Sunday, December 21, 2014

#illridewithyou Redux

For being the creator of the #illridewithyou hashtag I am copping abuse for being:

  • white 
  • not white 
  • PoC 
  • not PoC 

Read that a couple of times.

Now read it again.

Once more.

It doesn't get any less fucked up the longer you think about it.

A lovely couple gave me some incredibly elegant flowers. I didn't have a vase to do them justice (don't really have the house to do them justice), and when they bloomed, it just seemed that the thing to do was lay them in Martin Place.

Then it occurred to me that there are at least two current memorials in Martin Place - for the siege and the Peshawar school children - and that if I were to ever mention I'd considered this, there would be demands to know which memorial these flowers were laid at, and that no matter which memorial, people were going to use that as ammo to keep up the abuse.

And people wonder why sometimes I get fed up.

I'm biracial, specifically, I'm English/White Australian and Chinese-Malaysian. What this means is that I am all four of the above accusations at the same time. All the time. Every day. Whether I'm accidentally spawning global grassroots activism, looking sadly at those last two sheets left on the toilet roll or sending professional sounding correspondence for work; I am all of these things. It's complicated.

Much of the criticism I've seen hinges on the assumption that I'm either white or non-white. This being Australia, I am specifically framing this in terms of whiteness. The fact that the conversation has already tripped over this misguided binary dichotomy before even the first step indicates that the problem of racism is so deep in Australia, in the western world, we'll need to raise a generation of fact-checkers before we can develop critical thinkers and even get past the derailing question of exactly whose voice is valid.

A mutable identity means that the privileges and oppressions granted me are fluid and constantly changing. They're influenced by how suntanned I am, what angle the light is coming from, the people I'm standing next to, whether someone is too caught up in what is proper to just deal with my most bodacious family name, and so on. I occupy the positions of both oppressor and oppressed, at the same time. When I say it's complicated, it's because I never stop having to wrangle this. It isn't only the white-dominated conversations that fail to take this into account. Much of what is discussed among non-whites leaves biracials standing in the kitchen doorway, looking at the party, and not quite seeing a space to step into. Biracials are not uncommon. I am not unique. Inconvenient perhaps, but not unique.

I've no interest in addressing the people who weren't listening and haven't been listening for longer than this. The racists who responded by simply continuing to be racist aren't a surprise, and I don't have much to say to them. They're not actually that many, just loud, and getting increasingly frantic because the audience they assumed they had, they don't. That the Far Right have worked themselves up into such a frothing tizzy about little ol' me and a hashtag is pretty amusing. It's almost as though they think I have power.

Nope. Still just me and a hashtag.

Apparently, here and now, that is power.


All this bigotry is pointed at me, but not about me. Evidence of this can be found in the lack of basic fact checking which would trump the crimes I'm accused of, because they're not actually interested in being accurate with their attacks, just as long as they land a blow. I was just the next target to pop up, and I'm not listening to them, although I do have to wonder how it would be to have a reading comprehension level which ensures you take everything you read literally. That must be a strange world to live in.

Anyway. The allies and progressives, the people who have put their hand up as wanting to see social and cultural change; it's the criticism stemming from these quarters which is relevant. My last blog post assured many with legitimate doubts, but not all. I'm writing this post now to give the conversation a kick in the pants.

This act, offer, invitation, this hashtag, this idea well has the potential to become a patronising pile of oppressors coming to the rescue of those they're oppressing and patting themselves on the back for saving the poor Othered masses. It most certainly does, and being as no one owns the action of another, in the hands of many this is exactly what it will be. If you see any individual falling into this behaviour, you are welcome to call them on it. White knighting is simply another - far more insidious - face of racism. I recognise this because, again, I occupy the positions of both oppressor and oppressed.

#illridewithyou began because a non-white woman learned of another non-white woman helping out a third woman garbed in hijab.

There will be the appeasement of white guilt in the hashtag's lifecycle, but there sure as fuck wasn't any in its creation. I created it because I understand what it's like to be scared. I am 5"3' with rosy cheeks and a cute button nose, and not bodyguard material. If someone shapes up, I'm not running, but I'm not going to come out on top either.

This is centered on the victims of abuse, not the perpetrators. Our culture leaves victims to fend for themselves, and our justice system quite frankly shits all over them, and doesn't apologise for it. Victim blaming is a disgusting behaviour Australia practices both overtly and unconsciously. Justice is blind in order to treat everyone equally, and in doing so treats no one fairly. I can't stop violent abusive bigots from being violent, abusive, or existing. That's not something in my power to address. Victims, though, people worried, scared, hurt and hurting; this is within my power.

When an idea for cultural change is proposed by a non-white person, it is mostly ignored. That's why things are they way they are, because the oppressed have been agitating for reform for centuries, yet here and now the country we live in is sick.

When an idea for cultural change is proposed by a white person, it is shouted down as being yet another act of white knighting, regardless of who else is involved, and usually it is.

I am both of these things. I am the person who should not be speaking according to both sides of the conversation, and simultaneously the person who should be.

This makes me wonder whom amongst us is permitted to enact change. From whom is change acceptable. Whatever this rare unicorn of a racial identity it is, I'm unaware of it. I'm inclined to think it doesn't exist. Which further makes me wonder how change can be expected to come about at all.

Stories have reached me of people who have been assaulted for volunteering in #illridewithyou. I'm not going to say more than that or point out any examples, because assault is traumatic enough without all you haters suddenly popping up and being gross. To those of you who have been hurt; I am sorry for my part in this, and hope you have good people around you. It's okay to not be okay when you've been assaulted.

The hashtag didn't create bigotry. It simply turned turned up the volume on those who care. As a consequence, the bigots will and have upped their game, as though western society is in some sort of arms race between bigotry and compassion. You riders, to stand beside someone under fire is to also come under that fire. It's okay to be afraid and hesitant to step up. This world is scary. Non-white people know this, and cannot opt out. Riders will always have a choice whether to make the offer or not. That choice is the difference between the privileged and oppressed. It's not something to be ashamed of, it simply is what it is. Non-white people do not deserve the abuse and hate aimed at them, and if you step up, no matter who you are, neither will you. It will happen none the less. You know where your limits lie. Please remember to respect them as well.

Stories have reached me of bigots being shut the fuck down as a result of #illridewithyou. A taxi driver told my partner that a school friend of his daughter, who wears a headscarf, had a bus load of people move and sit with and around her when a bigot started having a go. The incident on the Upfield/Craigieburn line has been well reported. A friend coming through Sydney airport told me that an entire line of people waiting at the taxi rank shut down an angry, belligerent, self-entitled man harassing the curb management, who are usually non-white persons. Thousands of badges and stickers handed out. A community bike ride from Lakemba to Martin Place. Muslims from around the world reaching out to say thank you, thank you, thank you, because these things have gone without saying so long, no one believes them to be true, and now #illridewithyou needs to be said.

These are just the precious scraps that make it through the cacophony of bigots shrieking like spoilt children who don't want to share their toys. There is so much more happening out there, because no one needs to make a big show of taking on this idea. They're just going ahead and doing it. There are people who, upon realising that this is an act open to them, don't wait for permission to start; they just get down to business.

Word has reached me of a woman allegedly assaulted by a Muslim taxi driver. Her husband being some prominent chap is trying to do that reverse-racism thing, indicating this happened because no one would ride with her. I'm presuming he means because she is a white person. This is a derailment of another important conversation about which I also have plenty of loud things to say, as it's trying to imply she was assaulted for her skin tone, and not the fact she is a woman. I'm angry that she has been assaulted, and hope she is okay, and with good people around her.

Women know about street harassment and the threat of attack from the random male public. All women, regardless of race. Street harassment is only just beginning to get the attention it should. You don't have to believe it. Women know the way this horseshit works, and learn from a very early age. As I write this, news of the shooting in NYC is breaking. All the focus is on the two officers who were shot. The shooter's girlfriend, who was also shot, is given in all the articles I've seen at most a sentence, but usually just a clause. This society does not value women, and so their deaths are deemed unworthy of attention. Violence by men, misogyny and sexism form another, simultaneous, sickness in our culture. Both these conversations need to occur, and their points of intersection recognised.

What is lacking from the Basic 101 is nuance. None of us live in a vacuum and nothing occurs in isolation. I've said multiple times that I don't see this idea as being applicable to Muslims only. Anyone with a visible cultural identity stands to be a target when in public. Anyone with skin that isn't white; anyone who isn't a cis heterosexual man, which includes all women, regardless of their sexuality or chosen gender, and any man who is not cis heterosexual, and all the queer and trans and varied orientations and genders one can be; anyone wearing religious garb, even those considered 'safe' - cooing over how adorable Buddhist monks are in their robes and creepshotting them is another form of othering; anyone who is visibly differently-abled, disabled, with invisible syndromes, complexes and illnesses; any one who visibly does not conform to the narrow-ass view of what is considered 'okay' by this society. Women, regardless of their background and identity, are able to use #illridewithyou to buddy up just as much as the religious are.

