A few days ago, Half Mystic—the publishing house & literary journal where I serve as creative director & editor-in-chief—published a statement on our social media regarding the release of Issue V: Cadenza. Issue V included a piece of writing from an author who was brought to our attention as having exhibited racist views on Twitter & other public platforms; we were incredibly dismayed to learn about this contributor’s bigotry.
As you know, Half Mystic maintains a strict policy against publishing the work of discriminatory authors & musicians in our journal & books. As such, upon conducting more research on this contributor, speaking with trusted members of our community, & receiving multiple screenshots of this person’s racism, we made the decision to withdraw the contributor’s work from the Issue V lineup & blacklist them for inclusion in future issues.
When the announcement was released on our social media platforms, we immediately received pushback from this contributor & their readers & friends. Many of the arguments left on our Facebook & Twitter pages went along the lines of claiming that we were inhibiting this writer’s “freedom of expression”, spreading “liberal propaganda”, or being “narrow-minded” & “cowardly”. Others denied this contributor’s racism despite substantial screenshot & word-of-mouth based evidence. Still more left vitriolic attacks on Half Mystic, pointing out minor typos in our announcement post, calling us “classless”, “unprofessional”, "Orwellian", & “a laughing-stock”, & threatening to “[make it their] personal mission that your fledgling magazine go under”. One person chose to directly threaten me on social media, saying, “If I was @topazwinters I’d be scared to death … If I were her, I’d fear for my future, my college admission, my career.”
If it even needs to be said, then I & every member of our team will say it again & again: Half Mystic is so very, furiously, infinitely proud to call ourselves a platform that will not tolerate racist, bigoted contributors. We stand against hatred, terror, & discrimination in the literary community. We proudly maintain our decision to remove the work of the contributor in question, more now than ever before. Perhaps that makes us cowardly, or unprofessional, or against freedom of expression. But we don’t think so.
Before & above all else, what I want you to know is this: I am safe & well, mentally & physically. Half Mystic is safe & well. The threats we’ve received are that alone: empty threats from bullies who believe they can intimidate us into silence.
We are not here to start witch hunts, or spread libellous or slanderous claims. We are not here to be an echo chamber of liberal views. But also, we are not here to be silenced or terrorised. We are not here to provide a platform for contributors who fundamentally believe that some human beings are more important than others.
There are individuals who believe that, because we are an independent press run predominantly by young, queer women & nonbinary people of colour, we are willing to be pushed around. If there’s anything you take away from this incident, I hope it’s that this conception could not be further from the truth. We will not give up. We will not go gentle. We are here for good, in every sense of the word.
To those who have gotten in touch with me & HM publicly & privately to share their support: thank you. We see you, & we hope that, should the time ever come when you are put in a similar position, you make the right choice. Know that if that time comes, we will stand by you with every ounce of fury & fight we possess.
& to those who have read every one of our posts & watched the controversy unfold saying nothing: we see you, too, & we implore you not to remain silent. If you see yourself as an ally to justice, then do not choose the side of the oppressor. Do not fall back on the default of prejudice & fear.
The best way to support Half Mystic right now is to preorder our fifth issue, cadenza—without the work of the bigoted contributor who we blacklisted. Or, purchase any of our books & back issues & submit your writing & music to Issue V. If you agree with our zero-tolerance stance on bigotry, please speak up about it. Stand, publicly & privately, against the racist, sexist, & homophobic bullies you see oppressing the voices that so desperately need to be heard.
As a community, we must do better. The only way left for the world to spin is forward. We hope you come with us—but if even if you don’t, we’re going still.