Posts Tagged: race

Seeing (and Gazing On) Black Twitter

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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.

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Complements to the Canon

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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.

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Dear White Men, Publish Responsibly

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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.

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The Saturday Rumpus Interview: Tamara Winfrey-Harris

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The reality is that there is privilege even within social justice movements. ...more

Writing While Black

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The publishing industry is 89% white. That isn’t the only problem when it comes to race and literature. BuzzFeed’s new Literary Editor Saeed Jones reflects on the issue in the publishing industry:

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.

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We Need Equal Books

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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.

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Return to Braggsville

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Two authors take a trip that they did not take to a place that's no place (but could be anywhere) in Wiley Cash's feature on novelist T. Geronimo Johnson and his new book, Welcome to Braggsville. ...more

Novelist Brings Slavery to California

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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.

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The Saturday Rumpus Essay: Falling For The Femme Fatale

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If power is going to shift toward equality, men have to see power less as an inherent right and more as something we can be incentivized to relinquish. ...more

Eric Garner: A Rumpus Roundup

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In July, unarmed black man Eric Garner died after he was placed in a chokehold by a white police officer, Daniel Pantaleo, on Staten Island, a suburban borough of New York City.

This might sound eerily similar to the case of Michael Brown.

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Diversity Matters

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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.

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Ferguson: A Rumpus Roundup

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Early in August, unarmed black teenager Michael Brown was shot and killed by a white police officer, Darren Wilson, in Ferguson Missouri, a suburb of St. Louis.

While protests broke out in the weeks following Brown’s death, Wilson remained free, awaiting a grand jury indictment.

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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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