From the Editors: Readers may access the complete In Solidarity essay series by Aurielle Marie in our About menu because equity work is part and parcel of our mission. Insight from artists, journalists, activists, and thinkers, including Aurielle Marie, will continue to serve as our North Star toward balanced staffing and publishing. To continue engaging this work, we invite our literary network who agreed to join us on this journey to share what has worked, what has been helpful, what has felt supportive or aligned with their work already in progress, and what challenges they have realized during this process. We are also searching for any examples of solidarity seen or experienced since the series began. We would like to share these reflections intermittently through our newsletter as learning opportunities for the greater community of organizations seeking guidance on how to redress the disparities so familiar to this nation. Literary organizations are welcome to reach out at [email protected]. Please include In Solidarity in the Subject Line. This invitation will remain open indefinitely.
This is the last letter in a series of 10 dedicated to engaging The Offing’s literary network in social justice and a value shift toward equity within our respective organizations.
Goodbyes are bittersweet.
Nearly two years ago, The Offing magazine reached out to ask that I consider writing about equity as it related to literature, journals, and the current state of our country. The current state of the country, was an old story; Black folks resisting an endless persecution, communities on the brink of catasrophe, and the system we always knew would fail was splitting at its seams. I was skeptical, to say the least. What can words do in the face of such grief and such tyranny? So often(too often) Black people are asked to stifle our rage and our exhaustion, and instead be articulate in our descriptions of white supremacy and State violence for the supposed benefit of a white or non-Black ally, if such a thing exists. Even as the boot of the State presses down upon our necks, we are asked to wipe our tears, swallow our wailing, and perform heroism. Reader, I’m never more articulate than I am furious. I resist such martydoms in hopes that one day solidarity can exist without me having to kill whatever may be still human in me. But, selfishly, In Solidarity offered me a place to consider what the utility of a writer (or an institution of writers) could be in a failing State. I began this with a fear that my self-reflections could be perceived by someone as more beautiful than devastating, more like inspiration than inertia. I hope, somewhere in here, I have succeeded in making you pause, and then move. I hope, somewhere in the ruin of my anger, my worry, my hope, I’ve invited you into a deeper relationship with your privileged edges, your responsibilities, and provided you with something more useful than passive fury. I hope, too, that I’ve done this not at the expense of my siblings-in-arms, the Black and brown folks who have been following along to check their own math, to be witnessed and to witness. Thank you for being here, for emailing me with your critiques and your marvelings, and for gathering with me. It’s been a rough period, and with so much vying for our attention, that you saved some of yours for me is a true gift.
Endings are bittersweet, because what is ahead of us is so much more unfamiliar than the world that smolders behind us. I have hopes that In Solidarity provided you a moment to radically imagine the world we can build through our audacity, intention, and grit. I’m not saying it will be easy; we face a contemporary recession and a civil rights crisis and writers everywhere are grappling with what we mere writers can do to change the material realities we face. A good friend, award winning writer and comrade texted me days after the Supreme Court’s verdict regarding reproductive choice (or, now, the lack thereof). “Hi My friend. I hope you’re well (as much as possible, anyway). Do you mind if I ask for book suggestions? Particularly from Black folks/Black writers meditating on who/how poets are supposed to be in society? Especially texts that point to anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist, pro-Black, fugitive perspectives.”
Of course, the list is long and some of those writers we’ve read throughout In Solidarity. But what gave me pause was the particularity of her question. The consideration of “who and how” poets are supposed to be. In light of the past two years and what we’ve learned. In honor of those who we’d like to be in solidarity with, who and how are you supposed to be in the world, reader? Who are you? What has informed your own conjuring, and what’s missing?
As for me, I’d like to think myself a builder and a destroyer, someone who creates opportunity on the page and in the world for more fugitive possibility. I hope I’m writing in such a way that moves my community to dream more freely and move with more audacity. May that audacity inspire you to create more safehouses and support systems in your writing careers and institutions for fugitive thought. May you scrutinize the world more often, more closely. May all of this be a step towards building a newer, freer world. A world in which our writing and our lives may concern themselves with other, more beautiful things than ideations of resistance. If that’s the case, then I trust we’re all building the boat together. And there’s room, here, for all of us.
Thank you for welcoming my thoughts, and creating space in your life for freedom work. You’ve heard me mention the word hope here, many times. Even in all my pessimism, I still have some. I share it with you. Now, go take what you’ve learned and do some good with it. Until next time.