Oh boy, where to start with this one.
Not about to point fingers, just a summary. Someone had the bright idea to post an essay under a pseudonym that was basically a toothless tone policing piece to marginalized writers. It was a political, and generally overwritten, piece that contradicted itself within a handful of paragraphs and came off as pretty pretentious. Like, 100% written from a place of privilege.
So, to that pseudonymous author, if you were legit wearing internet blackface to prevent criticism, maybe take a class or something – you did a really bad job and it was stupidly obvious to anyone a shade darker than bone white.
Also, I must reiterate. It is Walter Mosley. M-O-S-L-E-Y. Not hard to remember how to spell a living legend’s name. Pretty sure you wouldn’t have an issue spelling Lawrence Block (just saying).
Let’s talk a little bit about the damage bullshit tone policing can do (especially in a tight knit community while being a coward that hides behind the anonymity afforded to you). See, people are talking now. DMs and texts are flying back and forth. Some folks piecing this little mystery together. Some folks agreeing with you and disagreeing with you. Some folks saying, “And of course, Angel’s chiming in” (I know this and still, somehow, I open my yap. Take a think about how much I give a shit about your opinion – seriously, go for it. You might get scared.).
But all these whispers can cause extra drama. It can cause arguments among friends and even further strain already strained relationships. Our actions have consequences and if we’re ready to face them and, you know, actually use our names when we vomit out our opinions, we need to be ready to face those consequences and accept the responsibility. You might think it isn’t a big deal, but you never know when you’re the straw that breaks the camel’s back. Maybe it’s better to not be that person? Call me crazy.
I have my own theories about our pseudonymous genius, and while I wouldn’t air them publicly, I’m pretty fucking sure you’ll read this. I’m also pretty sure you’re feeling pretty clever. That’s good. I’ve said it before: sometimes sad people need to keep that mental health check. You do you.
What I cannot abide by is the subtext – the mockery of those who’ve put their necks out, explicitly women of color in our community. You want to mock someone, grow a pair and mock me openly. I promise I can handle shit. And this is not in any way to demean the strength of my friends in this community. I know they got shit on lock too, but they’ve had enough to deal with. I haven’t. I can use the entertainment.
As for Penzler and Fairstein (I’m not going to bother to look up how to spell her scummy ass name), no they should be called out. We should always call out people who will go the extra mile to make misery in the lives of marginalized; ESPECIALLY those who have profited for decades off of that misery. It’s entirely possible to call out the bullshit, to be an ally, AND get a piece of this imaginary pie you cited.
Because if you were marginalized or a real ally you’d know, and to paraphrase a little pop culture reference, the pie’s a goddamn lie.
3 responses to ““Mosely”(sic) Harmless”
Well stated, my friend.
The paragraph about who profits from privilege by perpetuating it, all the while claiming innocence for not having created that privilege is a telling observation. As a white kid growing up in a 98% white city up in the Pacific Northwest, I was, sadly, insulated from a lot of views like yours, and exchanges like this. Without that, shit just didn’t occur to me because of what and who I was surrounded with. It wasn’t on my radard, and I didn’t see what was going on in my country. Later, when I came to recognize and understand this element, I had to get past my own defensivness on the matter, at least as best I could.
This was one of the many things on my mind when I wrote AN UNLIKELY PHOENIX. It’s a near future novel in which our current president has been elected to a fourth term. More importantly, the particular kind of hatred and privilege that his words and behavior encourage has risen in prominence to the point of being a dominant political party. It’s scary stuff — I’ll send you a copy.
Why mention it here? (There’s relevance, trust me). In addition to the two brothers who narrate the book, each chapter has an epigraph that is an excerpt drawn from a history book about the events, written in 2081. So there’s a future viewpoint of what’s going on, coming from an historian fifty years later. And in one of those fictional excerpts, he highlights the point I’m trying to make…
Contemporary apologist Calvin Pickard’s rhetoric highlighted one extreme view of the issue. “Why should the white males of today pay for the purported sins of their fathers? Whatever happened, this generation of sons bear no responsibility for the deeds of their forbearers, whether those deeds were fair or foul.”
Activist Emily Mellon’s response, however, was difficult to argue against, even in the suppressed environment in which she operated. “As long as the sons continue to enjoy the bountiful fruits of the fathers’ sins,” she wrote, “they remain responsible.”
— From An Unlikely Phoenix by Reed Ambrose
* note: all names are fictional people.
Thanks for this. Very few risk their lives or livelihoods by writing a blog post or comment. If you have an opinion you feel is worthy of posting publicly, put your name on it. Stand by it. If you don’t feel strongly enough about what you’re saying to stand behind it, maybe you should keep it to yourself.
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