Perhaps that's another reason for the naysayers. I'm not a man, and no men were involved or consulted in the creating of this. Subconscious dismissal of women's voices is real. If you doubt me feel free to do some research and educate yourself. It'll actually reveal a lot about social communication which is just plain interesting.

That said, if this idea had come from a man it would have been problematic from the outset; expecting Muslim women to want anything to do with unknown men in a hostile culture. Schrodinger's Racist, and all that.

Once again, who is allowed to instigate change?

That's the wrong question. How about;

Why should anyone wait for your approval to act?

As far as I'm concerned, you naysayers can go sit on a pineapple and spin.

To quote a wise friend and fellow biracial, you're better than this. Substandard criticism is vexing.

Racism has a simple definition, but the conversation around it is immense, convoluted, complex, intricate, nuanced, and extremely raw. Racism as a cultural structure is vast and often looks infinite. There is no quick and easy fix for bigotry, especially when so much of it is locked in legislation. I won't wait for a single big easy fix. Fuck that noise. If change is ever to come, then it must be enabled. Even if in frustratingly, insultingly slow, small increments, it must be enabled.

I want sound a massive shout out to you riders just getting on with it and being awesome. I want to holler and cheer for you minorities just getting on with it and being awesome. Been chewing over the titles that seem applicable - hero, legend, champion - (which you all are) which have been showered upon me as well, and they don't smell right. The current love of superheroes is great fun for the comic lovers, but the persistent purveyance of the superhero narrative can't be doing amazing things to the zeitgeist. Settle down; I'm all for comics too, but as someone invested in writing, I do pay attention to the narratives swimming in the media we consume. Superheroes are pretty ace, but they're also pretty damn special. They come swooping in and provide big, easy fixes to scary problems, and we normals shout hurrah! And there is much rejoicing.

Can't help think this breeds the expectation that we don't need to make any effort to fix things because some unicorn superhero will be along shortly to sort out this inconvenient mess for us.

Think of all those normal people who are just passing by but still charge into burning houses and save lives. Typically they're shaken and downplaying their role, because it wasn't a grand gesture on their part. They were just being who they are. The same as you.

No unicorns are coming.

You're much, much cooler than all the superheroes combined, and more excellent than all of the unicorns. Big call. I'm making it. There's a potential future in which being an awesome, compassionate, respectful and considerate individual will be the norm, and it's growing in your footsteps.

Hmm. Guess I'm not as devoid of hope as I was.



Tuesday, December 16, 2014


The sunrise is too pretty. I haven't slept, but my adrenal gland is putting in the hard yards, so I still feel mildly lucid.

They asked me if I was surprised by the response to the hashtag. As though anyone but a marketing department could be anything other than bewildered by having an idea go viral. Of course I wanted it to be picked up – why tweet it at all otherwise? – but this is electrifying and not a little alarming. 

There is no campaign back here, unless one heartsore woman flapping her chops on twitter is a campaign. This wasn't planned. The rocket launched and I have no idea how to fly this thing. 

To all who have spoken up; it isn't for me to say, but, thank you.

Hashtags have a life cycle dependent upon attention and constrained by the very platform that gives them such power. It was never my intention to try and maintain any control over the hashtag, but given I was trending globally within hours, and sustained for hours, I must take some responsibility for what is forming. 

Nuance is easily lost on twitter, bless those blasted 140 characters. There is much language being used – 'help them', 'protect them', 'their safety' – which is slippery, and this idea was already sitting close to the White Saviour Complex. I think it may have slunk closer in the night.

We need this. So much of what is broadcast in general is hurt and damage and grief, that just to be reminded that other people care is no small thing. When feeling helpless, any tool is better than none, and there is so much to fight.

But this isn't about feeling better. It's about respect. There are people who cannot take basic respect from the general public for granted, and so to those who may benefit from it I simply offer the physical reality that they will not be alone for this leg of the bus trip. 

Although this has risen from the events in Martin Place, it is a sentiment that does not stop at Muslims, or anyone wearing their religion or culture, or who does not dress according to their expected gender, or who is simply too not-white or not-male to ever take safety for granted. In those terms, I would be included as someone at risk. I'm afraid I'm not particularly intimidating and being a non-white woman it could be argued that I add to target attraction, instead of detracting from it. I suspect this is why I do tend to gravitate toward non-whites in public anyway. Some sort of safety in numbers.

But I have to say, the thought of anyone deciding to approach me in public in order to protect me for my own sake without considering that, like everyone on public transport, I just want to be left alone; that thought rather gets my hackles up. 

So many people have reached out to say what this hashtag has meant for them. So many. Whatever grand wild delusion was galloping through my head when I created the hashtag has slunk off dejectedly, being unable to compete with reality. Some of you have already been helped by this, and that is. No words. No words. Thank you. 

But keep in mind, please, it is not for anyone to burden their need to help upon others. Respect that while too many are afraid to go out in public, many still walk the streets confidently and comfortably, and need nothing from any of us. If you're asked to buddy up, that is an amazing honour and sign of trust. That is enough. Don't expect more. 

Don't let it become a #NotAllMen where the focus fell off the actual issue of misogyny and violence and became entirely about assuring gentlemen they were good people, not bad people. Don't centre this on yourself. It isn't about me, or you. The desire to do right is in no way related to actually doing right. 

It is important that the offer be made, and equally important that nothing be expected in return.

The people who don't feel safe; they don't feel safe. We don't. I don't. They may not feel safe enough to tell you your good intentions are lovely but unwanted at this time. The ability to read minds isn't required for any act of kindness to remain a respectful one. Kindness that is forced upon a person is not kindness.

We need this, but not as a bandaid. We've always needed this empathy, and we always will. But not just to make ourselves feel better. To make the world better. And keep it that way.

A hashtag is a flash in a pan, but this will is not. This is a long campaign. Longer than this life. Hold on to that.


Now, a little about this startled bunny in the spotlight. This will be largely self-indulgent navel gazing, and those of you who need this hope, love and light right now should stop reading.


Because I can't give you that hope, love and light. 

So many have said they have felt hope because of this, and accused me of having a heart full of it. This is definitely the change I want to see in the world.

But this act does not come from a place of hope or love. Hope has been scarce for too long, and I can point at the day on the calendar at which it finally ran out. I have lost hope for positive change. My every act of solidarity, dissent, support, revolt comes not from the hope for change, but the anger of change that never came. 

That man, he lost hope. He knew what he was doing and how this would end. One sad, angry man and look at the hurt we have let him do. The hostages, all of them. The ex-wife whose murder to which he was allegedly accessory. We failed her too. He was sad, and angry, and he did this because we, this country, enabled him. I am so sorry.

I'm not even good anti-hero material. I actually am a cranky introvert who just doesn't like people, and not in a cute and loveable way. I'm also biracial, which is complicated. I have Opinions and as you can see they get waved around a bit, and I'm mulish enough not to be conveniently quiet to keep things nice, because nice achieves nothing. Plus I have enough health issues to mean I'm simply not going to do enough to sustain this. I cannot. 

I act because I am angry, and this world is fucking horrible, and I am sad, and if I cannot sit on the mere hope that the world will change, then there is nothing left to do but get out and push. 

I must enable that positive change to come, even if I don't believe it will. I must open the doors and windows and invite it in unimpeded and cherished. This idea did not come from a good place, but it isn't about me, and may become something better. Please let it become something better. 

The fact is that while I offered this platform to voices that need to be heard, there haven't been any volunteers except for the singular and indefatigable Amy Gray. Massive and many kudos to this woman for picking up the baton while I collapse into a pile. 

The fact is that I don't blame anyone for not taking this up. The attention is searing and I am indeed thinking of the Eye of Sauron. To step into this is to make yourself a target for all that is awful, and I don't expect anyone to take this on, especially those who are already targeted. The offer remains while the media have any interest in what I say. 

I expect some bad things will come of this, for which I am sorry for my part. I also expect some good things, because they have already happened. There doesn't seem to be anything else to expect. There's no stopping this now.

For those asking I explain my 'shockingly racist' blog posts; the post you're no doubt referring to is pretty self-explanatory. Rather surreal feeling the need to state that some of my best friends are white, and half of my family. 

Speaking as one of those not-white people, I do humbly request a scarcity of white knighting. Bear  your visible stickers like Neighbourhood Watch signs; not medals. It feels arrogant to say so, but I'm already proud of you. There are so many valid and justified reasons to stay quiet, and there is no shame in doing so. 

I'm stepping back because I cannot and will not be a warm fuzzy story. That narrative is a trap. The fact that the hashtag is already being seen as competing with the narrative of the siege and hostages is proof of that. They are not in conflict with each other. I've not dwelled on the hostages and those who care about them because I can think of nothing to say in the face of such trauma. I hope they have safe spaces open to them.

For the time being, I'm sorry but I won't sharing my bus trips. The point was to simply offer company if it would help. This sudden notoriety is alarming enough for me; imposing it on anyone else would be presumptuous at the very least. The only reason I can only do this because so many people have already put their hand up. 

