Looks like we are not quite finished. Jon Tobias reminds me I did not post his second entry, either. Any more of you out there? Please, let me know. We will have a total of five finalists–details on their selection and prompt to follow soon. In the meantime, I would like to begin telling you the thoughts of the man behind the curtain in the land of Oz. (that would be moi ).
by Thornton Sully
My conspicuous aversion to commenting on the entries to the Drinking Fountain has been intentional. Firstly, I did not want my own personality to dominate or even intrude on the interplay among participants. (This required remarkable self-constraint, by the way). Secondly, I am a straight, privileged white male, meaning I never had to wrestle with my sexual identity, never had my race or gender as an impediment to life, liberty, or getting a job or getting laid, never had to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous bigotry. Among my privileges was passivity without consequence. Among my rights was indifference without castigation. Comments, I reasoned, should therefore be reserved for those on the front lines, whose credibility based on their experiences exceeds my own.
I intended that this contest be a lectern for the bludgeoned, those who day in and day out navigate our treacherous, racist landscape, and could tell us something about what that was/is like. Of equal importance, I wanted this contest to be a forum for those who, like myself, ate their way out of the cocoon of their youth to discover in flight the racism in metastatic bloom from the Redwood Forest to the Gulf Stream Waters, and to tell us about that awakening.
All this, in the service of healing, understanding, and catharsis.
The next installment of this editorial will be my thoughts about how we did.
15 thoughts on “We”
Human beings, of course, do not neatly fit into categories, and using the phrase “privileged white male”, as so many people do nowadays, as an epithet, makes it impossible to recognize the reality of any individual’s life. Many things can be simultaneously true. One can be a white male and have been raised, regardless of financial circumstances, with profoundly damaging abuse and neglect–as, for example, Donald Trump was.
And many of the mostly young white males who have committed mass shootings seem to fit on the autism spectrum, and neither their ethnicities nor their sex nor their families’ financial advantages conferred any social advantage, ultimately, on them.
And advocates for the mentally ill and the neurobiologically dysfunctional, rather than helping us to see how repeated failures and an inability to fit within neatly-drawn categories can lead to explosive rage and despair, flee from the people most in need of that advocacy.
Wretched behavior always comes from somewhere; it is caused by something; to castigate without examining and trying to find out what went wrong in any human being’s life to create a small or a large monster will not help us to eliminate any of the species.
There is no generic white man, or white woman, or black man, or black woman, or any other kind of person. Every individual brings a unique history to any story.
Can you fight racism, prejudice, bigotry or marginalization by bringing hearty helpings of any of those to the battle?
Thank you Thorn for your self-explanation of your restraint in commentary & why; although debatable as to accuracy. While recognising that YOUR RULE of including those supposedly left out innocently dates back to at least the 2010 cartoon days, issuing UNEARNED PASSES to be finalists is as UNFAIR as your past practice of pulling names at RANDOM from a bull’s testicule cup in some contests. The TWO AUTOMATIC FREE PASSES to one published & one yet to be published in “The Drinking Fountain”, simply isn’t CRICKET. Let each contestant EARN their finalist’ election slot by MERIT alone. I would refuse that INJUST PRIVILEGE if afforded me, because CHARACTER & FAIR PLAY matter more.
Feel free, Lady Pafia, to lay bare flaws, weaknesses and deficiencies in my writing…
(other than the unfortunate typos I ought to have caught before…)
My hope for the finals is two fold (given that the preliminary rules established over site history will most likely not be amended). The first is to request that the editor’s “how we did” wait until after the chosen winner is announced online as opposed to the party announcement promised or before the finals. The second is that Mr. Freedman makes it very clear the judging standards he will apply to evaluating the finalist entries as part of the final’s instructions & prompt, so the finalists have a clear knowledge of what is expected of them & how their entries will be judged & the winner determined.
Let me be clear less those who have read my words incorrectly, with self-interest defensiveness or I failed to make myself clear. I believe that all contestants should be held to the same, equal, singular as defined upcoming measure of choosing, not given a finalist’ slot by arbitrary rules made up in the past which are unequally applied nor random, blind selection. Being a finalist should be an honour of merit with that merit being judgments according to rules which should have been clear from the beginning not after the fact of the preliminaries. The original selection process (seems forgotten too) called for three finalists by vote only, not three by merit plus at least two from inefficiencies, forgetfulness or otherwise.
Heck, Lady Pafia–no one’s gonna snatch your pearls…
Useful comment, Thorn! How can we view all entries? I’ve searched names and not found them, and only a few show up on the ticker tape at once. It will help us to be able to find and read them all to make our choices for voting…Is there a menu list of all entries to click on somewhere ? Seems comments are closed soon after an entry is posted as well.
I will post a list of all entries later today
As long as the choosing of finalists is becoming so fancy free, I wish to advocate for the inclusion of Tiffany Vakilian’s “Pearls” despite her (to my understanding) being a staff member of AWWYP. Her perspectives as a modern African American writer, poet & singer (one of the best singers I have ever heard live) are up to date on work place challenges for & pristine language of African American women. My young, genius housemate as well as myself (who have each read every single story & poem in “The Drinking Fountain”) felt “Pearls” was one of the most fetching highlights of the contest. Please include her (only if she approves to be of course) in whatever form of democratic voting is to follow.
Or maybe, in the interest of perfect equality, Thorn could just issue certificates of merit to everyone and donate the prize money to charity…
From a humorous point of view, if a writer would have been top 3, but received a free pass instead, they created more competition for themselves in the finals not less. From a fairness point of view, if a writer would not have been in even the top 5, top 10 or 15, but gets a free pass then they have denied the opportunity of a more worthy writer who managed to keep the editor informed in advance before he declared the last posted entry. There was an announcement in advance of the strange rule & days before he declared the last entry in the contest. Failing to notify when notice is given in advance should not be rewarded. There should be 3 and only 3 finalists by a proper voting barring a tie for third.