A book hot off the presses about signed language interpreting. Edited by Len Roberson and Sherry Shaw. A quick glance at the author list.
Disappointing. All hearing. All white. All established scholars.
This is a problem. For many reasons.
But I’m here to talk about how Len and Sherry responded when someone asked a legitimate question about the lack of representation for nonwhite and non-hearing people.
Sherry’s response tells us a few things: She has a severe case of “White Fragility.” A brilliant scholar, Robin DiAngelo, wrote about this concept.
She also has a severe case of pathological posturing. That is when someone who has been trained to think she is helping people and performing an act of charity for the less fortunate- in our case, hearing people helping poor deaf people- and act surprised that their “help” was… well, unhelpful. Want to learn more about pathological posturing? Go check out Harlan Lane’s books.
What’s “unfair and inappropriate” about asking why a book did not have nonwhite and non-hearing contributors?
What’s “unfair and inappropriate” about asking editors to reflect on how they might have made their processes accessible to nonwhite and non-hearing scholars?
What’s “unfair and inappropriate” about asking editors to reflect on what more they might have done to ensure the success of nonwhite and non-hearing scholars?
Need they be reminded that nonwhite and non-hearing scholars are populations that have traditionally experienced barriers in academia?
Respect them too much to be bullied? What disrespect is there in saying this is what we did and those are the efforts we undertook? Especially when you can leave those people… unnamed?
Sherry’s last line was rich. Collegial and Civil Discourses, so I know it’s possible.
Are you fucking kidding me?
What exactly was uncivil about asking A) why a book had no nonwhite and non-hearing authors? and B) responding to Len’s response by asking him if the inability for those authors to finish reflected anything about the editorial process that might have not accounted for marginalization and the many ways it manifests in the editorial process.
It’s very easy to claim you had nonwhite and non-hearing scholars onboard and that they just up and quit. That’s what Len Roberson said. They just didn’t follow through. Even though the book was published 4 years after it originally was supposed to be published. Four years and what?
So Civility? We can ask questions only on their terms. Not on social media. Behind secret hush-hush doors.
So Civility? We can’t ask someone if they have done the work to unpack their privileges to ensure a process that was open, welcoming, and ensures the success of marginalized scholars.
Every single time a person with power reminds us that we need to be civil, it is their way of holding onto power, and their way of very nicely putting us in our place.
Sherry, here’s some words of wisdom from Martin Luther King Jr. on your so called call for civility.
“The harvest of waiting was inaction, he wrote. “History is the long and tragic story of the fact that privileged groups seldom give up their privileges voluntarily.” The goal of nonviolent direct action, he wrote, was “to create such a crisis and establish such creative tension that a community that has consistently refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue.”
I suggest you read the whole article behind that quote. Think twice before you call for civility.
This quote was on the Facebook discussion, I thought it was a good one for Sherry:
With that, I say, Fuck Civility. Our time has come.