The name of this new publishing house is The Los Angeles Press, which is obviously a bold statement about our feelings about the breadth and importance of the project. I was always struck by organizations, especially women led organizations who defined their scope when they chose a name for a project. Surely, naming is a way to get specific, if you do comics and you name yourself Comics Inc., but in other ways it’s also terribly limiting. And historically, outside sources and oppressive limits have attempted to box and block us, so even baby steps to redress this are important.
For example, there are women I’ve worked with who call themselves “crazy girls” or “hysterical chicks,” even a seminal group like the guerrilla girls who, for many excellent and reasonable aims, chose to cloak themselves in anonymity, even so far as to mask their humanity. I mean are the women in groups like the crazy chicks speaking to larger mental health issues, or are they in some ways estranging and self-limiting? I think it’s important to note little things that could be construed as micro-aggressions towards self and community. Along with macro-challenges, this can contribute to preserving stereotypes and limitations. So at The Los Angeles Press we want to be aware, to wake up. The Los Angeles Press seeks to redress self-effacing, self-deprecating smallness and quietude, and hopes to express–through femalesex-positive, as in gender-positive, as in woman-positive, as in girl-positive, as in woman-of-color-positive–that we are here in the Southland, and this is our place. Our scope is vast and works in broad language, broad experience, while drawing from community to uplift and support our ideas. We’re looking to work with like-focus people, interested in raising the stakes and in rising up from self and outside deprecation, lifting the possibilities extant for women (and men) in many different fields, in our case, publishing, literature and art in Los Angeles.
We are The Los Angeles Press in no small way because we want to inspire people from Los Angeles who have been historically underrepresented to recall that this is their place and they can lay claim to it, they don’t have to continue a cycle of marginalization by calling themselves “the people only from this block” or “the people only from this Hillock” or “the people who have only this color skin” or ‘the people who have only this common experience,” even though those are very important things, and if that’s your bag we respect you. But we don’t want the past injustices to define our trajectory. We don’t want past injustices and misappropriations to define our course into a new, just, horizontal, transparent place. We want to think big and do big.
As a matter fact, I was talking recently about these arguably grandiose trajectories, and two white women said that I was aggressive. Which of course is code for you’re not allowed. It was stunning, but also kind of let me know that I’m on the right path. If I’m already stirring up people’s juices, and if the only way that some people know how to respond is by trying to instantaneously shut it down using historically misogynistic approaches, then yes, this is a desperately needed endeavor.
I want to think justly and do just works. I don’t want to be small and hurt, I want to be in a state of blossoming, healing, inspiring others that this is possible, no matter what they’ve seen, what their family‘s been through, how much injustice was heaped upon them. I want them to know that their story is important, and that their journey is important, and that people are listening.
I mean imagine, some people start companies and call themselves Universal or Worldwide Pants, even tongue-in-cheek ventures like that, though trying to be funny or trying to lay claim to giant stakes, really lay out what their aims are, really make bold statements about how much they think of themselves. When you juxtapose that with small, kind of Etsy-like, women lead organizations who are small batch, local, homegrown, low on the ambition scales, well, that is heartwarming and obviously has kept our gender alive and doing small, necessary, human, beautiful work; however I’d just like to say a big fat fuck you to oppressors and people who thought that they were the only ones who could get on the mic.
In some respect, I’m coming with my heart on my sleeve and tongues blazing. We’re all about nailing our plaint to the to the door like Martin Luther. I’m not trying to hate on anyone. I’m trying to put focus on historical inequalities in a way that might shake things up. I’m not here to just get at the back of the line, I’m here to say we’re done with the back of the line, we’re done with what’s happening at our borders, we’re done with saying thank you to the 1% for small college scholarships and contributions to NGOs, we want a redress in representation, and that means a redress in power, and that means a redress in money, and that means let’s focus on income inequality. So I’m coming right for those people who have historically power grabbed; we’re here for your seat at the table. And we want a literature that is representative of that.