Grace Gottschling, Campus Reform
An English professor is demanding that “white editors resign,” saying they should “hand over the positions of power” because merely holding such positions is “f**k up enough.”
California State University, Fresno professor Randa Jarrar, who previously made headlines for giddily celebrating the death of Barbara Bush, made the provocative declaration Tuesday in a tweet responding to controversy surrounding an allegedly racist poem.
“At some point, all of us in the literary community must DEMAND that white editors resign. It’s time to STEP DOWN and hand over the positions of power. We don’t have to wait for them to f**k up. The fact that they hold these positions is f**k up enough.”
Jarrar’s outrage appears to have been sparked by a recent controversy about a poem published in The Nation that has been called insensitive to minorities and the disabled community.
The poem, “How-To” by Anders Carlson-Wee, includes the lines “Don’t say homeless, they know / you is” and “If you’re crippled don’t / flaunt it. Let em think they’re good enough / Christians to notice.”
Jarrar has called for the specific resignation of Stephanie Burt, a poetry editor for The Nation, tweeting that Burt “erases and violently silences [people of color].”
“Stephanie has said some hurtful shit about George W Bush and has hurt Arab American poets in my community,” Jarrar claims. “I ask that she resign.”
Burt has not resigned, but she did publish an apology along with Carmen Gimenez Smith, another Nation poetry editor, on Smith’s Twitter account.
“As poetry editors, we hold ourselves responsible for the ways in which the work we select is received,” the apology stated. “We made a serious mistake by choosing to publish the poem ‘How-To.’”
“When we read the poem we took it as a profane, over-the-top attack on the ways in which members of many groups are asked, or required, to perform the work of marginalization,” the apology added. “We can no longer read the poem in that way.”
The apology doesn’t seem to be good enough for Jarrar, who replied “resign” to the apology tweet.
Although Jarrar made her Twitter account private shortly after receiving criticism for mocking former First Lady Barbara Bush’s death, copies of her recent tweets were obtained by Campus Reform.
“Barbara Bush was a generous and smart and amazing racist who, along with her husband, raised a war criminal,” Jarrar posted in April. “F*** outta here with your nice words.”
“I’m happy the witch is dead,” Jarrar added in a later tweet. “Can’t wait for the rest of her family to fall to their demise the way 1.5 million iraqis have. byyyeeeeeeee.”
Jarrar later added that she would “never be fired” due to her tenured position. This statement sparked an online petition calling Fresno State to fire Jarrar. The still-active petition has been signed by nearly 90,000 people at time of publishing.
A spokesperson for Fresno State told Campus Reform that the school does not comment on the personal opinions of faculty, but did add that “in this instance, the view expressed does not reflect those of the University.”
Campus Reform reached out to Jarrar for comment on her latest tweet, but has not received a response.
Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @Grace_Gotcha