Posts Tagged: race

Sylvia Plath and Race

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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.

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Paradise Locked

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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.

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Talking About Oppression

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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.

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Race, Power, Publishing

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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!

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How Toxic Is Online Feminism?

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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.

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“That Pesky Racism Again”

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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.

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“I Am an Alien”

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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.

Toni Nealie discusses her experience coming to America from New Zealand in an essay for Guernica:

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.

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Queer Characters of Color in YA Novels

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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.

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On Realizing You’re Not White

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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.

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A Wild Excerpt from White Girls

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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.

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White Girls and Cultural Appropriation

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White people clamoring to up their cred by appropriating nonwhite culture do so hoping to be rewarded for choices that are falsely seen as inherent in people of color.

In an essay on cultural appropriation for the New Inquiry, Ayesha Siddiqi dissects “the awkward sexism of white supremacy” and what we really mean when we say “white girl.”

It might rearrange your whole way of thinking about certain intersections of race and gender.

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“You’re Not Surprised, Are You?”

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“Imagine a life in which you think of other people’s safety and comfort first, before your own. You’re programmed and taught that from the gate. It’s like the opposite of entitlement.”

In light of George Zimmerman’s recent acquittal, drummer and producer Questlove reflects on “pie in the face” moments and what it means for him to live his life as a black man in the United States, despite his celebrity.

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Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Brilliant Take on the Zimmerman Verdict

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Not to overload anyone on political coverage, but Ta-Nehisi Coates’s reaction to the George Zimmerman trial is an absolute must-read.

In it, he looks at the actual legal text involved in the case and points out that what’s so deeply frightening about it isn’t that the verdict flouted the law; it’s that the law—and in many ways, the entire concept of American justice—is written to enable this kind of verdict.

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