VIDA Response to Boston Review’s Statement on Junot Díaz

June 7, 2018 | by VIDA | 4

 

June 7, 2018

 

VIDA Response to Boston Review’s Statement on Junot Díaz

 

Addendum (6/8/18): This letter is to address the responsibilities of organizations and institutions in how they respond to allegations of sexual misconduct and/or harassment. This letter is in direct response to Boston Review‘s statement, which we feel fails to offer any possible victims protection in the form of an adequate investigation, and fails to seriously consider its responsibility to its contributors and readership, especially women and non binary people, and especially those of color. The Boston Review statement sets a dangerous precedent.

 

In 2018, in a climate increasingly defined by the resistance of women and non-binary people, and by people of color speaking up against the marginalization of their bodies and communities, we must take a serious stance against institutions that insist on creating safe havens for oppressors instead of the oppressed.

On June 5, 2018, Deborah Chasman and Joshua Cohen, the Editors-in-Chief of the national political and literary magazine Boston Review, responded to allegations of sexual misconduct by Fiction Editor and Pulitzer Prize winner Junot Díaz, stating that they would continue their editorial relationship with Díaz.

The statement from the Boston Review reads like a template for rationalizing inaction, laying out point by point the logic our culture uses in its continued failure to prioritize the safety of women and non-binary people. It also exemplifies the consequences that arise in institutions that fail to foster diverse and equitable mastheads and tables of content. Poor diversity can lead to tokenism, and tokenism is harmful to everyone and can lead to a troubling power dynamic within marginalized communities.

We fear Boston Review’s statement will silence women and non-binary writers, especially those of color, who may no longer feel safe submitting their writing, especially their fiction, to the Boston Review. What’s worse, if survivors want to be in the pages of the Boston Review, they will have to submit their fiction to a known abuser.

Deborah Chasman and Joshua Cohen state that they have never received any complaints about Díaz. We ask: In what ways has Boston Review made a space for people to safely report incidents of harassment? Does the magazine have an email address that they give every single contributor or person who works for them to use if they have something to report? Does the Boston Review believe that incidents of harassment or abuse do not exist outside of their awareness, or that the victims who have come forward are not to be believed?

Also troubling is the idea put forth in Boston Review’s statement that there is a baseline of bad acts that must be reached in order for the editors to respond, and that Díaz hasn’t reached it. At what point is abusive behavior bad enough to merit corrective action? At what point is repeated coercive and abusive behavior over the course of a decade considered a pattern? While, like Chasman and Cohen, we empathize with all victims of sexual assault, being a victim never justifies or excuses the victimization of others, nor does it exempt Díaz from being held accountable for his actions as an editor and gatekeeper.

In March of this year, VIDA launched #saferLIT because we recognize that abuse and sexual harassment silence marginalized voices, and consume community members’ time and energy. We created a pledge for journals and presses to prioritize the safety and well-being of all members of our community.

We believe that literary organizations and presses that discover that they harbor either the work or physical presence of known and serial predators must make it clear to their members and readership that they will not tolerate such behavior. #saferLIT has created guidelines for presses to use in handling this kind of situation, and we are in the process of making similar guidelines for literary organizations.

By keeping known, active predators on a journal’s masthead, it hands these bad actors cultural capital with which to lure and harm more victims. By giving an abuser a platform, Boston Review is widening a dangerous net. Silence and inaction also send a clear and terrible message to all of those in the community who have ever been a victim of harassment or violence.

We applaud the poetry editors of Boston Review—Timothy Donnelly, BK Fischer, and Stefania Heim—for stepping down in the wake of a decision with which they firmly disagree. We hope this sets a precedent for the literary community.

We ask you to join us in working to make all corners of the literary community as safe as possible. We ask the community to work together to make statements like Deborah Chasman’s and Joshua Cohen’s for the Boston Review the unfortunate exception and not the rule.

