at this point because every single word will be dissected and twisted and used against them.

The staff at Seal Press doesn’t need cultural diversity training. Their detractors need to lighten up and stop trying to make everything about race and privilege (when it oh-so-obviously isn’t).

And in all of this mess, has anyone stopped to think about the poor author whose book is caught in the middle? Personally, I don’t think the images in the book should be changed. It’s ridiculous. I don’t see MAD magazine or The Onion apologizing for their style of humor. The illustrations for “It’s a Jungle Out There” are campy and intended as satire. I suppose the cover could have a woman with a mullet, wearing a flannel shirt, and brandishing a tube of spackling paste. But, of course, the title would have to be changed to something suitable for that image...

Seriously though, if the common cause here is feminism, then STOP the in-fighting, work together, and focus on what is really important--improving the WORLD for all women. This argument about “privilege” is pathetic and embarrassing when you look at the bigger picture. Ally made a huge point; there are women in third world countries literally DYING from persecution, oppression, and abuse, and they would give anything to live like American women.

Christ, ladies, get it together and move on to more important fights.

Joan Price said...

Annette's thoughtful comment prompted me to write again. Yes, I agree:

> there is nothing Krista and Brooke can say at this point because every single word will be dissected and twisted and used against them.

>...Their detractors need to lighten up and stop trying to make everything about race and privilege (when it oh-so-obviously isn’t).

Again, I know the wonderful women at Seal Press and especially Brooke (she was my editor for Better Than I Ever Expected: Straight Talk about Sex After Sixty). Although I was jumped on before for saying this, I'll repeat that they are not racists and are not the enemy.

Rachel Swirsky's response to me -- "Of course they have [racist thoughts]. They're white, neh? They live in America, don't they?"

This thinking saddens and angers me. Because I'm a white American, I MUST be racist? What kind of racial stereotyping is that?

Seal Press has done so much to advance women's issues and support women (all colors, all backgrounds, all ages, all lifestyles) that I feel defeated by reading the continuing stream of vitriolic comments.

Joan Price
author of Better Than I Ever Expected: Straight Talk about Sex After Sixty (http://www.joanprice.com/BetterThanExpected.htm)

Krista Lyons-Gould and Brooke Warner said...

I want to thank many of you for your words of support. Krista and I do sincerely want to address what happened and take actionable steps. That feels important to us. I will be posting once we have it all in place, but we have two things in the works.

1) we are working to hire a consultant who will serve as a sounding board and with whom we can strategize constructive ways to implement changes in our acquisitions process.

2) we are in conversations with Stirfry Seminars, and we are waiting to hear what our options are for a staff training.

And godschocolate, regarding your question:

In light of recent events involving members of your business and Blackamazon combined with the publication of images in Amanda Marcotte´s book, why should I or anyone not think that your (as a business) behavior reflects deeper issues concerning racism and racialist thinking beyond mere "white privilege?"

I don't have a good answer to this question, because it requires faith in our apology and believing that we mean what we say. We've stated that we looked past the images. That was inexcusable. My engagement with BlackAmazon was wrong, but it was a flame war. What's problematic is that the two incidents have been conflated, and yet they are very very different. And that's why I haven't responded to Profbw's post, because she chose to use my words, exchanged during the BlackAmazon back-and-forth, to draw conclusions about our processes with regards to the It's a Jungle Out There images. We have acknowledged that printing the images resulted from our blindness to them, which we in turn acknowldge stems from white privilege. And now we are acting. I ask our critics to give us some space to implement the things we've promised to do.

Thank you.

---Brooke

bah said...

you're committing the conflation you accuse profbw of, incidentally. it doesn't offer any hope that WOC can really view seal press in its current incarnation as an ally or potential partner-press. you are racist, you further racist ways of thinking and processing, and just because some support you in that doesn't mean you're getting 'piled on' by 'evil WOC'. it means they are as invested in the racist ideology as you are and see no reason to move beyond it (and take offence on your behalf at the notion that one should attempt to, instead choosing to dismiss any attempts to critique your amazingly problematic and unproductive behaviors.)

that you even rank those unconscionable statements as 'support' tells the truth of where your intentions really lie.

Annette said...

