Posts Tagged: race
It’s daunting knowing that you will be the only one of your kind at some of these events. When you’ve been made to feel your otherness so concretely in the past, it’s hard not to notice it. I can’t help but feel out of place, even if it’s only for a moment.
One of the things I run into surprisingly often is people saying to me, ‘I’ve never heard of you before’… Yet I’ve been publishing in ‘mainstream’ journals and my book won [the Pulitzer] prize, so what is it that is making me invisible?
Elissa Nadworny at NPR’s Education Team interviews a researcher and former teacher, Travis Bristol, on the decline of black men in the teaching profession. Bristol’s research discovered that, in several cities, the overall number of black teachers had fallen and the largest loss was among black male teachers....more
From Alice Walker:
Standing there knocking on Flannery O’Connor’s door, I do not think of her illness; her magnificent work in spite of it; I think: It all comes back to houses.
Of all the preserved writers’ houses of the world, there are only four belonging to people of color that are open to the public....more
At Notches, a peer-reviewed blog on history and sexuality, Robert J. Gamble explores the figure of the 19th century female huckster as well as the middle-class anxieties that slandered and vilified them....more
In a short interview with the Los Angeles Times, Junot Diaz discusses how he chooses what works to read at events, some books he’s reading now and loving, and America’s uncanny ability to erase racial struggle from its collective mind:
I think that we’re in another moment where historically, periodically issues of race and the kind of panorama in which we live becomes more clear and comes into focus.
A must-read profile of Sesshu Foster, unofficial poet laureate of East Los Angeles, steadfast advocate of racial equity, eloquent witness to the changes of gentrification, full-time school teacher, and arguable embodiment of the vibrant tangle of roots that comprises modern Los Angelean culture:
In any other city, and in any neighborhood besides East L.A., it’s unlikely that a half-Japanese, half-Anglo poet would be so enmeshed in Chicano cultural production.
I’m pretty good / at not loving / anything enough / to fear its ruin. / The cruel speed / of our guaranteed / obsolescence suits / me. This way / I get to be / at least one / of my favorite / versions of myself / every other week: / brooding philosopher, / race man, public apology / connoisseur…
In the latest release from Wave Composition, three brilliant poems by Joshua Bennett, drawn from the experience of our contemporary racialized American world....more
In the existing ways that our fashion, speech and music are ripped from our bodies and plastered as spectacle, this otherwise radical platform becomes a tool of injustice and control. This is the shortcoming of inviting the white gaze. While many see visibility as a step toward progress, when we open our cultural products to folks with no access, their cultural power is cheapened.
Vann R. Newkirk II (@fivefifths) writes for Seven Scribes on the experience of discovering novels by black writers to act as a necessary complement to reading Harper Lee’s reductive portrayals of race in Mockingbird and Watchman:
These books, this canon, represented the exact opposite of what To Kill a Mockingbird meant.
For Electric Literature, Adalena Kavanagh has a conversation with poet Elisa Gabbert on Google Chat about how to advise white male writers to publish ethically. Their conversation also explores topics related to power structures in the publishing industry, and the implications of white authors writing from the perspective of a different race:
There is a long tradition of male novelists writing female characters, and that doesn’t feel *necessarily* problematic to me.
At BuzzFeed, Mat Johnson breaks down the logistics of an oft-ignored, always tumultuous descriptor for multiethnic folks everywhere:
I know that many people, they hear mulatto, and they think of the word mule. This is often the first complaint I hear about mulatto: that it derives from the hybrid product of breeding a donkey with a horse.
When literary gatekeepers and publishers continue to overlook the vast diversity of writers, the special few who make it into elite spaces are constantly compared to one another in both flattering and troubling ways.
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.
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.