Tag Archives: cultural apporopriation

Writers’ Guidelines

images (1)We at Voices Publishing (thanks to the Canada Council, Heritage Canada and the Ontario Arts Council for their generous support) in light of recent events, wish to make clear our writers’ guidelines for all fiction, non-fiction and poetry. We are committed to hearing the voices of Canadian writers and welcome manuscripts of inclusion. Please note:

1. We have a zero tolerance policy for cultural appropriation in all its forms.

2. Cultural appropriation occurs when a writer appropriates the voice or lived experience of a person or persons whose lives are outside the lived experience of that writer by including such a person in their story.

3. To avoid offending any marginalized or oppressed persons no white writer shall include in his or her manuscript any character or situation in which non-white persons are portrayed.  For consistency, this same rule applies to First Nations writers, POC writers and foreign born writers. (Note, for greater clarity, we have adopted the time tested “one drop” rule for determining race. If you have a white ancestor or think you might have a white ancestor you will be deemed white regardless of self-identification, lived experience or other extenuating factors. Check your privilege.)

4. There is obviously a huge problem with ageism. Many middle-aged writers submit manuscripts in which characters in their teens or even younger appear as protagonists. We regret that we cannot publish manuscripts in which such ageist appropriation occurs. To that end, we will not be accepting manuscripts in the children’s category or young adult category without positive proof that the mss was written by a child or a young adult. All characters in your mss must be +/- five years of your own age at time of submission.

5. Gender appropriation: many of the mss we are offered are written by men and contain female characters and vice versa. Needless to say we are unwilling to publish mss in which male writers’ attempt to claim the female voice and vice versa. In unusual circumstances, we may allow the visual depiction of a female character by a male writer or vice versa providing always that the character so depicted remains entirely silent.

6. The appropriation of sexual experience: We have been disturbed to receive mss in which hetrosexual authors include homosexual or bisexual characters. And, just as bad, homosexual authors are often guilty of portraying straight characters. These provocations will not see the light of day under the Voices colophon. You’ve made your beds now lie in them.

Many of you may regard these guidelines as simplistic or censorious. Shame on you. For each of our authors there is a simple solution which can ensure that the marginalized and oppressed voices in the great Canadian mosaic are heard. Whenever your story requires white person, a First Nations person, or homosexual, or POC, or female/male, or child/adolescent voice go and find a writer with the correct characteristics and invite them to contribute their voice and lived experience to your book. (We will, of course, require a Certificate of cultural authenticity to accompany such contributions.)

Voices Publishing believes that by following these simple guidelines we can all work together to eliminate the implicit priviledging of the individual author’s voice and build a new, inclusive, Canadian literature.

Thank you for your attention and your commitment to the elimination of the retrograde, individualist, authorial literature which has disfigured so much of Canadian Literature to this moment. Voices Publishing is committed to the celebration of our diversity.

 

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Scalps

Hal Niedzviecki was forced out of his editorship of an obscure magazine published by the Writers’ Union of Canada for daring to suggest that writers should try to get out of their identity silos and use the voices of “others”. Apparently, this offended the Writers Union and its “Equity Task Force” and Niedzviecki was forced to resign.

A number of brave souls in Canadian media stepped up and said Neidzviecki had a point and was a victim of political correctness run wild. On Friday, the Walrus’s editor in chief, Jonathan Kay wrote an article for the National Post in which he said,

Personally, I land on the side of free speech: I’m fearful that, as at many points in history, small acts of well-intentioned censorship will expand into a full-fledged speech code that prohibits whole categories of art and discourse. national post 

He went on to conclude,

What I don’t find helpful is the reflexive instinct to shame those with whom we disagree—the kind on display at TWUC this week. Indeed, it is these mobbings that encourage the idea that free speech is under siege from a systematic program of left wing censorship. On both sides, it is fear and suspicion that is driving the social media rage. And as of this writing, there’s no sign it will dissipate soon. national post

Today Kay resigned as the editor in chief of The Walrus.

Niedzviecki was entirely right in his initial article. White people should be encouraged to write about non-white people, women about men, blacks about Asians and gays about straights; otherwise we’ll have a sterile, politically correct, literature in which the only characters in a novel will be from the “community” (however defined) of the author.

Kay was entirely right in standing up against lefty cultural pogroms.

Where both were wrong was in capitulating to the cultural fascists without a fight. The Twitter mobs are nasty but they are relatively powerless unless a target is willing to give them power. Niedzviecki was pushed out the door by his employer but, realistically, other than a craven apology for “glibness and insensitivity” Niedzviecki barely fought at all. Kay’s meager defences were apparently overwhelmed in less than twenty-four hours and he scuttled off to a baseball game with his phone off to escape the baying hordes.

Free speech and freedom of cultural expression in all its forms are won by people willing to fight back. People who actually believe in their positions and are willing to fight their corners. Niedzviecki was beginning to gain support for his liberal view of how writers should approach the world. Sure he was being howled down by lefty illiterates on Twitter. So what? The Twitter mobs of SJWs live to howl and denounce and yell about their sensitivities. The cultural cringers at the Writer’s Union would have fired Niedzviecki in any event, but rather than apologize, he should have published a really fierce piece defending his position and calling out the censors of the identity left.

Kay, having adopted a strong, liberal, free speech position should have stuck to his guns. If The Walrus wanted to fire him, fine. But surrendering before an actual shot had been fired is just sad.

The only way to stop the SJW barbarians is to shoot back. Make it tough, if not impossible, for them to impose cultural tyranny. Surrender only leads to more demands, more censorship, more badly grounded claims of moral superiority. Surrender narrows the discussion and the boundaries of what may be discussed.

The only silver lining to Niedzviecki and Kay’s failure to fight back is that their cowardice in the face of the viciousness of their detractors shows just what liberal, free speech, supporters are up against. Kay, in particular, has access to major media, friends in government and the academy (not to mention the PMO) and has demonstrated a willingness to suck up to the PC SJWs on issues like “climate change”. If these cultural fascists can “get” him it is a huge warning to the rest of us.

 

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