The glow of initial solidarity hides the hard edges of true support. These displays have occurred before, and will occur again, but change is slow in coming. This is just my reality. I'll still be a tired biracial woman wary of being approached by strangers tomorrow, the day after, the day after that, for the rest of my life. Hatecrime and bias in our infrastructure will continue, because these wounds are centuries in the making, and we need to work so much harder to even consider healing.

Extreme situations make heroes of barristers and store managers. For most of us, there are no extreme situations, and no heroes. Just you, me, and the rest of the world.



Hello, members of the media. I won't be giving any further interviews, but if you hop on over to my twitter account there are a few recommendations for people whose perspective on current matters is worth attention.
If any Muslim feminists would like to speak out, let me know and I'll usher the media your way.
The Indigenous people of Australia have been attacked in public for their appearance since first landing. If any of you would like to speak out, let me know and I'll usher the media your way.
This incident was born of misogyny and domestic violence. Last month was White Ribbon Day. The experts have always been there. This is the time to talk to them.

Wednesday, December 03, 2014


All the life hides in the rocks, but sometimes I like to swim out away from the liminal colonies into the heart of the bay, where what lies beneath that barrier between above and below is sparse and empty. Above that open land I float, surrounded by a shifting jade which has no depth, no perspective, simply colour that surrounds me. Below, the sand is pale and whorled with the fingerprint of the waves, the same waves that lift me up and away from this, suddenly, and drop me back down to watch plumes of sand take flight, dance, settle in pattern anew. Untethered and orphaned seaweed waltz languidly across these little valleys and mountains, and amongst them too are carried comb jellies, their grand ball gowns torn apart by the waves and trailing in tattered skirts behind them. Although lifeless, the water still ruffles the tiny cilia of the hems, and when the sun, bent by the shape of the water, falls upon them, they throw rainbows like secrets. To touch them is to wonder if this, perhaps, it what it is to touch a ghost. A school of tiny silver fish dart away from me, but I am motionless, without hunger, and they come back to circle within my shadow. They light up, bright, pure, when skeins of sunlight catch them, and it is like watching lightning, small and sweet.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014


Volume 12, Issue 3 of the Review of Australian Fiction includes 'By the Moon's Good Grace', an incredibly raw and hard story, the ending of which left me feeling heartfull and nourished, and 'The Fate of All Wens' by

Ahahahaha, I actually froze there. It's the first time I've typed [title] by [author] for this story.

by Tessa Kum.


So much gratitude and appreciation for Kirstyn McDermott for inviting me to co-contribute, and her story is worth the price alone. An incredibly raw, hard piece with a happy ending that left me feeling heartfull and nourished.

Always credit and thanks to the Deb Kalin for reading my weirdly-shaped drafts and being a useful voice, not only in terms of critique but for keeping this writer calm. Super kowtow in awe before Megan Bartlet, who literally must have lasers for eyes, that's how sharp her proofread was. If you'd like to secure her services, she may be contacted at megan dot bartelt at gmail dot com.

Anyone who has put up with me wailing about my health all these years will know what this means to me. Couldn't have done it without J, who sees the worst of me and still enables and supports my loud mouth with love and a laugh. I mean it. I literally could not have done it. You my thing.

Literature lovers: this story explores the questions of free will in a spiritual world, in which the vying responsibilities to the self, the family and the community play out against a snow-crusted world at the dawn of civilisation.

Genre lovers: Owlbear monsters! Huge ass trees covered in dead people! Recreational drug use! Badhorse women being badhorse! Prophecies! Wicked glittering plagues! Diarrhoea! Ancient powers! Stuff! Things! Incidents! Events! Happenings! And how!

That's the important stuff, all that up there. Everything about to follow is the excited-puppy I WROTE A STORY that every writer does even if they pretend they don't. Incredibly self-indulgent and most likely containing far too many exclamation points.

I am very excited!


I mean it! Lots, and lots, and LOTS of waffle.

Because I'm afraid my brain will forget the story of this story, and I don't want to lose it entirely.

Oh also potential spoilers. Although kinda not really.

I don't remember where the original image came from. Usually I can point at something in the outside world which, as ambiguously related as it might be, has tripped into an idea. I saw a young woman carrying her friend - dead, frozen - through the snow, in order to nail her to a tree, to keep her safe. Honestly no idea where it came from, although I do suspect the subconscious may have been paying a great deal of homage to Deb Kalin's 'The Cherry Crow Children of Haverny Wood', which I would command you all to go and read at once! If it were yet published. It's coming. I'll be very loud about it when it does, because holy shit.

Anyway, I had no story to stick that image in, I didn't have any preplanned world to drop it into, it took me months to even discover Wen's name, and I think I have about four aborted attempts at writing it. All very different.

Things I learned (because you learn things with the writing of every story, even if you're learning the same lesson again):

If you don't know the ending, you, Tessa, really have no idea how to write forward.

You really do need to finish your worldbuilding before attempting to write as well. Otherwise you'll have to revise so much you might as well throw the draft out and start over. Which is what happened. Several times.

Your brain is too foggy to proofread your own work.

Remember how you got so far into your novel by realising you only needed to write the important pivotal parts and ignoring the rest for filling in later? You really need to do this all the time. Seriously. Write the scenes out of order. Drink tea without milk. Go wild.

It's really hard to write about the snow when living in a sub-tropical climate by a wonderful sand beach.

The 'junbu' is a fictional sibling of yartsa gunbu, a product of one of those fungi that works via mind control and cadaver automation. It is fascinating reading, both for the simple biological run down of the melding of insect and fungus, and the economic impact and strain demand for yartsa gunbu is having. This article in National Geographic goes into more depth, and has incredible photos.

Wen became Wens when I thought her name was in fact a label, with all orphans simply named thus. When the Wens became more, I do not know. Where that idea came from I also don't know, as it doesn't smell like something I'd normally come up with. I've a horrible suspicion I've done that accidental idea-lifting thing. Bloody hell.

Well. The Wens are pretty awesome in their own right anyway.

Normally there's so much time between submitting and publishing that this writer can fall out of love with the story, and thus approach it more as a reader. Not this time. I was in Melbourne, at a happy-bursting wedding, and taking some time out from the socialities to noodle in my journal, and perhaps simply being in an unfamiliar place shook some blocks into place, because the story just seemed to coalesce before me. One moment it was a mess, the next, BAM! Cohesion. I love that feeling, when suddenly you know you really do have something to work with, and your idea isn't total tosh.

And while I was sitting there, watching my friends dance like shit yeah, an email from Kirstyn arrived asking me if I was interested in co-contributing to RoAF oh but you only have a month if you want to do this.

It was just too perfect, you know. The story had just fallen into place so I was high on that energy, and to be given a deadline with a most excellent carrot at the end... I did try to talk myself out of it. There was no way of knowing if I'd be able to deliver in that time frame, either a finished product or one that was of a suitable standard. I haven't had a story published for, I don't remember. When Year's Best Australian picked up Acception for  a reprint, I think. I haven't finished a story for even longer. There are dear friends I have known for years who have never had to put up with me publishing a story before. Because. Well. There are five million bazillion jillion posts in the archives talking about the psychological damage inflicted by RSI and a chronic illness, and the shift in brain chemistry brought about by medication does creativity no favours. I wrenched the identity of writer from my core. I didn't think I'd write again. The need to survive the very real and physical chance that my health was never going to improve was a higher priority than anything that looked like a writing career. If any of you wondered how I dealt with the damage to my career I did with my last angry post, there's your answer. I'd divested myself of interest in a career years ago. My goals are much more humble.

Getting to jump up and down like this is one of those goals. This is enough.


So of course I said yes!

And then dove face first into drafting and flailing and becoming frustrated that my brain will not hold all the words I want access to at the same time. And I yelled at my story on twitter when it was being uncooperative, and I drove J nuts blabbering about bears and taiga flora, and it was so exciting to feel the story grow into its pages, and then I actually had it all written, and all the scenes moved into the correct order, and I wrote THE END, and holy shit I'd written a story.


I love it. It was only written in September, I'm still madly infatuated with it. It was not hard to write, because there was kindness in the story. There are moments I love deeply, and instances in which I can see all that lost time was not entirely wasted.

That said, there's some right clunkers in it. That's what happens when you stop writing for years on end. Your writing gears get rusty and you get flakes of rust in your story, messing things up. It isn't as polished as I'd like, and I'm still not entirely sure I have Wen's voice right. Nevermind. It is still enough to say I WROTE A STORY.



I can do this. I can still do this. There's no rain that could spoil the triumph in my heart.

