Blackwing Diversity.

At Andy’s suggestion, here’s another list of potential Blackwing Volumes editions dedicated to women and people of color. I’ll repeat what Andy said: I am not聽accusing Blackwing of being racist or sexist or anything of the sort. I imagine they didn’t realize that the first five…look like this. And for all we know, we’ll be pleasantly surprised by the fall edition.

EDIT: One might do well to read closely before sending me nasty messages or leaving comments with fake email addresses accusing me of something I didn’t say or even imply. That says more about, well, you, than it does about me. Snark is not even wit, and wit is certainly not wisdom.

EDIT 2:聽Were I or we interesting in shaming Palomino or accusing them of ill-will, that would have been easy enough to do, using the same keyboard I used to clearly indicate that we are *not* accusing them of anything. The continued charges that this blog and other pencil blogs have been on some social crusade (and I鈥檓 not talking really talking about comments here 鈥 largely this has come through Facebook and poorly-constructed and cowardly emails from burner accounts) smells like the 鈥渞eactionary鈥 鈥渂ullshit鈥 of which we鈥檝e been accused.

Check out Andy’s list, which is Amazing!聽And Less’s list!聽And Dee’s!

Virginia Woolf: Volume 59, her age at her death by suicide in 1941.

Hermione Granger: Volume 919, her birthday. The pencil would be burgundy, with gold accents and a custom burgundy eraser — a nod to House聽Gryffindor.

Simone de Beauvoir: Volume 1949/49, publication of The Second Sex.

Emily Dickinson:聽Volume 1,800, the estimated number of poems written by her. This pencil would be matte white, with a black ferrule and eraser.

Frederick Douglass:聽Volume 1845, the year of the publication of his Autobiography.

Betsy Ross: Volume 15, the number of states in the union when the British attacked Fort McHenry in their attempt to take our country back (sorry, Brits). This pencil, of course, needs to be red with a blue ferrule and white eraser. The Rockets’ Red Glare edition.

Barack Obama: Volume 2008, obviously. This pencil is left-handed, though, and comes in the blue of the ties he used to wear.

Emma Goldman: Volume 22, the prison term she received for her attempt, with Berkman, to assassinate Frick. This pencil聽is black with a red ferrule and black eraser.聽Either the MMX core on a newer, darker core.聽It doesn’t @#$% around.

Mother Teresa: Volume 2016/16, for the year of her canonisation (Sept 4th, good time for it). Pencil is white, with a blue ferrule and white eraser.

Marie Curie: Volume 0311, the years she won the Nobel Prize in Physics (1903) and the prize in Chemistry (1911).

Anne Frank: Volume 1947/47, the publication of her diary (not the English edition).

Nelson Mandela: Volume 27, the number of years he spent in prison.

Maya Angelou: Volume 1993/93, the year in which she read “On the Pulse of Morning” at Clinton’s inauguration.

W.E.B. Du Bois: Volume 1909/09, the year he helped found the NAACP.

Thurgood Marshall: Volume 1954/54, the Brown v. Board of Education decision that changed American history.

Eleanor Roosevelt: Volume 1946/46, the year in which, while serving as the first chair of the UN Commission on Human Rights, she聽oversaw the first draft聽of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Serena Williams: Volume 4, the number of her Olympic gold medals.

23 thoughts on “Blackwing Diversity.”

  1. God no Mother Theresa. Not the woman she is presented as. See ‘The Missionary Position’ by Christopher Hitchens.

      1. I cannot believe you put lines through St. Theresa of Calcutta because some Know-Nothing cited Christopher Hitchens’ lying book. That’s pretty low.

        1. Low? That’s a bit much, no? Calling another commentor a Know-Nothing isn’t what I’d call “high” here. The line through Mother Teresa is an asterisk for me to read up more on this without removing her from the list.

  2. Thank you for your suggestions & bravery on this! Finally someone is speaking out about the tyranny of quarterly issued custom pencil making. You are the hero’s that will make America great…again.

