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Verity La announces publishing break, apologises for ‘grave error’

Online literary journal Verity La has announced it is taking a break from publishing to ‘reflect on the ways in which the journal has been complicit with systemic racism, sexism and disablism’.

In a statement on its website, the journal said it would take the break to review all its governance, editorial, publishing, and social media processes.

The publishing break and review follows condemnation of the journal’s decision to publish Stuart Cooke’s creative nonfiction piece ‘About Lin’, about a white man’s relationship with a Filipina woman in Manila, and Verita La‘s subsequent decision to add a trigger warning and author’s preface to the piece rather than remove it from the publication’s website.

Verity La team members Eileen Chong and David Stavanger resigned from their positions as board member and editor in protest, Tricia Dearborn resigned as project editor of the journal’s Out of Limbo publication, while a co-signed letter from Filipinx–Australian artists to Verity La demanded the piece be removed as it reproduced racist, sexist stereotypes of Asian women while doing ‘nothing to challenge the skewed power relations between white men and disadvantaged Asian women’.

The piece, which the journal acknowledged in its most recent statement ‘in its depiction of Filipino women … contained racism, sexism, misogyny and disablism’, has now been removed from the publication’s website. Verity La apologised for the piece, acknowledging ‘it caused deep harm’, and said, ‘We made a grave error in leaving the piece on the journal’s website after that harm had been drawn to our attention.’

The publication also said it acknowledged the harm caused by tweets from Verity La ‘that targeted particular writers of colour and for the blocking of POC voices’, referring to the publication’s blocking of the Twitter accounts of some who criticised its publishing decision.

Poet and editor Eunice Andrada, one signatory of the letter demanding the piece be removed, told Books+Publishing the journal’s apology lacked accountability and transparency regarding the editorial processes that led to the piece’s publication. ‘Many have criticised this move as a “cut and run” strategy, unsatisfied with the journal’s lack of concrete steps to rectify the issue,’ Andrada said.

Author Claire G Coleman was among those calling for more transparency, writing on Twitter to Verity La, ‘I want to know how that piece got published. I also want to know if you consulted your advisors regarding that piece and whether you listened to them.’

Verity La is a not-for-profit publication produced by 20 volunteer editors. It was recently announced as a recipient of $10,000 funding from Create NSW, which goes towards paying its writers.


Category: Local news