For the record, Lola uses “they” pronouns.
Michon Neal
12

Let me respond to this.

“I specifically told Lola that, seeing as big publishing is at least 98% white and otherwise not-marginalized, it would be inappropriate and a waste of time to seek out them out, even with a “white-ally” fronting us.”

Firstly, let me make something clear. The project I had in mind was not solely POC voice, but a plethora of others. So this wasn’t about a white person trying to get a POC book published.

Secondly, I know and am very aware of the publishing industry. And I know and have friends in the industry who could potentially find me a way in. And I don’t see any reason to not ask or try.

But all of this was brainstorming — purely a pipe dream. A suggestion. A discussion. Not a demand on my behalf that the book be published.

And the ONLY reason I was interested in approaching a major publisher is so that the people contributing to the project could actually be paid decently for it. That’s all. As a writer, I get sick of being asked to work for free. And I didn’t want to do that to others. It wasn’t a personal judgement on self-publishing or any other means of publishing. Just a means to an end.

“This is true regardless of bringing up any other marginalized identity. Without acknowledging the fact that poly, disabled, sex-working queers of COLOR will always face the most disadvantages, there is no effective way to help.”

Then tell me so blatantly. I didn’t get told by anyone right away that my idea was a bad idea. In fact, I got told the opposite. And I was confused.

“Lola offered services. They specifically mentioned work by POC in their request. Plenty of people, including myself, pointed out work already being done.”

What was given to me was not for people who were brand new to poly or non-monogamy that I could tell. Again, no one plainly said to me, “Someone is already doing this exact thing”. In fact, when I asked you about your own work, you said it wasn’t for people brand new to poly, so in essence I thought you were saying, “I’ve done stuff, but it’s not what you’re looking for”. Or at least, that’s how I interpreted it.

“I honestly do not think Lola realized that I created the group specifically for that purpose. I also doubt they bothered to research anything else I have done or am currently working on. If so, they’d have realized they were duplicating my work.”

No, I didn’t. You invited me to the group on the premise that it was just for people who were non-monogamous and wanted to approach it from a better angle. I had absolutely no idea that it was a group about your projects or your writing. I wasn’t made aware of that. And I didn’t research what you’d wrote because, again, you told me that what you were doing was *not* introductory and I was looking for introductory

“They offered help no one was asking for, ignored it when others repeatedly pointed out that they didn’t want it or that it was already being done, and then took the lead on organizing it — without even acknowledging the work of POC and other multiply marginalized folks. “

How many times in that thread did I say that I had no interest in leading it? That all I did was ask if people were up for contributing to a project like that? That I’d be glad to hand over the list of contributors to anyone?

And at what point did ANYONE say, “Someone is doing exactly this. You should talk to X?” No one said that to me.

In fact, many people followed the thread because they said nothing like it existed and they were interested in it!

I’m sorry, but this is just not true. I bent over backwards to provide what LITTLE I had done to whomever wanted it. I apologised profusely. And in return I was told that I was just ignorant and full of myself.

“Regardless of whether they intended to hand over the reins to a POC, by ignoring the actual voices of those with those intersections of marginalization already, they proved themselves incapable.”

I didn’t have any “reins”? Literally all I did was say, “This thing should exist!” and then created a Google form asking people if they were up for submitting. Was I thinking about other ways I could help? Sure. I’ve got a lot of energy and I’m a go-getter. And I wanted to help. But I never said I was in charge.

In fact, again, MULTIPLE times I said I didn’t need to even be involved in organising something like this.

“When I specifically spoke of having a publishing company specifically for publishing marginalized voices (and, let’s face it, I am an expert on marginalization) they still stressed serving as the white face to get it to a bigger publisher, even after several other white people with experience publishing clearly stated why publishing in general is shit for marginalized voices.”

After you said that, I commented SPECIFICALLY to you and said, “I don’t know much about publishing. What does it mean for it to go through your publishing company?”

You never responded to that comment at all.

And again, I was interested in approaching a major publisher so that I could pay the people contributing. And I know friends who are in the industry. So I thought it was at least worth considering.