    1. Well, if I mentioned social justice or posited some ill-will or nefarious intent or “tyranny” on the part of Palomino instead of explicitly not accusing them of anything negative, this little tirade might make sense. But, since those things are not true, this is nonsense. I literally don’t know why anyone would post this along with their email and IP addresses.

        1. No, you’re right. It’s weird that Blackwing issues a pencil for a sci-fi movie, a pencil for a music festival, one for the DiMaggio, and one for John Muir, and suddenly all the pencil blogs are worried about white men.

          Is it so hard to just propose ideas and sell them on the merits, like “Miles Davis is awesome, how about a jazz edition?” Who wouldn’t support that for a Blackwing edition? Instead of, “White men? Again? Let’s make a list of non white men….quick, everyone you can think of, as long as they’re not white men.” It’s condescending.

          1. Maybe you can clarify your comment.

            Who is “worried about white men”?

            What are you calling condescending exactly? Suggesting specific examples of Volumes when we suggest more diversity? That’s more constructive than just whining at Palomino and/or calling them out on something they didn’t do on purpose. I’m fairly certain that they didn’t make all white men-centric Volumes so far on principle. If I were a person at Palomino, I’d be interested in diversifying the line a bit. As we clearly stated, these are concrete suggestions. Who knows if one of these is on deck-already?

            And I assure you that I am aware of far more non-white-male persons than those on this small list, though I assume that was sarcastic hyperbole on your part.

            Again, frankly, and I apologize if this is rude: What is your gripe here?

            1. Sorry, I didn’t mean to be sarcastic. I understand your intent is good, and we all expect Palomino to commemorate a wide range of people in their editions. It’s just disappointing to me that people see the names Steinbeck, Muir, and DiMaggio and the response is, “maybe they didn’t realize the first five…looked like this.” As though these selections are vaguely disappointing because they’re just white dudes, because that’s really what’s important. I just find that attitude disappointing, that’s all.

              There are plenty of people who would fit within Blackwing’s marketing concept that aren’t white males–Hank Aaron, BB King, Nina Simone, Toni Morrison, Maya Angelou to name a few–and are great choices on their own merit.

              In my mind–and I’m sure I’m in the minority here–these kinds of lists, and the attitude that spawns them, unintentionally devalue the people on them by suggesting that their accomplishments are secondary to their sex/race and Palomino needs help finding worthwhile people who aren’t white dudes. That’s what I meant by ‘condescending.’

              1. Nate, thank you for writing back and clarifying. I understand that perspective, that the first five could be disappointing because they were dedicated to white men. That’s definitely not what I meant, and I apologize to Palomino if I implied it. I’m a little disappointed in myself because, despite being with a person of color for almost 19 years, it never occurred to me that all of the Volumes were dedicated to white men until someone pointed that out. I know my own heart, and if I didn’t notice, I’m completely willing to believe that Palomino didn’t either. If I thought they did this on purpose, I wouldn’t buy them personally.

                The individuals you mention would be great Volumes editions for sure! I can’t speak for Andy and Less, though I suspect their lists are along the same lines. But my point was/is that Palomino accidentally made five Volumes editions all dedicated to white males. It would continue to be a great or even greater series if they diversified it a little, and here are some suggestions, in some detail. I suspect that a lot of consumers buy these because they are Blackwings and perhaps even on aesthetics, more than to whom a single Volume is dedicated. My wife, for instance, is a huge Steinbeck fan, but she won鈥檛 use Volume 24 because she doesn鈥檛 like the looks of it. I am not a Dylan fan, but I enjoy the tones of Volume 725. And I subscribed both years without even knowing what I鈥檇 get. But I think other people do focus on the individual to whom the Volume is dedicated. If they make a Hemingway or Thoreau edition, I鈥檓 getting a gross of each, not matter what they look like or which core they contain.

