Unless you’ve been stuck under a rock, the numerous discussions of fear and loathing taking place in certain segments of the white American literary strata have become the publishing industry’s new normal. Fronts of contention are endless and tiresome, with a manufactured crisis of consciousness generated every season like a bad plague. It if isn’t a collective of white writers bitching they are being scorned from publishing opportunities for their racial background, gender identification, and heterosexual preference it is a dedicated ensemble of white writers moaning from all corners of the American literary spectrum policing other writers for their lack of self-censorship on any possible thing that could offend anyone.

Literary gatekeeping with white writers has become so involved it’s damn near a full time job for the self-appointed, who viciously indulge the role as if a publishing deal hinged on their success reporting any eye raising author that said anything politically incorrect. Such issues culminate into an explosion of conflict across social media, where writers drag writers while readers, agents, and publishers watch silently from the sidelines as the drama unfolds, silently removing themselves and their support. It is as if writers and publishers have forgotten that the goal of American publishing is not to play judge, jury, executioner on another’s work to become famous from virtue signaling but to sell books for profit based on the merits of the work itself.

There is no one to blame for this but the white writers and publishers that caused this. Let the outcry of self-denial rage and backlash protest begin.

American publishing has spiraled into a soiree of white writers publicly pressuring themselves and others into producing censored work that prohibits the tip of any protected group’s feathers from being ruffled in the least little bit. The public social media judgements on Tom Monteleone, Peter Guttridge, and Otto Penzler over their politically incorrect opinions about the state of publishing from their corner of the literary world caused a furor that branded the authors and their works sexist, racist, chauvinistic, and misogynistic with full malice. A fringe of white American authors led the charge in moral turpitude, resulting in the aforementioned authors being completely banished from literary markets, platforms, awards, and publication respectively while the readers watching washed their hands of entire genres of the self-censoring cooperative.

Mantras such as freedom of speech is not freedom of consequence spawned from such actions, used as a politicized slogan against any writer and their publisher for daring to write without restriction pertaining to races, genders, and sexualities white writers gloat are disenfranchised. While freedom of speech is actually freedom of consequence by definition, the re-interpretation has created a bubble of fringed white writers feeling scorned in a publishing world that no longer takes chances on the bold and daring but actively hides behinds every shadow when writers indulge in crafting believable characters outside of their racial, sexual, and religious backgrounds. This tit for tat hides the racism it promotes while sitting on a hill of marketable checkboxes of acceptance neither the writers affected by it or the readership wanted or asked for.

Racism is alive and well in the American literature market. While I don’t disagree that non-white writers have made a come up the last fifty years on the American literary scene, because they have, that time has passed. Gains made yesterday are erased under diversity and inclusion today, producing its own unique discrimination and segregation accepted by white writers in another name. This modern era of literary racism has aged like a fine wine, smooth on the pallet when you sip it and goes down in one gulp with no semblance of a hangover. Times have changed and with it the terms and rules. Let’s start with the term BIPOC, an acronym for biracial indigenous people of color. This one term has limited the amount of non-white writers in the game today, though no one really understands the devil in the BIPOC details.

This generic term has crept into American publishing and is thrown around by white writers, white agents, and white publishers like a red badge of token prejudiced courage. BIPOC promotes discrimination, penalizing each individual race equally by lumping them all in under one moniker with the commonality being systemic racism and institutional injustices. Such broad strokes ensure a major swarth of literature, particularly from Black writers, can be willfully ignored by white agents and white publishers who have a nice opt out option by selecting non-Black persons of color that have safer baggage to publish without appearing discriminative.  This literary moment of truth has made it extremely easy for white publishers to fill slots with tokens that appeal more to the white aesthetic while maintaining a color profile, with more of their perceived racial sensibilities that are easier to market to a white American literary market. Don’t believe the hype, check out author Elizabeth Warren, who is a BIPOC by definition. As a former recipient of Affirmative Action for having a Native American ancestor, in Pow Wow Chow she classified herself as a Cherokee Indian.

So where are non-white writers in all this? Seldom taken in serious context, that’s where.

White writers are free to air their grievances to the point of nausea yet when non-white writers reciprocate without the BIPOC moniker they are attacked at best and blackballed at worst if they don’t meet protected class criteria that gives them a politically correct pass to discuss issues that only align with their selected protected class. Don’t believe the hype, check out Alex Perez’s infamous interview with Hobart Pulp, which exploded into a social media controversy. Perez, who gave a candid commentary on his perspective of the state of American commercial and independent publishing, was attacked and denigrated as a non-white anti-feminist, anti LGBTQQAI misogynist writer, among other slanderous accusations. The fallout and subsequent bullying of the publication via social media led to the blackballing of Perez from the majority of commercial and indie circles and the entire editorial staff at Hobart Pulp quitting in a virtue signaling mess, destroying its readership and its bold selections of subjects to feature.

In more recent times white writer Cait Corrain, who allegedly was in her feelings for being forced to write BIPOC characters in her novel to secure a publishing deal, was caught review bombing her non-white competition in an alleged act of racist vengeance. Black fantasy writer Bethany Baptiste, one of her review bomb victims, subsequently faced harassments and verbal attacks across social media platforms in the wake of the scandal for calling out her behavior while providing a timeline of evidence involving Corrain’s behavior with her and other non-white authors. Baptiste, who proclaimed Corrain was a “albino snake in the henhouse” explaining the situation, was viciously scrutinized as an ableist and targeted so fiercely that attention on Corrain’s indiscretions shifted to Baptiste in a classic case of the victim being punished for the sins of the offender.

As a Black chick in the writing game, this is what American publishing is in the 21st century.

Sales don’t lie. If the readers are tired of the bullshit they simply will not buy books, and that’s what’s been happening. Contrary to popular opinion, white writers buying books from writers that have orgasmed in their hive mind sterilization and check boxed trigger warnings are not going to save the day. Publishers and agents need to get a shot glass of courage and get employees in their companies that can sell their products to the diverse readership that craves the edgy, visceral, rough around the edges new works without trigger warning and other mechanisms designed to baby the offended with its staff or social media circle jerk. In other words, people who remember how books used to be acquired and sold when people actually bought them and writers wrote for the readership and not the off chance of getting a film or television show produced.

This is a multifaceted conversation but a good start of the discussion since all of the aforementioned is contributing to the death of the American literary marketplace. Readers don’t give a shit about white writers picking and choosing who gets a seat at the literary table based on a white political agenda hidden in virtue signaling morality. Readers have no patience with white writers waving the racial reclassification flag that diminishes non-white writers in representation, separates them as tokens and the silenced rebels, and pities them to the point of crippling them as unicorns that can’t get book deals on the merits of their work but rather how many boxes can be checked that co-sign marginalized acceptance as a cheap marketing tactic. All they want is a good book that speaks to their preference of choice, not one dictated to them by people that want to change their personal prejudices without knowing them.

Above all, everyone wants the white writers and their tokens to shut the fuck up and just do their work.