If you believe institutions should be safe havens for the oppressed and not their oppressors, please join VIDA in taking a stand and sign your name here to have it included below

Signed,

VIDA: Women in Literary Arts
Board of Directors

with support from:

Monica Byrne
Jennifer Weiner
Daniel José Older
Elissa Schappell
Rob Spillman
Lilly Dancyger, Deputy Editor, Narratively
Anthonio Aiello
Lorna Dee Cervantes
Sarah Clark
Marisa Siegel, Editor-in-Chief, The Rumpus
Michelle Tea
Marcelle Heath
Sarah Fawn Montgomery, Nonfiction Editor, Prairie Schooner
Emily Gould
MariNaomi
Sari Botton, Essays Editor, Longreads
Joy Katz
Christopher Soto
Emily X.R. Pan
Lacy Johnson
Susan Bernofsky
Seema Yasmin
Jami Attenberg
Melissa Moorer
Kyle Dacuyan
Lisa Summe
Jenny Sadre-Orafai
Dia Lacina
Chelsea Biondolillo
Beth Hahn
Muriel Leung, Apogee Journal
Coco Wilder
sally burnette
Julianne Neely, Iowa Writer’s Workshop 18
KC Trommer
Emily Vizzo
Amish Trivedi
Tina Zafreen Alam, Blog Editor, Shameless Magazine
Rashaad Thomas
Zachary Bos, New England Review of Books
Maureen Seaton
Nicole Tong
Michael Steinman
Allie Marini
Christina Shideler
Christine Murray, Ireland
Gayle Brandeis
Genevieve Mills
Angela Maria Spring, Duende District Bookstore
Donna de la Perriere, Curator, Bay Area Poetry Marathon
Candace Williams
Hannah VanderHart
Kelly Gregory
Sarah Cook
Jeff VanderMeer
Luci Sotelo
Paul Killebrew
Noah Baldino
Cheryl Harris Curtis
Elizabeth Onusko
Jennifer Natalya Fink
Laura Hinton, CUNY
Suzanne Warren
Marci Ameluxen
Ellen Kombiyil
Liz Bowen
Elizabeth Treadwell
Eloisa Amezcua, The Shallow Ends
Mitchell Glazier
Joel Statz
Annette C. Boehm
Kate Colby
Nikki López
Shanna Compton, Bloof Books
Lindsey Novak
Ashley Miranda
Kit-Bacon Gressitt, Publisher, Writers Resist
Simeon Berry
Dominique Durden
Elizabeth Deanna Morris Lakes, Blog Editor, The Collagist
Julayne Lee
Brandon Amico
Vanessa Angélica Villarreal
Dr. Sarah Einstein
Christen Clifford The New School
Gervanna Stephens
Benjamin Rozzi
Nadxi Nieto
Anna Kreienberg
Kenning JP García (Rigorous)
Isobel O’Hare
Bradley Babendir
E. Kristin Anderson
Steven D. Schroeder
Wendy Wimmer
Emma Kersey
Avery M. Guess
Roberto Gabriel Montes
Stefani Tran, Rambutan Literary
Sarah Nichols
Charles Theonia, Femmescapes
Nathan Goldman, Blog Editor, Full Stop
Jami Nakamura Lin
Sarah Malley
Keegan Lester
Kelly Davio
Charlotte Geater
Gillian Conoley, Editor, Volt magazine
Kolleen Carney Hoepfner, Drunk Monkeys
Tammy Ho, Founding Co-editor, Cha: An Asian Literary Journal
Clarissa Estrada
Nancy Babendir
Cat Ingrid Leeches, Black Warrior Review
Addie Tsai, The Grief Diaries
Sasha Moghimi-Kian
Sofia Quintero
Kassi Underwood
Michael McNally-Costello
Jen Calleja
Kathryn Waring, Hot Metal Bridge
Kailey Tedesco
Julian Randall
Kim Jacobs-Beck
Chris Herrmann
Catherine Cafferty
Emilia Phillips
Janet McAdams
Laura Bogart
Timothy Otte
Richard Quigley
Lindsay Lusby
Erika Wurth
Heidi Czerwiec
Ren Jender
Lynn Domina
Cherry Tree: A National Literary Journal @ Washington College
J. Taylor Boyd, poetry editor at Black Warrior Review
