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.
Posts Tagged: race
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.
My connection to my Puerto Rican heritage seemed as tenuous as my connection to my white skin. I didn’t feel white, didn’t believe I had the privileges that came with whiteness....more
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
“Oh, she’s double-handed,” the jumping girl said. “I knew it.” It was akin to the Sandman tap-dancing to abort a stinker of a performance at the Apollo Theater. I was done....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
In 12 Years a Slave, a period piece transforms into drama without distance and intellectual arguments about slavery’s connection to the present....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.
The fight against inequality, the fight against The Default, is a fight for white spiritual and emotional freedom, not just the freedom of people of color, women, or gays and lesbians.
In a diffuse but thought-provoking essay at Salon, Kartina Richardson explores the idea of whiteness as neutral, and how it limits writers of every race....more
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....more
I wanted to be a part of New Orleans. For months, I thought that meant drinking, eating, buying, taking pictures....more
“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....more
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....more
Clue: Post-Racial Edition. It was the black kid in the hoodie, with his cell phone, and “hostile” girlfriend....more
Hey Brandon, this is my fourteenth thorough revision for you in four years. I know I’m not changing your mind and that’s fine…My book is unapologetically an American race novel, among other things. I’m still not sure why you bought the book if you didn’t dig the vision.
In Charles Moore’s iconic black-and-white photograph, Coretta looks on stoically, lips parted, hands clasped in front as her husband, Martin Luther King, has his right arm bent behind his back by a police officer in a tall hat....more