Handy, Uncapped Pen: What was the most difficult thing about writing this book?
F.I. Goldhaber: I didn't "write" this book. I compiled poems that were written over a period of eight years. That said, the most difficult part of putting it together was figuring out the best order for the poems and that kept changing as I added more poems.
Goldhaber: I first started putting the collection together (and came up with the title) five years ago. At that time it included 20 poems. In a year it had almost doubled in size and I began sending it out to publishers for consideration.
About a year after that, John Warner Smith, who would be named Louisiana State Poet Laureate two years later, hit up the email list of contributors to Black Lives Have Always Mattered, A Collection of Essays, Poems, and Personal Narratives Edited by Abiodun Oyewole published by 2Leaf Press (in which he and I both had poems). He sought blurbs for his fifth collection—which eventually became Our Shut Eyes, devoted to racial history and contemporary issues of race in American society—with an offer to reciprocate.
Of Our Shut Eyes I wrote, quoting one of his poems, that Warner "plays the 'old familiar song, an American song of race, hate, and rage' for new audiences."
Warner described What Color is Your Privilege? as "a book-length blues song decrying racial, gender, religious, and sexual intolerance in America."
While I submitted the book, it continued to grow. Each publisher got a slightly different compilation as I added new poems I'd written and sometimes new versions of previously unpublished poems (I don't consider a poem to be in its "final form" until it's published). I even added poems after Left Fork accepted it for publication a year ago, the last two inserted in May of this year, for a final total of 72 poems."But, does anyone hear my words? Do
they heed my warnings? They sit and nod,
sometimes buy my books."
-from "Poetry "
HUP: Writers who are activists can often feel like their words are useless when it comes to inspiring change. What would you say to those writers?
Goldhaber: Passing allows me to observe the behavior of those for whom I intended this book—privileged, liberal, white, abled, cis people—when they're not performing (and I mean that in the literal sense) as allies and to better understand how liberals contribute to the problems of systemic racism, ableism (always a tool of white supremacy), and other forms of oppression. (Liberals are today's white moderates about whom Martin Luther King Jr. warned us in his Letter from Birmingham Jail: "more devoted to 'order' than to justice".)
It also gives me the privilege of using that assumption of whiteness to advocate for, and when appropriate, interfere on the behalf of those who are not as I did in the incident related in that poem.If the service is free,
you’re not the customers,
your data’s the product.
-from "Products for Sale"
HUP: I think these lines are so important, especially for marginalized folks and activists when so much can be used (not just for marketing) against them in various ways. Do you have any tips for those who have to be "present" online for one reason or another but want to be cautious? Is controlling what you share and not clicking ads enough?
- Don't share your phone number, DOB (use a fake one if it's required e.g. on Facebook), Tax Identification Number (including your Social Security number), home address, etc. anywhere you don't have to, but especially social media accounts, posts, or "private" messages. Even "security questions" asking you for seemingly innocuous information like your first pet or where you went to school, are data gathering traps. Make stuff up.
- Do not take quizzes, sign petitions, or play online info games. Those are at best data gathering tools and at worst PII thefts (notice how often the questions mirror those "security" questions).
- Just because someone asks you for information, doesn't mean you're required to provide it (e.g. medical offices and insurance companies ask for your TIN/SSN). Do not give it to them.
- Don't use your phone to log into social media or access your financial information, doing so shares that information with Google or Apple (depending on whose OS you use) plus the app you're using and whoever it sells your data to.
- Remember, anything you post on social media, including posts/messages marked private or deleted are never private.
- Turn off tracking on your phone and use tracking blockers in any browser.
- Don't use the same email address for social media that you use for your financial or personal correspondence (IMO, everyone should have at least three email addresses and a free gmail or similar type account should only be the one used for social media).
- Don't log into any accounts, as you're often encouraged to do, with Facebook, Google, or any other social media, because that shares your information with those entities and they will use it. Always create a new, separate, unique account.
- Use unique, secure passwords (12 or more characters in an incomprehensible combination of letters, numbers, and symbols) for each place you do log into. Invest in a password "safe" to track your passwords (and whatever fake birth date or fake answers to security questions you gave), one that stores its data on your machine not in the cloud, and keep an encrypted copy on a separate storage device.
- Don't store your data, especially PII, in the cloud.
- There's plenty more, of course. And if you haven't been doing these things, The Smart Girl's Guide to Privacy: Practical Tips for Staying Safe Online by Violet Blue can help you mitigate damage already done.
- Police-reported "property crime" doesn't include employer wage theft (~$50 billion annually) more than triple all theft "crimes" complied in "crime rate" statistics.
- Police-reported "property crime" also doesn't include police civil forfeiture seizures, a large percentage of which are not legal, which steal almost six times as much as all reported burglaries combined.
- Police-reported "violent crimes" don't include several million physical and sexual assaults committed by police and jail/prison guards each year.