                Certainly I see your point now, that these kinds of lists can devalue the accomplishments of the people on them. That was never my intent. My intent in making this list was more of a, “Look at these specific and awesome people you could dedicate Volumes editions to,” than, “Here are a bunch of people who don鈥檛 look like me whom you could use to be more diverse.鈥 While it鈥檚 important to honor women and persons and color, I understand the risk of descending into using individuals as tokens and of being patronizing.

                That said, I do think diversity is important, and it鈥檚 often something that we need to be intentional about. I do not mean to speak for pencil fans at large or pencil bloggers in general. Personally, I鈥檇 like to see more diverse individuals honored in future Volumes editions. Here are some folks I鈥檇 like to see honored, personally. If I degraded either Palomino or the persons on this list, I apologize.

                (If you’re not a member of the Erasable Podcast Facebook Group, you’re missing 24/7 pencil talk!)

          2. “quick, everyone you can think of, as long as they鈥檙e not white men.鈥

            Exactly, it can quickly turn into an exercise in virtue-signalling/box-checking. F Douglass is an idol of mine, and I’d hate to think he was included only because someone needed to add “black” to their “List of People I’m Officially Sensitive To”, when he belongs because he’s one of the most impressive people who ever picked up a pencil (actually chalk, it was a long time before he got hold of a pencil.)

            1. Certainly it can turn into an exercise in listing the most non-white people who’ve done something cool or interesting that a person knows. 鈥淟ook, my list of influential female scientists from 1900-1935 is longer than yours!鈥 I get that. However, that doesn’t necessarily invalidate a list of *sincere* suggestions.

              This list is of individuals whom I’d actually like to see a Volumes pencil dedicated to. Douglass is on this list because he’s a person of color. Everyone on here is a woman or person of color; I thought that was pretty clear. But he’s also on this list because I admire him and would love to see a Volumes edition dedicated to him. Hell, he lived in my city for a long time. I didn鈥檛 simply list all of the woman and people of color I know. I understand that people do engage in such self-congratulatory arrogance, for reasons I do not understand. I apologize if I鈥檓 misreading the two comments that bring this up, but I don鈥檛 appreciate the implication that I am engaged in such nonsense. Frankly, it鈥檚 insulting.

              I didn’t make a list of all of the white men I admire. This was not the point, which I think is pretty clear. Palomino has already made five Volumes in a row dedicated to white men. We know and respect and, yes, *like* the people at Palomino very much. We’ve known the CEO for 11 years and communicate with folks there regularly. As I clearly stated, we’re not calling them out as racists or sexists. If I thought they were doing all white men on purpose, I would lose interest in these Volumes quickly, frankly. We know these folks better than that.

              The purpose in making a list like this was a sincere, 鈥淗ey, you guys are probably going to diversify your Volumes editions soon. Here are some cool suggestions.鈥 And the purpose of doing it publicly was never to shame Palomino but to invite others to suggest individuals to whom Volumes editions might be dedicated in the future. I鈥檇 like to see this series continue for years to come, and not just because I鈥檝e been a subscriber literally since day one.

  3. Jackie “Moms” Mabley, the number would be 25, the number of albums she made in her career.
    I recently saw a documentary about Moms Mabley, and she was amazing.
    Talk about diverse! She joked about liking younger men, but was openly seen with woman as companions. She paved the way for both woman and African American comedians, On too of that, she made political statements, that was part of her comedy act, and did it with her false teeth out!

  4. Great list! I believe the good folks at Blackwing will be happy to entertain the suggestions. We’ll have some great additions to their editions in the future.

  5. May I suggest Djuna Barnes, journalist, feminist figure, and writer of a work of early GLBTQ literature _Ladies Almanack_? I’m not sure which edition she should be dedicated to, but her life was long enough to overlap mine (June 12, 1892 鈥 June 18, 1982).

  6. To be properly left-handed, the Barack Obama edition would have the printing written so it would be readable when held in the left hand. Thankyouveddymuch.

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