While in one sense the propensity in mainstream discourse to describe racial conflict with words like “tolerance” and “hate”—rather than “power” or “oppression”—has made it possible for greater numbers of people to conceive of how racism affects individuals on a psychological level, a more unsettling consequence of this turn has been that diversity has largely replaced equality as the ultimate goal for many educational and workplace settings, including the book publishing world.
Posts Tagged: race
There’s the persistent seduction of collective amnesia, our desperate wanting to embrace a mythology that we’ve evolved. We want to erase the nightmarish truth that at one time, we were the kind of people who would inflict unspeakable cruelties to another human being…Rankine’s Citizen demands that we not look away.
In an interview with NPR, novelist and funnyman Paul Beatty discusses his novel The Sellout, and what’s on his mind when creating a world where plantation culture is reborn in California. The novel focuses on Bonbon, an African American man who reacts to the accidental shooting of his father by the LAPD by re-segregating his hometown and taking on a personal slave—an elderly man famous for his role in Little Rascals....more
Politics are not widely considered a legitimate source of amusement in Hollywood, where the borrowed rhetoric by which political ideas are reduced to choices between the good (equality is good) and the bad (genocide is bad) tends to make even the most casual political small talk resemble a rally.
Daniel Handler’s (a.k.a. Lemony Snicket) recent racist joke at the National Book Awards exposed an uncomfortable truth about the American publishing industry: its overwhelming whiteness. For the industry to survive, it must embrace diversity. Over at the Guardian, Carole DeSanti points out that regardless of changes in the business of publishing, what matters is the content:
…any gains in the format and pricing wars are going to be wiped out if content is less and less relevant to the way people live, who we are, and what we aspire to be.
Why Plath? People are surprised or disappointed or embarrassed when I automatically cite her as one of my writing influences, one of my life influences. I think it’s because of the stigma of suicide and ingrained bias. She’s a polarizing figure, serving as a feminist icon or a creative failure, depending on the person wearing the judges’ robes.
In anticipation of this past week’s Hay Festival, fiction luminary Toni Morrison wrote an essay for The Telegraph examining the concept of paradise as it relates to race and class. The novelist locates the promise of this “Utopia for few” in both early black newspapers and the pursuit-of-happiness ethos that drives contemporary American life: unattainable yet easily imagined, at once highly visible and just out of reach....more
Salon tracked down the syllabi of two undergrad courses the writer teaches at MIT, in the Comparative Media Studies/Writing Department....more
Writers who deal with oppression are as varied as the forms of oppression they face. Kiese Laymon and Leigh Stein come from two disparate backgrounds, writes Rachel Edelman in Critical Flame, but both end up critiquing gender and racial oppression in similar ways:
Laymon is a black man from Mississippi; Stein is a white half-Jewish woman from the Midwest.
The disproportionally white publishing industry matters because agents and editors stand between writers and readers. Anika Noni Rose put it perfectly in Vanity Fair this month: “There are so many writers of color out there, and often what they get when they bring their books to their editors, they say, ‘We don’t relate to the character.’ Well it’s not for you to relate to!
Writing for The New Inquiry, Hannah Black explores race in Helen Oyeyemi’s Boy, Snow, Bird and the relationship of white, black, and mixed racial identities in modern western culture.
Similarly, race-authenticity does not spring up from the mere fact of certain physical features—it has to be mined from others.
There’s a heated conversation about online feminism happening—where else?—online right now.
Ignited by a piece in the Nation about Internet toxicity as well as an ill-advised xoJane piece about white privilege in yoga class, the discussion is focusing on intersectionality in feminism, particularly as it regards race....more
For Human Parts, the dazzling collection of essays curated by Stephanie Georgopulos on Medium, Djenab Conde writes about the complexities of eating at a Chinese restaurant with her Chinese mother and Guinean father.
Conde writes about how frustrating it is to never be recognized as Chinese even when she speaks the language, but the really heartbreaking part is the subtle ways she tries to protect her father’s feelings....more
At Slate, computer-science professor Philip Guo discusses an odd side effect of stereotypes about Asian men: when he was first learning to code, they actually worked in his favor.
Even when Guo was a novice, people gave him the benefit of the doubt, which allowed him the time to learn everything he needed to learn....more
Moving to the US as a person of color isn’t easy, even when you do everything completely above-board, come from a nation friendly with the US, and arrive with a respectable family in tow.
My iris is captured in a biometrics file with the U.S Immigration Service….My deep brown eyes, the eyes that have held the gaze of my beloved, the eyes that look like my mother’s, that my newborn sons searched for and struggled to focus on: these are now U.S territory.
The blog’s creator, Malisha Dewalt, recently participated in a roundtable chat with other art historians and medievalists for NPR’s Code Switch....more
I was not heretofore aware feminists were disappointed in [Michelle] Obama and how she chooses to live her life. I was not aware that Obama was not an activist. Now I know.
For Salon, our essays editor Roxane Gay takes on a Politico piece lambasting Michelle Obama for not being feminist enough....more
As a queer woman of color who writes young-adult fiction, Malinda Lo “was a little bit taken aback by the sheer paucity of books I could find about queer characters of color.”
If you, too, have been seeking those sorts of books without much success, look no further: Lo has compiled a list, which, though (hopefully) not exhaustive, is a great resource for many young readers starving to see themselves represented in media of any kind....more
The paint was several layers thick, each new message or drawing layered on a chaotic background of the preceding scrawl….“It’s the chink hate wall,” he said. Kevin did not consider my Chinese ethnicity when he said this.
For Maisonneuve, Kimberley Fu writes about moving from the sanctuary of a color-blind high school where “our quarterback was Iranian one year, white the next, Japanese the year after that,” to the real world and its unexpected barrage of stereotypes and anti-Asian suspicion....more
Guernica has a lengthy excerpt up from White Girls, the genre-warping new collection of cultural criticism, personal memoir, and who knows what else by the New Yorker‘s Hilton Als.
It’s complex, challenging, and completely, enthrallingly beautiful, so it’s impossible to choose just one quote to represent it, but here’s an attempt:
We were something dark and unforeseen: two colored gentlemen who moved through the largely white social world we inhabited in New York (the world where art and fashion and journalism converged) who did not exploit each other or our obvious physical traits…for political sympathy or social gain.