Recently, a record of Blaine Ray making a donation to support Prop 8 in 2008 surfaced. Prop 8 was a California ballot proposition created by opponents of same-sex marriage. Most of the conversations discussing this on Twitter referenced second or third hand information that was largely inaccurate. A simple Google search shows this:
- Blaine Ray made a donation of $8,000 to support Prop 8 in 2008.
- His listed affiliated company was Blaine Ray Workshops. http://projects.latimes.com/prop8/donation/8021/
I have seen a lot of teachers I respect and support reacting in a multitude of ways. A lot of this includes a call to stop supporting TPRS Books, which is owned by Von Ray, who is Blaine Ray’s son.
So the sins of the father pass on to the son? was my first thought upon discovering this discussion. Because these are also true facts:
- Von Ray is not his father.
- Von Ray did not make any such donations.
- His company TPRS Books is not affiliated with these donations.
- TPRS Books is based in Arizona and has no voting rights in California.
Let’s look at a similar celebrity example.
James Gunn is a famous director, known for the Guardians of the Galaxy movies, among others. In 2012 he made racist and homophobic comments on Twitter. In 2017 these statements came to light and he was fired from Disney. James Gunn then made an open apology and stated that Disney was completely correct in their decision. In 2019 he was re-hired. He is listed as an Executive Producer on the film Avengers: Endgame, which holds the title as the highest grossing movie of all time. If you bought a ticket, you supported James Gunn and put money in his pocket.
Even if you have not seen any of these movies, apparently a lot of people have and multiple times over to judge by the amount of money they generated. I think perhaps it is the apology that made a difference. Or maybe James Gunn’s movies are entertaining enough that people really don’t care about how racist and homophobic he used to be. 2012 was nine years ago. People change.
I am a TPRS Books author debuting three, or maybe even four, books this year. In the words of my late grandmother Lottie Carter, I am not here to “carry any water” for this company regarding what someone’s dad did. I am not here to provide answers to anything that sounds like, “Yes, but–”.
I am here to say a few things.
I support people living their truth. I support people of all colors and cultural backgrounds. I, myself, am a first-generation Mexican American. I am also the first college graduate and the first to earn an advanced degree in my family. I have witnessed, frequently and repeatedly, how often white privilege makes a smooth path to the top for some while BIPOC literally cling to the stony mountain of success with their bloody fingernails, struggling to get to that same level with zero help.
This is my story.
In 2018 I wrote my first story in Spanish, La Pena de Crecer. I wrote it for fun, because my students loved the short stories I write for them every week but wanted a longer, more in-depth work. No problem! I thought. I’ve been writing fiction in English for years.
Note: It would, in fact, be a lot harder than I thought.
TPRS Books contacted me in January of 2019. They liked my story. The editor for Spanish acquisitions had suggestions for making it stronger. Over the next two years, he helped me polish and improve my work, culminating in not one or two but three novels debuting this year. (Or possibly four.) I have been treated with respect and dignity. I have a seat at the table regarding every single decision, from word choice to artwork to font, with respect to my novels. I have been given every opportunity to tell my stories my way and to see them bloom into beautifully illustrated books. My stories include LGBTQ+ representation, and I have never been asked to omit or change one part of this.
I have never had a working relationship so free of prejudice, with such excellent and clear communication. I sometimes wonder if this is how it feels to be white, to be innately respected as a professional and as a person of worth. I do not feel any pressure to be absolutely perfect, to produce, to perform, to prove that I am worth the considerable time and resources invested in my ideas.
For once in my life, I am simply accepted with equality as a person.
Nowhere else on this earth have I been afforded this opportunity–not at university, not in the workplace, not as a school administrator, and certainly not on social media. As other people of color have said before me, I’ve always had to be twice as good to be accepted for one-tenth my worth. Until now.
This is my experience; I cannot speak for anyone else…
…and that is all I have to say.