WPA Editorial Board Statement in Response to the Recent Call to Boycott the CWPA

We, the undersigned members of the Editorial Board of WPA: Writing Program Administration, assert that:

A. WPA: Writing Program Administration, while currently affiliated with the Council, is completely severable from CWPA in terms of the intellectual work of the editors, Editorial Board, and authors and the contributions this work makes to the field;

B. the journal—its editors, editorial board, and publisher (Parlor Press)—will not continue to associate with the Council if it responds inadequately or defensively to the concerns raised by the Outcomes Statement Task Force and the Council membership; and

C. an adequate response to such concerns must comprise:

1. an acknowledgement of the harms inflicted by both the Executive Board upon members of the Outcomes Statement Task Force and by the organization’s historical grounding in white supremacy and racism,

2. a sincere, unequivocal apology for those harms, and

3. the development of a substantive agenda for organizational reform, informed by antiracist research and scholarship, to ensure (a) an interrogation of every aspect of the Council’s work—professional statements, committees, workshops, institutes, conferences, journal, bylaws, elections, procedures, etc.; (b) proposals for specific and immediate changes that will address the concerns of the Task Force and of BIPOC and other historically minoritized bodies, colleagues, and students; and (c) a demonstrable commitment to making CWPA an inclusive, diverse, equitable, and welcoming organization for BIPOC and other historically minoritized people.

Lori Ostergaard, Editor
Jacob Babb, Editor
Jim Nugent, Editor
Courtney Adams Wooten, Book Review Editor
David Blakesley, Publisher, Parlor Press

Editorial Board Members
Nancy Bou Ayash
Beth Brunk-Chavez
Sheila Carter-Tod
Chen Chen
Sherri Craig
Amy Ferdinandt Stolley
Collie Fulford
Teresa Grettano
David F. Green Jr.
Sarah Z Johnson
Cheri Lemieux Spiegel
Staci M. Perryman-Clark
Patti Poblete
Emily Jo Schwaller
Darci Thoune
Peter Vandenberg

Letter from David Blakesley in Response to the Recent Call to Boycott the CWPA

21 April 2021

Lori Ostergaard, Jim Nugent, and Jacob Babb
Editors, WPA: Writing Program Administration

Dear Lori, Jim, and Jacob:

Like you, I was distressed to learn about the CWPA Executive Board’s actions regarding the Task Force charged with reviewing the WPA Outcomes Statement for First-Year Composition and with recommending revisions to make it antiracist. Although I’m not privy to the discussions and deliberations that followed the Task Force’s submission of its report, I am nevertheless concerned by what I’ve heard from colleagues personally and read on social media. Some of those colleagues are also Parlor Press authors I trust and respect.

The Executive Board’s actions, or inaction, with regard to antiracist change is disturbing and mystifying. The timing of the Board’s actions could also not be worse.

Parlor Press has collaborated with CWPA on the production and distribution of its flagship journal for almost twenty years, ever since I became its production editor in 2002. I value that relationship for many reasons, and I am proud of the work of the organization in supporting, mentoring, and educating WPAs around the world. I am also proud of the work I have done personally to build and maintain the journal archives. At the same time, Parlor Press’s commitment to antiracism is absolute and unequivocal. Our relationship with the CWPA organization has been damaged.

I sincerely hope that the Executive Board will do the right thing, which may include issuing a genuine apology first to those who served on the Task Force and then to WPA members and those not on the Board but who still work hard to support CWPA, including the journal’s editors and editorial board members and reviewers. An apology will not be enough, of course. Members of the Executive Board who cannot see the justice or wisdom of supporting antiracist change unequivocally should resign. Now is also not the time to bureaucratize or turn defensive. I hope to see the Executive Board’s transparency and honesty. I would like to see a commitment to antiracist change and acknowledgment of the white privilege that has for too long preserved a status quo that marginalizes and oppresses BIPOC WPAs and subjects all composition students to the ministerial judgment of an Outcomes Statement that reproduces those prejudices.

Parlor Press continues to value and support WPA: Writing Program Administration, as well as your editorial leadership of the journal. I hope our relationship continues for many years to come.

David Blakesley
Publisher of Parlor Press, which manages production, distribution, and archiving for WPA