Vitoria Lynne McCoy
Destiny Birdsong
Diane Shipley
Editors of Bear Review
Meghan Lamb
Shivanee Ramlochan
Emmalie Dropkin
Daniel Stickler
Catherine Brereton
Tom Stock-Hendel
Jackson Ferderer
Toby Altman
Jennifer L. Pozner, Women In Media & News
Seo-Young Chu (Queens College, CUNY)
Carlea Holl-Jensen
Giovanna Pompele
Jessica Baran
Tyler Crumrine
Chase Berggrun
Kenzie Allen, Anthropoid
Emily Rosko
Karen Montgomery Moore
Phoenix Glass-Destruge
Glass Poetry Press
Katie Manning, Editor-in-Chief of Whale Road Review
Evan Kleekamp, Les Figues Press
Sarah Neilson
Brianna Pike
Grace Mattern
Kate Showalter
Richie Narvaez
MaryLouise Torres
Marina Weiss
H. Melt
Cody Stetzel
Jeanann Verlee
O’Phylia Smiley
Kevin McGee
Michael S. Hennessey, PennSound & Jacket2
Ann Skinner
Yasmin Adele Majeed
Nicole Erhardt
Namrata Poddar
Sumudu Samarawickrama
Kate Foc
Marilee Goad
Anna Potter
Emily Brandt
Johnny Longfellow, Midnight Lane Boutique
Yanyi, Foundry
Barrett Warner
Amy Dryansky
Janice Lee, Executive Editor of Entropy
Shelly Romero
Bethany Hindmarsh, BC Prison Writing Network
Maureen Langloss
Matthew Kosinski
Jennifer Mattson
Nancy Nigrosh, Literary Business
Cali Kopczick
Yasmin Belkhyr, Editor-in-Chief, Winter Tangerine & Honeysuckle Press
MSW Squared Counseling LLC
Alden Jones
Kristine Sloan
Sophia Ritchie
Beverly Pérez Rego
Natalia Sylvester
Chris Stroffolino
Erin Siegal McIntyre, Senior Fellow, Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism
Camille Goodison, CUNY
Laura Gail Grohe
Jennifer Key
Daniel Nester
Andrew Wessels
Kerry Neville
Sam Ross
Eddie Schneider
James Allen Hall
Brittany Shoot
Alexis Almeida
Natasha Guzmán
Kathleen Gibbons
Natalie Eilbert, The Atlas Review
Aman Williams
Kathy M Burnette, The Brain Lair Bookstore
Amelia Mangan
Paola Capó-García
Teo Mungaray, Cotton Xenomorph
Rebecca Connors
Nancy Hightower
Raymond Gibson
Consuelo Marshall
Saoirse
Sanchari Sur, Lambda Literary Fellow
Shauna Osborn, Executive Director of Puha Hubiya
Samantha Lamph, Memoir Mixtapes
Christopher James / Jellyfish Review
Kanika Lawton, Editor-In-Chief, L’Éphémère Review
Jason R Jimenez
Kathleen Alcala
Madhushree Ghosh
Kerri Webster
Caroline DeLuca
Anna Vogt, California College of the Arts
John Milas
Marco Antonio Huerta
Linda Dove
Benjamin Seanor
Chen Chen
Hannah Dellabella
Ottilie Mulzet
Claudia Cortese
Susan Power
Kathryn Metcalfe, Nights at the Round Table
Marcella Haddad
Hillary Martin
Essy Stone
Flish McCarthy
Michelle Sinsky
Sarah Lewman
Mark Bibbins
Carolyn Zaikowski
Deena Loeffler
Meghan Privitello
Wanda Deglane
Richard Jeffrey Newman
Sharon Wexler, University of Florida Creative Writing Program Alumni
Sandee Woodside
Yvette Siegert
Leslie McGrath
Suzanne Mercury
Cheyanne Cierpial
So Mayer
Madeleine Corley
Gale Massey
Cecilia Deer
Keri Bertino
Deanna Rasch
Raena Shirali, Muzzle Magazine
Anne Keefe
Christy Davids
Barbara Crooker
Nathan Xavier Osorio
Jenn Northington
Christopher Kondrich
Corinne A Schneider
Trenton Pollard
Rosebud Ben-Oni
Martin Ott
Carley Moore
Kathleen Ossip
Greg Nissan
Danielle Badra
Janice Worthen
Gina Myers
Tamiko Beyer