Ok, originally, I wasn't going to go there--I usually just gloss over my personal history, but after holding my tongue for as long as I could, I have to make a comment about this concept of "white privilege" that everyone keeps talking about.

I'm sorry to blow this ridiculous fairytale, but I wasn't feeling too terribly privileged when I was living in a desert ghetto with that lovely ethery scent of meth cooking at night, the drive by shootings, a home invasion murder next door and one in the house across the street, police pursuits ending in the alley of my apartment complex, fist fighting in parking lots, and the two times I was on the wrong end of a gun--once was an attempted kidnapping by a gang member; the other was a man who already had two dead bodies in his car (saw those) and brain matter on his shirt (missed that, but I heard about it at the murder trial). And there were plenty of times I was on the right end of a gun and it kept me from being victimized (once was a 6'5" rapist on parole from Folsom prison).

So, yeah, I get it, life is hard. Been there. Done that. Couldn't afford the commemorative t-shirt.

But guess what, by 30, I got an education, got out, and got over it. So, let me get this straight, just having white skin supposedly makes me "privileged?"

Pullleeease.

Life is what you make of it. It's based on your choices and has nothing to do with privilege.

A heart-felt suggestion for the pseudo-intellectual whiners who couldn't find a ghetto with a GPS strapped to their asses: Get a life.

Krista, Brooke, I get it. You have to do what you think is right for your business. I truly wish you the very best with it.

Personally, I'd rather die on my feet than live on my knees.

Bah, put your race card in your pocket. That game is played out.

bah said...

what 'race card' is being played, and what does it look like?

Annette said...

Race card = Playing the race card is an idiomatic phrase referring to an allegation raised against a person who has brought the issue of race or racism into a debate, perhaps to obfuscate the matter. It is a metaphorical reference to card games in which a trump card may be used to gain an advantage. (uber convenient pre-written definition provided by Wikipedia, perfect for the copy/paste function)

My purpose for making that statement came as a direct result of the accusation that anyone supporting Krista and Brooke is "invested in racist ideology."

Um, no. How about completely fed up with that being used as an excuse whenever someone doesn't agree with you.

I still can't fathom HOW everything has gotten to this point.

Weeks ago, Brooke responded to BA's F*@# Seal Press comment. She made a comment about how SP wants more WOC to submit their work. And that turned into a massive game of Word Twister.

Then the next fight picked with SP is about the illustrations in the "It's a Jungle Out There" book. Newsflash, people. It IS a jungle out there. Stop trying to misappropriate Darwin's concept of survival of the fittest for your own racial soapbox rant. It's a ridiculous leap.

An image of a woman with King Kong is a reference to a white woman in peril by an African American? I saw the movie. It looked like a giant gorilla to me. I saw the movie Godzilla vs. Mothra too, and I'm pretty sure there won't be any ethnic groups stepping out to claim that it's about them. But who knows, maybe that's an ongoing fight on another blog somewhere.

If you want to read symbolism into the King Kong image, then use all of the symbols from 1933 when it was created: FDR and the New Deal, social rebellion during the Great Depression, and animal as a human-like symbol of man's base and carnal sexuality. Look it up.

So, by referencing a jungle and a gorilla, you and others are claiming that SP was motivated by racist intentions, or at the least, racial insensitivity? Gimme a break. You're using that twisted rationale as a way to further your own racist message.

If you want to take the feminist track with the illustrations: busty women with tiny waists who are objectified images drawn from a man's perspective. Okay, I'll give you that. BUT did you happen to notice that the images of the women in those pictures are FIGHTING, not just lying helpless awaiting rescue? Did you READ the book? A definite dichotomy between the text and the campy images. Although, I still think they are images of strong women--and hell, I wouldn't mind looking like those heroines while I'm fighting the injustices of suburbia. Like Underdog with tits. =)

I just think this whole thing is one giant unnecessary train wreck. I've posted so often because it's really hard to look away when you are trying to make sense of it all.

I still think the women of the world who are less fortunate than we American women are, are the ones who need our help. And I believe we can't help them until we can get past quibbling about who has more "privilege," and move on to what is most important. We are all WOMEN first, Americans second, and of various skin colors, religions, economic status third. And until we act like the first one is the most important, then we'll never get any positive feminist work done.