Thursday, November 06, 2014

The Long Campaign Against Racism (Bogged)

[quick links to the original postfirst update and second update]

Hugo Update 5 April 2015

Six months after first hitting publish I am updating this post, specifically due to the Hugo Shortlist. This is for those of landing here because of the Mixon piece, which refers to comments left on this post, and from which this post still gets too much traffic from.
Those comments are no longer visible because a month and a half after I posted this, a man walked into the Lindt Café in Martin Place and the Sydney Siege took place. In response to the rise in racist attacks this even triggered the hashtag #illridewith you began trending in Sydney. #illridewithyou was simply an offer to sit alongside those subject to racist attacks on public transport. It went viral and was picked up by traditional and new media outlets across the entire world.

I created #illridewithyou,

As a result of unwittingly making myself very, very visible, I’ve been targeted with enough hatred and abuse to hide current comments and close this blog to future comments for the foreseeable future.

Six months have passed. In that time, efforts to bolster true diversity and create nuture safe spaces for minority voices have been undermined by WASPs – the same WASPS who were in a tizz initially – continuing and continuing and continuing to ‘raise awareness’ of RH’s past behaviour, long past the point of what is useful or reasonable. As I said below six months ago; RH has publically owned and apologised for her actions and the damage she has caused, the fact that this is not enough indicates that this was never about taking an anti-harassment stance but of personal vendettas being played out on a communal level. That Mixon’s brief of evidence was published after RH’s apology is indicative of this.

I said initially that individuals were enacting racial bias with the anti-harassment steps they were taking, probably unconsciously. They’ve had time to balance the racist pall cast by their initial actions – many suggestions made below still stand – but they haven’t. Quite the opposite.

Because of the hashtag, Breitbart did a piece on me, and brought me to the attention of the Far Right and GxxxxGxxxrs simultaneously. It’s been fairly awful and I’ve learned rather a lot about mass bullying and abuse tactics, so much so I feel pretty comfortable saying the tactics being utilised against RH now are mostly indistinguishable from GxxxxGxxxr tactics.

Vox Day has also made the Hugo Shortlist. He has a lovely long history of toxic behaviour, bigotry and bullying, and also did a piece on me. It’s pretty vile, and the comments are ripe with the sort of talk that does not a safe space make.

And then there’s the Puppies. All of them.

This is not diverse nor safe space making.

The Hugo awards used to mean something. Hell, I dreamed of winning one, once. I want to be able to congratulate my friends on being shortlisted, I want to feel proud and excited for them for receiving well-earned recognition and acknowledgement.

I want to, but I don’t.

The Hugos are a platform for public vendettas and bigotry.

I wish I could write out all the nuances of this, explain how detrimental this is, how much damage this has done and is still doing, but I’m tired. I was tired and hurting six months ago.

But, you know. Awards need stories; stories don’t need awards. In these six months many stories by myriad diverse authors have been released into the wild. Fireworks in the abyss.


Copied from below: I see now that in my opening salvo there is much to be interpreted as attempting to absolve the bully of bullying. That was not my intention. I still stand by my attempt to try and highlight that there is more damage going on from other vectors in all this, but the approach was a mistake. I'll leave it as it is, as I'm accountable for what I've said, but for those who feel I have dismissed their hurt; I am sorry.

[quick links to the first update and second update]

Original Post

Three well-established authors doxxed and blackballed a younger, up-and-coming author.

That's a bit shit. I mean, if we want to talk similes, then stomping on the fingers of the people climbing the ladder behind you is it. I'd like to think of the publishing industry as having space for all voices. Accepting that this isn't the state of affairs is still a long ways away from being okay with the idea that the elders of the scene get to pick and choose who is considered worthy to come sit at their feet, to the point of putting those unworthy in physical danger.

That's a bit shit.

That's what G***rgaters do.

Two older white western women and one older white western man in a western country doxxed and blackballed a younger WoC in a non-Western country.

That's a bit shit. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that's a bit fucking racist, mate.

That's what G***rgaters do. Their artillery is primarily fuelled by misogyny instead of racism, which is really just a different shade of shit. Misogyny, racism: the same machine. The same purpose. The same design. The same effect. The same shit everywhere.

This is what Tricia Sullivan, Liz Williams and Nick Mamatas have engaged in.

Much of the discussion I've seen has focused of the victim, because western culture loves to point all its shitcannons at the victim. The onus of proof always becomes the victim's responsibility, who must be able to account for the motivations, emotions and actions of their attackers, who must justify over and over again why they, the victim, let this attack happen.

You know the name of Z** Q**nn. Do you know the name of her ex-boyfriend?

The one who did the doxxing?

Their names are Tricia Sullivan, Liz Williams and Nick Mamatas.

Persons of Colour are not monolith. The only thing people who fall under the PoC label have in common is that they are not white, and I do deliberately and explicitly say 'white' as the term PoC is American in origin, and thus the hegemony is white, white, white.

We are not white, and that is all we have in common.

That is all that is required, really, for those in a hegemony to assume all the world is structured as they are familiar, and assume that we, too, are some reflected shadow hegemony.

The word ‘diversity’ is thrown about so much these days, by very nice people with very good intentions. You can see it starting to coalesce; the guidelines for what will be the acceptable change to indicate 'diversity' has been achieved, while for a great many of us, thanks to this 'diversion', nothing will change.

You, with your privileges, may learn how to communicate with a PoC. The life experiences they share are valuable and precious and, most likely, quite different to what the next PoC will know.

There isn't a 'not white' setting you can switch on in your brain to talk to us. PoC are not monolith. We are not legion. We are often but a collection of scarred souls who recognise the wounds in each other.

I'm trying to overstate this, because you, the fucking hegemony, are so busy spouting all the right words and making sure you’re seen to be doing something that you've completely obliterated the complex, intricate nuances, contrasts, juxtapositions that exist between PoC and PoC. You talk about diversity but only seem to be able to act using the broadest, clumsiest definition of what that should be. You're still thinking of us as a collective 'them'.

Having a PoC agree with you when you're shouting from a tower of privilege does not lend any extra credence to you. We are fucking diverse, we are conflicting politics, clashing opinions, and opposing philosophies.

More than that, it's also a disgusting manipulation. There was another WoC publicly caught up in this attack. She was implicated as the original who doxxed the victim to Tricia Sullivan and Liz Williams, and she denies this. Due to Tricia Sullivan's blog post and a carefully timed silence on both the part of her and Liz Williams, this WoC caught the brunt of backlash. I fell for that backlash too, for which I am sorry. They carefully positioned her so that she became the target and focus, not them. The imbalance of power between white women and WoC cannot be ignored. By dandling this WoC before the masses as a friend and ally they've effectively nullified her own agency. They used her for their own ends, and masterfully so. The blog post from Tricia Sullivan was far too late to have actually been of any effect in helping protect her 'vulnerable friend'.

Having PoC friends does not add legitimacy to your actions, white person. You are still white. You are still benefiting from an imbalance of power and this will not change in your lifetime.

Nor, might I add, does it lend additional credence to mine. But then, I am a PoFuckingC, and I don't require external validation.

To come at things from a slightly different angle, Nick Mamatas’ doxxing was not motivated by vengeance, racism, or a wailing ego. In LJ comments he claimed to dox the victim so as to change the narrative, ie, take control of the situation out of the hands of Tricia Sullivan and Liz Williams, who were conducting whisper campaign to blackball and dox the victim. He states the victim contacted him after he'd doxxed her to redact a couple of personal details, but otherwise had no problem. He also stated that he'd doxxed the victim in order to 'reign her in'. Forgive me if I don't go delving into LJ to find said comments, because the thought of even skimming that horseshit is no.

Here is an editor who behaviour polices an author. I understand publishers have invested in authors and don't want a PR mess, but there is a difference between sending someone an email telling them to calm their farm and doxxing them. Authors, would you like your publisher to feel comfortable displaying that level of control over your public life?

Here is a white western man in a western country doxxing a WoC in a non-western country.

He did not have her permission.

Pretty sure 'reign in' is a really politically correct way of describing what G***rgaters are trying to do to their targets.

Women must be put in their place. People of Colour must be put in their place. Young people must be put in their place. And so on, and so forth, ad infinitum, until you, white person, probably straight cishet and able-bodied, have put everyone in their place and are left standing atop a pile of bodies.

Most of you don't seem to know what hypocrisy looks like.

An example of hypocrisy: demanding a bully be held accountable for their actions and then contributing to an environment which actually makes that impossible.

Here's another: demanding apologies and accountability from a bully, receiving actions towards that in good faith, and not demanding apologies and accountability from the bullies who did worse to said bully.

And another: being outspoken against G***rgate and promoting the work of Tricia Sullivan, who has stated publicly on her blog that she doxxed and blackballed. Hanging good intentions and bleeding hearts from a doxxing does not mitigate the crime.

I haven't written about this because.

Fuck, I don't even know how to articulate that, and I'm not involved.

Because, ultimately, I had given up hope for positive change.

I have given up hope for positive change.

I have given up hope for positive change.

Regardless, when it comes to horseshit like this, I love to be wrong. I'll leave the doors and windows open to welcome any opportunity for the better, even if I don't believe it will come. Can I tell you that when I read the victim's apologies my heart sang, because right there was effort, hard work, and a push toward positive change. It gave you, the white masses, and opportunity to come around as well. To make this fury and fight one that is a stand against bullies, instead of a demonstration of racism.

