Queer ASL as Resistance, the Scary World of Book Sales, and More: Today’s Recommended Reading


Here at Flavorwire, we pride ourselves on not only writing some of the best content on the internet, but keeping an eye on all of the great writing that other folks on the ‘net are doing, too. Today, we’re checking Uber on ignoring women’s safety, exploring the Queer Deaf community, attempting to understand book sales, and trying to do diversity better. Oh, and happy Fourth, y’all.

We’d all be better off learning a little more history (and current struggles) of what the mainstream ignores and deems subcultures, the Deaf and queer communities being no exception. Besides the fact that there have long been people with both of those identities, The Establishment points out that the similarities between the two are striking: most of their parents grew up without said identity, their bodies are rejected by standards of acceptability, and they both have to fight against pressure to conform to “respectable” ideals of hearing and straight people.

“Interpreters are generally thought of as neutral facilitators of communication,” says [ASL interpreter Sarah] Gold. Because society codes white, straight, cisgender, non-disabled people as more “neutral” or “default,” she says, this has led to a disproportionate number of interpreters who come from privileged demographics. “However, current interpreting theory confirms what we know intuitively: the identity, life experiences, and values of the interpreter will unavoidably influence the way they perceive and relay other’s communication. No communication can be neutral.” The influx of queer interpreters means that queer Deaf people have interpreters who reflect their own experience.

For some reason, writing schools still don’t teach their students how the publishing business works, even though it’s very crazy and complicated and worth understanding. In short, it’s very hard to predict and then measure the number of books sold, from the indie-est short story collection to the buzzier books—not only do different numbers float around for each book, but theoretically similar books vary wildly in sales, too. The whole piece from Electric Literature is worth a read:

The first thing that writers need to understand is that book sales — like advances — are all over the place. This is true even for individual authors. It’s not unheard of for an author to get roughly similar critical acclaim for their first three novels, yet have them sell 10k, 100k, and 10k respectively. Publishing is full of luck, timing, and unpredictable trends. (I mean, adult coloring books? Really?) And even then, publishers give dramatically different amounts of support and marketing even to books published by the same imprint….Most people would be surprised at the drastic range of book sales even among the books that people are buzzing about. If you took the ten literary fiction books that all the critics, Twitter literati, and well-read friends are discussing, their BookScan numbers might range from a couple thousand to 100k.

Today in news I hate is happening: Uber, or as they call themselves, Boober, still isn’t protecting its female riders from harassment and/or stalking. As if walking outside, riding public transportation, even BIKING, weren’t dangerous enough. Anyway, read the full article, via Broadly:

The app does not show drivers what passengers label their locations, including what address is “home” or “work,” but Bechtel said the driver had asked where she was headed, in what she assumed was a gesture of small talk. Following the incident, Uber says it blocked Bechtel from ever matching with the driver again, but the company, citing its privacy policy, said it cannot disclose whether he is still driving for Uber. The company “maintains a zero-tolerance policy regarding all forms of discrimination, harassment or abuse,” according to its community guidelines. Still, a representative from Uber did not say whether an incident involving a driver following a rider home would constitute harassment or abuse.

Speaking of companies that gotta do better, certain institutions have been put on blast this week for doing diversity wrong, and NewHive (in collaboration with Paper Magazine) is here to teach you how to fix that. Hint: you can’t have a room full of straight rich white dudes:

…a non exhaustive compilation of ways cultural institutions, public or privately funded, can, should and will have to redistribute their material and immaterial resources when welcoming Black folx and people of color as well as their audiences. These are places where people with curatorial responsibility are overwhelmingly white and/or light skinned (as well as spaces that utilize the white cube/black box as the display frame). It applies to a wide scope of sometimes seemingly politically-disparate settings, such as museums, community centers, galleries, parties, workshops, concert halls, URL platforms, universities, foundations, theaters, classrooms, autonomous and/or self managed spaces, online art shows, and more.