The following letter from Discorder’s Editor-in-Chief relates to an article published in the Winter 2018-19 print edition of the magazine.
The following is an apology to Yilin Wang, her interviewer, Elaine Woo, and fellow interviewees, Shazia Hafiz Ramji and Jane Shi, the contributors of “Writerly Asians & Allies Against #racismcanlit.”
In this article, you will notice a redaction replaced with ellipsis. This redaction censored information that was originally a part of this article, and the resulting text therefore does not represent Yilin’s complete interview responses. This redaction was done last minute without dialogue with Yilin or her collaborators. I feel the weight of my editorial decision and take full accountability for not being more rigorous in questioning my actions as an editor. I am regretful for not taking a moment to say “we’re not going to meet this publication deadline, and that’s okay.”
My actions, though not fully informed, not fully rigorous, were not made in an effort to harm a community that I belong to. While I am fully aware that my actions are akin to the censorship Yilin has experienced from actions of racism and prejudice, actions that served to intentionally cause harm, mine, though misplaced and lacking in professional experience, came from empathetic care and I feel pain for failing someone whose side I am on.
In moments when one is facing multiple layers of responsibility, it becomes difficult to discern everything that is at stake. I’ve been asking myself how does one work to preserve and validate their personal experiences while simultaneously holding and validating another’s?
The holding of oneself, while holding another is nothing short of a feat and perhaps it is illogical to assume that we can do it with any amount of grace, but that’s not to say there isn’t a beauty in the effort, a beauty in the curve of learning. It’s daunting to think about, let alone begin the task of holding more than just ourselves, but to actively engage with holding a community, especially after living through one invalidating experience after another as marginalized people. There’s not a lot of space on this periphery we’ve been forced into. Having this ominous and powerful centre that has pushed us to these edges, that has for so long dictated how to engage with each other, it’s difficult to imagine another way of being, to trust there is a different direction to look toward that isn’t the centre.
But I’m trying. I’m looking and listening and I want to thank Yilin and her fellow collaborators for showing me aspects of this process I have yet to learn. Thank you for reminding that I am still vulnerable to overlooking my own internalization of oppressive mechanisms and for reminding me that regardless of the communities we belong to, regardless of our shared experiences that bring those communities together, to maintain the ethic of speaking nearby and not for.
There are many hesitations that come up when realizing how we unintentionally engage with the toxicity of colonialism and systemic oppression. Hesitations aside, I think this an opportunity to address some of the bigger problems that led us here. Despite being new to Discorder and new to editing in this capacity, I understand that I am in a position to advocate the urgency in our need for opportunities to creatively address and ethically grow new sets of working conditions. It is imperative that the community at our station begin laying some needed groundwork in professional development for all volunteers and employees at CiTR/Discorder. In addition to our annual training sessions on creating safer spaces and the impacts of sexual violence and workplace bullying and harassment, in the new year, we plan to host an anti-oppression workshop for all CiTR and Discorder staff members and volunteers. If you’re on our email listserv (DjLand), you will receive our email regarding further workshop and RSVP details. If you have any questions or would like to join our CiTR/Discorder listserv, please contact myself (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Dora Dubber (email@example.com).
While I am regretful that Yilin has decided to no longer partner her event with Discorder, we will continue to show support for the event and her creative work, and are grateful to her for magnifying the issues of racism that permeate many of our creative spaces, like CanLit.
I am proud of the content comprised in this issue. I see the potential to illuminate these mistakes in a way that amplifies the urgency in needing to subvert internalized systemic oppression; this issue is strong and necessary and I am grateful to Yilin and her fellow team for indicating what has been alack. I believe in maintaining the willingness to work together in an effort to learn how to better be together. I believe in the building of our peripheral communities and I believe in trusting the labour required to lay that foundation.
Mallory Amirault, Editor-in-Chief, Discorder
– that uninvited magazine on Coast Salish territory of the hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ speaking Musqueam peoples from CiTR 101.9FM