I haven't been proven wrong. I didn't expect to be.

I also didn't expect to see the white publishing scene – let's call a turd a turd – take on my Shovel of Oh You Are So Right Tessa and start digging graves with it.

Suddenly, you're all promoting Tricia Sullivan's new book.

There's John Scalzi over there, making a point of featuring Tricia Sullivan's work, and making an even larger point of deleting comments that 'drag in online drama from elsewhere'. You know John Scalzi, right? You guys fucking love him. He's generally a beacon for progressive reasonableness, a vocal ally, decent writer and I've seen him dance. People like him. He's a great guy. I've noticed that you, white person, are really championing him for his overt stance against G***rgater. He's a rich white cishet man in a western country, he has privilege coming out the wooza, it's ace to see him going in to bat against the G***rgaters.

Because doxxing is bad!

But not all doxxing!

("Not all men!")

Doxxing is okay if done to a PoC.

This is the message John Scalzi sends when he promotes the work of Tricia Sullivan. He has significant platform and volume and he ticks all the privilege boxes. The reach and impact of this message should not be dismissed or underestimated. It is tacit approval of her actions, taking the position that she should not be reproached but instead supported.

This lack of intersectionality undermines all the otherwise good work he has done. How can I take "We Need Diverse Books" seriously – which I really fucking want to, and do – when there are white feminists such as John Scalzi providing implicit support to a white woman who has shown not a moment of regret for what she has done to a person of colour?

I can't.

I’ve let this post sit since first bashing it out. Since then, Laura J Mixon has taken it upon herself to write a bloody brief of evidence on all that the victim has ever done wrong. It has two (2) appendices, and I have no intention of reading it. This is after the victim issued two apologies, neither of which smelt faux. It is apparently not enough for a PoC to publicaly make efforts to mend their ways and atone for the damage they’ve done. The white women have said so.

Doxxing, blackballing and writing stalkerish reports is not enough punishment for you to be satisfied. Apologies given is not enough for you to feel satisified.

I doubt there is anything that will ever be enough to satisfy you, white person.

You are not doing anyone a service. Just as we are never able to not be PoC, you are never excused from being white. You will always hold the balance of power, and there is nothing in the current circumstances that absolves you from your privilege. You are kicking down. 

The message is that people like me are lesser. The message is that you, the hegemony, just like the idea of being progressive. You love the idea of being good and active and part of the rebellion. You love that idea. But you're not prepared to think of non-white people as anything other than lesser. You're not even prepared to admit the possibility of this unconscious bias.

To dismiss this as 'online drama' is an exercise of white privilege. To call for everyone to 'get back to work' is an exercise in white privilege. To 'stay out of it' is an exercise in white privilege. I'm repeating myself because for fuck's sake this is repeating because the problem is not being addressed.

This is not online drama. This is our fucking lives. This racism, bullying, racism, discrimination, racism, solidarity for white women, racism is every fucking day. We're not making a fuss because someone got our coffee order wrong, we're speaking up against you the oppressor doing oppressive shit. Again. And again. And again. Because you, the privileged, the oppressing, the shining white right, aren't listening. You've no idea how to walk the walk, and the last couple of weeks have revealed that most of you are far shitter at talking the talk than you imagine.

This is not a distraction from work. This is work. Trying to change the world is work. I sit on the bus and think about this. I sit on the toilet and think about this. I write my fucking fiction and I think about this. This isn't a television soap opera. We're not standing around the water cooler gossiping. We're not white, and this is work.

You’re not Katniss. You’re some git in the Capitol, gossiping while you watch us tear each other apart for you.

Don’t point out all the PoC also supporting Tricia Sullivan’s work as if that makes it okay. PoC cannot be judged by the same criteria that you are, white person. The imbalance of power between you makes that impossible and ultimately pointless. I recognise that a minority can be complicit with its own oppression. I recognise that although each PoC suffers the same blind, blundering racism as the next, and I also recognise that how we learn to survive such a life sentence is not something to be judged lightly. That conversation is for another time. This conversation is about you, white person, and your hypocrisy.

I mean, here's an analogy that might work for you: try being unwillingly unemployed for a while. Awful, isn't it. It's degrading, humiliating, debasing, and the longer it goes on the harder it gets to smile when you walk into an interview room. You've no money. The writing of job applications is actively shit for you mental health. This whole situation is actively shit for you mental health.

Know that? Remember how it felt on a weekend, when there was nothing different about your day? Every day was the same. You don't get a break from being unemployed. You don't get to 5pm and are like, well, that's me done for the day. You're still unemployed when you stop to make dinner, and you look at the contents of your fridge and calculate how many meals you can get out of that versus how much money you have til your next dole cheque, and when you watch a movie all the people are working and able to pay their bills and buy that coffee and go out with their friends without asking for charity and you're watching this because a friend gave it to you on a USB stick not because you can afford to see a film, or use that much of your monthly download, and you go to bed knowing that tomorrow you'll be unemployed as well, and will think the same things again, and again, and again, and you don't ever, ever, ever get to clock off from being unemployed.

That there is a privileged example of unemployment. That's still at the easier end of unemployment.

Now imagine that you're not able to do anything about your unemployment. Just imagine that for a moment. You can't address the problem at hand, you cannot act to alter your circumstances or shift your fate, just imagine, for a moment, that you have no agency to enact change.

Just imagine you have to endure these miserable circumstances without being able to address them.

When I watched hundreds of white people mob WoC.
While I am still waiting for you, white person, to apply the same standards to Tricia Sullivan, Liz Williams, and Nick Mamatas as you did to the victim.
When I see you, white person, dismiss this entire event as drama and distraction.
When I hear you dismiss the voices of PoC as not being work.
While I watch you support and promote a white woman who publicly admitted to doxxing and blackballing a WoC.
When I see you wave your flags and chant your slogans against G***rgater and not Tricia Sullivan, Liz Williams, and Nick Mamatas.
When I see you still, still, writing reports after the victim has already conceded.

When this happens on top of posters in bus shelters, conversations overheard between high school students, radio broadcasting, the books that are placed face out and the books that are left spine out, correcting X on X’s own culture, newspapers with their bold headlines and white owners, television commercials with such white teeth, dramas with dramatic white people, the packaging on soy sauce, the easy appropriation of patterns in the mass-produced fabric of underpants, the desserts in the freezer aisle, the looks I get, the looks I don’t get, the names that don’t get interviews, the assumptions, the assumptions, the assumptions.

When I, a non-white person, see this all this, I realise that the only opt out is death.

Dramatic; yes.
Rhetoric; no.

This is our lives.

None of us can take a break from not being white. You, white person, with all your supposed good intentions, will never let us. Either because you're actively racist, racist but with too delicate an ego to ever do anything about your racism except cry about the mean PoC, or willing to remain silent and let us carry on without support.

You've already won. You won centuries ago when you left Europe and decided to crush the rest of the world. Conquer, colonise, crush. Centuries this has gone on. You have centuries of victory and triumph.

You've won again. You've succeeded in driving PoC from the scene. You succeeded in driving me and others from the internet. You've wrenched open schisms between PoC which will take years of hard work to heal, if they heal at all. We're diverse, we're not monolith. We're divided, and you will always ensure that remains so.

What does this do to a person? How does all this shape the heart that endures it?

From this I have learned about hate. Hate, like anger, is a poison for me, and so I've worked on myself hard to ensure I'm not attracted to the philosophies and perspectives of hate. But from this, from watching all of you, I am learning about hate.

My privilege is being born in and living in a western country with a decent income. My privilege is being ambiguous in my physicality; as it's not easy to identify which 'other' I am, most people are hesitant to voice what they know to be racist-ass opinions around me. The discrimination and bigotry I experience is largely unconscious and insidious, and in fact not grounded in hate at all. I'm fortunate. Very fortunate.

I don't feel hated as a WoC. Hate implies that the hater believes the target of their hate to have some sort of power or control. No.

As a WoC I feel cheap.

Not worth as much to you, white person, as your fellow white people.

I'm learning about hate because I am coming to hate you, white person. You have all the control, all the power, all the privilege, and there is nothing holding you accountable. I hate the double standards and hypocrisy you display, the rank dishonesty of your conduct. I hate that you can harm us, when we cannot harm you. I hate that you have actually impacted on careers, multiple and not even directly, with your hypocrisy. I hate that you're so dominant in the publishing industry there's very few venues I'd consider safe to even submit to now. I hate what you have done to PoC I don't know. I hate what you have done to PoC I do know. I hate what you have done to me, and I was not involved.

I've seen phrases coming from the mouths of people I'd thought knew better, and I have learned that sometimes 'us vs them' is true.

I hate that I am learning this.

Naive trust now broken, I find myself silenced anew.

Being open about my mental health is my way sabotaging the stigma surrounding mental illness. Because I am comfortable discussing it openly, publicly and honestly, others are comfortable discussing their experiences with me. The more comfortable they are with these words on their tongue, the more tools they in turn have to wield against their own struggle, the more comfortable they too become with speaking openly, and thus this is my contribution toward change.

