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Kushay's Matter Bank Social Movements

[AK] Pseudo Achievements in Progress

This note will discuss how oftentimes appreciable, but fundamental achievements in creating progress are overly celebrated and how does that harm progress in society using one study.

First case is in literature. Stories about book authors’ perseverance in continuously submitting their work to various publishers despite being rejected over and over again (the most famous one is J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter that was initially rejected by 57 publishers) is a very dominant narrative in the society. Yet, as much as it is appreciable, struggling to be accepted by the system is much different than attempting to address and fix the inherent flaw within the system itself. What is this “inherent flaw”?

One of the “inherent flaw”, in the context of literature, is the domination of Caucasian people. 90% of literary reviews in US are done by Caucasians, and as a consequence, most of the literature work circulating in US are the ones that satisfies their bias. For example, books by PoC (people of color) authors is generally acceptable when the content conforms to stereotypes about said community (ex: Blacks as criminals, Mexicans as poor people) and is often rejected when the content is about addressing stereotypes, tackling institutional racism, etc. (Ex: a novel about a Pakistani girl where the girl is not stereotypically depicted, I forgot the title)

The harm is that readers lose other perspective that makes the popular narrative since books that doesn’t satisfy the 90% Caucasian reviewer’s bias ends up in less popular publishers, decreasing its exposure to general society.

Ideally, people should not only celebrate the overcoming of barriers per se, but the society must also actively fight to dismantle such barriers. Several ways in which this can be done includes increasing people’s awareness of such phenomenon, look for publishers that are not dominated by Caucasians and support it, call out publishers that are dominated by Caucasians, etc.

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