Especially since, again, I am tired of being asked to do free work. And in my mind, it was far worse for me or anyone else to ask writers to do free work than to approach a major publishing company and then just get told no. I already didn’t have a major publisher, so why not try?

“The person Lola speaks of was actually called out the next day, for doing the same sort of thing: leading without asking on a different topic.
The most telling thing, though, regardless of any of this, was the subsequent deletion of the entire thread — in which a large amount of emotional and intellectual labor was poured — and prompt departure AFTER leaving many, many statements about understanding and giving apologies.”

And no one called them out for their treatment of me. I’m not required to allow myself to be publicly mocked by someone for the benefit of someone’s education.

Originally, I did understand. But that was because I was happy to be kicked around because I thought I deserved it. But I came to my senses. And since no one seemed interested in allowing me to even ask clarifying questions about what I couldn’t understand without telling me how shit I was, I decided I’d rather leave.

“The point is, many of us in that group have the same intersections as Lola. Every single one of us has been called out at some point. But unlike Lola, many of those with some privilege choose to stay. Unlike Lola, someone like me can’t choose to ever walk away.”

If many people have been “called out” in the abusive and shitty way I was called out and they chose to stay, that is their choice.

I do have a lot of privilege. I am willing to listen. But I am not willing to be treated the way I was treated. And I am under no obligation to do so or to remain in a place where I can’t even ask questions without getting spat on. That type of environment is not going to work for me. If it works for you and others, great.

“And this post is not accountability; it is an excuse. Rather than clarifying, seeking help, or stepping back, Lola instead got scared, hid the evidence, and ran away.”

I was too afraid to ask for help. That’s the type of environment that the person created. I have gone through enough. No one deserves to be treated the way I was treated.

And if you want me to post a screencap of the entire conversation, I’m more than happy to. I have nothing to hide.

“If you can walk off in a fucking huff every time you get your damn feelings hurt, every time you are attacked, every time you are triggered, guess what?
You’ve got fucking privilege. And you damn well know you still have work to do. Until you can stand and face the pain, you’re just a privileged coward, and no damn ally of mine.”

I didn’t walk off in a huff. I told no one I was leaving. I did not flounce. I merely departed and I removed everything I had contributed to the group.

No one deserves to be attacked and treated like crap. No one deserves to sit by and be treated the way I was treated.

I will not and refuse to allow myself to be treated that way for anyone’s sake.

I am more than happy and will continue to be happy to learn. But I have a spine. And I have a dignity. And I won’t allow myself to be kicked around and allow myself to be in a group of people who will kick me around just for the sake of maybe learning something.

Because believe it or not, there’s plenty of other groups and other people on this planet who are perfectly capable of giving me useful information without doing any of those things.

If you think that I have to force myself to be mistreated in order to learn anything, then we respectfully disagree.

There is a difference between feeling uncomfortable and being treated like shit. And specifically, this article isn’t about you or any other Black person making me feel uncomfortable. This is about me being used by a white person to prove what an awesome ally they are.

Had this person been a POC, I would have interpreted it differently. But they aren’t.

And regardless, I don’t believe I have to serve as anyone’s punching bag. I won’t allow myself to be mistreated. Especially when I am apologising, asking for help, and when I am having trouble understanding what is going on due to my own cognitive impairments and disabilities.

I’ll say plainly to you I left because I thought if I asked any further questions or asked for help, I would be further mocked as someone ignorant and foolish and not given any help, just as this super-awesome white ally did to start with. I know I’m ignorant and privileged. I know I fuck up. But if there is no capacity, especially in a group I only joined because I was invited to, for some good faith, for some understanding, for allowing people to have a process of understanding, then how the fuck is anyone meant to learn?

I have to start somewhere. I have to begin by asking questions. I have to start by fucking up. And I have to try to learn. But I cannot learn if I cannot ask questions. And I cannot ask questions if all I am being told when I am confused and not getting it is how ignorant I am.

This is the last I’m going to say on the matter, lest this get into a back and forth. You’re welcome to message me if you like, but I’m done.

Being willing to learn doesn’t mean I’m a glutton for punishment.

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