Watching this conflagration has done terrible things to my state of mind. I am not in a good way, I'm in a very doubleplus ungood way, I am on the brink of being in danger.

Purely because I know people who disagree with me have already made moves to dismiss my voice, I have not been able to speak openly about this. It would be too easy to use against me. "Oh, no wonder Tessa has a wasp up her arse, she's a bit cracked up at the moment."

That sounds reasonable. I even say it to myself. Such is the power to silence someone who is oppressed at multiple indices.

I am not angry because I am struggling with mental illness.

I'm struggling with my mental illness because I am angry.

Having one does not invalidate the other. It is neither rhetoric nor melodrama to state that you, white person, are fucking with my depression. I hate you for that too.

Liz Williams was particularly fond of slinging around ablest slurs. I'm not going near any of her online pisspots to check if she's ever tried to atone for that. Highly doubtful. She's a white woman, after all, all the solidarity is for her.

I have depression, and for those of you that need that statement quantified, I've been diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder. I have fibromyalgia, which slams me with fatigue and a cognitive fog that make the air pollution in Beijing look like a wisp of smoke. My memory is unreliable and I have to reverse engineer whatever it is I'm doing many times a day, an hour, over and over minute to minute. I'm a sensitive little introvert who is stomped on by the oblivious extroverted population. That's enough to keep me occupied and frequently crippled by despair.

None of this invalidates anything I've written here. None of this undermines my arguments. Knowing that I'm as addled as I currently am means I've take my time over these words, and tested them over, and over, and then over again because I will have forgotten whatever paragraph I had just reread. 

This is a very basic example of intersectionality. Nothing occurs in isolation, none of us live in a vacuum. Complex and sensitive issues are being processed by jamming them into a binary dichotomy, because everything is being processed as You the Oppressor and Them the Others Who Are Complaining. Until you let go your fixation on binaries, until you stop centring yourself on every single stage, until you stop considering yourself the default/normal, until you recognise and respect that your opinion is not warranted or wanted in all areas of discourse, until you glean that sometimes it really is not your place to act, this 'online drama' is going to happen again, and again, and again, and again.

My bitterly disappointed heart believes most of you are too self-entitled and comfortable with your privilege to attempt this. You'll think the right things to make yourself feel good, but thinking, talking, and walking are all vastly different. It's hard work. Very hard work. I know because I do it on myself, and I do it over, and over, and over. The privilege of growing up in a western country comes with the cost of internalising all that western horseshit. The same horseshit that works against me. It's complicated.

Oh, now here's an analogy I can't pass up. Remember the teacher in Donnie Darko who is so oft quoted as "doubting your commitment to Sparkle Motion!" Prior to that beautiful moment she calls for the banning of a book at a PTA meeting, stating that as she's the only person present who is both a teacher at the school and has a child attending as a student, only she "transcends the Parent-Teacher Bridge."

Being biracial and raised in a western country, I grew up thinking I was a 'normal' (read: white) kid, and internalised all the horseshit I'm currently calling you, white person, out on. Oh yes I did. I watched the same TV, read the same books and hung out at the same shopping centres as the white kids. Which was everyone.

Being biracial and raised in a western country, I was never allowed to belong because I wasn't a 'normal' (read: white) kid. Because I looked different. Even if I was white as fuck on the inside.


Know that when I call you out, what I'm calling out is what I've recognised and worked on deconstructing in myself. The hard work I'm asking you to do is nothing that I don't ask of myself. The standards I hold you to are the same standards I expect of myself.

I recognise the internalised horseshit you're toting because I tote it myself.

I hope you'll work at it.

Honestly, I don't expect you will.

I gave up all hope for positive change.

However, in the interests of equality, I do call for a sharing of the laziness. I for one am getting very fed up with investing trust in a white person only for them to either dismiss the struggles of PoC or turn around, spout some thoughtless racist shit and then cry 'bully!' when called on it instead of you know, listening and respecting. I really can't be fucked spending more energy on you, white person. You're fucking lazy, well, so am I. PoC come in all shapes and sizes, including bitter, mean and lazy.

So if you identify as a feminist, either in conversation, bios, correspondence, whatever, make sure you're specific. Identify yourself as a White Feminist, and PoC everywhere won't bother you. It won't mean you're a bad person, just that you're easier to assess from a distance. Like G***rgaters.

I'm not involved.

This is the impact your actions have had, are having, will continue to have, on me.

I don't speak for all PoC, but don't for an instant doubt that I am not alone.

To my friends reading; I recognise by posting this I will hurt some of you, and for that I am sorry. I hope you will understand that, aware of my identity as I am, none of my relationships are free from politics. This is the reality of the world we live in. You are welcome to speak your mind, here or via other channels. I hope too you will understand that I have let many hurts slide in the past and will continue to do so in the future because I love you, and it is because I love you that I have to say this now.

We are different.

Please listen.

The conversation has evolved, and at this time I think it would be prudent for me to address a couple of things.

A couple of commenters have stated they’d initially dismissed this post as pointless rage, or just another angry rant, but on a second pass conceded I raised some good points. 


This is an angry rant. I mean, phwoar. Did you see that? Plinean. That was plinean. That was an eruption of awesome proportions and, wow. I’m really angry. I mean, I knew I was, but even I’m shocked. After that blast, after I’d given myself enough time and distance to remember how to breathe and for my adrenaline gland to settle down, even I was taken aback. I didn’t, I mean, I didn’t. (You did, Tessa. You’d accepted this price long before pressing ‘publish’.)

But why would anger in a PoC speaking of oppression be considered pointless?

America has a whole bloody news network dedicated to giving old white men a platform from which to shout angrily, and America is so loud that the rest of the western world has no say on whether or not this is permissible, conscionable or allowable; it saturates my world too. The apex of the privilege pyramid shouting and shouting and shouting and my anger is dismissed as pointless.

The SFF publishing scene cannot be divorced from this reality and to attempt to do so would be irresponsible. There is an incredibly damaging trope that exists purely to enable the disenfranchisement of black women in America, one of the most oppressed people in that country, because by segregating the judgement of that anger from the context of that anger, that anger then becomes…pointless.

Why would the anger of the oppressed ever be pointless?

You’ve won, you’ve been triumphant for centuries, I say again. Of course I’m angry. I’m furious. I had that screed of rage seething in my heart for far too long, until the balance tipped and the short term consequences of not screaming into the abyss were going to far outweigh the long term consequences of becoming a mouthy PoC, and that is the product of living at the softer end of discrimination.

My anger is not pointless.

Reenacting the eruption of Vesuvius has done much to relieve my internal pressure, but the anger remains. Magma cannot be reasoned with. Magma will not be told it is without merit and evapourate in a puff of convenience.

My anger is justified. My expressing of my anger is fucking reasonable.

I’m not shouting at clouds; I’m screaming into the fucking abyss.

I have been patient my whole life. I have been respectfully asking to be respected, I have been avoiding being derailed by the Tone Argument by cutting my emotions from my words just to increase the chances that you might listen to me, white person, and not dismiss me as ‘another angry minority’.

This is the result of running out of patience. This is the point at which I take my small cup of a writing career and smash it against the wall. This is the point at which the idea in the idealist dies. This is the point at which my effort to remain respectful in the discourse, in the hope that this will promote and nurture respect that I may one day experience, starves and dies. A colossal fuck you to anyone who thinks I owe it to you to keep fighting the good fight, for a given definition of ‘good’. A massive, monsterous fuck you to anyone who thinks I owe you a moment more tolerance of the shit you’ve been pushing for centuries, shit you don’t have to live with, white person.

You are owed more anger than mine.

Defending a victim who is a bully is not synonymous with defending, condoning or enabling abuse. To infer such is disingenuous, and disrespectful to those who share my stance who have also suffered abuse. I think we can all agree that bullying is vile, and I think you, bunch of writer types that you are, should be capable of recognising this. Otherwise I despair the simplicity of binary moral narratives that the publishing industry must hold.

I had made a deliberate choice not to discuss the victim’s behaviour in my initial post. Discussions anchored upon what the victim did or did not do and the degrees of her horribleness danced and continue to dance around the question of whether the victim deserved it.

There were things I thought could go without saying, but.

This has long since gone past the point of being a reasonable discussion raising awareness of someone’s problematic behaviour. This is victim blaming, and it is a pile on.

A person can be both bully and victim at the same time. These two states do not cancel each other out.

Being as the victim was both PoC and bully, people are rightly pointing out that by the victim’s behaviour, ammunition has been put into the hands of the bigots. This is true. I’d also say that’s true of a giant fuckload of people, John Scalzi being the first and most related example that springs to mind. He’s receiving accolades. He’s fine and pretty much untouchable.

