Dear Emily Post-Avant,

I just saw the photograph of the Paris Review Spring Revel and your commentary about it. I like Dispatches from the Poetry Wars, but I really think you should tell the editors that they went a little too far this time. I mean, isn’t it a bit much to accuse a whole journal of being racist for running a simple photograph that shows a bunch of writers having a good time?

–Disagreeing in Seattle


Dear Disagreeing in Seattle,

Actually, I already told Fric and Frac they could have done a better job with the note they attached to the photograph. They probably could have been a bit more dispassionate in their language. They do let their tempers get the best of them, sometimes. But I agree with the major point they were trying to make: When you choose to post a lead photograph showing a bunch of White Writer Bourgeois Types celebrating their privilege and the only people of color in the photo are the Help, well, it says something about your choice. I mean, it says something about the unexamined assumptions that inform your choice. Or something about why it wouldn’t give you pause that the shot resembles a scene at a debutante ball in Mississippi, in a movie made in 1948. Or a fundraiser at Maralago, in 2018. You know? Look at the other photos, too, how they ooze such smug class and privilege. Sure there were a few POC writers at the gala (not too many, apparently), but most of the non-Caucasians there, as you can see from the embarrassing photos, were ritually, impeccably dressed in servant black-bow ties.

I have a suggestion for the editors of the Paris Review: To make up for this extravagant, very un-woke shindig, you should have a follow-up fancy dinner for every single one of the servers of that evening. And the entire Editorial staff of the journal should wait on them all, hand and foot.

–Emily Post-Avant