Op-Ed: Satire & the Avoidance of Trauma

Anthony Reale, Humor Editor

Recently, the backpage published an article that covered the uncomfortable aversion that white people feel towards the situation that transpired between ASWC and a group of womxn of color.  Despite the fact that the article’s purpose was to point out (or maybe shame is a better word for it) the reaction to this event from certain powerful identities on campus (read: people who can forget that the system that puts them in power exists at all,) I received some feedback about the article that informed me about it being harmful to some people.

As an editor, it is my duty to respect the line of what is funny and when it is funny — especially when it comes to marginalized groups and underscoring traumas that they experience.  I know that the article in question was not written with any ill-intent towards womxn of color. My staff is a group of people who want the world to be a place bettered by our writing — both in our want to make people laugh and in our need for the world to change through our pointing to the way the world’s systems and structures don’t make sense.

I have to be honest.  If this article caused trauma for any marginalized person on campus, I am truly sorry.  I have never wanted to cause trouble for groups already forced to bear the immense weight of systematic oppression — in fact, I have worked toward the exact opposite in my work on the backpage.  As a person who occupies two powerful identities (white and male,) I especially regret not taking more time considering this article’s impact — it was irresponsible of me to assume that there would not be negative repercussions for some people.

This all being said, I’d like to request that The Wire be viewed holistically in the future.  I did not allow this article to be published in a vacuum (as that would be jesting about an event acerbically.)  When this idea was proposed to me, I saw it as a moment to be reflexive — that is to say, a moment to refract the serious issues presented on the Front, News and Opinion pages of the newspaper.  This was not a reductive move — in fact, it is normally the most important issues that I find need to be brought to the backpage to expose their skewed and/or problematic natures.

Finally, I want to encourage people to seek out forms of protest that work for them specifically.  If you find satire to be tasteless, find another way to communicate your distaste with the status quo!  Not everyone’s protest looks the same, nor should it. If you find writing op-eds to be productive, do exactly that.  If your protest is talking to me about how I can work to improve the backpage, I encourage you to email me or Mickey Shin, the editor-in-chief.  Protest is a part of living — let’s continue our work to improve upon what we have already.