Tossing out this line simply emphasises the message that PoC must meet a higher moral and social benchmark than you, white person. We’re allowed to be arseholes and scumbags and make terrible mistakes and the wrong decisions like you do. We’re obliged to stay in line to make your job easier. That is oppression and silencing of yet another kind, and it smells horribly like allowing the indefensible to occur for ‘the greater good’. The problem is in the reception, it is always in the reception. The double-standards are the gold-trimming on your anti-bully banner. The problem is that while you decide the price, you’re not the one to pay it.

Some have argued that the victim wasn’t really doxxed, being as the connection between two pseudonyms reveals no actual personal details. The victim has often stated she had stalkers, serious enough to warrant anonymity. The revealing of another alias is still something a stalker can and will make use of.

We are all about believing victims. Right?

But not this victim…right? That would be inconvenient.

It is not for you to determine when a person’s privacy has been invaded enough for the damage and danger to be considered real. It is not for you to determine at what point someone else is allowed to feel their privacy and safety violated. To dismiss this because it is inconvenient for the villain in your narrative to be a victim is double-standards, it’s victim blaming, and it’s racism and it’s hypocritical. Again.

By not touching on the victim’s behaviour, I am not dismissing it. I think we can all say that bullying and abusive behaviour are toxic things, the mitigation of which should be acted upon. I was trying to shift the focus, but the conversation keeps reaching back into that mob. Like Common Miner Birds, mobbing, mobbing, mobbing.

This is not a nice neat narrative where the morally right and good and the wrong and bad are clear-cut. This is real life. A person can be both bully and victim at the same time. One does not invalidate the other.

Like it or not, the victim’s narrative is going to shape the narratives of all PoC to come. We’ve already seen how many guards are at the gates, and who we’ll need to pay tribute to, and we have seen what happens when a PoC steps out of line. Here, you justify the extreme lengths you’ve gone to by waving the victims of bullying around like a war banner. The next PoC who comes along and doesn’t pay tribute can already see what to expect. Maybe next time it won’t be bullying with which you, the white person, assert your moral superiority and right to crush those you don’t approve of. I’m not you, I can’t travel your thought paths, so it isn’t for me to predict what guise you will work under.

What will you say when you come for me?  You are coming for me. 

More to the point, the pain of victims of bullying does not invalidate the pain of victims of oppression. It seems to fall higher in the hierarchy established by you, the white person, as being more worthy of attention, although that’s hardly surprising given the current climate. A victim of bullying at least has the potential to be white.

These wounds the victims of bullying and PoC bear do not nullify each other. They exist and will continue to exist and hurt regardless of whether you believe them justified.

You’ve done a fine job of creating a space for the victims of the victim to come forth. I have been told that some people have only felt safe opening up now, and I’m glad they’re able to open up at all.

The healing afforded for these victims need not be bought with the silencing of PoC.

Again and again the crimes of the victim are put on parade. Again and again people are telling me, as though I haven’t been watching and reading the same words as you. I know. The victim knows. We all know. The victim has made moves toward some sort of peace but you, white person, continue waving that banner.

What makes this racist is the simple fact that you, white person, have not done this to your own. 

Jim Frenkle, Vox Day, Harlan Ellis, Will Shetterly. For fuck’s sake, how many decades did you let Frenkle prey in the scene before some young uppity voice of dissent forced your hand? You let him sexually assault people. You fucking enabled him for years. But he’s gone! you cry. We got rid of him! Your hand was fucking forced. You wouldn’t have done a thing if one of his victims hadn’t stuck her neck out to ‘make a fuss’. He would still be employed in a position of power in this field if it was left to you, white person. But we got Vox Day out of SFWA! Holy shit, how many years did that take too? How many mouthy PoC’s publicly pushing their dissent did it take for you act? Years. Decades. Remember Elizabeth Moon and Wiscon? How long did you ‘consider all sides of the story’? How slow were you to act? How, when discussing the making and maintaining of safe spaces, ‘fair’ is it to give the voice of the privileged equal consideration as that of the oppressed?

Fucking hypocrites.

Those are only the publicly notorious. I’d say most of you are in far better positions than I in being able to identify predators and poison. Geographical and financial barricades keep me from being a regular con-attendee, chronic illness has curbed my own crippled little career so I’m simply not active enough and in contact with enough people to know what is going on in the back channels. You, white person, are probably far better equipped than I to do something about these people.

Do us both a favour, and don’t for an instant try to downplay the existence of such predators and the damage they are currently doing.

Recognise that you are picking your targets, and you’re picking the target that has no power and cannot harm you, and you’re doing sweet fuck all about those other victims because that predator is white.

This is a muddy narrative in which both sides have acted reprehensibly. I’ve been invited to read various accounts, and I have. I’ve seen and heard enough to know that the public narrative is unreliable from both sides. I’ve also taken the time to consider what my stance would be if I were to take what various parties have said be at face value, and have concluded it would not be different. All roads lead to Rome, and to the crossing of my own Rubicon. At this point, for me, the details of the doxxing no longer matter. How we got here no longer matters. What I see are the privileged circling and mobbing a PoC with a viciousness that comes from centuries of practiced oppression. Whatever path we take, we still end up here, white person, because you don’t listen.

One side has all the power, the other does not.

As you, white person, do have all the power and privilege, I would very much appreciate it if you could stop namedropping PoC when engaging with me. I shall repeat:

There isn't a 'not white' setting you can switch on in your brain to talk to us. PoC are not monolith. We are not legion. We are often but a collection of scarred souls who recognise the wounds in each other.


I don't speak for all PoC.

To take that further, it also means other PoC do not speak for me.

You, white person, hold all the power. I am challenging you from a position of weakness. Do not drag in PoC names to shield you, don’t you dare try to throw them before me with the inference that this PoC’s voice, which is conveniently similar in view to your own, is somehow a more legitimate voice than mine. That PoC is not talking to me, and if they were, the conversation would be a very different one because a conversation between PoCs at least has the potential for both parties to be on relatively equal footing. A conversation with you, white person, never will be. I’ll say it again, having PoC in agreement does not somehow lend your point of view extra credence. Argue your position from the position of privilege you occupy and stop tossing in PoC as if they will absolve you of your privilege. They’re not chum to distract me, the nasty PoC shark. I am talking to you, white person.

I am not alone, but I entered into this prepared to argue my position alone. Because fuck you, I’ve seen enough damage done to PoC, I will not call on anyone to speak up. You’ve made a space for victims of bullying to come forth and hopefully heal but only by shitting all over a whole demographic. A really broad, clumsily general in definition demographic. PoC are now afraid to come forward. But you will throw them in front of me, try work on the schisms that exist within this complex and intricate group of people so that I attack them, not you.

This is depressingly reminiscent of so many historical battle philosophies. Going to battle the enemy? Well, send in the [insert disdained demographic here], the enemy will waste all sorts of ammunition reserves firing at them, what?

Own your fucking privilege. This conversation is with you, white person. The power imbalance is so huge and so engrained that you don’t see the hypocrisy in your strategies. Fight your own fucking battles.

That imbalance is why I, and many other PoC, hurt.

It is magma. It doesn’t require your approval or acknowledgment to exist, it will flow and flow because the source remains whole and healthy, and much like magma, it will keep coming out.

Make this not about racism. Please, please, prove me wrong. Go clean out your own cellar, white person, before HAZMATing ours. Stop asking us to trust that this is a special case, that this one time you tear a PoC apart it is unique, it doesn't count, and you wouldn't ever do it to us because we're not like that. There are no grounds for trust. You are not worthy of trust. Stop justifying your actions. You, white person, keep justifying this frenzy, and in doing so the message is sent that the suffering of the PoC watching horrified from the margins is also justified. 

That’s not your fucking call. For fuck’s sake.


Don’t set this precedent.

Please, just.

Let us breathe.

I would like to make one amendment to my original post. I have given up all hope for positive change; that is still true. The responses I have received so far have not challenged my position, and for the most part the responses have been thoughtful and far kinder than the tone I set. I would not change the degree of anger in my writing if I had my time again. It is there because I want you, white person, to see how deeply this effects me. Maybe from this you will a catch a glimpse of the scale of the hurt, which has wholly consumed me, and is doing the same to who knows how many others. It is awful. Analogies of volcanoes and natural disasters abound not to intimidate you with the scale of destruction, but so you can comprehend the scale of destruction. All that magma sits in my rib cage and hurts. It’s awful. It is awful. It is hurting me far more than it hurts you, white person.

But. Yes, there is a but!

I know I am not alone. 

I screamed into the abyss, and in that endless darkness the abyss answered with fireworks.

I am not alone. We are not alone. 

I have still given up hope.


I have not given up.

Find your fireworks, you howling hearts standing on the edge. Find your fireworks.

The conversation continues to evolve, and life doesn’t stop for any of us.

I guess I’m used to anger – clearly it has been building up for some time – but I have no practice in wielding it. It is anathema to me, and this experience hasn’t challenged that. There is no way to use it without it becoming stained, and by no one’s actions but my own.

