Monday, October 5, 2015

Snarled Up

This past weekend felt a little snarly (as in tangled, not growly), and when I sat down to stitch last night, the thread was snarly too. It's thirty-year-old crochet thread that belonged to my Sicilian grandmother---perhaps the problem is its age? (Thread does deteriorate with age.)

Rather than switch, I decided to sew on, letting the thread twist and knot. It reflected how I felt anyway, and since I wasn't making anything in particular, I couldn't go wrong. 
In fact, it was kind of fun, and I ended up liking how it looks like a crazy map:

Maybe I'll keep going with it, though hopefully my week will be smoother.

I got my snarled up over several little things, but what's bothering me most is the unthinking race and gender biases I consistently run into as an editor. 
I'd forgotten how ever-present these are--they're so tightly stitched into the fabric of our thinking, they're hard to remove. 

The authors are all well-educated liberal arts types who should know better, but over and over again, they write sentences such as, 
He was the son of George Smith and his wife Harriet, 
as if the mother is just an appendage. 

And over and over, I change this to He was the son of George and Harriet Smith [or, Harriet and George Smith].

Race biases are much harder to fix, because they mostly show up as an absence. 
Or as an afterthought: 
Also, there were some black people [who shall remain unnamed]. 

You can see the author thinking, "Must be inclusive", but they don't enter into it with any liveliness, any real interest... any sense of adventure.
I wish the authors would think as if they were writing for the young Sherman Alexie, say, or Alice Walker as a teenager. Wouldn't that be fun?

It's wearying, and it's disheartening, not even because it's racist or sexist, but because it's so unthinking,
so unimaginative, so dull, so normal.

It's The Humans; we tend toward that.

Ah, well. I'll keep my heart up and keep trying to add a little spark of interest.

 Photo of young Sherman Alexie from his Twitter account.


Zhoen said...

Tangled up in Blue. Looks an impressionistic Fury Road vehicle.

Erasure is in many ways worse than overt hostility. No place to begin to fight. Keep translating, keep shining lights in those dark corners, naming names and prodding buttocks.

bink said...

Your stitchery looks like a map of a solar system. I like.

At least your authors racial blindness isn't as bad as in some recently uncovered in textbooks. This quote is from yesterday's NY Post: "A World Geography textbook by McGraw-Hill Education was published in Texas earlier this year and says in a caption about immigration that the Atlantic slave trade “brought millions of workers from Africa to the southern United States to work on agricultural plantations.” I heard it followed up with a video that implied the migration was forced and that the laborers were paid. For shame!