What Racism and Sexism? It's Just a Coincidence!

I am just going to let this s--- speak for itself: herein, Houghton Harcourt Mifflin's response to the all-white-dude lineup of editors for the 2010 Best American series, as reported by Patricia Cohen in her NYT article today about my blogpost on the subject.

"Lori Glazer, executive director of publicity at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, wrote in an e-mail message, 'the process for choosing the guest editor for each volume in the Best American series is independent of the others. This year is a coincidence.' Ms. Glazer went on to add, 'Lots of women have been selected (in 2009, three guest editors were women). We’d love to have more guest editors of color as well.'"

Wow. Lori Glazer, whoever you are, you just outdid Louisa Ermelino from Publisher's Weekly when she responded to our questions about the almost-all-white-dude (there was one black dude) Ten Best Books of 2009 list. Congrats on your new title as the reigning champion of clueless insensitivity in the publishing industry, Lori!

I am currently working on a post describing the action I will ask our community to take in response to this (hint: it will be positive and writerly), but in the meantime, I wanted to share the comment I left on the NYT article and ask you all to go there and leave your comments too.

I have to say I am pretty amazed at the response from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. The word "coincidence" is supremely insufficient to describe the omission of women and people of color from editing these powerful and influential anthologies. While I am absolutely sure there was nothing organized or intentional about it (as I said on my post on She Writes, I think this kind of thing results precisely from the kind of unconscious, built-in prejudices that are so hard to dislodge precisely because they are so deeply buried), there OUGHT to be -- an organized, intentional effort not to permit this kind of thing to happen. Saying offhandedly, "we'd love to have more guest editors of color as well," as though those darned guest editors of color just haven't shown up and applied for the job, so it isn't our fault that we haven't tapped them, too bad, is really really not cool, and really really not convincing. Do better. And check out shewrites.com for our organized, intentional response.

That's it for now, stay tuned for more! And oh, read the new Five Questions post where Tara Betts interviews Heidi Durrow about her new novel, The Girl Who Fell From The Sky. That will make you feel a teeny bit better.

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Tags: #issues we face, feminist


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Comment by Cassandra Langer on March 1, 2010 at 6:53am
What ever made you think they would give up power to shape the territory. I never had any illusions. It isn't even about change it is about money, power and influnce. If you haven't seen the World's Greatest Steal yet do--it can happen EVEN to wealthy white men with smart lawyers. Where there is a will there is always a sleezy politican holding hands with a greed millionaire or 3 and a cunning so-called not for profit. You know the ones we try to get grants from. Our participation in any of this only lends it credibility as well as money from fees to enter or apply etc. Must be one of the reasons I've grown so cynical when it comes to these institutionalized systems. You simply cannot shame them--they have no shame or sense of guilt when it comes to compromised integrity--that is IF they had any to begin with which I seriously doubt.
Comment by Mona Gable on February 26, 2010 at 4:44pm
I just tweeted about this. I'm outraged.

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