It took two hands to wield that anger. To control it, to keep it from simply burning the house down, took two hands and the making of an internal debt that is now being collected. I had to put down the ability to take joy in things. There was no room left in me. The anger took it all, the volcano destroyed itself in being itself. There’s no fire left, only ash now. Only ash.

This isn’t a baited sympathytrap. This is simply my reality. The overtime put in by my adrenaline gland the last few days has lent me some emergency resilience, but at a price. I’ve spoken more online than I have in the last few months, and now tendonitis and ye olde RSIs are rising creakily from sleep. The stress and threat provided by every new comment, regardless of whatever the contents of the comment turned out to be, has done astonishing things to my fibro. My flobby little braingrapes have processed so much information in the past few days – and when considering the pain of others nuance is everything – that they’re now simply out of juice. I don’t consider myself as having the capacity to contribute anything useful to the dialogue right now.

I have to stop. That is all.

Because it was specifically brought to my attention, I will make a quick comment on the idea being floated of beginning a mentor programme specifically for oppressed and vulnerable writers. None of what I’m about to say is spoken in anger. I have none left. This is spoken in tired monotone.

I very much like this idea, especially as it is not limited to PoC. I think we all remember how utterly bewildering the industry was when we first dipped our toes in, and the fact that it never really stops being bewildering is something underemphasised.

SFWA would, from a purely logistical stance, be a great platform to germinate such a programme, being as the administrative infrastructure is already in place. However, from the point of view of the vulnerable, it is not yet a safe space. Change is happening, and it’s definitely change for the better, but until the organisation has a proven track record of not blundering into bigotry, and has done so for some years, it is not a place I would trust with vulnerable voices. Not yet.

For that matter, I feel that the spirit of the concept will be undermined if it is crewed and helmed by the privileged. I infer to no individual when I say this, it is simply a pattern that has proven itself time over.

A space cannot be trusted as safe, while those for whom it is supposed to be sanctuary do not have control over it.

It is again asking the vulnerable to put power in the hands of the oppressor and then trust the oppressor with that power. This is a trust that has not been established or earned, and there are no grounds to argue that, right now, such trust should be given.

As space over which the privileged have power will never be safe for the vulnerable.

I hope this is not taken as an attack, but constructive criticism, the devil we’re all too familiar with. I see there a gesture made in good faith, and although I have seen too much to hope anything new and good will come of it, I must enable the chance, and hope this will be given consideration should this idea come to fruition.

And with that, I’m tapping out.

It hasn’t even been a week, and I daresay many will choose to read this as me not being able to take what I dish and fleeing; whining, wailing and cowardly. They may choose to read on, or not.

Anger is an incredibly powerful tool, but it is also a weapon. Just as I cannot be anything other than Other, anger cannot not be a weapon, no matter how I wield it. Axes and hammers and brute force. It is ugly. Threatening, intimidating and upsetting. It is what the oppressed live with day in and day out, along with fear, hurt, and doubt, not because of what is happening in the SFF scene now, but because this is the state of the world. It would come out, one way or another. It will do its damage, one way or another.

No doubts have sat with me, and I haven’t second-guessed my decision. Surprisingly. I stand by the validity of my anger and the expressing of it. I still accept the cost of expressing that anger. I do not regret this.

I have learned a little, though.

To weaponise your voice is to become that tool which is also an instrument of attack, and though you may be very careful in what directions your anger is aimed, still you stand, howling, and that is frightening. To everyone. The people standing behind you as well as those opposing you.

The current state of the world needs weaponised voices. We are so far from being able to have this conversation as equals. Not in my lifetime.

But a weaponised voice should not be used in all places.

You need to see that this anger is not pointless It is born of anguish and grief, not indignation, and is of a scale beyond comprehension. It is an anguish shared by those hurt by abuse and those hurt by discrimination. I used my anger like fuel, rocket fuel, to launch this cry into space. Now it’s in orbit, and the rocket is space junk.

After anger, there is space for grief, and in grief, there are small niches of healing.

I have no hope, I do not believe, but I must enable that healing. Windows and doors open, it is an opportunity worth inviting, courting, coaxing in. Take away hindrances. Let the way be clear.

By weaponising my voice I have taken a position. I don’t consider myself to be in the camps that have formed, but I have made my stance known, and not been gentle about it. In doing so, there are people who bear the wounds of bullying who will not feel comfortable speaking up in a space in which the inconvenient PoC shark is swimming, and there are people who must endure the same oppression that has twisted me around who do not agree with how I have processed this, and they too will not feel safe speaking out in a space in which I may be lurking. PoC fall in both categories easily.

My satellite is in orbit. The signal was sent. It was what was needed to survive, and now that I know I will survive, it is for me to step aside and allow others that right as well.

My part in this conversation has been specifically aimed at the white hegemony; this next bit is not for you.

We PoC are not monolith. The diversity, contrast and resonance which can be found in those three letters are sublime. Our paths are so extraordinarily different, a difference that can be just as hard to traverse as that between oppressor and oppressed.

But in this western world, we are all subject to the same prejudices and wounds. We are shaped by the wounds we carry, wounds collected every day since birth. It is exhausting and debilitating and unrelenting.

We may not agree on the finer points, we may be in adamant opposition over the larger points, we may think each other complicit in sustaining the status quo and the damage perpetual and be devastated by that perceived betrayal.

All of these things are true, but I cannot and will not judge you, and I won’t condemn you.

We are just people. To survive this for years on end, knowing that there will never be any respite, contorts the skeins of our soul. We say nothing because we need to survive that moment there and then, in order to be able to get up the next day. We compromise ourselves both deliberately and unconsciously just to make sure we can still see a way forward, to leave us with enough in our bucket to worry about groceries and the weather and whether we have any clean socks. We let our guard down and make questionable decisions because we’re tired, we’re so tired. We want so much to believe your good intentions are enough. We cannot afford to give all over for the good of the future when the present already asks too much of us. In this sense, enduring bullying and enduring oppression play out identically.

This plinean howl is me coping, compromising, doing what I need to do to stay out of hospital. I do not say that to garner pity or sympathy (please, do not), nor do I say it flippantly. This is my reality. Sadly, I know that, in this, I am also not alone.

All roads lead to this.

Only you know what you have had to do in order to survive. Only you know which of the many damages on offer you can live with, what regrets you can live with. Each of us stands as an individual with a perspective the evolution of which only that individual will ever understand.

I don’t agree with you, and I don’t need to in order to recognise this.

You, I will not judge.

Thank you, again, to those who have engaged and responded with more kindness that my tone invited. There’s that wonderfully saying, which my brain is currently mangling, which goes something like: you shouldn’t say thank you when being given something that should be yours by right. That is true. It’s also true to say that unpacking privilege is hard, learning to listen is hard, and everything about this is hard.

Look at this. Traffic spike from the initial posting of this on Friday. Such reach. The mind boggles.

This blog has no volume and the reach is tiny. I thought to myself, I am actually being listened to. This might be a nudge toward change. But, then I saw this:

No, not much reach at all. Very few people are listening. (I probably account for a large chunk of the yellow wedge, with all the reading, previewing, rereading I've been doing.)

When I look at those graphs, I must be thankful for those who listened, and who gave my voice genuine consideration. Thank you.

I’m withdrawing to go sift my private ashes, and because withdrawing, too, is a means of surviving. I’ll be leaving the comments open, as some have taken this post to be a safe place to speak, even with the veil of anonymity. I will certainly enable that. I hope in withdrawing my absence will also make other spaces safer for those I have silenced in my rage.

This isn’t retreat or defeat. I simply don’t have any spoons, or knives, or forks left to give. There’s only ash. Staying out of hospital will always be more important than activism. For me, one cannot happen without the other. I will never be able to contribute as much as a healthy person, and so I call this enough, on my terms.

I’m still here. I daresay, now that I’ve made myself this ridiculous new hat, inconvenient PoC shark will venture into the crowded waters again, when a volcano is grumbling. But later, later. The fare of this blog and my other social media platforms will return to what they have always been: self-absorbed, introspective, pretentious and self-deprecating wank.

I’m giving myself permission to return and update this last section as I see fit. Add to, not edit. I’ve been writing this across the span of the day, simply because my mind won’t hold all I wish to address at the one time. I’m sure there are things I’ve missed, but this needs to be put in place now.

I’m going to dive deep and dark, and I’m going to survive.

You hurting from abuse, you hurting from marginalisation; may you find your way through this and do the same.

Aha! I remembered some things to add.

Shit, I just forgot one again. No, wait, got it.

I see now that in my opening salvo there is much to be interpreted as attempting to absolve the bully of bullying. That was not my intention. I still stand by my attempt to try and highlight that there is more damage going on from other vectors in all this, but the approach was a mistake. I'll leave it as it is, as I'm accountable for what I've said, but for those who feel I have dismissed their hurt; I am sorry.

Also, there was some definite good to come from this. The pledge by publishers not to reveal the personal information of their authors is definitely a good thing, and should be acknowledged. Forgive me for not linking, but I'm loathe to direct the animosity aimed toward me at anyone else.