Matthew Thorburn
David Anderson
Jasmine Dreame Wagner
Patty Paine, Editor, Diode Poetry Journal & Diode Editions
Dan Vera
R. Seibert
Valerie Duff-Strautmann
Aura Mauricio
Danuta Hinc
Matt McDonald
Anna Black
Evan Klavon
Leticia Urieta
Katelyn Keating
Hannah Cohen
Corina Copp, Harriet
Natasha Murdock
Jesse Nissim
Kristin Abraham
K. Tempest Bradford
Eric Dolan
Khaya Osborne
Joanna Valente – Yes Poetry and Luna Luna Magazine
Chrissy Montelli
Abbey Cliffe
Elisa Gonzalez
Kathleen Wall, Regina SK. Canada
Leanna James Blackwell, Director, MFA in Creative Nonfiction, Bay Path Univ.
Christopher Soriano
Tom Cho
Gregory Howard
John Bloomberg-Rissman
Kathy Bloomberg-Rissman
Frances Justine Post
zev keisch
Hannah Bonner
Emari DiGiorgio, Stockton University
Andrew K. Peterson
Paul Guest
Steve Halle
Jodie Hayford
Luiza Flynn-Goodlett, Editor-in-Chief, Foglifter
Jeremy Birkline
Candice Kail
Amy Alexander, poet
Lea Banks
Kristin Garth
Shira Abramovich
Valerie Brett
Stephanie Cawley
Rachel Tanner
Ernesto Cepeda
Leah Piepzna-Samarasinha
The Brown Orient Literary
Amika Sethia
Shekinah Vera-Cruz, Editor in Chief at The Poetry Annals
Jenn Lee
Elizabeth Clark Wessel, Argos Books
Breena Clarke
Kathryn Levy
MS Baker
Katharine Weber
Jane Lewty
Lauren Zyber
Devin Kelly
Jenny Bhatt
Riley Harber
Brenda Sieczkowski
Julia Beach Anderson
Suzi F Garcia
Richard Lucyshyn
Jennifer Saunders
Laraine Herring
Alice Weiss, independent woman, retired civil rights attorney, emerging poet.
Sarah Perchikoff
Kendall A. Bell, Maverick Duck Press
Brielle Kelton, Maverick Duck Press
Beth Seetch, poet
M. Stone
Melinda Moustakis
Marci Vogel
Jordan Hoxsie
Varsity Goth Press
Burning House Press
Emma Sovich
S. Erin Batiste
Tim Looney
Alex McElroy, Gulf Coast
Deborah Garfinkle
Ottilie Mulzet, translator
Elizabeth Theriot, Black Warrior Review Nonfiction Editor
Amy Lemmon
Brighde Moffat / Hematopoiesis Press
Alisa Rivera
Dulce (María) Reyes Bonilla, Negra Con Lapiz Blog
Tara Reeser
Hyejung Kook
Cheryl E. Ball, Editor, Kairos: A Journal of Rhetoric, Technology, and Pedagogy
Crystal Dreisbach
Ashaki M. Jackson, Ph.D.
Julia Conrad
Rachel Haley Himmelheber
Elizabeth O’Connell-Thompson, Chicago Publishers Resource Center/Wasted Pages Writers’ Workshop
Benjamin Kissell
Carrie V. Gordh, Adjunct English Professor SDCCD
Litsa Dremousis, author of and essayist
Bani Amor
Sarah B. Boyle
Nicole Wallace
Laura Henriksen
Stacy Szymaszek
Lori Desrosiers, Editor-in-Chief, Naugatuck River Review
OUT/CAST
Cindy Thompson
Julian McAllister
Emily Mohn-Slate
Ellen McGrath Smith
Shailja Patel
Toryn Rogers
Mathew Foresta
Joe W. Bratcher III, Malvern Books & Host Publications
Gayatri Devi
Alicia C Decker, Penn State
Kelly Lynn Thomas, Wild Age Press
Chase Burke, Fiction Editor, Black Warrior Review
Sarah Marcus-Donnelly
Shannon Barber
Sara Vander Zwaag
Lisa Ludden
Denise Enck, Empty Mirror
Tyler Brewington
M. Ryan Murphy
D.M. Aderibigbe
Alina Stefanescu
Jennifer L. Knox
Jill Bressler

 

NOTE: We will update this document as new signatures come in.

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