{{{SIGH}}} This in-fighting is so unproductive.

Krista Lyons-Gould and Brooke Warner said...

bah, enough is enough. Time to back off. We are sincere in the actions we've laid out. We are not racists. We have already initiated many conversations with women in our efforts to move forward with all that we've learned.

---Brooke

bah said...

you live in america and are white. you are steeped in racist ideology, plain and simple. that's not contestable, no matter how you quail at it.

i'll back off when you publically apologise for your 'negative discourse' snark towards WOC on blackamazon's now-private blog.

funny how you police your own space so strictly, demanding respect and care and consideration you refused to give WOC in their own spaces...

Karnythia said...

I'm fascinated that they're calling on you to stop, but not posters like Annette. It's very telling.

Krista Lyons-Gould and Brooke Warner said...

bah, I apologized to Sydette and to Adele offline. I don't think our blog was the appropriate place to have those conversations, particularly since the whole BA blowup was in the aftermath of WAM and involved women I'd met. I've already stated, extensively, my position on that whole blowup. We are not policing our space at all. It's open to commentary, and you are commenting, and I simply pushed back when I felt your comments went too far. The end.

---Brooke

deniz said...

What do you mean 'sorry if offended'? WTF? Don't you find anything offensive in the illustrations? You still seem to not get it and the apology doesn't seem genuine to me.

Do you really need training to see why those photos are racist? Are you mentally challenged?

deniz said...

Sorry for the double-commenting but just had to mention this:

Annette, your life story fits very well within the patterns of white privilege. Despite coming from a pretty bad background you were able to get that education and pull yourself up... and i think you deserve credit for that, but, and this is the big BUT:

on the whole, white people are more able to do this (i.e. are more socially mobile) than black people in this country. Thus, if you are a white person from a bad background, you are much better able to make it in life than if you are a black person from a bad family.

Guess why.

Thus all the talk about white privilege. You probably owe your life to it, because if you were black life might not have been kind enough to lift you up.

Feel free to check the statistics on social mobility, and how it breaks down between races.

Annette said...

Deniz,

Your comment falls into the "oh no you din't say that" category. Funny thing about that whole college scenario: I couldn't get any financial aid or grants or scholarships because apparently, I didn't have the right skin color. I had to do that little thing called WORK to get through college. Ever heard of it?

I worked 40 hours a week in a government job and went to school full time. And before you pop off about me being able to get a job because I am white--the majority of the people in my job description were African American women. You don't know WTF you are talking about, so step off.

This thread hadn't been commented in 10 days and then you and your mouth show up. Go stir the pot somewhere else.

And, btw, after you finish hiding behind statistics of social mobility, why don't you look up the definition of inertia. As a matter of fact, don't strain yourself. Here it is: the indisposition to motion, exertion, or change. There's your reason for social immobility.

deniz said...

Annette,

I just wanted to point out that "white privelege" does not just mean that someone is priveleged from birth.

I am not "hiding behind" statistics. These are the facts of racism in this country.

Who am I to even judge you, from what you've written, you clearly worked really hard in life, and more than deserve success.

My only intention was to point out that, in this country, the whiter your skin, the easier a time you have making it from poor to middle class, to more, on average.

What are you implying by the inertia talk? Please explain? I said that the black poor face worse prospects in life than the white poor, and you said:

"Here it is: the indisposition to motion, exertion, or change. There's your reason for social immobility."

are you implying that black people are lazy, resistant to motion, or are "used to being poor" or something?

Please explain me how inertia explains the social immobility of blacks as opposed to whites.

"my mouth showed up", yes, should I just shut up and put up? know my place?

Also, could you please clarify your position on affirmative action? Do you think that you were more deserving than the black people who got the scholarships? What is the basis of this belief?

Annette said...

Deniz,

Inertia crosses every color line. I have white friends (as well as African American and Hispanic) who never got out of that hell hole. Why? Because they didn't even try. I can't answer why that is. The ones I did ask at my 20-year h.s. reunion said they didn't think they could. It's a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you think you can or you think you can't--you're right either way.

