I’m Just Sayin’ (Colonized by Journal Standards)

I’m Just Sayin’


John Belleci

            In today’s column, I am going to take the opportunity to vent a bit about editors, journal standards, and the politics of getting an academic work published. First, I need to come clean that I am a former editor-in-chief of my university’s journal of history. I always encouraged my editors to leave the voice of the author intact. It is of no consequence if you would have written differently or chosen a different word or phrase. It is NOT your fucking paper—it’s the authors! One of humanities strongest urges is to change someone else words. I truly believe that I did a good job of keeping the authors voice their own in all of the papers that I personally worked on. I am sure of this because I am the type of author whose voice, verbiage, and word choice my editor always wants to change because they find it offensive, controversial, or does not meet journal standards. Let me translate this for you.

            The phrase, “does not meet journal standards” is elitist editor talk, which in reality means, “We really don’t like the way you worded this, so we are changing it, if you don’t like it, fuck you.” The sad part is that as an author if you challenge the editorial process and say, “No, leave my voice alone,” you inevitably are threatened, with the staff telling you, “If you do not comply we will drop your paper.” The bottom line is that authors are forced to conform to those same tired-ass antiquated standards of elitist white academics or else their work is excluded.

            Here is the conundrum, to gain admittance to a PhD program previous publication credits are advantageous for the applicant. Students are forced to compromise their voice, integrity, and intellectual freedom to play a political game. A game in which the Nazi-like keepers of the castle tell you, “This is our game and our ball, if you don’t like the rules too bad, we will take our ball and go home.” Why is it that we, as students, are told once you get your PhD you can do what you want. This is pure bullshit, because once you get that PhD you turn around and feed your students the same line of shit that you were fed. Did you not go through the same process that the rest of us are going through? Or is it since you got yours, you played the game so we have to play it too. In that case, that just makes you a sellout, a sellout to the conformist system that seeks to assimilate passionate and compassionate intellectuals into cogs of the lily-white world of academia. The numbers of professors who turn around and start challenging the system are few and far between. This is true because administration holds your tenure hostage unless you remain a conformist. Once again, intellectual freedom is censored and you discover that you have been lied to all along. What will it take to change this system? It will take students and faculty working together to write and publish work that challenges the status quo.

            You may ask why this bothers me so. I’ll tell you why. Once again, I am battling an editor. I was told the term “lily-white” is derogatory and unnecessarily controversial and by describing a community as lily-white that I was using a racist term. I find that fucking laughable. Is that not a classic example of white privilege? When this same journal published at least two other papers of mine that contained the N-word they didn’t even bat an eye. Why is the term “lily-white” so threatening while the N-word is not? Is it because it is perceived as denigrating to whites and the white judges will not like it? You bet your ass that’s why! Talk about a double standard.

            Academia needs to wake up. Academic journals that continue to allow these white privileged editing processes that squash the voice of people of color or the voices that challenge and pose a threat to their elitist autonomy need to adapt to the new breed of intellectuals. If not, we just might need to start our own journals and not submit our work to these Nazi-like conformist bastions of intellectual tyrants.

            Remember this is coming from a former editor-in-chief who produced a journal that’s theme was “Celebrating Diversity.” That is exactly what we need to do. Celebrate diversity and the voices of the various authors from multiple walks of life and points of view. If we take these disparate views and continually whitewash them then we are doing a disservice to academia as a whole. It is high time to challenge the tried-ass antiquated elite who seek to stymie the voices of those who are not like them. If we cannot get our journals and publishers to stop censoring our voice, our culture, our passion, our spirit, our communities then it’s time we boycott them and publish our own work. That way we could still get the academic resumes we need to succeed while we challenge the system at the same time. Next time some tight-ass editor tells you that your voice is offensive or controversial tell him/her to go pound sand. Tell that editor to keep his/her conformist ass out of your paper. Fuck’em, give them something to be offended about. I’m Just Sayin’.


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