On Monday of this week, I wrote a misguided attempt at satire using base stereotypes. My rush to defend AWP lacked careful thought, hurting those on all sides. I am truly sorry for my words and the hurt I have caused. It was never my intention to dismiss anyone or their concerns, or to cause anger or pain. I am humbled by the knowledge I have gained by those who have read and spoken out about this piece.
It has been recommended by many that I not write this personal message, that I let my initial retraction stand in its place. But I did not become a writer to stay silent. I was raised in—and escaped from—a cult that enforced child abuse, silence, and ignorance upon its members, and I have since dedicated my life to diversity in publishing, to making voices heard that were not heard before. I am grateful for the calls for action, for diversity, for underrepresented voices, for empowerment.
What I can do is tell you how truly dedicated I am to diversity. This is not an empty promise, but a record of twenty years of publishing that reflects this dedication and lifelong mission; a record that stands not for itself, but pushes me forward into projects already in the making to improve and expand on this diversity. I have read your comments, and I am learning, striving to be better, to change, to more fully understand the weight that words can have. Moving forward, I will do my best to make sure my words always reflect and advocate for marginalized voices in the literary community.
I acknowledge that the allegations of prejudice against AWP are issues that need to be addressed. Institutional prejudice needs to be addressed worldwide, countrywide, and perhaps especially in the literary community, where our words mean so much, and spread so far. AWP is not perfect in this vein, but it has made significant efforts to rectify these issues by increasing its diversity of panelists, of panel choosers, of its accessibility to people with disabilities. AWP is a big name with a small staff, working tirelessly for its members to create a conference where all voices and people can be seen and heard. Change is not overnight, it is a process of continuous attempts to break patterns, to acknowledge often overlooked perspectives, to listen, learn, and grow. AWP is attempting to grow as quickly as it can. I, too, am pushing myself to keep learning and growing.
I will continue to champion diversity in publishing. I will continue to champion marginalized writers, students, teachers, publishers, organizations, writers, and readers. I will continue to write. I am grateful for the patience, forgiveness, and support I have received from so many. I am grateful for the passion, anger, and calls to action that I have received from so many. I am grateful to have learned so much from all of you, and I intend to translate this learning into action.
Thank you for reading,