I get so sick of hearing that it's all about race. That was the first thing you jumped on about my statement--that I was "implying black people are lazy." I never said anything about POC; my statement was about social immobility. I hardly think the dirt poor Appalachian Americans would agree that their skin color makes them privileged in any way. http://tinyurl.com/r83hk

According to you, because they are white, they have all the privilege in the world. So, why are they, in 2008, in the U.S., still living without electricity and plumbing?

Answer: inertia.

I just wish POC would stop making it about race. Because it's not. It's about making choices.

I'll be the first one to say I think everyone should strive to better themselves and live the life they really want--that's what I did. But I'll also be the first one to say--be the change you want to see. Don't sit around whining about how hard it is and how so many people have it easier--just do it. Run your own life race and stop comparing yourself to others. In the end, we all end up as worm food, and I'm sure we all taste the same to the worms.

Ok, I do apologize for the mouth comment. You have as much right to express your opinion as I do, as everyone does. That wasn't my point. I was just pissed because I felt like I was being drawn back into that same old argument. And frankly, I'm beyond tired of it. That's why I said to go stir the pot somewhere else. But again, you also made that comment all about race by adding that ridiculous "know my place" statement. I'm not the one who is racist. You are.

Another example of you twisting everything to suit your race agenda: I didn't say I was more (or less) deserving than the POC who received the financial aid for college. Your point in the previous post was that I got an education because of white privilege. My point was that if I were so privileged by being white, then why wasn't my college tuition handed to me? Does that mean the POC who received the financial aid got an education strictly because of preferential treatment? Because that's what you are saying with your argument.

And for the record, "life" didn't lift me up. I lifted me up. Again, it's about choices. It starts from the minute you open your eyes in the morning and you choose whether to get out of bed or not. The ability to make choices in your life ends when you get put into the ground.

deniz said...

Annette,

I am not black, it is not even about that. Sorry about the "know my place" thing, it was not necessary.

Your point is, it is about choice, that all kinds of people have "inertia" and if they work hard, they'll get out of it.

This is what I disagree with.

I mentioned the fact that ON THE WHOLE, black people have a harder time transitioning from poor to middle class than white people, upon which you mentioned inertia.

Just please could you answer this simple question: Why do you think it is harder for black people in this country to become middle class than white people, starting from the same poor background?

Is it choice? Are black people on the whole more prone to inertia?

I wasn't talking about all social immobility. I was talking about the difference between the races, why do you think there is this difference? Why are poor white people more likely to make it to middle class?

Annette said...

Deniz,

I don't have all the answers. Frankly, I don't have any answers. I only have my experiences to draw from, my observations, and conversations with people I know from my old neighborhood.

I can't say one way or the other why people of any race do or don't do something. That's the million dollar question and it applies to more than just a discussion about social mobility and how that affects whites vs. POC.

Why do women stay in abusive relationships? Why do they defend their abusive spouses? All of it is complicated and I don't think there is only one answer for any of it.

However, I do believe inertia is a big part of it--the predisposition for people (all people) to do nothing to be proactive and make an effort to change a situation they don't like.

It would've been much easier for me to stay where I was. It was a known quantity. That was my neighborhood. I could handle it. I'd been handling it for years. If it were just me, I would probably still be there. I chose to leave because I didn't want my son growing up in that environment. I was a single mom and my son was seven when I took us out.

If I had followed the "pattern" of the "privileged" whites around me, I'd still be there, on welfare, living in a trailer, with several kids from different dads (like many of my old friends), and I wouldn't be having this conversation right now because I wouldn't be able to afford a computer.

As for the discussion about social mobility between blacks and whites, there is no point in having the discussion if the white sampling you and others choose to compare doesn't include poor whites like the Appalachians. It's a null hypothesis. Statistics are easily manipulated by the use of selective sampling. With the parameters you've proposed, it's not even a cogent argument.

And that's why I'm cranky about getting drawn into a discussion about it again.

Marie Everington said...

the poor whites in katrina received far better treatment than the poor blacks, though both were equally broke/uneducated. that is how white privilege works for even the poorest of whites in america-- you still get better treatment *given your reduced class status* than poor blacks from the same class level.

you can be as cranky as you like about it, but it is a dishonest crankiness. all circumstances being equal, whites in america have privilege in excess of black people in identical or similar financial or class circumstances. that is undeniable, except by those who want to pretend only rich whites benefit from their white privilege.